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There are two leadership offices in the church: the Bishops and Deacons. A bishop has authority over a deacon, and is responsible for watching for the people of God’s souls and for spreading the Word of God. (Hebrews 13:7, 17) A deacon, on the other hand, is responsible for maintaining the natural side of the church. While a deacon does pray and fast for the people, a bishop does this even more so. It’s the deacon that is more focused on making sure that things run smoothly in the church, such as: the upkeep of church facilities, and making sure that the various departments in the church are doing their jobs and that no one in the church is being neglected naturally. All this is found in Acts 6:1-6, where it says, “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. 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 tables. 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. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 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: whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.” Now, I say (to clarify) that a deacon can minister the Word of God as well, because later on in this chapter, we find Stephen doing just that. But it’s the bishops that primarily have the task of preaching the Word. And it’s also good to know that a deacon can later become a bishop, like Philip is later revealed to be an Evangelist (which is a bishop (keep reading, this will be explained, also)).
Before we go further, I think it’s good to clear up a common misunderstanding. Some of you reading this may be wondering why the office of an Elder wasn’t mentioned in the previous chapter. Well, that’s a good question. The office of an elder was not mentioned because there is no such office. Elder is not an ordained office. There are many churches in which the leaders lay hands on men and ordain them to be Elders, but that’s not what the Bible says to do. The Bible says to ‘ordain elders’, not ordain men to be elders. First, you need to know what an elder is. An elder is an old man (it’s just that simple), one that is aged. And, when Paul told Titus in Titus 1:5 to “ordain elders in every city”, he was telling Titus to ordain the older men that are faithful, rooted and grounded, and ordain them to be bishops or deacons. You see, you do not have to ordain a man to be an elder. He is your elder whether you lay hands on him or not. This misunderstanding is why you have churches ordaining teenagers and young men to be Elders! When they introduce themselves as being Elder, but they are younger than you, and you’re still young, then there’s something wrong with that picture! Of course, any old man in the faith can use this title when introducing himself, and it makes perfect sense, because he is an elderly person. Some get confused when they read in Acts 14:23, where it says “…when they had ordained them elders in every church”. The word them is referring to Paul and Barnabus, because it was ‘them’ that did the ordaining. They did not lay hands on them and say, “You are now an Elder”, no, no, no, they ordained them to be bishops!!!
Now, don’t take this information wrong. Elders in the church are very, very important!!! They have a serious role in the church. It was the apostles and elders that always came together to discuss important matters in the church. You see, the apostles highly valued the thoughts and views of the Holy Ghost filled older men in the church. Acts 16:4 says, “And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.” No doubt, some of these elders were Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and/or Teachers.
Now, back to the bishops and deacons. They both must be blameless before they can serve in their office (see 1st Timothy 3:2-12 and Titus 1:6-10 for Bishop/Deacon list of qualifications). A deacon is chosen by the saints, and then hands are laid upon them by the bishopric. But a bishop is chosen because of the manifestation of his gift that God gave him. Proverbs 18:16 says, “A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.” Now we’re getting somewhere.
Many don’t understand how the bishopric works, because the Church Leadership Structure hasn’t been set up correctly for such a long time. The reality of it is this: the bishopric is an office, and the bishops which hold that office are divided into five categories of gifts, having different levels of authority, which are these: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers, the Five-Fold Ministry. These are the five gifts of the Office of the Bishopric. And so, when a man in the church begins to display one of these gifts, when he is no longer a novice (a beginner in the faith), hands will be laid upon him by the other bishops.
Here is an explanation of the five gifts:
First are the Apostles, which have the highest level of authority in the church, due to the revelation they receive from God concerning his Word and desire for His people. All apostles do not have the same knowledge or level of revelation from the Spirit. Some of the apostles are, simply put, very strong, honest hearted leaders (but not receiving deep mysteries from God), while others, like Peter and Paul, are very gifted in the area of understanding the deep mysteries of God, and you will have some apostles that also have the gift of a prophet. But combined, they are all very important to the work of the ministry.
