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The 5-Fold Ministry Is a Misnomer


The term, 5-fold ministry is a bit of a misnomer, although that is not really important. The important thing is obedience to the Spirit of God as He reveals the order in the Scripture. 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.

Even though the term, 5-fold ministry, may not be totally accurate, the Bible does show that the four ministries are given to the apostles (the 5-fold ministry).

  • Jesus, the Chief Apostle, was referred to as prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher.
    • John 14:23 says that Jesus is the apostle. The ministry is the Christ in us, the hope of glory. The gift that He gave is Himself. The office of apostle is not the fleshly man, it is the Christ in the man holding the office. If we can discern the Body of Christ, we can see this.
    • Hebrews 3:1 says that Jesus is the prophet. In the same way, the man who is set by God into the office of prophet has a flesh but is the ministry, the Christ in him, the hope of glory.
    • John 4:19 says that Jesus is the evangelist in the same way.
    • Luke 8:1 tells us that that Jesus is the pastor (shepherd). It is He appearing in His church in His abiding presence (parousia) with every member He has called to be a shepherd.
    • John 10:14 tells us that Jesus is the teacher living in each one who is called to be a teacher, not to help them in the role but to be the Teacher within them and to do the work through them as they yield to the Holy Spirit.
  • Ephesians 4:7, 8, 11 Grace (free gift) is given according to the measure of the gift. When Christ ascended, He gave gifts to men. He gave some apostles (one sent. This is an office, not a ministry. It is an elder or a deacon.), prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. The way this is written, the four ministries are the ones that apostles carry.
  • The Ministry of Prophet
  • The Ministry of Evangelist
    • 2 Timothy 4:5 speaks of Timothy being an evangelist. 2 Timothy 4:5 shows us that Timothy was doing the work of an evangelist. Timothy is named among the apostles and he is an evangelist. It is obvious that Paul, the elder, is directing Timothy's work as a deacon, but both were apostles, sent by God as traveling ministries.
    • 1 Thessalonians 1:1 and 2:6 show us that Timothy had authority to minister to the whole church--he had universal authority as an apostle, a traveling deacon.
    • Acts 21:8 and Acts 8:5-6 speak of Philip the evangelist. Some think that Philip was a local deacon, though he was set as a deacon to the apostles so that the apostles would not have to deal with the distribution of bread. It is possible that an evangelist could be a holder of a local office in a local church rather than having the universal authority of a traveling ministry. Philip did travel.
  • The Ministry of Pastor
    • Psalm 23 speaks of the ministry of the pastor or shepherd, one of the apostolic ministries. It is amazing the amount of emphasis that is given to "pastors" in today's churches. The word, pastor, is mentioned only once in the Bible as a noun and then it is mentioned as a ministry of an apostle, a traveling ministry with universal authority over the entire church. It isn't even mentioned that much as a verb, as an action that is done, but it is mentioned more as a verb than as a noun. The word, pastor, means to care for the people as a shepherd cares for sheep.
    • John 21:15-17 shows Peter being set in as a pastor. Peter was an apostle, a traveling ministry with universal authority.
    • Acts 9:32 shows Peter acting as pastor (shepherd), not in a local church but to the entire church. There is no record in Scripture or in early church historical records of any local pastors. Those were added by men in later centuries. They are not the pattern of Scripture.
  • The Ministry of Teacher
    • 1 Timothy 2:7 speaks of Paul as a teacher, one who makes people understand.
    • 1 Timothy 1:11 and 2 Timothy 2:7 state that Paul is an apostle, a preacher of the gospel, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
    • John 21:15-17 tells us Peter, a traveling elder, had the ministry of a pastor and also of a teacher.
    • Isaiah 30:20-21 speaks to us of the ministry of the teacher.
    • 1 Corinthians 2 lets us know that this teaching ministry does not work according to men's wisdom but the things that the Holy Spirit teaches.

Last updated: May, 2013
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