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 (Ancient Greek: ἀπόστολος apostolos), prophets (Ancient Greek: προφήτης prophētēs), evangelists (Ancient Greek: εὐαγγελιστής euaggelistēs), pastors (Ancient Greek: ποιμήν poimēn) and Teachers (Ancient Greek: διδάσκαλος didaskalos). 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.
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.
New Testament people
A number of people in the New Testament are said to hold one or more of these offices:
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, 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. 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. In the revised edition of their work, they have adjusted the acronym to APEST: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds and Teachers.
- "Three Over-looked Leadership Roles", Christianity Today, Spring 2008.
- Viola, Frank (2010-10-27), Rethinking the Five-Fold Ministry, Word press.
- Woodward, JR (October 2008), Re-sketching the Church (PDF) (booklet).