Understanding the Five-Fold Ministry

In order to understand prophetic ministry of any kind, we must understand the concept of the 5-fold ministry.  Let’s begin with:

Ephesians 4:8  Wherefore he saith, When he (Jesus) ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men... 

Eph. 4:11:    11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 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. NIV

It is important that we recognize that these (in orange above)  are ministry (gifts) of Jesus, not the manifestations (gifts) of the Spirit. 


Brief Description of the Gifts of the Spirit:

The manifestations, gifts of the Spirit, cited below in I Cor. 12, are minimally explained here (That's another whole teaching.), and are also given for every man, so that the man can grow and prosper as a Christian, but also to help others, individually.  The (five-fold) ministry gifts of Jesus are given out as He wants to all men and are gifts to be used to spread the Gospel and unify the Church body.

1 Corinthians 12:7-11 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. (8) For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; (9) To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; (10) To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: (11) But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

The gifts of the Spirit are tools for church Body ministry. They are primarily for believers and are to be used for the building up and edifying of the Body. Those who minister outside of the Body to unbelievers operate in these gifts as signs following the proclamation of the Kingdom (usually, apostolically, prophetically, or evangelistically).


The Five-Fold Ministry Gifts

The five-fold ministry gifts are not merely "titles," but ministry functions. There is nothing elevated or exalted about these gifts (1 Corinthians 4:9-13). They simply have a special purpose, which is clearly defined.

I Cor. 12: Verse 12 - The Purpose  "...to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up."  These five leadership gifts were not simply given to do the work of the ministry, but to enable God's people to do the work of the ministry. 

I Cor. 12: Verse 13 - Gives us the time-frame  "...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."  The five-fold ministry did not pass away at the death of the early apostles and prophets at the close of the first century.  Jesus is our example of the Five-Fold ministry.  Jesus Himself, called forth the Five-Fold ministry as the Church's framework and business plan.   As these leaders are in place, then the walking out of the Kingdom of God on this earth is possible.

Christ our Apostle (Hebrews 3: 1)

Christ our Prophet (Luke 24: 19)

Christ our Evangelist (Matthew 9: 35)

Christ our Pastor/Shepherd (1 Peter 5: 2-4)

Christ our Teacher (John 3: 2)

Remember, God's household is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone."  

I Cor. 12: verse 19    19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.   Ephesians 2:19-20 NIV. 


Hold up Your Hand and Learn This Analogy:  

The thumb represents the Apostle; 

The pointer or index finger represents the Prophet pointing the way; 

The middle finger represents the Evangelist because he reaches the farthest; 

The ring finger represents the pastor because it is said that that finger runs from the heart - it is the wedding ring finger; and

The little finger (pinkie) is the smallest finger, the shortest and thinnest, and the only one small enough to clean out the ears of the People. The teacher is concerned with detail, precision and so on. 


The Office of Apostle

An apostle means "one chosen and sent with a special commission." The word apostle comes from the Greek word apostolos which is translated "sent one"  and carries the understanding that the one being sent has the full power and authority of the One sending him.

The 12 apostles chosen by Jesus were witnesses of the Resurrection (Acts 1: 15; 4: 33); but there were many other true apostles (Acts 14: 3-4;  Romans 16: 7; 1 Corinthians 15: 5-7; Galatians 1: 1,19), as well as false ones (2 Corinthians 11:13-5; Revelation 2: 2).

True apostolic oversight has to do with being a “father” to the church and seeing the church as a father sees his children. The true apostle is intent on training his children according to their individual needs.  Caring for children can be tiring work. Paul said, “You remember brethren, our labor and toil, laboring day and night.” I Thes 2:9  

True apostles faithfully proclaim “The Gospel of Jesus” without alteration, dilution, or substitution.

Apostolic oversight is foundational.  Paul said, “I have laid a foundation and another builds on it.  (I Cor. 3:10)   You don't see the foundation, but without a proper foundation, the building will not last and it will not be stable.  Many ministries and churches today have faulty foundations and as a result they continually struggle with the same problems or even fail completely.

Apostles generally also operate as any of the other four offices as needed, especially in environments that don't already have the other four offices in operation. 

