(Part 2) Are there apostles in the church today?

Sat, 02/07/2015 - 5:15pm

●The Functions Of The Office Gift Of Pastor-Teacher


   By finding out what the functions are of a pastor-teacher we will be able to eventually contrast them with the functions of the other office gifts in order to try and deduce whether there is a reason to support the idea which is promoted by many churches today that there is no longer any need for the office gifts of apostle and prophet.                                 

   By taking another look at Eph. 4:11 we notice the words pastors and teachers.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

   At first glance it appears that there are two offices, one of pastor and the other of teacher. But according to what is called the Granville Sharp’s Rule of Koine Greek Exegesis, when two nouns are in the same case, connected by ‎kai  ‎(and), the first noun preceded by the article (some), the second noun without the article, then in this construction the second noun refers to the same thing to which the first noun does, and is a further description of it. The idea being expressed here is that a pastor has the gift of teaching.   

   One more word to note. The word exegesis refers to scriptural interpretation of text based on an analysis of its grammatical features and historical background.

   In the early years of my walk with God the offices of the church that I was involved in was pastor and evangelist, that’s it. One of the issues that was brought up in many circles was should each branch ministry church have only one pastor or a plurality of pastors?

From my understanding the plurality of pastors would mean that there would not be one pastor who was solely in charge.

   It was decided that each branch ministry should have one main pastor. If there were others, then they were to be in a subordinate role to the main pastor. This topic when brought up could be the source of much contention.

   I can honestly say that at this point I don’t have an opinion on this one way or the other. Hopefully, with time permitting this topic will be looked at more closely in the future.

   What does the word pastors mean?

   The word pastors means shepherds.

   So what are some of the functions of a pastor?

   Let’s begin by going to Acts 13.

Now There Were In The Church That Was At Antioch Certain Prophets And Teachers                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Acts 13:1   

   The disciples of Jesus were first called Christians at a place called Antioch. There is mention here of the names of those in the assembly of this church, some of whom were prophets and others who were teachers.

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

   The word teachers refer to believers, who with the special assistance of the Holy Spirit had the responsibility of introducing the Christian converts to the beliefs and duties of the Christian faith6.

   This word would signify that these teachers were pastors.              

   The initial function of a pastor that is taken from this verse is as such.

●A pastor is a believer who has been endowed with the gift of teaching so that the beliefs and duties of the Christian faith with assistance of the Spirit can be conveyed to the Christian converts. Acts 13:1   

   Let’s stay in the Book of Acts and proceed to chapter 20.

Over The Which The Holy Ghost Hath Made You Overseers                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Suggested Reading: Acts 20:3-21:4

   Paul has been living in Greece for three months and now decides to depart and head for Jerusalem carrying with him financial assistance for the poor saints that are residing there.

   While on his journey he decides to stop and reside in a place called Miletus. From there he sends someone with a message to the elders of the church at Ephesus requesting that they meet up with him.

17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.          

   After a few days the elders are able to meet up with him. He tells them that when we he was with them at another time, he kept back nothing that would be profitable (of help), having taught them at times in public and at other times in private (house churches); giving warning to both the Jews and Gentiles that they should repent (a change of mind; turn from their sins) to God and believe in Jesus. 

   He further mentions that since he will be arriving in Jerusalem soon, they will probably see him no more. Therefore, he tells them to be on their guard (mindful) for themselves and for the flock (congregation) over which the Holy Spirit has called and qualified them as overseers (one who examines, looks after, or inspects another’s spiritual state; to feed, guide, and protect as shepherds, the church), because there will arise grievous wolves that will come in from the outside (whose intent is to kill and destroy) along with those from their own selves, from within, who will speak doctrines that will tend to distract and divide, which distort the truth, in order to cause disciples to follow after them and join their heresy.    

28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them

   This function of a pastor can be explained as such.        

●The pastor has been called and qualified by the Holy Spirit to be an overseer. As an overseer the pastor inspects not only his own spiritual state, but also the spiritual state of each member of the assembly. Furthermore, he should be a protector of the flock by being aware (observant) that at any time someone could come in from the outside who might try to indoctrinate the church with false teaching. And not only so, but he needs to be attentive (be on guard) in detecting anyone from within the church, who might be distorting the truth by speaking crooked, perverted, and distracting doctrines. Acts 20:3-21:4

   The pastor, given that he teaches, is probably more engaged in studying the scriptures exegetically than a prophet.

   It could also be assumed that the pastor is more closely engaged in being an inspector of the flock than a prophet.

   Are there any more functions of a pastor?

   The book of Romans provides another one.

How Shall They Hear Without A Preacher?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Romans 10:13-14

   These verses state that in order for someone to be saved (redemption from sin and misery, and the enjoyment of peace and happiness), initially there must be someone who announces the gospel message5 to them.

