Formalized Ministry The constituency of the Early Church was listed as saints, elders, and deacons in Philippians 1:1. And we know that the early Christians were familiar with the Synagogue style of congregating with a leadership of archisynagogos, hazzars, and almoners. So they would have considered some type of formal spiritual leadership necessary in the fledgling Church.

And we see in Ephesians 4:11 a list of ministers given by the Apostle Paul "that were for the edification of the congregations." Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastor/Teachers But were ministries formalized into leadership roles by this time in church history? Or were these, as some contend, just descriptions of ministering done at that time?

If they were "formalized" in New Testament times and functioning in those churches, do Evangelical Protestants consider them as also legitimate ministry with a leadership role in modern Local Congregations? Do they consider the N.T. listing a pattern for modernity?

Jesus Christ has abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Evangel whereunto I am appointed a Herald, an Apostle, and a Teacher to the nations. (2 Timothy 1:10,11)

  • Interesting question, but I am not sure I got right where do you hope to arrive with it.
    – Leandro
    Dec 7, 2023 at 14:15

1 Answer 1


It seems that the only formalised roles were saints (all admitted to the Church), elders and deacons. Also apostles, but their names were fixed as the original ones (witness Paul describing himself as an ‘abortive’). There is no evidence that Ep. iv:11 describe anything but informal ministries. So, the NT listing you refer to is the one in i:1. While evangelists would perhaps be appointed formally, the NT does not establish a list of requisites, so it would not be normative to appoint them formally. Prophets are a more interesting case, as I Co seems to imply that they had to be judge of all the church, with no other criteria than those of Deuteronomy.

  • @ Leandro - Thanks for your input. Does the fact that the listing in Ephesians are "personal nouns" not verbs, point to the idea that men in the eldership are meant? The Church was "built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets" so do you think these two were specific ministries.? (Eph. 2:20; Revelation 18:20) ---"Prophets and Teachers" are listed in Act 13:1, so would we be justified in adding "Teachers" to the list of formal ministers (paster/teachers)? Philip was called an "Evangelist" so could we assume that ministry was recognized by the Church, if not just Luke (Acts 21:8)?
    – ray grant
    Dec 7, 2023 at 21:14
  • I guess things are a bit more complicated than you seem to assume. No, I would not think anything restricts the functions above to eldership. Why would one think so? Ministries yes, but not regular offices; Apostles were the twelve plus Paul, prophets seem to point to OT writers. Teachers are sometimes interchangeable with Pastors, but could be also a reference to a function that was never formalised. Same for Evangelists.
    – Leandro
    Dec 8, 2023 at 20:14
  • @ Leandro - Does the listing by Paul himself in 2 Timothy 1:10,11 lend credibility to Teachers being a definite category, along with Apostles? And then, what about Heralds of the evangel (Evangelists)? If they weren't then should Paul have used different wording?
    – ray grant
    Dec 20, 2023 at 23:32

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