Fivefold ministry

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

Non-charismatic Christians may also consider these roles, and others, active and valid, but the term "fivefold ministry" is particularly associated with Pentecostal beliefs. Adherents of this ecclesiology may also affirm the continuation of the charismatic gifts in the modern church, or may hold to the concept of a "Latter Rain" outpouring of Holy Spirit gifts, while opponents commonly hold to cessationist beliefs.

Five offices in the New Testament

Ephesians 4:11 refers to five offices in the church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Other passages also refer to these things as spiritual gifts. Romans 12:4-8, for example, includes teaching and prophesying as spiritual gifts, and 1 Corinthians 12 lists apostles, prophets and teachers in the context of spiritual gifts. 1 Corinthians 14 provides instructions on the proper use of prophecy in church meetings.

However, there is an objection to this use of Ephesians. 4:11 in that this passage talks about a one-time event in the past (“and he gave”), when Christ ascended into heaven (Ephesians 4:8–10) and then at Pentecost poured out initial giftings on the church, giving the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers (or pastors and teachers). Whether or not Christ would later give more people for each of these offices cannot be decided from this verse alone but must be decided based on other New Testament teachings on the nature of these offices and whether they were expected to continue. While there were other prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers established by Christ throughout all of the early churches, there was only one more apostle given after this initial time (Paul, “last of all,” in unusual circumstances on the Damascus Road).[1]


Paul refers to the "signs" of an apostle in 2 Corinthians 12:11-12, and notes that he performed these "with signs and wonders and mighty works" (NIV). Some argue that in 1 Corinthians 9:1, Paul suggests that having seen Jesus is a qualification of being an apostle while opponents to this belief argue that he is merely defending his authority to make the statements from the previous chapter regarding sin and grace. Paul also notes in 1 Corinthians 9:2 that the Corinthians are the "seal" of his apostleship.

The qualifications of overseers are listed in 1 Timothy 3:2-7 and Titus 1:6-9. These are mainly moral, with the additional qualification of being "able to teach".

New Testament people

A number of people in the New Testament are said to hold one or more of these offices:

Apostles: The Twelve (Luke 6:13-16), Matthias (Acts 1:24-26), Paul (Galatians 1:1), Barnabas (Acts 14:14), Andronicus and Junia (Romans 16:7)

Prophets: The company from Jerusalem (Acts 11:27-28), Agabus (Acts 21:10-11), Judas and Silas (Acts 15:32) and the daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9)

Teachers: Apollos (Acts 18:25), Paul (2Timothy 1:11)

Evangelists: Philip (Acts 21:9)

In addition to this, Acts 13:1-3 lists some "prophets and teachers" in Antioch: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen and Saul (who later became Paul).


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 is commonly 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 fivefold 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]

See also


  1. Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004).
  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.

External links

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