Vol. 15 No. 13
As part of Paul’s “Revelation of the Stewardship of God’s Mystery Doctrines for the Church Age,” vs. 1-13, and having noted the first section of Chapter 3, “The Mystery, the Product of Revelation, Eph 3:1-6,” we now turn to the second section, “The Minister, Appointed to Proclamation, Eph 3:7-13.” Therefore, having taught the Doctrine of the Mystery, Paul now teaches us the Doctrine of Ministry.
This passage shows us the attitude Paul had concerning the great responsibility God had given him; to broadcast this mystery and the mystery doctrines for the Church Age to the world. To do so, Paul recognized the power and strength given to him by God to accomplish the ministry He was placed in.
Eph 3:7, “Of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.”
The first phrase, “Of which I was made a minister,” HOS GINOMAI DIAKONOS. GINOMAI means, “to be, to come into being, to be made, or become.” In the Aorist, Passive, Indicative it means, “I became,” which speaks to the overall events that absolutely brought Paul into the true ministry of Jesus Christ. This included His Damascus encounter, but even prior to that, God was working in his life to prepare him for the ministry he would one day fulfill. And in fact it was not until 17+ years after the Damascus encounter that Paul began his great ministry. And even that started slowly with his first of three great journeys recorded in Scripture. Therefore, just as our Lord was working in Paul’s life before and during his ministry, the Lord was working in your life to bring you to the day of your salvation and is continually working in your life as you walk in your own personal ministry.
“Minister,” DIAKONOS, διάκονος means, “servant, waiter, or deacon.” Its origin in the Greek language is from the title for waiters and waitresses in restaurants who served the customers of their establishment. In the Bible, it is used for several things, all of which include the concept of service or servanthood. It is used as a technical word for those who hold the office of Deacon within the church, like the martyr Stephen, Acts 6:5, who was chosen to serve God’s people within the Church. Another Greek word for servant is DOULOS that emphasizes subjecting one’s self to a master, whereas DIAKONOS stresses the activity of the servant. In fact, the N.T. concept of servanthood evolved directly from Jesus’ own model as the servant of God, e.g., Luke 22:26ff; Mat 20:28; Mark 10:45.
Luke 22:26-27, “But not so with you, but let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. 27For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table, or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”
According to the world, the one sitting at the table is greater than the server, but in God’s eyes, the server is greater than the one being served, Mat 20:26; 23:11; John 12:26.
Paul had previously told us he was a “prisoner” of Christ Jesus. Now he tells us he is also a servant. Yet this servanthood has a specific meaning here and elsewhere in the N.T., as it speaks to Paul’s service as a Minister, Elder, or Pastor-Teacher, cf. Eph 6:21; Col 1:23-25; 1 Tim 4:6. So here DIAKONOS emphasizes Paul’s teaching ministry of the Mystery doctrines for the Church Age, as he discusses his ministry of dispensing this mystery to the Gentiles. So DIAKONOS here speaks to the spiritual Gift of Apostleship alluding to the teaching aspect of that gift with the emphasis being on the servanthood of God and Christ he was under. Just as all of us who have unique spiritual gifts should walk in them as servants unto the Lord, rather than wanting to be known for the gift we have.
Paul does not take credit for his servanthood as stated in the Passive voice of GINOMAI. And what comes next, “according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me.” “Gift” here is DOREA, δωρεά that means, “gift or present,” that emphasizes the nature of the gift given as a “free gift.” In fact the Adjective DOREAN means, “freely, without cause or reason, or undeservedly.”
DOREA is synonymous to CHARISMA. CHARISMA is typically used regarding the spiritual gift we receive from God the Holy Spirit at the moment of our salvation. But DOREA is used here to emphasize the “freeness” of the gift, meaning we do not earn it or deserve it.
