The Purpose of This Ministry
Ephesians 4:11 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. (NIV)
This passage refers to gifts given to Christians by Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, who does the work for Jesus on earth. Every Christian is given at least one gift of service but some are given the gifts mentioned here. These gifts are given to equip believers, build the church, unify the church and disciple infants in Christ to become mature Christians.
Apostles were those who were directly commissioned by Jesus to carry on His ministry after His ascension back to Heaven. Apostles do not exist today. Paul was the last one.
Prophets were spokespersons for God. They were given revelations by the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God. Their ministry ended when the foundation of the church was laid in the first century. There are no prophets today.
Evangelists are those who preach the good news of salvation. They typically are not pastors in the sense that they do not shepherd a church. They win new converts to Christ and point them to a local church.
Pastors shepherd a church. They are gifted to be involved with the everyday activities of their “flock”. They counsel, correct, and encourage their members, guiding and feeding them with the Word of God.
Teachers explain and interpret the Bible and apply it to the lives of Christians. Teachers are different from pastors in that they do not shepherd a flock. A teacher may not be gifted to be a shepherd and a pastor may not be gifted to be a teacher.
This ministry is a teaching ministry. When reading a passage of Scripture, Christians should be listening to the Holy Spirit. We should always ask God to open our hearts and minds to His Word before reading. Often, when we read a passage the Holy Spirit points out something we may not have seen before. Rarely, does He point out everything in the passage all at once.
Therefore, teachers will often teach differently from the same passage according to what the Holy Spirit has revealed to them at that time. Christian commentaries may disagree for the same reason. This does not mean that one is right and the other is wrong. Always, though, they should conform to the teaching of the Bible as a whole.
Also, it is the responsibility of a teacher to teach the whole Bible. Evangelists do not teach the whole Bible. Pastors may never teach the whole Bible because they are feeding the existing needs of the church at any given time. Jesus, in His wisdom, saw the need for teachers for these reasons.
So the purpose of any teaching ministry is to teach the whole Bible, without holding back. Otherwise we would be rendering a disservice to those who come to us for the truth. For example, teachers should teach about sin and apply that teaching to the lives of their listeners. Although we all are sinners, we still should be able to teach about sin. If only perfect people can teach about sin, then Jesus would have to come back to earth. But that is precisely what Jesus has commissioned us to do, to carry out His ministry.
God bless you all, and thank you for reading and for staying faithful to the Lord.
Online Bible Commentary