A BOOK PUBLISHED IN 1992
HE GAVE GIFTS UNTO MEN
A Biblical Perspective of Apostles, Prophets, and Pastors
Kenneth E. Hagin
Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, is getting His Body ready for His soon return. That's why it is vital for those who are called to the ministry to function in their proper place in the Body of Christ.
Some controversy has arisen in our day about the roles of the apostle and prophet in the Body of Christ. Some believers purport that these offices do not even exist today. Others take a radical viewpoint concerning the authority these offices hold in the local church over the pastor and over believers in general.
This book is a scriptural look at the offices of the apostle, prophet, and pastor as they are to function in the Body of Christ today. These offices have never been taken out of the Body of Christ, but I believe God wants to bring biblical balance to this area of teaching.
Ranks or Classes of Apostles
. . . When he [Jesus] ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and GAVE GIFTS UNTO MEN....
And he [Jesus] GAVE some, APOSTLES; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.
— Ephesians 4:8,11
And God HATH SET SOME IN THE CHURCH, first APOSTLES, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
— 1 Corinthians 12:28
Ministry Gifts: A Divine Call
Five ministry gifts are mentioned in Ephesians 4:11. A ministry gift is resident within a person who is called by God to the full-time ministry to stand in one of these five ministry offices: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher.
[THERE MAYBE 4 ONLY NOT FIVE, AS PASTOR AND TEACHER COULD BE ONE - Keith Hunt]
Some people say that all the ministry gifts operate in the Church today except the offices of the apostle and the prophet. But where in Scripture does it say that God ever took those offices out of the Church or that the Church no longer needs these ministry gifts?
Paul wrote this epistle to the Ephesians many years after the Church had its beginnings. So if God had taken the offices of the apostle and prophet out of the Church, Paul would have said, "God gave evangelists and pastors and teachers to the Church." But he didn't say that. God gave all five ministry gifts to the Church, and they have never ceased functioning. They are all in operation even in our day.
The Bible tells us why and for how long the ministry gifts were given to the Church.
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect [spiritually mature] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
These verses tell us three reasons ministry gifts were given to the Church:
For the perfecting of the saints.
For the work of the ministry.
For the edifying of the Body of Christ.
Actually, the Greek indicates that the meaning is "perfecting of the saints so the saints can do the work of the ministry, resulting in the edification of the Body of Christ."
Another translation says that God gave the fivefold ministry gifts "in order to get His holy people ready to serve as workers" (The New Testament in the Language of Today, William F. Beck). The Godspeed translation says God gave ministry gifts to the Church so the saints can "reach mature manhood, and reach that measure of development found in Christ."
How long will ministry gifts be in the Church? Ephesians 4:13 says, "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect [spiritually mature] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
Don't let the words "perfecting" and "perfect" in verses 12 and 13 throw you. We will never be perfect or perfected in the flesh. As long as we are in these mortal bodies, we will not reach perfection in the sense that most people think of perfection. Actually, the word "perfect" here means mature or full manhood. The Bible is talking about spiritual maturity.
The Church will always need ministry gifts — those called to the offices of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher — because as a body of believers, we are always in the process of growing toward the full stature of Christ. Even when Jesus returns, there will be those in the Body of Christ who just got saved and are still spiritual babes. There is an anointing that goes with every one of these fivefold ministry offices. And as ministers of God stand in these different offices, the anointing of the Holy Spirit is distributed in different measures and works differently in each office. But all the ministry gifts are for the edifying or the spiritual building up of the Body of Christ.
There is an anointing upon each ministry gift — the full-time minister — that is not on the layman. No layman can take the place of these ministry gifts that God has set in the Church. Of course, laymen can witness for God and do much to further the growth of God's Kingdom. And in that general sense, everyone is in the ministry to serve as workers in the Body of Christ.
But the ministry gifts are those people called to the full-time ministry, who are anointed by God to help equip and mature the saints. Unless we have the manifestation and operation of these ministry gifts in the Church, the saints will not mature, nor be equipped as they should to do the work of the ministry.
