1 Corinthians 12:27-31
The next logical step in understanding is:
THE MINISTRIES ARE CLASSIFIED.
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?
The apostle Paul raises some questions. How he does is most striking, for every one of them is so framed as to expect a negative answer. If properly translated they would say,
All are not apostles, are they? And the answer is obviously no, not all are apostles.
All are not prophets, are they? No, not all are prophets.
All are not teachers, are they? No, all are not teachers.
All are not miracle workers, are they? No, not all are miracle workers.
All are not charismatic healers, are they? No, all are not charismatic healers.
All are not speakers of many languages, are they? No, not all are speakers of many languages.
All are not interpreters of languages, are they? No, not all are interpreters of languages.
When each gift functions where it is placed, there is harmony in the body. When anyone of these is overemphasized, there is disharmony. It is clearly stated by Paul that he was not expecting everybody or anybody to function in all of these areas. I believe necessity determines function, and function helps to classify ministries.
The concluding step of understanding is:
THE MINISTRIES ARE JUSTIFIED
31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
The word justified is used deliberately because you need to understand that the apostle says the best gifts are to be sought after. He said, “But covet earnestly [or desire passionately] the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” It seems that these ministries are on a descending scale; apostles, prophets, teachers, and on to the bottom. So the best would be at the top.
Now we have a right to question whether several of these function today. Do we have apostles in the sense the word is used here or in the sense Jesus used it?
Do we have prophets today in the sense it is spoken of in either of the Testaments? Prophets were those who lived close enough to God that He could speak to them and they could tell things to come. I believe that divine revelation finished with the last word of the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation. I do not think we have today any revelation comparable to the Bible. So we are not talking about prophets in that sense. We may talk about prophets in terms of exhortation but not in terms of foretelling the future independent of the Bible.
We can draw a valuable lesson from verse 31: “covet earnestly,” desire deeply, “the best gifts.” Seek what edifies the body. Yet he said, “I show you a more excellent way.” Chapter 13 is that marvelous love chapter from the pen of the apostle Paul.
So the ministries in the body when properly used create a harmony and well-being in the body. I do not presume to tell you which ministry you may be called to do; I only say work this out between you and the Lord. There most likely is a relationship between the gift and the ministry.
There are three steps to understanding the ministries in the body:
THE MINISTRIES ARE IDENTIFIED
THE MINISTRIES ARE CLASSIFIED
THE MINISTRIES ARE JUSTIFIED
I trust God will help you find the place where you are to serve in the body of Christ. Amen.