This is a study to help you be a Disciple of Jesus Christ

Lesson 5

Priesthoods of the Believer

Picture of the 12 tribes, God establishing the Israelite community

Num 2:1  The LORD said to Moses and Aaron:
Num 2:2  “The Israelites are to camp around the Tent of Meeting some distance from it, each man under his standard with the banners of his family.”

  • The entire community camped around the tabernacle, the church had a central place in the lives of the Israelite community Num 3:1-3
  • So here we have Aaron and his 4 sons who were anointed and ordained to serve as priest Num 3:5-7
  • God ordains Aaron and his sons to be priests and he calls the tribe of Levi to assist the priest
  • They are called to do the work of the tabernacle Num 3:17,  Num 3:32  

Gershonites Num 3:25-26

 Kohathites Num 3:28-31

Merari Num 3:36-37

The three tribes of Levi who were appointed to do the work of the tabernacle Num 3:39

  • This was the OT pattern,
    • We have 5 anointed and ordained priests
    • We have the tribe of Levi (the priesthood) to assist them with the work of the tabernacle
    • Here is the NT pattern

Eph 4:11  It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
Eph 4:12  to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
MSG Eph 4:12  to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church,

If we are to follow that pattern through correctly

  • God has appointed 5 Priests (the fivefold ministry) to oversee and equip the saints (priesthood) for the work of the ministry
  • God established a pattern that there would be no spectators in the priesthood but that every priest would have a function
  • It was God’s plan that each believer would have a responsibility in the Kingdom 1Pe 4:10-11
  • He is not going to ask you how did you go with your job, or how many cars you had, how many houses you owned, how high you were able to work yourself up the corporate ladder or how much you earned
  • He is going to ask you how did you function in the kingdom

Ephesians 4:8 NIV This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”
Ephesians 4:9 NIV (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?
Ephesians 4:10 NIV He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)
Ephesians 4:11 NIV It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers

Paul refers to the fivefold ministry gifts in Eph 4:11

We refer to these gifts as Ascension gifts because Christ gave them to men when he ascended on high. Notice that these gifts are given to some but not all. It is clear that not everyone will have one of these ministry gifts. Much confusion and frustration occur because some believers who have a Church gifting confuse it with a Christ’s gifting. For example, there is a big difference between having the gift of prophecy and the office of a prophet. Having the ability to teach and being a teacher or having a heart for people and being a Pastor

These gifts are God’s provision for the Church. It is God’s intention that these gifts prepare, equip or make ready the believers for the ministry God has given them. It is the responsibility of the Five-fold ministry to equip the people so that they will carry out the work of building up the church. Unfortunately, many believers have been led to believe that the ministry is the responsibility of just a select few, therefore they become observers and spectators and the effectiveness of the church is hampered

The effect on the Church has been devastating because the majority of believers have become inactive and ineffective. When this ministry functions as support and training gifts for the body, the Church can be released to its true God-given function, purpose and potential. Only then will the Church experience the growth God intended the Church to experience.


2 Cor 12:12  The things that mark an apostle, signs, wonders and miracles were done among you with great perseverance.

An Apostle is one who has extraordinary authority in spiritual matters. They often exercise leadership over a number of churches. Apostles often minister among the churches in an itinerant ministry and use a wide range of spiritual gifts. Some Apostles commence and establish new churches. There are fewer Apostles in the Church compared with other ministries. They are the establishers, the builders in a church, they are often the fathers in the faith that lead and teach with great wisdom. An apostle’s role would be to come and equip others to be builders, church planters, establishers 1 Tim 2:7


Acts 11:27-28 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.)

The prophet receives and communicates and an immediate message from God. The prophet hears from God and stimulates the Church to action. We need to realise that not everyone who prophesies is a prophet and the prophets of Eph 4:11 are different from the gift of prophecy in 1 Cor12:10.

The charismata expression of prophecy in 1 Cor 12 is for the moment only. The ascension gift of Eph 4 is a continuing gift. The prophet will be used by God to foretell or proclaim future events as God reveals.

The prophet will often receive God’s direction for a church, a person, and a situation. The prophet will always minister according to God’s quickened Word not a new revelation. The Prophet will strengthen a church and prepare a church to move in the direction God wants it to go.


Acts 21:8 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven.

Evangelists have a special ability to share the gospel with unbelievers and see them accept Christ. We can all do the work of an evangelist; every believer is a witness, but it has been suggested that about 10% of believers have a real heart to evangelise. Even fewer will function in the role of an evangelists. Evangelists often travel widely and are often used in the gifts of healing and miracles. The evangelist needs to train others in the body to become effective witnesses.

Pastor / Teacher

1 Tim 3:1 Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.

The ministry of the pastor and teacher are often considered together since in Eph 4:11 although the are two separate gifts. The pastor/teacher is one who cares for the flock of God and instructs the believers in the Word of God. Although these gifts often go together, they can operate separately.

There is a need for many of these giftings in the Church and so they are the most numerous. Pastors have a long-term commitment for the spiritual welfare of a group of believers.

The pastor is the elder that feeds and rules the flock they will also need to teach and oversee the flock by feeding through the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, the pastor leads the flock into knowledge and understanding. The feeding leads to growth and multiplication. 1Pet 5:2, Acts 20:28

In the New Testament, the terms pastor and shepherd refer to the same ministry. The pastor must be of good character and must train and care for the believer in the flock. The teacher has a God-given ability to communicate the Word of God in order to mature believers. Through the teaching ministry, the believer comes to health and grows in understanding of the Word of God.

Eph 4:11 says that God gave this gift to the church. We need to appreciate the role of these gifts in our lives and appreciate the provision of God for our care and development

NRSV Heb 13:17  Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing–for that would be harmful to you.

Although not everyone can have an ascension gift, we can appreciate these ministries and respond to them with respect and support them as they seek to fulfil their God-given responsibilities.

Please complete and submit this part of  lesson, we are looking forward to seeing what God has revealed to you in His Word and through this Study.

As disciples we don't always need more information but we need new revelation from God. Is there a certain part of the teaching that you loved, that stood out for you or you felt God was giving you insight into it?
Discipleship is all about learning God says. What was something new that you learnt in this lesson?
Putting God's word into practice is the greatest thing we can do. Was there a lesson, a principle or a promise that you can put into practice in your life?
The greatest part of discipleship is taking what you have learnt and sharing it with someone else. What part of this lesson could you pass on to others?
If there are any questions or queries about this lesson or regarding the school of ministry please feel free to ask.