Notice something else about the ministry gifts. In Ephesians 4:11, it says that Jesus gave these ministry gifts unto men. In First Corinthians 12:28, it says that God set the ministry gifts into the Church. God gave ministry gifts to man, and God set them in the Church — not man. There is a vast difference.
You do not enter any phase of the ministry just because you want to, because someone told you to, or because someone prophesied to you. No man calls you to the ministry; it is a divine call. God alone sets men and women into ministry gift offices.
Those whom God calls to the ministry, He equips for the ministry. God anoints those called to the ministry and gives them the spiritual ability to stand in whatever office He calls them to.
As important as education and ambition are to success, we need more than education or ambition if we are going to be successful in the ministry. We need a ministry equipped with supernatural gifts — supernatural equipment.
The ministry consists not in name, but in the power that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, bestows upon a person to stand in a ministry office. I get amused at folks who go around calling themselves by certain titles. Putting a label on something doesn't make it so. You can put a label on an empty can, but that doesn't put anything in the can!
The Bible says the Lord Jesus Christ Himself gave ministry gifts to the Body of Christ. Yet some people presumptuously go around laying hands on others, supposedly putting them into these different ministry offices. That's impossible! I call it laying empty hands on empty heads! And it causes a problem in the Body of Christ because it encourages people to intrude into ministry offices for which they have no anointing and to which they have not been called.
Friends, you can't intrude into a ministry office that you are not called to by God. It is dangerous to do so. It could cost you your life. I have seen ministers die young because they didn't do what God told them to do and tried to intrude into ministry offices to which they were not called.
No one can "put" anyone else in a ministry office. God alone sets people into these offices. Other people may recognize and acknowledge such a calling, but it is God who calls and sets these ministry gifts in the Church.
Sometimes you hear people say, "I want to work for God, but I don't know whether or not I'm called." If you don't know whether or not you are called to the ministry, you probably are not. You see, if you have the preach or teach in you, it's going to come out. You don't have to teach a rooster to crow; he just crows because it's in him! And if the preach or teach is in you, it's going to come out.
Some people say, "I didn't have any call to the ministry. I just saw a need, so I fulfilled that need." Well, that might be true, but that doesn't put a person into one of these ministry offices.
Actually, each of us should be able to minister to others. And there is a general sense, of course, in which every Christian is a preacher. Every layman ought to be a preacher because to preach means to proclaim or to tell the good news of the gospel.
But that still does not qualify a person to stand in one of these ministry offices. To enter a ministry office requires a divine call. God gives the divine call to the ministry; He bestows the spiritual equipment for the ministry; and He requires certain qualifications of those in the ministry.
The particular method by which God calls one to the ministry is unimportant. What is important is a person's obedience to the call of God.
Divinely Granted Appearance
…….In this book, I'm going to share with you some of the differences in Jesus' plan for the ministry under the New Covenant, especially regarding the offices of the apostle, prophet, and pastor.
Shortly after the 1987 …. it seemed that controversy arose in different parts of the Body of Christ, particularly concerning the offices of the apostle and the prophet. Of course, Jesus knew the doctrinal errors that were about to surface in the Church. I believe He addressed these issues in order to maintain balance and to help keep ministers from getting in a ditch doctrinally.
You see, there is an element of truth in all doctrinal error. Usually the error occurs when people push biblical truths to the extreme. Actually, there has to be an element of truth involved in these spiritual tangents or no one would believe them; the error would be too obvious.
I'm against the extreme on any issue. People can even be extreme regarding faith. That's why I encourage people not to get into the ditch — into extremes and excesses — in any area. Just stay right in the middle of the road. Many of these errors about the offices of the apostle and the prophet are due to lack of correct teaching in this area…….
I think we have all seen people in these various offices, ministering under varying degrees of anointing. Even in the pastoral office, some pastors carry a different type or measure of anointing than others. And we see evangelists, prophets, and teachers with different degrees of anointing upon them. The same thing is true in the apostolic office.
