Original Research

The fivefold ministry in African neo-Pentecostalism: Constructing a Pentecostal theology of edification

Mookgo S. Kgatle
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 58, No 1 | a3034 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v58i1.3034 | © 2024 Mookgo S. Kgatle | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 October 2023 | Published: 15 March 2024

About the author(s)

Mookgo S. Kgatle, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

The fivefold ministry is the belief in the functioning of the five offices in ecclesial leadership such as apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists. Contrary to the practice in mainline Christianity and classical Pentecostalism, African neo-Pentecostals believe that the fivefold ministry is functional in the contemporary church as much as it was in the early church. Hence, the clergy in these churches takes on various titles such as ‘apostles’ and ‘prophets’ as opposed to traditional titles such as ‘reverend’ and ‘priest’. However, some African neo-Pentecostals have used this conceptual framework for the attainment of titles without training, ordination, and formal recognition. In addition, the practice of fivefold ministry in African neo-Pentecostalism has opened a door for other non-conventional titles like ‘major 1’ and ‘seer 1’ to name a few. Furthermore, there is also an overemphasis of titles as if there is competition within the fivefold ministry. This article argues that the biblical (particularly the New Testament) purpose of the fivefold ministry, is the edification of the church rather than the abuse of titles and competition by the clergy within African neo-Pentecostalism. The theoretical framework for the Pentecostal theology of edification is constructed within the biblical perspective on fivefold ministry in Ephesians 4:11. The framework is important in demonstrating that the fivefold ministry is important for the edification of the body of Christ. The use of the fivefold ministry is expected to benefit the church, not individual apostles, and prophets. Equally, the fivefold ministry encourages the participation of all believers.

Contribution: This article discusses the challenges of the abuse of ministry titles and other non-conventional titles by neo-Pentecostal groups from a Pentecostal perspective, and compares it to the biblical justification for the existence of such ministries in the early church.


Keywords

fivefold ministry; African neo-Pentecostalism; Pentecostal theology; edification; titles.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

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