Ephesians 4:11-16 (CWSB)
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with
every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
The Fivefold Gifts are individuals who have been given as gifts to the body of believers to help assist, edify and equip the body of believers in operating in the ways of the Lord. The purpose of these gifted believers is to equip other believers of Christ and their respective ministries so as to give them doctrinal and practical stability, thus leading them to a mutual edification and enhanced lifestyle.
There is great importance of operating within and in the fivefold ministry gifts. When we look at the text taken from Ephesians 4 verse 12 above, it describes that these gifts were given 1) for the perfecting of the saints, 2) for the work of the ministry and, 3) for the edifying/building up of the body of Christ.
*There are 3 important rationales given and any firm serious faith-filled follower of Yahweh would take these instructions and rationales seriously, applying and establishing them firmly within their walk, ministry and kingdom purpose to be able to see and witness the promises of this scripture. The promise is that we become mature, reach unity in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God as well as attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
The Fivefold ministry gifts have been given to the maturing of the church the body of Christ. There have been many ministries opened over the years that have established whether or not they are prophetic, teaching or even apostolic in nature. What I have observed is that the reasons why there are so much flaws within these organisations/ministries is that they have only based the ministry on one area of the fivefold gift rather than all the ministerial gifts given by Christ for the equipping of the Body until the return of Christ the Anointed One, the Son of God.
What and who are these gifts?
These gifts are called firstly the Apostles (in Greek – ἀπόστολος, apostolos); ambassadors of the kingdom of God; messengers who are sent and operate in a radical way. If and when you read the book of the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament, you will see what the Apostles did, how they did it and the standard by which they operated. If you read the books of the New Testament, you will see how the different Apostles wrote and addressed the different churches and locations in conjunction with the radical, no-nonsense, yet zealous and love-filled approach they employed.
Then you have the Prophets. They are vessels who speak exactly what The Lord says to them; they don’t condense it, neither do they change it to suit their audience or people in general; they speak and release whatever The Lord shows them about the past, present and future. The Greek, προφήτης (prophētēs), basically means what they say must come to pass as they speak the Lord’s word which does not return void when spoken by His Spirit and His vessels. In the New Testament, the word prophet (prophētēs) corresponds to the person who, in the Old Testament, spoke under divine influence and inspiration. This included the foretelling of future events or the exhorting, reproving and threatening of individuals or nations as the ambassador of God and the interpreter of His will to men (Ezekiel 2). Hence the prophet spoke not his own thoughts but what he received from God, retaining, however, his own consciousness nonetheless.
We have the Evangelists. These vessels are witnesses of the Gospel (good news) of Yeshua Christ Jesus. An evangelist (in Greek, εὐαγγελιστής; euaggelistēs) is a preacher or proclaimer of the gospel. They often had no fixed location or base, instead being itinerant missionaries, preaching the gospel and establishing churches over the course of their travels: please read Acts 21:8 and 2 Timothy 4:5. From my reading, the only evangelist categorically referred to as such is Philip in Acts 21:8. He was one of the seven who were appointed to serve the physical needs of the church in Jerusalem. These were men of a good testimony, filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom (in keeping with the principle illustrated in Acts 6:3); moreover, they were radical in serving The Lord and equipping the body. However, upon further analysis, concomitantly gaining further insight into what constitutes the role of an evangelist, it is evident that there are many examples of which in the Bible, such as the woman at the well in the gospel of John 4.
Furthermore, there is the role of the Pastor/Shepherd. These individuals are given to watch over the flock and to care for them like a good shepherd would, regardless whether that were to entail drastic action, such as temporarily leaving a flock in safe terrain to rescue one lost sheep who may have gone astray (Matthew 18:10-14; Luke 15:1-7) or generally looking after the lost believers of Christ (Luke 19:1-10). The Greek words for ‘shepherd’, (ποιμήν; poimḗn – ποιμένας; poimenas), refer, in a literal sense, to one who generally cares for flocks, but interestingly enough also figuratively refer to the role of Jesus as the Good (John 10:11), Great (Hebrews 13:20) and Chief (1 Peter 5:4) Shepherd who watches over and provides for the welfare of the Church, His flock: please read Matthew 26:31 and also Mark 14:27.
