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The 5-Fold Ministries ?

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The 5-Fold Ministries

Ephesians 4:11-12

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:


Is it Five or Four Ministries of leadership?

Leadership The answer to that question is not as obvious as we would like. There have been many teachings and debates on Ephesians 4:11 (also 1 Corinthians 12:28) from which the doctrine of church leadership has been coined as the "Five-Fold Ministries". Some of the debate is in the grammar of the text itself, as to whether there is actually five or four separate offices in leadership. And there may be arguments as to whether those "gifts" are actually positions or offices designated for specific individuals or whether they are functions that can be embodied by more than one person.

If you want to short-cut this article, then the answer to the question is simply "YES". ... If you want to understand how we can be truly unified as the body of Christ, we have to look at the whole picture as well as going deeper into the heart of Christ.

The following sections look at each of the "gifts" of leadership and related functions necessary to maintain a body of believers that is in tune and in step with the King of kings. But first, there is something vital that we need to achieve true unity and to unlock the mystery of Godly leadership...


HUMILITY is the key

To discern these "gifts" of leadership requires seeking the Lord's agenda and not our own. We must seek the Spirit of the Law (Jesus Christ) rather than hyper-focusing on the letter of the law as satan would have us bickering about. We must maintain the whole context of scripture in what the Holy Spirit was saying (and doing) at the time that those verses that were penned by the apostle Paul (2 Cor 1:1). In addition (and more importantly), we must also stay in tune with what the Holy Spirit is continuing to say and do today – keeping in mind that JESUS CHRIST is "the same yesterday, today and forever" (Heb 13:8).

We must never loose sight of the Cross at the center of scripture.

It is through our own pride that the enemy so easily pulls away our focus: from seeking Jesus, to seeking our own position and title (ruler-ship). When we lose sight of the Cross, we quickly begin to build our own religions that serves our agenda to be kings OF this world rather than true servants of the Most High God IN this world.

The Bereans (Acts 17:11) were known for not simply accepting what they heard heard from the Apostle Paul, until they verified it in the scriptures. Let's also seek the Lord together through the scriptures, keeping our hearts tuned to HIS voice, HIS understanding and HIS wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).

Religion vs. The Fear of The Lord

Complacency is one of the first steps that leads us astray from the Cross. Through complacency, we begin to build our own religion. WHY? Because we do not want to really fear the Lord (love the Lord), because if we did, we would have to give up living in our nice ("safe") little box of rules and regulations (of which we can mis-interpret however we like). Those rules and regulations are built on partial truths, which makes them believable even though they are in error. And no matter how close to the Truth they may seem, they are still lies, not the truth.

Religion: is OUR INTERPRETATION of who God is
and how we interpret Him interacting in OUR KINGDOM.

When we can't see beyond the religious box that we are imprisoned in, then we are no different than the pharisees who couldn't see the Messiah, though He was right in front of them. And if you choose not to see God, then IGNORantly, you don't have to fear Him.

But to see Him and to fear Him, you have to – by your choice – take that confining box of religious lies off your head and bring it to the foot of the Cross. Then we can truly seek God (who is alive with open arms) – and seek His ways, and His Righteousness ...His Kingdom – not our own. And it is far better to fear Almighty God who loves you, than live in fear of anything else.

Simply put,
The Fear of The Lord: is to Love the Lord as God.

Having said that, let's maintain our humility as we seek HIS Kingdom, putting aside our traditional views of leadership and examining Church structure from the viewpoint of the Word of God (both written and Living). Hopefully, the following will give a working understanding of what the leadership roles are and should be in the church.


Office and Ministry

Ministry: is simply a type of service, as when one ministers to the needs of another. In the context of this article, it implies service to God on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Office: To distinguish between "Office" and "ministry", we may consider that an office is a "place" for someone to carry out a specific ministry (work or service). We may also use the word "place" to further describe a position that may (or may not) be assigned to a physical location. As an example, if a company "gave" you a job, WHAT "office" or "place" (functional position in their company organization) are you assigned to? And WHERE is the "office" or "place" (physical location) that you work?

Using the word "place" helps us understand the "what, where, how, why and when" that the Apostle Paul meant when he listed how Jesus "gave" some (people) to be apostles, prophet, pastors/teachers and evangelists. In other words, Jesus "gave" organizational assignments for how a local body of believers can be governed by His Holy Spirit throughout the succeeding generations until He returns. Indeed, we must see that HE (the Holy Spirit) is building the "House of God" across time as the Master Builder who is truly The Life, and is building Life in all of us, both then and now.

