Welcome to Expositing Ephesians

THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED to one of the chief passions of my life and ministry, The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians. I believe this epistle is at the very core of the Christian life. I spent years in the study of it and then three and one half years expositing it from my pulpit. I hope this blog will be a blessing to you as I share that exposition. I also hope you will tell others about this blog. Please check for new posts each Monday .

Monday, January 27, 2014

Church Leadership: The Pastor-Teacher

Continuing our look at the “office gifts” that Christ has given to His Church, as listed in Ephesians 4:11—And [Christ] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers—we come to the most important one for our day: the pastor-teacher.
Pastors translates the Greek poimen, which means “shepherd.” In secular Greek, it referred to the herdsman who tended and cared for the sheep. It was also used metaphorically to refer to a leader, a ruler, or a commander. Plato, for example, compared “the rulers of the city-state to shepherds who care for their flock.” This meaning was carried over into the New Testament. A pastor is a man who cares for and feeds the flock.

Teachers, then, is didaskalos, which from Homer (8th–7th Century B.C.) onwards was used in the sense of a teacher or tutor. The term covered “all those regularly engaged in the systematic imparting of knowledge or technical skills: the elementary teacher, the tutor, the philosopher, also the chorus-master who has to conduct rehearsals of poetry for public performance.” This is the sense in which it is used in the New Testament: “Men holding this office had the task of explaining the Christian faith to others and of providing a Christian exposition of the Old Testament.” So the Christian teacher is one who systematically imparts Divine Truth and practical knowledge based on the Word of God.

The key to understanding both these terms, however, is that they refer to the same office; they are not to be separated. A misunderstanding of this principle leads to a great deal of error. One Greek authority makes this abundantly clear by explaining what is called the “Granville Sharp’s Rule,” which states: “. . . when there are two nouns in the same case connected by kai (and), the first noun having the article [the], the second noun not having the article, the second noun refers to the same thing the first noun does and is a further description of it.” It’s interesting that more liberal interpreters either downplay this fact or deny it altogether. This is no doubt due, at least in part, to the fact of little teaching and weak leadership in such groups. To deny this fact of the language, however, is blatant folly. The evidence is overwhelming.

This is, in fact, the whole point of the “shepherd” imagery (poimen); the shepherd meets all the needs of the sheep: care, feeding, protecting, exhorting, etc. To divide pastors and teachers into two offices destroys the entire picture. This would have been crystal clear to readers in Paul’s day. The idea of one shepherd who fed the sheep and another who tended to their needs would have been totally foreign to them because a shepherd did both.

May we further add that I Timothy 5:17 clearly puts the two functions together: “Let the elders [another title for pastors] that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” “Labour” is kopiao, “to labor to the point of exhaustion in word and teaching.” These two functions define the teaching shepherd, because the majority of his time must be spent in the Word of God so that he can adequately feed, exhort, and protect the sheep. A shepherd who does not do that is betraying his calling and hurting the sheep, which is tragically quite prevalent in our day.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Church Leadership: The Evangelist

Ephesians 4:11—And [Christ] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers—declares that our Lord has given gifted leadership to His Church in the form of four offices. The first two are clearly past and no longer active. An apostle was a man who (1) had seen the resurrected Lord Jesus, (2) was called and commissioned, in person, by the Lord Jesus, (3) received special revelation from God and, therefore, had absolute authority, and (4) had the power to work miracles to prove his apostleship. A prophet, in the official sense of that day, spoke immediately of the Holy Spirit, that is, spoke under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit and spoke new revelation, something that no longer is occurring. Our only authority is Scripture alone. Evangelists and [pastor-teachers], however, are still in force. They are, in fact, the direct descendants of the apostles; and prophets.

What is an “evangelist?” We have heard this term countless times in the last century, but exactly is it? The Greek is euangelistes, “one who proclaims good news,” and seems to indicate that this proclamation was in places where the Gospel was previously unknown. It is found in only two other verses. It first occurs in Acts 21:8, where Philip is referred to as an evangelist. A little earlier in 8:5 we are told that “Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them,” which is what the evangelist did. Later in that passage we also read of Philip’s dealing with the Ethiopian eunuch. The second occurrence is in II Timothy 4:5, where Paul tells Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist,” that is, to proclaim the good news.

The foundational principle here for both the [evangelist] and the [pastor-teacher] (literal translation) is this: these two are the direct descendants of the Apostle and the Prophet respectively. That is, the evangelist is the direct descendant of the Apostle, and the pastor-teacher is the direct descendant of the prophet. Noted pastor John MacArthur puts it very well: “There is no [actual] mention of the latter two gifted offices replacing the first two, because in New Testament times all were operative. But the fact is that, as they continued to serve the Church, the evangelists and [pastor-teachers] did pick up the baton from the first generation apostles and prophets.”

This principle is of vital importance because it follows of necessity. Since the Apostle went about proclaiming the Gospel and planting churches, and since that ministry must continue, it follows that the evangelist continues this work. Likewise, since the Prophet proclaimed and taught the Truth, and since that ministry must continue, it follows that the pastor-teacher continues that work. The Apostle and prophet are gone, but their work, without the miraculous signs and immediate speaking of the Spirit, still continues.

The evangelist, therefore, is to carry on the basic work of the Apostle. What a position and responsibility! Like the Apostle, he goes about proclaiming the Gospel and planting local churches. This picture is not to be confused with what is called an “evangelist” today. To equate the New Testament position with many of the so-called evangelists today, or with what theologian Lewis Sperry Chafer calls “the modern revivalist who bears the name [evangelist], and who has little recognition in the New Testament,” is to insult the Biblical text. In our day, this is often a guy with six suits and a dozen sermons who goes all over the country preaching, which sometimes is the Gospel and sometimes is not. Now while preaching the True Gospel is paramount, it is quite obvious that the Biblical evangelist did far more. He taught people the Word and grounded them in the faith over a period of time. He also, of necessity, founded a local church because that is where the new believer should be. Upon completion of this task, he would move on, leaving a pastor-teacher, the descendant of the Prophet in his place.

This is what is termed “church-planting” and is the Biblical model for “missions.” Strictly speaking, “missions” is planting churches. Why? Because it is the way the Apostle Paul did it. As we will see, the Local church is what God is using to do His work, so it is local churches that we must plant.