First Class of Apostle: Jesus Christ
Of course, Jesus stands at the Head of the list in each of the fivefold ministry gifts.
The Bible calls Jesus an apostle. The Greek word translated "apostle" also means a messenger, a sent one, or a commissioned one. Hebrews 3:1 says, ". . . consider the APOSTLE and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus."
Jesus certainly was commissioned, wasn't He? Jesus stands at the Head of the list of sent ones. He is called an Apostle because in His earthly ministry He was a Sent One, a Messenger, and a Commissioned One to bring the good news of salvation to the world.
Then Jesus called Himself a prophet (Matt. 13:57). He also stood in the evangelist's office because He proclaimed the good news of salvation (Luke 19:10). Jesus was a pastor; He called Himself the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-16). And He was a teacher; one of the main facets of Jesus' ministry was teaching people (Matt. 9:35).
Jesus is in a class by Himself in each ministry gift. No one else will ever stand in that highest class because Jesus had the Spirit without measure (John 3:34). No other person ever has, nor ever will be anointed without measure. Believers have the Spirit by measure (Rom. 12:3).
To say it another way, Jesus had a degree of anointing upon Him in His earthly ministry that no one else will ever have. Believers have a measure of that same anointing on them because they have the Holy Spirit. And it seems probable that the Body of Christ as a whole has the same measure of anointing Jesus had upon Him when He was upon the earth. But certainly no other individual has ever been or ever will be anointed to the same degree or in the same measure as Jesus was.
This is not to confuse the issue of Jesus' deity. As a Person Himself, Jesus was the eternal Son of God, the second member of the Trinity. He was God the Son, manifested in the flesh. But when He came to this earth, He emptied Himself of all divine privileges (Phil. 2:5-8) and ministered as a man.
[JESUS WAS THE SECOND MEMBER OF THE GODHEAD, NOT SOME “TRINITY” OF THREE SEPARATE INDIVIDUALS IN HEAVEN - Keith Hunt]
In taking upon Himself a human nature, Jesus chose to surrender the independent exercise of His divine powers. At no time did Jesus ever cease being Deity, but He functioned as man anointed by the Holy Spirit.
We can understand this further by realizing that Jesus, before His incarnation, existed co-equally and co-eternally with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He shared with them all the privileges of deity, such as omniscience (being all-knowing), omnipotence (being all-powerful), and omnipresence (being everywhere at once).
[NOT ONE VERSE IN THE BIBLE SAYS, “GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT” - IT JUST AIN’T THERE AS SOME THIRD INDIVIDUAL STANDING OR SITTING WITH THE FATHER AND JESUS - Keith Hunt]
When Jesus became the Babe of Bethlehem, He was Emmanuel, which means "God with us." He was God manifested in the flesh. He never ceased being God, nor did He lose His divinity, but He did lay aside certain privileges of deity and restricted Himself to certain human limitations.
Although Jesus was divine and sinless, He did not function as one who was omniscient. Rather, He grew in wisdom (Luke 2:52). He did not function as one who was omnipotent; He said He could of His own self do nothing (John 5:19, 30). He no longer functioned as one who was omnipresent, but was confined to a human body which later was nailed to the Cross and gloriously resurrected in the fulfilling of God's redemptive plan.
So Jesus never ceased being Deity, but He chose to come to the earth as a Man, and He ministered under the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit. But because He had the Spirit without measure (John 3:34), Jesus stands alone in a class by Himself in all five of the ministry gifts, including the office of the apostle……
Second Class of Apostles: Apostles of the Lamb
The twelve Apostles of the Lamb are in the second class of apostles. Jesus said to me, "The Apostles of the Lamb are in a class by themselves. No one else can ever be in that class because there are no more Apostles of the Lamb."
In the Book of Revelation, the Word of God talks about the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.
