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The Five Fold Ministry: Prophet, Apostle, Teacher Evangelist, and Pastor

In this article, we will explore the five fold ministry. What it means, what the offices are and why it matters to the body of Christ. So, grab your Bible and join me on this journey…

Last year we explored the gifts of the Holy Spirit and I thought this year we could dig into what is known as the gifts of Christ. This is also known as the 5 fold ministry.

This is a pretty amazing study, and I feel like Christians really should understand these offices and why God gave these gifts to the church.

It’s eye opening in many ways. For example many Christians in a congregation can become flustered at their “pastor” because they are constantly doing outreaches and trying to bring the lost to Jesus.

This isn’t a bad thing, but in a role of a pastor, a congregation needs to be nurtured. And the focus of the pastor is not to tend to sheep, but to bring the lost into the fold. This pastor technically is not a pastor but an evangelist.

If members of the church are not aware of this or even the pastor himself. This can lead to a lot of frustrations and issues in the church.

the five fold ministry

So, my hope in this study is for you to get a good rounded understanding of the fivefold and be able to recognize the gifting in others.

What is the 5 Fold Ministry?

The five fold ministry is a biblical establishment by Jesus Christ. It is the help form and grow the church. Some would even call it a form of church government.

The Bible says in Ephesians 4:11 “It’s he who gave some as apostles others as prophets, others as evangelists still others as pastors and teachers”.

These five different ministries have an impact on the church. They help equip Christians with what they need so they can do God’s will.

Paul, brings a lot of clarity to this in Ephesians 4. I encourage you to read it below as it will help you have a better understanding as we go along in this study.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 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; 

14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. – Ephesians 4:11-16

I have to say this….celebrity pastors/ministers or big church/platform ministries doesn’t automatically make them a fivefold minister because of their size.

Yes some of these ministers are functioning out a office or gift of Christ. But what I want to convey is that you or others can have a gift and not have a huge ministry platform. Size is not always a determining factor to gifting, character and anointing.

Other Names for the Fivefold Ministry?

The fivefold ministry sometimes goes by other names like the gifts of Christ, Christ’s gifts, offices of the church, and the five offices. You will also see five fold spelled, fivefold (like above), or some use the number 5.

No matter how you refer to it they still mean the same thing. And that’s what the Apostle Paul describes in Ephesians 4.

Why is the Five Fold Ministry Important?

Have you ever wondered why these 5 offices are so important? Shouldn’t a pastor just do it all?? They are running or leading the church shouldn’t they function in these roles? Or we don’t need these roles, the pastor is enough.

This type of thinking is SUPER common in our modern church world. And it’s Biblically wrong.

If you don’t have the gift you then don’t have the grace or supernatural ability to actually do those things.

These “offices” or “gifts” are not man-made. They can’t be taught in school or in a training session. These are gifts with anointings. Trying to make a true pastor a prophet or evangelist will never work because that is not the call or gifting in their life.

The fivefold ministry is important because it helps equip God’s people to fulfill His will and purposes in the earth. In other words, the fivefold ministers helps prepare Christians for their spiritual callings.

This equipping helps to develop character and maturity in the believers life. It also allows for everyone to use the gifts that he or she has been given by the Lord. We will a deeper look at this in the next section.

What Does the 5 Fold Ministry Do for the Church?

So, what exactly does the 5 fold ministry do? The five fold ministry was given by Christ to the church for a specific purpose. These are used in order to make sure that churches can be victorious no matter what this world system throws at us.

  • They equip the saints for work of service. In the KJV version of Ephesians 4:12 it uses the word, “perfecting” or in Greek, katartismos. It means complete furnishing (objectively):—perfecting. (Strong’s G2677). It’s this equipping that brings forth good fruit.
    • Bring maturity and growth to believers, which leads to healthier relationships and congregations. Character development is vital.
    • Knowledge and understanding of the Word of God
    • Draw us closer to the Lord
    • Bring unity to the body of Christ.
    • Help believers discover their giftings and callings

Is the Fivefold Ministry Relevant for Today?

When the apostle Paul wrote about the 5 fold ministry , he was not thinking about the gifts of Christ being relevant for today. He knew it was something God gave to the church till Christ returns.

The five fold ministry is still as applicable to the Church in these modern days just like it would have been back when Paul wrote on this topic.

These gifts and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are important for the church. As is maturity and character building. Together they can bring a huge impact on communities and nations.

The 5 Offices of the Fivefold Ministry

Five fold ministry gifts in the church picture of a blue church

Alright, now let’s take a look at each individual gift and what its function is. As a note, all people who are in ministry whether having a fivefold gift or not should have a proficient understanding of God’s Word. You can not lead well if you yourself don’t know the Word.

For more on leadership check out my Church Leadership Page.

