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The extra-biblical concept of "five-fold ministry" taught in many Christian circles today violates the very spirit of the New Covenant by dividing God's people into two classes, the gifted and the not so gifted, the clergy and the laity, the elite and the unwashed masses. This false paradigm is the cause of great division among God's people, because it nurtures an excessive devotion to men that divides the body of Christ into personality cults. Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers that were claiming to be of him, "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" (1 Corinthians 1:13 NKJV). Christ is divided when certain men set out to posture themselves over the rest of God's heritage and get a cult following.

The attempt to justify a special cast of ministers, affectionately called "the five-fold," has resulted in the contextual murder and nullification of Ephesians chapter four in the lives of the saints of God. We hear solemn warnings from the learned ones today about keeping things in context but regarding this particular passage in Ephesians 4, most elect to focus on only a couple verses and ignore the rest of the chapter like it wasn't there. By doing so, they distort the overall message of the book. By emphasizing their place in the five-fold ministry, they fail to accomplish the very thing they say they exist to do--to bring every believer into full participation in the overall edification of the body of Christ. This system that claims to exist for the enrichment of the church, "Till we all come in the unity of the faith," perpetuates its overall poverty by making the members of Christ's body into passive spectators.

The reason for this is simple. Participation by every member is a threat to the special-ness of this special class. No one is special when everyone is special. So the sad truth is, believers who miraculously come to maturity under these adverse conditions are not treated like blessed members of Christ's body but like enemies. Instead of being considered viable assets to the whole body of Christ and examples to the others of what Christian growth is, they are considered loose cannons, not under covering, and are vilified as rebellious. We have received hundreds of letters from these very saints who are not bitter, but rather confused, wondering what they did wrong. The fault is not theirs for growing up in Christ and operating in their God given metron, but rather blame lies in this false paradigm of authority that is threatened by the working of the Spirit of God in the lives of all believers. If all are anointed and come to maturity then the few lose their special-ness.

This is not a new thing. Throughout history ambitious men came up with similar teachings that also had one design: to elevate a few and silence the rest. They hunted down and killed those who taught the priesthood of all believers, starting with the rise of the bishops in the early second century. For over a millennium they dumbed-down the people by translating the scriptures into a dead language that only the scholars knew, Latin. It is clear to us that this is what has been done with Ephesians 4:11 and 12 as well. In the midst of more than a chapter of scripture, dealing with God's graces given to all, men have superimposed, by the use of a little ecclesiastical sophistry, the notion of an elite and indispensable caste of ministers that are alone responsible for the perfecting of the saints.

The glorious truth of the New Covenant is that God has poured out His Spirit upon all flesh. In keeping with this glorious truth, throughout chapter four of Ephesians, Paul constantly points to "all . . . every one of us . . . every part." The basis of his reasoning is found in verse 6.

There is . . .One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:6 KJV)

Paul describes the full scope of God's involvement with His children by the use of three prepositions--above, through and in. Let's briefly look at these prepositions as they relate to all.

Above All

God is above (Greek epi ) all. While it is indisputably true that God is above all, epi carries with it the idea of being not just over but actually upon and in. In fact, in the New Testament it is most often translated on or upon (see Strong's Lexicon [1909]). Epi was translated on 196 times, in 120 times, upon 159 times, unto 41 times, and to 41 times in the Authorized Version. Epi was translated above only 5 times.

God being above all is a thought that is embraced by virtually all religions. Certainly God is above every person, on earth and in heaven. The Greek Zeus, the Roman Jupiter and the Norse Thor were aloof gods, remote and often self-centered. Some dare to be more intimate in their thinking, viewing God as hovering over them, protecting and providing for them. However, this word epi carries with it the radical thought that God is on or resting upon all, anointing every believer.

As we mentioned earlier, in the old Covenant, God's Spirit descended and rested upon a blessed few and that only for a short time. But God's desire for a more perfect priesthood, a kingdom of priests, is well documented starting with Exodus 19:6. Like the anointing oil that ran down Aaron's beard to the hem of his garment, God desires to anoint the entire priesthood of believers with His indwelling presence and power. With the advent of Christ His will started to be perfected and made evident in His saints.

Through All

God moves through (Greek dia) all.

The word dia is a primary preposition that denotes the means, "the channel of an act . . . the ground or reason by which something is or is not done" (Enhanced Strong's Lexicon). Simply put, the ground or reason by which things are done in the body of Christ is all. God chooses all, the entire body of Christ, as His channel of expression in this wonderful New Covenant.

In You All

God also is in (Greek en) all His Children!
1722 en prep. A primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality (medially or constructively), i.e. a relation of rest . . .2782 occurrences; AV translates as "in" 1874 times, "by" 141 times, "with" 134 times, "among" 117 times, "at" 112 times, "on" 46 times, "through" 37 times, and translated miscellaneously 321 times.
En speaks of God's place among His children. He is the Source and Fountainhead of everything. Paul wrote to the Colossians,
In whom [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things are held together. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:14-18 KJ2000)

Christ is that Source that is available to all by virtue of His abiding relationship with each one of us. We cannot over-emphasize the word all throughout this passage (it occurs 32 times in the book of Ephesians alone). Paul opens in the first chapter of this letter by saying, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3 KJ2000). This sets the tempo of the rest of the book. In chapter 4 there are only a few personal pronouns. It is not about the one or even the few but us, we, every one, every joint, every part, all, the whole body of Christ.

