Ephesians 4:11
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
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(11) He gave.—In the original “He” is emphatic—He and He alone, as the ascended Head of humanity. The word “gave,” instead of the more obvious word set, or appointed (used in 1Corinthians 12:28), is, of course, suggested by Ephesians 4:8. They who are ministers of His gifts are themselves gifts from Him to the Church.

Some, apostles; and some, prophets . . .—With this passage we must compare 1Corinthians 12:28, “God hath set some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings,” &c.; and, perhaps, Romans 12:6-8, “Having then gifts . . . whether prophecy . . . or ministry . . . or teaching . . . or exhortation . . .,” although this last passage is lass formally apposite. In all three cases there is the same general idea, first of the one body, and then of the one Spirit, guiding and animating it through various ministries. The parallel between this passage and the passage in 1 Cor. is very close; for in the latter all that follows the words “after that” may be put aside, as describing, not special offices or ministries, but special gifts. We have, therefore, in both, “first apostles, secondly prophets.” Then come, in the earlier Epistle, “teachers;” and this class, in our own later Epistle, is subdivided into “evangelists” and “pastors,” both being teachers—the one in conversion of those still aliens from Christ, the other in edification of those already brought into His flock.

Some, apostles.—The name “apostles” is certainly used here in its technical and restricted sense, as applying to the Twelve, whom “the Apostle” of God Himself (Hebrews 3:1) named as His Apostles (Luke 6:13), and with whom St. Paul claims equality (see 1Corinthians 9:1; 1Corinthians 15:9-11; Galatians 1:1) on the ground of his own special mission and revelation from the same Lord. It is, indeed, used in a wider sense; sometimes with words distinctly implying a derivation and human mission, as in 2Corinthians 8:23, “apostles (or, messengers) of the churches;” Philippians 2:25, “Epaphroditus, your apostle (or, messenger);” sometimes without such qualification, as in 2Corinthians 11:5; 2Corinthians 11:13; 2Corinthians 12:11-12; 1Thessalonians 2:7; and, perhaps, Romans 16:7. But such use is rare, and cannot be applied to a passage like this, which is distinctive of a special and primary class. In direct charge from the Lord, universal scope of mission, special inspiration and power of miracle, which are “the signs of an apostle” (2Corinthians 12:12), the Apostles, properly so called, stood out in office absolutely unique and supreme. What was said of the first age of the Church is true of all ages—“of the rest durst no man join himself unto them” (Acts 5:13).

Some, prophets.—For the nature and function of prophecy in the Church, see the detailed treatment of the subject by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 14. It is sufficient here to note (1) that from very early times the “prophets” are mentioned as a separate class (see Acts 11:27; Acts 15:32; Acts 21:10), distinguished from teachers (Acts 13:1), and that, in this Epistle especially, they are spoken of, in connection with the Apostles, as receiving the revealed mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 3:5), and being (or, laying) “the foundation of the Church;” (2) that their office, like the Apostolate, is clearly extraordinary, distinct from the ordinary and permanent teaching of the evangelists and pastors, and, probably, best described by the two phrases so constantly applied to the prophets of the Old Testament—“the word of the Lord came to me;” “the Spirit of the Lord was upon me.” As all God’s extraordinary gifts and workings are closely correlated with His ordinary laws of operation, so in this case the apostolic and prophetic offices gradually melt away into the regular functions of government and teaching, belonging in all times to the ministry of the Church.

Some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.—In these two phrases (corresponding to the simple word “teachers” in 1Corinthians 12:28) we find described the two-fold office of the regular ministry of the Church—first, to preach the gospel to the heathen or the unconverted, and next, to fulfil our Lord’s pastoral charge (John 21:15-17) of feeding and shepherding those who are already His sheep. It is clear that the same person may be invested with the two offices, as Timothy, when in pastoral charge at Ephesus, is bidden “to do the work of an evangelist” (2Timothy 4:5); and that in some degree the two offices must always be united, for the evangelist, like the apostle, is generally called upon to organise and “confirm the churches” (Acts 14:22-23; Acts 15:41), and the pastor must always find men unconverted, to whom he must be an evangelist. But the two elements of duty will co-exist in different proportions in different persons. Some were then, and are now, especially called to be “evangelists”—that is, as is shown by the career of Philip, to whom the name is first given (Acts 21:8), to be, under the apostolic guidance, missionaries to the unconverted; others to be “pastors and teachers,” feeding now with “pure milk of the word,” now with “solid meat” (see 1Corinthians 3:2, and Hebrews 5:12), those already gathered into the fold, and exercising over them the pastoral authority solemnly committed by our Lord to His ministers. Yet both can discharge only under limitation the functions which in the Apostles were practically unlimited.

