January 2023 | The True Vine and The Soon Coming King



Dr. John K. Mathew

Before discussing about the fivefold ministry, it is proper to consider what is ministry? Ministry in the Christian community is a participation in the ministry of Christ. It is the ministry of the Father through the Son by the Spirit. All believers are called to witness to the gospel, visit the sick, serve the needy, and assist in the building up of the community. Yet there are persons with in the ministry of the baptized who are called of God and set apart by the whole church for the specific task of an ordained minister. According to Dr. Thomson K Mathew, in essence, ministry is being a coworker with God, carrying out His purposes in the world. The ultimate purpose of ministry is, therefore, to produce people who minister.

Among the Biblical terms pointing to church leadership, the term pastor is probably the richest theologically and encompasses all the other functions and expectations of ministry in the Scriptures. It is an image used often in the Bible to describe the Lord. Jesus used it several times to describe His own ministry. In the words of Bruce Shelley “The pastor in ministry, then, is a member of the body of Christ who is called by God and the church and is set apart by ordination to preach, administer the Gospel ordinances, and guide the Christian community in obedience to the revealed will of God”. But this is not the only office assigned to the church. In Ephesians 4:12 Paul specifically talks about the fivefold ministry in the church it needs. It was he who gave some to be apostles some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers”. The first gift of ministry, logically and chronologically, is apostles. Apostle has the primary meaning of a fully prepared and authorized messenger sent forth as an ambassador. The gift that is usually assigned a place second only to that of the apostle is that of the prophet. It is an extra ordinary ministry of special inspiration of discernment of the meaning of events already revealed on in some cases yet to be revealed. Thomas Oden suggests that, “the Spirit’s special prophetic leading did not cease with Amos, Jesus, the daughters of Philip”.

We are well advised not to separate too sharply the work of pastor and evangelist, a designative given to Philip, one of the seven, and to Timothy, who as a pastor was at the same time exhorted to continue, the work of evangelist. Teaching ministry is of utmost importance to feed the flock spiritually. The Christian community is a teaching community. All there different gifts are given to the church, to prepare God’ people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.

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