Gifts, Ministries and Operations

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Gifts, Ministries and Operations in the body of Christ

Larry Groenewald

(All Scriptures quoted are from the King James translation of the Bible, except where otherwise stated)

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this study: the interest of building the body of Christ through each member’s place and participation in it!

1Co 14:12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

The focus is Jesus Christ, the Head, and how He organised His multifaceted body to function with one mind now, and in the age to come, to fulfill the Father’s purposes for this creation.

1Co 12:12-14 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.

Christians, in general, have attached various meanings to the concept of “the body of Christ”. These divers meanings in Christendom range from Jesus’ physical body while He was on earth to the bread that is eaten at the Lord’s Supper, as Paul describes in 1Corinthians 11:20-29. But for those with spiritual eyes to see there is more than meets the physical (eye).

1Co 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

It states clearly here in 1Corinthians that the ONE body is known by the ONE spirit of the Father. Those who drink “into one spirit” of the Father are part of the “one body” of Christ. The one spirit to drink into is the Word and doctrine of Christ:

Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

The Word of God (written in the books from Genesis to Revelation – ref. 1Co 4:6) is the one spirit given to His church who is joined in this age by the one mind of Christ:

Rom 15:6  That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2Co 13:11  Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

Php 1:27  Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.

Php 2:2  Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

1Pe 3:8  Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.

The Body of Christ is the spiritual body which is the one undivided church, because there is no schism (divisions) in this body:

1Co 12:25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

This is really important to see. The body is known by the same name(s) as that by which the Head is known. The concept of “name” in Scripture relates to doctrine(s), character and functions, to which these verses also allude:

Joh 17:6  I have manifested thy name [Greek: “onoma” = authority, character, knowledge, function] unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

Mat 1:20-21 But while he [Joseph] thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.  21  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name [Greek: “onoma” = authority, character, knowledge, function] JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Mat 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name [Greek: “onoma” = authority, character, knowledge, function] Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Rev 19:16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name [Greek: “onoma” = authority, character, knowledge, function] written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

Rev 17:5-6 And upon her forehead was a name [Greek: “onoma” = authority, character, knowledge, function] written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.  6  And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

Here are a few examples of how the character and functions of the Head, Jesus, are also carried through to the body of Christ:

Jesus is the Saviour/Judge of the world and so is the body prepared for those functions…

1Ti 4:9-10  This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.  10  For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

Act 10:42  And he [Jesus] commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

Oba 1:21 And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’S.

Rev 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Jesus is placed as the high priest over God’s house, and that house is the house of priests, which is His body…

Heb 10:19-21  Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,  20  By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;  21  And having an high priest over the house of God.

1Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Rev 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

The reason for the body analogy

1Co 12:12-14  For as the body [Greek “soma”] is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body [Greek “soma”], being many, are one body [Greek “soma”]: so also is Christ.  13  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body [Greek “soma”], whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.  14  For the body [Greek “soma”] is not one member, but many.

The Greek word translated as “body” (Strong’s #G4983) used in these verses is “soma” and it has a root in this Greek word “sozo” (Strong’s # G4982) which has the following meaning: “to save, that is, deliver or protect (literally or figuratively): – heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole” (Ref.  Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). This word was carefully chosen by the spirit of God when He chose to describe those whom the Father drags to Christ. It is a purpose-filled dragging, not just to belong to a type of social organization. Those dragged to Christ will know that they will serve a function in God’s plan and His order, according to the one doctrine of Christ. God is not of confusion, and the body of Christ reflects God’s order, even as the physical body demonstrates.

1Co 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

Jas 3:16 For where envying and strife are, there is confusion and every foul deed.

God is purposeful and organized in what He does. The human body is one of the best analogies to show unity and order and is therefore an excellent metaphor of the church under the Headship of Christ. The body is not an organization (a human creation), but an organism (it is a living thing which produces life) which is orderly organized by the Head. Unity of doctrine and order is of utmost importance. If there is no unity and order, there is confusion, which is not what those in the true church of Christ want to see. This is also why the apostle Paul rebuked the unruly one in the church of Corinth:

2Co 12:20  For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults [confusion].

A person one day remarked concerning order: you get “graveyard-order” and “maternity ward-order”. The first is marked with deadness and silence; the “maternity ward-order” is marked with a lot of noise (almost chaotic with cries and laughter), and very bloody (though very clean and hygienic). The latter type of order is where new life is experienced. God’s “maternity ward” is Jesus Christ and His body. The new spiritual life is what the Lord and His church desire above all. That is the driving force to “built up a spiritual house” as we “present our bodies a living sacrifice” until we are all released from this physical body at the time of “the redemption of the purchased possession” – at the first resurrection when the redeemed of the Lord will receive the fullness of their spiritual inheritance to be the kings and priests of God on this earth (ref. Rom 8:19-39; Rom 12:1; 1Pe 2:5; Eph 1:14).

