The other day a brother wrote and asked me if I was a prophet. I have come to the place where I believe that all the so-called “five-fold” gifts given unto men are all about Jesus and His graces given to all who are in Christ and not about us as individuals, but are rather about Him in us collectively. Like Paul said, “I can do ALL things through Christ who is my strength.” Was Paul extra special? Not according to his own words. So, I try not to limit Christ in me by saying, “I am a prophet, or I am teacher, or I am an apostle, etc.” No, “I am IN Christ and it is from there that HE can do all things,” IF I don’t limit Him by my flesh or preconceived ideas as to what my “calling” is. We limit Christ in us when we try to put Him in a box, whether that box be a church building and our church doctrines or even saying within ourselves, “I am an Apostle!” or “I am God’s Prophet!”, I, I, I, blah, blah, blah.
This Ephesians chapter four verse eleven is right smack dab in the middle of a chapter that has terms that are about ALL of Christ’s body, not an exclusive few. It speaks of being equal as we abide in HIM; “you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness,” [where is “all lowiness and meekness” if we claim an “office” that elevates us above the rest of the body of Christ?] words like all– “God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all,” words like one, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all,” words pointing to Christ as gift given to every one, “unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ… that he might fill all things,”
But now we get to this mystery verse eleven which all of Christendom uses to justify church “offices” (another word placed in the N.T. translation that has no Greek equivalent in the text) and elevated king like authority. Here in verse eleven instead of ALL we read the exclusive term “some.” This word translated by the king’s bishops as “some” is the same Greek work that was translated in John chapter one as “the.” “In the beginning was The Word, and The Word was with God, and The Word was God.” How would this read with the word “some?” “In the beginning was some Word, and some Word was with God and some Word was God…” Not quite the same. You see, the translators took quite a bit of license with this Greek word for, the definite article “ho” (a close look at the Greek in Matt. 28:11 will show the proper Greek word to be used for “some” is “tis” where it is used with the definite article “ho,” “…some of the watch came into the city…”).
The English Standard Version comes much closer in its translation of this passage, “He [Christ] who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the [ho- the not some] saints for the work of ministry [service], for building up the body of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:10-12 ESV). When you look at the Greek for each of these five Spiritual manifestation of grace they are all in the singular, not plural; apostolos – one sent forth, prophetes – one who speaks for God, euaggelistēs – one who brings good tidings, poimen – one who shepherds and feeds, and didaskalos – one who teaches. It is Jesus that does all these things and many places in the New Testament refer to Him with these tiles!
So now let’s translate Ephesians 4:10-12 as it should be, “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, THAT HE MIGHT FILL ALL THINGS. And he gave THE apostle; and THE prophet, and THE evangelist, and THE shepherd and THE teacher, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of service, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
THE Word, Jesus Christ, fills ALL things, in this case He fills ALL the body (not just some) with THE Apostle, Jesus Christ. He fills ALL the body with THE Prophet, Jesus Christ. He fills ALL the body with THE Evangelist, Jesus Christ. He fills ALL the body with THE Shepherd, Jesus Christ. And He fills ALL the body with THE Teacher, Jesus Christ through HIS Spirit that abides IN ALL who are His. Why? Because God is NOT a respecter of persons and He desires that we ALL might be made perfect and be built up into the fullness of His Son… “to equip the saints for the work of ministry [service], for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge [perfect knowing] of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to GROW UP IN EVERY WAY INTO HIM who is the head, into Christ,” (Ephesians 4:12-15 ESV – emphasis added)
Dear saints, this whole “five-fold” hierarchic invention of the ecclesiarchs in the Christian religion has yet to build up the saints into the fullness of Christ and it never will. Why? Because by its very nature it divides the body of Christ against itself into two classes, the haves and the have-nots. the clergy and the laity, the clean untouchables and the unwashed masses. It is a system designed in hell itself, not in heaven. But like Paul brought forth in his letter to the Corinthians…
“For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife [divisions] among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed… Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future–all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” (1 Corinthians 3:3-23 ESV).
All things are ours as we abide IN Christ who is our strength. Let us live accordingly as we surrender to Him and if we are being led to minister Christ Himself to others, let us do it in all simplicity and humble ourselves as He did, “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.“