The reason for this Chapter is that many place this topic in the leadership category. I do not and you will understand why as you work through this Chapter. I have had this discussion with many people who are extremely knowledgeable of the Bible. When the words “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers” are used, people, who should know better, call them gift or equipping ministries. Hold on there; please do not get mad at me for what you may believe. I am not responsible for what the Book says. A brother once taught me that the Bible is not just “The Good Book,” it is “The Best Book.” I agree with that whole heartedly. So let us go and see what the Bible says.
Hope you are ready for this as it totally made my day when I read what the Bible actually says on this topic. Look at this verse:
Ephesians 4:8 (KJV)
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
The English transliteration of the Greek word for “gifts” in this verse is doma, which is the Greek word for “gift” that places more emphasis on the concrete character of the gift than on its beneficent nature. This verse is referring to our Lord Jesus, and his Ascension, and him giving gifts [doma] unto men. Nowhere in these verses will you find the word ministries, and I checked over 30 English versions, and three Greek texts. I want you to understand that because this says ascended, referring to the Ascension, is why some teach: Ascension Gift Ministries! Yet every person I have talked to about this always says these are “gift or equipping ministries” which he gave. I want us to read farther. Let us look at the next two verses. They are a parenthetical phrase and tell us more about what Jesus did but says nothing about the gifts he gave.
Ephesians 4:9 and 10 (KJV)
9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
We could go off on a great teaching here about all this, but it would detract from the subject of this teaching. As I said, this tells us more of what Jesus did but does not tell us what those gifts are that he gave. So verses 9 and 10 are important to the context, yet do not show what he gave as gifts. You may begin to ask yourself, why did I not see this before? When we are taught something over and over, that repetition burns it into your brain, and you will begin to read into it what you have been taught. Sadly, I will show you more of this in future articles. Now we come to verse 11, where we will get the answer to what he [Jesus] gave.
Ephesians 4:11 (KJV)
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors [may also be translated shepherds] and teachers;
He gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers! He did not give ministries. I call them abilities and all of us will see why as we go deeper into this topic. There are some who will ask, “What about the next verse which talks about ministry?" Yes, it does, it says: the work of the ministry! So, let us read it as well, and what we will find is it tells us what these gifts are for!
Ephesians 4:12 (KJV)
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
The gifts are FOR: the perfecting of the saints!
The gifts are FOR: the work of the ministry!
The gifts are FOR: the edifying of the body of Christ!
This is very plain. There are those who say that if it is “for the work of the ministry,” then they are gift ministries! Then they could also be called “for the perfecting of the saints ministries” or “for the edifying of the body of Christ ministries,” but that makes no sense and neither does “gift ministries!” This verse, in other versions, is where the term “equipping ministries” came from, for example:
Ephesians 4:12 (RSV)
to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
Again, this is squeezing the Bible to get it to say what you want and that is not what we want to do with the Best Book! Now, let us talk about the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to show you some sections in the Scriptures about these abilities. We will see that Jesus had all of these abilities! He received them after/or when he received the gift of holy spirit. Read the following verse.
Hebrews 3:1 (KJV)
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;
Many English versions translate this verse using apostle referring to Jesus. “Apostle” means “sent one,” and Jesus was “sent” by God for the salvation of this world. So what about prophet? The context of this next verse shows Jesus clearly implied that he was “a prophet.”
John 4:44 (KJV)
For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.
He was speaking of himself and the context shows that. Let us look at a prophetic section of the Hebrew Scriptures speaking about the coming Messiah:
Deuteronomy 18:15–18 (KJV)
15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; 16 According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. 17 And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. 18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
Peter confirmed these verses from Deuteronomy when he identified Jesus as the “prophet like” Moses that God would raise up in this following verse.
Acts 3:22 (KJV)
For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
That makes two of the five abilities. Let us look at more. When Jesus preached the “Gospel,” he was functioning as an evangelist. See the verses below.
Matthew 9:35–38 (KJV)
35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
There is another verse which backs this up, and there are more, but this will show the point.
Mark 1:38 (KJV)
And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.
Jesus may not have been called an evangelist, but he sure acted like one. If he lived it, then he was one, and he sure did live it! He also said, he was the good “shepherd,” [twice in the verse below] which is the same Greek word ποιμήν which is transliterated into the English as poimen, which is translated “pastors” in Ephesians 4:11 above. See John 10 below.
John 10:11 (KJV)
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
He identified himself as the “Teacher” when he said, “…you have one Teacher, the Christ,” but the older translations of this verse are not translated as such, though it should be. Because this is in a book, we cannot quote the newer translations due to copyright restraints. See below:
Matthew 23:10 (KJV)
Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
Both words “master,” are the Greek word καθηγητής which is transliterated into English as kathegetes, Meaning: 1) a guide 2) a master, teacher. As you can see in the second meaning, master and teacher are interchangeable. And we feel teacher works best as that it is what he is to us all. Another verse which lives for me and shows he was a great teacher is here below:
Matthew 7:29 (KJV)
For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
The people recognized him as a teacher and marveled that he taught with authority, not as the scribes. Here is one more for extra measure.
John 3:2 (KJV)
The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
So Jesus had all these abilities, and when he ascended to the right hand of God, he gave “gifts unto men,” unto his Church, his Body. These gifts are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. We can see by studying God’s Word closely that Jesus Christ exemplified each of these abilities in his earthly ministry and continues to energize them in his Body, as its Head. Remember this verse:
John 14:12a (KJV)
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also…
The works that he did, we can do also! Jesus made the abilities available after his Ascension and he sat at his Daddy’s right hand. On the Day of Pentecost, he poured out the gift of holy spirit, first on the Twelve and then on about 3000! Below are the key verses, from that day in light of what I just said:
Acts 2:3 and 4, 14, 33, 38–41 (RSV)
3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear. 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.” 40 And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
He poured out the gift of holy spirit on the 12, then on about 3000, and it was poured out on the Gentiles and all of us today. See the verses below.
Acts 10:45 (RSV)
And the believers from among the circumcised who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.
Titus 3:5 and 6 (RSV)
5 he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, 6 which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
Now every Christian gets the gift of holy spirit the moment he or she is Born Again! In the context of Scripture, it is not God’s way to give these gifts to every person who is born of a woman! Since the gifts he gave are for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, then they are gifts to Born Again Christians! We cannot have them until we are Born Again! Also, since we have seen that both God and Jesus are not respecters of persons, then we can be assured they can be available to any Christian who wants to operate them in their lives! Will you operate them the day you get Born Again? Probably not, but as we grow in the knowledge of God’s Word, it will happen. I feel it will depend on the situation as to which ability you will put on and use.
Jesus has not changed in his position or way of functioning since he first sat down at the right hand of the Father. Therefore, we can be confident that he will continue to do all these things and more on the behalf of the Church, his Body, today. After all he said we can do the works he did, and we can! We read that a few minutes ago, and I want to close this Chapter and remind you one more time of what the gifts, not ministries, are FOR! The gifts are FOR: the perfecting of the saints! The gifts are FOR: the work of the ministry! The gifts are FOR: the edifying of the body of Christ! I love it! Hope this Chapter blessed you by reading and studying it, as much as it did me, writing it!