Rev 20:4-6  And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  5  But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.  6  Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

The proper functioning of each member of that spiritual body becomes extremely important to the rest of the body. Each member of the body is unique, yet closely connected to the ones next to it and gets nourishment through that connection to the one Head. The body respects the uniqueness of each member, but one mind (the mind of the Head) unites all the members in that body. Each member finds its unique function only as the Head determines:

1Co 12:12-13 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

As the natural body’s parts are happy with their designated positions and functions, so the members of the spiritual body of Christ are happy with what place and role they play to make the body function orderly.

Lists and descriptions of the body’s character and functions

There are numerous lists in the New Testament whereby the character and different functions in the body of Christ are described. To the church in Rome the apostle Paul gave the following directives, as the spirit of God inspired him to write:

Rom 12:6-8 Then having gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, if prophecy, according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, in the ministry; or he who teaches, in the teaching; or he who exhorts, in the encouragement; or he who shares, in simplicity; or he who takes the lead, in diligence; or he who shows mercy, in cheerfulness.

To the church in Corinth Paul said this…

1Co 12:8-10 For through the Spirit is given to one a word of wisdom; and to another a word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; and to another faith by the same Spirit; and to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; and to another workings of powers, to another prophecy; and to another discerning of spirits; and to another kinds of tongues; and to another the interpretation of tongues.

1Co 12:28 And God set some in the church, firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers, then works of power, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, kinds of languages.

Paul wrote these inspired words to the church at Ephesus from which we can learn so much in terms of the leadership functions in the church and how every member can contribute to that ultimate purpose:

Eph 4:11-16  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  13  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  14  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  15  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  16  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

There are similarities and differences in the above mentioned lists. How do we deal with that? To the natural mind this proves a conflict or a contradiction, but the spirit-mind of Christ helps us to add all together. The one list adds to the others and brings a fuller picture to the spiritually discerning reader – “line upon line, line upon line, here a little, and there al little”:

Psa 119:160 ASV  The sum of thy word is truth; And every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth for ever.

Isa 28:9-10  Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.  10  For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.

These above mentioned lists concerning the body of Christ also do not cover all the different functions that are mentioned in Scriptures which are necessary for a healthy spiritual body.

Functioning in the body of Christ by word or deed

There are many ways in which we serve others – by word and by deed:

1Pe 4:10-11 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister/serve, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

These functions of the spirit of God in the church of Christ have three dimensions which are distinguished in these words:

1Co 12:4-6 Now there are diversities of gifts but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all.

These three dimensions are interrelated because of their common origin: they are from the same Lord (the Head, Jesus Christ) who has the same spirit of God, the Father. 

1Co 8:6  But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

We know that the spiritual application of God’s Word is of higher and eternal value (John 6:63), but we do not despise the physical application, as it is through the natural that we can enter and then, God willing, grow to the deeper spiritual applications.

Rom 1:20  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Paul referred to the disorderly Corinthians as spiritual babies in Christ. They (like all of us at our appointed times) were going through a carnal and physical stage in their spiritual development in the church, and they did not value the spiritual order and growth in faith. After showing them their carnality, Paul shows them how the spiritual application of these functions in the body of Christ should be desired much more. He would not “have them ignorant” of that all-important “more excellent” spiritual application:

1Co 12:1 Now concerning spiritual [gifts], brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

1Co 12:31 But zealously strive after the better gifts. And yet I show to you a more excellent way.

These gifts and ministries can only fully function when the “more excellent way” of love is adhered to. We are all to “follow after charity (love)”.

1Co 14:1 Follow after charity [love], and desire spiritual [gifts]…

This is how the scriptures define love:

1Jn 5:3  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

The operation of love makes the body function properly as love is the important ingredient of the gifts and ministries of the spirit of God, which enable the body of Christ to function properly and become a healthy spiritual body.

THE DIVIRSITIES OF GIFTS BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD

The danger of the gifts of the spirit of God is that carnal babes in Christ apply all the gifts carnally and in a selfish puffed up way (highlighting the users rather than the purpose of the gift). This is one reason why the book of Corinthians was written for our admonition, as we all deal with these attitudes in our own spiritual growth. The Corinthians in Paul’s day focused on the carnal application of these gifts, and we read what this focus will always bring about:

1Co 1:7  So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

1Co 1:10-13  Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.  11  For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.  12  Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.  13  Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

Although God is the giver of all gifts, to Paul it is important throughout these words to emphasize their spiritual (non-carnal) purpose in the body (the church):

1Co 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

Any gift is something that is undeserved, but given without “variableness” (no change) nor “shadow of turning” (recalling the gift):

Jas 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

God knows the end from the beginning, and He has planned every minute detail of our lives – nothing we do can change His mind about the gift He has given us.

Isa 46:10  Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.

God knows that the emphasis is not on the receiver’s abilities or lack thereof, but for the objectives the gift will achieve as determined by God alone. The end goal of everything is to reveal the glory of God. God does not change His mind.

Job 23:13-14  But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.  14  For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him.