This freeness is also noted in the words, “God’s grace,” THEOS CHARIS, where CHARIS means, “grace, graciousness, kindness, goodwill, a gift, or a favor.” This free gift of God’s grace to Paul “was given,” the Aorist, Passive, Participle of DIDOMI. Notice once again the use of the Passive Voice. So the spiritual gift of being a “Minster” that was “given” to Paul was a “free gift of God’s grace!” The source of this gift is the same source of every blessing to the believer; God’s grace!
Finally, we note that this free gift of God’s grace given to Paul was, “according to the working of His power.” This is what provides for and enables our spiritual gift.
“Working” is the Accusative Noun ENERGEIA that means, “working, power, or efficiency.” It means “effectual working or the operational function.” This effectual work performed by the free grace of God in making Paul a Minister was performed by God’s “power,” DUNAMIS that means, “power, might, ability, or force.” It is God’s inherent power, His omnipotence.
Paul recognizes that the dramatic intervention that transformed him from an enemy into a friend of Christ was nothing less than an act of Divine omnipotence. Now his apostleship reflects God’s power at work in the Church. Therefore, the gift Paul received was bestowed in accordance with that efficiency which could transform Saul the persecutor into Paul the apostle to the Gentiles.
Both of these words, ENERGEIA and DUNAMIS, are the same words used in Eph 1:19-20, regarding the work and power of God the Father in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, is the same power that gives us our spiritual gift and empowers it for use in the service of the ministry God has chosen for us, 1 Cor 12:4-7.
Therefore, the same God who gave Paul the tremendous responsibility to reveal God’s Plan to the world for this new dispensation, performed this act purely out of His grace, and promises to give the ability or power necessary to carry out the responsibility. Just has He does and will do for you and I!
Paul realized, as we should too, that to be a servant of God is “the gift of the grace of God,” where His grace puts you into ministries in His church, and His power makes it possible for you to fulfill these ministries. It is not by your human works, power, or effort that you fulfill God’s Plan, but it is by His work, power, and effort working through you that fulfills His Plan.
Therefore, this doctrine of ministry begins by reminding us of the servanthood we have been entered into by God, along with the power He provides us with for the fulfillment of our ministry.
In Rom 1:9, Paul tells us something about himself and his relationship with God.
Rom 1:9, “For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you.”
In this verse we have a blue print for our service unto the Lord. Here Our Lord is telling us the “Who, What, and How” of service.
The first question is, “Who do we serve?” The simple answer is, “For God, whom I serve.”
Plain and simple, there is no one else we are to serve other than God. In every aspect of our lives, God is to be served. Not just at church, in study, or in prayer, but in all aspects of our lives; on the job, at school, at home, in our marriage, in relation to our parents, on the sports field, in recreation, in relationships. In all aspects we are to serve God, Col 3:24; 1 Thes 1:9.
Bringing the point home that we are to serve God in all things our Lord said in Mat 6:24 and Luke 16:13, “No one servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
The second question is, “How do we serve?” The answer is “In my spirit.”
Paul is saying that the way to serve is through the human Spirit. The human spirit is the new spiritual nature you received at moment of your salvation. In order to serve God, we must operate by the new nature and not our old nature called the flesh which is led by sin. That is the topic of Rom 12:1-2; 1 Cor 2:13.
Operating the by your human spirit is accomplished when you adjust to the justice of God through Rebound and Recovery, 1 John 1:9 cf. Heb 9:14, if you have sinned.
Heb 9:14, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
The third question is, “What is my service?” Paul said, “in the preaching of the gospel of His Son.”
Even though Paul’s gift was one primarily to witness the gospel and preach the word of God, in everyone’s ministry the main object is to “preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.” That means not only in your words but also in your actions, your Divine good works, the end goal should always be “preach Christ.”
If there is any other predominant or competing goal in your service, other than to serve God and preach Christ, your work will be tainted. Even when the Bible tells us to “server one another,” that should not be our goal because we will have our eyes on people and ourselves. But when we have the objective to serve God and Him alone, then our service in all other areas will be effectual.
