Christ’s Church, Ephesians 4:11b-12

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…” Ephesians 4:11-12.

Having examined Christ’s gift of apostles to the church in the post, Christ’s Church, Ephesians 4:11a posted on 6-9-21 we will now continue on beginning with the prophets.

“And [Jesus Christ] He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers…” Ephesians 4:11.

Christ gave some prophets to guard and keep the church also. A good definition of a prophet would be someone who is inspired by God to communicate His will to Christians, and to give prophetic words to the church.

When it comes to discussing New Testament prophets it is a murky subject, which means that the things written here may not satisfy everyone.

It should be emphasized that if you disagree with anything being said here you should start your own study on this important subject.

The Old Testament prophets are a little easier to understand and the definition given earlier should satisfy anyone. Those prophets, prophesied of things to come, many of the things written in the Old Testament were written years before the actual events happened.

The prophets advised kings, warned the people, and brought down fire from heaven. They were faithful to God and to His word in everything they said.

They were also expected to be 100% correct in all of their prophecies or they would be stoned to death. God’s prophets were always correct as one might expect them to be since they spoke for God. Posers on the other hand were under condemnation as liars.

The warning against false prophets goes out to us even today; everything must be tested by the word of God.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” 1 John 4:1-3.

Many cults get around this test by the use of fancy words, always dig deeper before accepting their word as truth.

For instance, Jehovah’s Witnesses will come to your door and you may ask them, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ has come to earth in the flesh?” Their answer will be “Yes”.

Your next question should be, “Do you believe that Jesus is the same God who created the heavens and the earth?” Their answer will be “No”, unless they have decided to tell you a bald face lie. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God…”

There are three different gifts of prophecy given in the New Testament. There is the gift of prophecy given by God in Romans 12:6; that given by the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:10; and here in Ephesians 4:11. This may be the reason for so much confusion about prophecy.

The gift of prophecy given by God is meant to be used within the body judging by its description. It is the first gift mentioned in the passage below.

“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith…” Romans 12:6.

“…let us prophesy in proportion to our faith”, while there are several explanations of the meaning of this phrase, the best would be that the one who prophesies is expected to prophesy in agreement with the faith. That is to say, the words of the prophet must not contradict Scripture.

Since it is also said of the prophet that they are to:

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9.

It is the work of the prophet to deal with people in true love, they are to abhor what is evil, and by clinging to what is good they are meant to hold to the truth of God without wavering in the face of all opposition.

If the prophet is to hold to the truth of God without wavering in the face of all opposition, it means that they are to guard against a church changing its format, or teaching unscriptural things as biblical truth, or even taking a stance against allowing ungodly or immoral men into places of authority.

The prophet will also speak to the congregation in words of edification, the building up of the church; exhortation, words of encouragement; and words of comfort to men.

“Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” 1 Corinthians 14:1-3.

The prophet is to pray for the church and individuals who need help, they are also to teach the church from Scripture the right way if they start to drift. In short, the prophet is liable to be a strict, lovable cuss that most folks will not know quite what to do with. They are God’s gift.

It may be the gift of prophecy by the Holy Spirit which may be the one which has been abused the most, bringing skepticism and rejection of this equally important gift.

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all…” 1 Corinthians 12:7.

“…the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:10-11.

It has been said that the distributing of gifts by the Spirit may be at the will of the Spirit, so these gifts may be ones temporarily given to an individual to accomplish whatever it is that the Holy Spirit is trying to do at the time.

As you can see by this partial list these gifts are suspect in the eyes of the traditional church. Things like miracles, gifts of healing, and discerning of spirits do not set well with the modern mind. However, it is not what men think but what God says that is truth.

God put this list in here, so it is true that the Spirit gives the gift of prophecy to individuals. The question that now comes to mind is, does this gift of prophecy work like the other gifts of prophecy, or is it different in any way? I cannot give you a certain answer to this but I can tell you what I know and what I think.

I know that the Holy Spirit’s gift of prophecy has been used to do what some churches call reading your mail.

A totally unknown woman might walk into a church and have a Christian walk up to her and say, “I am not sure if this applies to you, but did your fiancée break up with you yesterday?”

The woman bursts into tears and answers, “Yes! How could you know?”

The answer may be, “Jesus told me and He wants you to know He cares for you and will help you through this.” This opens up a dialogue for the woman to learn more about the Savior.

The above was made up, but I have heard several accounts of the same thing happening, often with even more detail given in the person’s mail.