None of the gifts of the spirit of God work in isolation of the body of Christ. All gifts are given to the body to profit the whole body. Selfish ambitions are not tolerated in the body. The natural body will reject all foreign things and the spiritual body is no different. The Head is going to present His Church holy and without blemish:

Eph 5:25-27  …Christ also loves the church, and gave himself for it;  26  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  27  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

The nine gifts that are used by Christ to sanctify and cleanse His Church are…

1Co 12:8-10 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

All these gifts are necessary in the one body and link with the ministries and operations to cause the body to function properly, ‘decently and in order’ according to the ‘one mind’. Let’s list the nine gifts and give a short explanation of each:

The gift of the Word of wisdom

1Co 12:8  For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom;

This is the first spiritual gift mentioned in the list, and we are reminded to “covet earnestly the best gifts” (1Co 12:31). There is good reason why this gift stands on top. This gift is primarily given to preach (or teach) the Word (the gospel in particular). Jesus never preached (or taught) anything “of Himself”, except the Words (works) of the Father:

Joh 14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

God’s words are His works – that is everything about Him we need to know. Jesus never got upset when people interrupted and stopped him. He allowed people to ask questions, want advice or help. The interaction of Jesus with people also included having to listen to them and to have discussions with them. Even at an early age people were astonished at His wisdom and His answers:

Luk 2:46-47 (DRB)  And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions.  47  And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers.

Preaching, however, does not only have a verbal side, but also has to do with our daily dealings with people (family, friends, colleagues, etc.). This links beautifully with the next point here under this gift of the Word of wisdom. The root for the word “wisdom” in the original Greek means to be clear, considerate, meek, discreet and thoughtful in the way we live in relation to what we preach and teach. James wrote these truths:

Jas 3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

Jas 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 

The Word (preached and taught with wisdom) affects our daily lives for others to witness – it is the “demonstration” of God’s Word (“of the spirit and of power”) when it is backed by our lifestyle:

1Co 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

The Word of wisdom displays a powerful spiritual witness to the testimony of Jesus Christ in the spiritually matured:

Col 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

The gift of the Word of knowledge

1Co 12:8  … to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

The root for “knowledge” in the Greek is “gnosis” and it has to do with “getting a clear view”, and it is more to do with understanding something. This refers to very intimate understanding – like a husband and wife ‘knowing’ each other in this sense:

Gen 4:1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

The Word (of knowledge) impregnates spiritual understanding, and new life comes from it. It is when two (or more) people share one mind, like the Father has with His Son and the body, in the way that they understand each other deeply. Knowledge of the only true God and Jesus Christ is the spiritual seed that impregnates the elect to produce the life eternal (spirit life). Without this incorruptible seed of the spirit word, no one can enter the spiritual kingdom of God.

Joh 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

1Pe 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Joh 6:63  It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

There is however, knowledge that puffs up (it inflates the natural ego only), but produces no spiritual understanding or new life in the person (it is a false spiritual pregnancy with no spirit life brought forward). No one benefits from that knowledge except the “puffed up” one’s pride and lusts (1John 2:16):

1Co 4:6 (YLT) And these things, brethren, I did transfer to myself and to Apollos because of you, that in us ye may learn not to think above that which hath been written, that ye may not be puffed up one for one against the other.

God’s spiritual knowledge brings forth an unveiling of the truth through the mind of Christ, which comes only from the Father:

Mat 16:17 Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 

Rev 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

1Co 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

The gift of Faith

1Co 12:9  To another faith by the same Spirit;

We know from the second witness in Ephesians 2:8-9 that faith is indeed an underserved gift coming from God.

Eph 2:8-9  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

There is also a measure of faith for each individual, and that should not be measured ‘among you’ (to make comparisons and compete with another’s level of faith is revealing an immature spiritual state and are spiritually fruitless exercises):

Rom 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

2Co 10:12-13  For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.  13  But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.

Sober thinking is to have respect for others’ faith because there is only one Lord over each one’s faith:

2Co 1:24 (YLT) not that we are lords over your faith, but we are workers together with your joy, for by the faith ye stand.

If others are given less or more faith, the mature ones show respect to God who gives to each one according to His decision.

The gifts of healing

1Co 12:9  … to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

As already alluded to, Paul is emphasizing the spiritual. The spiritual healing of the heart is God’s focus:

Luk 4:18-19 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

To the maturing elect this is clear to see: Jesus spoke about inward spiritual applications of “poor”, “broken hearted”, “captives”, “blind”, “bruised” – even “the acceptable year of the Lord” which is the spiritual age to come which is in down payment now in His maturing elect (ref. Eph 1:13-14; Rom 8:23-25). This is the “greater” (spiritual) works Jesus referred to when He said this:

Joh 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

We also know that God heals in physical terms, which is also recorded throughout Scripture. There is indeed a time for that:

Ecc 3:1  To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Ecc 3:3  A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up.

