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I've heard Christians claim that someone may have the "gift of apostleship", even though they may lack the "church office" of apostle itself. Same for prophet, evangelist, teacher, etc.

What is the biblical basis for making this distinction? What biblical reasons are there for talking about the "gift of X" and the "church office of X" as two separate categories, where X can be apostle, prophet, pastor, evangelist, teacher, etc.?

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  • What is the biblical basis for these being church offices? Apr 29 at 20:48

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Because the two can be different.

If somebody starts an evangelism ministry, organizes evangelism events, preaches the good news and hundreds of people are converted as a result, would you say that they are not an "evangelist"? If someone speaks truthful prophecy, which is insightful and true and comes from God, are they not a prophet?

Are these gifts, talents, whatever, only valid if the person is given a formal title to go with it?

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  • Interesting thought experiment. However, I think it depends on who gives the formal title. For example, if God gives the gift of prophecy to a person, wouldn't that mean that God is also declaring that person to be a prophet of the Body of Christ? In other words, even if in the natural you have not received the "official title" from a human institution, perhaps in the spiritual realm God has already declared you to be a prophet.
    – user50422
    Apr 29 at 20:45
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Because someone might exercise that spiritual gift in other areas than the Church itself, and many of the gifts aren't associated with offices to begin with.

For instance, take the spiritual gift of leadership. It's possible that God might grant them that gift with the intention of then leading secular bodies like governments or businesses in a way that benefits God's kingdom. Someone given the gift of teaching might teach in a secular school.

Similarly, some gifts such as the gift of helps, mercy, or faith aren't really associated with church positions to begin with.

Here is a webpage that lists all the spiritual gifts described in the Bible, with relevant citations, though it takes a Cessationist stance on some of them that some people disagree with.

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