14 …how shall they hear without a preacher?

   This person can be anyone.

   When the local assembly gathers together this proclamation usually is made by the elders (pastors). 

   The scriptures indicate that in the proclamation of the gospel message there is an awareness made to the hearer for them to acknowledge themselves as being a sinner, who desires a change of nature. This is referred to as repenting (having of change of mind).

14 …and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?

   Some elders might declare before the assembly that now is the time for whosoever will to repeat the words that he is going to utter either publicly or privately. These words might be like those that follow.

   I acknowledge that I have sinned overtly in some areas such as: slandering others; having sexual relations outside of marriage; being jealous; being covetous; having participated in alcohol or drug abuse; having sex with others of the same gender; committing adultery; taking money from others in a deceitful manner; having committed rape; having engaged in pedophilia; etc. I don’t want to continue in these mental, verbal, and overt sins. I need a new nature.

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Acts 17:30

   After reading this some might argue that certain sins that are contained in this list are considered acceptable, because society accepts them as such today. What was considered sinful activity back when the New Testament of the bible was written they say was determined by the societal norms at this time. Therefore, according to them, over time if societal views change in regards to certain sins or a certain sin, then this should determine their acceptance in the Christian church today.

   Does the societal view of an action determine whether it is considered acceptable for the believer to engage in or does what God’s word declares about certain actions as being sinful determine which ones the believer should not engage in?

   The second condition is to believe in Jesus Christ as to who He is and what he has accomplished.

   Again this is not based on what you can do for God, but this is based simply on believing.

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?

   This believing in Christ can be expressed by calling upon the name of the Lord in prayer.

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

   The words of this prayer can either be spoken silently or out loud like the words that follow.

   I believe in you Jesus Christ as one of the members of the trinity, who as God pre-existed time; came to the earth and took on the form of a man, being born of a virgin (no sin nature); lived a sinless life; listened to and obeyed the directives of his Father; went to the cross and paid for the penalty of and forgave the sins of the whole world; rose from the dead after 3 days, never to die again, walked the earth in his resurrection body for 40 days witnessing to over 500 people; and ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of God the Father.

   The result of this prayer is that this person will receive another member of the trinity, known as the Holy Spirit, who will come into their physical body to indwell, thus imparting to them a new nature.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19

  The next function of a pastor that we have just learned about is presented here.

●The pastor as well as apostles, prophets, and evangelists have the function of preaching the gospel to unbelievers. Romans 10:13-14

   The next scripture section that we will look at mentions three of the four office gifts, those being apostles, prophets, and teachers.

   This particular chapter mentions not only the office gifts (the leadership gifts), which only some of the members of the assembly receive, but also the non-office gifts of the Holy Spirit, of which at least one (not necessarily the same one) is given to every member of the body of Christ. 

But Now Hath God Set The Members Every One Of Them In The Body, As It Hath Pleased Him                                                                                                                                                                                                          Suggested Reading: 1 Cor 12:1-13:1

   Paul is giving instructions concerning spiritual gifts.

   There are different distributions of gifts by the Holy Spirit to different people.

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

   Scriptures indicate that each believer will receive at least one gift of the Holy Spirit. He distributes them to each person individually, male and female, as He wishes.

11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

   These gifts are given to be a profit (advantage) to the church.

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

   However, not every believer will receive one of the office gifts of: apostle, prophet, evangelist, or pastor-teacher.

28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?              

   The person who is called to the office gift of teachers will emphasize accuracy of words and love to study; delight in research to validate truth7; and give instruction in the Christian faith of truths already revealed.                                                                          

   So, now we have another characteristic of a pastor.

Some additional functions of a pastor are that they will emphasize accuracy of words and love to study; delight in research to validate truth8; and give instruction in the Christian faith of truths already revealed.                                   1 Cor 12:1-13:1                                                                        

   The functions of a pastor are becoming clearer and clearer.

   We will find two more functions from the next two verses.

To Know Them Which Labour Among You                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Suggested Reading: 1 Thess 5:12-13                                                                                                                                                                                                            

   Paul is instructing the believers at Thessalonica to know (respect and obey; not to be ignorant of their needs or to be indifferent to9) those, who are in the leadership positions of the church, that labor (wearisome toil) among them, unless it is obvious that they are out of God’s will.

   These were people who worked hard to provide pastoral care for the flock, probably in their spare time since in the early church local church leaders often carried full-time jobs outside the church10.   

   Even though the word “elders” is not used in these verses, it is believed that this is the office that is being referred to here.        

