What Is a Five Fold Ministry?

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As used in some Protestant-related churches and groups, a "five fold ministry" denotes a belief there is currently something lacking or entirely missing in Church as a whole. The foundation of this concern is based on a passage in the book of Ephesians where the apostle Paul discusses, what seems to some, as five roles or positions of leadership within a greater Christian ministry.

And He gave some as apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ;

Until we all come into 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 fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11 - 13, HBFV).

Leadership Roles

Many Protestant denominations, and even the Roman Catholic Church, have had three of the five leadership roles or responsibilities mentioned in Ephesians 4 (pastors, teachers and evangelists) for many years. The role of apostle or prophet, however, has generally been viewed by them as ceasing after the first century A.D. since such responsibilities were no longer required.

There have been, however, several religious movements in the last century or so that insisted apostles and prophets are still needed within the church. They argue that the early church's five fold church leadership structure should be restored.

Jesus' ministry, before his crucifixion, ran from from the Fall of 26 A.D. to Passover in 30 A.D. John the Baptist's ministry began six months before Christ's and ended in 29 A.D. The apostle Paul was a preacher of the gospel from 33 (after his conversion) to 68 A.D., a span of roughly 35 years.

In modern-day churches there are some who are considered (at least by their own local group) fulfilling one of the five fold ministry roles of an apostle or prophet. They may even take on the term 'apostle' or 'prophet' as part of their perceived leadership title within the church.

List of All Terms in
Dictionary of Biblical Words

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