On the question whether this celebrated passage describes the regular orders or the functions, ordinary and extraordinary, of the ministry, we may fairly say that while no doubt the very genius of the passage points to the latter alternative, yet the ultimate appeal must be made to history. It is clear, from the nature of the case, that none could inherit the direct and universal commission from Christ held by the Apostles; it is certain historically that the supernatural gifts of prophecy and miracle passed away; it is hardly less indisputable that the two functions of evangelism and pastorate were always shared among the three orders of bishops, priests, and deacons after the close of the Apostolic age.

Ephesians 4:11. And — Among other his free gifts; he gave some, apostles — His chief ministers and special witnesses, as having seen him after his resurrection, and received their commission immediately from him. The office of an apostle was to declare, in an infallible manner, the whole gospel doctrine: to qualify them for which they were endowed with the plenary and most abundant inspiration of the Holy Spirit, imparting to them a perfect knowledge of all those truths and mysteries which they were to publish to the world. And some he gave to be prophets — Whose office it was to explain infallibly the true meaning of the ancient prophecies, and also themselves to predict future events, by virtue of the extraordinary revelations made to them. And some, evangelists — Who were to preach the gospel in different Gentile nations, either before or after the apostles, under whose direction they seem generally to have acted. To fit them for this office Christ gave them the gift of tongues, and such other miraculous endowments as were necessary for the exercise of their ministry, and the confirmation of their doctrine. All these were extraordinary officers: the ordinary were some, pastors, (called επισκοπους, bishops, Acts 20:28,) watching over and feeding their several flocks. To fit them for which work, it appears from 1 Corinthians 12:28-31; 1 Corinthians 14:1-5; 1 Corinthians 14:23-26, that Christ bestowed, at least on some of them, the gifts of miracles and tongues, also the gift of prudence, to enable them to govern their particular churches in a proper manner. And teachers — Whether of the same or a lower order, to assist them as occasion might require. It is probable the peculiar office of those here termed teachers, as distinguished from those called pastors, was to instruct the young and ignorant in the first principles of the Christian religion. And they likewise were doubtless fitted for their work, by such gifts as were necessary to the right discharging thereof; and some infer from 1 Corinthians 12:28, that supernatural gifts, such as those of miracles and tongues, were also conferred on some of them.

4:7-16 Unto every believer is given some gift of grace, for their mutual help. All is given as seems best to Christ to bestow upon every one. He received for them, that he might give to them, a large measure of gifts and graces; particularly the gift of the Holy Ghost. Not a mere head knowledge, or bare acknowledging Christ to be the Son of God, but such as brings trust and obedience. There is a fulness in Christ, and a measure of that fulness given in the counsel of God to every believer; but we never come to the perfect measure till we come to heaven. God's children are growing, as long as they are in this world; and the Christian's growth tends to the glory of Christ. The more a man finds himself drawn out to improve in his station, and according to his measure, all that he has received, to the spiritual good of others, he may the more certainly believe that he has the grace of sincere love and charity rooted in his heart.And he gave some, apostles - He gave some to be apostles. The "object" here is to show that he has made ample provision for the extension and edification of his church On the meaning of the word "apostles," and on their appointment by the Saviour, see the notes on Matthew 10:1.

And some, prophets - He appointed some to be prophets; see the Romans 12:7, note; 1 Corinthians 12:28, note; 1 Corinthians 14:1, notes.

And some, evangelists - see the notes on Acts 21:8; compare 2 Timothy 4:5. The word does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. What was the precise office of the evangelist in the primitive church, it is now impossible to determine. The evangelist "may" have been one whose main business was "preaching," and who was not particularly engaged in the "government" of the church. The word properly means "a messenger of good tidings;" and Robinson (Lexicon) supposes that it denotes a minister of the gospel who was not located in any place, but who traveled as a missionary to preach the gospel, and to found churches. The word is so used now by many Christians; but it cannot be proved that it is so used in the New Testament. An explanation of the words which here occur may be found in Neander on the Primitive Church, in the Biblical Repository, vol. iv. pp. 258ff The office was distinct from that of the "pastor," the teacher, and the "prophet:" and was manifestly an office in which "preaching" was the main thing.

And some, pastors - Literally, "shepherds" - ποιμένας poimenas; compare Matthew 9:36; Matthew 25:32; Matthew 26:31; Mark 6:34; Mark 14:27; Luke 2:8, Luke 2:15, Luke 2:18, Luke 2:20; John 10:2, John 10:11-12, John 10:14, John 10:16, where it is rendered "shepherd and shepherds;" also Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; in Matthew 26:31; Mark 14:27; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25, it is applied to the Lord Jesus as the great shepherd of the flock - the church. It is rendered "pastors" only in the place before us. The word is given to ministers of the gospel with obvious propriety, and with great beauty. They are to exercise the same watchfulness and care river the people of their charge which a shepherd does over his flock; compare the notes on John 21:15-16. The meaning here is, that Christ exercised a special care for his church by appointing "pastors" who would watch over it as a shepherd does over his flock.

