Continuing in our series on the gifts and their use by men and women in the body of Christ, we come to an unusual passage where the gift seems not to be a thing but a person.
In Ephesians 4:7, 8 we see that grace is given to each one of us apportioned out by Christ himself:
Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Ephesians 4:8 Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”
The Greek word for “men” is a generic term meaning mankind and applies to both men and women. Both men and women (each one of us) is given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Continuing on with verse 11 we find that the gifts that Christ gives in this passage are gifts of people for the equipping of the church.
Ephesians 4:11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,
Ephesians 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
Now take a look at the first gift which is that of apostle. Some consider this not to be a gift but an office. In fact this is the way that the first apostles may have looked at it because they set out to appoint a replacement for Judas.
Acts 1:20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘LET HIS HOMESTEAD BE MADE DESOLATE, AND LET NO ONE DWELL IN IT’; and, ‘LET ANOTHER MAN TAKE HIS OFFICE.’
Acts 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–
Acts 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.”
Acts 1:23 So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias.
Acts 1:24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen
Acts 1:25 to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”
Acts 1:26 And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.
The apostles appointed two men as candidates for a replacement of Judas, then after praying to God to show his choice, they cast a dice and chose Matthias. But can men actually appoint an apostle this way if an apostle is a gift? No ordination by men can make a man an apostle if it is a gift given by Jesus to the church. And similarly no failure of men to ordain a person will take away God’s choice of the gift of apostle to the church.
Paul was given as an apostle to the church but he struggled with being accepted because the other apostles did not ordain him as the twelfth apostle. Paul continually had to defend his being an apostle because many had made their minds up already that the position was already filled. In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul responds that the Corinthians have pushed him to defend his apostleship and he is not happy to have to do this. Paul says:
2 Corinthians 12:11 I have become foolish; you yourselves compelled me. Actually I should have been commended by you, for in no respect was I inferior to the most eminent apostles, even though I am a nobody.
2 Corinthians 12:12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.
Paul tells the Galatians that he is not an apostle because of any man’s choice:
Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead)
Paul boldly states that he is an apostle of Jesus by the will of God:
2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…
So could Paul then be the 13th apostle after the 12th apostle was appointed by the disciples? Scripture gives an interesting answer:
Revelation 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
There are only twelve apostles of the Lamb, not thirteen! So what do we make of Matthias? He is never spoken of again in scripture after Acts chapter 1. Paul himself claims over and over again to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, chosen by the will of God.
What does this mean? It means that an apostle is a true gift of God and an apostle cannot be appointed by man. Some wonder why Matthias was chosen by the casting of lots. Nowhere in scripture is this way of assessing God’s will ever practiced again. Was it necessary to cast lots because God never answered the eleven apostles regarding their own choice for the replacement of Judas? Is it because a gift cannot be appointed by man since it is God’s prerogative alone? Paul claimed to be an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God yet he was never appointed by man to this “position”. Rather he was gifted by Jesus and given to the church for the building up of the body of Christ. Paul was such an awesome choice that the church would not be the same without his writings. And Matthias? We never hear of him again.
What about another “gift” in the list at Ephesians 4:11 – the gift of pastor? Can a pastor be appointed by man? If a pastor is truly a gift as Ephesians 4:11 states, then a pastor is not a pastor because they are appointed by man. Similarly a pastor is not any less of a pastor because they are not appointed by man. This gift is given for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, for the building up of the body of Christ and it is not an appointment but a gift.
What does this all mean? I believe that it means that if you are called and gifted to be a pastor you do not need to have man’s ordination to flow in your gifts as a pastor. You are a pastor by God’s calling and gifting and not by the will of man. And if a person is a pastor that isn’t called or gifted to be a pastor they are not a true pastor just because man has ordained them. Paul said that there were false apostles who disguised themselves as true apostles:
2 Corinthians 11:13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
Would it be any wonder if we would also have false pastors too? Jesus calls these people hirelings or hired hands:
John 10:12 “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
John 10:13 “He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.”
So if you are a woman and God has called you and gifted you as a pastor, do you really need any man to make you a pastor? Should you not just pastor the sheep? Be it a small group setting or a big group or a congregation, shouldn’t you just do what God has called you to do? If you are in a church that refuses to allow a woman to take the name of pastor and you want to stay in that church, do you think that God will allow you to do the work of a pastor without the name? A pastor is a gift to the body of Christ by the will of Jesus. Just be that gift and use your gift to nurture and tend the flock.