Functions And Purpose Of The Five-Fold Ministry

Functions and Purpose of the Five-Fold Ministry


I realize that within Christendom, both modern and ancient, much has been already said, written, preached, and/or taught regarding the five-fold ministry. But I also feel that much has been lacking when this particular subject is (or has been) addressed. So, toward addressing that lack, I, for what’s it’s worth, intend to add my two dimes.

We begin, of course, with the chief text wherein the five-fold ministry is mentioned.

Ephesians 4:11,

11. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers…

Unlike some others, I don’t see these five gifts (from verse 10) as positions or offices. Rather, I see them as functions within the Body of Christ. These are things that people within God’s Church do, more than what people in God’s Church are. I know that runs contrary to what many think or believe, but please hear me out a moment.

The first thing we need to know is that, especially for the first three listed, these are nothing more than transliterated Greek words that don’t have any word for word English equivalent. They have been adopted into our language, and much like the words baptism and sabbath, have been given meaning.

In regards to pastor and teacher (poimen and didaskalos, respectively), while the two words are nouns, they, more than elucidating what someone is, really indicate what someone does.  The English word pastor is of Latin derivation, and means a shepherd. But a shepherd is really only known by what he does, i.e. he tends a flock/shepherds sheep. Likewise with teacher. A teacher, or one who teaches, is in essence known first by what he or she does. That is, they instruct and indoctrinate. It’s only through what they do that we endeavor to say what they are.

But how does one apostle, you might ask. Well, go back to what the word apostle means.

Literally, it means a sent one, i.e. someone commissioned as a delegate or ambassador. An apostle of Christ, then, is someone who has been commissioned by the Lord to be His delegate or ambassador on earth. And so, by fulfilling the purpose of the commissioning, one “apostle-izes”, as it were. The same for a prophet or evangelist (e.g. prophesies or evangelizes).

The question then is, what are the requirements placed upon such gifts by the Lord so as to prove fulfillment of purpose? That can only be answered by understanding their respective functions. If we understand the functions of each, we can easily determine if someone operating as any of the five gifts above is functioning properly, i.e. fulfilling their purpose. So, without further ado:


As mentioned, an Apostle is someone who is sent, i.e. commissioned by the Lord with a particular function. To find it, we have to look in Scripture to see what an apostle does.

Acts 1:8,

8. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The first function of an apostle is to bear witness, or testify to the world. Their witness or testimony specifically relates to the resurrection of the Lord, as Simon Peter affirms in Acts 1:21-22 when leading the believers in a meeting designed to appoint a new apostle to replace Judas Iscariot.

Acts 1:21-22,

21. Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
22. Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

So that is first. If one called to be an apostle is actively testifying of the resurrection of the Lord, they are functioning properly and are well on their way to fulfilling the purpose of this gift.

Next, in order to function properly, God Himself must bear witness of His gifting upon them through the following: signs, wonders, diverse miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, as seen below:

Hebrews 2:4,

4. God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will…

From Hebrews 2:3, we know specifically that apostles are meant. Another verse that substantiates this claim is 2 Corinthians 12:12, which reads:

12. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

Paul, having to constantly establish and prove himself to the carnal Corinthians, here appeals to the signs, wonders, and mighty deeds done by God through him as proof of his apostleship (See 1 Corinthians 9:2).

We see then that the chief method of testifying of the risen Lord is by the operation of the Spirit of Christ working within them. It’s not just the words which apostles preach; rather, it’s the God-ordained confirmation, coupled with their preaching, that matters most (See, for example Acts 8:14-17, where Peter and John are called for, not to preach, but rather to lay hands upon and pray for the Samaritans in order that they might receive the Holy Spirit).

Next, an apostle, in order to function properly and fulfill the purpose of their gifting, must be a conduit, a relay point, if you will, between the Universal (not local) Church and Christ (See Acts 15, and 16:4, noting especially verses 15:4, 15:22, and 16:4).

Acts 6:2-4,

2. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
3. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
4. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

In this passage, the Twelve, including Matthias from Acts 1 (and not yet Paul, from Acts 9), realized they could not function properly, nor fulfill their purpose, if they were constantly bogged down by menial tasks and acts of service within the Church. Their job was not administrative in nature. So, they charged the Church with the creation of the Deaconate, a seven-man task force entrusted with the supervision of the financial administration and service of the Body (selected by the Church, not the Apostles).

