This passage makes it clear that after His ascension into heaven (Acts 1:9) to be enthroned at the right hand of the Father (Eph 1:20- 23), Jesus then distributed these five ministry gifts to His Church.

Each of these ministry gifts is by itself only a partial expression of Christ’s own complete ministry. No single person could contain the entire ministry of Jesus.

These five ministry gifts are like the fingers on the human hand. When any of them is missing or they won’t work together, our abilities are weakened.

Three important truths emerge from this passage of Scripture:

  1. The Five Ministry Gifts – Are Given By Christ Alone

They cannot be given by human appointment or ability. They cannot be given or taken by any person who simply wants to have that particular gift. These five ministry gifts are bestowed by Christ alone. It is He Who gives and empowers these gifts.

  1. The Five Ministry Gifts – Function By Grace

These gifts will function properly only under the guidance, control, and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit of God that applies God’s grace to our lives and ministries. The Greek root-word for “gift” is the same as grace -“charis“. The gifts of God cannot operate fully or properly without the Spirit of God leading and guiding us as we seek to serve the Church.

  1. The Five Ministry Gifts – Require A Servant’s Heart

These five gifts – apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher are not titles. They were never used as titles in the New Testament. They were actually used as job descriptions to portray a functional service role in the Church.

Remember Christ’s own words when He described  His ministry: “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matt 20:28).

Let us not be anxious to grab for titles or lofty positions. Instead, let us be of the same mind and heart that is in Christ (Phil 2: 1-8), and desire to serve others.

The Purpose Of The Five Ministry Gifts

We know that all members of the Body of Christ have their part to play in edifying the Church and glorifying Christ.

However, the ascended Christ has given the five ministry gifts for a specific purpose described for us in Ephesians 4:12: ”For tile equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ.”  

The word “equipping” in this verse is translated from the Greek word katartismos, which means “to make complete”. It comes from the root-word katartizo, meaning “to repair or adjust; to make fit, mend; to perfect, prepare, restore”.

In other words, one could describe the purpose of the five ministry Gifts this way: “To prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up“.

Christ gives ministry gifts to certain believers NOT to enable them to do the work of the ministry by themselves – but to enable them to prepare other believers to do the work of the ministry also.