11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
These are the gifts to the church. God gave these gifts as He saw fit. We should never question someone else’s calling unless they are obviously going against God’s will, like a prophet who is always wrong. These are men and women appointed in various offices to contribute to the vibrancy, growth and spiritual well being of the body of Christ. And they are still in operation today. Let’s look at each office individually.
The apostle was a messenger sent for a specific purpose. The twelve apostles of Jesus and Paul are prime examples. Some say the office of apostle is no longer needed in the church, but disagree. I look at apostles as the church planters. They see the need for a church in a particular area or community, and they start the work. Maybe in a basement, or a storefront, but they start it. In the New Testament they were usually authenticated by signs and wonders, and they still can be today. An apostle, unlike a pastor, would not stay a long time and pastor that church. Rather, he would find a pastor (As Paul did), and then go on to the next town. We knew a man who was an apostle. He started dozens of churches in Southern Iowa and Northern Missouri before passing away in 1986, so I know the office is still in use today, although some say it is not.
Prophets are those who speak for God. This can be revelation or expounding on what God has already said. This is not to be confused with the gift of prophecy, which is available to all. This is an office of prophet. Prophets, like apostles, are typically not restricted to a particular church with their ministry, although they may have a church body they call home. They minister from church to church, similar to evangelists, but having a different type of message. I have known a few prophets in my time. The one that is dearest to my heart is a man named Robert Miller from Breezewood, PA. He took me under his wing at an annual camp meeting encouraging me as his worship leader and instructing me in things if the kingdom. His prophecies always came true, and were very specific. I miss him dearly.
Evangelists are itinerant preachers who bear the good news to various places. Phillip is a real good example in the bible. Each of us probably have our own favorite evangelists. This is one that is familiar to us because this office is one of the most prevalent today. I have friends who are tent evangelists across the country, Bob Newton and Sean Strong. If you ever have an opportunity to go to one of their tent crusades, tell them I said hi! These are men who are on the road most of the year and are working hard for Jesus. They need our prayers! Tent evangelism is rare today, and these two are carrying the mantle to he word. I love them dearly!
We are all familiar with the office of Pastor, and some who read this blog are wither in that office now or have served in that office. I have never been a pastor, but in most of the churches I have attended, was the closets thing to an assistant pastor. I am familiar with, but have never experienced first hand, the weight that is on the pastor. I know that burden can be heavy, and he has few he can really share it with. My church is currently looking for a pastor, and some think I should put my name in the hat. But with my health situation, it would be extremely risky to do that. I am praying about it, and would appreciate your prayers as well. My wife she would not make a good pastors wife, but I believe she would be a real blessing in that role.
The teachers are the grass roots of all of the gifts to the church. Sunday school teachers instruct by age group. And they are truly gifted at what they do. Putting together a lesson plan that will reach inside a 5 year old’s heart and mind in an hour a week is something that would be foreign to me. I applaud all the teachers. They deserve our utmost respect. The office of teacher can also be similar to an evangelist, going to various churches and instructing in he ways of the kingdom. I believe this is my calling at this time.
I also believe God can move us from one of these offices to another as it suits His purpose. We need to be open to where God is leading us on a regular basis, and not get so stuck in our ways that He can’t move us to the next office. Only our pride can keep us from accepting that call, and we all know how bad that is! Be ready to hear the call of God and obey.
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
The offices listed above had a specific purpose, which is outlined in verse 12. I am going to look at each of these three statements separaelty, then bring them together.
For the perfecting of saints. How many of you will raise your hands and say you are perfect? Christ told us to be perfect (Matt 5:48), so why aren’t we all raising our hands right now? I believe it’s because the art of perfection in God’s kingdom is an ongoing journey. 2 Cor 3:18 puts it this way: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” If we are open and maintain a teachable, humble spirit ,then God will bring us closer and closer to the perfection He ordained in us through Christ. Each of the offices are involved n bringing people closer to that perfection
For the work of the ministry involves revealing to us the ministry that God has for each one of us as individuals. You do have a work of ministry hat is specifically d signed for you. It might be one of the five-fold ministries above, or it might not. The work of the ministry tales on all different tasks. Worship leaders, band members, deacons, elders, ushers are all in a specific ministry. But so are custodians, grounds keepers, cooks, and play ground monitors. One I left specifically for last, because I believe they are the most critical ministry i any church is the prayer warrior. I know several who have this role, and I admire their dedication to prayer. They are unsung heroes, except in God’s eyes. Whatever your ministry is, it’s no less important than anyone else’s. You are vital in His kingdom, and in the church.
For the Edifying of the body of Christ. Now we bring the other two together and see the whole purpose. The five-fold ministry is given so that the saints will be perfected, that they might do the work of their ministry and edify the body of Christ. It is all one thought. There is no other purpose for these gifts. They are not given to raise me up and bring me gory. They are not given for entertainment. They are not given so that their ministry can become large and famous. They are given to build up (edify) the body of Christ through the work of the ministry that is being perfected.
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
I realize this has been a long post, so I will try to be brief on this last verse. The whole purpose is unity of our faith, and knowledge of Jesus Christ, It’s all about Jesus. If you ever have a person supposedly fulfilling one of the offices listed, and they are not exalting Jesus, get away from them. The sole purpose of these five offices is to bring us into a measure of the fullness of Christ. His desire is for us to come to perfection. That should be our goal as well.
If you have friends that might enjoy this type of Bible Study, please recommend this blog or reblog this post. I believe it can minister to many in the church. I hope you feel that same way.