Five-Fold Ministry

The fivefold ministry or five-fold ministry is a largely Charismatic and Evangelical Christian belief that five offices mentioned in Ephesians (Ephesians 4:11), namely that of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors (or "shepherds") and teachers, remain active and valid offices in the contemporary Christian church.[1]

HISTORY

After the close of the Apostolic Age, Christian writers still referred to the existence of prophets. For example, Irenaeus wrote of second century believers with the gift of prophecy,[2] while Tertullian, writing of the church meetings of the Montanists (to whom he belonged), described in detail the practice of prophecy in the second century church.[3] It is, however, the teaching of Edward Irving and advent of the Catholic Apostolic Church in 1832 that marks the earliest known movement of what could be properly labeled as fivefold ministry. The church ordained twelve apostles and had specific understandings of the roles of prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.

This trend picked up steam in 1948 with the Latter Rain Movement giving renewed emphasis to fivefold ministry, and soon after with the Charismatic Movement and Third Wave movements, led by figures such as C. Peter Wagner, who is now the leading figure in what is known as the New Apostolic Reformation, which emphasizes the specific need for apostolic leadership in the Church, among the other five-fold anointings.

More recently, Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost have coined the acronym APEPT to refer to Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers.[4] In the revised edition of their work, they have adjusted the acronym to APEST: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds and Teachers.[5]

- "Fivefold ministry," Wikipedia, accessed May 9, 2014

It is believed by some, and I am inclined as well, that the old governmental order of the five fold ministries has come to the end and God is raising up a new order: The order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:19, 7:1) King, Prophet, Legislator, Oracle and Scribe. It is also defined as a transition from the Moses generation to the Joshua generation. This transition is believed to have happened in 2012 and Ian Clayton believes the date of transition was December 20, 2012. I will be writing more on this topic to bring clarity to this.

APOSTOLIC

Among scholars and theologians, the apostolic era is the time when the twelve apostles and Paul were still alive (roughly the second half of the first century), and the subapostolic era is the time immediately after that (roughly the second century). The word apostolic also refers to teachings or activities that personally characterize anyone who was called an apostle during the apostolic era, but most especially the twelve apostles and Paul.

In church use, apostolic means a teaching, a practice, or a church that was started by any of the apostles and has continued to the present day.

There are Pentecostal denominations in the United States that call themselves apostolic and even have leaders with the title of apostle. These churches claim to be reconstructions or new manifestations of the ancient church. They largely aknowledge, however, that these are not to be confused with Apostles (with a capital "A" and referring to the original Apostles).

CESSATIONISM AND CONTINUATIONISM

There is a debate within Christianity whether or not the charismatic gifts are still in operation. There is also dispute on which gifts if any, and how they are used. It is clear that there are evangelists, pastors (or shephards) and teachers. I have been all three of these. The controversial ones are apostles and prophets. Lets define what we mean by prophet. God clearly does give people gifts which are supernatural if you will. This includes forms of prophecy and the related gifts of seership (the ability to see into the spirit realm), and "words of wisdom," "words of knowledge," and discernment of spirits which can involve any of our fifteen senses (five body, five soul and five spirit senses). I say "forms of prophecy" because it is not the same form of prophecy we see in the Old Testament which was literally the Word of God and makes up a good part of the Bible. In the New Testament, we see prophecy in the early church (e.g. Agabus in Acts 11:28; 21:10-14), as well as a number of verses which mention prophecy. I know other gifts are still in operation so I have no reason to believe that God doesn't use prophecy today. And when we combine the fact that the Bible doesn't say it ceased with the evidence from those who prophesy and those who receive prophecy, we can see that this is still in operation, although perhaps not as commonly as in the early Church. Prophecy also has to be tested because there are false prophets and false prophecies.

A concern I have is that many Pastors have given themselves the title of Apostle who are simply Pastors, teachers or shepherds. I have heard that people who are in leadership over other Pastors will sometimes be considered an apostle (lowercase "a") and I do not have a problem with the Church having a structured organization (the enemy sure does!) but I think we need to be careful. Personally I don't think all these people need the title of "Apostle" or "apostle," and it often creates confusion, envy or pride. Sometimes these apostles use this title to create a network and get Pastors to send them money to have a "covering" of apostolic authority. I believe an apostle should simply be a fathering figure that is mentoring these Pastors to obtain the apostles inheritance and position of authority.

Personally, I believe that the five-fold ministry has ceased and that the Church was largely too immature to move in the five-fold ministry but it matured through it. I believe God is raising up a large group of people that intimately know and interact with God and the Kingdom of God, and are empowered to move in the gifts and authority of Jesus Christ to mightily tear down the kingdom of darkness and bring the Kingdom of God to earth. I hope and pray that you "seek His face" and by the grace of God can be one of those He uses mightily! There is nothing greater than intimacy with God and letting Him flow through us like a mighty river! It has been my hearts cry to be one of these, as part of the Bride of Christ. I have been daily pursuing holiness, greater intimacy with God, impartation of the gifts, spiritual covering, and Spirit-led ministry. Pray for me that God will open the doors and lead me where He can use all that He has equipped me with and I will pray that whoever reads this has favor and grace from God to receive this impartation and calling.

FOOTNOTES:

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fivefold_ministry
2. Irenaeus (180). "5". Against Heresies. Book V.
3. Tertullian. "9". A Treatise on the Soul.
4. Frost, Michael; Hirsch, Alan (2003). Shaping of Things to Come. Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing. p. 166. ISBN 0-8010-4630-0.
5. http://www.theforgottenways.org/apest/


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