And teachers - see the notes on Romans 12:7.

11. Greek, emphatical. "Himself" by His supreme power. "It is He that gave," &c.

gave some, apostles—Translate, "some to be apostles, and some to be prophets," &c. The men who filled the office, no less than the office itself, were a divine gift [Eadie]. Ministers did not give themselves. Compare with the list here, 1Co 12:10, 28. As the apostles, prophets, and evangelists were special and extraordinary ministers, so "pastors and teachers" are the ordinary stated ministers of a particular flock, including, probably, the bishops, presbyters, and deacons. Evangelists were itinerant preachers like our missionaries, as Philip the deacon (Ac 21:8); as contrasted with stationary "pastors and teachers" (2Ti 4:5). The evangelist founded the Church; the teacher built it up in the faith already received. The "pastor" had the outward rule and guidance of the Church: the bishop. As to revelation, the "evangelist" testified infallibly of the past; the "prophet," infallibly of the future. The prophet derived all from the Spirit; the evangelist, in the special case of the Four, recorded matter of fact, cognizable to the senses, under the Spirit's guidance. No one form of Church polity as permanently unalterable is laid down in the New Testament though the apostolical order of bishops, or presbyters, and deacons, superintended by higher overseers (called bishops after the apostolic times), has the highest sanction of primitive usage. In the case of the Jews, a fixed model of hierarchy and ceremonial unalterably bound the people, most minutely detailed in the law. In the New Testament, the absence of minute directions for Church government and ceremonies, shows that a fixed model was not designed; the general rule is obligatory as to ceremonies, "Let all things be done decently and in order" (compare Article XXXIV, Church of England); and that a succession of ministers be provided, not self-called, but "called to the work by men who have public authority given unto them in the congregation, to call and send ministers into the Lord's vineyard" [Article XXIII]. That the "pastors" here were the bishops and presbyters of the Church, is evident from Ac 20:28; 1Pe 5:1, 2, where the bishops' and presbyters' office is said to be "to feed" the flock. The term, "shepherd" or "pastor," is used of guiding and governing and not merely instructing, whence it is applied to kings, rather than prophets or priests (Eze 34:23; Jer 23:4). Compare the names of princes compounded of "pharnas," Hebrew, "pastor," Holophernes, Tis-saphernes (compare Isa 44:28).

And he gave; distributed several gifts, (which are spoken of in general, Ephesians 1:7), according to his Father’s appointment, who is said to set in the church what Christ is here said to give, 1 Corinthians 12:28.

Objection. Nothing is here said of gifts, but only of offices.

Answer. Christ never gave offices without suitable furniture; this diversity therefore of offices includes diversity of respective gifts.

Apostles; extraordinary officers, with an immediate call, universal commission, infallibility in teaching, and power of working miracles, appointed for the first founding the Christian church in all parts of the world, Matthew 28:19 Acts 19:6.

Objection. The apostles were appointed by Christ before his death.

Answer. The apostle here speaks not of Christ’s first calling them, but:

1. Of his fully supplying them with gifts necessary to the discharge of their office, which was after his resurrection, Acts 1:4 John 7:39. And:

2. Of their solemn inauguration in their office, by the pouring out of the Holy Ghost upon them in a visible manner, Acts 2:1-47.

Prophets; extraordinary officers who did by immediate revelation interpret the Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 14:4,5, and not only such as did foretell things to come, Acts 11:27 21:10.

Evangelists; these were likewise extraordinary officers, for the most part chosen by the apostles, as their companions and assistants in preaching the word, and planting churches in the several places where they travelled. Such were Timothy, Titus, Apollos, Silas, &c.

Pastors and teachers; either two names of the same office, implying the distinct duties of ruling and teaching belonging to it; or two distinct offices, but both ordinary, and of standing use in the church in all times; and then pastors are they that are fixed to and preside over particular churches, with the care both of instructing and ruling them, 1 Thessalonians 5:12 Hebrews 13:17; called elsewhere elders, and bishops, Acts 20:28 Philippians 1:1 1 Timothy 3:1 Titus 1:5,7 1 Peter 5:1,2.

Teachers; they whose work is to teach the doctrine of religion, and confute the contrary errors.

