Ministries In The Body – Part 1

Hope for Today (English)
Hope for Today (English)
Ministries In The Body - Part 1
1 Corinthians 12:27-31

The church is a functioning body. Like the human body, every member is important. In the church, each member comes into the body the same way, and each has a distinct place or function, just like the members of our physical bodies. This is clearly taught in I Corinthians 12. There are in the church certain offices or responsibilities the apostle Paul found necessary to define.

Paul wrote to help the members of the church recognize order and leadership in the body. Not all members are the same, as we can easily see when we look at our own bodies.

As he had warned them about a schismatic spirit, claiming to be of Paul, Apollos, Cephas, or Christ, so now Paul taught them how to recognize the MINISTRIES IN THE BODY. That was important for them and it is for us.

In I Corinthians 12:27-31 Paul analyzed these ministries:

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

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.

29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

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

In this part of his Corinthian letter, Paul analyzed the ministries of the body in several well-defined STEPS.

The foundational step to understanding the ministries in the body is:


27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

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.

Paul told us what the gifts are and what their purposes are, in a measure. First, there are “apostles.” They were a special group. The word is used first in the New Testament in connection with Jesus when He sent forth the twelve in Matthew 10:2-4. He called unto Him the twelve apostles, who are named: Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas; Matthew the publican; James the son Alphaeus; and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite; and Judas Iscariot. According to Matthew 10:5, “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go.” That gives meaning to the word apostle. It means “a sent one, one sent with a mission.”

The word apostle is used 81 times in the New Testament. It is used in different occasions and under different circumstances. The word is not used in the Old Testament at all. There is even no equivalent to the word.

There can be false apostles, persons who claim to be apostles and are not. Paul told of them in II Corinthians 11:13: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ,” which by implication they were not.

Second, there are “prophets.” This office in the Old Testament differs from apostles. The New Testament recognizes several Old Testament prophets: Elijah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Jonah, Joel, Samuel, and Daniel. The first use of the word prophet in the New Testament is found in Matthew 1:22. After the angel told Joseph to take Mary as his wife and to name her first-born son Jesus, the Scripture reports, “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet.” It was the prophet Isaiah talking about the virgin birth seven hundred years before Christ. So the word prophet is an Old Testament concept used in the New Testament.

The prophet was one who foretold events. Scholars talk about the prophet being a fore-teller and forth-teller. But in the Old Testament, the prophet is referred to as a seer. That means he could “see” down the corridor of time and see what the ordinary person could not see. The New Testament Greek word means one who foretells. The word is used 161 times in the New Testament.

Third, “teachers” are listed. This also is a significant word. The noun didaskalos is used 57 times. The verb form didasko means “teaching.” It is used 91 times.

When Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, he addressed Him: “Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God, because no man can do the miracles that thou doest except God be with him” (John 3:2). So a teacher is expected to explain the truth. A teacher may be classified as one who says to the people around him, “Here, let me show you.” A teacher does more than tell, he shows.

After that is the gift of “miracles.” The same word is used in Acts 1:8: “Ye shall receive power,” or enabling.

Next are gifts of “healings.” Charismatic healing is the possibility of laying hands on people who are healed.

Sixth on the list is “helps.” An assistant is one who helps carry the load. One may have “A Helping Ministry” to help people in need.

Then comes “governments,” the ability to control, administrate. People with that gift are able to see quickly the situation and give guidance. Actually, in the Greek language, this word is used for a helmsman, a shipmaster, one who steers the ship and is able to guide it to its destination (used in Acts 27:11; Revelation 18:17).

Finally, we have “diversities of tongues.” Our word species is from the Greek word translated “diversities.” And “tongues” has in it more the idea of languages and does not necessarily refer to ecstatic languages but the gift of mastering various languages.

So there are eight categories of ministries identified: apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle workers, gifts of healings, helps, governments, and diversity of tongues.