Saturday, January 30, 2016

Given to Teach and Tend (Ephesians 4:11-12)

“He gave some … as pastors and teachers,” (v. 11) … “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;” (Ephesians 4:12, NASB95)

Looking back specifically to the pastor-teacher and this verse which immediately speaks of these men being given to the church we see unfolded for us key parts of the role to which they are called. The name of the role (pastor-teacher) itself gives us insight as to what these men are called to do, and from the second part we know that an obvious part of what he is to do is teach. While this teaching may or may not include regularly speaking from a pulpit, it does include teaching the truths of God’s word. Looking to verse 12 we see that the content of this teaching is to be focused on at least two specific areas. One of them is equipping for the work of service, and the other is that of building up the body of Christ. There is a lot to these two areas and much has been written on them even as we read in man of the New Testament letters.

Another aspect of the title is that of being a “pastor.” This week I spoke with a gentleman from Great Britain who told me that our term “pastor” is a curious word to him. It not one that he was used to at home where ‘vicar’ and ‘rector’ were the ones he was used to hearing. And as I searched the internet while writing this post I found as many as 103 synonyms for the word ‘pastor’ with a great number of them having nothing to do with our Christian understanding but many did.

A close look at Scripture will reveal that the word “pastors” is actually only seen here in this passage in Ephesians and not even in all translations. In the ESV we see it translated as “shepherds.” The Greek word translated “pastor” here is ‘poimen,’ and in its other usages in the same translations of Scripture it is translated “shepherd.” It is for that reason that the definition included in the last post defines that pastor-teacher as one who is given to shepherd the flock of God. The pastor is a shepherd, and this is exactly what Jesus told Peter to do three times when He restored him to ministry in John 21 and told him to shepherd or tend to His sheep.

As we see them put together the pastor-teacher is more than a person who stands up front and teaches the people, but he is one who is actively engaged with them in helping to guide them in their spiritual walk and growth, both corporately and individually in Christ. He is given by God to care for the flock as Christ cared for His disciples and as we see exemplified by men such as Paul.

We also see in Scripture (though not covered in this passage) that this responsibility is not given singularly to the “pastor-teacher” but also to men who serve in the church as its elders who are charged both as overseers and shepherds.

Obviously, from this passage, we also see that the work of the pastor-teacher implies a result in the people. He cannot effectively equip and build unless people are submitted to the Lordship of Christ and the direction of the one given by Him to fulfill this role. The pastor is not any more or less special that any other believer. We are all called as one in Christ, and He has chosen just how it is that we are to serve. In the process of this happening some are more given to one thing and others to another. This will be expanded upon more as we move through this chapter of Ephesians and we look at the priority of the whole body growing together toward maturity. Peter said regardless of how we have been given by God to do what we have been called to do we are to do it by the strength that He supplies and for His glory.

“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10–11, NASB95)

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