HE GAVE GIFTS UNTO MEN
by Kenneth E. Hagin
The Office of the Prophet Contrasted in Old and New Testaments
. . . When he [Jesus] ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men....
And he gave some, APOSTLES; and some, PROPHETS; and some, EVANGELISTS; and some, PASTORS and TEACHERS.
— Ephesians 4:8,11
……Therefore, God's plan for the Church — the Body of Christ — under the New Covenant is different in several respects from those living under the Old Covenant.
For example, His plan for the Church in ministry is different under the New Covenant than it was under the Old Covenant. God deals with the Church — the Body of Christ — differently in ministry than He did with the Israelites who were not born again [BEGOTTEN AGAIN - Keith Hunt]
The Prophet Under the Old Covenant
In this chapter, I will share with you what Jesus said to me about the differences between the office of the prophet under the Old Covenant and under the New Covenant……
In reading the Scriptures, very often it says that God anointed or empowered someone with the Spirit, and it was just to do a particular job for Him. For example, when God wanted Gideon to save Israel from the hand of the Midianites, He anointed Gideon just to do that (see Judges chapter 6).
But Gideon didn't have the Holy Spirit dwelling in him to lead him, so he could only follow God in the natural realm. That's why he wasn't sure whether it was God or not who was dealing with him. He put out a fleece before God to make sure it was really God leading him (Judges 6:36-40). God wasn't in Gideon's spirit because Gideon wasn't born again, so God had to lead him through the flesh in the natural realm……..
[THE SPIRIT OF GOD WAS LEADING SOME, BUT WAS NOT “WITHIN” THEM AS LIKE IT IS TODAY UNDER THE NEW COVENANT, AS IT WAS FROM PENTECOST ON IN ACTS 2 - Keith Hunt]
Jesus said to me, “Under the Old Covenant, the prophet gave guidance to the people because they didn't have the Holy Ghost for themselves. So the people had to go to the prophet to inquire what Thus saith the Lord.”
The Prophet Under the New Covenant
"But under the New Covenant," Jesus continued, “I didn't put the prophet in that office to lead or guide believers. Every believer has the Holy Spirit in him to lead and guide him; each believer can hear from God for himself. Therefore, under the New Covenant, it is unscriptural to seek guidance through a prophet."
Jesus said, "Sometimes in His own divine sovereignty, God may speak a word to a person through a prophet to confirm something a believer already has in his own spirit. But the prophet is not to lead or guide people through that office; normally every believer will be led by the Holy Spirit through his own spirit. Sons of God can expect to be led by the Spirit of God [Rom. 8:14]. Therefore, the number one way the Holy Spirit leads all Christians, including prophets, is by the inward witness. Secondly, the Holy Spirit leads believers by the still, small voice. And, thirdly, believers are led by the authoritative Voice of the Holy Ghost in their own spirit. Then, fourthly," Jesus said, "very rarely, but once in a while as He wills, the Holy Spirit may occasionally lead people by a vision or a revelation. Of course, that happens more frequently to those who are called to the office of the prophet."
You see, under the New Covenant, we have a better covenant based upon better promises (Heb. 8:6), and we don't need to seek direction for our lives from anyone but God. Jesus is our High Priest. The Book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus entered in once and for all with His blood to obtain an eternal redemption for us (Heb. 9:12). And because believers are born again, they can be led by the Holy Spirit in their own spirit (Rom. 8:14).
Jesus also explained that under the New Covenant, all believers are made kings and priests unto God (1 Peter 2:9; Rev. 5:9,10). In other words, all believers have access to God for themselves; they don't have to go through a priest or a sacrificial system to get to God. They don't have to go through an intermediary of any kind — even a person who stands in a ministry office — in order to get to God or to receive His counsel and guidance.
Of course, the pastor has the oversight of the flock (Acts 20:28). But believers don't have to go through their pastor to get their prayers answered or to be able to communicate with God. The pastor is just a spiritual overseer to help believers in the local body, and he is anointed by the Holy Ghost to stand in that office. But believers don't have to inquire of God through Him.
