This is the picture that Paul uses in v4-8, a classic battle scene reminiscent of ancient conflicts where it was typical for the king to mark a significant victory with a gesture of kindness to all his people. The victory here is that of the Risen Christ, now ascended over all. The gift is the Holy Spirit sent to empower their lives.
Everyone gets a gift to equip them to live a life worthy of their calling:
- Apostles are sent, to declare the resurrection. Now Jesus is Lord new places, cultures and people can come under his Lordship. Kind of like being sent to play on a new playing field (using a football analogy here ...).
- Prophets bring to fore God's insight. In this way they mark the boundaries of that new playing field.
- Evangelists are literally tellers of the good news. They are recruiters, inviting people to join the team.
- Shepherds are those who care and look after. Continuing with the football thing, a bit like the team physio.
- Teachers are those who can understand and explain, unpacking knowledge. Kind of like the team tactician.
And also there is no gender in this passage: everyone is empowered.
But the empowering may be seen in different ways or degrees. All are gifted to minister to one another and the world, some are gifted in ways that lead the whole community, potentially taking on positions of responsibility in the church.
Responsible positions need leaders of character. That is why sections regarding elders such as in Titus specify aspects of character. Yet the requirement is effectively on two axes: we need the gifting (seeing something of the 5 aspects above) and the character to bear that gifting in service.
Such service is to the whole body, to enable the whole body to do its work - we all have a job to do! That is why we ask:
[IN] How has God equipped you?
To return to the football analogy, the match is not won by spectators in the terraces but by the players on the pitch. As a Christ-follower you are qualified to play, and he gifts his Spirit to you to equip you to play your part.