Five-Fold Ministry

  The Five Fold Ministry

Deception or Truth

By Bishop O.W. Prince

Ephesians 4:11

KJV — “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.”

Amplified — “And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (proclaimers of the Gospel ), some pastors and teachers (shepherds of His flock).

NIV — It was he who gave some to be (1) apostles, some to be (2) prophets, some to be (3) evangelists, and some to be (4) pastors and (5) teachers.”

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What is the Five-Fold Ministry and is it relevant today?

Exposition

The argument for the Five Fold Ministry must meet the apostolic test. That test involves the following questions: Does God call it five-fold? Do the apostles call it five fold? Did Jesus refer to a five-fold ministry?

If not, then why do we?

The concept of the five-fold ministry comes from Ephesians 4:11. Ephesians 4:12-13 tells us that the purpose of God’s gifts to men was, “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

Ephesians 4 highlights some key players in the formation of the foundation of the Church—not the only players (1 Corinthians 12:27-31). There are many other offices of divine appointment that exist in the church. They are too numerous for me to list in this short study. However, a careful study of New Testament Scripture will reveal that the Kingdom of God has saints that operate in the gifts of interpretation of tongue, the deacon ministry, the ministry of hospitality, the ministry of visitation and prayer among others ministries. Ministry involves more than five offices of operation as the term Five-fold ministry implies. It is ever growing, reaching unity, becoming mature to the full measure of Christ.

However, Ephesians 2:20-21 [“Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”] informs us that the church is, “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.” If the apostles and prophets were the foundation of the church, are we still building the foundation? Hebrews 6:1-3 encourages us to move on from the fundamental principles. We are supposed to grow.

The role of the apostles and prophets were to proclaim God’s revelation, to teach the truth the church would need in order to grow and thrive. The apostles and prophets completed this mission.

How? By giving us the Word of God. The Word of God is the completed revelation of God. The Bible contains everything the Church needs to know in order to grow, thrive, and fulfill God’s mission and purpose. The Holy Spirit of God is our revelator/teacher. The cornerstone work of the apostle and prophets is complete. The ongoing work of God is manifested in the Holy Spirit speaking through the Word of God and teaching us God’s Will through his Holy Spirit filled servants.

Therefore, in the usual biblical sense of the term, there are no apostles today. Nor are there any prophets in the traditional Biblical sense (Foretellers of events relating to the kingdom of God and the coming messiah and His speedy triumphant Return), as they were part of the “foundation” laid in the first-century church. This is not to deny the continuing validity of the gift of “prophecy (The gift to speak by divine inspiration–declaring the purposes of God) ,” since Paul does refer to prophesying as a basic activity in which all Christians are urged to participate to the extent they are gifted by God (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 11:4-5; 12:10; 13:2, 8-9; 14:1-6, 20-33; 1 Thess. 5:20). In a general functional sense, persons exercising this gift are called “teacher-preachers,” prophets (1 Cor. 14:32, 37) or bishop/elders. Yet Paul also speaks of specific persons who occupied the office of “prophet” which was second in authority only to apostle (1 Cor. 12:28-29). This is the office of “prophecy” that has completed its work and finished its course and has passed from the earth along with the last apostle–around the end of the first century.

Joel 2:28 may add some light on the use of the word prophet as it relates to the new testaments Church. The Word “Prophet” come from the Hebrew word “naba’”{naw-baw’} which means one who is under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Now let’s keep this in mine as we read Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:16-18.

The question may remain, “Are there any prophets today?” No, not in the sense of one who reveals new unknown truth from God regarding to the kingdom of God, the coming messiah and His triumphant Return. Why would we need such prophets since we already have the completed prophecy from God recorded in the Bible and manifested in Jesus Christ?

If prophets and apostles were the “foundation” of the early church, are we still building the “foundation” today? The answer is an unequivocal No!

Therefore, the concept of the five-fold ministry fails the test and is found to be in error.

Now the question still remains as to whether or not I believe in prophecy as Paul refers to it. Do I believe God can give someone a message to deliver to someone else? The answer is absolutely Yes!

This is the gift of prophecy of which Paul spoke– the endowment of the Christian teachers called preacher [bishop/elder] to engage in dialogue through divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit and declare the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing the wicked, or comforting the afflicted or unveiling the mysteries of God’s written Word (2 Timothy 3:16 and 4:2)

Whenever a person claims to be speaking for God, in the spiritual gift of prophesy, i.e. preaching, the key is to compare what is said with what the Bible has already said. (The Apostolic test) If God were to speak through a person today, it would be in 100% complete agreement with what God has already said in the Bible through His Prophets and Apostles. God does not contradict Himself.

1 John 4:1 instructs us, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 declares, “Do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good.” So, whether it is a “Word from the Lord” or a supposed prophecy, our response should be the same. Compare what is said to what is written in the Word of God. If it contradicts the Bible, throw it out. If it agrees with the Bible, pray for wisdom and discernment as to how to apply the message (2 Timothy 3:16-17; James 1:5).

Now for those who want to interpret Ephesians 4:11 as a call for restoring the office of apostleship, not only are they making a critical error in biblical analysis of the text, they are opening the door to rebellion against God’s established order. To claim that today’s Church needs new visions and new revelations through modern apostles and prophets is to deny the sufficiency of the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16) and to place the church at the mercy of false apostles, the likes of whom the apostle Paul warned us about in no uncertain terms.

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (2 Cor. 11:13-15.)

Conclusion

The teachers of the “five-fold ministry” are seeking to restore a foundation that has never been moved. They are actually laying a false foundation that will not support the building up of the body of Christ. This is one reason why Christendom has become so polluted with twisted messages of prosperity and self-centered ambitions rather than salvation and self-denial.

The main offices in the church today are Bishops and Elders. These offices are synonymous. They are the same word in Hebrew. They are the overseers of the church of Jesus Christ established by the apostles. These are not offices of hierarchy—divisions of rank, grade, status or levels whereby one is subordinate to another or under another’s command—but they are of a singular office, responsible for administering the commands of God’s and the duties of the Church. (1 Tim. 3:2, Titus 1:7)

We will cover the prerequisites of a Bishop or Elder at a later date. However, it would behoove us to continue on the course that is set before us. For we need to study and learn the fundamentals of God’s order before we can approach or handle the delicate and sometimes complicated matters of spiritual assignments. Everything will be revealed in due season.

Highlighted Information:

  • 1 Corinthians 12:28 shows more than five offices or gifts in the church.
  • The term “pastor-teacher” in Ephesians 4:11 is a hyphenated word and denotes one office-not two as some suppose.

To receive information on the Biblical Qualification for a Pastor/Bishop, please visit http://wordpress.com/2011/11/25/2111/
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.
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