The Ministry of an Apostle Includes:

Pioneers new churches/ministries/moves of God (1 Cor. 9: 2;  1 Cor. 3: 6)

Grounds the Church in truth (Col. 1: 25)

Lays foundations in the Church (1 Cor. 3:10)

Preserves unity in the Body, Acts as Protector to the pastor and people (1 Cor. 3: 3-5)

Sets things in order, operates as Counsel, gives Pastors accountability  (Titus 1: 5) 

Confirms and Ordains Elders and other 5-Fold gifts in the Church (Titus 1:5) 

Deals with the Mindsets of people (II Cor. 10:1-6)

Imparts spiritual gifts (Romans 1: 11)

Cares and corrects as a father, those under his care (2 Tim 1: 6; 1 Cor 4: 15)

Breakthrough-type ministry of miracles, signs and wonders (2 Cor 12: 12; Acts 2: 43; Acts 5: 12)

Ministry of warfare (2 Cor 10: 4-5)

Prayer ministry and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6: 4)

Encouragement (II Timothy)


The Office of Prophet

The ministry of the prophet is sometimes misunderstood.  Generally, the prophet will verbally deliver divinely inspired messages from God to a person or people.  It is important to understand that anyone can minister prophetically, as the Spirit of prophecy comes upon them (see Rev. 19:10), and still not be called to the office of prophet. Which is what this teaching is about.  

"Even if we are not called to the office of a prophet, we need to understand this ministry.  The entire church is called as a prophetic voice to the nations. Together we are to serve as the Lord's spokesmen to the world" -- Rick Joyner, The Prophetic Ministry

Also, it is worth mentioning that there are false prophets out and about.  Just because someone says they are a prophet does not make them a prophet from Jesus.  Therefore, you need to be able to trust your elders and leaders to protect you and identify the real thing while you are learning to "try the spirits" and sharpening your discernment.  Prophecies should be time-tested (Act. 11:28), and of course, be truth, and judged by church leadership (I Cor. 14:29), and also confirmed independently (II Cor. 13:1).  All prophecy should line up with the written Word of God, the Bible.  The prophet operates best when in teamwork with an apostle. For example, Paul and Silas (Acts 13).

The Ministry of a Prophet Includes:

The office of Prophet includes preaching and teaching ministry (again, example is Paul.)  

The office of Prophet includes Godly foresight, prophetic revelation, and confirmation of those called into leadership ministry in the Church.  (This includes raising up/training other prophets.), as well as those with gifts that need identifying, stirring up, and activating.  The Office of Prophet would also identify and confirm membership ministries in the Body of Christ (so this part is more far reaching), and have prophetic revelation and confirmation of the direction of the Local Church body, as well as the Church Body as a whole.

The office of Prophet carries the Spirit of Prophecy with him and therefore operates in the Gift of Prophecy.  (Whereas one operating in the Spirit of Prophecy may only do so for a specific time period.)  The Church cannot survive and grow to maturity without the prophetic and the prophetic ministry.  It is not an optional extra.  The Bible is clear about the importance of prophecy.  See I Cor. 14:29: Therefore, my brethern, be eager to prophesy and do not forbid speaking in tongues.

The Gift of Prophecy which resides on and in the office of Prophet is mentioned here:  Joel 2:28;  I Cor. 12:10;  14: 1- 39;  I Thess 5:20;  and Romans 12:6;   

The office of Prophet discerns the human heart.  Prophets can be uncomfortable people to have around. They can often be hard to take, as they may seem very black and white in their delivery style.  We must avoid taking offense at their style and manner and thereby, missing what God is wanting to do through them.

The prophetic insight exposes things that are hidden. Prophets are not necessarily popular people and they are not always comfortable to have around.  If there is a prophet around we will be aware of our sins in a new way.  

1 Cor 14:25:  But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

The New Testament teaches a positive approach to prophecy.  1 Thess 3:19-20: Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.  Do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good.  Avoid every kind of evil.

The Office of Prophet confronts evil.  "Prophets have a way of ploughing up the ground and causing disturbance. Sometimes this is sorely needed. I know many pastors who, when encountering hard ground, simply lay a patio and cover everything up!  Prophecy is attacking, stimulating and provoking by definition. Pastoring is about restoring calm and order.  Prophets challenge, pastors soothe."   Graham Cooke – Developing Your Prophetic Gifting 


The Office of  Evangelist

The Greek word "Euaggelistes" (2099) literally  means "bearer of Good Tidings."  Philip in the New Testament is identified as an evangelist, as his vocation.  He is called an "euaggelizo,"  (2097) "gospelizing" -- someone that preaches the Gospel. So, quite clearly, the Evangelist is a preacher of the Good News and therefore a soul-winner.  By Philip's and Timothy's examples, we conclude that an Evangelist can travel or stay in one place for years at a time.  Missionaries are sometimes called Evangelists.

There are two people in the New Testament that are presented as Evangelists:  Philip and Timothy.  

Acts 21:8 identifies Philip as the Evangelist "euangelistou" (2099).  He started out as a disciple, and then was anointed as a Deacon (Act 6: 1-5).  Out of his role as a Deacon, he performed his ministry office of Evangelist. Then his ministry office of Evangelist became his focus,  and he became known by that.