When Jesus said to Peter, “… do you love Me? … Tend My sheep,” John 21:16, He did not say to make converts to your way of thinking, but He said to look after His sheep, to see that they get nourished in the knowledge of Him.
We consider what we do in the way of Christian work as service, yet Jesus Christ calls service to be what we are to Him, not what we do for Him.
Discipleship is based solely on devotion to Jesus Christ, not on following after a particular belief or doctrine. Our Lord said in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me and does not love less his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”
In this verse, there is no argument and no pressure from Jesus to follow Him; He is simply saying, in effect, “If you want to be My disciple, you must be devoted solely to Me.” A person touched by the Spirit of God says, “Now I see who Jesus is!”, that is the source of devotion.
Sometimes we substitute doctrinal belief for personal belief, and that is why so many people are devoted to causes and so few are devoted to Jesus Christ.
People do not really want to be devoted to Jesus, but only to the cause He started. Jesus Christ is deeply offensive to the educated minds of today, to those who only want Him to be their Friend, and who are unwilling to accept Him in any other way.
Our Lord’s primary obedience was to the will of His Father, Mat 26:39, not to the needs of people, the saving of people was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father.
If you are devoted solely to the cause of humanity, you will soon be exhausted and come to the point where your love will waver and stumble. But if you love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, you can serve humanity, even though people may treat you like a “doormat.”
The secret of a disciple’s life is devotion to Jesus Christ, and the characteristic of that life is its seeming insignificance and its meekness. Yet it is like a grain of wheat that “falls into the ground and dies,” John 12:24, it will spring up and change the entire landscape.
Eph 3:8, “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.”
“The very least,” is ELACHISTOTEROS, ἐλαχιστότερος that is an unusual comparative formed from the superlative Adjective ELACHISTOS meaning, “least.” So it means, “less than the least, far less, far inferior.” This is the only time it is used in the N.T. and is not found in ancient Greek prior to Paul’s usage.
The comparative Paul is making between himself is with the rest of believers, “of all saints,” PAS HAGIOS.
He states that he “was given,” the Aorist, Passive, Indicative of DIDOMI, “grace,” CHARIS, “to preach,” the Aorist, Middle, Infinitive of EUAGGELIZO that means, “to bring or announce good news,” that is, preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. But as we will see next, it is more than just the Gospel. His preaching begins with the gospel, but it goes far beyond that.
Therefore, the grace of God gave Paul the opportunity to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, “to the Gentiles,” the Dative of HO ETHNOS, including, “the unfathomable riches of Christ,” the Adjective ANEXICHNIASTOS, ἀνεξιχνίαστος that means, “inscrutable, incomprehensible, or cannot be explored,” with the Noun PLOUTOS meaning, “wealth, riches, or abundance,” plus HO CHRISTOS. These unfathomable riches describe the super-grace life of the believer that is the “Life Beyond GNOSIS” and the “Life Beyond Dreams,” which is the discussion to follow in vs. 14-21.
So Paul is saying he is ministering this grace, by God’s strength, not his own, was Paul’s responsibility though he considered himself less than the least of all God’s people. This denotes Paul’s deep humility in view of God’s incomparably generous grace. Instead of boasting about his own abilities and the fact that God had given him such an important task, the apostle considered himself an unworthy servant, mainly because previous to his conversion he had persecuted Christ by persecuting His church, Acts 9:5; 1 Cor 15:9; Phil 3:6; 1 Tim 1:13. In spite of his previous position of violently opposing the N.T. Church, the grace of God gave Paul the privilege and responsibility of proclaiming to the world the mystery of that Church.
