Is Pastor one of the spiritual gifts?

Is Pastor one of the spiritual gifts?

While some people consider a “Pastor” to be an office, scripture lists “Pastor” as a spiritual gift in Ephesians 4:8-11.

Ephesians 4:11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,

The Greek word for Pastor is poimen and it means Shepherd.

In November 2006 at the Evangelical Theological Society meetings, Dr. Harold Hoehner presented a paper that asked the question, “Can a Woman Be a Pastor-Teacher?” Dr. Hoehner argued that Ephesians 4:11 indicates that “pastor-teacher” is a spiritual gift and not an office in the church. This position is consistent with his commentary on the book of Ephesians where he writes:

Some may question the validity of women pastors or pastor-teachers, but it must be remembered that these are gifts and not offices. Surely, women who pastor-shepherd among women should cause no problem at all (Titus 2:3–4). But in fact, Priscilla, along with Aquila, taught Apollos the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:25–26) which would indicate that a woman may not be limited to teaching only women” (Ephesians, 546).

Dr. Hoehner is one of the ESV translation review scholars and is not considered to be an egalitarian so his admission that God can gift women as Pastors for the benefit of the entire body of Christ caused quite a stir in the complementarian camp. Here is a summary of Dr. Hoehner’s position (

1. Many misunderstandings about women in ministry are caused by a blurring of the distinctions between spiritual gifts and offices.
2. Scripture gives qualifications for offices. Qualifications are given for apostles, elder/ bishops, and deacons/deaconesses.
3. Scripture does not give qualifications for gifts. Gifts are given according to the will of God through the Holy Spirit.
4. Since there are no qualifications given for the list in Ephesians 4:11 (apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers), pastor-teachers are individuals endowed with spiritual gifts, not offices.
5. Therefore, even if women cannot hold a certain office, they can be pastor-teachers if they are so gifted.

It is to be noted that spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit, through believers, for the benefit of others, therefore a Pastor is given as a spiritual gift by the working of the Holy Spirit and it is a gift for the benefit of all:

1 Cor. 12:7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

In Gifting vs Office ( ) Alan Knox summarizes the view this way:

If this view is correct, then we should not emphasize that a person is “exercising” a certain spiritual gift. The person does not control whether or not, or how, the Spirit decides to work through them. Instead, as Peter says, the person should speak and/or act according to the will of God, and allow the Spirit to use those words/actions as He chooses.

I do recognize that there are people within Scripture that are called “teachers,” “prophets,” “servants,” etc. However, in my view, this is the recognition of others that these are the primary ways that the Spirit works through those individuals. Thus, for one known as a “teacher,” the Spirit normally uses that person’s words to teach others; therefore, other people recognize this and refer to him/her as a “teacher.”

If we do a word search on the Greek word for Pastor, we find the term used 17 times in the NASB, with 16 of these times translated as Shepherd and once translated as Pastor.

In closing, I quote again from Alan Knox who says:

I should speak as the Spirit leads me, even if no one “learns” from my words. I am not responsible for how others receive my words or actions; however, I am responsible for obeying God in everything that I do and say.

Amen! We are responsible for obeying God in everything that we do and say and if God gifts us as a Pastor, we are responsible for using that gift for the glory of God.

7 thoughts on “Is Pastor one of the spiritual gifts?

  1. Cheryl,

    Since you are reading Alan Knox’s blog, you are going to find some real gems in his articles. You may not agree with everything he says, but you can rest assured that he is a faithful brother that tries to test all things and hold fast to that which is true.

    By the way, this was a very thought-provoking article.

  2. Dusman,

    Thank you for the encouragement to read. I had only read the articles associated with the link and now I plan to dig in and read more. Thanks!

  3. You may wish to check out what Deborah Gill has to say on spiritual gifts. She has a DVD that is very good.

    My understanding is that the only “office” is one of the 12, which is why Judas needed to be replaced and the reason for 12 is to map to the 12 tribes. Everything else is a gift, however, with the coming of hierarchy offices were created, such as the office of a bishop, etc. However, this is not warranted by the NT documents, it is always, Peter, an elder, or Paul, an apostle, NOT Elder Peter or Apostle Paul.

  4. I have tried several times to buy Deborah Gill’s DVD but it is apparently out of stock on CBE. Not sure where else to buy it.

    Interesting thing about the 12 Apostles – while the 11 Apostles thought they should appoint a replacement for Judas, their appointment didn’t count as Jesus himself appointed Paul and there are only 12 apostles in Rev. 21:14, not 13 so the Apostle’s choice didn’t make it.

    Try as we might, God gifts are we are not in charge of his gifts. What we are to do is accept what God has provided and submit to the gifts that come from others. A gifted teacher cannot do his/her work unless people are willing to listen and learn. That comes through submission.

  5. In my understanding there are the 12 (that Jesus called as aposles in his lifetime, minus 1 plus 1) and there are also (generic) apostles, which means sent-out ones, which we often call missionaries today. It is not possible to be one of the 12 today, but it is possible to be an apostle, if the Holy Spirit gives you that gift.

    The qualifications for the 12 were that they needed to have been with Jesus “from the beginning” of his ministry, and that they needed to be witnesses (this explains the lack of women in the 12, as women were not accepted as legal witnesses in the cultues of the time). In other words, God worked in those cultures where they were at, just as God works in us where we are at.

  6. Don,

    Here is what the Apostles thought was the qualification of one of the 12 Apostles:

    Act 1:21 “Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us–
    Act 1:22 beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us–one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”

    An Apostle (one of the twelve) certainly had to be a witness of His resurrection, but it wasn’t necessary for him to have been with them from the beginning. Paul says that he is an Apostle as one born out of time. He wasn’t with the other Apostles during the time that Jesus walked the earth, but he was a witness of the resurrection since he said that went to the third heaven and was instructed by Jesus himself.

    I fully agree with you that the Apostles wouldn’t have considered a woman since women weren’t to be witnesses. Yet I believe that Jesus chose men to be the foundation (Jesus himself the cornerstone) that the church was built on. They were to give their lives to bring the gospel. I can’t tell you why this is so but I suspect it might have something to do with the first man, Adam, who brought sin into the world and Adam did not do anything to stop Eve from being deceived. Now men are given the opportunity to be a sacrificial foundation that men and women are to be built upon. That is my two cents worth and I could be wrong.

  7. I do not capitalize “apostle” as that tends to imply it is an office, which I do not see and I do not use it as a title, as I do not find the NT doing that. There are many others who are called apostles besides Paul and the 12 in the NT. Paul is of course the most famous besides the 12.

    Yes, that verse is what I was referring to for “in the beginning” of Jesus’ ministry.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.