Two gifts or one? Pastors and Teachers

Two gifts or one? Pastors and Teachers

Two gifts pastor and teach on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

The bride of Christ has been given gifts but are teacher and pastor two gifts or one?

God has given many gifts to the church and the main purpose of the gifts is to edify the body of Christ so that God will ultimately be glorified.  Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 14:12 that we are to strive to excel in the gifts that will build up the church.

1 Cor 14:12  So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. ESV

While Paul encourages Christians to excel in building up the church, most complementarians do not believe that women are allowed to build up the church by being gifted as teachers.  How can they disallow the Holy Spirit’s ability to Sovereignly decide who receives the gifts? Ephesians 4:11 says:

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

Here we see separate gifts that God has given to the church but the list in Ephesians is interpreted by some with “pastors and teachers” as one “office”.  John MacArthur says it this way:

pastors and teachers. This phrase is best understood in context as a single office of leadership in the church. The Gr. word translated “and” can mean “in particular” (see 1 Tim. 5:17). The normal meaning of pastor is “shepherd,” so the two functions together define the teaching shepherd. The MacArthur Study Bible

MacArthur is identifying “and” as not a conjunction between two separate gifts, but a “particular” emphasis on the gift.  In other words in MacArthur’s world a pastor is the teacher.

Others point out that there is a singular definite article before pastor and no definite article before teacher.  The one definite article they say, connects the two together in such a way that the one gift should be called singular as pastor-teacher.

However the exact same grammar is also in Matthew 5:20 where “scribes” and “Pharisees” have a singular definite article before two nouns joined together by the Greek “kai” or “and”.

Matthew 5:20  “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus has connected the scribes and Pharisees as having a common type of “righteousness”, however is Jesus here saying that the scribes and Pharisees are one united thing?  Would it be proper to call them scribe-Pharisees as a singular unit?  No, not at all.  While most scribes were Pharisees, certainly not all Pharisees could be called scribes.  The Pharisees and scribes are related, as they have a common self-righteousness, but they are not the same. Here is another example:

Matthew 2:4  Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.

Again we find in Matthew 2:4 that there is one article for the two nouns which are joined together by “kai”.  So we need to ask, are the chief priests all scribes?  Should the chief priests be called chief priest-scribes?  Again we have to say no.  Although the chief priests and scribes are placed in a related function in the verse, they are not the same and one can be a chief priest without being a scribe. John MacArthur admits that the chief priests were mostly Sadducees while the scribes were mostly Pharisees.  The fact that they are listed together with only one definite article does not make them completely tied together so they must be listed as a hyphenated noun or as referring to a united “one”.

So does the fact that pastors and teachers share a common definite article in Ephesians 4:11 mean that they are so interrelated that there is actually only one gift and only one function?  Should they be listed as a hyphenated noun as if they are only one gift?  No it cannot mean that as comparing Scripture to Scripture shows us clearly that teacher is a gift of its own.

Many complementarians state that only pastors are allowed to be teachers because of the common definite article, but the grammar of Ephesians 4:11 cannot remove the singular gift of teacher and attach it inseparably with the gift of pastor.  Paul lists teachers by themselves in 1 Corinthians 12:28 without any attachment to the gift of pastor.

1 Cor 12:28  And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.

Paul also states that the distinct gifts are to be utilized with the grace given to each of us.  We can note that the one who teaches is to use it in proportion of his/her faith in their act of “teaching” not in “pastoring”.

Romans 12:6  Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;

Romans 12:7  if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;

While the gifts can operate together they are distinct and the portion of faith for each gift is distinct.  Why is it so important for complementarians to try to remove teachers as a separate category of gift apart from pastor?  It is because teachers were historically listed as the kind of the gifts that were very clearly done by people who were ministering to the whole church.  The Bible Knowledge Commentary by Valvoord states:

Gifted apostles, prophets, and teachers characteristically ministered to a whole church, and so would engender unity and mutual edification.  Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures.

I would like to suggest that we as the church would do well to embrace all of God’s gifts that resides in whomever God desires to gift.  If it pleases God to gift women as teachers, we need to allow them to fulfill their gifting so that it benefits the church and to that their gifts can be rightly used to grow the church into maturity.

6 thoughts on “Two gifts or one? Pastors and Teachers

  1. Many churches allow women to teach, mine does, they just don’t “ordain” them as pastors, nor do they “allow” women elders. However, the FUNCTIONs of pastors and elders (teaching, caring, leading, setting goals, having visions) are ALL being performed by women, and men are comfortable with it. CONCLUSON: they do not realize that women are actually pastors and elders without the TITLE. They think they are not going against biblical teaching by not having women pastors and elders in title, but they don’t realize that women already FUNCTION as such.

  2. Seems to be true for women an awful lot. Do all the work you want. Just don’t expect to get paid for it, or get the title that a man would get for doing the same job. What’s the real issue here?

  3. Cheryl,

    I assume this post has risen due to our discussions elsewhere- good to see it challenging you.

    Now i believe you have made a few fundamental mistakes.