Paul is not putting himself down here. That would be false humility, which really is just another form of pride, as people sometimes become proud of their humility by trying to manifest it to other people. Here he is simply drawing attention away from himself and putting it squarely where it belongs, on God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is emphasizing God’s grace by explaining the lowly place he came from. And it is that grace of God that called him to the ministry and gave him all of the resources, assets, materials, and opportunities to glorify God, even though he absolutely did not deserve them. With the grace of God in view, now we can look at the Doctrine of the Minister.
The Doctrine of the Minister
1) There are five different uses in the Bible for the words DIAKONOS and DIAKONIA that tell us something more about the roles of Ministers and Deacons:
- The political use. This is for the head of a state in Rom 13:4. The word DIAKONOSis used once in the Bible for those who are in charge of a country.
- A general use. It is the universal ministry of every believer in the Church Age as a Royal Priests, 2 Cor 3:6; 4:1; 5:18; 6:3-4.
- It is used of church administrators or deacons, Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8-13. Deacons administer the activities of the church, so it connotes administration.
- It is used in a specialized way for the Pastor-Teacher of the local church. It is used in the sense of his authority, his communication of the Word of God, and his policy-making, Acts 6:4; 1 Cor 3:5; Eph 3:7; Col 1:7, 23, 25; 4:7; 1 Thes 3:2; 1 Tim 1:12; Heb 6:10.
- There is also an evil usage of the word in 2 Cor 11:15 where it is used for Satan’s ministers. This is a counterfeit of the local church concept and Satan uses his ministers in religion.
2) There are several synonymous Greek words for “service or minister.”
- DOULEUOwhich means to serve as a slave.
- THERAPEUO, which means to serve in a medical sense, medical practice. This is where we get the word “therapy.”
- LATREUO, which means to serve for wages; a bona fide system of service.
- LEITOURGEO, which refers to public service; police, military, government administration, etc.
- HUPERETEO, means to be helpful to someone.
- DIAKONEO, the verb. The noun is DIAKONIA. One other is DIAKONOS. Sometimes this word is transliterated “deacon.” Sometimes it is translated “minister” and that is a good translation.
3) In addition to the above, there are three other words which identify the Pastor-Teacher or the Minister of the local church. The function of the Pastor-Teacher is not religious; he is the teacher of the Word of God. It is his objective to so communicate doctrine that the Royal Priesthood under his jurisdiction in the local church will move to super-grace status, which is the normal function of the priesthood. These three words all indicate something different in the Pastor-Teacher.
- The first is the authority of his position. The Greek word is PRESBUTEROS, often translated “elder.” It is found in 1 Tim 5:17, 19; Titus 1:5; James 5:14; 1 Peter 5:1. It always refers to the Pastor. It does not refer to a church officer in the Bible. The distortion of this is to utilize this for a church officer. There is only one elder in a local church. The word means originally, “old man,” not in the sense of age, but in the sense of his authority. It is a title of authority. It means the one in command of the local church. It always possesses a positive element of respect and honor, as the “elders” of ancient communities were respected for their wisdom and insight; they deserved honor because of this. So this is the authority of his position.
- The authority of his policy. The Greek word for this is EPISKOPOS. Unfortunately, this is translated “bishop.” The reason for that is because of the Church of England and the translators being related to the Church of England who saw fit to translate this word as “bishop,” which actually means “overseer, inspector, or superintendent.” It refers to the one who is an overseer, the one who has charge of observing what is going on, the one who sets up the policy for the workers on the job. So it comes to mean the authority of his policy. Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:7.
In comparison, the term “elder” contemplates the authority inherent in the position of Pastor-Teacher, while the term bishop contemplates the authority of the Pastor’s decision making regarding policy of the local church.
- The authority of his message is found in two words: Pastor-Teacher of Eph 4:11.
i.) The first word, POIMEN, means, “shepherd.” So “shepherd-teacher” would be a better translation. This has the connotation that the sheep need feeding and protection; therefore, they need to be led and guarded properly. POIMEN then emphasizes the ministry of the Pastor as a leader to feed and protect the congregation with the truth of spiritual food. There are seven areas of sheep helplessness.
a) A sheep cannot guide himself.
b) A sheep cannot cleanse himself.
c) A sheep is a defenseless animal.
d) A sheep is helpless when injured.
e) The sheep cannot find food or water for himself.
f) A sheep is easily frightened or panicked
g) The sheep produces wool as a result of the care of the shepherd.