Acts 8 records Philip's story.  Philip was not just an eloquent, and charismatic speaker, but he had the Power of God backing him up.  He performed miracles that included casting out demons and healing (Acts 6:8).  Think about it:  His message was so powerful, do demonstrative, and so dynamic that they tried to figure out a way to frame him and to kill him.  Philip traveled some of the time and stayed-put some of the time, but was an Evangelist the rest of his life.  It is worth noting that Philip had a home and a family, so he was not a vagabond.  In fact, Paul and his group stayed at Philip's house off and on (Act. 21:7).  Philip had four daughters that were Prophets (Act. 21:9).

II Timothy 4:5 calls Timothy an Evangelist.  Paul commends him to do the work of an evangelist.  so clearly, an Evangelist is a Preacher of the Gospel, an equipper of the Saints, and an edifier of the  Body.  

The Ministry of an Evangelist includes:

Timothy instructed the Brethren on their responsibilities in prayer, modesty, personal matters, family obligations, and business duties. (I Tim 4:6; I Tim 2: 1-12; Titus 2:1-1).  So the Evangelist has the ability and responsibility to teach. (I Tim. 4:13)

Evangelists reprove sin, even if it is an elder: (I Tim. 5: 19 - 21)

Evangelists also set things in order, if needed: 
They encourage and appoint elders (Titus 1:5). 
They train teachers, equipping the saints for ministry (II Tim 2; Eph 4:11-12).  They expose and explain false teachers and doctrines (I Tim 1: 3-4; Titus 1:10 - 11, 12)

Evangelists are to set an example for others (I Tim. 4:12). 
Evangelists are to give attention to reading, exhortation, and teaching (I Tim 4:13), being careful to handle the Word properly (II Tim 2:15). 
Evangelists are to take heed to themselves and the doctrine (I Tim. 4:16).   (Whereas Elders are to heed to themselves and to the flock of God.)


The Office of Pastor

The Greek word for Pastor is "poimen" which means "one who tends sheep or cares for the flocks; shepherd." (Ephesians 4:11)  Other words are used in the New Testament to describe this office:  shepherd, elder, overseer, bishop. 
(I Peter 5:1-4; John 21 15 -17) 

Pastor is the Latin word for Shepherd, by the way.

Philippians 1:1 "To all God's holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons..."  

Description of Elders, Deacons, Overseers, or Pastors:  I Tim. 3: 1-12; Titus 1: 5-9

As we understand that the responsibility of the pastor is to oversee and protect the flock, we must also understand that the church cannot be protected unless they want to be, and therefore they must willingly obey and submit to the Pastor's loving authority.
The Pastor is called to be the overseer and the protector, --to "be the shepherd of the church of  God, which he (The Lord Jesus Christ) hath purchased with his own blood."  (Acts 20:28) (I Peter 5:2)

The way the Shepherd is to lead his flock is through guiding and protecting, not domineering or ruling. 

Pastors/Shepherds love their sheep.  

Pastors/Shepherds  lead their sheep, they do not drive them.  

Pastors/Shepherds: care for, protect, feed, train, and correct sheep.


The Office of Teacher 

Some people teach that the office of Teacher is the same as the office of Pastor and that they are always coupled together.  In Ephesians 4:11 the offices of Teacher and Pastor are presented together in a way that could be understood as the same office OR as two different offices.   In my study, we will approach them as two different offices. 

This quote from John Calvin, is found in Spiritual Gifts by Brian Schwertley: 
"… there is distinct class of teachers, who preside both in the education of pastors and in the instruction of the whole church.  It may sometimes happen, that the same person is both a pastor and a teacher, but the duties to be performed are entirely different.  …There is I believe, this difference between them:  teachers are not put in charge of discipline, or administering the sacraments, or warnings and exhortations, but only of Scriptural interpretation - to keep doctrine whole and pure among believers.  But the pastoral office includes all these functions within itself."

It is easy to see that some people are very, very good at studying and delivering (teaching) the Word of God.  But not all of these teachers, are Pastors/shepherds of the people.  The gifts are different.  Many, many times, we see people that are great teachers, but not so great at personal relationship type counseling, or hospital visiting, etc.

"Didaskalos" (1320 & 1321) means doctor, master, teacher, instructor.  It is the New Testament equivalent to the Hebrew "rabbi." (I Tim 3:2; I Tim 5:17; Titus 1:9) So clearly Elders are to be teachers.

I Cor. 12: 28 - 31:  And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.  Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?  Do all have gifts of healing?  Do all speak in tongues?  Do all interpret?

We know that the Bible declares that there may be "false teachers" among Christians. ( II Peter 2: 1-3)  (II Tim 4:3 …"lust shall they keep to themselves teachers, having itching ears.")

Romans 2:20:  "A corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having…."

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