When the Deaconate was successfully created, it allowed the apostles to function properly again. It’s obvious that if one will be a witness of the resurrection of the Lord, and have signs, wonders, diverse miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, they needs must continuously give themselves over to prayer and the ministry of the Word.

But what does that mean? First, when one thinks of prayer and the Word, they should think communication. Prayer is human communication to the Lord. The Word is the Lord’s way of communicating with humanity. We all know that Christ is the Head of the Body, the Church (Ephesians 5:23 and Colossians 1:18). But in order for there to be proper communication between the Head and the Body, there must be constant prayer and ministry of the Word. And it’s one of the main functions of an apostle to make sure that happens, both in their personal lives, but also in the life of the Universal Church. Where no apostles exist, that conduit or relay point, is non-existent. The Head is frustrated and the Whole Body suffers.

Next, because being an apostle is a function with a purpose, and not an office or position, anyone, if ordained by the will of God, can function as an apostle. Even a woman (See Romans 16:7).

After all of this, though an apostle has a major, irreplaceable function in the Body, even the most important function (1 Corinthians 12:28), it doesn’t mean they are above accountability. They must be in subjection to the bishops and elders of the Church. Just as Paul submitted himself to his elders (Galatians 2:9-10 and Acts 21:18-26), so, too, must any who take on an apostleship still remain in subjection to the ministry of a local assembly. In fact, in Revelation 2:2, the Lord Jesus commends the Ephesian Church for putting presumptuous deceivers calling themselves apostles to the test (and thereby rejecting them when they were found to be “liars”).

We have the same obligation today. We must put those who would assume an apostleship to the test. What’s the test? Well, it’s to see if someone claiming to be an apostle actually functions as one and so fulfills the purpose for why Christ gave the Church apostles in the first place. Here’s how it’s done:

1.) Prayer Life and Ministry of the Word. If one claims to function as an apostle, their prayer life and ministry of the Word needs must be examined. Consistency, Fervency, and Positive Response from God in their prayer life is key. Accuracy, Purity, and Integrity are the essentials of their Word ministry. If either is found wanting, red flags should immediately go up.

2.) Genuine signs, wonders, diverse miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit should be evident in their life. Here, the Discerning of Spirits must absolutely be present in the eldership of the local assembly. Carnally realized Words of Knowledge, fuzzy prophetic utterances, placebo effect type “miracles”, unverifiable number claims, doubts about people receiving the Holy Spirit or not, supposed but faked exorcisms, and etc. can and does, all too often occur. If there are no evident signs, wonders, and etc. or if the signs and wonders, etc. are proven to be faked or inauthentic, the person attempting to convince you they are an apostle can be rejected on these grounds.

3.) Testimony of the Resurrection. Finally, after the first two parts of the test, one needs to examine an apostle’s testimony of the resurrection. If they are a true apostle of Jesus Christ, their prayer life, ministry of the Word, and power in the Holy Ghost for signs, wonders, miracles, and etc. will all culminate in a true, amazing, life-changing, revival-inducing testimony of the resurrection of the Lord. If they are fake pretenders, or have incorrectly presumed to assume an apostleship against God’s will, no matter how much they say Christ is risen, they will not have the confirmation behind them to convince anyone–especially unbelievers–of the fact.

Lastly, we must recognize a unique aspect of apostleship: The invitation to suffer for the sake of the Gospel.

1 Corinthians 4:9-13,

9. For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.
10. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
11. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;
12. And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
13. Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

No one in the first century, other than Jesus Christ, the “Apostle of…our profession” (Hebrews 3:1) suffered worse than the Apostles, as Paul claimed. So, regardless of what anyone says, if they are not suffering as the “offscouring of the world”, how much of an apostle are they?


The purpose of a prophet is to speak of and give insight into the mind of Christ. They, in a very real sense, speak on behalf of the Lord. That is, a prophet is God’s spokesman. A New Testament prophet can perform one of several different functions (and combinations thereof), each valid and consistent with Scripture. So far, I have been able to identify five unique functions of a prophet.