And he gave some apostles,.... That is, he gave them gifts by which they were qualified to be apostles; who were such as were immediately called by Christ, and had their doctrine from him, and their commission to preach it; and were peculiarly and infallibly guided by the Spirit of God, and had a power to work miracles for the confirmation of their doctrine; and had authority to go everywhere and preach the Gospel, and plant churches, and were not confined to anyone particular place or church; this was the first and chief office in the church, and of an extraordinary kind, and is now ceased; and though the apostles were before Christ's ascension, yet they had not received till then the fulness of the Spirit, and his extraordinary gifts to fit them for their office; nor did they enter upon the discharge of it in its large extent till that time; for they were not only to bear witness of Christ in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, but in the uttermost parts of the earth:

and some prophets; by whom are meant, not private members of churches, who may all prophesy or teach in a private way; nor ordinary ministers of the word; but extraordinary ones, who had a peculiar gift of interpreting the Scriptures, the prophecies of the Old Testament, and of foretelling things to come; such were Agabus and others in the church of Antioch, Acts 11:27

and some evangelists; by whom are designed, not so much the writers of the Gospels, as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, some of which were also apostles; as preachers of the Gospel, and who yet were distinct from the ordinary ministers of it; they were below the apostles, and yet above pastors and teachers; they were the companions of the apostles, and assistants to them, and subserved them in their work; such were Philip, Luke, Titus, Timothy, and others; these were not fixed and stated ministers in anyone place, as the following officers be, but were sent here and there as the apostles thought fit:

and some pastors and teachers, or doctors; these may be thought to differ, but not so much on account of the place where they perform their work, the one in the church, the other in the school; nor on account of the different subject of their ministry, the one attending to practical, the other to doctrinal points; but whereas the pastors are the shepherds of the flock, the overseers of it, and the same with the bishops and elders, and the teachers may be the gifted brethren in the church, assistants to the pastors, bare ministers of the word; so the difference lies here, that the one has the oversight, and care, and charge of the church, and the other not; the one can administer all ordinances, the other not; the one is fixed and tied to some certain church, the other not: though I rather think they intend one and the same office, and that the word "teachers" is only explanative of the figurative word "pastors" or shepherds; and the rather because if the apostle had designed distinct officers, he would have used the same form of speaking as before; and have expressed himself thus, "and some pastors, and some teachers"; whereas he does not make such a distribution here as there; though the Syriac version reads this clause distributively as the others; and among the Jews there were the singular men or wise men, and the disciples of the wise men, who were their companions and assistants; and it is asked (y),

"who is a singular man? and who is a disciple? a singular man is everyone that is fit to be appointed a pastor or governor of a congregation; and a disciple is one, that when he is questioned about any point in his doctrine, gives an answer:''

wherefore if these two, pastors and teachers, are different, it might be thought there is some reference to this distinction, and that pastors answer to the wise men, and teachers to their disciples or assistants; and so Kimchi in Jeremiah 3:15 interprets the pastors there of , "the pastors of Israel", which shall be with the King Messiah, as is said in Micah 5:5 and undoubtedly Gospel ministers are meant: from the whole it may be observed, that as there have been various officers and offices in the Gospel dispensation, various gifts have been bestowed; and these are the gifts of Christ, which he has received for men, and gives unto them; and hence it appears that the work of the ministry is not an human invention, but the appointment of Christ, for which he fits and qualifies, and therefore to be regarded; and that they only are the ministers of Christ, whom he makes ministers of the New Testament, and not whom men or themselves make and appoint.

(y) T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 10. 2.

{6} And he gave some, {l} apostles; and some, {m} prophets; and some, {n} evangelists; and some, {o} pastors and teachers;

(6) First of all he lists the ecclesiastical functions, which are partly extraordinary and for a season, such as apostles, prophets, and evangelists, and partly ordinary and perpetual, such as pastors and teachers.

(l) The apostles were those twelve to whom Paul was afterward added, whose office was to plant churches throughout all the world.

(m) The prophet's office was one of the chiefest, who were men of marvellous wisdom, and some of them could foretell things to come.

(n) The apostles used these as companions in the execution of their office, being not able to go to all places by themselves.

(o) Pastors are those who govern the Church, and teachers are those who govern the schools.

Ephesians 4:11.[214] And he has, etc. From the general πληροῦν τὰ πάντα, Ephesians 4:10, there is now brought into prominence in reference to the church, with a retrospective glance at Ephesians 4:7, the special point with which the apostle was here concerned, in order to give the clinching argument to his exhortation as to the keeping of the unity of the Spirit. Christ, who has ascended from the lowest depth to the loftiest height, in order to fill all things, precisely He, has—such is His autonomy in His church—given the different teachers and leaders of the church, until we all shall have attained to the unity of the faith, etc.