The gift of workings of powers (this gift refers to miracles)

1Co 12:10 To another the working of miracles;

This spiritual gift gives the ability to go beyond our carnal or natural mind to believe the impossible:

Mat 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, with men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Naturally we are limited by our natural mind’s abilities as it processes input from the five senses and is influenced by our carnal thoughts and emotions. This gift of the spirit surpasses all these natural limitations as God gives us faith to see beyond our carnal mind.

Luk 17:5-6  And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.  6  And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.

Faith works beyond the natural realm. To believe in the resurrection from the dead, for example, is one of those gifts that resorts under “workings of powers”. It is beyond the carnal mind to believe God can actually resurrect dead people. That is why the carnal mind always wants to believe that something continues indefinitely after physical death occurs. The carnal mind needs a heretical ‘immortal soul’ to travel or continue after death. All carnal minds also believe certain things, but that faith is limited to earthly selfishness. The devils (Greek: “demons”) also believe that there is a God (as all religions do), and they tremble because that type of faith is based on fear and carnality:u

Jas 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

The gift of prophecy

1Co 12:10 …to another prophecy;

This is what prophecy means in a broad sense…

1Co 14:3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

All prophecy in the Old Testament pointed to a coming Messiah which was fulfilled in Jesus and is being fulfilled in His body. From the Old Testament perspective prophecy looks forward (is futuristic). However, when Jesus is revealed in us, this gift of prophecy helps the church to see Jesus from more than one perspective:

Rev 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

The gift of prophecy for the body of Christ is this revelation of Jesus which brings “edification, and exhortation, and comfort” to the body. It helps each member of the body of Christ to understand that “the sum of the Word” shall never pass away, and that each one lives from every word from God’s mouth, applicable for that person:

Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Psa 119:160 ASV. The sum of thy word is truth; And every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth for ever.

Mat 24:34-35  Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.  35  Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Mat 4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Psa 139:16 ASV  Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance; And in thy book they were all written, Even the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was none of them.

“Prophesy serves not them that believe not, but for them which believe” – it truly brings edification, and exhortation, and comfort to the body of Christ:

1Co 14:22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

The gift of prophecy teaches us to see that God has an order, and we should respect the decorum (decency) of the house of God:

1Co 14:39-40  Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.  40  Let all things be done decently and in order.

Ecc 5:1-3  Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.  2  Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.  3  For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.

The gift of discerning of spirits

1Co 12:10 …to another discerning of spirits;

There is no other way which God ordained that we can be able to discern spirits, except through the one absolute spirit of truth – ‘the words that I speak’ (written down in the Bible).

Joh 6:63 It is the Spirit that makes alive, the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and are life.

1Jn 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

This spiritual gift is very important if the body wants to function properly. There are many spirits (words and thoughts) to which we are exposed from an early age naturally, but they all must be weighed against the one true spirit – the Word of God. That is why it is extremely important to see whether what people say (if they claim spiritual insight) is found in “the sum” of the Word of God (two or three witnesses at least [Mat 18:16]) – then we are like the Bereans “more noble”:

Act 17:10-11 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

The gift of kinds of tongues (languages)

1Co 12:10 …to another divers kinds [Greek: “genos”] of tongues [Greek: “glōssa”];

In the phrase“divers kinds of tongues”…the word “kinds” is translated from the Greek word “genos”, which means “a family” or “group” or “a race” or “a nation”. The Greek word from which the word “tongue” was translated is “glōssa”, which is better translated as “languages”. Here are a few translations which says it clearer:

1Co 12:10  (GW)  Another can work miracles. Another can speak what God has revealed. Another can tell the difference between spirits. Another can speak in different kinds of languages [Greek: “glōssa”]. Another can interpret languages [Greek: “glōssa”].

1Co 12:10 (ISV)  to another miraculous results; to another prophecy; to another the ability to distinguish between spirits; to another various kinds of languages [Greek: “glōssa”]; and to another the interpretation of languages [Greek: “glōssa”].

1Co 12:10 (LITV)  and to another, workings of powers, and to another, prophecy, and to another, discerning of spirits, and to another, kinds of languages [Greek: “glōssa”], and to another, interpretation of languages [Greek: “glōssa”].

The “genos” of “glōssa” is better termed “language families”. God is using different languages in which His truth is brought to everyone whom He wants to reach in this age to be part of His elected few, no matter where on earth that person may find himself or herself!

Mat 24:31  And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Rev 5:8-9  And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.  9  And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.

The first time the gift of languages operated was in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost. The languages spoken on that occasion were known languages – not unknown. On this occasion the 120 disciples who were filled with the spirit were all Galileans, and they were caused (by the one spirit of God) to speak in other known languages they never learned naturally. These languages were familiar to the other unbelieving Jews (‘multitude’) from “every nation under heaven” who heard the noise:u

Act 2:5-6 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

From the account in Acts 2 we can count sixteen known languages mentioned there and people who spoke those languages were present. The Scriptures actually give us the names of the places from where these other Jews originated:

Act 2:7-12 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue [language], wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues [language] the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

This was done for one purpose: to speak “the wonderful works of God” to those who can receive the truth. This new language is the language of the spirit which follow them that believe:

Mar 16:17  And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

Any other motivation for speaking in other languages/symbols when no one understands the language/symbol is not profitable to anyone because nobody can hear the wonderful works of God. When we meet together (our love-feasts), we should prophecy, which means we should make the scriptures clear in order that everyone can be edified, exhorted and comforted.

