a. Three Groups
(i) "Twelve apostles of the Lamb" (Matt.10:1-5; Rev.21:14) have a special relationship to the nation of Israel (Rev.21:12). In the age to come, they will sit on twelve thrones judging Israel (Matt.19:28)
(ii) "Ascension apostles" have a special relationship to the Gentile church. Those mentioned in the New Testament are Paul and Barnabas (Acts.14:14), Andronicus and Junia (Rom.16:7), James (Gal.1:19), Silas and Timothy (1Thess.1:1; 2:6) and others (1Cor.9:5; 2Cor.8:23)
(iii) "False apostles" are those who make boastful public claim to being apostles but are not (2Cor.11:13; Rev.2:2). A sign of a false apostle may be this boastful claim to being an apostle.
b. Signs of True Apostles
(i) Godly Character (2Cor.12:12)
(ii) Signs, Wonders, and Miracles (Acts 2:42; 4:30; 5:12; 14:3; Heb.2:2-4)
(iii) Preach the Gospel to those who had never heard the Gospel (Rom.15:20; 2Cor.10:16)
(iv) Willingness to Suffer (Acts 9:16; 1Tim.1:16; 2Cor.11:18-28)
The company of apostles (collectively) were responsible for the doctrine of the church (Acts 2:42; 15:1-35; 1Cor.14:37), correct practices in the church, the spiritual life and purity of the church. However, their teachings were subject to comparison with the Scripture and rejected if not scriptural (Acts 17:10,11).
a. Work With Apostles (Luke 11:49; 1Cor.12:28; Eph.2:20; Rev.18:20)
b. Foretold Events and Warned of Danger (John 16:1; Acts 11:28; 21:10,11; 15:32)
c. Confirmed What God Had Spoken (1Thess.5:20; Acts 20:23; 21:4,11-14).
d. Their Words Should Be Examined (Deut.18:22; Jer.28:9; 1Cor.14:29; 1Thess.5:19-21; Deut.13:1-5)
These are individuals who are gifted in the preaching of the gospel and help others accept the Lord Jesus as Savior (Acts 8:5-13; 8:26-40; 21:8)
a. Signs of an Evangelist
(i) Travels to many places and preaches Christ (Acts 8:5)
(ii) Signs, wonders and miracles follow (Acts 8:6-13)
(iii) Holds city-wide meetings (Acts 8:5)
(iv) Does personal (one on one) evangelism (Acts 8:26-40)
(v) (Along with the other 4 leadership gifts) Equips believers for works of service (Eph.4:11,12)
The word pastor is the same as shepherd. Pastors guard, guide, care for, discipline, pray for, love and minister to the local congregation of believers under their charge (Acts 20:28). They should meet the qualifications in 1Tim.3:1-13; Tit.1:5-9.
Teachers are enabled by the Holy Spirit to help others understand God's Word and God's plan. The gift of teaching is often combined with the role of pastor or elder (1Tim.3:2; Tit.1:9).
1. The Five "G's"
(i) Apostles GUARD the church from false doctrine and practice.
(ii) Prophets GUIDE the church in evangelism and missionary outreach.
(iii) Evangelists GATHER in the unbelievers through preaching the Word with the accompaniment of healing, exorcism, and miracles.
(iv) Pastors GROW believers until they reach spiritual maturity.
(v) Teachers GROUND the believers on the solid rock, Christ Jesus.
2. Jesus, our Model
(i) Apostle (Heb.3:1)
(ii) Prophet (Luke 24:19; John 4:19; Acts 3:22-26)
(iii) Evangelist (Luke 4:18)
(iv) Pastor (John 10:2; Heb.13:20; 1Pet.5:4)
(v) Teacher (John 3:2)
3. Job Descriptions, Not Titles
Church leaders may be combinations of the above. Some are evangelist-pastors. Others are prophet-pastors. Still others may be pastor-teachers or apostle-pastors.
In the New Testament, these terms were not used as titles. They were used as job descriptions, to describe the function or gifts a man had.
Church leaders must avoid giving themselves titles of honor (Matt.23:8-12). Those called to church leadership are just servants of the Lord and of His flock (Rom.1:1; Tit.1:1).
Let us follow the example of Peter, "even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you" (2Pet.3:15). he chose his words wisely when he referred to another leader as "brother Paul," not "Apostle Paul." Shouldn't we do the same?