Jesus said, "Of course, there is a similarity in the ministries of the Old and New Testament prophets. For example, one characteristic of the prophet under the Old Covenant is that they were called seers because they would see into the realm of the spirit and see and know things supernaturally. That is also true of prophets under the New Covenant; they see and know things supernaturally. The revelation gifts such as the word of knowledge or the word of wisdom often operate with the gift of discerning of spirits."
The gift of the word of knowledge is a supernatural revelation by the Spirit of God concerning certain facts in the mind of God — facts about people, places, or things in the past or present.
The word of wisdom is supernatural revelation into events that will occur in the future, or about the plans and purposes of God. The discerning of spirits enables prophets to see and hear in the realm of the spirit.
Schools of Prophets
….. Jesus also told me another major difference between the prophet under the Old Covenant and under the New Covenant.
Jesus explained, "Under the Old Testament, since the prophets were the only ministers the people had, it was scriptural to have schools where they could be trained. But under the New Covenant," Jesus explained, "My plan for the New Testament Church in ministry is different than it was under the Old Covenant. That's why I set the fivefold ministry in the Church. You see, all the ministries need the same basic training."
Jesus said, "One reason it is unscriptural under the New Testament to have schools of prophets is that it leaves the impression that prophets are the only ministry gift there is under the New Covenant, or the most important one, and they aren't. Under the New Testament, it is scriptural to have schools for ministers because all the ministry gifts need the same basic training. The prophet doesn't need different basic training from the other ministry gifts. Then once ministry gifts receive the same fundamental training, let Me separate each of them unto the ministry I have called them to" (see Acts 13:2).
Jesus continued, "There are some things the prophet needs to be taught, just as there are some things the apostle, evangelist, pastor, and teacher need to be taught. But, basically, the same principles, training, and qualifications that apply to the prophet, apply to all the ministry gifts. It is ministerial training.”…….
What happens so many times is that people try to carry over Old Testament practices into the New Testament, when we are under a different covenant altogether. We are under a better covenant established on better promises (Heb. 8:6).
Ranks or Classes of Prophets
…. Jesus explained about the different levels, ranks, or classes in each of the ministry gifts. And He explained this to me from the Scriptures.
Jesus said there are different ranks or classes in the prophetic office, just as there are in all the ministry gifts. There were foundational prophets, such as Paul, who established New Testament doctrine. We don't have prophets today in that rank or class.
Many think that the office of prophet passed away with the prophets of the Early Church. They don't realize that that office is still in operation. However, prophets of our day are in a different rank or class than prophets of the Old Testament or the foundational prophets of the Early Church.
The prophet in the rank or class in the Church today does not add foundational doctrine to the Scriptures. As a ministry gift, he is to edify and build up the Body of Christ, of course. A prophet can illuminate the Word to the Body of Christ, sharing insights which make it relevant for today. But he's not to add new doctrine to the foundation of the New Testament.
Foundational prophets in the Early Church brought forth the revelation of the mystery of Christ — the gospel. Paul is an example of such a prophet. Then in the Early Church there were also prophets of a lesser rank or class, such as Agabus, who did not lay doctrinal foundation.
For example, Agabus brought forth revelation of a drought that was coming (Acts 11:28). The Holy Spirit warned the Church of things to come through Agabus, but that wasn't a revelation of doctrine adding to the foundation of the gospel.
Measures of Anointing
Jesus also told me … there are different degrees or levels of anointing to those standing in the fivefold ministry offices. The anointing upon a person for ministry refers to the empowering and equipping of the Holy Spirit upon a person, enabling him to stand in a ministry office.
Jesus said it is possible for those who are called to these ministry offices to operate on different levels of anointing; some operate with a greater anointing and some with a lesser anointing in a given ministry office.
For example, we've all seen evangelists who are more anointed than others, or pastors or teachers who were more anointed than others. Also, sometimes people in ministry gift offices operate on a lower level of anointing when they first start out in ministry, but as they prove faithful to what God has called them to do, God moves them up to a higher level of anointing.
