According to Ephesians 4:7-11, not all of these gifts were apostles. Some were prophets, others evangelizers, others shepherds, still others teachers. Of course, the apostles were at the same time prophets, evangelizers, shepherds (pastors) and teachers. On the day of Pentecost, under the force of the outpoured holy spirit, the twelve apostles prophesied, in fulfillment of Joel 2:28, 29. (Acts 2:16-18, 21)
14. Since the congregation is called the “flock of God,” this laid what obligation upon the twelve apostles, and did they fulfill it?
14 That account proves that they were not only evangelizers but also teachers. Were those apostles also shepherds or pastors? Yes. Remember how, at the Sea of Galilee, the resurrected Jesus told Peter to prove his love and affection by obeying the command: “Feed my lambs. . . . Shepherd my little sheep. . . . Feed my little sheep.” (John 21:15-17) All the other apostles also became and acted as spiritual shepherds in the congregation. The very fact that the congregation is called the “flock of God” laid on these apostles the obligation to be shepherds of that flock.
15. How does the record show whether the apostles monopolized the ministry of prophesying?
15 However, although the twelve apostles and the apostle Paul were capable of serving and did serve as prophets, evangelizers, shepherds and teachers, they did not monopolize those forms of the Christian ministry. There were other dedicated, baptized men who specialized or were prominent in those varieties of ministries. (1 Cor. 12:4, 5) For instance, when the apostle Paul, at Ephesus, baptized those men, about twelve of them, “in the name of the Lord Jesus” and then laid his hands upon them, “the holy spirit came upon them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.” (Acts 19:1-7) The gift of miraculous prophecy was imparted by the holy spirit to many other dedicated, baptized Christians in the days of the apostles. (1 Cor. 12:7-10, 27-29; 14:29-32; Acts 13:1; 21:10) So not only the apostles prophesied.
16. How did Paul at Miletus show that others besides the apostles were to fulfill the ministry of spiritual shepherds?
16 What about the gift of spiritual “shepherds”? There is historical evidence that they were not lacking. About the year 56 C.E., when on his way to Jerusalem, Paul the “apostle to the nations” stopped at the seaport of Miletus and sent for the official elders of the nearby Ephesus congregation to come to him before his ship left. In the course of his farewell remarks Paul reminded these elders or presbyters of the spiritual work that they were appointed to render, saying: “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son. I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness.” (Acts 20:28, 29) So those elders were both overseers and spiritual shepherds.
17 Doubtless, not one individual elder, presbyter, overseer or shepherd, but the entire “body of elders” was what the glorified Lord, Jesus Christ, called the “angel” that was symbolized by a heavenly star. Thus, about the year 96 C.E., he told the aged apostle John on the Isle of Patmos to write, saying: “To the angel of the congregation in Ephesus write: These are the things that he says who holds the seven stars in his right hand, he who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.” (Rev. 2:1; 1:20) The “body of elders” (or presbytery) there at Ephesus was to act like a star in shedding heavenly, spiritual light upon the congregation over which the holy spirit had made them shepherds. By such light these spiritual shepherds would guide them aright.—1 Tim. 4:14, margin.
18. How does 1 Peter 5:1-4 show that Peter recognized that the gift of shepherds included others besides the apostles?
18 Further, with respect to the gift of shepherds to the first-century congregation, the apostle Peter wrote, about the years 62-64 C.E. Putting himself on a level with the “elders” of the congregations in Asia Minor, Peter wrote: “Therefore, to the elders among you I give this exhortation, for I too am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of the Christ, a sharer even of the glory that is to be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God in your care, . . . becoming examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd has been made manifest, you will receive the unfadable crown of glory.” (1 Pet. 5:1-4, margin) So Peter recognized that the gift of shepherds included others besides the apostles.
19. As indicated by Paul in Titus 1:5-9, who were the “teachers” that are included among the “gifts in men”?
19 “Teachers” were also given as “gifts in men.” By these are meant, not parents who teach their children in family gatherings or ordinary congregation members who teach interested persons the Bible truths in their private homes, but men who are specially gifted with the art of teaching and who are therefore appointed to be teachers inside the congregation in its regular Bible studies. For instance, after his release from his first imprisonment in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote to Titus, whom he had left in Crete to appoint official elders for the congregations in city after city. When setting out the qualifications of such elders, who should also be overseers, Paul wrote: “An overseer must be . . . holding firmly to the faithful word as respects his art of teaching, that he may be able both to exhort by the teaching that is healthful and to reprove those who contradict.”—Titus 1:5-9.
20. How did Paul indicate to Timothy that the official “elders” of congregations are “gifts” in the form of “teachers”?
20 About the same time the apostle Paul wrote Timothy, who had been given authority to make appointments. When telling him the basis on which overseers were to be appointed over a congregation, Paul lists sixteen qualifications. Among all these we note the seventh requirement to be: “qualified to teach.” (1 Tim. 3:1-7) As an overseer had to be more than a “newly converted man,” he must be officially an “elder.” That the nonapostolic “elders” were among the “gifts” in the form of teachers, the apostle Paul indicated to Timothy by going on to tell him: “Let the elders who preside in a fine way be reckoned worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard in speaking and teaching.” (1 Tim. 5:17, margin) Accordingly, today Jehovah’s witnesses endeavor to have official “elders” to preside over the midweek Bible studies that are conducted in locations convenient for the members of the congregation who are living in that neighborhood. Only if enough elders are not available for all such weekly Bible studies, are “ministerial servants” used to conduct such local Bible studies.—1 Tim. 3:8, 9, 12, 13.