1.) Preacher and Teacher of God’s Word.

Acts 13:1,

1. Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

In this way, a local church usually has at least one or more prophets. These are people who, through prayer and Bible study, listen for the voice of the Lord and so, when led by the Spirit, give instruction to the church. The function of the modern day pastorate closely resembles this concept.

2.) A saint used by God in certain gifts of the Spirit, especially the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, interpretation of diverse tongues, and the gift of prophecy (See 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 for a list of the nine gifts of the Spirit). Since these four gifts are speaking gifts, it stands to reason that, if a person is truly being used by God in one of them, as they speak, the mind of Christ is disclosed to the Church.

3.) As itinerant preachers used by God to exhort His people and confirm their faith.

Acts 15:32-34

32. And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.
33. And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles.
34. Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still.

In our modern context and vernacular, we usually call these people evangelists. This can be accurate, but usually is not. Most travelling preachers don’t fulfill the function of an evangelist (See Evangelist below). Rather, they come with a message from the Lord that exhorts, excites, and confirms the faith of the local assembly. Perhaps the gospel is preached, but perhaps not. Many times, in my experience, very few visitors attend these meetings. Why? Because they are designed for the church, not for the lost.

You can see, too, how in verse 34, Silas stayed in Antioch for awhile. This, too, is common with those we call evangelists (but shouldn’t). Sometimes they come through, preach a service and move on to the next. Other times, they are invited to stay and preach for three or four services, sometimes for several weeks.

And sometimes, an itinerant prophet will stay in one area/region for several months until he or she’s had a chance to visit and preach in all the local assemblies of the state/district/etc.

4.) As one who foretells the future.

Acts 11:28,

28. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

Acts 21:10-11,

10. And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.
11. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

This function is the one with which we are all the most familiar. It is also the rarest function, usually not evident in the modern Church. This function also correlates most closely to the prophets and seers of the Old Testament.

5.) Those called upon to correct, rebuke, reprove, and expose sin in the Church. This function is more active in the church than foretelling the future, about the same as the itinerant preachers, but less so than the preaching/teaching and gifts of the Spirit functions. These types of prophets, more than any, are the most feared. See below:

Acts 5:1-11,

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

Acts 8:18-24,

And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

We see here that Simon Peter performed just such a prophetic function in the 1st century church. Further, by understanding that a prophet fulfills a purpose by performing according to a God-ordained function, we end the discussion about the whole “office” of a prophet thing, and who may or may not be a prophet. Anyone God uses in one of these five ways (including women; see 1 Corinthians 11:5 and Acts 21:9), in the moment of divine use, experiences prophetic usage by God, and in that moment, functions as a prophet. Again, it’s based on what one does, not what one is.

Finally, a last note: After the function of an apostle, the function of a prophet is the most important function in a local church (1 Corinthians 12:28). These two functions are the backbone to a successful ministry.


Evangelist comes from this Greek noun: euaggelistes. It derives its existence from this Greek verb: euaggelizo. This verb is a compound of two parts: eu– and –aggelos. Eu– simply means well or good. We see it in words like eulogy, which literally means “good word”, i.e. the good word spoken about someone at their funeral. The second part, –aggelos, means messenger. To put it together, an evangelist is a messenger of some “good” thing. But what’s the message and why is it good?

The Bible calls the message euaggelion, most commonly translated this way: gospel. In a very real sense, an evangelist is a messenger of good news, which, when applied to the Biblical narrative, relates always and only to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, specifically His death, burial, and resurrection (including what that means for humanity, i.e. remission of sins, eternal life, etc. See, for example 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Matthew 26:28, Acts 2:38, Romans 1:16, and Titus 3:1-7).

When applying this idea to a function, we see that, like the first two, it’s possible for anyone to be an evangelist. Any saint who faithfully relays the saving message of Jesus Christ, in that moment, is evangelizing. But note, if and only if they are actually sharing the Good News. Inviting someone to church, talking generally about God or the Word, or speaking on some other subject is not the function of an evangelist.

