PFOA: Ephesians 4:7-16
“But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift” Eph 4:7.
When the Roman army return from the battles or wars in victory, the conquering commander would lead his troops to a tremendous welcome by the citizens. The triumphant contingent will march through the city leading the captives of the defeated people who will become prisoners or slaves. The spoils of war, including money, gold and other precious jewellery, clothes and livestock would follow. Some of these will be distributed to the people.
In His crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension, Jesus was victorious over sin and death, and as a conquering Saviour he has ascended to the right hand of God the Father, bringing us together in him. And he has given gifts to his people. These are his grace (charismatic) gifts, spiritual gifts to each one of us, not according to our choosing, but that which is most appropriate for the purpose and ministry (service) to which he has called us.
In particular, Paul highlighted that God has gifted certain people to serve the church as apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor-teachers. These are sometimes referred to as the four-fold or five-fold ministries. We need to be clear these are not titles designed to indicate status in the church. They are descriptive of the roles or ministries that are exercised for the purpose of building up the church.
Paul used the word “apostle” in more than one sense. Sometimes he used it in the generic sense of a messenger or ambassador commissioned with a message. More importantly, he also uses it to refer to the twelve disciples and to himself, as having had direct knowledge with the Lord, and commissioned by him.
Similarly “prophet” refers to one who foretells or forth-tells. The OT uses it as one who speaks for the God, with the opening declaration, “Thus says the Lord”. Often their messages include a promise of deliverance to the faithful or a warning of forth-coming judgement to the rebellious. Prophets recorded in the NT do not seem to exercise the same authority. For example, Agabus made a prediction, which proved to be correct, but Paul chose to ignore it.
“Evangelist” of course come into existence with the evangel (gospel). Although we are all commanded to be witnesses, we have seen people who are specially gifted to share the good news of Jesus Christ, bringing many to faith in him.
Earlier translation separated the role of “pastor” and “teacher”. This is corrected in the recent versions of the Bible. King David is a wonderful example of the pastor teacher. He led his people, care and provided for them and taught them to worship the one true God. The great need for pastor-teachers today indicates that many have not responded to his call.