Second are the Prophets. They also have a high authority in the church, because they receive revelation from God in the form of prophesying things to come, and giving warnings and direction for God’s people.
And, third you have the teachers of the church, which are divided into three kinds of teachers specializing in three types of teaching: the Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. Evangelists have authority over the pastors and teachers, and the pastors have authority over the teachers.
Evangelists receive messages from the Apostles and Prophets. These messages are instructions or even revelations that the church needs to hear. The evangelists then aid the apostles and prophets in delivering these messages to any Pastor that the apostles and prophets send them to.
The Pastors receive these messages from the evangelists, and the Pastors feed the flock of God. They comfort the Body of the Messiah with the Message of God, and exhort them to continue in it. The pastors do not come up with their own revelation from the Scriptures. No, no, no, they get their message from the evangelist, who got his message from the apostles and prophets. They know that the evangelist has authority over the pastor (nowadays, most churches teach that the Pastor is over the Evangelist, but this is a great error).
The Teachers assist the Pastors by teaching the Body. While the pastors are more focused on comforting the people, and keeping them encouraged, the teachers focus on breaking down the Word of God for the people so that they may get a perfect understanding of God’s message to the people.
All five of these gifts are found in the Bishops of Yahweh the Almighty God, and there’s no limit to how many there can be.
I have heard of men claiming to be a pastor, saying that some day they hope to be ordained as a Bishop. Well, that doesn’t make any sense because a pastor is a bishop.
Now, it’s important to know that an apostle who has never received revelation of the deep mysteries can suddenly receive a revelation from God. A prophet can move up to an apostle. An evangelist can become a prophet or an apostle. A pastor can become an evangelist, and so on and so forth. And, a prophet can change to be called a pastor. An evangelist can be changed to a pastor, depending on the need of the church. And, of course, an apostle can do the work of a prophet, evangelist, pastor or a teacher, if he has to.
But, only pride and wanting to exercise lordship would lead a preacher to want to be the only preacher. Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey them that have the rule over you…”, not obey him that has the rule over you!!! The church needs multiple leaders, so that if one falls, then the others can help lift him back up. And if one leader gets wrong, then the others can straighten him out. Ecclesiastes 4:9-14 says, “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished. For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.” Also, Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”
There is no man on earth right now that has the right to be called the Chief Apostle, Chief Bishop, General Overseer, Chief Deacon or Chief anything!!! Even Peter wasn’t the chief! Y’Shua the Son of God is the only Chief the church needs. He is the Chief Apostle and Bishop of our souls!!! He alone is the General Overseer. The Bishops are just regular overseers. Anytime a preacher tries to exalt himself over the whole church, he is behaving carnally and is beside himself, because the Holy Ghost is in charge, not a man. He uses all the bishops to lead the church. That’s why if an Apostle turns from righteousness, even the least of the brothers can rebuke him in the name of Y’Shua Messiah. The Son of God himself told the apostles in Mark 10:42-45, “Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” So, as 1st Timothy 5:17 says, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” Nevertheless, we cannot esteem any man above that which is written, and the Bible warns us not to be extortioners, and to extort is to obtain from a person by force, intimidation, or undue or illegal power. So then, according to Mark 10:42-45, all a bishop has the power to do is be a servant to the people. Yes, fair enough, the Bible does say not to ‘muzzle the ox that treadeth the corn’, but that does not negate the fact that a bishop cannot be ‘greedy of filthy lucre’, because ‘gain is not godliness’!
So, this is the way the church is supposed to be set up. Ephesians 4:11-16 clearly states, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 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: 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; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 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.” You see, it’s impossible for the church to be perfected without the Leadership Structure of the Church set up properly. It said ‘for the perfecting of the saints’.
The Bible also says in 1Corinthians 14:29-33, “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” Now this scripture can only come alive when you have the Five-Fold Ministry working in the church. How can you bear witness of these things