Many times, we have itinerant preachers, who travel from one saved assembly to another assembly of saved people, and preach, on any number of topics. We call these people evangelists, but they are not. They fall under the category of the Acts 15:32-34 prophets, as mentioned. An evangelist, in correct terms, more closely resembles these three ministries:

1.) Church Planter.

The chief function of an evangelist is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, especially to lost sinners (See Romans 10:14-15). When looking at Paul’s life and ministry, he was a true evangelist. He brought the Gospel to where it had never been before. See below:

Romans 15:20-21,

20. Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel [i.e. euaggelizo], not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:
21. But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.

In the same way, a modern day church planter goes into a region or area that has not been evangelized (that is, there is no local assembly of Messianic believers). When there, they begin to reach out to the local community with the Good News of Jesus Christ, looking primarily to do one thing: convert sinners to the truth through the preaching of the Gospel.

This is exactly how Paul operated. See 1 Corinthians 1:14-18,

14. …I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
15. Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
16. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
17. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
18. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

Notice where Paul said “to preach the gospel” in verse 17. Just like Romans 15:20, this phrase is one Greek word: euaggelizo.

Paul, when entering into the region of Corinth (See Acts 18:1-11), began preaching Jesus Christ, first to the Jews, but then to the Gentiles. He started, or rather, as we say it, planted the church there. He evangelized and won Crispus to the Lord. But notice! Once the church was begun, as an evangelist, Paul did not undertake to become the church’s bishop. His main purpose, even though he stayed there for a year and half, was to preach the Gospel to as many as would listen. The duties of eldership fell to Crispus, Gaius, and Stephanas, the three people Paul personally baptized (for more on Stephanas’ involvement in the ministry, see 1 Corinthians 16:15). This is the pattern of an evangelist. Their duty is to the disseminating of the Gospel, no more, no less.

2.) Missionary

This well known term, while easily understood in today’s Christian vernacular, is better understood if we traded it in and called the men and women who do perform such ministries evangelists (as opposed to the itinerant preachers mentioned above).

A missionary’s main task is to follow the Pauline pattern: using a home church as a base, move beyond what others have done and go into fresh areas or regions where the Gospel has either never been preached or where a work was begun but abandoned/left to its own devices (2 Corinthians 10:16). In that new area or region, they are to either establish a new church or help the existing one, grow it from within, oversee the assembly, but then, when the time is right, pass off the bishopric to local, qualified elders, men who were most likely won and raised in the faith by the missionary in the new/fledgling church plant. Once the mantle, if you will, has been passed, that missionary moves on to a new region or mission and repeats the process.

Sometimes the missionary stays in an area or region for a long time (as in Paul and Corinth; Acts 18:11). Other times, they merely pass through, win as many souls as they can on their journey, then move on (See Acts 16 for a good example of this).

Now, the neat thing about the function and purpose of an evangelist is that, for any person who has never heard the Gospel, especially if it’s your friends, family, or other community members, you get to be the evangelist or missionary to win their souls. You don’t have to travel to far away lands (unless God calls you to do so). You can evangelize in your own backyard, as the saying goes. See number 3 below.

3. Soul Winner

We are all called to preach the Gospel. It is one of the main functions of the entire Church. We all get to be evangelists. We don’t individually need any title, office, or position. In fact, such things hinder the average church member. Some, because they are only simple saint so and so, think evangelism belongs to specially called ministers, outreach teams, and etc. Not so. Anytime you share the Good News of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, and what that means for your audience, you are performing the function of an evangelist. Just remember, in order to fulfill the purpose of this gift, it has to be the Gospel to the lost, and nothing else.


This one is the trickiest. Our modern church world has a well-entrenched idea of what pastors are and should be. Everyone’s a pastor these days. It’s a catch-all term for everyone and anyone who oversees a ministry. But it’s not supposed to be this way. Remember, pastoring is a function. One who shepherds the Lord’s sheep is a pastor, whether the title of office is attached or not. Where we get confused is when we talk of men being pastors (and even labeling them so), i.e. the men assigned by God to be the local elders of the assembly who lead in preaching and teaching. While we often call these men pastors, what we really mean and should be calling them is bishops, elders, or deacons (see Philippians 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3). These three: bishops, elders, and deacons, as opposed to the five-fold ministry, actually are offices or positions in the Church.