So then, in the first Century, we can observe (in the Cannon of Scripture) that the Holy Spirit was laying a foundation (with Christ as the chief cornerstone) that would carry on through the centuries that follow. In contrast, how could the church have carried on in the following centuries, without Him? If it tried to do so without the direction and interaction of our supernatural God, then it would have only fizzled out (as satan had hoped) like a one-hit wonder on the prophetic song charts, only to be fondly remembered by a few poets and story tellers. But, contrary to worldly belief, Jesus Christ is not dead. The Holy Spirit did not vanish, and God is still The All Powerful, All Mighty, Everlasting Living GOD. Amen.

God hasn't stopped loving us and still has a plan for us all (Jeremiah 29:11) to have fruitful (abundant) lives. Therefore, the reason WHY He GAVE some people (assignments) to help others is to fulfill the "great" commission – preaching the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by loving our neighbors as ourselves . WHERE do we do that? First in the Body of Christ because (They will know we are Christians by our Love), then His LOVE will "preach" (more than our words) into all the world.

"By this all will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another."
John 13:35

Love lives when it is shared. How can we spread the Gospel (Love of God) to the World, if there's not a lot of unity among the churches.... To change that. we need to humble ourselves, ally our strengths, and serve Christ together. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done. Yet if we hold the view of Joshua and Caleb, we would see that it is not impossible, and we can overcome the giants that are currently keeping us from walking in His will and Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven... because the one thing that we do hold in common is Christ.

Let us not be caught... "Ever learning, and never able to come to the (experiential) knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 3:7)

We need to work to live in His Love together – not independently. With this in mind, let's look at WHAT, WHEN and HOW He (Christ) gave ....

Ephesians 4:11-12
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:

Here are the "G" words most often used to summarize 5-fold offices: Let's now look at each of these, remembering that the ship only moves as the everyone on board works in unity in response to the wind (Holy Spirit) that hits the sails.


Apostle – a "sent one."

The Greek word "apostolos" translated apostle means one sent forth, a sent one.

The debates of whether there are modern day apostles (or not), have been heated and blown-out of proportion. Why? Because of our egos (pride). Someone always wants to be the king of the campus. But we have only one King of kings. And even from the first century, the office of the apostle never assumes the right to rule the body of Christ. But rather, it is the commission by Christ to serve His body.

Apostolic spiritual authority does not supersede the spiritual authority that every believer has in Christ. We are brothers and sisters bonded together in the Love of Christ. We are not at war amongst ourselves, nor do we have spiritual lordship over each other (else, we are still deceived with the pyramid mindset -- see illustration: WINESKINS ).

We've already addressed that our desire for title and position needs to be thrown down at the foot of the Cross. Those that walk in the apostolic office are many times NOT the all-star hero-preacher that is followed by a band of clueless foot soldiers who do no more than cheer their hero on with a few supporting prayers and financial offerings.

None-the-less, whether out-spoken or silent in service, the apostolic office is key to the formation and direction of a local body of believers. And our key to understanding this "gift" is in seeking our unity in Christ Jesus. Therefore, in this manner, we will progressively look at the "gift" of an apostle in 3 ways:
  1. "Sent ones" as Missionaries
  2. "Sent ones" that were the 12 Apostles of the First Century
  3. "Sent ones" that are "Apostolic Ministers" of Today

1. Missionaries

Missionaries are people who are called by God and/or sent by a church to a specific people for a specific mission that is in line with the will of God and the "Great Co-mission" of Christ.

When they are sent into a new territory, they essentially must fulfill all of the roles of the apostle AND prophet AND teacher AND pastor AND evangelist.

They also fulfill all the support offices as necessary to start a new church. But their in their apostolic position, they ultimately seek to replace themselves with others who can continue to support and serve a growing body of believers.

2. The First Century 12 Apostles

The first Century Apostles were given and completed their jobs (Co-missions) in laying the foundation both in the cannon of New Testament scripture as well in the starting of the Church in its destiny of fulfilling the Promise of God to Abraham and fulfilling the prophecies for all of mankind (Jew and Gentile) throughout time.

