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What is the 5-fold ministry and why is it important?


It is important that we are obedient to the Spirit of God as He reveals the order in the Scripture.  We are learning to hear His Voice and respond to it.  It is also important to note that no one can select his or her own calling or gift.  No one can decide to have an office in the Church or a gift of the Spirit or a certain ministry.  God decides these things.  Some run who were never sent.

While the term, "five-fold ministry" doesn't appear in Scripture, it is referring to Ephesians 4:11 And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; * 

We may count those items and see that there are five of  them, but are they all ministries? 

In the Church, there are gifts of the Spirit, ministries, and offices.  This is something that you can confirm by searching the Scriptures.  All of these are manifestations of Jesus Christ.  They have nothing to do with the fleshly nature of the people to whom they are given. 

  • There are nine gifts of the Spirit that are given by the laying on of hands and prophecy of the presbytery (a gathering of elders whom God has anointed for this purpose). 
  • The gifts grow to become ministries such as the ministry of prophet, evangelist, pastor, or teacher (which are gifts to the Church).  These four ministries appear to be closely associated with the office of apostle, but we also see that members of local churches can grow into these ministries without ever being set into the office of apostle. There are other ministries that are mentioned in the Bible.
  • The offices in the Church are as follows:
    • apostles  or traveling ministries (apostle elders/bishops like Paul and Peter and apostle deacons like Timothy, Titus, and the Seven chosen in Acts),
    • local elders/bishops and deacons (who are set by apostles and are never mentioned as singular and are never mentioned as receiving pay for their work),
    • and the mother and father in the home. 
    • In addition, every member has an office, a place of authority, but there are differences of responsibility. 
    • The creation of man-made offices has greatly hindered the Church.  The Church is an organism, not an organization.  It has order, but that order is the pattern God reveals through Scripture.  Offices govern the Church, each with some level of responsibility and matching authority.  Every person has a responsibility to rule his or her own life through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The apostle is an office. The other four, prophet, evangelists, pastor, and teacher, are all ministries. These four ministries are linked to the office of the apostle, though they can exist on the local Church level without the apostolic office.  In other words, members who are not apostles may also have any of these ministries according to the gift and calling of the Holy Spirit.

All is based on the foundation as laid out in Scripture. The Bible still has the answers, but the human mind is deceitful, and many a Godly person has become puffed up and has gone astray because of his or her human mind. God has a pattern in Scripture that calls for a multiplicity of God-set ministries who are led by the Spirit of God in unity.

There are apostolic elders and apostolic deacons. There are elders (plural) and deacons (plural) in the local churches who are set by apostles and are in submission to the apostles.

An apostle must be set by God. No one can appoint himself to the office of the apostle. It is NOT an office that glorifies the individual now, any more than it was in the early days of the Church. There is no such thing as a maverick apostle or a chief apostle, just as there is no such thing as a chief local elder. The apostles are in submission to each other and the local elders are in submission to each other and to the apostles. All are in submission to Jesus Christ and the Divine pattern laid out in Scripture and revealed by the Holy Spirit. Apostles have authority over the Church Universal. Local elders pastor (care for as a shepherd) the local Church. Deacons on both levels are spiritual ministries who work at the direction of the elders with whom they are set. The one-man ministry of pastor in the local Church is non-existent in the local churches. It certainly does not exist in Scripture.

Last updated: May, 2013
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