A New Way of Looking at Ephesians 4.11-12

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…

In his book Church 3.0 Neil Cole introduced me to a new way of seeing the five gifted leaders of Ephesians 4.12 that God has given to the church in order to equip His people for ministry.

It is not the intent of this blog post for me to get into the debate about how many of these gifted leaders are even given to the church for this period of church history.1 Rather, I want to show what shift in thinking took place for me as I saw this passage from a new perspective.

Previously I thought that the gifted leaders of Ephesians 4.11 were simply gifted leaders who, by exercising their respective gifts, blessed the body of Christ in such a way that people were encouraged and motivated to serve the Lord… “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4.12).

A gifted evangelist might be a Billy Graham or a Greg Laurie. A gifted teacher might be a (pick your favorite Bible teacher that you like to listen to).

And while these men of God would certainly be gifted, the apostle Paul is doing more than simply listing especially gifted men, Neil helped me see what now seems so obvious to me… in Ephesians 4.11, Paul is talking about leaders who are gifted at training others to be effective at teaching or evangelizing, being apostolic, shepherding people, or delivering prophetic words.

While each of us may only personally be gifted in one of these five areas…I’ve come to believe that all Christians need to minister in multiple ways in the various situations and circumstances we find ourselves in through our lives. Sometimes we need to know how to teach someone. Other times we need to know how to evangelize. Still other times we can bless someone with a prophetic word. And still other times we need to have apostolic vision.

According to Ephesians 4.10-12, God has graced the church with gifted leaders who are able to teach others to do the things that they themselves are gifted in.

This is being applied this year at Harvest by me working to raise up men who will be able to handle the Word and deliver Bible messages.

When I was physically incapacitated this week, I was encouraged by how Rick Doctor was able to step in at the last minute to fill the pulpit ably. I doubt this was a surprise to any of us because we have witnessed firsthand how Rick has developed as a preacher of God’s Word.

It excites me to think about how God is going to do this with several of our men over the next couple of years.

I believe God has also gifted me apostolically, so I look forward to seeing how God will use me to raise up others who can develop their apostolic vision.

But I am only one man. What REALLY excites me is the idea that God is going to raise up other gifted leaders in the areas of prophetic ministry and shepherding and evangelism. In fact, I think God has already done that for our church in the area of evangelism… in the person of Rick. If you don’t believe me, watch a few of his evangelism training videos on his YouTube channel!

Who else is God going to raise up as Ephesians 4 gifts to our church? It’s going to be fun to see!

1. I have some friends that believe this is a list of four gifted leaders: apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher. They also believe that only two of these are in existence today: evangelist and pastor-teacher. They believe the “offices” (their language) of apostle and prophet ceased to exist with the death of the original apostles and/or conclusion of the New Testament canon. I used to hold this position myself but became exegetically convinced that all five gifted leaders are still given by God to the church today.