When reading this lesson I want you to keep this scripture in mind Hebrews 13: 8-9:
Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and to-day, yea and forever.
Heb 13:9 Be not carried away by divers and strange teachings: for it is good that the heart be established by grace; not by meats, wherein they that occupied themselves were not profited.
As you recall in the lesson entitled Apostles, I made this statement:
“In the five-fold ministry it is believed that today people can be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4-11). Tell me where in that scripture it's called a five-fold ministry? If you read the scripture, Paul is speaking on how Christ is encouraging “Oneness” and “Unity” in the body of Christ, how Jesus gave some of the people listed above gifts of the spirit in order to fill the “heavens and the earth” with his grace, mercy and his message. We should not misinterpret the scriptures of a foundation on how to build a church today. This is a bold statement and it may make some of you uncomfortable, but let’s dig deeper.”
My premise has not changed, but I believe that with everything in God your illumination is continual. Therefore, I am not expanding my understanding of the Five-Fold Ministry.
In order to understand anything in the bible or any topic in general, you must understand the history behind it. I will use Frank Viola’s “Rethinking the Five-Fold Ministry” blog for my historical content and I will also use some of his insights for my lesson.[i] The concept of the Five-Fold Ministry began in 1824 by Edward Irving, a Presbyterian pastor in Scotland. He instituted the use of the five-fold ministry in order to restore Christianity into the Millennial Kingdom. Irving began ordaining and assigning various rich and prominent people into the positions listed in Ephesians 4:11. In 1901, John Alexander Dowie founded his City of Zion in Illinois, and through his ministry he appointed himself the “First Apostle.” In 1906, on Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California, Frank Viola states “a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit just before the return of Christ” reappeared and new crop of apostles were created in United States, Europe, Italy, Slavs, Wales, New Zealand, Australia and Canada emerged. Peaks and re-emergence of the Five-Fold Ministry continued through years even until today’s time. Therefore, Frank Viola and I agree the “church” concept of the Five-Fold Ministry is not a new movement or concept.
Let’s look at Ephesians 4:1-16. We need to look at the passage before studying Ephesians 4:11:
Eph 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called,
Eph 4:2 with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
Eph 4:3 giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Eph 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling;
Eph 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Eph 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all.
Eph 4:7 But unto each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Eph 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, And gave gifts unto men.
Eph 4:9 (Now this, He ascended, what is it but that he also descended into the lower parts of the earth?
Eph 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
Eph 4:11 And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Eph 4:12 for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ:
Eph 4:13 till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Eph 4:14 that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error;
Eph 4:15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ;
Eph 4:16 from whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love. [ii]
This passage is talking about Unity in the Body of Christ. Paul is stating whatever you're called in, walk in God’s purpose and in unity and love. Paul is not denoting a Five-Fold Ministry but a unity in Christ. His main emphasis is not in the positions but being humble and doing all things in Christ in Love. Looking at 1 Corinthians 13: 1, Paul's point is any position or any title that you have in the body of Christ does not mean a thing if it is not done in love. Further, in Philippians 2:-11, he gives further instruction on how love and unity and how we are to encourage others in the calling God gives us.
Frank Viola’s and my premise is when a group of believers come together to proclaim the name of Jesus in love, that group will eventually produce through the Holy Spirit and God’s choosing all the “gifts and gifted one" that exist with the body of Christ. I call this a Holy Ghost organically progression or a natural progression and those positions can only be filled by God’s anointing and choosing. The Holy Ghost will anoint each individual into the position that he wants them in. The Holy Ghost can place a person in different positions at different times. The calling is not still but ever evolving and therefore one person can receive one or more gifts throughout their lifetime, if they remain available to Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Is there a Five-Fold Ministry or is it Four-Fold Ministry or is there is One United Ministry In Christ?
Some scholars say it is Four-Fold Ministry not Five-Fold because of the grammatical way Ephesian 4:11 is presented:
And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
If we look carefully, Pastors and teachers are lumped together. Frank Viola and commentaries in E-Sword, both equate Pastors (Shepherds) and Teachers as one gift, one position and not two. These commentaries deduce this by looking at Act 20:28, where Paul puts the two Pastor-Teachers together as two-sides of the same coin. Regardless, if you believe that Pastor-Teacher or it is Pastor or Teacher, my issue is Ephesians 4:11 is not exclusive list. Let’s look comparing Ephesians 4:11 with 1 Corinthians 12:28, both books were written by Paul, let’s see what positions are listed:
1 COR. 12:28
GIFT OF HEALING
GIFT OF HELPING OTHERS
GIFT OF ADMINISTRATION
GIFT OF TONGUES
It seems to me the list is more exhaustive, in 1 Corinthians 12:28. It allows a group of believers, specifically each individual, to have one or more of the roles, “all these gifts can be found in one man, though not always, some have only one.”[iii] In 1 Peter 4:10-12 and Romans 12:6-8, both address how gifts are to be used and the administration on how the gifts are for the edification of Christ. So if we look at the chart and the word of God, there are many positions in the body of Christ. No position is higher than the other because all parts are necessary in the body of the Church and are used for the unification of the body.
But let’s dig deeper…
FIVE FOLD MINISTRY GIFTS
Let’s focus on Ephesians 4: 12-13. These scripture states gifts that are given to us are for the building up of the kingdom and to reach unity. Let’s examine the Five-Fold Ministry gifts:
You can now see Five-Fold Ministries are not positions of authority and prestige, but gifts in which every believer can possess as the Holy Spirt allows and is only granted by maturity. Every person can possess one or more of the gifts in Ephesians 4:11 and in 1 Cor 12:8, but only God can decide who will possess those gifts and what gift you will need in the body of Christ. You must be called. Understand this calling is not a title but a mission from God to proclaim his greatness, and the calling can only be used for his edification out of LOVE. Let’s not forget Jesus is the cornerstone. If you possess anyone of these gifts, you must remember the contextual responsibility of those gifts.
I'm going to make a statement: I don’t believe there is a Five-Fold Ministry, but I do believe all titles in the Word of God are necessary for the UNITY of the body and for the edification and the administration of God. Furthermore, one can possess some of the gifts (titles) at different times, or at the same time. WE MUST GET AWAY FROM TITLES!!! Allow our works and gifts to speak for us. If you are to be a minister, evangelist, prophet, pastor/teacher, administrator, etc., your life and the things you do will allow for others and most of all God to see that in you. It is the humbleness, the toiling; the works that denote what gift you possess not a position of power. The only one who has the power is God.
[i] http://frankviola.org/2010/10/27/rethinking-the-five-fold-ministry/ [ii] Scriptures provided by E-Sword and is in ASV[iii] E-Sword Commentary RWP[iv] Id.[v] “A Biblical Understanding of Fivefold Ministry – Tom Trout, World Revival School of Ministry, Spring Trimester 2003[vi] Id. [vii] E-Sword Commentary RWP[viii] A Biblical Understanding of Fivefold Ministry – Tom Trout, World Revival School of Ministry, Spring Trimester 2003[ix] E-Sword Commentary Cambridge[x] A Biblical Understanding of Fivefold Ministry – Tom Trout, World Revival School of Ministry, Spring Trimester 2003[xi] E-Sword Commentary RWP[xii] A Biblical Understanding of Fivefold Ministry – Tom Trout, World Revival School of Ministry, Spring Trimester 2003