The Five Offices of the Church – 30 Bible Basics

Shyju Mathew

"Experience the Word of God, in the power of the Spirit."

February 28, 2012

This entry is part 24 of 30 in the series Featured Bible Study: 30 Christian Basics

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Nothing is more highly organised in the natural world than the simplest living cell.

The church is more than an office or organisation; it is a living organism. The head of the church is Jesus Christ who nourishes the church, giving it spiritual life.

When the Holy Spirit fell upon the 120 in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, the church of Jesus Christ was birthed. The ministry of the church also began on this same day when Apostle Peter rose up and spoke the word that resulted in 3000 people being saved and baptised.

A divinely-called and Scripturally-ordained ministry has been provided by our Lord for the threefold purpose of leading the church:
1.       Evangelisation of the world – (Mark 16:15-20)
2.       Worship of God in Spirit and truth – (John 4:23-24)
3.       Building a Body of saints being perfected in the image of His Son – (Ephesians 4:11-16)

Apostle Paul introduces various offices as Christ’s gifts by quoting from Psalm 68:18: When He ascended on high, He led captives in His train and gave gifts to men. The gifts given to men are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11).


An Apostle is a delegate; specifically an ambassador of the Gospel. An official commissioner of Christ. Ambassadors sent with a mission.

The Apostles have the unique responsibility of establishing the church and building it through the Word of God. This ministry also includes the planting of churches. The apostolic function is similar to the task of the pioneer missionary today.

The Apostles are called to influence and impact cities and nations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We see this pattern in the early church that whenever the apostles stepped into cities, they influenced the entire city.


According to the uniform teaching of the Bible, the prophet is a speaker of or for God. The words of prophets are not the production of their own spirit, but come from a higher source. The prophet is, at the same time, a seer, who sees things that do not lie in the domain of natural sight, or who hears things that human ears do not ordinarily receive. (Compare 1Samuel 9:9, where nābhı̄’ – speaker – and rō’eh – seer – are used as synonymous terms).

Prophets are those in the apostolic church who have a special ministry of inspired utterance. While the apostles and evangelists took the gospel to the unregenerate world, the prophets exercised an edifying ministry to the various churches. For example, Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets said much to encourage and strengthen the brethren (Acts 15:32).

Prophets have seen that which they prophesy, although they need not have seen it in the form of a real vision. They can also “see” words with their inner eyes (as in Isaiah 2:1 and other instances). This is an expression used to refer to moments in Scriptures where God has spoken to the prophet. Likewise, it is not necessary to have heard a voice phonetically through the natural ear either.


ē̇-van´jel-ist: This is a form of the word ordinarily translated as “gospel” (euaggélion), except that here it designates one who announces that gospel to others (euaggelistḗs, “a bringer of good tidings”).

In that sense, God Himself is an evangelist, for He preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham (Gal 3:8); Jesus Christ was an evangelist, for He also preached the gospel (Luk 20:1); Paul was an evangelist as well as an apostle (Rom 1:15); Philip the deacon was an evangelist (Act 21:8); and Timothy, the pastor (2 Ti 4:5); and indeed all the early disciples who, on being driven out of Jerusalem, went everywhere preaching the word (Act 8:4).

But Eph 4:11 teaches that one particular order of the ministry – distinguished from every other – is singled out by the Head of the church for this work in a distinctive sense. All may possess the gift of an evangelist in a measure, and be obligated to exercise its privilege and duty, but some are specifically endued with it. He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.

The evangelist has no fixed place of ministry, but moves about in different localities preaching the gospel. As unbelievers come to the saving knowledge and are united to Jesus Christ by faith, the work of the pastor and teacher begins to instruct them further in the things of Christ and build them up in the faith.


The term “Pastor” can also be translated as “shepherds.” Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd who gathers the flock, cares for them, knows them, rescues them when they stray and lays down His life for them (John 10:2-16). He remains the Chief Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20).

Pastors have the ministry and responsibility of caring for and protecting God’s flock as well as being worthy of their imitation.

1 Timothy 3:1-13 provides instructions for the selection of local and elected officers. The first of these officers is the “elder;” a term indicating age and maturity. In the Greek-speaking world, the term “bishop” was used as the equivalent of elder. Bishop literally means overseer or superintendent. Acts 20:28 indicates that they were also expected to have the ministry of shepherd or pastor.

Pastors serve, inspires and live as a role models for the assembly. Ordination does not make them ministers; it simply recognizes the ministry God has already given them.


Teachers are given a special ability to explain and interpret the truth of God’s revelation (Mathew 28:19-20; Ephesians 4:11; 2 John 10). Some were itinerant, going from church to church. However, Ephesians 4:11 seems to connect pastor and teacher as a twofold ministry.

As we have noted, the responsibilities of each office is quite diverse; however, the goal is one and the same: To glorify God and see the Kingdom of God advance. Every office is essential and although our calls may be different, unity is key.

4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but they all come from the same Spirit. 5 There are different ways to serve the same Lord, 6 and we can each do different things. Yet the same God works in all of us and helps us in everything we do. – (1 Corinthians 14:4-6)

Tell us: How have these Offices of the Church impacted your faith journey? What do you think your calling is and why? Go ahead and share below.


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