We are not to treat as a parenthesis either Ephesians 4:8-10 (Griesbach and others) or Ephesians 4:9-10 (Koppe), since the continuation of the discourse with καὶ αὐτός emphatically attaches itself to the preceding αὐτός.

ἔδωκε] is not, any more than at Ephesians 1:22, equivalent to ἔθετο (Theophylact and many, including Meier, Harless, Baumgarten-Crusius), seeing that, in fact, the giving in the proper sense, to which Paul here looks back, has preceded, and Christ has in reality given the apostles, etc., to the church,[215] namely, through the specific charismatic endowment and, respectively also, by His own immediate calling (ἀποστόλους) of the persons in question. Calvin rightly remarks on ἔδωκε: “quia nisi excitet, nulli erunt.” This raising up and granting of the appropriate persons for the perfecting of the church as His body, not the institution of a spiritual office in itself, which as such has exclusively to administer His means of grace, is here ascribed to Christ. Comp. (in opposition to Münchmeyer) Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 283 ff.; Müller in the Deutsche Zeitschr. 1852, No. 21. The appointing to the service of the individual congregations (as ποιμένας καὶ διδασκ.) of such persons given by Christ lay in the choice of the congregations themselves, which choice, conducted by apostles or apostolic men, Acts 14:23, took place under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Acts 20:28. Thus Christ gave the persons, and the community gave to them the service. As regards the time of the ἔδωκε, it is to be observed that this was indeed a potiori the time after the ascension (among the apostles in the narrower sense, also as respects Matthias and Paul), but that, as was obvious for the readers, the earlier appointment of the original apostles was not thereby excluded. The latter, namely, are not alone meant by ἀποστόλους, but (comp. on 1 Corinthians 15:7) also men like Barnabas and James the Lord’s brother must be reckoned among them.

The order in which they are brought up is such, that those not assigned to a single church precede (ἀποστ., προφ., εὐαγγ.), and these are arranged in the order of rank. Hence the ΠΟΙΜΈΝΕς, because belonging to particular churches, had to follow, and it is without reason that a Montanistic depreciation of the bishops (Baur) is found here.

ΤΟῪς ΜῈΝ ἈΠΟΣΤΌΛΟΥς] some as apostles. Their characteristics are their immediate calling by Christ, and their destination for all nations. Comp. on 1 Corinthians 12:28.

προφήτας] As to these speakers, who, on the receipt of revelation and through the Holy Spirit, wrought with highly beneficial effect, yet without ecstasy, who likewise in Ephesians 3:5 are mentioned after the apostles, see on 1 Corinthians 12:10; Acts 11:27.

ΕὐΑΓΓΕΛΙΣΤΆς] who ΠΕΡΙΪΌΝΤΕς ἘΚΉΡΥΤΤΟΝ, Theodoret (see Nösselt, ad Theodoret. p. 424); missionary assistants to the apostles. See on Acts 21:8. Oecumenius would, at variance with the context (for Paul is speaking only of the exercise of teaching in the church), and probably also at variance with history (at least as regards our canonical gospels), understand the authore of the Gospels, which is adduced as possible also by Chrysostom.

τοὺς δὲ ποιμένας καὶ διδασκ.] denotes not the presbyters and deacons (Theophylact), nor the presbyters and exorcists (Ambrosiaster), nor yet the presbyters and teachers as two separate offices (Beza, Calvin, Zanchius, Grotius, Calixtus, and others, including de Wette), the latter in the sense of 1 Corinthians 12:28; but, as the non-repetition of τοὺς δέ shows, the presbyters and teachers as the same persons, so that the presbyters are designated by ποιμένας in stated figurative appellation (1 Peter 5:2; Acts 20:28; John 21:15 ff.) with reference to their function of guiding oversight over doctrine, life, and order in the church, consequently as ἐπίσκοποι (see on Acts 20:28, and Ch. F. Fritzsche, in Fritzschior. Opusc. p. 42 ff.); and by διδασκάλους, with reference to their function of teaching. We may add, that the διδάσκαλοι were not, as such, at the same time presbyters, for the ΔΙΔΑΧΉ was imparted by a special ΧΆΡΙΣΜΑ, which even ordinary members of the church might possess (1 Corinthians 14:26); but every presbyter was at the same time ΔΙΔΆΣΚΑΛΟς, and had to be endowed with this ΧΆΡΙΣΜΑ; hence Paul here puts together ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους, and, 1 Timothy 3:2, it is laid down as the requirement of an ἘΠΊΣΚΟΠΟς that he should be ΔΙΔΑΚΤΙΚΌς.