1Co 14:1-4  Follow after charity [love], and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.  2  For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.  3  But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.  4  He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

All scripture is written in another language (the spiritual behind the letter) that few are given to understand. By interpreting the “language” or symbols in Scripture, we speak clarity and declare the wonderful works of God as a sign for the unbelievers (and the immature in spiritual understanding). In the mature the Word causes edification, admonition and comfort, and that is exactly what the gift of prophecy achieves. That is why Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 encourages prophecy when the church meets. Without prophecy (or interpretation) the speaker of another language is just interested in self-edification:

1Co 14:4 (ISV)  The person who speaks in another language builds himself up, but the person who prophesies builds up the church.

Paul (and all in the Christ) promotes prophesy above self-edification/-glorification when we meet:

1Co 14:5 (ISV)  Now I wish that all of you could speak in other languages, but especially that you could prophesy. The person who prophesies is more important than the person who speaks in another language, unless he interprets it so that the church may be built up.

Should we be zealous to speak the spiritual language of Scripture? Yes! Listen to what Paul says…

1Co 14:21  In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.

1Co 14:18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all.

When the body assembles, the priority is to edify the body, not ourselves only:

1Co 14:19 (Darby) but in the assembly I desire to speak five words with my understanding, that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.

The gift of the interpretation of tongues

1Co 12:10 … to another the interpretation [G2058] of tongues.

[G2058 = hermēneia (her-may-ni’-ah) From the same as G2059; translation: – interpretation – James Strong’s Dictionary of Greek words]

The word “interpretation is translated from the Greek word “hermeneia, which means “translation“. We know that to translate means to take something in one language and put it into its equivalent in another known language. We also learned through the years that translating languages is not a perfect science. There is much confusion at times in terms of translations, especially when we look at Bible translations. When it comes to the truth though, God has established ways and means by which He ensured His Word will not be perverted:

Psa 12:6  The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

God’s ecclesia in Christ, the called out ones, have been built on the truth throughout this age, and were given “keys” to translate the truth. Those who want to corrupt the Word were never successful:

Mat 16:17-19 CLV  Now, answering, Jesus said to him, “Happy are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood does not reveal it to you, but My Father Who is in the heavens.  18  Now I, also, am saying to you that you are Peter, and on this rock will I be building My ecclesia, and the gates of the unseen shall not be prevailing against it.  19  I will be giving you the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and whatsoever you should be binding on the earth shall be those things having been bound in the heavens, and whatsoever you should be loosing on the earth, shall be those having been loosed in the heavens.

There is only one way to interpret truth because God is not a God of confusion. If a spiritual truth is not understood, then the Scripture dictates that two or three other witnesses must be added to explain the one interpretation or meaning:

1Co 14:27-28 (MKJV) If one speaks in a language, let it be by two, or at the most three, and in succession. And let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him be silent in a church; and let him speak to himself and to God.

2Co 13:1 This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

The spirit of the Father always leads us into the truth and then confirms it through two or three witnesses. The spirit of God indeed teaches to compare spiritual with spiritual (Scripture with Scripture), if we can receive that the words He speaks are spirit and truth:

Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

1Co 2:13  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

If the person is not clear after this, then the mature should accept the measure of faith that God has given to that person for that specific time, and show patience (“think soberly”).

Rom 12:3  For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

1Co 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

THE DIFFERENT MINISTRIES AT WORK IN THE BODY OF CHRIST

Again, none of the ministries of the spirit of God work in isolation of the body of Christ. All ministries are given to the body to profit the whole body. Selfish ambitions are not tolerated in the body. The natural body will reject all foreign things and the spiritual body is no different. The Head is going to present His Church holy and without blemish:

Eph 5:25-27  …Christ also loves the church, and gave himself for it;  26  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  27  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Leadership ministries are given to “some” for the perfecting (maturing) of the saints and for the edifying of the body. These ministries are used by Christ to sanctify and cleanse His Church, to prepare them for their ultimate service as kings and priests in the thousand-year reign on earth and the judges in the lake of fire judgment (Rev 20). Here are a few leadership ministries that we must take note of…

1Co 12:28 (MKJV) And God set some in the church, firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers, then works of power, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, kinds of languages.

Eph 4:11-12 And truly He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

We know these lists complement each other and add to our overall understanding of God’s works (Psa 119:160; Isa 28:9-10). The word “some” in these verses (1Co 12:28; Eph 4:11-12) points to leadership functions when the church meets. Paul gives a specific order, and although some view this order only in the historic relevance of God setting up the church in the first century after Christ, this view however cannot fulfill the “is, was and will be” application of God’s Word. All these ministries are very relevant, and they all are important today as they were important 2000 years ago. Because the inward application is of higher spiritual value for God’s elect, this order rather refers to God setting up an order in our own lives as to how we grow in the revelation of Jesus Christ and His work in us. Therefore these ministries have a working functional role rather than just titles.

