The Fivefold Ministry By Rev. J.

Patrick Bowman I hope that this basic teaching on the fivefold ministry will help to bring to simplicity a subject that is most often ignored in the church or complicated by some teachings to the point of avoidance by those who would sincerely like to understand the truths contained therein. The fivefold ministry, also known as the ascension gifts, is spoken of by Paul in Ephesians chapter 4. We not only see here what the ascension gifts are, but why and until what time they are needed in the church. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Eph 4:11-16 KJV) We first see that Jesus was the giver of gifts to the church and collectively these gifts make up the fivefold package of church leadership. One cannot separate the church and the kingdom of God because the church is God’s chosen vehicle for establishing the kingdom in the earth. Therefore it is important that the church have a good idea of both what she is to look like and what the kingdom that God wants her to establish looks like. I believe this need to see clearly is why Jesus gave to the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Apostles bring revelation to the church. Prophets bring confirmation to the church. Evangelists bring proclamation to the church. Pastors bring consecration to the church. Teachers bring transformation to the church. Fullness only comes when all five gifts are accepted and functioning. The church has largely ignored the spiritual office of apostle for many centuries. Cessationists , those who hold the belief that miracles stopped after the canon of Scripture was completed, believe that healing, deliverance, prophecy and all other supernatural phenomena ceased and that apostles are no longer necessary. This same belief system excludes prophets from today’s church ministry and upsets the balance of gifts given to the church. Evangelists are largely misunderstood, but accepted, while pastors and teachers are laid heavy with the load of work as the “professional” clergymen. This, at best, leaves the church working at 60% capacity. The function of the fivefold ministry, as stated in verse 12, is to equip the saints for the work of ministry for the building up of the body. This equipping, or perfecting (KJV), speaks in the Greek of fitting a ship for the waters it will sail in or the setting of a bone. Making the saints ready for whatever storms they may find themselves and being placed for optimal service. The building up, or edifying (KJV) is the outcome of the proper equipping. This is the work of ministry for which the saints are placed for optimal service. Verse 13 gives us the time frame for which the gifts are needed in the church: “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” We are given a goal here to attain the unity of the faith. Jesus prayed for this unity to happen in us in John chapter 17. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou

gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. (John 17:6-13 KJV) We are also given a goal to come into the knowledge of the Son of God. This means a mature understanding of who Jesus is, “…characterized by the completeness and harmony of their ideas of the power, work, history, and glory of the Son of God” (Eadie). This will come only as we come into the unity of the faith. As a pastor friend of mine recently observed, “The church has largely worked hard through the ages to ‘perfect’ its theology of God at the expense of its relationship with God.” Continuing, Paul next exhorts the church, in verse14, to grow up. ” We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.” He was speaking of the existing condition of the church at Ephesus. Is it any different today where you live? We must grow up because the trickery of skilled deception through the deceitful scheming of people is still a threat to the church. Jesus talked about it repeatedly in the Gospel of Matthew. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Mat 7:15 KJV)

And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. (Mat 24:11 KJV)

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Mat 24:24 KJV)

“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:,…” We are told here, in verse 15, what we must do: grow up! But Paul does not leave us with any questions about how and where to grow. He directs us In all things into Christ. He is our source. He is our head. But this growing comes by speaking the truth in love. Paul now brings us to a happy conclusion in verse 16. He defines our Source as Christ Jesus and gives us a picture of how we are to relate to one another. “…From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” The body is to build itself up (verse 12) in love as it is joined and knit together by that which every member, working properly, contributes. The adjustments needed to ensure the proper working of the body is the job description of the fivefold ministry. Now let’s look at the individual gifts of the fivefold ministry so that we have a clearer picture of what they look like in practice. Apostles are messengers of revelation. They carry the big picture. Much like architects who take the desires of the general contractor (God) and plan how these specifics can be

worked into the blueprint of the building (the church), the apostle paints the broad brush strokes and then oversees the other workers as they implement the details. The apostle can also be looked at as the thumb on a hand. The thumb is the only finger that can touch all the other fingers (the other four gifts), meaning that it is influential to the whole hand. The hand cannot grip or place without the thumb. Prophets are preachers and expounders under the immediate influence of the Spirit, and thus distinguished from teachers. They are much like the contractor’s representative in a building project. They confirm what the contractor and architect have agreed upon is the best course of action and also bring up to the minute directives and adjustments to other craftsmen (other ministries). The prophet can be seen as the pointer finger, pointing out needed changes. Evangelists are traveling missionaries, specifically preaching the message of salvation. They are much like real estate agents who work for the contractor, selling (proclaiming) the benefits and security that will come with ownership (relationship, buying in). Evangelists are the middle finger of the hand; the longest finger with the most reach. Pastors are shepherds of the flock. They are much like in-house managers, who work for the contractor but live with the tenants. They are to be sure the tenants are comfortable in their surrounding, are responsible members of the community, respectful to their neighbors, and understand the covenants of occupancy. And, yes, at times they must enforce the covenants when a tenant gets out of line. Pastors can be seen as the ring finger, representing fidelity and relationship. Teachers are transformers. They are much like interior decorators, seeing the details that bring about a more intimate feeling for the tenant. Teachers take care of the finishing touches, calling out the unseen and working within both the public and private spaces of the building. Teachers can be viewed as the little finger on the hand, essential to its overall balance and function. Why should it matter to you? When the body of Christ does not discern herself properly, it leaves holes in the protection God has given to her in the ascension gifts. The full functioning of the fivefold ministry is essential in bringing the church to her glorious place of maturity in Christ. Study the scriptures yourself and ask the Holy Spirit to quicken truth to you. My prayer for you is by way of Paul in Ephesians 3:16-21: That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Eph 3:16-21 KJV)

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