The Fivefold Ministry: Drawing the Line

November 11, 2013
Doctrine Opinion Pentecostalism

In Ephesians 4, we read about what some have referred to as the Fivefold Ministry of the Church.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Eph 4:11-13.

The five ministries are therefore:

Apostles
Prophets
Evangelists
Pastors
Teachers

There are some who say these only constitute a fourfold ministry, because “pastors and teachers” is one ministry. Although I do not agree, I will not dwell on that point here, because it is irrelevant to the purpose of this article.

The purpose of this article is to look at where to draw the line. Most churches accept that pastors and teachers operate today. So the line is drawn here.

Apostles
Prophets
Evangelists
Pastors
Teachers

Others accept the modern role of evangelists, but do not accept “miraculous” gifting, so they draw the line here:

Apostles
Prophets
Evangelists
Pastors
Teachers

Most Pentecostals accept the role of prophets, though some (such as the Assemblies of God) suggest that a gift of prophecy does not imply that the one so gifted is a prophet, and the AoG actually deny the modern role of the prophet.

Apostles
Prophets
Evangelists
Pastors
Teachers

Personally, I can find no evidence from the context that any line should be drawn. I cannot see why there would be a distinction. Therefore, I do not place a line, which means, by inference, that the passage implies that there are apostles today. These are not apostles in the sense of the 12 (and Paul), divinely appointed by Jesus. But in the sense that some have a ministry and authority wider than that of just one church, we suggest that, in this sense, there are indeed Apostles today.

This is the sense in which we might describe the late Martyn Lloyd-Jones as an apostle

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