The gift of the ministry of the apostle

The ministry gift which is specifically mentioned “first” here is that of the function of the apostle:

1Co 12:28  And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

The words “some in the church” points to a leadership function, although all disciples of Jesus are “sent ones” which is what the word “apostle” means in the original Greek (“apostolos” = sent one).

Joh 17:18  As thou hast sent [Greek: apostellō] me into the world, even so have I also sent [Greek: apostellō] them [all disciples] into the world.

In terms of the church of Christ, this ministry leads as it lays the foundations of Christ’s doctrine in us and joins us with the “fellow citizens” of that household of God:

Eph 2:19-20 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.

We all start off by being dragged to the Christ by the Father, and we learn the foundational truths of the doctrine of Christ through God’s apostles (His ‘sent ones’):

Joh 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

This foundation is the preaching of the gospel on the sure foundation of Jesus Christ:

Rom 15:19-20 Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:

There is no other foundation than Jesus Christ, as He is also our Head (the Chief corner stone) of our salvation:

1Co 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1Pe 2:6-8  Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.  7  Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,  8  And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

The ministry of the apostle will always encourage the new disciple in Christ to continue growing in faith and not to remain in spiritual immaturity. We all start off with the apostle who helps us to lay the proper foundation of Christ’s doctrine. The number 12 is also used in Scripture as the number for foundations (see the notes on the spiritual meaning of the number 12 on the iswasandwillbe.com website for an in-depth study). When this foundation is not properly laid, our spiritual house will not last. That is why the function of the true apostle is not to keep us in spiritual immaturity, but to encourage us strongly to grow from that foundation, if God permits:

Heb 6:1-3  Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,  2  Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.  3  And this will we do, if God permit.

The false prophets are also to be taken note of as they are known to keep their followers immature as to have pre-eminence among them. Ishmael is also given as a type of this evil and false foundation in the Scriptures – it is on this earthy foundation that many have fallen prey to earthly blessings, physical fruitfulness, and pride-filled multiplications. These false apostles lay foundations that satisfy earthly greatness:

Gen 17:20  And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.

A certain Diotrephes is mentioned specifically by the apostle John for his love to have “preeminence” in the church (Greek: “philoprōteuō” – “to be fond of being first, that is, ambitious of distinction” – Dr James Strong’s Greek Dictionary), which is a counterfeit of the true apostle who is to be “first”:

3Jn 1:9-11  I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.  10  Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.  11  Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

The ministry gift of the prophet

The leadership ministry of the prophet is also a gift from the same Lord (1Co 12:5), and is given to “some in the church” for the perfecting (maturing) of the saints and for the edifying of the body:

Eph 4:11-12 And truly He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

1Co 12:28 (MKJV) And God set some in the church, firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers, then works of power, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, kinds of languages.

As with the ministry of the apostle, the prophet is also used to lay the foundations of truth in our lives:

Eph 2:19-20 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.

The ministry of the true prophet speaks edification, and exhortation, and comfort to the body of Christ:

1Co 14:3  But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

The ministry of the prophecy reveals the foundations of our natural hearts through the Word of God:

1Co 14:24-25 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

The Word which the true prophet speaks will reveal that our natural hearts (our thoughts) are initially inherently deceitful and desperately wicked, even as the initial heavens in us needs purification (Heb 9:23-28):

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

The ministry of the prophet of God helps us through the Word of God to destroy the foundations of lies and deceit on which our old man based his convictions.

2Th 2:3  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
2Th 2:4  Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

The function of false prophets is also something we need to take note. It is only by the ONE true spirit of God, which is His Word, that the true prophet of God exposes all prophets:

Joh 6:63  It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

1Jn 4:1  Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

The ministry gift of an evangelist

This leadership ministry of the evangelist is also important in the church of Jesus Christ:

Eph 4:11-12 And truly He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

Again, the word “some” is important to note because it points to a leadership function in the church. Although all Christians should evangelize (they share the good news to others whom God brings to them), this ministry gift is reserved for when the church meets together. The word “evangelist” is translated from the Greek word “euaggelistēs” which is given to the church to clarify the true gospel of Jesus Christ, Who will have all men to be saved, every man in his or her own order:

1Ti 2:3-4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

1Ti 4:10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

1Co 15:22-28  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.  23  But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.  24  Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.  25  For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.  26  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.  27  For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.  28  And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

We first read about this ministry of the evangelist in the book of Acts where Philip’s work in the first church is mentioned (he was also one of the first seven deacons):

Act 21:8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.

