“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12).
God’s spiritual goal for each of His children is maturity and strength, not immaturity and childishness (Ephesians 4:13-14). Therefore, we can be certain that the special roles Jesus gave to some (Ephesians 4:11) are sufficient to equip the saints for their work of ministry.
The apostles and prophets were given the responsibility of being the recipients and confirmers of divine revelation. The Spirit of truth guided them into all truth (John 16:13), and the Lord worked with them by confirming their word through the accompanying signs/miracles they performed (Mark 16:20). From the very beginning, the church Jesus built “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42) for it is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20).
Evangelists are those who preach the revealed and confirmed word (2 Timothy 4:2). They are to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) when people gladly receive it (Acts 2:41) and when they stop their ears and gnash their teeth (Acts 8:57, 54).
Pastors (also called elders, bishops, overseers, and presbyters) are shepherds of God’s flock. They tend only the local congregation (1 Peter 5:2), and their focus is the care and protection of that part of the church of God (Acts 20:28-31).
Teachers are instructors of the disciples. The weighty significance of their work can be seen in Jesus’ expectation that all His disciples are to be taught to observe everything He commands (Matthew 28:20).
When God’s perfect plan for edification is followed as written: the truth revealed to the apostles and prophets is closely and steadfastly followed, the lost are taught the gospel by evangelists, the sheep are cared for by pastors, the disciples are instructed by teachers, and thus, the saints are equipped for the work of ministry.