“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,” (Ephesians 4:11 (ESV)
Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled the Father’s will (Ephesians 4:8-10). Christ now distributes the spoils throughout his kingdom. After his ascension came all the spiritual gifts empowered by the Spirit, who was then sent (see John 7:39; 14:12; Acts 2:33) as the promised Comforter (John 14:15-31; 15:26-27; 16:4-11). Jesus not only has given and distributed spiritual gifts to the church, but also has given the church gifted men. Today’s text gives us the four specific offices of gifted men.
We have already examined the office of apostle, prophet and evangelist. Today, we examine the office of schepherdpastor/teacher.
Shepherds and teachers. These two words go together to refer to a single office. It is an individual who not only shepherds the church body of believers but also instructs them in the Word of God. The title can literally be read as the shepherd teachers.
Shepherds (ποιμήν; poimen) refers to a minister or pastor, who like an actual shepherd, protects and guards his flock of sheep. Teachers (διδάσκαλος; didaskalos) means an instructor (Matt. 10:24, 25; 23:8; John 1:38; 13:13, 14; 20:16; Acts 13:1; 1 Cor. 12:28, 29; Eph. 4:11; 2Ti 4:3; Heb. 5:12; James 3:1; John 8:4) or one who provides instruction (Matt. 11:1; Luke 11:1; Rom. 2:21; Col. 1:28; 3:16; 1Tim. 2:12; 4:11; 2 Tim. 2:2; Heb. 5:12; 1 John 2:27). A teacher is one who feeds his flock of sheep.
The Tyndale Bible Dictionary says, “Pastor is a word literally meaning “shepherd,” used in both the OT and NT in a figurative sense for rulers and leaders. Of the 12 times the word is used in the NT as a metaphor for “leader,” it is translated as “pastor” only in Ephesians 4:11 (kjv, asv, rsv, niv, tev, nlt).”
Metaphorically speaking, a pastor guards the church from false doctrine while the teacher responsibility in him teaches the church correct doctrine. Both roles and responsibilities are absolutely necessary.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “This phrase is best understood in context as a single office of leadership in the church. The Greek word translated “and” can mean “in particular” (see 1 Tim. 5:17), so the two functions together define the teaching shepherd. He is identified as one who is under the “great shepherd” Jesus (Heb. 13:20–21; 1 Pet. 2:25). One who holds this office is also called an “elder” (Titus 1:5–9) and “overseer” (1 Tim. 3:1–7). See also Acts 20:28 and 1 Pet. 5:1–2, which bring all three terms together”
Take time today to write, call, text or speak in person to your pastor/teacher and thank him for his ministry of not only protecting but also teaching and instructing the local church in which he serves.
Soli deo Gloria!