I was doing research for someone and came upon the teaching about the 5-fold ministry again. Something came together for me.

1703646closedmindDespite a lifetime serving Jesus and academic study and teaching, God constantly brings new insights for me. Truly we only stop learning when we close our minds (“harden our hearts” in King James language) or think we have something sorted out. That is to confess my “bias”.

This 5-fold teaching comes from Ephesians 4:11-16. Two things to note at the beginning are: ANY teaching based on only ONE Scripture reading is spiritually dangerous; and even the context of this teaching strongly opposes the way these verses are used, which most often appear among cults, cult-like groups and some Pentecostal/charismatic groups.

What brought this up for me was an article, opposing a cult-like group, in which the author declared apostles and prophets no longer exist. The argument was very weak biblically.

Anyway, I believe that “God never changes his mind when he gives gifts or when he calls someone” (Romans 11:29 God’s Word©). So I start by accepting the Bible speaking of a variety of spiritual gifts.

flamesThe error of the 5-fold ministry teaching is that it claims that this list Paul writes is a hierarchy with authority. These gifts are, according to these teachers, “offices” and the individuals are set by God to hold power over others. This flies in the face of what Jesus taught (and demonstrated) in such places as Matthew 20:25-27, “Jesus called the apostles and said, “You know that the rulers of nations have absolute power over people and their officials have absolute authority over people. But that’s not the way it’s going to be among you. Whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant. Whoever wants to be most important among you will be your slave” (God’s Word©). Anyone who seeks, demands or exercises authority over another believer is living the example of unbelievers and demonic deception. (Congregational discipline through prayerful discernment is different from this.)

Even in Ephesians 4 the purpose of the gifts in THIS list is training and protection against deception and building the unity of the body of Christ, not a hierarchy of governance.

There is more to say, but that is for another day since I chose to avoid writing long posts.



dovefire“He also gave apostles, prophets, missionaries, as well as pastors and teachers as gifts {to his church}. Their purpose is to prepare God’s people, to serve, and to build up the body of Christ. This is to continue until all of us are united in our faith and in our knowledge about God’s Son, until we become mature, until we measure up to Christ, who is the standard. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed and carried about by all kinds of teachings that change like the wind. We will no longer be influenced by people who use cunning and clever strategies to lead us astray. Instead, as we lovingly speak the truth, we will grow up completely in our relationship to Christ, who is the head. He makes the whole body fit together and unites it through the support of every joint. As each and every part does its job, he makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:10-16 God’s Word©).