Paul went on to explain what he meant by all in verse seven of chapter 4. "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure [metron] of the gift of Christ." He summed up this thought in verse sixteen, "From whom the whole body being fitly joined together and knit together by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure [metron] of every part, makes increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:16 KJ2000).

Christ who created all things, who is before all things, who holds together all things, claims preeminence over all things and that includes His Church! He is the Head of His body, the ekklesia of God. The inconsistency of it all is that the very men who preach the truth of Christ's preeminence in all things, in all practicality deny His preeminence by advancing the belief that a special few, the five fold, are needed to keep things in order. Amazing isn't it? He by whom all thing were created, in who all things consist (are held together) cannot hold His church together without the help of professionals.

The true body of Christ exists by virtue of the grace given by the ascended Christ to every one of us according to the measure of the gift of Christ (Ephesians 4: 7). This body cannot reach the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ--spiritual perfection (4:13)--apart from the measure of every part (4:16). The edification of the body is not the responsibility of a few but is utterly dependent upon the life that every joint supplies (4:16). The "increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" is undoubtedly the perfecting of the saints referred to in verse 12 that has been made the exclusive purview of a special class. The "every part makes increase" of Ephesians 4 stands in stark antithesis to the current notion that the body cannot come to maturity without the aid of educated professionals. No! The body edifies itself by the measure of every part. This is what makes a body a body. Just as the natural body edifies itself through the effectual working of every part, so does the spiritual body of Christ. This is not only the message of Ephesians 4, but most of Paul's letters.

The Gift of Christ is Christ!

When Paul wrote, "every one of us is given grace" he meant "every one of us is given grace." Every believer is given a metered out portion (metron) of a larger gift (singular), the gift of Christ. We realize that this could be taken as a reference to gifts that Christ gives, but the word gift is singular, referring to a single Gift. Christ is that Gift! Didn't Jesus say this when, in preparing for His departure, He told His disciples that He would send another (Greek--allos--of the exact same kind) Comforter? "I will not leave you comfortless." He said, "I will come to you" (see John 14:18). He is the Gift that the Spirit brings! He comes to us! Elsewhere Paul wrote, "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Galatians 4:6 KJ2000). We find this very exciting, don't you? He has come to us!

The term body of Christ implies a corporate manifestation of Christ, animated by the Spirit of Christ within each believer--many members, one body ("so also is the Christ"). Christ is the heart and Spirit of that body. The body is simply a vessel through which He expresses himself. This Gift of Christ that is to take shape in a collective manifestation of Christ is the fullness of Him who fills all things. All the metrons (Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher, plus the ones listed in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12) put together comprise the Gift of Christ. Unlike Jesus who was given grace without measure, and could say, "If you've seen me you've seen the Father," every one of us has only a measure of grace. The manifestation of Christ is dependent on the contribution of all those measures. "Till we all come . . . unto a perfect man, unto the measure (metron) of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13 KJ2000).

Ephesians 4:11

Having said this, let us look again at the larger context. Keep in mind that there are no disjointed thoughts anywhere in this text; one thought builds on another as Paul leads us to the sum of all God's dealings with His children to nurture a cooperate testimony of His Son. Paul tells us from the outset who the graces or gifts are given to by the ascended Christ. Let's look at it in context again.

But to each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Therefore he says, "When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men. . . .He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers" (Ephesians 4:7-8, 11 WEB).

Paul begins by stating that each one of us is given grace. Note that he includes himself in this, us referring to the metron Christ had given him. It is an interesting study to search out in Paul's epistles how many times he referrers to the grace given to him as it related to what he said and did, "according to the grace given unto me" ( see Romans 12:3, 12:6, 1 Corinthians 3:10, Ephesians 3:7, 4:7, etc.). However outstanding Paul's service may have been, he made no distinction between the grace given to him and the grace given to the rest of the believers. This verse alone refutes the idea that a few are exceptional. He goes on to tell how these cooperate--on what basis these graces are given and on what basis they are received. One Bible teacher used to say, "When you see the word therefore in the Bible you need to look and see what it's there for." Here the word therefore implies that the following words are an extension and development of the previous thought. In this case it attaches the statement to the explanation of how every one of us is given grace, "he ascended up on high . . . and gave gifts unto men." We see then that the gifts given by the ascended Christ are not given to a special few but are distributed among all.

What are the graces that the ascended Christ gives to each one of us? We normally read this passage this way: "He gave some to be apostles, and some, prophets, and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers" (Ephesians 4:11 WEB). The misconception that these are offices rather that graces is where the interpretive problem lies. To complete this illusion these Greek words had to be changed from adjectives to nouns. Take the word apostle for instance.