We all know how the Babylonian church system views evangelists as the bringer of the hellfire doctrine to save people from an eternal hell, which is far from the function of the true evangelist. That is the false evangelists. Just look how Philip dealt with the Ethiopian eunuch, and we can see some of the characteristics in the functions of the evangelist in this passage:

Act 8:26-40  And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.  27  And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,  28  Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.  29  Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join [Greek: “kollaō” – to glue, that is, (passively or reflexively) to stick (figuratively): – cleave, join (self), keep company – Dr James Strong’s Greek Dictionary] thyself to this chariot.  30  And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?  31  And he said, How can I, except some man should guide [Greek: “hodēgeō” – to show the way (literally or figuratively [teach]): guide, lead Dr James Strong’s Greek Dictionary] me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.  32  The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:  33  In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.  34  And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?  35  Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.  36  And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?  37  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  38  And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.  39  And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.  40  But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

From the sum of God’s word it is clear that this ministry of the evangelist is there to expound the Word of God, through a humble spirit of obedience to the spirit of God, and to guide those who ask in sincerity. The deep spiritual intimacy of Philip with this eunuch’s need is also notable. Paul encouraged Timothy as an evangelist to continue to preach the gospel, to encourage and support the churches and believers who are in need:

2Ti 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

The ministry gift of teachers-pastors (this ministry gift include the functioning of elders)

Another leadership ministry in the church is that of the teacher-pastor.

Eph 4:11-12 And truly He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

1Co 12:28 (MKJV) And God set some in the church, firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers, then works of power, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, kinds of languages.

Again we read the words “some in the church” as this ministry points to a leadership function in the church. Although all maturing disciples of Jesus should be able to teach and help others who need assistance in the doctrine of Christ, when the church meets together only “some” function to ensure order:

Heb 5:12-14  12  For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.  13  For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.  14  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

In the congregation the teachers are our instructors in the truth of God’s Word. There are those who think that the apostle John’s instruction that “no man can teach you” negates the teacher as an important ministry in the body.

1Jn 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

The word “man” in this verse makes a huge difference as to what John actually meant; seeing John would not contradict the Scriptures which point out that teachers are indeed a very important part of the church of Jesus Christ. The word “man” which John used refers to a carnal man who wants to have dominion over our faith, as that type of person is not a helper of our joy:

2Co 1:24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

Pastors are shepherds (the Greek word for shepherd is “poimēn” which is the same word for pastor in the Scriptures), and pastors/shepherds are also known as elders or bishops in the church. All of these have overseeing and teaching functions when the church meets together. This is what the following verses add to our understanding of these functions in the church leadership:

Eph 4:11  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors [Greek: “poimēn”] and teachers.

Act 20:28  Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers [Greek: “episkopos”], to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

1Ti 3:1-2  This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop [Greek: “episkopē”], he desireth a good work.  2  A bishop [Greek: “episkopos”] then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

The ministry gift of works of power

1Co 12:28 (MKJV) And God set some in the church, firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers, then works of power, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, kinds of languages.

The ministry of works of power relates to the gift discussed above. This is a leadership ministry in the church where God works powerful miracles. Here is an example of this ministry:

Act 20:7-12  And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.  8  And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.  9  And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.  10  And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.  11  When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.  12  And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.

The ministry gift of healing

1Co 12:28 (MKJV) And God set some in the church, firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers, then works of power, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, kinds of languages.

The ministry of healing relates to the gift of the spirit discussed above under “gifts”. This is a leadership ministry when the church meets together, where God works miracles within the congregation in terms of healing. This is what James is referring to in these words when it applies to physical illness also:

Jas 5:14-15  Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:  15  And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

The ministry gift of helps (this includes the functioning of deacons)

1Co 12:28 (MKJV) And God set some in the church, firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers, then works of power, then gifts of healings, helps [Greek: “antilepsis”], governments, kinds of languages.

The Greek word here is “antilepsis” which means “to relief” in this sense:

Rom 16:3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:

Aquila and his wife Priscilla are mentioned by Paul as his helpers in Christ Jesus, and the following passage sheds more light on how Aquila and Priscilla were helpers in Christ Jesus:

Act 18:24-28 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

This ministry of “helps” is not only applicable to spiritual help, but also to physically serve others (“serve tables”), as that is what the ministry of deacons also include:

Act 6:1-5  And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.  2  Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve [Greek: diakoneō] tables.  3  Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.  4  But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.  5  And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

The first deacons served [“diakoneō”] in terms of a leadership function established in the church, but all disciples are also called to “diakoneō” in the spiritual and physical needs of others, as God leads. Here are few examples of that in the Scriptures:

Mat 20:25-28  But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.  26  But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister [“diakonos”];  27  And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:  28  Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered [diakoneō” the verb of the noun “diakonos”] unto, but to minister [“diakoneō”], and to give his life a ransom for many.

Joh 12:26  If any man serve [diakoneō”] me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve [diakoneō”] me, him will my Father honour.

1Pe 4:10-11  As every man hath received the gift, even so minister [diakoneō”] the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  11  If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister [diakoneō”], let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Rom 15:25-26  But now I [Paul] go unto Jerusalem to minister [diakoneō”] unto the saints.  26  For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.

Joh 12:2  There they made him a supper; and Martha served [“diakoneō”]: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.