Jesus said that the same thing is true with the prophet. There are not only different classes of prophets, but within a given rank or class of prophetic office, there are also different measures of anointing to those standing in that office. In other words, one called to be a prophet could be more or less anointed to stand in that office.
The Bible talks about measures of anointing
For he whom God hath sent [Jesus] speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit BY MEASURE unto him.
The Holy Spirit was given to Jesus without measure. The rest of us in the Body of Christ only have the Holy Spirit by measure or in a measure (Rom. 12:3).
Jesus also gave me Hebrews 2:4 and talked to me about "gifts" or distributions of the Holy Ghost.
God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and GIFTS OF THE HOLY GHOST, according to his own will.
For years I thought "gifts of the Holy Ghost" in this verse referred to the nine gifts of the Spirit mentioned in First Corinthians 12.
1 CORINTHIANS 12:4,7
Now there are diversities of GIFTS, but the
But the MANIFESTATION [or gift] of the Spirit
is given to every man to profit withal.
But Hebrews 2:4 couldn't mean spiritual gifts. God had already borne them witness with signs, wonders, and diverse miracles — referring to spiritual gifts.
But notice the word "and" in Hebrews 2:4. It is a conjunction, and it means that something else is added besides spiritual gifts. In other words, God bore them witness with spiritual gifts plus something else.
In the margin of my Bible, the reference by the word "gifts" in Hebrews 2:4 says "distributions" of the Holy Ghost.
The word for "gifts" used in First Corinthians 12:4,7, is "charisma," indicating a spiritual gift.
Gifts or distributions in Hebrews 2:4 is referring to the fivefold ministry gifts listed in Ephesians 4:8-11: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
Therefore, we could read this verse: "God bearing them witness both with signs, wonders, diverse miracles, AND distributions of the Holy Ghost."
The gift or distribution of the Holy Spirit is the divine endowment or equipment upon a person which enables him to stand in a ministry office. God distributes the Holy Ghost to those called as ministry gifts, enabling and equipping them to carry out that function to the Body of Christ.
Distributions of the Holy Spirit are not upon laymen, because laymen do not stand in ministry gift offices. The layman does not have the distribution, the anointing, or the divine equipment of the Holy Spirit upon him to stand in a fivefold ministry office.
Notice in Hebrews 2:4 that it is "distributions," of the Holy Spirit. The word is plural because there are measures of anointings even in these various offices. That is what Jesus told me. A person could be more or less anointed to stand in a particular ministry office.
[AND PHILIP AS A “DEACON” WAS USED TO PREACH AND TEACH AS WE SEE FROM THE BOOK OF ACTS. SO IF NEEDED OF COURSE GOD CAN USE ANYONE, FOR A PARTICULAR JOB TO BE DONE, BUT THAT IS THE EXCEPTION TO THE GENERAL RULE - Keith Hunt]
Let's go to the Old Testament to further demonstrate that there are measures of anointing, because the Bible says, ". . . in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established" (Matt. 18:16).
Even in the Old Testament, there were prophets who had a greater anointing to stand in that office. Because of an increased anointing, the prophetic ministry of some Old Testament prophets was more widely known and more far reaching than others.
We find a reference to measures of anointing in Second Kings chapter 2. God had told Elijah to anoint Elisha to be prophet in his "room," or in his stead or place.
2 KINGS 2:9
And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elhah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a DOUBLE PORTION of thy spirit be upon me.
Elisha received a double portion or a double measure of anointing to stand in the office of the prophet than Elijah had upon him. And if you'll study the Scriptures, you'll find that signs and wonders in Elisha's ministry were about double to those operating in Elijah's ministry. You can readily see that a person could, be more or less anointed to stand in an office.
If you are called to the full-time ministry, you will have to stand in your office and minister according to the measure or distribution of the Holy Spirit given to you. However, the anointing on a person's life can be increased by faithfulness, consecration, and diligence in the Word of God and prayer.