Paul lays out the organizational chart of the early church and reminds us it is Christ who equips us all to serve.
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature,attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
This passage “gives us a picture of the organization and the administration of the early church.” The first group are the apostles. “The apostles included more than the Twelve. For an apostle there were two great qualifications. First, he must have seen Jesus. Second, an apostle had to be a witness of the Resurrection and of the Risen Lord. He who would teach Christ, must know Christ; and he would would bring the power of Christ others must have experienced Christ’s risen power.”
The next group were the prophets. “The prophets were wanderers throughout the Church. They went from church to church proclaiming the will of God as God had told it to them.” Next we have the evangelists. “The evangelists, too, were wanderers. They corresponded to what we would call missionaries.”
The final group were pastors and teachers. These were two different jobs for the same person. “They were not wanderers but were settled and permanent in the work of one congregation. In the early Church there were few books. That meant that the story of Jesus had mainly to be transmitted by word of mouth. It was their function to know and to pass on the story of the life of Jesus. These teachers were also pastors. Pastor is the Latin word for a shepherd and the duty of the pastor was to shepherd was to shepherd his flock and keep them safe.”
The key to this passage comes in verse 12. After Paul lists these various positions, he is clear to state that their equipping comes from Christ. They are not serving in these capacities in their own strength or abilities, but through the equipping of the Holy Spirit. The same is true for us today. Regardless of what our position is in the church or what ministry we serve in, our equipping comes from the Lord. We also have the same call, to build up the body of Christ and to help one another grow in faith.
Are you serving in your church? Are you relying on your own strength or the equipping of the Holy Spirit? Are you working towards unity within your church and are you helping others grow in their faith? These are big challenges for us all. Ask the Lord to reveal to you where you are doing things in your own strength, where you should be working towards unity and how He wants to use you to help others grow in their faith.
- Scripture verses from http://www.biblegateway.com
- Quotes from “The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians”, The Daily Study Bible Series, William Barclay, Westminster Press
- Picture from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net