Prophecies have been spoken over churches, and individuals which have been fulfilled just like in the Old Testament.

The problem is that many folks think that this is such a wonderful gift to have that they start giving out prophecies from out of their heads and drag the whole thing into such disrepute that it becomes just some fruitcake thing coming out of the lunatic fringe.

Conmen have also done their bit by going around giving out prophecies at seminars and gatherings at churches where they can collect money and ingratiate themselves to poor people who desperately want to have God say something to them.

My own conclusion is that God does indeed speak through Christians who have been given the gift of prophecy, but He will have to speak very loudly if He wants to be heard over the shouting of the charlatans.

Finally, having examined the different aspects of the gift of prophecy, let us return to the gift given by Christ in this study.

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets…” Ephesians 4:11a.

There are five gifts in all listed in verse eleven. The reasons for these gifts are given in the next verse.

“…for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…” Ephesians 4:12.

So the gift of prophecy, along with the other four, is given in this case for the prophet to equip the Christians for the work of ministry and to build up the body of Christ.

This office then is given for the benefit of the church, the body of Christ. It is this then that separates this gift of prophecy from the other prophets within the body.

“…some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers…” Ephesians 4:11b.

The evangelist is literally, a messenger of good. The evangelist is different from the pastor or the teacher for instance because they announce the good news of Jesus Christ to those who have never heard it before, or knows little about it.

There only three references to evangelists (plural) or evangelist in the King James Version of the Bible which makes this gift of evangelism received from Jesus rather unique.

Why did the Lord make evangelists one of His five gifts to the church? The answer is shown in verse 12 again, for the edifying, or building up of the body of Christ.

This is a rather extraordinary gift because the evangelist would be expected to go to unbelievers and tell them the good news of Christ, which is, salvation is in Jesus’ shed blood.

This message is not usually met with flowers and confetti, but more with scowls and sarcasm. Evangelism is a very daunting job.

The evangelist then has the task of bringing new converts into the church, which builds up the body of Christ.

We do not all have the gift of evangelism, but many of us do the work of an evangelist when we speak to others about salvation in Jesus.

Even Bible studies with an emphasis on teaching folks who have little or no idea what Jesus is all about can be considered an evangelistic outreach.

Not all of us have the personality or the courage to do this, but do not be discouraged, it may be your business to pray for the unsaved around you, or teach Sunday school, and if you are in a Bible study group, you may have an opportunity to give the gospel.

The gift that God gave you is what you must focus on using, do not envy the gift of another nor try to do it. You will always be most comfortable using your own gift because it is tailored for you.

“…some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers…” Ephesians 4:11b.

We have the evangelist bringing newcomers into the church, what next? Pastors, the word here means the overseers of the Christian assembly; these are the men responsible for the care and feeding of the sheep. Just as Jesus is the Chief Shepherd, so the pastors are the under-shepherds.

“The elders [pastors] who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” 1 Peter 5:1-4.

It is the pastor’s task to care for the flock of God as shown above. And while Scripture tells us that a pastor should be able to teach I do not believe that teaching is exclusively the pastor’s job.

Many feel that because the last phrase in verse eleven states “…and some pastors and teachers” that it means that pastors are teachers too.

Teachers are not always pastors, in fact they are listed third in importance in the list shown earlier, and shown again here.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.” 1 Corinthians 12:27-28.

The gift of teaching is also shown separately in Romans 12:7. It is wrong for a pastor to try to claim all of the five gifts of Christ for himself because he is thought to be the sole head of the church. The pastor may at times exercise one or more of the gifts of Christ but he does not have them all.

As for the teacher, beware, you are under greater judgment for the things you say.

“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” James 3:1.

Many so-called, teachers get themselves into hot water because they do not do their homework, or put their own spin on a verse. This is a dangerous job and should be done with strict adherence to Scripture which is God’s own truth to us.

Teaching is not a gift to covet if one does not have it, and if you do have it, this is the attitude that God wants you to have.

“…not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord…” Romans 12:11.

Jesus gave these five gifts to certain men:

“…for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…” Ephesians 4:12.

For two thousand years the body of Christ has endured the constant battering of the devil and men. If it had withstood them the church would look very different than it does now.

However it is never too late, these five gifts are still present within the body of Christ, if only men would let them do their job, the world would soon feel the impact. Jesus has said:

“…lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” ‘Amen.’” Matthew 28:20b.

Christ’s Church, Ephesians 4:11b-12 taken from posted on 2-27-16, updated on 6-12-21.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

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