Gifts of the Spirit: Teachers and Pastors

A while back, I had a conversation about the gifts of the spirit.  This was a topic already on my mind and I thought this would be a good time to delve into the gifts of the spirits mentioned in scripture.  I’ve done my best to group them together by common characteristics, as we discuss them over the next two months.

Ephesians 4:11-13 says, “And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: 13 till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”

Each of these is described in the passage as ministering, building up the body of Christ, providing knowledge of God and unity of the faith.

Evangelist— An evangelist is one who devotes himself to preaching the gospel.  In the New Testament, Philip is described as an evangelist {Acts 21:8}.   He is described as going

Billy Graham

from city to city and town to town preaching the word.  {Acts 8:4; Acts 8:40}.   Barnes Notes on the New Testament says, “The word properly means, “a messenger of good tidings;” and Robinson (Lex.) supposes that it denotes a minister of the gospel who was not located in any place, but who travelled as a missionary to preach the gospel, and to found churches.”   One of the most well-known evangelist of our time would be Billy Graham.

Pastor—“This term derives from a Greek word for “shepherd”. Pastors are gifted to lead, guide, and set an example for other Christians. The grammatical structure of Ephesians

A pastor leads and guides his flock

4:11 leads many to conclude that teacher and pastor should be considered one term (pastor-teacher). Even so, the two terms are not interchangeable; while all pastors are teachers, not all teachers are pastors.”  Barnes Notes on the New Testament says, “They are to exercise the same watchfulness and care over the people of their charge which a shepherd does over his flock. {John 21:15-16} The meaning here is, that Christ exercised a special care for his church by appointing pastors who would watch over it as a shepherd does over his flock.”

As a preacher’s kid, I can testify that not all pastors are alike.  Some are better at preaching, while others are better are ministering.  It takes a very special man, who is gifted as both a minister and preacher.  Yet, they do exist and I’ve been privileged to know several of them.

1 Peter 4:11 says, “ if any man ministereth, ministering as of the strength which God supplieth: that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, whose is the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

Teacher—“Someone who devotes his or her life to preaching and teaching the Christian

a teacher provides information and guidance

faith.”  We all know teachers who have touched our lives, whether it was our pastor, a Sunday School teacher, a youth minister, or another teacher in the church or of the Christian faith.  Many Christian speakers and writers, who focus on the scripture and God’s word, would also describe themselves as a teacher.

Apostle—Apostle derives from the Greek word apostolos which means “a messenger, one sent forth with orders”, which means one who has been delegated authority by another in a foreign land.  The apostles were the first leaders of the church, commissioned by Jesus to initiate and direct the preaching of the gospel.  This term refers to the first generation of Christians, but many Christian denominations continue to pay tribute to these men and this term in a variety of ways.

Prophet—“In the New Testament, the office of prophet is to equip the saints for the work

Elijah prayed to raise the dead boy

of service through exhortation, edification, and consolation (1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Corinthians 14:3 Ephesians 4:11).”    The Old Testament is full of prophets that we know and love who directed God’s people and called judgement on the wicked.  {Next week we will discuss the gift of prophecy.}

Witnessing—Acts 1:8 says, “ ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Our Barnes commentary says, “The reason why this name was given to them was that they bore witness to the life, instructions, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, even in the midst of persecution and death. It is commonly supposed that nearly all of the apostles thus bore witness to the Lord Jesus.”  Acts 5:32 goes on to say, “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him.”   The meaning was explained this way in Acts 26:22, “Having therefore obtained the help that is from God, I stand unto this day testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses did say should come.”

Saul was transformed to Paul and became a witness for Jesus

Our commentary says, “So manifest and decided was the presence of God attending them, that they could have no doubt that what they said was true; and so open and public was this attestation, that it was an evidence to all the people of the truth of their doctrine.

These gifts all relate to teaching and sharing God’s word in a variety of manners, to set up new churches and to shepherd or watch over God’s people.

Do any of these spiritual gifts relate to you?


Gifts of the Spirit, understanding the role of pastors and teachers Share on X


*Definitions taken from the Foundations of Pentecostal Theology

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