The Five-Fold Ministry: Introduction- Part 1

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Introduction Part 1


1 Corinthians 12:8-10 For to one is given the Spirit of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gift of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of Spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

Romans 12:6- Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on out ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Ephesians 4:11- And he gave some, apostles; and some prophets; and some, evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we 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.


There are:

  1. spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12),
  2. serving gifts (Romans 12),
  3. and ministry gifts (Ephesians 4:11).

Our focus in the following lessons will revolve around ministry gifts.

Whereas the spiritual gifts and serving gifts refer to a gift associated with an action, the ministry gifts are people.

The individuals given as gifts are:

  1. apostles,
  2. prophets,
  3. evangelists,
  4. pastors,
  5. and teachers.

This is what we know as the Five-fold ministry: five distinct, unique ministry offices that God gave as gifts to his church.


The hand is often used as an illustration of the five-fold ministry and id a very valuable illustration because there are many things that we can draw from it.

The thumb would be the apostle.

  • The thumb easily touches all of the fingers on the hand. Your other hands could do it but not nearly as easily or fluidly.
  • The apostle will be able to operate in all of the five offices and understands them equally well.
  • He serves as the oversight for the five-fold ministry offices and a deep understanding of them is critical.

The pointing finger is the Prophet. He points the way or gives guidance to the body of Christ.

The middle finger, the longest finger on the hand signifies the outreach or the evangelist.

The ring finger represents the pastor.

  • It is the hardest to move independently.
  • The pastor will stay close to the sheep and close to the body of Christ.
  • He is there to stay with them, feed them, and lead them.

Lastly, the pinky represents the teacher.

  • The pinky finger is the foundation finger. When the hand rests on a table or is writing, the weight of the hand rests on the pinky.
  • The teacher offers us the foundation of doctrine and of understanding upon which all the five-fold ministry offices will operate in.


The apostle governs

The prophet guides

The evangelist gathers

The pastor guards

The teacher grounds.

These are very important concepts in understanding the uniqueness and the difference of the five-fold ministry offices.


Another to look at the unique distinctions that we are covering is the operation of the hand.

While the hand is part of the body of Christ, the hand also ministers to the body.

  • You brush your hand with it.
  • You brush your teeth with it.
  • When a specific part of your body hurts, you immediately grab that part of your body with your hand.
  • It is the hand that dresses the body, grooms the body, and takes care of the body.
  • No other part of the body takes care of the body like the hands do.
  • The hands are uniquely designed by God to dress and take care of the needs of the body.
  • This is what the five-fold ministry does for the body of Christ.
  • The ministry is part of the body, but it is given to minister to the body.


If you look at the five-fold ministry in terms of church growth, and how the different offices would operate or work together or fulfill their unique role, it could be described in agricultural terms.

The apostle ploughs.

  • The apostle is the ox that ploughs the ground.
  • He ploughs and turns the soil over to make the ground ready.
  • He ploughs in hope for a future harvest
  • Behind the apostle comes the prophet.

The prophet plants.

  • The prophet plants with prophetic utterance of things to come and speaking the Word.
  • His word is like a seed, speaking of things to come, revealing glimpses of the future.
  • The evangelist comes behind the prophet.

The evangelist reaps and gathers.

  • God gives his blessings, souls are born, and the evangelist then reaps.
  • He reaps both wheat and tares and brings them into the barn.
  • This gives way to the pastor.

The pastor threshes.

  • He threshes with doctrine.
  • The Bible talks about the winds of doctrine that blows away the chaff.
  • The wheat is heavy and it falls to the ground.
  • The chaff is light and cannot stand doctrinal teaching, the discipleship of living for God, being fruitful with finances, tithes, and offering, and the Christian standards of living.
  • So the doctrine comes and begins to blow away the chaff that has no weight.
  • But the wheat, the wheat takes the weight of the Word of the Lord, gets heavy and falls to the ground and then into the hands of the teacher.

The teacher grinds.

  • The teacher grinds with fine-tuning, doctrine, and the particular understanding of the deeper principles of the Word of God.
  • He grinds the wheat in a mill and then it can be put in the oven to bake bread whose sweet aroma floats throughout the community.
  • And so, the five-fold ministry is grown from a barren field with nothing. The apostle ploughs, the prophet plants, the evangelist gathers, the pastor threshes, the teacher grinds, and then the bread is given to the community.


These are a quick overview of the five-fold ministry offices. This will give you something to think about as you look into the ministry and understand the ministry gifts that are given to the body of Christ.

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