What is an Evangelist?

εὐαγγελιστήςeuangelistḗs, yoo-ang-ghel-is-tace’; from G2097; a preacher of the gospel:—evangelist.

The word evangelist in Greek is translated from the word “euangelistēs” which means to preach or proclaim the good news. The New Testament mentions this word 3 times.

Acts 21:8On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.
Ephesians 4:11And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
2 Timothy 4:5But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

What is a Pastor?

ποιμήνpoimḗn, poy-mane’; of uncertain affinity; a shepherd (literally or figuratively):—shepherd, pastor. (Strongs G4166)

The word pastor in Greek is translated as “shepherd.” The Bible says that Jesus is the “Good Shepherd” (John 10:11)

Jesus as a pastor or shepherd - one of the offices of the fivefold ministry

Just like a shepherd tends and watches over a flock. So, does a pastor. They lead the church, teach God’s Word and help care for the spiritual needs of their congregation.

Shepherds also protect their flock from animals that would try to harm the sheep. A pastor has the same heart. They don’t want to lose anyone to sin or the enemy’s tactics.

It’s important to note that the words, bishop, elder, and overseer are also used interchangeably with the term pastor. We see this throughout the New Testament. A bishop is a pastor, same with an elder or overseer. This was the Biblical view of those positions. In modern times bishop has a different meaning and position.

What is a Prophet?

προφήτης prophḗtēs, prof-ay’-tace; from a compound of G4253 and G5346; a foreteller (“prophet”); by analogy, an inspired speaker; by extension, a poet:—prophet.

The word prophet in Greek is “prophētēs.” A prophet is someone who has direct communication with God and can share what they have heard from Him to others [John 15:15]. They bring a foretelling (futuristic word) or bring clarity to an area where there is a lack of discernment.

The ministry of the Prophet equips individuals or churches to live an authentic life by receiving divine inspiration under the direction of the Holy Spirit. This could come from the Bible, dreams, visions, the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, and more (Check out more ways to hear God). These words are meant to build up, edify and strengthen the church. (1 Corinthians 14:3)

What is an Apostle?

ἀπόστολος apóstolos, ap-os’-tol-os; from G649; a delegate; specially, an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ (“apostle”) (with miraculous powers):—apostle, messenger, he that is sent.

The word apostle in Greek means “sent one.” It is a title given to those who were sent out by Jesus.

An apostle’s role was not limited to teaching and preaching, but also included the task of supervising church leaders over a geographical region.

Apostles in ancient times were not just a word Christians used. But it was actually a Greek/Roman word. Apostles had significant authority in society that extended to civil matters such as executing justice and governing cities.

You can learn more about apostles in my post…The Difference Between an Apostle and a Disciple

What is a Teacher?

διδάσκαλος didáskalos, did-as’-kal-os; from G1321; an instructor (genitive case or specially):—doctor, master, teacher.

The word teacher in Greek means to “instructor.” This is probably the easiest of the 5 to understand. As we use teachers in our school systems. Teachers equip and educate individuals and this is exactly what they do in a church setting.

They pull out the mysteries of God and teach them in a way that believers can understand. If the Bible were a BIG juicy steak, a teacher would be like a parent who would come along and cut the steak up in smaller pieces for you.

These smaller pieces would make eating (understanding) God’s Word easier. And if the teacher is REALLY good they will teach you how to use a fork and knife so that you can learn to cut (study) for yourself as well.

A Quick Recap Summary

Whew…that was a lot of information! If you are looking for a little more condensed version. Here is a quick summary of each of the fivefold gifts.

And remember all 5 are meant to equip the saints for service.

  • Prophet- a prophet is someone who has been gifted with divine inspiration from God; they share prophetic words with the body of Christ. ( Example – Silas, Acts 15:32, )
  • Apostle- an apostle is someone who carries the Lord’s message or teaching across geographical regions. Building up the body of Christ. ( Example – Apostle Paul)
  • Teacher- a teacher helps Christians grow more deeply into their faith through teaching the Bible lessons, answering questions on doctrine, or offering guidance when people find themselves struggling. (Example –  Barnabas, Acts 13:1)
  • Evangelist- an evangelist spreads the word of salvation by sharing the good news of Jesus Christ to unbelievers. (Example – Philip, Acts 21:8)
  • Pastor- A pastor is someone who leads and cares for a congregation through preaching, teaching, prayer, and administration. (Example – Acts 14:23)

In the church, there is a fivefold ministry that consists of 5 different offices. All are vital to the church’s growth and success. The gifts each person possesses are unique and help equip saints for their life’s work on earth while they wait in anticipation of Christ’s return. 

Keep going after God with all your might! Leave a comment below if you have any questions or thoughts about this blog post.”

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