14 And the wall of the city had twelve FOUNDATIONS, and in them the names of the twelve APOSTLES OF THE LAMB.
There are only twelve Apostles of the Lamb. And no one except the twelve apostles who companied with Jesus will ever stand in that second class of apostle. No one else could stand in that second class because the Apostles of the Lamb were sent ones for a specific time and purpose.
For what purpose were those twelve apostles sent ones? Were they sent to govern churches? Emphatically, no! They were sent ones to be eyewitnesses of Jesus' life, earthly ministry, and resurrection. We see this in the Scriptures.
Qualifications of the Apostles of the Lamb
And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.N For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field was called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. Wherefore of these men [notice the qualifications] WHICH HAVE COMPANIED WITH US ALL THE TIME THAT THE LORD JESUS WENT IN AND OUT AMONG US, BEGINNING FROM THE BAPTISM OF JOHN, UNTO THAT SAME DAY THAT HE WAS TAKEN UP from us [Jesus' resurrection], must one be ORDAINED to be a WITNESS [or eyewitness] WITH US OF HIS RESURRECTION.
The first and most obvious characteristic of the Apostles of the Lamb is that they were ministers of the gospel. That means they were first and foremost preachers and teachers of the Word.
Second, we notice they were men who had ". .. companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us" (v. 21). They had to be eyewitnesses of Jesus' earthly ministry.
Third, the twelve Apostles of the Lamb had to be sent ones for the purpose of being eyewitnesses of Jesus' resurrection: “… ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection" (v. 22).
In other words, the Apostles of the Lamb had to be men who were with Jesus during His earthly ministry and had witnessed His resurrection. That is why the twelve Apostles of the Lamb are in a class by themselves.
….. Jesus called this second class of apostle — the Apostles of the Lamb — foundational apostles because God used them to help lay down New Testament doctrine (Eph. 2:20). And some of them wrote various Books of the Bible.
You remember that when Judas betrayed Jesus, the apostles had to select another man to take his place. This man had to be someone who had been among them and had also been an eyewitness of Jesus' ministry and resurrection. Matthias was chosen to take Judas' place.
Some people say that when the apostles chose Matthias to take Judas' place, they missed God because Paul should have been chosen and included as an Apostle of the Lamb.
But Paul couldn't qualify as an Apostle of the Lamb because he was not an eyewitness of Jesus' ministry; Paul wasn't even born again when Jesus walked upon the earth. Paul didn't go in and out and company with Jesus and His disciples during the three years of Jesus' earthly ministry. And Paul was not an eyewitness of Jesus' resurrection.
There are also those who say that there were only twelve apostles and that the apostolic office ceased with those twelve apostles. In other words, they say that the Apostles of the Lamb are all the apostles there ever will be in the Body of Christ.
But go back and read the New Testament again, and you'll find that there were approximately twenty people called apostles or "sent ones." (For further study on this subject, see Kenneth E. Hagin's book, The Ministry Gifts.) Therefore, the office of the apostle did not cease with the Apostles of the Lamb.
Third Class of Apostle: Other Foundational Apostles
The third class of apostle is the rank or class of apostle that Paul was in. A characteristic of apostles in this class is that they also helped lay the doctrinal foundation of the New Testament.
…. Apostles and prophets of that rank or level were anointed to lay down the doctrine of the New Testament."
Apostles and prophets of the second and third class are to be considered foundational apostles and prophets because the gospel of the New Testament was revealed to them.
Paul was in that third class of foundational New Testament apostles and prophets. He wrote a large portion of the New Testament, and he wasn't taught the revelation of the mystery of Christ by man; he received it from the Holy Spirit.
Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand MY KNOWLEDGE IN THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST, Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now REVEALED unto his holy APOSTLES and PROPHETS by the Spirit.
Paul preached the revelation of the gospel to the early New Testament saints, so we don't need to lay any other foundation. We only need to build upon the foundation which has already been laid for us in the New Testament.
