*WHAT IS THE FIVE (5) FOLD MINISTRY?*
The concept of the five-fold ministry comes from Eph4:11:
“He gave some to be:
–(2) and some to be prophets
–(3) and some to be evangelists
–and some to be (4) pastors and (5) teachers.”
As a result of this verse, some believe the Bible supports the offices of living apostles and prophets in the church today.
Eph4:12-13 tells us that the purpose of the five-fold ministry is:
“to PREPARE God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ MAY BE BUILT UP 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.”
Some come to the conclusion that since the Body of Christ continues to be built up today, all these 5 offices need to continue to exist in church today. However, the Bible teaches clearly that the office of the 12 apostles was only for the 12, so there are no living apostles today but the 12 continue to minister to us through the Bible; when James was killed with the sword (Acts12:2), he was not replaced; Rev.21:14 mentions only 12 apostles of the Lamb; word ‘apostle’ means ‘sent one’ and Jesus only appointed 12 apostles with the special mission to give teaching received personally and directly from Jesus (Gal1:1,11,12), nobody today can claim this. Paul did not appoint apostles (‘apostolos’) but pastors and elders (‘poimen’ and ‘presbuteros’ in Greek) and in his epistles he gave criteria for appointing pastors and elders, not apostles; one can call himself an apostle (‘sent one’) of his church if he desires so, but not an apostle of Jesus appointed by Jesus personally, nobody can claim today that his word is equal with the word of the 12 apostles of Jesus and with their recorded words, the New Testament.
*We still have the 12 Apostles ministering to us today*: the 12 speak to us through their recorded words in the New Testament. For more infos ask me for our study ‘Are there apostles today?’. Same applies for prophets, ask me for our study defining the ministry of prophets.
However, Eph2:20 informs us that the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.” If the apostles and prophets are our foundation, are we still building the foundation by having today apostles and prophets? Although Jesus Christ is most definitely active in the church today, His role as the cornerstone of the church was completed with His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension (1Cor3:11). If the work of the cornerstone is complete, so must the work of the apostles as our foundation be complete. And the same way that we learn from Jesus through the Bible, the same way we learn from the apostles and the prophets through the Bible. Nobody (other than cults) dares to claim that Jesus speaks audibly and in person in churches today but through the Holy Spirit through the Bible, through godly preaching of the Word. Jesus gave written messages through John to the 7 churches in Revelations chapters 3 and 4, not directly by His audible voice.
Jesus does appear lately to many in visions (especially to Muslims) but only with a brief message to bring them to salvation through faith in Him, Jesus does not teach them the Bible as well: that teaching job He left with his church, see Mat28:18-20, 2Tim2:2. Same applies to Apostles: their word can still be heard through the Bible.
*What was the role of the apostles and prophets?* It was to proclaim God’s revelation, to teach the new truth that the church would need to grow. The apostles and prophets completed this mission. How? By giving us the written Word of God, the completed revelation of God. The Bible contains everything the church needs to know, to grow and fulfill God’s mission (2Tim3:15-16). The foundation work of the apostles and prophets is complete, nobody should add to the Bible. The ongoing work of the apostles and prophets is manifested in the Holy Spirit speaking to us through the recorded written Word of God, written by Apostles and Prophets.
In that sense, the five-fold ministry is still active. The 12 Apostles still speak to us today teachings they have received directly from Jesus and have recorded these teachings in the Bible, we don’t need new apostles and prophets today that want to replace the words of the 12 apostles and prophets with their words.
–Another interesting aspect is that the above points 4 and 5 are in fact presenting only one same office: ‘some pastors and teachers’ refer to one same office: ‘pastor-teacher’, not two offices, ‘pastors’ + ‘teachers’; article ‘some’ (‘ho’ in Greek) is placed before every office but not before ‘teachers’;
Formation ‘some pastors and teachers’ in Greek is ‘ho poimen kai didaskalos’; theologians call it ‘Granville Sharp’ rule, a particularity of the Greek language where article ‘ho’ meaning ‘the’ or ‘some’, when used only once before 2 nouns in the same case which are connected by ‘kai’ (meaning ‘also’, sometimes ‘and’), shows that the 2 nouns, ‘pastors’ + ‘teachers’ refer to the same person; in other words, it is not written ‘ho poimen kai HO didaskalos’, (second ‘HO’ is missing), if 2 ‘ho’ would be used then they would be two separate offices.
Word ‘kai’ means ‘also’; in the same verse we have Greek word ‘de’ used twice which means ‘AND’ (AND some prophets, AND some evangelists) but between words ‘pastors’ and ‘teachers’ word ‘KAI’ is used, that is most of the time translated by ‘ALSO’, rarely by ‘and’. Therefore ‘ho poimen kai didaskalos’ should be translated ‘pastors that are also teachers’ or ‘pastors-teachers’.
Here are some similar Granville Sharp formations:
-2Pet1:11: ‘…HEMON Kurios KAI Soter Iesous Christos’ = ‘our Lord also Savior Jesus Christ’; here article ‘hemon’ appears only once before ‘Kurios’ (it is not repeated before ‘Soter’) and ‘kai’ connects 2 nouns (‘Lord’ + ‘Savior’) which means that both nouns reffer to the same person, Jesus.
-Heb3:1: ‘ho Apostolos kai archiereus…Jesus Christ’ = ‘our Apostol also High-Priest …Jesus Christ’ – the 2 nouns (‘Apostol’ + ‘High-Priest’) are referring to the same person, Jesus.
-Acts13:1: ’tis prophetes kai didaskalos’ = ‘certain prophets also teachers’ – should be translated ‘prophets-teachers’;
-other ‘Granville Sharp’ verses: Rev16:15, 2Cor1:3, 2Pet2:20 plus 80 other verses.
Another interesting point is that Paul here did not give an extensive full list of the gifts that involve also teaching in church: he did not mention deacons, preachers, elders, who can also teach, preach, evangelize, he just gave the main offices of teachers of the Church, offices that have teaching as their main responsibility.
Timothy was a pastor but Paul encourages him to do the work of an evangelist 2Tim4:5; Peter was one of the 12 Apostles but he called himself an elder (‘presbuteros’) in 1Pet5:1; words ‘pastors’, ‘elders’, ‘bishops’ (or ‘overseers’ from ‘episkopos’ in Greek) are synonyms, interchangeable.
Some use the formula ‘five fold ministry’ just as a cover-up for having apostles and prophets today: they don’t want to be accountable to the Scriptures and to edify the Body of Christ, they just want honor and riches. They just want to be above ‘simple pastors’. They just want to pretend that they have a special mysterious powerful relationship with God that ‘simple pastors’ don’t have. Eventually it’s all about cash.
*Matt19:4: ‘Have you not read the Scriptures?’*