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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Pastor-teachers (Eph. 4:11)

How many gifts are there in this verse? If it is not read carefully, you might think there are five gifts, and if you count the uses of the conjunction ‘add’, you will come up with the figure ‘five’. But there are only four gifts, which you can identify by the word ‘some’ which occurs before each gift. The phrase ‘pastors and teachers’ describes one gift.

The gift of pastor-teachers is termed an ‘ordinary’ gift in contrast to the ‘extraordinary’ gifts of apostles, prophets and evangelists. By ‘ordinary’ is meant the idea that pastor/teachers will be in the church permanently. Pastor is not the only term used to describe such people: they are also soldiers, farmers, slaves and servants.

The term ‘pastor’ means shepherd and is a reminder that believers are a flock; the term ‘teacher’ is a reminder that believers are learners. Both these pictures of the Lord’s people are reminders of unity.

A pastor/teacher attends to the needs of the flock of Christ. This involves two things in particular: feeding and protection from spiritual wolves. The primary way of accomplishing this task is by preaching and teaching the Word of God. Paul reminded Timothy about the sufficiency of scripture: ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works’ (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

A pastor/teacher teaches similar to how Jesus would do it, if he were present physically. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus describes how he did this task: humbly and gently. Jesus, the almighty king of heaven, delights to teach the poorest of his people. He does in a kind, sensitive, tender manner, never crushing those under his care.

A pastor/teacher is accountable to Christ for his oversight. This will occur at the day of judgment. In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul refers to the possibility of a pastor erecting a building made of wood, hay and stubble, which will be burnt up although he will be saved, though as by fire. Of course, the accountability works both ways. The writer to the Hebrews exhorts his readers to ‘Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation’ (Heb. 13:7); then he says, ‘Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you’ (Heb. 13:17).

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