5-fold Ministers

Jan-Aage Torp
March 25, 2013

The God-given way to true Christian unity is that Christ chooses, sets in, equips and speaks through His leadership.

When the world´s foremost church growth researcher, Dr. C. Peter Wagner, researched on pentecostalism and charismatics from his position at the prestiguous Fuller Theological Seminary, he discovered that the growth takes place precisely among pentecostals and charismatics.

The models

The denominational model is based on the choice and induction by man.

But the 5-fold ministry model is based on Jesus Christ giving His gifts according to Ephesians 4:1-16. Note that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are given by Christ, not by man.

There is a difference between the gifts in Ephesians 4 and the Holy Spirit manifestations ("pneumatikon") in 1Corinthians 12, often called "gifts of the Holy Spirit". The 1Corinthians 12 manifestations are in principle given to all that are born again. But the Ephesian 4 gifts are given to the Church as a whole, but empowering the specific individuals to serve and lead the Church.

There does not have to be a conflict between “the 5-fold ministry model” and “the denominational model”. It is essential that we respect Christ and His Spirit more than man!

Whether we belong to a denomination, covenant-based network, or we haven´t found a network yet, we need to appreciate that the 5-fold is God´s way of giving servant leadership to His Church.

First and second

In "secularized Christianity", the offices of apostle and prophet have been eradicated, or mistakenly dismissed.

As for the office of the apostle, this dismissal is mostly because of confusion regarding the understanding of Christ´s original 12, and even regarding the apostolicity of the New Testament authors. Let there be no doubt: The 5-fold concept of "apostle" must not be mistaken for Christ´s original 12, nor for the authors of the New Testament! "Apostle" means "a sent one", and is a servant leader who lays foundations in individuals, churches and society. The Christ-gift "apostle" is given to the Church to bring maturity, unity, Christlikeness, vision, strategy and doctrinal clarity.

As for the office of the prophet, there is a fundamental difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament prophet. A New Testament prophet does not speak infallibly, nor convey verbatim from God. Fundamentally, the New Testament prophet speaks to bring "edification and exhortation and comfort" (1Corinthians 14:3).

Together, the New Testament apostle and prophet team are the decisive foundational gifts to the Church: "having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone" (Ephesians 2:20). They are first and second in rank: "God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues" (1Corinthians 12:28).

Then third...

The other three Christ gifts to the Church are evangelist, pastor and teacher (Ephesians 4). 1Corinthians 12:28 actually states that the teacher is third in rank, before the evangelist and pastor. There is some indication in the Ephesian 4 passage that "pastor and teacher" are one office together, in that case implying that we have "4-fold" rather than "5-fold" gifts.

The apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher together are a formidable force to empower and equip the Church!

Unity

I have been given the grace to gather a growing number of such 5-fold ministers in various nations for brotherhood and prayer. We share our lives and hearts with each other. We cry and laugh with each other. We strengthen each other. We pray for each other.

We experience unity in Christ.

It shouldn´t surprise anyone that such gatherings of 5-fold ministers are characterized by unity in Christ. Paul underscored this in Ephesians 4:13: “till we all come to the unity of the faith”.

The man-made model for “Christian unity” is power, manipulation, control….

The God-given way to true Christian unity is that Christ chooses, sets in, equips and speaks through His leadership.

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