Organic Functions of the “Five Fold Ministry”
7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (KJV)
The listing of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in the above verse is used to justify a paid ministry office that is in the Protestant hierarchical institutional church business. We are taught to respect the dignity of the “office” when viewing men or women in those office.
The concept of an office is not New Testament, but Old Testament. We have a mention in the Gospel of Luke of this office in the Greek.
“And it came to pass, that while he [Zacharias, father of John the Baptist] executed the priest’s office …” (Luke 1:8 KJV)
The word for office here in Greek is “hierateuo” which means to “be a priest” with the Greek root “hieros” which means “sacred” and is also in the word “hierarchy”. In this context is the hierarchical word used for office, and no other in the New Testament.
When Paul speaks of “office” about himself and the ministry, he uses completely different Greek words. To the Romans he said:
“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:” (Rom 11:13 KJV)
The Greek word used here is doesn’t mean office at all. It is “diakonia,” from which we get our word, “deacon” and it means servant. So Paul is not magnifying his “office,” but his “service” as an apostle.
In his epistle to Timothy he makes this use of he word, “office:”
“This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. (1 Tim 3:1 KJV)
In this verse there is no word translated as “office”, only “bishop.” The Greek word for bishop is “episkope,” from which we get Episcopal. It means “one who inspects, especially for relief.” An overseer, then, is one who is looking to help. “Especially for relief” implies a temporary function, not a permanent office. In time of need. There is no office, only a temporary function. So one who desires to oversee to help desires a good work. All who helped Hurricane Katrina victims functioned as episkope.
This idea of function is really the thought behind “office.” Consider what Paul said to the Romans in his introduction to motivational gifts used in the body of Christ:
“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:” (Rom 12:4 KJV)
The Greek word used here is, “praxis,” which means, “practical function” and has the added implication of “performed habitually”. In terms of gifts and talents that we are born with, we will use those gifts habitually since it is a part of our personal natures. But it does not mean a paid office.
So why is the word office used at all? Because the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church continued into the Protestant Reformation. To reform does not mean to change, but to modify. The system has remained intact since Constantine infused the Early Church with hierarchical structure. Consequently the Bible Translators used that hierarchical mindset in their choice of English words. Not only King James but almost all English translations.
This temporary nature of function is further illustrated with the rest of the Ephesians passage.
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
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: (KJV)
Verse 12 and 13 state the reasons for these people being used by the Lord. Lets unpack these verses to fully understand their significance.
12a “For the perfecting of the saints”
The word translated as “perfecting” in the Greek is “katartismos,” and has the meaning of “completely repairing.” In other words, to help restore those who are not living in the fullness of Christ’s relationship with them. We all have the fullness of Christ’s relationship as our salvation, but we can fall away from that through the cares, worries and blows of life. The word “saints” has another significant implication in the Greek. That word is, “hagios” and carries the sense of “moral purity.” It is not just a positional relationship with Christ wherein we are sanctified, but implies a relational effort of purity for the love of Christ. In other words, God will send people to you to help you if you are trying to press in to Him. Our context of “katartismos” to repair that purity.
12b “for the work of the ministry”
People who press into Christ understand that His heart is laborers to work in His fields. The word translated from Greek into English as “ministry,” once again is, “diakonia,” which means “service,” just as Paul had an Apostolic service. It does not mean professional ministry, but humble service to the body and the lost. God wants all his people serving one another.
12c “for the edifying of the body of Christ”
To edify means to build up. An edifice is a building. The Greek word has a more intimate connotation. The word used is, “oikodome,” which is a compound word of “oikos,” which means “house” or “home” and ” “doma,” which means “to parcel out as to grazing livestock”. In other words, to edify here means, “to build up home life by caring for people.” Knowing that there was no institutional church that first 300 years of the Early Church, going house to house to build up families is a natural sense. The word in Greek for “body” is “soma,” which has the notable Greek root work “sozo,” which is also translated as, “salvation,” and “to heal.” Once again we have the temporary sense of restoration in the family life.
13a “Till we all come in the unity of the faith”
These function of these laborers is not only individual, but corporate. “Unity of faith” means as a people not as individuals. Of course the work is individual done for the corporate whole. The one note worthy Greek word is “pistis,” translated as “faith,” which means “fully convinced.” That does not mean a doctrine, although doctrines have their place. The context is in knowing Jesus.
13b “and of the knowledge of the Son of God”
This “knowledge” in Greek is “epignosis,” which means, “to become fully acquainted with” the Son of God. Unity of faith is in the knowledge of Christ’s character and person based upon our personal relationship being biblically and spiritually correct.
13c “unto a perfect man,”
Perfect here, in Greek is “teleios,” which means “a completed goal.” Although the work is finished in us, it is our responsibility to walk it out (Philip. 2:12).
13d “unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”
The word “stature” in Greek is “helikia,” which means “maturity” and implies “being a peer” with Christ. That is, being a genuine friend of His. The “fullness” of Christ means more than full. The Greek word used is, “pleroma,” which is seen in our word plethora. It means “overflowing.”
And that is the point of usability for Christ. When we overflow with Jesus. Ministry to others begins when you overflow with the Lord. It is not something that is done by effort. It happens organically as you spill Christ onto others.
The Organic Office
What function you may have in being used by the Lord to help others begins with your God given talents and gifts at birth. Your natural dispositions will. be used by the Lord where you best can be used. Without going into detail regarding the Motivational Gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8, it is worth noting a few things about how they are listed.
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;
7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; (KJV)
The words “whether” and “or” are the same Greek word, “eite,” which means “if also.” Even though one may have the natural giftings listed above, the “if also” means that they are used when needed, not all the time. That is, when God leads you into a circumstance where your overflow of Jesus as expressed through your gifts are needed.
The other two phrases “wait on” and “on” are also the same Greek word, “en,” which means being stationary in a state of rest. In other words, you don’t try to make ministry happen, you abide in Christ in a state of rest, being alert for the divine appointments He brings you.
Organically functioning in the body of Christ is a Spirit led activity that naturally flows from your fullness in Christ. The problem is that too many are empty in their conscience lives of Christ since they separate God from their daily lives. If Christ is a part of your daily living, then you will overflow in many ways.
The Body Ministers to the Body
The maturity that Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:14 and 15:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (Eph 4:14-15 KJV)
is not accomplished by paid professionals in an office, but by the various members of the body as stated in verse 16.
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (KJV)
Metaphorically Paul is speaking of people that you know and gather around.
“And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Matt 19:29 KJV)
Early in my walk with the Lord I came to realize the significance of this passage, for it is the same as Ephesians 4:16. Looking back over the 23 years of having participated in institutional church businesses, ministry that I received rarely came from professional clergy. It came from members of the body. When I needed comforting, the Lord sent someone to comfort me. When I needed correcting, the Lord had a godly man speak into my life. Occasionally the Lord used people who were also in professional ministry to speak into my life. But they did so, not because they were professionals, but because they had become my friends.
We are all called to function in “offices” temporarily as the need arises. But these “offices” function organically, and naturally in loving and respectful relationships. And they happen because the “minister” is already overflowing with Christ.