Comp. Titus 1:9. See also Augustine, Ep. lix. Comp. Jerome: “Nemo … pastoris sibi nomen assumere debet, nisi possit docere quos pascit.” 1 Timothy 5:17 is not opposed to this (see Huther in loc.).

[214] See Schott, Progr. quo locus Pauli Ephes. iv. 11 seq., breviter explic., Jen. 1830.

[215] Observe the importance, for the continued appointment of the ministers in the church, of the conception of the matter implied in ἔδωκε. Christ gives the ministers of the church; the church takes those given, and places them in the service of the church. Thus the church (or whoever has to represent the rights and duties of the church) has not in any way arbitrarily to choose the subjects, but to discern those endowed by Christ as those thereby given to it by Him, to acknowledge and to induct them into the ministry; hence the highest idea of the ecclesiastical scrutiny is, to test whether the persons in question have been given by Christ, without prejudice, we may add, to the other existing requirements of ecclesiastical law.

Ephesians 4:11. καὶ αὐτὸς ἔδωκε τοὺς μὲν ἀποστόλους: and He gave some Apostles. That is, “He gave some as Apostles,” or (with RV) “some to be Apostles”. At this point Paul reverts to the statement in Ephesians 4:7, and having shown that the declaration in Psalms 68. applies to Christ, he proceeds to set forth the purpose (Ephesians 4:12) with which the gifts of the exalted Giver are bestowed and His grace given to such. But before he explains that purpose he specifies a series of gifts given with that in view. We have a somewhat similar enumeration in 1 Corinthians 12:28. But while the ruling idea there is that of appointments (ἔθετο) and the subject is God, here the particular idea is that of gifts (ἔδωκε) and the subject is Christ. Further, while the list in Ephesians begins with Apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers, and continues in terms of persons, the statement in 1 Cor. takes note indeed of Apostles, prophets, and teachers, but thereafter passes from persons to gifts or ministries—miracles, healings, helps, governments, tongues. This has its significance, as we shall see. The αὐτός is again emphatic, = “he himself,” “he and no other”. The ἔδωκε is not to be taken as = ἔθετο, appointed or set. That it has its proper sense of gave is clear from its relation to the preceding ἔδωκε δόματα. The “giving” refers to the call of the Church’s Head, the point being the gift of Christ to the Church in the form of certain men chosen by Him and equipped by Him to do service toward the building up of His body and the bringing of all its members to the measure of the stature of His fulness. Further, the exhortation to unity (Ephesians 4:3) is still in view, Christ having given these “Apostles” and others in order that all His disciples may come to the unity of the faith (Ephesians 4:13). All through the statement, too, the primary thing is the persons, not the offices. Nothing is said of any special order or orders in the Church possessing exceptional prerogatives, or any office or rank to which peculiar or exclusive powers of grace were attached. The men are Christ’s gifts to the Church and to every member of it; and they are given to do a certain work looking to a great end, viz., to furnish His people and every individual believer among them (Ephesians 4:7; Ephesians 4:16) for their particular service and their particular contribution to the building up of Christ’s body. Nothing is said of the time when these gifts were given. But as they are the gifts of the exalted Christ, it is plain that the ἀποστόλους are not to be restricted to the original Twelve, but are to be taken in the wider sense, including not only Paul, but Barnabas (Acts 14:4; Acts 14:14), probably James (1 Corinthians 15:7; Galatians 1:19), Silvanus (1 Thessalonians 2:6), perhaps also Andronicus and Junias (Romans 16:7). The “Apostle” is described as one called by Christ (Galatians 1:1); one who has seen Christ and been a witness of His resurrection (1 Corinthians 9:1-2; Acts 1:8; Acts 1:21-23); one whose “signs” were “wrought … by signs, and wonders, and mighty works” (2 Corinthians 12:12); whose office also was not limited to a single church or locality, but was related to the world generally and to all the churches (Matthew 28:10; 1 Corinthians 11:28). See also on chap. Ephesians 1:1.—τοὺς δὲ προφήτας: and some as prophets. These are referred to along with the Apostles also in Ephesians 2:20, Ephesians 3:5, and in 1 Corinthians 12:28. With NT prophets we have also NT prophetesses. Agabus, those of Antioch Judas and Silas, the four daughters o Philip, are mentioned as having the gift of prophecy. As in the case of Agabus this gift of prophecy included the prediction of events (Acts 11:28; Acts 21:10), but its chief function was edification. The prophets were preachers or exhorters, to whom revelations of spiritual truth were imparted, and who spoke in the Spirit (ἐν πνεύματι; Ephesians 3:5; Revelation 1:10), but not in ecstacy or as one in a trance (ἐν ἐκστάσει, Acts 10:10; Acts 22:17). Further, he was usually, if not always, itinerant. This order of prophets continued to have a place in the Church for a considerable period. Large mention is made of it in the Didaché, and in Eusebius, Hist. Eccles., v., 17, reference is made to Quadratus and Ammia in Philadelphia. This may take the order on to Hadrian’s time; cf. Selwyn, The Christian Prophets, and Gwatkin’s article in Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, iv., p. 127. See also on Ephesians 2:20 above.—τοὺς δὲ εὐαγγελιστάς: and some as evangelists. In 1 Corinthians 12:28 the evangelist is not mentioned. Here he is distinguished from the Apostle and the prophet and named as the third in the order of Christ’s gifts to the Church. The εὐαγγελιστής is mentioned only twice again in the NT, viz., in Acts 21:8, where Philip, one of the seven deacons is so designated; and 2 Timothy 4:5, where Timothy is charged to “do the work of an evangelist”. Like the prophets the evangelists were generally itinerant preachers or missionaries, though sometimes they had a stated place of abode or ministry. The term seems, therefore, to belong to the Pauline vocabulary. These evangelists were inferior to the Apostles, assisting them or delegated by them, but without their authority. They had the gift (χάρισμα) of the Spirit, as in the case of Timothy (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6); but, if we may judge by Philip’s case (Acts 8:5-18), they could not impart the Holy Ghost. Nor do they seem to have had the special revelations which were given to the prophets.—τοὺς δὲ ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους: and some as pastors and teachers. The ποιμένες and διδάσκαλοι are distinguished from the former orders as being connected with particular churches, resident and not missionary or itinerant. The absence of the τοὺς δέ before διδασκάλους indicates also that the ποιμένες and the διδάσκαλοι were not two distinct orders, but designations of the same men (cf. the πρεσβύτεροι or ἐπίσκοποι; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 2:25; 1 Peter 5:2), in different functions, the former defining them according to their office of oversight, the latter according to their office of instruction and guidance. The ποιμήν would naturally also be a διδάσκαλος; but there is not the same reason for supposing that every διδάσκαλος would also be a ποιμήν. Nothing is said here of πρεσβύτεροι, ἐπίσκοποι, διάκονοι. The absence of such official terms points perhaps to the comparatively early date of the Epistle.