To defuse the controversy over whether there are still apostles or not... the answer is NO … and yes. ...(And please don't forget your sense of humor). The first 12 Apostles were used to found the church as a whole and canonize the scriptures. Of this type, there are no new apostles or replacements. Yet there also were other apostles noted in the New Teatament, Like Matthias, Barnabas, Apollos, Silvanus, and Epaphroditus. And from the time of the death of John, ... Did God stop interacting with His church? Did He stop sending men to plant and establish new churches as the Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) of Christ continues? . .. "until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13). Was Billy Graham not an evangelist? Did God not work miracles of healing through T.L Osborn?

Unique Attributes of the First 12 Apostles:
"And the wall of the city had twelve foundations,
and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. "
(Revelation 21:14)

Those First Apostles laid the foundation for us to build upon. It is right that we honor them by continuiing where they left off. In the centuries that have followed unto this day, their witness is renewed through the cannon of scripture, AND afresh in the lives of those whom God sends ("Apostolic Ministers") to the each generation until His physical return. The point here is that we are all part of an ongoing family that does not disrespect our Heavenly Father. Nor do we seek to usurp His authority, but on the contrary, we seek to work with Him and His agenda to bring us all closer to Him.

After bickering about titles, where is our true Love of Christ? As we volly for position and control of our limiting corporate mindsets (pyramids), we find ourselves more in the fear of men than in the Fear of God. What we truly fear is telling of what we truly believe. And please note, these words aren't nearly as harsh as those Christ gave to the seven churches (and to us) in Revelation 2-3.

The real problem is when we try equate modern day Apostles and Prophets to be the same as those in the cannon of Scripture. If we would just stop trying to do that, maybe we could catch up to what the holy Spirit is trying to do now. It's like little kids arguing over what Pappa just said, when He's standing right in front of them.

Now, this is not to swing the pendulum to the side of recless abandon and proclaim that anyone can say that they are an apostle ... or maybe it is - But let's be clear about a few criteria: A true apostle is humble and submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ A true apostle is humble and serves the Lord Jesus Christ by serving the Body of Christ as the Lord direct's him. A true apostle does not care about his title or status, but is resolute about the vision God has given him/her and

So, we can choose to run boldly on our own agenda's with the Self-appointed Entitlement of a label that says were are the same as the original 12 apostles ... ignoring the warning in Revelation 2:2, stay paralized in contraversy ... ignoring all of our Lord's warnings in Revelation 2-3 to the seven different kinds of churches, that identify our
We can have ears to hear. Eyes to step back and see the whole picture. And hopefully combine our hearts to Love the Lord our God and follow Him in unity as one bride, one Body, one Church that chooses to no longer be dysfunctional, but be truly alive with the power of God manifesting the Love of God on Earth as it is in Heaven. Let's tear down OUR traditions, open up the Blue print, and put the pieces in the right places, because it's time for the Light of Christ to shine through us (not just to us).

Again, it bears repeating: The key to our unity is humility and our unified hearts in the true freedom of submission to the will of the living Christ and His kingdom - who's primary desire is for us to live abundantly (John 10:10b).

3. Apostolic Ministers

So, to simplify it down and avoid confusion in using the title of "Apostle", we will use the term "Apostolic Ministers". In the first century, the 12 Apostles planted The Church (Both Jew and Gentile). Since then, "apostolic ministers" carry on the work of church planting and the building up of the Body of Christ in unity with one another. Where the First Century Apostles left off, the "Apostolic Ministers" carry on from then and to this day. The same with prophets, pastors/teachers and evangelists. Christ is His "body" (the Church) over time.

The Apostolic Minister (role of the apostle) is given to work with the Prophet to consistently guide the direction of the local body towards Christ. They also strive for unity WITH other local bodies of believers (for we are all one body made up of different parts). In God's Kingdom, The apostolic minister is NOT the Lord over the people, but functions to support and serve the people to follow Christ in unity (as one body).

Apostolic Ministers do NOT add to the cannon of scripture NOR alter it, NOR deviate from it. Jesus hasn't stopped fulfilling the Law of God in us, nor has the fulfillment of all prophecies been completed. Apostolic ministers are to keep the "Bride" of Christ focused on the Bridegroom. In one sense, they are like the best man and also in another sense, like the father of the bride. But because of their devotion to the bridegroom, they only see themselves as a servant who has pledged their life to overseeing that the bride is ready for the day approaching.

In God's Kingdom, The apostolic minister is NOT a lord over the people, but functions to support and serve the people to follow Christ in unity (as one body). Indeed, if anyone is promoting their own agenda and seeks to be ruler - they are anti-Christ (falsely claiming the name of Jesus).

