What does Ephesians 4:11 mean?
ESV: And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
NIV: So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,
NASB: And He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers,
CSB: And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
NLT: Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.
KJV: And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
NKJV: And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
Verse Commentary:
This important verse mentions some of the spiritual leaders Christ gives as "gifts" to the church. First, notice that these leaders are given by God. Though God encourages learning and training, God's calling is the first priority for any of these leaders.

Second, there are a variety of leaders. Apostles primarily traveled to share the gospel and start new congregations. Pastors and teachers focused on leading a particular congregation or possibly groups of local house churches. The structure of the original Greek seems to link "shepherds" and "teachers" as a single office.

Third, it is important to note that this list was written for a particular audience. Paul wrote to the Christians of Ephesus regarding the types of leaders they were encountering. This would have included Paul as an apostle. We now live in a time after this initial period of apostles and prophets. Though people today may serve in similar ways, they are different from the actual apostles and prophets of the New Testament.

Evangelists are literally those who share the good news. This word is used elsewhere only of Philip (Acts 21:8) and of Timothy, who was commanded to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5). That may or may not have been his primary spiritual gift. Pastors are mentioned elsewhere as elders (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1) and lead local congregations. Teachers are those with the ability to effectively communicate God's Word to others. All pastors must have the ability to teach (1 Timothy 3:2), but some people may be gifted as teachers while not called to be pastors (Romans 12:7).
Verse Context:
Ephesians 4:11–16 discusses both the gift of spiritual leaders and the importance of mature, loving, unified Christianity. Some people are endowed with gifts of teaching, preaching, and so forth. It is crucial to the health of Christian congregations that these members use their God-given talents appropriately. At the same time, different members of a church have different abilities. The community of believers functions best when all of those individual pieces are working together, through their unique roles. A healthy church is far more powerful than a ''big'' church.
Chapter Summary:
Truly understanding saving grace, as Paul explained in prior chapters, is the Christian's first motivation for living a godly life. Here, Paul encourages believers to live in way which honors that gift. All saved Christians are part of a single, unified family, part of the ''body'' of Christ. At the same time, different believers are given different talents. Some are called to positions of leadership and authority. All Christians should turn away from the ''old self'' we were prior to being saved. Paul's explanation of the ''new self'' includes some basic, practical steps.
Chapter Context:
The first half of Ephesians focuses mostly on doctrine, setting up ideas related to the Christian faith. The last half, beginning in chapter 4, puts those theories into practice. Paul begins by emphasizing the ultimate unity of all Christians, regardless of individual spiritual gifts. Paul also begins to explain how knowledge of the truths should translate into action. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 feature specific, real-world applications of Christianity to daily life.
Book Summary:
Ephesians follows a theme common in Paul's writings: connecting theory with practice. In this book, however, he goes into greater depth before making the transition. As a letter meant to be read by more than just the believers at Ephesus, this is an important look at how Christian belief should translate into Christian action. The first three chapters lay out spiritual ideas, the last three chapters show how these truths should be applied in the life of a mature believer. Paul focuses heavily on love, the unity of the Christian church, and the incredible value of our salvation through Christ.
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