And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
The Lord himself gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Provision is thus made for three great objects.
I. THE FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH. It needed a special order of inspired men to lay the foundations. Hence believers are said "to be built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets" (Ephesians 2:20). The foundation, however, had only to be laid once for all, and these apostles and prophets passed away in the first age of Christianity. There is no place, therefore, now in the Church for either class; for the "apostles" of the Irvingite sect possess no single qualification of the original apostles of Christ. As the apostles wrote nearly the whole of the New Testament Scriptures, which supply the literary foundation of Christianity, they may thus be regarded as still identified with the progress of the gospel in all lands and all ages.
II. THE EXTENSION OF THE CHURCH. Evangelists were specially designed to preach the gospel in districts where it had not been previously known. They are on this ground distinguished from pastors and teachers. They itinerated from place to place, carrying with them the wonderful story of the cross, and were quite exempt, as such, from the labors of organization or discipline. Our missionaries in modern times do the work of evangelists.
III. THE CONTINUANCE OF THE CHURCH. Pastors and teachers were stationary ministers appointed for the continuous edification of the flock. They represent, not two classes of office-bearers, but two aspects of one and the same office. They are distinguished alike from prophets and from evangelists, and had to do with the permanent instruction and guidance of the flock. The existence of such an order of teachers proves that the Christian Church was not to be propagated or maintained by mere gifted persons. Why, in that case, should the Lord have appointed such ordinary officers at all? The pastors of Ephesus and Corinth were distinct from the prophetically gifted persons in both Churches (1 Corinthians 14.; Ephesians 4:11). Private persons, no matter how gifted, were not allowed to take the place of apostles and prophets at Corinth, and therefore net of pastors and teachers. If they could not take the place of the one, they could not take the place of the other. If all believers were to exercise the gift of ministry in the Christian dispensation, why should not the apostles have started with this arrangement from the first? Why should the Lord give pastors and teachers to one generation - and that a generation provided with at least two inspired orders of teachers - and make no similar provision for all future generations? - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;