Ephesians 4:7-16; Spiritual gifts – the leaders, part 2.
length: 85:57 - taught on Oct, 17 2021
Sunday October 17,2021
Eph 4-6: Living the Christian life in experience. What it looks like.
Walk in a manner worthy of your election, blessing, unity, work, service, love for one another, walking in the new self (righteousness and holiness of the truth), no falsehood in our dealings with one another, righteous anger, giving to those in need, edifying one another, being kind, sympathetic, and forgiving, putting aside all malice, anger and slander, imitate God and walk in love, don’t let immorality, impurity, or greed even be spoken of, speak of gratitude, walking as children of light (goodness, righteousness, and truth), proving what is pleasing to the Lord, walk in wisdom, be filled with the Spirit (intoxicated with His joy), always giving thanks, being subject to one another in the fear of Christ, have Christian marriages as is pleasing to God, honor your father and mother, do all of your work as unto the Lord, and put on the armor of God so as to stand firm against the devil and his dark forces.
In these chapters, God challenges all of our preconceived notions of the Christian life, which is the life of Christ. God does not allow any part of the self-life. He has crucified that life and His commands reflect its death. In these pages we have before us the ethics that live in the mind of Jesus Christ. I highly recommend that you read Eph 4-6 in one sitting, multiple times throughout our study.
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.
Paul emphasizes the Giver, Christ. He does this grammatically by using the pronoun autos. God has forever given man gifts, and man has always been told to remember the Giver. We worship the Giver, not the gifts. We are grateful and use the gifts that God gives us, and in our passage, the focus is now on the gifts given to serve one another. Particularly, Paul is going to focus on leadership gifts. Leaders are so serve the body.
apostolous = apostles or messengers
prophetas = prophets
euangelistas = carriers of the gospel
poimenas = shepherds (Latin: pastores)
didaskalous = teachers
Before we look at what’s here, it is helpful to see what’s not here. But first we might recognize something right away: that these are positions of authority in the church, but not all of them. Paul and Peter write of overseers and elders and deacons (literally ministers), who in their writings have distinct as well as overlapping duties. The episkopos was to shepherd the flock.
However, not all leadership positions are here, namely episkopos (overseer), presbuteros (elder), and diakonos (minister or deacon).
We will see these titles used interchangeably, and we might find ourselves confused if we want to apply the labels to someone in the Bible or someone currently in the church. Today, some churches have a group of elders, some a number of pastors with a senior one, some have hierarchies and have borrowed these titles and others. God doesn’t tell us much about organizing a local church, or a group of churches; just like He doesn’t tell us how often we should have services, how long they should be, how much time should be devoted to singing (some call worship), or how often to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. I mention this in order to point out that believers can make big issues out of things that are of small consequence while neglecting the things that the Bible does clearly reveal as truth. In our case, there has to be leadership, but how we organize it is up to each assembly. Leaders are to teach, guide, ensure good policy for the function of the church, and discipline when necessary.
God demands leadership and He has given gifts for its proper function.
The local church has to have a leader or leaders to teach, guide policy, discipline, and overall shepherd God’s flock.
Mankind needs leadership and authority; really - authority and leadership is the better order. We are creatures, created by God in time. We are dependent. Only God is Sovereign and therefore, only God is truly free. Only idiots think they are free to do anything they want, or may someday be absolutely free. (“free as a bird”: birds are not free)
People from all walks of life have tried to attain absolute freedom, and are still trying, and I think the elite class of the world are trying to make a mad dash for it currently. If you had all the power and wealth in the world, and no person or persons could tell you what to do (i.e. constitutional republican government). Would you be absolutely free? The antichrist and his false prophet will actually attain complete earthly power, but today you have entered the house of God and have perceived their end.
For I was envious of the arrogant,
As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
Therefore his people return to this place;
And waters of abundance are drunk by them.
11 And they say, "How does God know?
And is there knowledge with the Most High?"
12 Behold, these are the wicked;
And always at ease, they have increased in wealth.
Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure,
And washed my hands in innocence;
When I pondered to understand this,
It was troublesome in my sight
17 Until I came into the sanctuary of God;
Then I perceived their end.
Why are the nations in an uproar,
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand,
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the Lord and against His
3 "Let us tear their fetters apart,
And cast away their cords from us!"
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury:
6 "But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain."
We need authority, not only because we are creatures, but more so because we are sinful creatures who have all gone astray. But the leaders are sinners as well, and that is why God gives the right to leave the local church if the authority is doing poorly, or to have the authority removed. When each local assembly is independently ruled, as it was at first, there is no authority so high and powerful that they can’t be overruled, deserted, or disciplined. This is one of the many reasons that there should never be state-run religions.
When we go over the various passages, we can see what the leaders are called to do. We will see overlap between all the titles. The coupling of pastor and teacher is only found in this passage. The call to shepherd, the verb, is applied to the elders and the overseers, as is to call to teach.
The principle of enumerated powers applies here. The leader only can do what the Scripture says that he can.
As with several doctrines that are not entirely detailed in application, we have to trust the Holy Spirit and rely upon Him to guide every church, which is going to have different people in different numbers. Believers gifted in leadership, or in any other area, are not sought out. God gives them to the church, and when a believer has a leadership gift it will be apparent in time and God will show them and the congregation (there are warnings from Paul about what would disqualify anyone form leadership) the particular niche they should fill.
As some commentators see it, and I agree:
Apostle, prophet, evangelist are gifts to the church as a whole, while pastor and teacher is a gift to the local church - all have a leading capacity.
To pastor-teacher we would add elder, overseer, and deacon/minister.
I think that the most important aspect of this part of the doctrine of spiritual gifts is to understand why the church needs authority, and then know from God’s word what that authority is supposed to behave like and do, as well as the congregations proper response to them.
And let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.
Paul doesn’t say that they should be rich; just supported, not judged in matters of basic rights, and honored - these, naturally, if they rule well. In 1Co 9 Paul states that he and his team should be supported rather than judged. “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching” (1TI 5:17).
What would a local church look like without good leadership? We have an example … our old friends at Corinth.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.
In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.
We all need authority, which ultimately is God, but God has given us authorities that are visible and, if they do what they should, have penal authority.
Now we get into some nuts and bolts of the authority titles.
Three of the gifts in Eph 4 are listed by Paul in:
And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
Pastor is not here, nor is carrier of good news (evangelist). We might expect to find episkopos (overseer, which evolved into the English word “bishop”).
Paul equates presbuteros with episkopos and they are to shepherd (poimaino).
To the elders at Ephesus, Paul some years later said…
And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders (presbuteros) of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them:
“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers (episkopos), to shepherd (poimaino - verb) the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”
The flock needs to be protected from the enemies of life by teaching sound truth, to warn and exhort, work hard, helping the weak, serving and giving.
"I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 "Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. 32 "And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 "I have coveted no one's silver or gold or clothes. 34 "You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. 35 "In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"