Attributes of "Apostolic Ministers" :

As with the branches of a vine (or tree), Apostolic Ministers continue to build where their predecessors left off. And they do their best to ensure that the branches, which they are assigned to, stay tapped into the root of the vine (Jesus – John 15:5).


Prophet – One to whom (and through whom) God speaks

Prophets reveal God's Word, giving revelation to individuals and the body. It may or may not include interpretation, application, guidance and timing (which may be now, or in the future ).

The heart of a prophet must be humble and first be submitted to the Holy Spirit and have no fear to submit their words for testing:

"let two or three prophets speak, and have the others judge" (I Cor. 14:29).

"For Moses truly said unto the fathers,
A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren,
like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you" (Acts 3:22)

Those who are called to the office of speaking for God, will typically be met with spiritual warfare. In addition, a prophet may go through deeper times of suffering and trials than most others, because God needs to empty them of anything that is "their own." The stronger the call, the more a continual dying to the flesh is needed.

"More than that, I count all things to be loss
in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord
for whom I have suffered the loss of all things
and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ
and may be found in Him not having a righteousness 
of my own derived from the law but that which is through faith in Christ,
the righteousness which comes from  God on the basis of faith,
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection
and the fellowship of His sufferings being conformed to His death
in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."
(Philippians 3:8-11)

Prophets are also intercessors.  Like a physician, a prophet will address the greatest need in obedience to the Lord. Whether that need is small or great, the Lord sometimes chooses to speak with a still small voice (1 Kings 19:12).

It goes without saying, that if the word of the prophet is from God, it will never disagree with the will or the Word of God.

"If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual,
let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord."
(1 Corinthians 14:37)


Prophets, whether they have a primary motivation of prophecy or not, they revere the Word of God without compromise. (as we all should). When they deliver what God is saying: the purer their heart is with God, the less of their own interpretation gets filtered in.


The term 'prophet' is very often confused. This is because it used to describe :
It is important to know the distinction of these usages. As an example, just because God may semi-regularly impart prophetic revelation to someone (through the Manifestation Gift of prophecy), it does not necessarily qualify them to be a prophet (hold the office of a prophet). On the other hand, someone may have the motivational gift of prophecy, but not receive the manifestation gift of prophecy – yet because of there strong motivation, they inappropriately aspire to hold the office of a prophet.

From these reasons alone, it can be seen why there should be at least two and preferably more people in leadership. (The two minimum would typically apply to missionaries, but even they should have the minimum alliance of a home-church).



One who instructs those to whom he/she has been entrusted about the details
of The Kingdom of God, to deliver knowledge and understanding from God's Word.

Proverbs 1:2-5
To know wisdom and instruction;
to perceive the words of understanding;
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;
To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
A wise man will hear, and will increase learning;
and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:

Contrast between Teachers and Prophets


Pastor (or Bishop)

A true Pastor seeks to increase the brilliance of the Light of Christ that shines through us in a way that our lives speak louder than our words.

A pastor is focused on keeping the heart of the church in line with the heart of Christ.

A Pastor is like a Trusted Supervisor that cares after the household while the Master of the house is away. He may take on various roles in caring for the individuals in the local body of believers:

In the local church, pastors are often the liaison between the different offices and functions, and are the ones who listen to all sides and restoring calm and order where necessary.

Besides the syntax of Ephesians 4:11 "some pastors and teachers", It commonly falls to the pastor to do the teaching. But just as a teacher isn't always a pastor, a Pastor isn't always necessarily a teacher. Regardless of whether these two offices are combined or assigned to more than one individual, they cannot be eliminated. In the service of the body of Christ, both Pastoring and Teaching are complimentary and are not complete without each other.



An Anointed Preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Evangelists must preach the Gospel accurately, yet with respect to the perspective of those to whom they are sent. They cannot afford to preach a "Sloppy Agape" or try to "win souls" by saying anything just to "get the sale." The heart of their message is the heart of God calling to the World (whom HE loves) to return to Him.

Conversely, if the message of the eveangelist is from the mind of the flesh, they may charismatically convince many to come down to the alter, but few souls may truly be won - as the statistics show how many show up in a local congregation after the evangelistic event has passed through.

