Leaders, Elders, and Ephesians 4:11

human-pyramid“Leadership Gifts” they’ve been called.  “Offices,” others say. Oh, and let’s not forget “Ministry” gifts for “Ministers.”  How we define and apply those gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 will determine how effective their use is within in any local grouping of members in the Body of Christ.  Some ideed have limited these gifts to leadership, but without scriptural support, I think.  Consider Ephesians 4:7 – But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ.  Who are the “each ones” that Paul was referring to?  There is no other possible conclusion but every single believer.  Leading will rise out of the development and use of these gifts.  Leadership is not thrust upon the gifts.

Some have suggested that Elders be appointed based on their gifting in the Ephesians 4:11 sense rather than the qualifications clearly laid out on scripture. 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, etc.  By this critical error, we wedge an unwarranted clergy/laity distinction amongst the members of the church.  Ephesians 4:11 is for all believers for all time “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  Ephesians 4:13  We do further damage to the cause of Christ when we call non-elders with these gifts “lay leaders.”  “Lay Leaders,” is a Body-Breaking, not Body Building term.  Consider a few questions:

1.  What does the New Testament say regarding the manner in which the church is to appoint elders?

2.  Does the New Testament support any hierarchical structure within the church?  Where?

3.  Doesn’t giving oneself or others the title of “Prophet,” “Apostle,” “Evangelist,” “Teacher,” or even “Pastor,” contradict the very heart of Christ? 


0 thoughts on “Leaders, Elders, and Ephesians 4:11

  1. Philip says:

    Aren’t we ALL ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Every Believer has three things in Christ: His mind, His faith & His anointing; we may have different functions & responsibilities but we work together & some have chosen to work in the temple, others in the marketplace.

    Aren’t we ALL to submit one to another, not just everyone to those in “leadership”? In the world there’s hierarchy, in the Kingdom there’s the King then…. there’s everyone else; we’re all equal in Christ.

    Aren’t we ALL commanded to drop the titles, which not only contradict the heart of Jesus but His very command against using them? This seems to be a command that most overlook; we have no problem saying Peter, James, John, Paul or Jesus, but today we’re told to call certain people Pastor? Apostle? Prophet?

  2. Kat says:

    This is merely my limited understanding:

    Paul never ‘appointed’ a title, nor had Paul sent others to ‘appoint’ an elder or elders, according to his words. The Greek word that was translated as ‘appointed,’ literally means recognized, as in noticing, that the ekklesia had grown in Christ and there are some now present that are noticeably mature. I will not get into the details, that is for each of us to read the Scriptures with the Spirit of Truth as our eyes to see Christ. He will point out the words that have been written in any version translated that seem a bit ‘off’ of the author’s intent. That is what He does with me, anyway. Only then, do I look into the Greek.
    A saint who is more mature, than a younger one in Spirit growth, does not take a leadership, a title, but sees to the safety of the younger ones in Christ, and in the natural Life flow of community, the mature ones are recognized as mature, and the less mature in the community look at these mature saints by the example of them. A mature person/elder, is not held to or in a leader title, but a lowly slave. A slave is never to be noticed as over anyone; never is a slave put on an pedestal. A slave/servant has no throne above others. This maturity is what organically/naturally takes place as a saint matures with the mind of Christ, as the One who works in us does lead to maturity of Himself in us. We are all priests in the Spirit nation, in the Kingdom of God, in the priesthood of all believers all are priests. We are a community of priests, and Christ in each priest has a measure, a uniqueness, an expression of Christ Himself.
    Every title belongs to Christ Jesus Himself, He is the Apostle, Sent One, He is the Prophet, He is the Evangelist, He is the Teacher, He is the Shepard, He is the Healer, He is the Power, He is the Wisdom, He is the Knowledge, He is the Name above all names, every Title that belongs to God belongs to Christ Jesus Himself.

    Your words brought to me a few thoughts that I suppose I should share with you, I hope that this is okay. “How we define and apply those gifts…will determine how effective their use is within…the body” My thought is that ‘those gifts’ are Life, ‘those gifts’ are a Person, Jesus Christ. And so, I ask, how do we ‘define’ Christ Jesus and how do we ‘apply’ Christ Jesus?

    “Some indeed have limited these gifts to leadership” Yes, I agree very much so. Some have limited the Spirit of Christ in the saints by their traditions, and also by avoiding the reality of the cross of Christ.

    And that’s all I have to say at this time, brother.

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