12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you,…                                                                

   These leaders are also stated as being over them (presiding over them under the direction of the Lord), who bring admonishment [puts the people in mind of the truth; to warn them of danger; to exhort them to perform their duty; to admonish (advice; counsel) if they go astray].                                                                                                                                                 

   They also are to be esteemed (honored) very highly for their works sake; so long as they give God the glory.

12 …and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 

   Two more functions of a pastor can now be revealed from these verses.

A pastor should exhort the believers to perform their duty, and admonish (advice; council) them if they go astray. 1 Thess 5:12-13                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

   In the next section we will look at some of the instructions that the apostle Paul gave to Timothy. Even though the word elder, bishop, or pastor was not used in describing his office gift many commentators believe that Timothy was a pastor.                                                   

Be Thou An Example Of The Believers                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Suggested Reading: 2 Tim 1:6; 1 Tim 4:12-13

   Apparently there were issues that were going on in the Church at Ephesus that involved teachings which were different from those taught by the apostles.

   Timothy was asked to go there and address these issues.

   The word “elder” is not used to describe the office that he held. However, the Christ like example that he was to exhibit while he was there, which was delineated to him by the apostle Paul in this letter, appears to be that which an elder would exemplify. Many scholars believe that Timothy was very young, possibly in his mid-twenties, when he was asked to labor at the Ephesus Church.

   Paul instructed him to keep on becoming an example (model), which hopefully will be imitated or followed by the assembly in:

“word” (in conversation and in public speaking involving doctrine); “conversation” [his walk, behavior, or manner of life (actions), which is to be controlled by the word of God]; “charity”(the love which God is and which the Holy Spirit produces in the heart of the yielded saint11, and is directed toward other people); “spirit” (inner enthusiasm and excitement); “faith” (maintaining unshakable confidence in God; improving whatever is delivered in trust12); “purity” (purity in motives as well as in acts; being free from immoral acts).

12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.                                                                                                                                   

  Timothy is also commanded to give attention to:

“reading” (the public reading of scripture); “exhortation” (to the explanation of the scripture passages that are read, making their meaning and relevance clear to the gathered congregation13); “doctrine” (the act of teaching a systematized body of teaching).

13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.     

   The functions of a pastor are:

●to give attention to: “reading” (the public reading of scripture); “exhortation” (to the explanation of the scripture passages that are read, making their meaning and relevance clear to the gathered congregation14); and “doctrine” (the act of teaching a systematized body of teaching). 2 Tim 1:6; 1 Tim 4:12-13

   One of the thoughts that resonated with me as I read the instructions of Paul to Timothy was his instruction to him to keep on becoming an example to be imitated by the assembly in “purity” (purity in motives as well as in acts; being free from immoral acts).

   In 1977 I attended a bible study in my home town. Having received the Holy Spirit into my life a short time earlier, I was looked for a church where God showed up or another word where His presence could be experienced in my life. When I walked into the facility where the bible study was being held I observed a young man sitting up front with his guitar next to him. He proceeded to sing songs that penetrated into my inner being. Following this he preached a message that was unlike any other I had ever heard. In conjunction with this God’s love, joy, and peace were impacting me as they had done before when I first got saved.

   I stayed faithful to this bible study. Eventually a building was purchased that provided a permanent place for the gatherings of the saints. The church grew from 30 to about 100. I was asked to come on staff and co-labor with the ministry in the area of being a visitation coordinator, to which I readily accepted. A couple of years later I was off to Bible College, where I completed a two year degree in Christian Leadership. After graduation I was asked by this same pastor to work in a Christian Day School, which was located in a branch ministry of which he was the head pastor. Again I gladly accepted the offer. Off I went along with my wife and our first child, a baby boy.

   When we arrived we settled in and I began to learn about my responsibilities in the day school. One of the things that I noticed as the days went by was that the pastor was seldom around. Once in a while he would show up and teach, but in most cases someone else would teach. I didn’t know what to make of this. It simply could be much ado about nothing.

   On one particular day he called for the assembly of believers to gather together to whom he informed that he eventually would be leaving the ministry. He not only meant this church, but that he also would no longer serve as a pastor in any capacity. I was stunned. Here was someone who was in my early walk with God an example of Christ likeness to follow. And now he was going on with his life with a total abandonment to the calling on his life. There was no explanation other than he was going off in a new direction. After he left one of the church members was ordained to be the head pastor. I saw this person on a couple of occasions thereafter, but for the most part his whereabouts and on goings were unknown.

   In Paul’s admonition to Timothy he also said to him that he should be an example in “conversation” [his walk, behavior, or manner of life (actions), which is to be controlled by the word of God]. I can only assume that somewhere along the line the word of God stopped controlling this pastor in his walk, behavior, or manner of life. I can’t speak in regards to being aware of some kind of incident that might have procured his falling out of favor with the ministry, but I do know that the Holy Spirit was present at times when he delivered a message. How anyone could just say, I’m done, especially someone who God used to preach the gospel and see many souls get saved and go on to become mature in Christ.