Evangelists are also a type of missionary, sent to bring lost to repentance. Fortunatley, Anyone of us can and should fulfill the roll of a true evangelist, although arguably, there are those who are more "on fire" for the job than others:

1 Peter 3:15
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Prime Qualities:

WARNING: Some evangelists have compromised the Gospel by trying to "fit in" with the culture that they are wanting to reach: like bars, addicts, and various sexual communities and spiritual cults. But rather than pulling people out, they end up being pulled down into that culture. Unless it truly the Holy Spirit sending you there, that is just well meaning, but bad idea... We must be salt and light (Mark 9:50, Matthew 5:16).

The "5-Fold" offices
Which were described above, are the core team and support pillars that maintain the structure of the body. This may be viewed similar to the autonomic system in the human body, without which, the body would quickly die.

Other Offices
As the church grows, there becomes the need to maintain it and the other offices are established to carry out the necessary duties to keep the entire ministry of the local body running as smoothly as possible.

Again, using the analogy of the human body, this may be compared to the VOLUNTARY nervous system and muscular sytems: where if it is not exercised, the body would also die. But if good exercise and diet are regularly maintained, the body not only thrives, but becomes strong, and grows to be productive … and re-productive.

The other offices listed in the New Testament (Philippians 1 and 1 Timothy 3) are:
Elders and Deacons.



Elders are Seasoned, Experienced and Trusted leaders who serve the local body and consistently seek God's wisdom in Prayer and the Word of God. Elders are the ones who have been steeped in the wisdom of the scriptures as it has been applied in their life.

"Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour,
especially they who labour in the word and doctrine" (1 Timothy 5:17)

Elders obtain a good report by faith:

"... For by it the elders obtained a good report." (Hebrews 11:2)

Elders are ministers of God's healing:

"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church;
and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." (James 5:14)

Elders (especially those with Prophetic anointing) are the ones with whom the apostolic minister councils:

"And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter " (Acts 15:6)



Deacons are Trusted believers who serve the local body in either fulfilling or performing the needs of operating the church in it's functions and logistics.

Deacons are shown to have faithful character and integrity, serving God whole heartedly, with no hidden agendas or quest for personal gain:

"And let these also first be proved;
then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife,
ruling their children and their own houses well.
For they that have used the office of a deacon well
purchase to themselves a good degree,
and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus."
1 Timothy 3:10-13


Illustration of building a Home

If we were to build a home, who would we need?:
  • An architect (The Holy Spirit) to design the house and lay the cornerstone (Jesus Christ); Psalm 118:22

  • A contractor (apostolic Minister) to oversee the construction according to the blueprint (The Word of God) of the architect;

Note: if the contractor was not following the blueprint of the Architect, the house could suffer structural defects and functionality.

God made people to Love Him and Love each other. But we have to work TOGETHER to bring to fruition the nature of Christ.

It is interesting to note that while the body of Christ was broken for us, His bones were not. His bones are symbolic of the structure of the Church Body. Jesus is RE-STORING (through our unity of faith and effort) a dwelling place for Him to dwell within our hearts. That's why HE "gave" us HIS structure to work with!


Old and New Testament as One:

The Apostle and Prophet can be viewed as the "New Testament" implementation of the "Old Testament" Kings and Priests. The prince of Peace has not stopped restoring His Kingdom to us whom He has given His Life for. The only Life that could be sacrificed to free us, and resurrected to make us free indeed (John 8:36).

The first Century Apostles were given and completed their jobs (ministry) in laying the foundation both in the cannon of New Testament scripture as well in the starting of the Church in its destiny of fulfilling the Promise of God to Abraham and fulfilling the prophecies of Jeremiah for all of mankind (Jew and Gentile) throughout time:

Jeremiah 24:7
"And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD:
and they shall be my people, and I will be their God:
for they shall return unto me with their whole heart."

Jeremiah 31:33
"But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel;
After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts;
and will be their God, and they shall be my people ."

2 Corinthians 6:16
"And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?
for ye are the temple of the living God;
as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them;
and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."

Where the First Century Apostles left off, the "Apostolic Ministers" carry on from then and to this day. The same with prophets, pastors/teachers and evangelists. Let's not lose site of what the Holy Spirit is continuing until the day Christ returns!

Revelation 19:5-9
"Then a voice came from the throne, saying,
“Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!”
And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude,
as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings,
saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!
Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and His wife has made herself ready.”
And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen,
clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’”
And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God."

This is 7th in the series of 10 articles entitled: "Leadership Issues" found in StepStay Freein the website:

For better understanding of this article, it is best to view all the articles in this series in context, with the Holy Bible at your reference and the Holy Spirit in your heart.

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