The Five Fold Ministry? A Question of Ephesians 4.11-14

I was asked by someone this week about how I understand the “Five Fold Ministry” of Ephesians 4.11-14. Below is my response which does not include any explanation of what each of the points might look like in any given context (perhaps another post another time):

Ephesians 4.11-14

I do believe these should all be active (though I include others beyond these “five” which I regard as given somewhat ad hoc to simply make the case Paul was making to one congregation at one time). However, I do not believe every individual congregation must have each of the “five”, but may in fact enjoy the benefits of multiples of any individual of the “five” as well as have regional persons fulfilling any given function of the “five”.

Further, my reading of Paul in his letter to the Ephesians is that it may actually be four fold: Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor-Teacher (based on the Greek grammar that seems to indicate the final in this list is intended together rather than separate).

I don’t see Paul saying these “five” (or “four”) are all that is needed or given (which would need to include administrators, bishops, deacons, elders, workers of mercy, etc., drawing upon the manner other ways Paul speaks of the Spirit evidencing Lordship in and through the community). The Five Fold idea is widely believed among many within Pentecostal circles globally (even when there are differences of opinion about what these entail). I think Paul was simply pointing to the need to all contribute to the maturation of each other toward being made like Christ Jesus (even if some necessarily fulfill specific functions to equip others).

Whatever gifts we have are given to us by the Lord who is making all things subject to the Father by making us (in the power of the Spirit) to be in Christ Jesus as all in all.

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