Thursday, February 5, 2015

The So-Called Fivefold Ministries: a study on Ephesians 4:11

The traditional, cessationist understanding of Ephesians 4:11 is that the five gifts listed--apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers--were offices of the early church, leadership positions and types of ministry that God had established, and that some of them passed away at the end of the Apostolic age. By contrast, many people, especially within some charismatic congregations, view this verse as teaching that God has established these five offices as the model of church leadership which should remain functioning throughout the church age. A variation of this view has recently come into prominence, arguing that every believer possesses one or more of these five gifts and should function in ministry according to whichever one is primary.  A closer examination of the passage yields an answer different from any of the above formulations.

In brief, the present study, originally published as four separate blog posts, argues that the so-called "fivefold" ministry gifts are only some of the many giftings that believers may have, and thus not all believers should be categorized as one of these five. They are indeed still functional and have been throughout the church age, but have in some cases been known under different names. Specifically, biblical Apostles are church-planting missionaries, and should be designated as missionaries to avoid confusion with the specific role of the Twelve. Prophets should be understood on the model of Old Testament prophets, typically people outside church leadership who call God's people (especially leaders) back to God's covenant. Evangelists are non-church-planting missionaries: i.e., their function is to preach the gospel to the unreached, not to stir up congregations of believers. Pastors and teachers should be considered as one group with two significant aspects (possibly with some members leaning toward one aspect or the other) that function as the primary leaders of an already-established local group of believers.

Friday, September 17, 2010

N.T. Wright's Surprised by Hope

I read N.T. Wright's Surprised by Hope last summer, and it made a big impact on me. The following article is a summary of what stood out to me in that book. Wright argues that Evangelical theology tends to gloss over the Resurrection of Jesus, and thus also glosses over the doctrines of physical resurrection of believers and the renewal of the earth that is promised in Romans 8 and Revelation 21. He writes that by recovering the centrality of the Resurrection to our understanding of faith, we can also recover a sense of purpose in our lives in present-day reality.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Salt" and "Light"
An Exercise in Biblical Allegory

Abstract: An attempt to find a methodological principle to control the interpretation of analogies in Scripture, with a focus on salt and light in Matthew 5:13-16 as a case study. Not all properties of an image used as a metaphor are fair game to be "spiritually applied."