He Gave Gifts unto Men

Duane Gallentine

God's design in the edification process is to bring into the lives of the saints, the members of the Body of Christ--the Church of this Dispensation of the Grace of God, doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. This is true whether one studies the beginning days of the Dispensation of the Grace of God with Paul the Apostle or if one comes to understand today what God is doing in the Body of Christ.

At the Dawn of the Dispensation of Grace [Acts 9], God called His arch-enemy Saul of Tarsus by his Grace and made him to be the Apostle of/to the Gentiles, the Teacher of the Gentiles, an Evangelist of the Gospel of the Grace of God, a Prophet and a Pastor [Galatians 1:15; Romans 11:13; 1 Timothy 2:7; Colossians 1:23; Acts 13:1; 2 Corinthians 11:28].

Starting with Paul as the Apostle of/to the Gentiles, God in the ascension of Christ to be Head of all things gave gifts unto men so the Body of Christ would be built up in the body of truth called The Mystery [Romans 11:13; Ephesians 4:8-12; Romans 16:25,26; Ephesians 2:20]. According to Ephesians 4:9-11, these gifts were men; yes, gifted men but nevertheless men as the gifts. These apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers were part of the Body of Christ. These are not the same as the Twelve apostles or the old testament prophets. These are Body ministers.

God set the members every one of them in the Body as it hath pleased him [1 Corinthians 12:18]. Paul and the other God given 'gifts' were ordained of God [1 Timothy 2:7; Philippians 2:19-21,25]. They were the higher powers, the rulers, and the ministers of God [Romans 13:1,3,4]. These men were to have an effective ministry which would provide edification, exhortation, and comfort to the members of the One Body [1 Cor 14:3; Ephesians 4:12; 1 Timothy 4:16]. These gifts unto men were "to thee (Body of Christ) for good" continually looking upon this edifying [Romans 13:4].

All of these gifts were temporary in nature for they have all died. Some of them, specifically those sign gifted ministers, possessed spiritual gifts that were to cease, vanish, and fail as the full knowledge (Greek: epi-gnosis) of the MYSTERY REVELATION was given to Paul [1 Corinthians 13:8-12; 2 Corinthians 12:1,7]. These sign gifted ministers had these special manifestations of the Spirit removed from their ministry. This removal occurred during the two year period of Acts 28:30. After the close of the Book of Acts and while the writings containing the epi-gnosis (full-knowledge) of the Mystery were being penned, there were no more God given tongues, miracles, healing, and prophesying, for God Himself removed the sign gift ministry.

During those two years as Paul was in jail at Rome, he pens the epistles which contain the full-knowledge of the MYSTERY REVELATION: Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. During this time there still existed those who were apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers and pastors, though their particular ministries could no longer exhibit the super natural manifestation of the Spirit. Factually, Paul was still an Apostle and wrote as such [Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1], but after the close of the Book of Acts his ministry was without the "signs of an apostle" [Philippians 2:27; 2 Timothy 4:20].

After the full deposit of Grace Truth was given to Paul that concluded this particular revelation of Jesus Christ according to the MYSTERY, God finalizes the edification process through Scripture. Those men who were once the "gifts unto men" were diminishing by the time Paul had written his last epistle which brought to fullness the canon of Scripture.

Second Timothy 3:16,17 reveals that the four-fold ministry of the gifted men had been replaced with Scriptures that do the very same thing. God replacing their four-fold ministry of doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness with His Word of Truth found in a Book rightly divided. No longer men as 'gifts' unto the Body of Christ, but God's full complete Word of Truth...i.e. a Bible without error.

With the Epistle of Second Timothy being the last book in the Bible to be written, God had used His internal 'gift system' to copy, collect, and collate all which is Scripture. The Body of Christ, the church of the living God, was the pillar and the ground of the truth [1 Timothy 3:15]. God's design was to have all Scripture resident within the Body of Christ before Paul died with his Second Epistle to Timothy concluding the deposit of Truth. We have sixty-six books of Scripture found in a one volume book. These are the Writings that God breathed, called Scripture [2 Timothy 3:16,17; Romans 16:25,26; 1 Corinthians 14:37; Colossians 4:16].

Though religion will not recognize it and moves to oppose it, it is very clear that since the death of Paul God's edifying process for giving doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness to the Church has been through the Bible; NOT a man in a ministry, for that is not the means as stated in 2 Timothy 3:16. Through the Word of Truth found in a BOOK studied "rightly divided" we grow up IN CHRIST and become workmen of God [Ephesians 4:15; 2 Timothy 2:15].

At this present time there are two offices in the Body of Christ that are becoming to the edification process. These offices existed during the Acts period [see Acts 14:23; 20:28; Philippians 1:1] and continued to be operative during Paul's waning years. Subsequent to the 'epi-gnosis' having been delivered by revelations of Jesus Christ to Paul, he instructed Timothy and Titus to rectify problems in Ephesus and Crete through "Sound Doctrine" resident in the offices of bishops and deacons [1 Timothy 1:3-7; 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-13]. For present day church leaders to neglect God's revelation concerning present day edification of the saints is to cavort with a ship wrecked faith having the form of godliness but denying the power thereof.

The office of a bishop and a deacon are not gifts of the ascension. These are offices which are a trust committed unto elders desiring such office [1 Timothy 3:1; Titus 1:5]. An elder is a man who is mature in doctrine (knowing the deep things of God/the revelation of the Mystery), judgment, experience, and is esteemed for their work's sake by the Body of Christ.

Today, men are called to these offices of service and overseership by the local assemblies rather than God calling men into the office of bishop or deacon. An elder takes the position in the assembly upon invite from that assembly when they recognize his preparedness and desire to be in that particular office. God works within both parties through an enlightened understanding of the Word of Truth studied rightly divided. Thus, the issue is the Word of Truth rightly divided in the life of the assembly.

In 1 Timothy 5:17, Paul explains that the elders that rule well (i.e. hold faithful to the office of a bishop) be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. Plainly put, the ruling elders will use the SCRIPTURES which are the AUTHORITY to provide a profitability to the saints in doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness [1 Timothy 4:16; Titus 2:15; 3:8].

A closing thought, when Paul addressed the local assemblies in his epistles he never addressed them in the fashion of "The Apostle Paul to the saints". No, no, no!!! His epistles are addressed, "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ..." could it be that Paul understood Philippians 2:5-7 and the issue of title bearing??? [see Job 32:21]