Ephesians 4:7-12 The Five-Fold ministries of Grace
But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”
9 ( In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.
Having established the premises for unity and the steps towards it, Paul talks about the various ministers and offices that will equip the church towards fulfilling her calling. The grace and the power of God is first imparted to the five-fold ministers, who will in turn impart it to the church through discipleship. The grace of God works powerfully in different ways through different ministers and no ministry can stand-alone. The grace that is imparted to the church is the very same power that works in Christ that raised Him far above all rule and authority (Ephesians 1:19-21).
But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
In order for the church to fulfill the calling of God, extraordinary grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift is given to the church. “The measure of Christ’s gift” refers to the kind of gift that has God-sized scope and power; it is the highest power in all of creation. This grace, which contains the supreme authority of God is imparted to each believer of the church: grace was given to each one of us.
Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” ( In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
What is the extent of Christ’s authority? Christ’s scope of authority covers the entire space of creation: He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. Hence, Christ’s authority is omnipresent (fill all things), and it is also all-powerful. Christ, upon his resurrection: when he ascended on high, subdued Satan and His army and held them captive forever: he led a host of captives.
Christ imparts His authority to the church: he gave gifts to men, to destroy the powers of darkness and redeem humanity from destruction. Therefore, the church and her ministers now possess God’s power to heal; to forgive sins and to break curses of sickness and poverty. The church also possesses authority over all powers and principalities including angels and demons.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.
How does God impart the gift of Christ to the church? He does so through a system of discipleship and training. Grace is first given to the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers who will disciple and impart grace to each member of the church. Specifically, the main function of the five-fold ministers is to bring the church towards maturity and to equip the members to evangelize the community: to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. Each ministry functions very differently but with the same importance and grace. In order for the church to grow and function properly, she needs to be ministered by all five ministries.
The apostle establishes the foundations of the church on doctrines of salvation, sanctification, church life and the second coming of Jesus Christ based on the word. It is on these foundations laid down by the apostles where the church begins to grow towards maturity. The apostle’s ministry lays a firm foundation for the community so that they enjoy enduring growth and prosperity. The apostolic ministry surfaces the importance of building a right foundation based on godly values for every family unit, commercial organizations and the nation.
The prophet continually modulates and ensures the right direction for the church by speaking a timely word from God. In the Old Testament, the prophet is God’s mouthpiece to awake the people towards repentance while warning them of His discipline. Without the ministry of the prophet, the people head towards destruction unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. The prophetic ministry surfaces the importance of seeking divine revelations and direction that is paramount for success in all their endeavors.
Evangelists win souls through the preaching of the gospel and through signs and wonders; they keep the church focused on God’s grand vision to fill the earth with God’s glory. The evangelist’s ministry inspires the church to propagate Kingdom’s values through all facets of societal life: the marketplace, the media, charity organizations, and overseas missions etc. The word that encapsulates the evangelist’s ministry is the majestic grandeur of God’s glory.
The shepherds and the teachers nurture the church towards maturity; they are the very mechanism that makes the church grow in maturity towards the glory of Christ. The shepherds and teachers are closest to the people; they inspire parents, disciple makers and managers to build their families, ministries and organizations one brick at a time with wisdom and perseverance on the foundations laid by the apostles.
Put in a nutshell, the legacy of the five-fold ministers: Apostles – Foundation, Prophets – Direction, Evangelists – Glory, Shepherds – Love, Teachers – Wisdom.
1. Each believer has the potential to function at the full capacity of Christ: grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. All can reach that potential by being faithful to the tasks given by the church, by being teachable and obedient to his disciple maker at all times and putting his unwavering trust in God who calls him. The grace of God is given in gradual portions so that we may not fall into pride and destroy ourselves. Many gifted ministers have their ministry career cut short because they are not able to control their inert darkness and remain faithful towards God. Hence, God sees the state of our faith and knows how to build us up in His time to function in the full measure of His grace. It is a good thing to aspire to higher office, but we have to sanctify our motives, to learn obedience to authority and to serve out of a pure heart.
2. The measure of grace given to believers to work miracles is constant regardless of time and space. Some believers observe that more miracles tend to occur in their mission trips overseas as compared to their homeland. The word clearly says that Christ’s supreme authority and presence covers the entire universe: fill all things. Hence, the issue could be the faith level of the people you are ministering to. Jesus touched their blind eyes and said, “Let it be done according to your faith.” Faith is not just standing in agreement that God is Healer at the moment of need, but to live a faith-filled life. In developing countries, where poverty and sickness are pervasive, people tend to depend on God for everything they need. But in developed nations, people tend to be self-sufficient and cut God out of their lives. In such circumstances, the full gospel message of repentance is necessary to restore people back to faith and dependence on God. However, we can exercise a greater measure of Christ’s gift by going into a period of fasting and prayer. This is to remove the spiritual hindrances that hold us back: the lust of the flesh, the pride of life and the cares of the world.
1. Concerning your current service in church, do you see it as a chore that leads to nowhere with little recognition? Or do you see it as a task that is entrusted by God? Some believers even view their service with disdain and hope for something more glamorous. God judges not what we do, but the state of our heart.
2. How do you hope to serve God in the future and in what capacity? What motivates that hope? Is it a godly motivation? Speak to your pastor concerning your inclinations and let him know the your availability to be trained and to serve.
Dear Lord, I thank You for equipping the church with Your ministers. I pray for them that they may remain faithful and pure so that the church may continue to grow through their ministry. I pray that through them, I may be raised up to a position of influence in my family and community. I desire to exercise the full measure of Christ’s gift and grace to build Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.