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The Epistle to the Ephesians (9).
pp. 96 - 100
Having seen that apostles and prophets, as gifts of the ascended Christ, are
foundational and therefore not repeated, we pass on to evangelists, pastors and teachers.
The evangelist in early Christian times was a pioneer, often going into new territory,
sometimes with great hazards, and so this type of witness had to have a toughness about
it. Pastors are really shepherds, and shepherds pre-suppose sheep. Those who believe
that the figure of `sheep' denotes the people of God of all times without distinction, will
lean to the view that shepherds and teachers represent one class of ministry. But many
years study of the Scriptures has made it clear to us that the Holy Spirit uses figures and
symbols with exactness and does not mix His metaphors as men often do. For the most
part `sheep' are a description of the people of Israel (Psa. 78: 52; 79: 13; 95: 7;
100: 3; Jer. 50: 17). Matt. 25: 32 is an exception, and there are `other sheep' whom the
Lord will gather and finally unite with restored Israel to form "one flock" (John 10: 16).
This is a wide ministry, as John's Gospel shows, and we see no reason to believe that the
calling out of the Joint-Body of Ephesians is the only thing God is doing in this present
age; rather the reverse, when one looks around on the present Christian scene the world
over and also contemplates it in its past history. There is need therefore for a shepherd
ministry, and the Lord has been raising up such all down this age.
Teachers play an important part in the building up and development of those already
saved. There is sometimes a false emphasis put upon evangelists and they are then
considered to be much more important than teachers. This idea is usually held by those
who think that all Christian witness is summed up by preaching the Gospel to sinners and
"getting them saved". Whether such go on to grow up spiritually to maturity seems to be
of little concern or importance. The result is that not only do we see around us many
churches that are spiritually dead, but also others that are filled with spiritual infants.
These become a liability rather than an asset, for they do not go on to become full grown
believers who are really pulling their weight in Christian warfare and witness. It is
significant that a bishop or overseer in the N.T. had to possess the qualification of being
"apt to teach" (I Tim. 3: 2), and Paul enjoins Timothy to pass on the sacred deposit of
Truth to "faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (II Tim. 2: 2). Some have
the erroneous idea that people are not saved under a teaching ministry, but this is quite
contrary to the true facts. The faithful teacher constantly points away to Christ as Saviour
as well as Lord and Head, and many are truly saved who have never had a Gospel
invitation put to them.
The goal of all ministry, whether that of the evangelist or teacher is stated in
Eph. 4: 12, 13 R.V.:
"For the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering unto the building up of
the Body of Christ:
Till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God,
unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."