the weblog of Alan Knox

Teachers – to equip the saints for the work of ministry

Posted by on Jan 14, 2013 in discipleship, edification, scripture, spiritual gifts | 6 comments

As I mentioned in my post “To equip the saints for the work of ministry,” for the next several posts I’m going to consider the work of the gifted individuals listed by Paul in Ephesians 4:11 in equipping Jesus’ followers for doing the hard work of serving others. Remember, in Ephesians 4:12, Paul wrote that this is one of the reasons that Jesus gave these spiritual gifted people. I’ve already written about some ways that some of those spiritually gifted people can equip the saints for the work of ministry: apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds.

So, in this post, I’m going to consider the fifth and final gifted group in the list: How do teachers equip believers for the work of serving others?

Of course, as I said for apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds, teachers (and any other follower of Jesus Christ) can build up and encourage their brothers and sisters in Christ in many different ways. But, in this passage, Paul is focusing on the spiritual gifts that God gives to his children through Jesus Christ. So, how does someone gifted as a teacher prepare the church for works of service because of that gifting?

Now, as we consider the role of teachers in equipping the saints, we need to remember something important: While Paul connected teaching and shepherding closely (they are actually one “item” in the list – i.e., shepherds-teachers), the fact that he used separate terms shows that there is some difference in the two. So, I’ve decided to deal with them separately.

Interestingly, as with the other spiritual gifts and spiritually gifted people, the terms teach and teacher are not defined in Scripture, even though those terms are probably used more than any other term related to spiritual gifts. Many people are described as teachers in Scripture, and even more are said to teach. (In fact, in several places, all believers are called to teach, but that’s for a different post.)

It would seem that a teacher’s primary role is to explain in ways that many can understand. This is important to me, because teaching is often only associated with knowledge or facts. But, knowledge – even true knowledge – is not beneficial to others if it is not explained in a way they can understanding. Often, this type of explanation occurs with words. But, just as often – perhaps even more so – explanation occurs in action.

Thus, teachers would equip the saints by helping them learn to explain as well. This means that teachers how to help their brothers and sisters to know how to ask questions, how to listen to other people, and how to determine whether or not people are understanding.

I think there are many examples of this in Scripture. For example, we see Jesus explaining the parables to his disciples. This passage also gives a good example of this type of equipping:

Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus. (Acts 18:24-28 ESV)

As a teacher, have you ever helped others learn to explain the things of God to others? Has a teacher ever equipped you to teach?


Series: To Equip the Saints for the Work of Ministry

  1. Introduction
  2. Apostles
  3. Prophets
  4. Evangelists
  5. Shepherds and Teachers
  6. Others (Conclusion)


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 1-14-2013

    I have been asked many times when I spoke concerning the word of God, Are you a teacher, brother? My response inwardly was clear: “I am NOT a teacher, but I can be perfected to do the work of a teacher unto the work of the ministry for the building up of the Body of Christ!”

    Teaching and shepherding go together: we shepherd others to make them happy and comfortable, and then we teach them NOT by imparting doctrines and sound teachings into them but by speaking the truth contained in the Bible for their nourishment and edification.

    We can come to the Bible as to the “letter”, learning doctrines, being scriptural, understanding with our mind… but we can also come to the Bible in the way of 2 Tim. 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for…” – we come to the breathed out word of God so that we may breathe it in! The letter kills (both us and the ones we try to teach) but the Spirit (in the Word) gives life! We may search the Scriptures, but if we don’t exercise our spirit to touch the Lord, we will miss Him / miss the mark (John 5:39). We need to come to the Word of God with a prayerful spirit so that we may “breathe in” the breathed out word of God.

    When this happens, we teach others by speaking the Word of God to them in the way of life, and they will receive the Word as Rhema (the present, instant, fresh, living, spoken word) and not merely as logos (the written black-and-white word). It is the Spirit who gives life – the flesh profits nothing; the words the Lord speaks to us in a living way are spirit and are life! To teach others is not only to speak the words of the Bible to them but even more, to impart the truth in the divine revelation of the Bible through the exercise of our spirit so that they may receive life!

    … I am still discovering in my experience both at work, at home, in the church life, on the street, etc what this means. We all need to learn to cooperate with the Lord and the perfecting ones that we may shepherd one another and teach one another – in the way of life!

  2. 1-14-2013


    You said, “I am NOT a teacher, but I can be perfected to do the work of a teacher unto the work of the ministry for the building up of the Body of Christ!” Yes, exactly! In fact, I think that all of God’s children can be equipped to teach.


  3. 1-15-2013

    Alan, I have enjoyed this series. I am particularly drawn to the part about the gifted person equipping others relative to his own gift. It reminds me of the ‘one another’ discussion you have here on this website.

    I have a question about the use of ‘gifts’. It seems to me that ‘gave gifts’ in v.8 is related to ‘gave’ in v.12. That is, the people are the gifts, and the gifts(the apostles; prophets; evangelists; pastors and teachers) function in specific ways.

    You said, “the terms … are not defined in Scripture”. One might need to define the duties of officers in an organization, but persons who are called by their functions do not need explaining. Like your “Subcontractors”, we might need to know their qualifications, but no one needs to tell us what their functions are, because they are called by that already.

    Also, these people are apparently resident in local gatherings, as opposed to being sent; except apostles.
    Thanks for the series.

  4. 1-15-2013


    Interestingly, if you look through the various spiritual gifts lists (Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 1 Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 4:11), you’ll find that in several of those lists Paul switches back and forth between the gift and the gifted individual. I think he could switch back and forth because a spiritual gift never stands alone, but is always given through someone.

    I hope you read my last post in this series. I tried to bring out some of the things that you did at the end of your comment (although in a different way).


  5. 1-15-2013

    It seems that ‘switch back and forth ‘ is important because it agrees with the body metaphor of each member being essential without any one member having superiority.

    I have read your “Others – to equip the saints for the work of ministry” article. I am still thinking about what equipping means and probably will for a long time.

  6. 1-15-2013


    That’s a good point… “each member [is] essential without any one member having superiority.”



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