    1. You quote Macarthur but ignore his clear expression ‘can mean…’ because elsewhere in scripture it does function the way he says. Now obviously the context will decide which best description for ‘kai’ it will be in Eph 4. So Macarthur is not wrong to suggest his interpretation because scripture agrees elsewhere with him. That is your first fundamental mistake.

    2. Your ‘other’ examples of the two nouns being governed by the one article are slightly diffenrent to Eph 4:11. In both the texts you cited both nouns (pharisees/scribes, chief priests/scribes) are being compared against something. In Matt 5 they are governed around the ‘righteousness’ and in Matt 2 they are fitting around the ‘gathering together’. Now in EPh 4 we do not have this grammatical set-up. Clearly the pastor/teacher association is supposed to be more than you are suggesting. This is your second mistake

    Also you have failed to address why Paul uses ‘kai’ in between Pastors and teachers, where as with the apostles/prophets/evangelist he uses ‘de’ instead

  4. Mark,
    Have you bowed out of our discussion on the posts: Equal In Value and Worth? and Using Paul’s Authority?
    I replied to your questions for me and have been waiting patiently… only to find you comment here instead…

  5. Sorry Kay,

    No i havent, i just havent looked there again for a few days. I will go have a look and respond asap

  6. Mark,

    You said:

    1. You quote Macarthur but ignore his clear expression ‘can mean…’ because elsewhere in scripture it does function the way he says.

    I don’t know how you are reading what I write, but I didn’t ignore MacArthur’s “can mean”. In fact his quote that says:

    The normal meaning of pastor is “shepherd,” so the two functions together define the teaching shepherd.

    …I summarized as:

    In other words in MacArthur’s world a pastor is the teacher.

    Since it is you that has identified me as ignoring MacArthur’s words, then you would do well to prove where I ignored his words or his conclusion. I do not believe that I have done that.

    You also said:

    Now obviously the context will decide which best description for ‘kai’ it will be in Eph 4. So Macarthur is not wrong to suggest his interpretation because scripture agrees elsewhere with him. That is your first fundamental mistake.

    While the grammar can have two nouns where only one has the definite article and they are joined together with “kai”, and it references one person, then the two nouns must refer to that one person. A good example of this is when Jesus is called the Lord and Savior. Both Lord and Savior must refer to Jesus.

    But it is different when it is plural and no one person to refer back to. Ephesians 4 says teachers and pastors – plural. They can have a common function but it is not possible to meld them together in this passage as if one cannot be a teacher without being a pastor. Other examples of the correct reference to two nouns for one person does not fit in this passage. Also the fact that “teachers” are not ever attached to “pastors” but are on their own is another very strong case against removing women’s gifts as teachers.

    You also said:

    2. Your ‘other’ examples of the two nouns being governed by the one article are slightly diffenrent to Eph 4:11. In both the texts you cited both nouns (pharisees/scribes, chief priests/scribes) are being compared against something. In Matt 5 they are governed around the ‘righteousness’ and in Matt 2 they are fitting around the ‘gathering together’.

    Sorry but this won’t help you. The issue is not about the other thoughts in the text but about whether the two nouns that have one definite article and joined together with “kai” are equated as melded into one “thing”. I have proven that it cannot be in other instances. Whatever else is going on, whether a list of other gifts or a comparison or righteousness does not negate the grammar. The grammar is identical and it was interesting to see you try to wiggle out of it. Good try but it is not my “mistake”.

    You said:

    Now in EPh 4 we do not have this grammatical set-up. Clearly the pastor/teacher association is supposed to be more than you are suggesting. This is your second mistake.

    Sorry, but it isn’t “clear” in Ephesians 4:11 that there is no teacher who isn’t a pastor. There is no second witness of such a “clear” reading of this passage and the fact that God has gifted many women as teachers who may not also be gifted as evangelists or pastors also removes the legs from your argument. You cannot just say “it is so” and then fail to give any evidence at all to back up your view just won’t work. I am glad that you are still trying. But I wish you have something that would challenge us to look at your view.

    Mark, you said:

    Also you have failed to address why Paul uses ‘kai’ in between Pastors and teachers, where as with the apostles/prophets/evangelist he uses ‘de’ instead.

    Paul uses different conjunctions in lists. For example see 1 Cor. 12:28.

    1 Corinthians 12:28 (NASB95)
    28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.

    In Paul’s list he has an ordinal before three gifts, and he connects the next couple with “then”, but the last three gifts have no ordinals and no connecting “then”. They are simply listed together without anything that would separate them. Are we to assume that gifts of healings, helps and administrations are all tied together so that one cannot have one gift without having them all? I don’t think that would be wise to assume. While there are different ways of connecting gifts, we cannot disregard any one gift just because of there is or isn’t an ordinal and there is or isn’t the word “then”.

    The fact is that there are different ways to connect lists and using different connectors in the same sentence doesn’t mean that we can cut out one gift and attach it to another gift. It is going to take real proof before one removes a gift like this from the Holy Spirit’s ability to gift women.

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