Ephesians 4:11. “And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”
There are other scriptures that enumerate these and more spiritual gifts, but Paul’s emphasis here is on gifts that were given specifically for the establishment of the Church (apostles and prophets) and the continuing growth of the Church (evangelists, pastors, teachers).
The apostles had the work and the privilege of building the foundation on the Cornerstone, Jesus Christ. They preached powerfully of the risen Christ, and people came in crowds to here them and to be baptized and added to the Church.
Today’s prophets are not those who foretell the future; instead, they are those who are gifted with a strong ability to interpret and clearly explain the scriptures. I’ve had some remarkable prophets during my lifetime, including my own father. He was a very good teacher who could take the hard things of the Word and make them understandable.
Evangelists, pastors, and teachers are gifted to continue the work of building up the Church, of edifying the people, of continuing the work of sharing the gospel so that people will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The evanglist is a “bearer of glad tidings.” His work is aimed more at the world outside the church. He preaches to the lost, although believers are often rekindled to be more active in their witness to the lost when there are evangelistic services in the church.
The word pastor means shepherd. It is actually a very tender gift, and a great blessing to the people whose shepherd truly has a pastor’s heart. Not all who call themselves pastors were called or gifted by God for that ministry. Some cause a great deal of pain because of their lack of compassion, their determination to build their own name and legacy. A shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. He cares for them tenderly, and is greatly loved by those to whom he ministers.
And finally, the teacher. In I Corinthians 12:8 we read, “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit.”It could be said that a pastor is gifted with the word of wisdom; a teacher with the word of knowledge. Many pastors have both. Some have great biblical knowledge, but do not have the gift of being a pastor. It is a wise teacher who knows when he is not called as a pastor.
This is an interesting subject, and there have beeen many good studies written on the topic of the spiritual gifts. The main thing for us is to remember that these gifts were given for the building up of the Church, ministry to the lost, and ministry to one another.