Mat 8:14-15  And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever.  15  And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered [“diakoneō”] unto them.

Rom 16:1-2  I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant [“diakonos”] of the church which is at Cenchrea:  2  That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.

The ministry gift of governments

1Co 12:28 (MKJV) And God set some in the church, firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers, then works of power, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, kinds of languages.

The Greek word in 1 Corinthians 12:28 for the English word “governments” is “kubernesis”, and this is the meaning according to Dr James Strong:

“kubernesis – Latin origin, to steer; pilotage, that is (figuratively) directorship (in the church)”.

This ministry has to do with steering away from danger (false doctrines) by giving spiritual advice and to provide leadership and guidance. This is what the function of elders is:

1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

Act 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

1Pe 5:1  So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:
1Pe 5:2  shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;
1Pe 5:3  not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

When there is a spiritual sickness, a false doctrine, among any member(s) of the body of Christ, it is the function of all the elders in the church to lead and to guide the whole church away from that wrong doctrine (Acts 6 is a good example). This is what James is referring to in these words when it applies also to spiritual illness:

Jas 5:14-15  Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:  15  And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

The ministry gift of kinds of languages

1Co 12:28 (MKJV) And God set some in the church, firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers, then works of power, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, kinds of languages.

This again links with the gift of languages discussed under “gifts”, but this is how it operates as a leadership ministry in the church. God has gifted a few with the ability to speak and understand different languages and as such helping to get the good news of Christ’s doctrine out to all whom Father is dragging to His church in this age:

Mat 24:31  And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Rev 5:8-9  And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.  9  And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.

OPERATIONS

Note this: before Paul introduces the operations he makes an important point that is sometimes missed. He asks certain questions of these carnal spiritual babies in Christ in the church in Corinth, concerning the gifts and ministries:

1Co 12:29-31 Are [Greek:“mē”] all apostles? Are [“mē”] all prophets? Are [“mē”] all teachers? Are [“mē”] all workers of miracles? Have [“mē”] all the gifts of healing? do [“mē”] all speak with tongues? Do [“mē”] all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

Seven consecutive questions starting with the Greek “mē”. According to James Strong when this word “mē” is used to introduce a question, it always indicates that a negative answer follows:

Strong’s number G3361: “mē”: A primary particle of qualified negation (whereas G3756 expresses an absolute denial); (adverbially) not, (conjugationally) lest; also (as interrogative implying a negative answer.

One reason for this is that Paul is telling the body that no one individual can possess all of the gifts/ministries. God has placed different members in the body to show all members/people are needed, and God placed the gifts/ministries in different people to force people to come together regularly to get nourishment from one another.

The other reason Paul introduces these questions knowing a “no” is the only answer is because he wanted these spiritually immature Christians to concentrate on a “more excellent way”. This “more excellent way” is indeed the driving force behind all the gifts and all the ministries:

1Co 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

After this verse, Paul shows this “more excellent way” as the way of love in 1Corinthians 13. God is love and that is what all will come to know:

1Jn 4:8  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

1Jn 4:16  And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

This love indeed has “diversities of operations” as we have discussed above in the gifts and ministries in the body of Christ. God is the one who works all of this…

1Co 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God [God is love] which worketh all in all.

In Chapter 13 of the first epistle to Corinthians, Paul explains how the “more excellent way” of love helps us to understand the “diversities of operations” of God’s spirit in the body. It all starts with love and ends with love!

1Co 13:13 (ASV) But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

God works His “operations” according to different levels of faith, hope and love in all in the body. The only one that will outdo all is the operation of love in us, because God is love. The body will be perfect and without blemish when it has fulfilled love for God, Jesus and His body by keeping His commandments:

Eph 4:13-16  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  14  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  15  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  16  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Eph 5:25-27  …Christ also loves the church, and gave himself for it;  26  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  27  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

This is the definition and fulfillment of love:

1Jn 5:2-3 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

God is love, and love also identifies the body of Christ, and love is the highest witness we have to be qualified as the saviors of the world (Oba 1:21):

1Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 

1Jn 4:10-16  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  11  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.  12  No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.  13  Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.  14  And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.  15  Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.  16  And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

IN CONCLUSION

An important question for members is how to find what your gift/ministry is in the body. You will know when you avail yourself and desire to serve. Others who are longer than you in the faith (‘the presbytery’/elders) will confirm that with “the laying on of hands”:

1Ti 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

Jas 2:22 Do you see how faith worked with his works, and from the works faith was made complete?

If God has anointed you for a particular role in the body, the evidence will be seen by others. The important aim of this all is the health and the growth of the body of Christ which is each member’s participation in it as the Head, Jesus, and His head, the Father, decide. The body is being perfected to be conformed to be like the Head to produce the fruit (the spiritual character) of the Father:

Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit [character] of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

The apostle Paul summarizes the purpose for this study about the gifts, ministries and operations in the spiritual body of Christ in this passage of Scripture:

Rom 12:5-21 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

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