In 1 Peter 2:25, Jesus Christ is referred to as “the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls”. This indicates that He who is the shepherd is also the overseer of the entire flock. Addressing the elders of the church of Ephesus (Acts 20:17), Paul commands (in Acts 20:28, KJV), “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock (ποίμνιον; poimnion), over the which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers (ἐπίσκοπος; episkopos), to feed [and to shepherd] the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
The Teacher (in Greek, διδάσκαλος, didaskalos; denoting an instructor, master, teacher or doctor – derived from διδάσκω, didaskō, meaning ‘to teach or instruct’) gift is one that is given to teach and expound the things of the kingdom. It could be posited that, in the (early) Christian church (in particular), the teachers (didaskalos) appeared to perform quite a special role: please read Acts 13:1; and also 1Corinthians 12:28-29. A great teacher would be one capable of productive admonition with an attendant aptitude for cultivating, instilling or inspiring the right mindset, resolve and approach in their students; one who would advise and teach with urgency according to the revelation of the Word and, through teaching, would bring knowledgeable change.
If all the parts of a body are not functioning adequately, in accord with one another, then the end result will be a dysfunctional, debilitated body. Anyone who may have a disability or know of someone who does, would know that extra help or care may be needed, depending on how consequently encumbered/impeded or constrained they might be by their condition. This is the same with the spiritual Body of Christ; when there are parts not working congruently, a degeneration of sorts may be induced (in the cells of its tissues, organs or body parts), causing illnesses to blight its functioning, spurring further or even more substantial malfunction or breakdown. Incapacity among or within the body of believers can occasion or prove a pronounced hindrance, limiting growth, movement, senses (spiritual gifting and discernment or an increase in the dispensation of which) and activities.
If you are reading this and you are at or part of a local organisation that represents the Body of Christ then you have the right to consult those in leadership to find out who amongst you is functioning or operating within these gifts as well as what can you do if a part is missing or a role needs fulfilling.
Albeit Christ the Head has given us these people as gifts, most of the time their ministry is rejected by the spirit and mindset of religion, which forbids or obstructs these gifts from reaching or operating at their optimum level, to their intended radical or progressive effect. They may come in with teachings that lukewarm believers do not want to hear or with too radical a focus to serve God that stretches the old wineskins so much that they drive out these Gifts sent from God.
Ephesians 4:12 signifies that the purpose of these gifted men and women is to prepare God’s people for works of service. This purpose is for the perfecting, equipping, ‘mending’, ‘preparing’ or ‘restoring for proper use of the saints unto the work of the ministry’. Gifted people, as mentioned in the book of Eph 4:11, are to minister the Word to others so that they in turn are primed to get involved in ministering to others (see also 2 Timothy 2:2), spurring or invigorating a process that builds upon itself; a proverbial ripple effect, if you will. The overall or overarching objective is the building up or edifying of the Body of Christ as a whole. This shows that all saints and not just a few leaders should be involved in the “ministry”. All saints are gifted to serve others spiritually.
As each believer functions in accord with the gift(s) Christ has given him, then the body as a whole enjoys unity and becomes more spiritually mature; more like Jesus Christ in all His fullness.
Another note on this teaching: the apostles were those who carried the gospel message with God’s authority. “Apostle” means “one sent as an authoritative delegate”. New Testament prophets were gifts to the church to provide edification, exhortation, and comfort (see 1 Corinthians 14:3). They probably revealed God’s will to the church when the biblical canon was incomplete.
Some teachers believe that the apostles and prophets were foundational and that they did not exist after the first generation of believers.
However, upon reflection, reading and studying the bible as well as factoring in what generally appears to be happening, this belief system can engender, as well as arguably exacerbate, a spiritual cancer of sorts, a dilution or adulteration of the gospel being preached and an extremely dysfunctional body of Christ. In the full knowledge that Christ has sent these gifted individuals in the interim, pending our attainment of the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, which has yet to be realized, we should therefore be all the more apt not to exempt these gifted people from functioning or operating to their full, intended extent.
The Bible warns us of end-time false apostles, prophets, teachers and pastors; there is only a need for the enemy to have false vessels to try to deceive people if there are true vessels out there. Don’t be fooled; God’s Gifts are needed more now than ever.