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are BUILT UPON THE FOUNDATION OF THE APOSTLES AND PROPHETS, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.
The Church — the Body of Christ — is built on the foundation that the apostles and prophets already laid down for us in the New Testament. Now we are to build on that foundation.
1 CORINTHIANS 3:10
10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I HAVE LAID THE FOUNDATION, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
No one is receiving additional revelation to add anything to the foundation of the gospel today, because we already have the revelation of the New Testament.
Paul said, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8). Paul warned that we are to take heed how we build upon, the foundation that has already been laid (1 Cor. 3:10). We can't add to it or take away from it.
No Foundational Apostles Today
….. Jesus said something very interesting to me. He said, "There are no foundational apostles and no foundational prophets today. There are no apostles or prophets today on the same level or authority or in the same rank or with the same degree of anointing as the apostles and prophets of the Early Church. No one in the Church today is in the second or third class."
…. I have become aware of errors surfacing in the Body of Christ, particularly on the issue of apostles and prophets. Then I could readily understand why Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, discussed these major doctrinal issues at such length.
We will look at some of these modern-day errors in the light of the Scriptures.
First, some people today claim that in order to have proper New Testament church government, the fivefold ministry must operate in every local church and make up the government of each local church. (We'll discuss this error later in this book.)
Second, this erroneous teaching says that since apostles are listed first in the list of ministry gifts in Ephesians 4:11, that means they are preeminent over all the other ministry gifts. Supposing apostles are preeminent, some people assume that apostles should govern all the other ministry gifts in the local body, including the pastor.
Third, they teach that modern-day apostles and prophets are still supposed to be laying down New Testament doctrine and foundation. And they claim if you don't have an apostle governing your church and a prophet guiding your church, you don't have a correct New Testament foundation.
I believe this is why Jesus said so emphatically to me …. “There are no foundational apostles and prophets today.” Jesus knew this error would be surfacing in the Body of Christ.
Jesus went on to explain that if there were apostles and prophets in our day who were on the same rank or level as Paul, for example, they could add to the doctrine of the New Testament.
You see, some folks today have gone to the extreme in what they teach about the apostolic office and have gotten off into error. In the first place, it is not scriptural that additional foundation has to be laid in the Church today.
Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone. If we need apostles today to lay another foundation, then we need another cornerstone because the cornerstone is part of the foundation! You can see how absurd that is.
No, we have the same gospel, the same Christ, and the same foundation that was laid for us by the foundational apostles and prophets, and we are just building upon that sure foundation.
Think about it. You would never get a house built if you had to continually lay the foundation again and again. If you put the foundation in one week and took it out the next week to lay a new foundation, you'd never get the house built.
No, you've got to leave the foundation in place and keep building upon it. That's the reason Jesus told me there are no foundational apostles or prophets today; the foundation has been laid, and it is a sure foundation — one that the Church today can securely build upon.
Besides, no one in the Church today is even in the third class of apostle. If they were, they could add to the New Testament. But no one can because people today do not have the degree of anointing to stand in that office and to add additional doctrine to the Church.
Second, this doctrine is in error because it is erroneous to assume that apostles are listed first in Ephesians 4:11 and First Corinthians 12:28 because they are the most important ministry gift. They are not listed first to indicate that they are to rule over all the other ministry gifts. We need to understand how ministry gifts evolved in the Early Church to help us understand why Paul probably listed them in that order.
The Church in Infancy And the Evolution of Ministry
By not rightly dividing the Word of God, some people have misrepresented the office of the apostle and taken it to the extreme. Anything taken to extreme is in error.
People need to interpret Scripture in the light of other Scripture on the same subject. Therefore, in order to rightly divide the Word of truth on any subject, people need to take all the scriptures on a given subject and study them in the light of all the Bible has to say on that subject.
By assuming the apostle is listed first because it is preeminent over all the other ministry gifts, some people are going from church to church in a dictatorial attitude declaring that they are apostles and demanding that people and churches submit to them.