11. And he gave] The “He” is emphatic; it was He who gave. See above on Ephesians 4:7.—Immediately, the Holy Spirit is the Giver (1 Corinthians 12:8, &c.; cp. Acts 2:4; Acts 13:2). But His action is in Divine union with that of the Son, and vicariously for Him.

some apostles] I.e., some men as apostles, and so through the passage. Cp. 1 Corinthians 12:28.—The gift is to the Church, from the Lord, of spiritually called and enabled human ministers.—“Apostles:—see above on Ephesians 1:1.

prophets] In the enumeration, 1 Corinthians 12:28, this “ministry” comes second, as here. On the “prophets” of the N. T. see above on Ephesians 2:20, and Appendix F.

evangelists] The word occurs thrice in N.T.; here, Acts 21:8, and 2 Timothy 4:5. It seems, like our word “missionary,” to indicate not a defined ecclesiastical order (for Timothy “does the work of an evangelist,” while also an authoritative superintendent of pastors and churches), but rather a special kind of personal function in the ministry; the work of one called and devoted to direct proclamation of the Gospel message. It was thus an elastic word, like “missionary,” sometimes and oftenest denoting a minister’s special function, sometimes one only of his functions. “This passage,” our present passage, “would lead us to think of the evangelists as standing between the two groups,” (apostles and prophets, pastors and teachers,) “sent forth, as missionary preachers of the Gospel, by the first, and as such preparing the way for the labours of the second” (Smith’s Dict. of the Bible, under the word Evangelist). “The omission of evangelists in the list of 1 Corinthians 12 may be explained on the hypothesis that the nature of St Paul’s argument there led him to speak of the settled organization of a given local Church” (Ibidem).

pastors and teachers] Not, “some pastors and some teachers.” The two functions are regarded as coinciding and combining in the one settled guardian of a local flock; an instructive fact.—Such a “pastor-teacher” had St Paul himself been at Ephesus (Acts 20), where indeed he had also been so conspicuously the “evangelist.”—On the pastoral aspect of the Christian ministry cp. John 21:16 (Gr. “shepherd my sheep”); Acts 20:28 (Gr., “shepherd the church of God”), 29; 1 Peter 5:2-3. See also Luke 17:7 (Gr., “a slave … shepherding”). And note the Lord’s own references to His supreme Pastorate, Matthew 25:32; Matthew 26:31; John 10; and Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; 1 Peter 5:4; and Matthew 2:6 (Gr., “shall shepherd my people”). On the teaching aspect of the ministry, cf. esp. Acts 13:1; Acts 15:35; Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28-29; 1 Timothy 3:2; 2 Timothy 2:24.

