Ephesians 4:7-16: Spiritual gifts – pastor teacher, part 3.

Class Outline:

Thursday November 18, 2021


Pastor is the English transliteration of the Latin pastore which is the Latin translation of poimen which means shepherd.


David was called to be the ruler of Israel, but in telling him this, God first told David to shepherd God’s people, making shepherd parallel with ruler. This is an important truth concerning leadership, and one that Jesus, the great Shepherd modeled in teaching and action, especially to His disciples at the last Passover supper. We found in the good actions and the failures of David what a shepherd should be. This would also be perfectly modeled by Jesus Christ.


A shepherd protects the flock, cares for them more than himself, will not let bad things happen to even one of them, feeds them, leads them, and does everything he can to maintain them as healthy and happy.


EPH 4:11-13

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 groups "shepherds and teachers" together only in EPH 4:11. But in the work that we’ve already done, we have seen the use of both works episkopos (overseer) and presbuteros (elder). They are equated by Paul and they are both called to shepherd and to teach the flock. The Lord said to Peter, “Do you love Me? … Shepherd My sheep.”


Therefore, it seems conclusive that the pastor teacher, or shepherd teacher, is the elder or overseer teacher, and this gift and office would constitute authority in a local church.


There will be churches and denominations that will differentiate the three titles; pastor, elder, overseer; and also have the teacher as a separate part of the body. There is a gift of teaching, which we have to assume is often exercised without an official office in the church, while some have an office. But a pastor or elder or overseer must be able to teach (EPH 4:11; 1TI 3:2).


This is why I’m careful to state “gift and office” together to mean authority, since we can easily imagine a believer, including a woman, possessing the gift of shepherding or leading in some capacity, but not having the office. Remember that there were female prophets, but per Paul’s instruction, they would not have had authority in the church. As we know, spiritual gifts can be difficult to determine, since a man or woman could have the gift of teaching, or the gift of leadership or administration, or they may have the gift of shepherd, and without the office, their function in the local assembly might fall under any of these titles.


Jesus said the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (JOH 10:11) and called Himself the Good Shepherd. In HEB 13:20 Christ is the Great Shepherd. We will close this doctrine with Christ as the “good Shepherd.”


The pastor (shepherd) has the office of leading, protecting, guiding, and teaching the congregation. It is a big responsibility and therefore God must graciously give him the gift to perform it.


As the church grew into its first few centuries, some found the authority of the pastor or elder to be easily abused to gain power. As the church became enameled with the state, that opportunity for power increased, and with power comes much responsibility.


In ACT 20:17 Paul calls a meeting with the elders (presbuteros) of the churches in Ephesus and he warns them of “savage wolves.”


ACT 20:28-35

"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers (episkopos: he says to the elders), to shepherd (verb of poimen) the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 "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.'"


Paul exhorts them to understand that God’s shepherds are alert for the enemy, prays for his flock continually, covets no one’s wealth, works hard with his own hands, ministers to his own needs (does not act like a master with servants), helps the weak, and remembers the maxim: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”


The false teachers are savage wolves. They do not care for the flock and only want to draw them after themselves, but in the end, they devour the flock.


There have been far too many abusers of the power of the office of pastor. There have been far too many false teachers behind pulpits. But still, remember, each of us are responsible for our own accumulation and understanding of the truth.


Only in EPH 4:11 is a believer called a shepherd, but the verb (to shepherd) is used by Jesus to Peter (JOH 21:16), by Peter to other ministers (1PE 5:2), and by Paul to the elders of Ephesus (ACT 20:28).


Walvoord: “The general care of the Christian flock is the work of a pastor, and to this end some receive the gift of being a pastor (EPH 4:11). By its very title, it compares to the work of a shepherd caring for his sheep, the word pastors being the translation of poimenas, a word meaning literally, shepherds. A pastor is one who leads, provides, protects, and cares for his flock. As in the natural figure, no small skill is required to care for the flock properly, so in the spiritual reality a pastor needs a supernatural gift to be to his flock all that a pastor should.” [John Walvoord, The Holy Spirit]


The Greek sentence isn’t too hard to decipher. I only give it to you to show that pastor and teach are put together by Paul in a grammatical way. I have added the slashes for clarity.


Kai autos endoken (And He himself gave) / tous men (some indeed) apostolous / tous de prophetos / tous de evaggelistos / tous de poimenos kai didaskalous


Men often means “indeed” and de is a particle meaning but or and, but it can also mean “even” for emphasis. Therefore, without changing the meaning, we can be a little creative with our translation: “indeed apostles even prophets even evangelists even pastors and teachers.” We could add the definite article, “indeed the apostles even the prophets …” And as you can see, the meaning remains. However, the one definite article tous (the) with both shepherds and teachers and also the use of kai instead of de in between them leads us to conclude that Paul means to put them together as one gift and office. There are some good expositors that separate them.


A significant insight into the character of a true pastor’s work is afforded by the close connection between pastoral work and teach­ing. In Ephesians 4:11, the use of kai, linking pastors and teachers instead of the usual de, implies that one cannot be a true pastor without being also a teacher. The principle involved is of tremendous signi­ficance. While it is not necessary for a teacher to have all the qualities of a pastor, it is vital to the work of a true pastor that he teach his flock. It is obvious that a shepherd who did not feed his flock would not be worthy of the name. Likewise in the spiritual realm the first duty of a pastor is to feed his flock on the Word of God.


Quite apart from being merely an organizer, promoter or social leader, the true pastor gives himself to preaching the Word.


A person who has the gift of pastor-teacher may not necessarily have the office of pastor. No permanent spiritual gift in the church automatically comes with an office or official title. A counselor, for example, could have the gift of pastoring, but he doesn’t have to serve as a pastor. It is stated that a woman cannot hold the office of pastor in a church, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that a woman cannot have a shepherd gift or a teaching gift. For instance, a woman might shepherd a Christian school or she may teach in the school or both. And I’m not saying that to be politically correct, but strictly sticking to the biblical data.


Experience does not make doctrines. Only Scripture rightly interpreted and compared makes doctrines.


Yet, if I may, my own experience with being a pastor, I think that the pastor teacher gift has two different aspects, one of protecting and leading (pastor) and one of studying and teaching (the teacher). That sounds, and is, obvious, but the reason I state it is because one of those aspects can be neglected in favor of the other that the man would prefer. The pastor teacher must not lose sight of one or the other, but be diligent and mature in both aspects. This means a lot of reflection and prayer as well as alertness to the needs of the flock.


Before we leave the subject of shepherd teacher, we will look at the Lord as Shepherd.


The Lord is the good/great Shepherd of the church and Israel.


The shepherd (pastor) teachers are to mimic the Lord, the Great Shepherd. “Peter, do you love Me? … Shepherd My sheep.”


In the gospels, Jesus saw the multitudes as those who were lost, as “sheep without a shepherd,” and He felt compassion on them and ministered to them, teaching and helping and encouraging them to believe in Him and receive eternal life (MAT 9:36; MAR 6:34).


He is also depicted as the Shepherd who will judge the flock, separating “the sheep from the goats” (MAT 25:32).


Our Great Shepherd, compassionate guardian of our souls (1PE 2:25), laid down His life for the sheep (JOH 10:11), but he is not dead (HEB 13:20).


HEB 13:20-21

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.