Study Notes

Ephesians 4:11-13


Paul has been writing about unifying the church body. Today, we will be covering how God has established within His church a system that escorts us towards unity.

4:11-13 He Gave

"He gave..." The "He" spoken of here is Jesus Christ. He gave the church these ministers to build up the body of Christ. That was His promise to Peter:

Matt. 16:18 "...I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it."

Jesus is the One Who builds the church. And He is the One Who gives ministers to the church. That's why, when people appoint themselves to ministry, disaster results. As Solomon wrote,

Ps. 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it...

The church is to be built by Jesus. When someone decides, "I can be a better pastor than this guy - I'm going to take half of these people and start my own church," then collapse is imminent. Any church that Jesus doesn't build isn't even a church, because it is not the house of God.

Four Offices

The ministries Jesus established for building the church are apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors and teachers. Most, if not all, of these terms are largely misunderstood, so let's take some time to examine them.


First on Paul's list are apostles. I can't tell you how many books I have which say, "This was exclusively a ministry unique to the first century." And most Christians don't think twice when a preacher regurgitates this, saying, "Well, of course we know that the apostles are long-gone. There were only the twelve." Seldom does someone question such a statement.

But the word "apostle" means "one who is sent out." And of course we know that Jesus sent out the original 12 guys, who were called apostles. But when Judas hung himself, Matthias was appointed to fill his place. That makes 13. Then Paul was called an apostle. Fourteen. In fact, there were lots of other men who were called apostles: Barnabas (Acts 14:14); An-DRON-ee-kos and Ee-oo-NEE-as (Rom. 16:7), James, the Lord's brother (Gal. 1:19), and Silas and Timothy (1Thes. 1:1 with 2:6). They all became apostles, having been sent out to plant churches and establish the work of God in the world.

And nowhere does the Bible say, "By the way, when this book is finished, so are the apostles. When the first century comes to an end, so will the last of the apostles." Certainly today, God is still sending people to cities and towns, preaching the gospel, and establishing churches.


Next on Paul's list are prophets. These are people who receive a Word from the Lord and proclaim it. This word can come by supernatural revelation, vision, dream, or from the Word of God itself. The content of the prophesy always...

1Cor. 14:3 ...speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.

The prophet either builds you up, strongly warns you against sin, or reassures you with comfort.

Again, there are many who say that there are no more prophets. That the last prophet was John the Baptist. They quote Jesus saying,

Matt. 11:13 "For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John."

"That's it, no more prophets," they claim. Problem: Paul here is saying that Jesus gave prophets to equip the church. The church wasn't built until after John died! If he was the last of the prophets, we have a real shortage! In reality, we see that prophets continued on after John:

Acts 11:27-28 ...some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and {began} to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world...

Acts 13:1 Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

Acts 15:32 ...Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message.

Additionally, the church in Corinth was told to...

1Cor. 14:29 ...let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment.

And the Thessalonians were told,

1Ths. 5:20-21 do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything {carefully} ; hold fast to that which is good;

Once again, there is no Biblical evidence that Jesus was going to pull the plug on the prophets at any time during the church age. As a matter of fact, Zechariah 13 tells us that prophecy stops in the Millennium.

It is also interesting to notice the crossover in these ministry descriptions. For example, Silas and Barnabas were both listed as apostles as well as prophets. These offices are not mutually exclusive.


Thirdly, Paul lists evangelists. You might remember from our study in chapter one that we learned the word "gospel" in Greek is "yoo-ang-GHEL-ee-on, which means "good news." Well, the word for "evangelist" is "yoo-ang-ghel-is-TACE," which means "the bringer of the good news."

In other words, evangelists are the ones who preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. For example, Philip became known as "Philip the Evangelist" (Acts 21:8) when he...

Acts 8:5 ...went down to the city of Samaria and {began} proclaiming Christ to them.


Finally, there are the pastors and teachers. These are not two groups in the Greek language, but one ("a construction called Granvill Sharp's rule," according to Weust). The word "pastor" means "shepherd." Since believers are called sheep, then the pastor is called a shepherd as he protects them from enemies, cares for them, and feeds them the Word of God. Paul said to pastors,

Acts 20:28 "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."

Peter echoed this message when he commanded,

1Pet. 5:2-3 ...shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to {the will of} God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.

While the pastor/teacher is protecting the flock, he needs to watch out for himself as well. James warned,

James 3:1 Let not many {of you} become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment.

4:12-13 Equipping The Saints

The reason Jesus has given us apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor/teachers is to equip the saints for the work of service.

The evangelist preaches the gospel to you and you get saved. How are you equipped to serve? Your newborn excitement serves older believers through encouragement. And when you share your faith, you will build the body numerically.

The apostle plants the church. How does that equip you? Now you have a place where the body of Christ gathers. Serve them!

The prophet proclaims God's revelation to you, building you up, exhorting, or consoling you with a personal Word from God. You are equipped when that Word adds blessing, brings rebuke, or reassurance. You straighten up, release the baggage, or get refreshed. Then you are freed from the hindrance and can begin to serve.

Finally, the pastor/teacher teaches you the Word. How does that equip you? As you are taught the Word, you grow and mature as a Christian. The greater your knowledge of the Word and the greater your heart for God becomes, the more you serve God by helping His people grow as you are.

Saints, too many churches think that the pastor is the one who is supposed to be doing the serving. In reality, I am supposed to be equipping YOU for the work of service, to serve one another. That's why the apostles said in Acts 6,

Acts 6:2 ..."It is not desirable for us to neglect the Word of God in order to serve tables.

Acts 6:4 "But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word."

I am serving by shepherding, and teaching. And if you are maturing as a result of that shepherding and teaching, then you are serving. It's that simple.

In reality, less that half of the people who attend Calvary Chapel on a regular basis are serving in some sort of ministry. The fact is, almost every ministry in this church could use anywhere from one more to 35 more servants.

Since our desire is to attain unity of the faith, maturity in the body, and experience the fulness of life in Christ, let me exhort you: do the work of service.

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