So then, if we are to do away with our traditionally held view of what a pastor is, who then functions as a pastor? To answer, remember what a pastor does: he tends the flock and shepherds sheep. The tending of the flock involves one main task: feeding the sheep. Simon Peter, along with functioning as an apostle and prophet, was also charged by the Lord to pastor the flock.

John 21:15-17,

15. So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed [i.e. poimaino, i.e. tend as shepherd, from poimen above] my sheep.
17. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Here, feed the sheep should be understood to mean, share the Word of God with His people, especially the milk of the Word (1 Peter 2:2), to help saints grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

Now, it’s obvious that a bishop, elder, or deacon can fulfill this function. But they aren’t the only members of God’s church who can (or who do). Anyone who takes on a mentoring role in the church to help member saints grow and be strengthened in the Word are acting as pastors, especially new converts. This includes home fellowship leaders, Bible study teachers, Sunday school teachers, and etc. Even an elder woman, who undertakes to teach a young woman the principles of the Word, is being a pastor to that younger woman, as found below:

Titus 2:3-5,

3. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
4. That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
5. To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Notice that the aged woman in question is not acting as a bishop, elder, or deacon to other men. That is, they are not filling an office or position (which isn’t allowed by Scripture). But as a function, they, when they obey this verse, very much so, are pastoring. It just happens that it’s younger women in the Church who are being pastored by them.

In addition to feeding the flock, the duty of a shepherd is to protect the sheep, specifically from dangerous outside influences (Compare to Luke 10:3 and Acts 20:29). This, along with tending the flock, makes the shepherd take on a kind of supervisory, parental role. The shepherd helps the new convert remove themselves from the worldliness of the past, advises on career, marriage, and other relationships, and recommends courses of action that ultimately keeps a saint safe from harm. This doesn’t mean the shepherd controls them–sheep will be sheep! Rather, the shepherd, using the Word, persuades and leads the sheep to wisdom and righteousness, just as they were once led by the man or woman who shepherded them. Then, the choice is up to the saint to comply or not.

Now, learn a lesson from real-life shepherds, who take care of literal sheep. The sheep are very dependent upon the shepherd, almost for everything. To pastor someone is a high calling. The little lamb God places in your care is going to need you constantly.

Secondly, the sheep don’t exist to help make a man a shepherd. The shepherd exists to help make the sheep a flock. It is the shepherd’s job to serve, protect, lead to pasture, bring in and take out the sheep. Sacrifice is required of him or her, not of the sheep. So, too, with pastoring someone. Saints don’t exist to help make a man or woman a pastor (i.e. give a man/woman a ministry or a pulpit, etc.). A pastor exists to help make the saints a church. It is the responsibility of the person doing the shepherding to serve, protect, lead to pasture (i.e. share the Word) and bring and take out (i.e. fellowship) the saint(s). Basically, all the sacrifice is upon the pastor, not the saint (With the understanding that pastor here means one who functions as a shepherd, and not the traditional “office” incorrectly associated with the word).

Lastly, as a shepherd properly cares for and nurtures the sheep in his or her care, the sheep provides food for the shepherd (through milk and meat) and also clothing, (through the wool). Other by-products of the sheep also have their place (like, for example, lanolin, a healing, protective salve against bad weather and minor injury).

The parallel here being that if a person is shepherding one of God’s saints, that saint in turn “feeds” the shepherd (perhaps literally, but definitely spiritually) and helps the pastor maintain his or her “clothing” (think garment of salvation, from Isaiah 61:10). In addition, when a person is fulfilling their God-ordained calling to shepherd His sheep, other blessings come to the pastor, things which will help that man or woman weather the storms of life and also help protect the pastor from (at least minor) spiritual injury. All because the pastor is properly performing his or her function, and so, properly fulfilling his or her purpose.

Lastly, while some people functioning as apostles, prophets, and/or evangelists have the right to claim a wage off their labor and ministry (See, for example 1 Corinthians 9), someone who pastors does not.