Obviously, in the establishing of the universal Church following the resurrection of Jesus, the apostles and prophets were of primary importance because they brought forth the revelation of the New Testament that is the foundation upon which the Church in all generations is to be established.
However, in terms of the operation of the local church today, First Corinthians 12:28 could not be referring to the offices of apostles and prophets as the most important offices or the governing offices with the local church, because Paul listed governments as an entirely separate category.
Therefore, Paul couldn't be listing ministry gifts in their order of importance within the local church, because in the passage in First Corinthians 12:28, Paul lists teachers third. However, in Ephesians 4:11 he lists the office of the teacher last. That's not consistent.
Also, assuming that "governments" is the pastoral office, in First Corinthians 12:28 Paul lists the ministry of helps before the pastoral office. If he were listing them by their importance in the local church today, then the teacher and the helps ministry would have authority over the pastor in the local assembly!
That's not scriptural. And according to the list in Ephesians 4:11, that means the evangelist would be in authority over the pastor in the local body! That isn't biblical, particularly because the evangelist's ministry is usually not a stationary ministry in the local church; it is usually more of a roving ministry to the unsaved outside of the church.
So we can readily see that Paul does not list the ministry gifts in their order of importance in the local church today. Neither was he establishing the hierarchy for local church government by the order in which the ministry gifts were listed.
No, the office of the apostle was not listed first because it is the most important office in the local body and is supposed to rule over all the other ministry gifts. Actually, in Ephesians 4:11 and First Corinthians 12:28, it would seem logical that Paul listed these offices in that order by the way God "set" or developed the ministry gifts in the Early Church.
The Early Church didn't have the fivefold ministry to begin with because it takes time for God to develop ministries and ministers. And God doesn't put novices in positions of authority or in ministry offices because He won't violate His own Word (1 Tim. 3:6). So for a time, the apostolic ministry was the only ministry in operation in the Early Church.
Therefore, the apostolic office was the first ministry gift that was initially evident in the Early Church. The twelve Apostles of the Lamb were the only ministers in the beginning days of the Early Church. These men had companied with Jesus in His earthly ministry (Acts 1:21). They were chosen by God, and the Holy Spirit had equipped and qualified them as ministers of the gospel.
The apostles seemed to have the ability to operate in all the ministry gifts to some degree. And, really, they needed that ability because the Church was in its infancy stages and no other ministry gift had developed in the Church yet. It would also be safe to say that they ministered prophetically to some degree, and they did minister evangelistically as well. There was also an element of pastoral oversight, and we know for certain that they taught the Word.
Apostles, however, did not remain as the only ministry gift in the Church. As time progressed, those who ministered as prophets also began to appear. The prophets spoke by inspired utterance. The scriptures don't give us much detail on this subject, but we do know that the ministry of the prophet was well established by the time the account in Acts 13:1 occurred: "Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain PROPHETS...."
Similarly, the Scriptures don't give us the exact beginning of the evangelist's ministry. However, we see the office of the evangelist first mentioned in Acts 8 in Philip's ministry. By then the Church had already been in existence for many years, and there had been time for the Holy Spirit to develop the ministry of the evangelist in the Church.
Pastors or shepherds were raised up as the Church grew and believers matured spiritually (Acts 14:23; 15:2; 20:28). And the ministry of the teacher was developed in the Early Church as believers were trained and instructed in doctrine (Acts 2:42; 13:1).
Another reason it is erroneous to exalt the apostle's office above all others is that even in the Early Church, the apostles didn't govern all the churches — even churches they had helped to establish.
Paul only had spiritual oversight of churches while he was establishing them. But he had no oversight in the church at Jerusalem or any other church whatsoever. Once he left a church he had established, he delegated oversight to others (Acts 20:28).
After leaving, Paul did respond to questions the Church asked, and he offered godly input to them. But he did not control or govern them.
I don't really like to use the words "spiritual authority," in reference to the apostolic office because that gives the idea that apostles rule and govern people and churches, and they don't.