   I’m sure that for many of us there have been times when we have considered saying I’m done. But if we to act on this thought my question is, where would we go from there back to the pigsty?

   Without God’s word and power all we are left with is our self and our own strength. If we came to Christ because we no longer wanted to rely on our self why would we go back to that existence?

   My admonition to you is that if you have been a victim of undeserved suffering by someone in the leadership of the church you are attending or if you might have committed a sin which has resulted in you being placed under discipline by the assembly removing you for a period of time from the fellowship, then ask God to direct you to a new gathering of the saints or confess your sin to God, appropriate divine truth in that area of weakness, and wait patiently until your time to return to the assembly has been fulfilled.  

   No matter what has happened to you or what you might have done if you adhere to the words spoken by King David to his son Solomon, then all things will out together for your good.

Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. Proverbs 23:23

   There seems to be a lot more descriptors concerning the function of a pastor-teacher than those of prophet and evangelist.  

   In 1 Tim. let’s take a look at the three different ways to convey the word of God to others. 

Let The Elders That Rule Well                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         1 Tim 5:17

   In each house church, it appears that there were many elders. However, it is probable that not everyone could devote themselves to the local assembly as some of the others, because of the obligations of work and family.

   Those who were able to well manage the spiritual interests of the church should be counted worthy (deserving) of double honor (deserving of recognition), especially those who labor (with wearisome effort) in the word (preaching) and doctrine (categorical instruction and explanatory teaching15).

   I don’t believe that the words “double honor” in this verse means getting paid double the money, because why should you get paid double the money for exercising the office that you have been called to?

   Some also infer that there were two different categories of elders, those who administrate and those who teach. Again, I don’t think that this was the case. It appears that it was more a matter of availability of time to the exercising of the office.

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

   This verse provides us with the following function of a pastor.

A pastor should labor with wearisome effort whether by: the preaching of the word; instructing by categories (topics); explanatory teaching (verse by verse). 1 Tim 5:17

    In 2 Tim. one of the functions of a pastor, which is to be apt to teach, is clarified concerning what the content of their teaching should not condone.

They Shall Heap To Themselves Teachers                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Suggested Reading: 2 Tim 4:3-4

   The apostle Paul is telling Timothy that the time will come, when there will be some in the assembly that will not continue to accept as valid, true and incorruptible doctrine, which contributes to the health of the soul.

   Instead they will heap to themselves an indiscriminant multiplication of teachers whose preaching will agree with their carnal desires; concealing the gravity of their evil propensities, and dealing gently with their vices16 (immoral practices). 

   Their desire is to hear what tickles their ears. This image is derived from the desire which we have when there is an itching sensation, to have it rubbed or scratched17.  Another word this is a desire for some in the assembly to hear what would satisfy their cravings for things that disagree with God's truths18                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;  

   The following is the next function of a pastor that can be derived from these verses.

●The content of the pastor’s messages as relating to the assembly of believers should not:               

agree with their carnal desires; conceal the gravity of their evil propensities; deal gently with their vices (immoral practices such as adultery; formication; incest; rape; homosexuality; lesbianism; pedophilia; etc.). 2 Tim 4:3-4     

    Another function of an elder has to do with assisting a believer who is physically sick. This will be the last one that will be looked at concerning this office.

Is Any Sick Among You? Let Him Call For The Elders Of The Church                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Suggested Reading: Ja. 5:14-20

   If you are physically sick, then you should send for the elders of the church to come and pray (with hands extended over him) for you, anointing (for the inward anointing of the soul with the Holy Ghost, and for restoration of bodily health and strength19) with virgin oil on the forehead with the sign of the cross, with the hope that you are restored from discouragement and spiritual defeat to health.

15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; …

   This last function for the office of pastor (elder) is as follows.

●Anyone in the church who is physically sick should call for the elders to come to where they are and pray (with hands extended over him) for them, anointing with virgin oil on the forehead with the sign of the cross. The anointing with virgin oil would signify the inward anointing of the soul with the Holy Spirit. And prayer would be made for the restoration of bodily health and strength. Ja. 5:14-20

   So, there we have it. Now we should have a more thorough understanding as to the functions of a pastor. We have one more office gift to look at, that being of an apostle.

   Do you have any pre-conceived expectations as to the functions of an apostle?

   Keep in mind that this office gift is believed by most churches to no longer be given by God to certain members of the church, because they say that it is no longer needed.

   Are you ready to get started?