Here we have a complete list of the ministry-gifts of Christ bestowed on certain persons in his church. There are many other gifts which may be embraced by those listed here and which may serve to equip them, but this list covers the major types of ministry which stem from Christ himself for the benefit of his church.
Let us consider them in a little more detail:
Apostles: the word means “a special messenger,” a pioneer, one who is called of God to restore some new facet of truth, to inspire a new vision, and to establish and oversee local Christian churches.
Prophets: this ministry conveys the mind of God to the church to meet the need of specific occasions, exercising the gifts of the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge, and exhorting the church with inspired utterance.
Evangelists: those who bear this ministry gift are called to proclaim the gospel of Christ, bringing men and women to salvation, with a message confirmed by supernatural signs.
Pastors and Teachers: these ministry-gifts are so closely linked together that some consider them to be one gift. Whether one gift, or two closely allied gifts, the outworking of these ministries is seen in the effective shepherding and instructing of local churches.
While these gifts overlap and dovetail with one another, each is distinct in its own nature and each is the impartation of divine enablement by the living Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
These gifts of ministry represent the full-orbed ministry of Christ himself that his works might be continued and his blood-bought victory enforced over Satan and all his evil power.
GIFTS WON FOR US AT CALVARY
Now these ministry-gifts were won for us at Calvary. This is what we read in Ephesians 4:8-10 . . . “Therefore it says, when He ascended on high, he led captive a host of captives, (he led captivity captive) and He gave gifts to men. Now that he ascended what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.”
Thus it was by his death and burial, by his invasion of Satan’s domain and by his rising again with the keys of death and hell, that Christ gained the victory, the spoils of which he now shares with men by means of the gifts which he distributes to those whom he has called to his service.
Verse 8 (he led captivity captive) is a quotation from Psalm 68:18, reference to which will provide us with a better understanding of the truth that is presented. It is a picture of a warrior-king who, having won a mighty victory, returns in triumphal procession to the hill of Zion, dragging in his train a host of captives, some bound in chains, others tied to the wheels of the chariots, all showing miserable and fearful evidence of their defeat. Now seated on the conqueror ‘s throne the warrior-king calls to him those who shared in the pain and blood of battle, and to them he distributes the spoil he has gained.