1 Peter 5:2-4,

2. Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3. Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.
4. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

John 10:12-15

12. …he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
13. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
14. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
15. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Here, the word hireling in Greek is misthotos, and it means a wage-earner. Notice what the Lord Jesus says. Those who take care of the sheep for money (i.e. the filthy lucre mentioned in 1 Peter 5:2) aren’t really the shepherds. They’re just people who get a paycheck. In reality, they don’t care for the sheep. As far as they are concerned, the wolf (i.e. the devil) can have them. A true shepherd, someone who is called of God to perform the function of pastoring one of God’s kids, will do whatever it takes to protect them, even if it costs that man or woman his or her life (metaphorically or otherwise). But not so a hireling. And hence, why pastors don’t (and can’t shepherd) for money.


Like “pastor”, this word currently holds a murky place in our modern vernacular. Some think this word applies only to Sunday school teachers or a pastor (read bishop, elder, or deacon) who teaches during a mid-week service. Perhaps, too, someone who regularly teaches Bible study is merely a “teacher”. Maybe even a seminary professor. While there may be some truth to this, the amount is rather small. A Biblical teacher, or one who teaches under the unction of the Holy Spirit and so, fulfills a calling given to them by God, is much more than your average “teacher”.

When one thinks of the function of teaching or the giving of instruction, one should immediately think indoctrination. Anyone can presume to teach (1 Timothy 1:7). But a true teacher of God’s Word is not just someone who “teaches” (Compare to John 3:2). Rather, the function of a true teacher is as an indoctrinator. Such people have the specific task of establishing and inculcating correct doctrine into the minds of the saints. A big job. Paul said this of himself:

1 Timothy 2:7,

7. Whereunto I am ordained…a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

So, yes, it does involve Sunday school teachers, Bible study teachers, or those who teach the Word in a church service, or at a Bible college, and etc. But that is the most elementary level, one, as I said, anyone can presume to undertake.

The real duty or function of a teacher is as a theologian. And quite frankly, not everyone is called to this gift. Yes, your average Joe or Jane may sit down and share the Word with someone, and quote verses of Scripture and say a few things here and there. They may even endeavor to teach a thing or three. There is NOTHING wrong with this.

But this is not what I mean when I say theologian. When I say theologian, I mean someone uniquely qualified and anointed by God to exegete His Word to others, just like Jesus Christ (See John 1:18, where the word “declared” is the past tense of the verb exegeomai, from whence cometh the word exegete. And by the way, if you don’t know what the word exegete means, you aren’t a theologian. Then again, just because you know it doesn’t make you one, either).

In addition to providing the Church with accurate exegesis, the teacher functions as the Lord’s main apologist. They are called upon by God and His Bride to defend the true faith of the Son of God.

1 Peter 3:15,

15. …be ready always to give an answer [i.e. apologia, meaning to verbally defend with reason and argument] to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear…

Through careful study of the Holy Scriptures, someone called to be a teacher rightly divides truth from error, and can prove (not just claim) that any statement made about God’s Word is either right or wrong.

2 Timothy 2:15,

15.  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Here, rightly dividing means to cut/sharpen rightly or correctly, meaning one so equipped can, through the gifting given to them by God, use reason, intelligence, and apologetic argumentation, to slice away anything false.

Secondly, study here does not mean to sit down and research, read, and attempt to understand, as in “study”. It means to make haste, or be diligent, as in to be studious, making the verse (along with a better understanding of the other key words) mean: Hasten to present yourself as acceptable to God.

This example then, goes to show the difference. People who merely presume to “teach” don’t go the extra mile into God’s Word, they just quote and throw ideas out there, albeit accurate ones (hopefully!). They don’t tend to dig beneath the surface in order to draw out the true meaning (which is the meaning of exegete, by the way). But the function of a teacher (and so, the purpose) is to do just so. These are the people who study and learn the original Bible languages. They pay attention to grammar and syntax. God enables them to even translate His Word, if and when called upon (so long as they do so faithfully–which not all do).

So again, a teacher isn’t just your average “teacher’. Teachers, when it comes to the five-fold ministry, are you local Bible-men or women, i.e. those trusted saints who have a special understanding and insight into God’s Word that most others don’t have (because they don’t have the gifting to do so). It doesn’t make someone less of a saint if they aren’t a Bible-man or Bible-woman, it just means that such a person has what? You guessed it. A different function in the Body.