Ephesians 4:11. Αὐτὸς, He himself) by His supreme power. This αὐτὸς is repeated from Ephesians 4:10. Ministers have not given themselves. [The apostle, we might think, takes a wonderful leap in descending to these from the comprehensive subject of the whole universe, just now spoken of. He no doubt has regard to the body of Christ. In like manner, ch. Ephesians 1:22 (after having just before spoken of principality, power, might, etc.)—V. g.]—ἀποστόλουςπροφήταςεὐαγγελιστὰς, κ.τ.λ., apostles—prophets—evangelists, etc.) Inferior offices might be conjoined with the highest grades; for example, the apostle John acted at the same time as a prophet when he wrote the Apocalypse, and as an evangelist in the Gospel; but not the contrary [“vice versa,” the highest offices joined with the lowest grades]. All the apostles had also at the same time the prophetic power. Only that the very high degree of prophecy, by which the Apocalypse was written, was peculiar to John. But prophets and evangelists were not also at the same time apostles. The prophet takes precedence of the evangelist; for the prophet testifies infallibly of the future, the evangelist infallibly of the past: the prophet derives all from the Spirit; the evangelist puts on record a matter which has been perceived by the senses of sight and hearing, and yet he is fitted for an office of the highest importance, by a gift superior to that of pastors and teachers. Workers of miracles are not added here; for their actions have now somewhat less reference to the perfecting, etc. And perhaps already, before the last days of the apostles, the gift of miracles was more rarely exercised; comp. Hebrews 2:4.—ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους, pastors and teachers) The appellation of shepherd (pastor) is everywhere else given to the Lord alone. Pastors and teachers are here joined; for they chiefly feed by teaching, as also by admonition, rebuke.

Verse 11. - And he gave some (to be) apostles. Coming back to the diversity of gifts (ver. 7), He enumerates some of these, as Christ (αὐτὸς, he, emphatic) bestowed them. The organization of the Church is not a mere human arrangement; its officers are of Divine appointment. The first gift is, his apostles. It is not meant that he gave to some the gifts needed to constitute them apostles, though that is true; but that, having qualified some to be apostles, he gave them to the Church. An apostle had his commission direct from Christ (Matthew 10:5); he possessed supernatural gifts (Matthew 10:8); it was necessary for him to have seen the Lord (Acts 1:22); his diocese was the whole world (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15). The apostles were the constituent body of the Church - they had all necessary gifts for setting it up, and as all Christian history has testified, they were a marvelous gift of Christ to his Church. And some, prophets. Next to the apostles in point of value, as gifts to the Church, having supernatural knowledge of God's will present and future (Acts 21:11). Prophets were indispensable before the New Testament was given as the Church's infallible guide to the will of God, but not apparently necessary after the will of God was fully recorded. And some, evangelists. The nature of this office is known only from the meaning of the term and the work of those who bore the designation (Acts 21:8; 2 Timothy 4:5) - persons not attached to a particular congregation, but who went about preaching the glad tidings, and otherwise building up the Church, but without the full powers of apostles. And some, pastors and teachers. The more ordinary settled ministers of congregations, called pastors, because they watched over the flock, trying to lead all in right ways; and teachers, because they communicated Divine knowledge. Some have thought that each expression denotes a separate office, but, coupled as they are together, it is better to regard them as indicating two functions of one office (see 1 Timothy 5:17; Acts 13:1). Ephesians 4:11The gifts specified.

He gave

He is emphatic. It is He that gave. Compare given in Ephesians 4:7.


Properly, as apostles, or to be apostles. Christ's ministers are gifts to His people. Compare 1 Corinthians 3:5, "ministers as the Lord gave;" also 1 Corinthians 3:21, 1 Corinthians 3:22. The distinguishing features of an apostle were, a commission directly from Christ: being a witness of the resurrection: special inspiration: supreme authority: accrediting by miracles: unlimited commission to preach and to found churches.


Preachers and expounders under the immediate influence of the Spirit, and thus distinguished from teachers. 1 Corinthians 12:10.


Traveling missionaries.

Pastors and teachers

Pastors or shepherds. The verb ποιμαίνω to tend as a shepherd, is often used in this sense. See on 1 Peter 5:2; see on Matthew 2:6. The omission of the article from teachers seems to indicate that pastors and teachers are included under one class. The two belong together. No man is fit to be a pastor who cannot also teach, and the teacher needs the knowledge which pastoral experience gives.

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