In all seven areas the Pastor is given to the congregation by God so that they can overcome their helplessness and their every spiritual need is provided for.
ii.) Secondly, we have his function, DIDASKALOS, which means, “to teach a group.” Most often this concerns cognitive learning, (in a didactic manner), rather than practical experience, cf. Eph 3:8. This means that a pastor does not have to run around and personally spend time with members of his congregation, instead he is to feed them with the truth of God’s Word so that their souls are edified with righteousness that will also protect them from the false doctrines of Satan’s cosmic system, cf. Mat 7:15; 10:16; Luke 10:3; Acts 20:29.
4) We see in Acts 20:17, 28 synonymous identification of these three words, referring to one person. In vs. 17 the Elders of Ephesus are called Pastors in Acts 20:28. In this same context we have PRESBUTEROS, EPISKOPOS, and POIMAINO; they are told to feed the sheep, and all three of them are words used in the previous point.
5) Another word to describe the Minister is KERUX that means, “a herald” and emphasizes the fact that the Pastor is to clearly and emphatically declare God’s Word to whoever will give it a hearing, regardless of response, 1 Tim 2:7; 2 Tim 1:11; 2 Peter 2:5; cf. Mat12:41; 1 Cor1:21; 2:4. The verb occurs 61 times.
While the verb DIDASKO, “to teach,” emphasizes explanation in discourse, KERUSSO emphasizes simple declaration.
6) The appointment of the Pastor is described in 1 Cor 12:11, 28. God the Holy Spirit sovereignly bestows this gift on the Pastor-Teacher apart from human merit. The appointment of the Pastor has nothing to do with the people. No congregation makes a Pastor, a Pastor makes a congregation. A Pastor makes a great congregation by sticking to his job of teaching the Word of God and not allowing any portion or any individual in the congregation to run over him. In Eph 4:11, the gift of the Pastor-Teacher is strictly a gift of the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ, not of the individual involved.
7) The principle of the right Pastor-Teacher, right congregation is taught in 1 Peter 5:2-3; 1 Thes 5:12. Every believer has a right Pastor. Geography is usually the issue but there has to be a right Pastor, your right Pastor, the one who gets to you with doctrine, the one who causes you to be occupied with the person of Christ because you see who and what He is.
8) The authority of the right Pastor is given in Heb 13:7, 17; 1 Thes 5:12-13. His authority is absolute within the church, second only to the God and His Word.
9) The concept of the Pastor as the total product of God’s grace is taught in 1 Cor 15:10; Eph 3:7; 1 Tim 1:12-16.
10) The reward of the Pastor, the Crown of Glory, is taught in, Heb 6:10; 1 Peter 5:4.
11) The Biblical documentation for the existence of Pastors: Col 1:23-29; 1 Tim 3:1-9; 2 Tim 2:24-26; Titus 1:6-9; Eph 3:7-13.
A Pastor-Teacher or Minister, is a male believer in a local congregation. As he grows spiritually, he becomes aware of the existence inside of him of the residence of a spiritual gift. The spiritual gift was received at salvation. His awareness of the gift is based upon his daily intake of doctrine where the daily function of GAP causes him to become aware of this gift. It is not an emotional thing although certainly he has the right to get emotional about it if he is enjoying what he is doing in life.
Part of the challenge of the spiritual gift of pastor-teacher is found in Eph 3:9, “To bring to light what is the dispensation of the mystery which has been concealed from the ages by the God, who created all things.”
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If you would like more information on this subject,
you may watch/listen to lesson #’s:
16-039 through 16-041
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us. Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life.
To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!