What else? Well, to help prove that being a teacher is a function, and not an office or position requiring a title, let’s read this statement from the Lord Jesus:

Matthew 23:8-10,

8. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
9. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10. Neither be ye called masters [i.e. teachers]: for one is your Master, even Christ.

Rabbi was and is a Jewish honorific used to address men counted as teachers within Judaism, and is equal to the modern term Reverend. Here Jesus doesn’t allow us to call one another rabbi/reverend/father/master/teacher, further proving that the five-fold ministry refers to functions, and not offices, or etc.

Now, for another little noteworthy nugget. In these verses, the word master/s is kathegetes. It’s a compound word, from kata, meaning down, under, or through and hegeomai, the root word of the verb exegeomai. From this we can construct this meaning: A “master”, in this case, Christ, is someone who has a thorough understanding of whatever subject at hand. Their knowledge and ability with the subject is so deep, it’s as if they themselves undergird the whole structure of the subject. And since exegeomai means to draw out or lead one to an understanding, we can understand that a Master is someone whose grasp of a subject is so complete, they, and only they, have the ability to cause another to understand and learn anything related to the subject—except of course, for another master (See why a Teacher isn’t simply a “teacher”?).

What am I getting at? Well, from the above meaning, it’s clear that the Lord is telling us He’s the only one who sufficiently understands the things of God, including God Himself and His Word, that no one else should be compared. This means, of course, that anyone called to teach, can only do so as they themselves are undergirded and receive exegetical knowledge of God and the Word from the Messiah Himself. Pretty deep, huh?

John 14:26,

26. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

1 John 2:20 and 27,

20. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.
27. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

It is possible, if one undertakes to faithfully sit at the Master’s feet and learn of Him (Luke 10:39 and Matthew 11:28-30) that they can, as the above verses indicate, be taught and know all things, as the Spirit anoints, even so much so, that no one else but Jesus Himself need be your teacher.

However, the truth is, not many people dare undertake such a level of commitment and spiritual sacrifice. But those called to teach, those who have a gift from above to theologically indoctrinate others and apologetically defend the Word, they dare, and so, they do.


It’s been a long lesson. Hopefully it was worth your time in reading. I believe it was worth my time in writing. I realize that some of what I’ve written may cut across the grain, or challenge the previously held assumptions regarding the five-fold ministry. While I’m not advocating a revolution here, I nonetheless believe that until we get an accurate understanding of these five gifts (e.g. how they function in the Church, what’s their purpose), we will continually suffer from confusion and disagreement, which only brings the Body down and keeps it from becoming the glorious church Christ intends to present to Himself at the end of the age (Ephesians 5:25-27).

While saints argue over and jockey for what amounts to little more than political office and position (with some even believing apostles and prophets no longer exist), because there isn’t a codified understanding of the topic at hand, the devil has free range to keep the division going. In other cases, because the words apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher are sorely misused or too casually tossed around with no clear meaning, no one really knows what aspect of the five gifts they themselves might fit into.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of this. Aren’t you? I so much want the five-fold ministry to be in full, constant operation in the Body. I want us to return to a true 1st century model. Our man-made, carnally derived churchianity has got to go. God is shaking us to make us get our hands off His gifts, of that I am sure. But in order for our flesh to let go and let God, we’ve got to come to a new, more accurate knowledge, and so, change the way we think (the very basis of repentance).

And that’s why this blog entry, more than anything, exists. I’m trying to help the Lord prepare His people for the End. We need restoration of things long since lost. The five-fold ministry is one such thing. Maybe you won’t agree with everything I’ve written. Maybe it’s going to take a while to digest and sort through. Maybe a lot of things.

But one thing I hope is definite. I hope you sincerely, earnestly pray that God, through His Spirit, regarding this topic, leads you to all truth, and that, with His leading, you come to find your own divinely confirmed place in the five-fold ministry.

Peace and God bless,



~ by votivesoul on 01/20/2013.

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Mark Showalter's Blog

Always seeking to know God more

Theo-sophical Ruminations

A collage of theological and philosophical musings

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