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corner stoneAnd He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers… – Ephesians 4:11

In seeing that Jesus has the Divine Right to bestow free gifts of grace upon those who are a part of His body, the church, we know that we are each given spiritual gifts to use in order to edify the Body and minister to (serve) one another. But at times, in the study of spiritual gifts, there is a category of gifts that are overlooked. Today we will look at that category of gifts given by grace freely to the church by Her Master.

These corporate gifts, given to the whole body, are men! Yes, you read that correctly. Jesus has given as a spiritual gift to His church those men who lead and serve in the church. In our text from Ephesians 4 we see that there are a number of offices, or positions, to which He calls and appoints men to serve His bride. “He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.”

Have you ever thought about the apostles, prophets, evangelists, or even your own pastor as a spiritual gift? Well, each of these are indeed gifts given to the church, so let us study the Scriptures to see what it is exactly that Christ has given us.

Apostles and Prophets

Apostles

The word apostle means literally “one sent on a mission.” This is a person appointed to a task or sent on an errand. It is a word used to describe several people in the New Testament including disciples, Barnabas, Paul, and others. But here, in our text in Ephesians 4, it is referring to a particular group of twelve men given to the church for a specific reason by Christ.

The Twelve Apostles are Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James the son of Alpheus, Thaddeus, Simon the Canaanite, and Paul.

Some will ask how we know these are the twelve. Others want to know how we know there are only twelve. And there is always the question of Matthias, who replaced Judas after he betrayed Christ and killed himself.

To answer these questions we need only to look to the Scriptures. Revelation 21:14 tells us that there are twelve foundations to the New Jerusalem, one for each Apostle. Matthew 10:2-4 gives us the names of the Twelve, including Judas (see also Mark 3:13-19 and John 20:19-21). Acts 1:15-26 gives us the account of Peter leading the Apostles to find a replacement for Judas; however, Matthias is never identified specifically as an Apostle. Since we know there are only twelve in this office of the church and we only have 11 with Judas missing, then who replaced Judas?

The twelfth Apostle is a man also chosen by Christ as the others were. He was qualified by Christ to meet the requirements of the office so that he might serve the church as an apostle. He was Saul of Tarsus to whom Christ appeared on the road to Damascus, saved, renamed Paul, and appointed as an Apostle. (see Acts 9:1-9; Gal 5:15-17; 1 Cor 15:7-10).

So what were the requirements given for one to be an Apostle? According to Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor 15:7; and 1 Cor 9:1 and 15:8 an Apostle was one called and appointed personally to the office by Christ who had also seen Him physically and visibly after His resurrection.

Prophets

Jesus refers to the Prophets on a number of occasions in order to provide a summary of the Old Testament. These were men called and appointed by God to give His Word by means of direct revelation to His people and His enemies while Israel was under the Old Covenant. There are also prophets mentioned in the New Testament who did the same, they preached, taught, and counseled people with words that came directly from God, revealed to them by the Holy Spirit. For examples of prophets in the New Testament, see Acts 13:1, 21-28 and Ephesians 3:5. And since the list of prophets is indeed long from the Old Testament we will leave that for your own study!

Responsibilities of Apostles and Prophets

The question then remains, what were the Apostles and Prophets given by Christ to His church in order to do? From Scripture we learn that there were three basic responsibilities for these gifted men in the church.

First, the Apostles and Prophets laid the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20; Acts 2:42. Secondly, they were appointed by Christ to receive, declare, and record (write down) the Word of God (Acts 11:28, 21:10-11; Eph. 3:5. And third, they were called and empowered to give confirmation of this Divine revelation through signs, wonders, and miracles (2 Cor. 12:12; Acts 8:6-7; Hebrews 2:3-4.

So we see that in this first category we have men called, equipped, empowered, and qualified by Christ who were responsible ultimately for laying the foundation of the Church (of which Christ is the cornerstone) with the Word of God. They handled direct revelation and through the working of the Holy Spirit minister to and serve the church even today through the Word that they wrote by Inspiration.

(tomorrow: Gifts Given to the Church: Evangelists and Pastor-Teachers)

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