7.5 The development of the ministries from the Apostle ministry

The only ministry given by Jesus Christ is the Apostle ministry. As of Pentecost, the Apostles began fulfilling their commission to spread the gospel in the developing congregations. Very soon it became clear that they would need helpers to cope with the many tasks that had arisen. At their suggestion, seven men were chosen by the congregation. Through laying on of hands and prayer, the Apostles equipped them spiritually for their ministry (Acts 6: 6). These seven men are described as the first Deacons. It was this practice–that is the laying on of hands and prayer of an Apostle–that established the foundation for future ordinations.

The Apostles and other believers established new congregations which required spiritual care. For this purpose the Apostles ordained congregational rectors. These were called "Bishops" or "Elders" (Greek: episcopoi or presbyteroi). From Titus 1: 5, 7 it is clear that both terms stood for one and the same task. In addition, prophets, Evangelists, pastors, and teachers were also active in the early Christian congregations (Ephesians 4: 11).

According to the testimony of the pastoral letters and the Didache [2], a hierarchy–which assured the spiritual life of the congregations–eventually began to develop along with the growth of the church, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

After the death of the early Apostles, spiritual commissions, each with different tasks and designations, began to develop.

SUMMARY

In order to cope with all the tasks incumbent on them the Apostles needed helpers. Through laying on of hands and prayer they equipped these men for their task. This practice established the foundation for future ordinations. (7.5)

Beyond that, Bishops or Elders, prophets, Evangelists, pastors and teachers helped along in the early Christian congregations by commission of the Apostles. As the church grew, a ministerial hierarchy developed under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. (7.5)

[2] Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles, assumed to have originated in ca. AD 100

See also