Ephesians 4:11 says:

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers [ Ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους ] ” (KJV)

I don’t understand the Greek phrase/words: poimenas kai didaskalos [ Ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους ] translated ‘shepherds/pastors and teachers’.

Some people interpret this phrase to say Paul is referring to two separate ministry gifts in the body: the role of pastor and the separate role of teacher; while other Christians interpret it to refer to one gift, i.e. a pastor-teacher. I’m not sure whether this is because in order to serve as a pastor/elder, a man must also be gifted as a teacher, he must be apt to teach (1 Tim 3:2) therefore the gift here in Ephesians 4:11 is one gift of pastor-teacher to the body.

However, Romans 12:7 seems to identify a gift of teaching, without any reference to the role of pastor. I’ve come across two men who both claim to be teachers and yet not have the gift of shepherding, so is it possible that the four-fold ministry of Ephesians chapter 4 is really a five-fold ministry? Surely, the Greek rendition makes this clear?

2 Answers 2


The Greek text of Eph. 4:11 states,

Eph. 4:11, Textus Receptus (1550)

ΙΑʹ καὶ αὐτὸς ἔδωκεν τοὺς μὲν ἀποστόλους τοὺς δὲ προφήτας τοὺς δὲ εὐαγγελιστάς τοὺς δὲ ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους TR, 1550

The first instance in the series is preceded by μὲν, but thereafter each instance is preceded by δὲ. Thus, we can distinguish each instance as follows:

  • τοὺς ἀποστόλους
  • τοὺς προφήτας
  • τοὺς εὐαγγελιστάς
  • τοὺς ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους

To answer your question, yes, the Greek text does indicate that the ποιμήν (“shepherd, pastor”) was synonymous with the διδασκλος (“teacher”). If they were not synonymous (rather, to be distinguished), the Greek text would have stated:

ΙΑʹ καὶ αὐτὸς ἔδωκεν τοὺς μὲν ἀποστόλους τοὺς δὲ προφήτας τοὺς δὲ εὐαγγελιστάς τοὺς δὲ ποιμένας τοὺς δὲ διδασκάλους

Henry Alford commented,1

some as pastors and teachers (from these latter not being distinguished from the pastors by the τοὺς δέ, it would seem that the two offices were held by the same persons. The figure in ποιμένες, if to be pressed, would imply that they were entrusted with some special flock, which they tended...and then the διδασκαλία [“teaching”] would necessarily form a chief part of their work.

To the elders,2 the apostle Peter wrote,3

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof... KJV, 1769 emphasis mine

ποιμάνατε1 τὸ ἐν ὑμῖν ποίμνιον τοῦ θεοῦ ἐπισκοποῦντες2... TR, 1550 emphasis mine

This indicates that the office of bishop or episcopate (ἐπισκοπή), which was held by the bishop or overseer (ἐπίσκοπος), was synonymous with that of the elder (πρεσβύτερος), and the bishop/elder was responsible for feeding—literally, shepherding or pastoring—the flock of God (i.e., the sheep).


Alford, Henry. The Greek Testament. Vol. 3. Boston: Lee, 1874.


1 p. 117
2 cp. 1 Pet. 5:1. The verb ποιμάνατε is conjugated from the lemma ποιμαίνω, which is related to the noun ποιμήν, meaning “pastor/shepherd.”
3 1 Pet. 5:2. The participle ἐπισκοποῦντες is conjugated from the lemma ἐπισκοπέω, which is related to the noun ἐπίσκοπος, meaning “bishop/overseer.”

  • 1
    Couldn't the use of καὶ as opppose to δὲ be due to its being is the last item on the list? Maybe δὲ is too 'energetic' for a final element in a list? Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 22:20
  • @SolaGratia—Do you have an example of that usage?
    – user862
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 22:25
  • I do not. It was more of a question of whether grammar would allow this more than anything. I'm not very good at sourcing tools which enable such a complex search δὲ...δὲ...δὲ...καὶ --'δὲ καὶ' or something similar. RegEx/Excel is not my thing either, or I would perhaps be able to find an example, if indeed there was one to be found ¯_(ツ)_/¯ Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 14:42

So I think definitely their is a split 'office' within the church and I think this is affirmed by a couple of other scriptures in the new testament. 1. 1 Timothy 5:17 - 'Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.' indicating that some (ruling) elders are not 'teachers' so to speak. 2. 1 Peter 5 - 'So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you...' indicating (ruling) elders look after God's 'flock' (read pastor - a term derived from shepherds in reference to flocks of sheep).

Bringing the two passages (maybe) together all elders are to pastor, not all are necessarily teaching.

Also, one might expect members of the congregation to have a particular teaching gifting without the office of elder/pastor like prophesying or encouraging?

Finally it might be that the specific Ephesians 4 verse reference to pastor-teachers (1 Timothy those worthy of double-honor) who specifically equip the entire congregation to do further ministry (Ephesians 4:12)

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