In his Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Gerhardt Kittel says of this word, apostolos, "Originally it was an adjective as shown by Plat. Ep. VII, 346a . . . The most that can be said is that the word denotes the quality of being sent, unless we are to regard it as no more than a stereotyped term. . . .Thus its later Christian usage [as a title] was an innovation to Greek ears or those familiar with Greek. This is shown by the fact that the Latin did not translate it, but took it over as a lone word into ecclesiastical Latin (apostolus)." This is where we got the "office" of an Apostle. Here we see how ecclesiastical tampering has taken a word that describes grace at work, an adjective, and turned it into a noun--a hierarchal title.

The word translated some is not some in the Greek. It is the definite article the (Greek ho). We realize that this word is plural and attests to the fact that these graces are given to many. We have no problem with this for it is in perfect keeping with the context. What we ask is, How plural is plural? What we traditionally are led to believe as we read this verse is that the word translated some means a few. The implication is that only a select few with these titles can minister. Because of this false teaching, the vibrant faith that was once alive with Jesus' life flowing and manifesting through each member is now little more than a spectator sport.

Simply put, all means every one of us! The God and Father of every one of us, is above and upon every one of us, working through every one of us and in every one of us. Nothing could be clearer. Not all are apostles or sent-ones, but all are given grace. These graces or divine empowerments are distributed among all believers to accomplish specific tasks. They are not given to exalt anyone person above the rest. Jesus did not ascend on high and bestow entitlements to rule. He bestowed power to serve.

This passage of scripture is about the body, not about a few elect "offices." This word office is only found in the original New Testament writings referring to the Old Testament Levitical priesthood and is not to be found anywhere else referring to the functions of the Spirit in the body of Christ. Regardless, the word office was added by the ecclesiastical translators in numerous places to give the appearance of a God-ordained ruling class.

We have a choice to make. Will we continue on in our comfortable padded pews Sunday after Sunday and abdicate our high callings in Christ's body to the few, or will we move on into the glory of God? We have all been given our measure of Christ that enables us all to do the work of the ministry and equip each other to do the same in the fullest way possible.

All these measures--apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, teachers, and many more--together make up the Gift of Christ. Jesus comes to each of us by virtue of these graces that He might reach out to a lost and dying world.

A Letter from a Recovering Brother

Recently we received a series of letters from a dear brother in New York who had been a part of what calls itself "The Local Church" or "The Recovery," which he is still recovering from. His comments are very insightful.

Al Haungs wrote:

I participate in Wayne Jacobsen's Yahoo group, and Ephesians 4:11 came up in the discussion, so I did a Greek study on it. I'll spare all the details, but the most shocking thing to me was that the word some used repeatedly in this verse doesn't mean a few.
In the Recovery Version, there's a footnote for this verse which says that ones mentioned in this verse have a special gift, whereas most members of the body have a general gift. The implied recovery teaching is that some means few.
Now Nee and Lee were against the clergy-laity system, but this "special gift category" reopened the door to it. As a participant in the recovery, you eventually get drawn into being under one of these "special gifted ones" so that you can be "equipped." Interestingly, you never graduate, and always remain under an equipper.
Personally, I believe we're all equippers and equippees, simultaneously, and may function in one or all of the functions, depending on need, as Paul clearly in one way or another was an apostle, prophet, shepherd teacher, evangelist, etc.
When I discovered that some didn't mean a few, I couldn't sleep that night and got up and studied it some more until I was satisfied, and then went back to sleep.
Experientially, being in the recovery became a real super drag because meetings became essentially a platform for a few to talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk, and then maybe a few could testify at the end, "only three minutes, please" and usually testifying was continually corrected and balanced and trimmed by the few who were allowed to talk and talk and talk.
I was thinking about this stuff this morning, and what occurred to me was that these gifts are commonly and liberally given to Christians, and that it is the norm, not a rarity for us to see apostling, propheting and etc, so therefore there isn't the common believer and (vs.) the special class, rather instead we all belong to the special class and it's our specialness, each individually, which blends the body together, in that each has something, beneficial to others which others don't possess.
Persons who think highly of themselves uniquely as equippers (apostles, prophets etc) and not simultaneously as equippees, typically detach themselves from the body.
Example: Almost all brothers are tempted sexually. Some of us in our hour of temptation were helped by another brother, and therefore overcame this test. In my case, all it took was me to simply see another brother on the college campus and I immediately ran to him and told him my mental torture and immediately the cloud of temptation evaporated.
But brothers who see themselves as being in a separate and special class of gifting as equippers, and not as equippees simultaneously, when in an hour of temptation like the one I described, are detached from the body, and don't go to the first available help, but can only receive delayed help from "greater equippers" or maybe from nobody at all, and then fall into a easily overcomable sin, which sin is easy to overcome as one accesses the equipping from another accessible brother.
This matter of some not meaning few not only frees all of us to equip others, but also makes each of us on the same level of importance, and also frees us to be equipped by others.
Al (God humiliates the proud)(the body is packed full of apostles, prophets, etc., because the Lord is super-aboundingly generous/gracious).

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