Les D. Crause
What is Prophetic Office vs Prophetic Ministry?
There is a difference between the Prophetic Ministry and the Prophetic Office. The first is a function, whereas the second is a position. Let's look a few verses that speak of office to make this clear.
In each case you will see that the term office is used to refer to someone who has been permanently appointed to a position.
This is true also of the Prophetic Office. The ministry of a prophet may at times be displayed by those that are not called to be Prophets as a permanent position (In other words, to be in Prophetic Office. Paul clarifies this also when he discusses the functioning of ministries in a local church in 1 Corinthians 14:27-31
27 If any person speaks in an [unknown] tongue, [let it be]
through two, or at the most [through] three [utterances], and in turn; and let one
Here Paul refers to two kinds of prophetic ministry. The first is what is communicated by the vocal gifts. Anyone that brings a message from the Lord via tongues, interpretation or prophecy is prophesying. However there are those who hold the office of a prophet, and they are a separate group altogether. You may all prophesy in the sense of bringing a word from the Lord, but not all the members of the church have the Prophetic Office.
Another passage that clearly shows the distinction is Acts 21:9
9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, who prophesied.
Philip had four daughters that exercised a prophetic ministry, but they were not classed as prophets. Agabus however, held the prophetic office and was referred to as a prophet.
Someone may be able to prophesy, but only when they have been permanently appointed to the prophetic office can they be called by such a title. The same applies to the apostolic ministry.
Who Appoints a Prophet to Prophetic Office?
It has become the common practice amongst today's church organizations to ordain people to ministry. This usually involves a ceremony, but the important aspect of it is the fact that the person is given credentials by the organization to practice as a minister with that organization. To qualify for this there is usually a level or knowledge or education that is required, and perhaps a certain amount of experience.
However all of these ministry appointments are purely administrative and often have nothing to do with a person's prophetic ministry gifts or calling. Because of this, it has become common practice to refer to those who have been ordained in this way as 'Pastors.' Such ordination is then subject to the person continuing to hold papers with the organization. Should they leave the organization or fail to comply with the rules and regulations of the organization they can be struck from the ordination list and have their credentials removed. In other words, such ordination is not a permanent possession.
But all of these things are foreign to the prophetic ministry calling of God. The New Testament clearly teaches that the leadership ministries of the church are given and appointed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and that these gifts and callings are permanent and irrevocable.
When Moses first led the Israelites out of Egypt, he had to do all the work of counseling them and judging their disputes. When his father-in-law Jethro saw this, he advised Moses to appoint others to do all the lower level work and to deal personally only with difficult cases. Moses followed this advice and appointed leaders at different levels
Exodus 18:24 So Moses listened to the advice of his father in
law, and did all that he had said.
Now these appointments were made by Moses, not God. And they were subject to being changed. They depended on Moses' decision rather than God's. It is true that Moses may have made his choices based on spiritual wisdom, but it was he and not God that appointed the people.
Later on God spoke to Moses and told him to gather together seventy men from the chief leaders in Israel. Good said that He would then Himself, take of the anointing that was upon Moses and place it on these seventy men also. In other words, there was going to be a spiritual transfer and these men would receive the same spiritual anointing as Moses. This was not an administrative appointment, and it was not Moses who was going to do this, but God Himself. And these were going to be permanent appointments.
Numbers 11:16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me
seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people, and
officers over them; and bring them to the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may
stand there with you.
The effects of this transfer were quite clear, every person received the anointing and began to prophesy on a permanent basis. It was not a once only anointing This was God at work, not man.
The procedure has not changed since then. Though men and organisations might lay out their qualifications and appoint and remove people from positions of authority, it is God who calls a person to a ministry office. When God appoints someone to the prophetic office, then that is what they will be. Whether they submit to that anointing and exercise their prophetic ministry responsibility is still under their own control, because the Lord never overrides our free will. But the calling and appointment remain.
The Prophetic Office is One of the Fivefold Ministry Offices
There are 5 Ministry Offices mentioned in the New Testament. These are commonly called the FiveFold Ministry. However they are far more than just ministry functions. They are all ministry offices.
Ephesians 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended
up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
There are some important facts that you need to understand about the ministry offices before you can grasp the importance of the prophetic office. To help make things clearer, we need to consider one other passage of Scripture
1 Corinthians 12:28 And God has placed some in the church,
firstly apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts
of healings, supports, directors, various different tongues.
Here are the important facts that you need to keep in mind where ministry offices are concerned.
Paul ends his discussion in 1 Corinthians 12 by asking rhetorical questions. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? etc. This means that not everyone can enter into a ministry office by choice. It is God that calls a person to such a ministry and imparts the office. However these questions do not mean that a person cannot hold more than one office at a time.
There is no doubt that Paul was a teacher from the early part of his ministry. And Barnabas was clearly in prophetic office. Consider the following passage, which showed how Barnabas and Paul worked together as Prophet and Teacher at Antioch.
Acts 11:22 Then tidings of these things came to the ears of the
church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as
The Church at Antioch started as result of the evangelistic work of some ordinary Christians. When this happened, the apostles immediately sent them a Prophet in Office in the form of Barnabas, to set the Church in order spiritually. In this passage we have a good description of the main function of the Prophet in a local assembly. However after a while Barnabas realized that he was lacking in the teaching ministry and the people needed to be grounded in the Word. So he went to Tarsus to find Saul, who was clearly a teacher.
Later on in Acts 13:1 we read of the existence at Antioch, of prophets and teachers. Paul and Barnabas were listed amongst them. And now God instructs that Paul and Barnabas be set aside for the ministry of apostle. It is interesting that Barnabas was more prophetic, Paul was more of a teacher. Yet together they could carry out the ministry of an apostle. This is because the Apostolic function requires both of these ministries.
An Apostle is able to be both a prophet and a teacher. But while He was still only a teacher, Paul needed to have someone in Prophetic Office with him to complete the ministry. Later on when Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement and split up, Paul went and found another prophet to accompany him on his journeys. Paul chose Silas as his new partner. We are told in Acts 15:32 that Silas was a prophet.
32 And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed [them].
Later on in his ministry, Paul writes to Timothy and declares that he was ordained as a Preacher and an Apostle and a Teacher. He had entered into the fullness of his ministry and developed fully into the apostolic office, which must have included prophetic ministry.
1 Timothy 2:7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, [and] lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
Both Paul and Barnabas were called apostles. And yet they each had an additional ministry office that they did not lose. So it is possible for a person to hold more than one ministry office at the same time.
The important thing to notice here, is that you do not have to remain in one ministry office, but you can progress to a higher level of office. Thus the Lord can raise up an evangelist, pastor or teacher to the prophetic office. When this happens the prophetic office is added to the person, without them losing the previous ministry they had. Such a person can now minister effectively in both areas.
If you have functioned in one of the other ministry offices you do not need to assume that this is where your calling will remain. If you are faithful to your ministry it is very possible that the Lord might move you on higher. The same thing applies to both ministry offices and gifts of the Spirit. Paul encourages us to earnestly desire the better gifts and to follow after love. As you do this, the way is open for the Lord to lead you further.
The Prophetic Office book will explain further how to function in the Prophetic Office.