But the point is that in First Corinthians 12:28 when Paul said, ". . . God hath SET some in the church . . . ," he was probably referring to the order in which God "set" or developed ministry gifts in the Early Church.
Another error in this doctrine is a teaching which says that all the ministry gifts make up the "government" of the local church, and each church, regardless of its size, is to be ruled by the fivefold ministry.
Again, people haven't rightly divided the Word. They haven't distinguished between the Church as a whole — the universal Body of Christ — and the local church. In the Church as a whole, we will find all five ministry gifts in operation. But every local church will not have all five ministry gifts operating in its assembly.
These misconceptions really put the Body of Christ into bondage instead of liberating believers. The Bible says that the Word of God will set us free (John 8:32), not bring us into bondage.
You see, if we aren't careful, we can have misconceptions on both sides of this issue. We can get in the ditch on one side and deny the true office and function of the apostle. Or we can get in a ditch on the other side and give the apostolic office unlimited preeminence and authority.
Those who give the apostolic office too much preeminence and claim to stand in that office, seem to take the attitude, "I'm an apostle! You've got to do what I say because in order to have correct New Testament government, the local church has to be governed by apostles.''
Actually, I can't find anywhere in the New Testament that there is any higher office in the local church than the pastoral office. I don't see anywhere in the New Testament where apostles ruled over pastors and other ministry gifts.
These unscriptural teachings that apostles and prophets are to rule and govern people and churches are not new. I've been in the ministry more than fifty-seven years, and I've seen these same unscriptural teachings in the Body of Christ before. These errors run in cycles. They crop up in every generation in the Church and have to be dealt with.
You see, another generation will come up that hasn't been taught the truth of God's Word on a particular subject, and they'll get off in a ditch in an area and get off-balance scripturally.
In every generation God has to raise up someone in church leadership to deal with these issues. God raised up Donald Gee in the 1930s to deal with this same extreme teaching on apostles in his book, The Ministry-Gifts of Christ, which is now out of print…..
Then we had the same problem surface again in the Body of Christ in the 1950s. Gordon Lindsay addressed it again in his book, Apostles, Prophets and Governments, and the problem died down. Lindsay was the founder of the Bible school, Christ For The Nations, and he published the magazine, The Voice of Healing. Almost all the leading healing evangelists of the day published their articles in this magazine.
Because Donald Gee and Gordon Lindsay were respected leaders in the Church, and their books were scripturally balanced, they stopped much of the wrong doctrine that had surfaced back then.
There was a real revival in those days, and that's usually when the devil starts all of these spiritual tangents to try to stop the move of God. He diverts believers by getting them off in spiritual error, trying to abort the real move of God's Spirit.
In our day, a new generation has grown up in the Church. And this same controversy has resurfaced in the Body of Christ, so it has to be addressed again. I tried to get God to have someone else do it, but He said, "No, you do it." That's the reason for this book.
I will quote from Gordon Lindsay's book, Apostles, Prophets and Governments from time to time in this book, because it amplifies what I believe and his insights help explain some of the things the Lord said to me …..
But one reason these errors have occurred again in our day is that people try to give the apostolic office of today the same status as the second or third class of apostle in the days of the Early Church. But it simply does not have the same status.
Now there is no doubt at all that some folks in our day could rightly be called apostles in the fourth class. (We will discuss the fourth class of apostle in the next chapter.) But a fellow who goes around broadcasting to everyone that he is an apostle, probably isn't one.
If you are a minister, I would encourage you to let others call you what they will based on the spiritual endowments or equipment and fruit they see manifested in your life and ministry. Let's just rejoice to see the ministry gifts in manifestation and glory in the work the Lord is doing in the Body of Christ without being concerned about titles.
YES THE BASICS OF “APOSTLE” IN THE NEW TESTAMENT AND THE CHURCH OF GOD, IS VERY CORRECT AS PRESENTED IN THIS CHAPTER - Keith Hunt