The scriptural definitions, designations, and offices of God’s true (human) messengers – often translated angels in the scriptures – are many and varied. This is due to their particular gifts from the Lord which are given without respect to race, gender, national origin, or socio-economic status.
(Mal. 2:7; 3:1; Jn. 1:51; Gal. 4:14; Phil. 2:25; Rev. 1:20; 10:7)
Observe them below:
And he gave some, apostles, and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.Eph. 4:11
Apostle: Defined as “one sent.” Special mention is here made of this gift as it has been sent and used by God through ages of the gospel day to begin great moves of His Spirit to progressively restore truths lost in the great falling away, and in this evening time of the gospel day, not only to complete the restoration of all truth, but also to lead in and oversee the gathering together of the members of Christ’s body into one fold (1 Cor. 12:28).
Prophet: One who speaks forth or openly the divine message – note: prophecy is not necessarily, nor even primarily, fore-telling. It is the forth-telling of the will of God, whether with reference to the past, the present, or the future (1 Cor. 11:4, 5; 14:3; Eph. 2:20).
Teacher/Master of the scriptures: Instructor (1 Tim. 2:7; James 3:1).
Evangelist: A messenger of good; denotes a preacher of the gospel (Acts 21:8; 2 Tim. 4:5). The evangelist preaches primarily with a burden for the initial saving of souls.
Pastor: A shepherd; one who tends flocks, not merely one who feeds them (Acts 20:28 and 1 Pet. 5:1–2).
Exhorter: One who admonishes, exhorts, urges one to pursue some course of conduct (Rom. 12:6–8; Lk. 3:18).
Bishop: Overseer (Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Tim. 3:1–7, 11).
Elder, Presbyter: Other terms for the same person as bishop, indicating the mature spiritual experience and understanding of those so described (1 Tim. 4:14; Titus 1:5–9).
Minister: A servant. (Rom. 15:8, 16; 2 Cor. 4:5; 1 Thess. 3:2).
The above offices are sub-classifications of “true messenger of God” or “messenger of the truth,” each burdened for the specific work of their calling. Some gifts overlap. Not all believers are called to be messengers of God in the context addressed by this article (1 Cor. 12:29), therefore lack the marks of a true messenger of God:
- Born again and baptized with the Holy Ghost. “Ye must be born again.” “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Jn. 3:7; Acts 1:5). Also see John 14:16–18.
- Maintains an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Phil. 3:8). Also see Phil. 1:21.
- A living sacrifice, consecrated for life and death; given fully to being a messenger of God. “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). Also see Rom. 12:1; 1:15; 1 Tim. 4:12–16.
- Divinely called and gifted by the Holy Spirit with the necessary attributes to fulfill the call–is certain of the calling upon their life from God. “But when it pleased God … to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood” (Gal. 1:15–16). Also see Rom. 10:15; 12:6–8.
- Is not ecumenical, neither a fearer nor pleaser of man. “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” (1 Jn. 4:6). Also see 1 Thess. 2:4.
- Does not operate apart from the visible body of Christ, the church of God, but is in unity with her inerrant doctrine and standards; sees eye to eye and speaks the same thing. “Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion” (Isa. 52:8). Also see 1 Tim. 3:15; Matt. 16:19; 1 Cor. 1:10.
- Subject on an ongoing basis to all God’s messengers. “And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (1 Cor. 14:32); and recognizes and submits to the superior authority of the apostles and elder ministers – “When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question” (Acts 15:2). Also see Acts 15:6, 23, 25; 20:17–21.
- Burdened with an unfeigned love for all souls and knows the sheep. “So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us” (1 Thess. 2:8). Also see 2 Cor. 5:14–16; 1 Tim. 3:2.
- If a man, has his house and family in order and his wife is “grave, not [a] slanderer … sober, faithful in all things” and his children “faithful,” “not accused of riot or unruly.” If a woman, her home will be in order to the greatest extent of her influence, in the case of an unsaved companion, for example. If married, both the messenger and spouse will never have been married to another, unless widowed (1 Tim. 3:11; Titus 1:6). Also see 1 Tim. 3:2, 4, 5; Matt. 19:9.
- Possesses qualifying graces of a steward of God. “Blameless … vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous … must have a good report of them which are without;” “not self-willed, not soon angry … a lover of good men … just, holy, temperate” (1 Tim. 3:2-3, 7; Titus 1:7–8).
- Given to prayer and ministry of the Word, apt to teach, stops mouths and convinces gainsayers; does not joke with the Word of God; takes diligent heed to self. “… we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). Also see Titus 1:9, 11a; 1 Tim. 3:2; 4:15–16; Zeph. 3:4.
- Communicates Holy Ghost inspired messages, received from God, directly to the hearts of the people. “Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (2 Cor. 3:3). Also see 1 Pet. 1:12; 2 Pet. 1:21.
- Has a divine unction, and their preaching and all other work is anointed by the power of the Holy Ghost, producing good fruit. “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake … ye received the word of God which ye heard of us … which effectually worketh also in you” (1 Thess. 1:5; 2:13). Also see Acts 2:16–18, 41–47; 2 Cor. 4:5–7, 10–12.
- Proclaims the worldwide, end time, seventh trumpet message revealing the mystery of God, even Jesus Christ and His body, and pouring out the fury of God’s wrath; gathering God’s people into one body and severing the wicked from among the just. “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets” (Rev. 10:7). Also see Rev. 1:10–20; 11:15, 18; 15:1; 16:1; Matt. 24:30–31; 13:40–43, 49.
- At some point has been commissioned by God to minister in particular areas of the work of the church, i.e. missionary, evangelistic, pastoral, etc., which is acknowledged by the ministry and the body; is not a novice. “Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery … that thy profiting may appear to all” (1 Tim. 4:13–15). Also see Gal. 2:7–9; 1 Thess. 2:9–10, 13; 1 Tim. 3:6; Phil. 2:22.
- Leads authoritatively in the church without “lording” over God’s heritage, and is an example to the flock; is unsalaried. “The elders … feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (1 Pet. 5:1–3). Also see Heb. 13:17; Acts 20:28, 33–35.
- A person of faith in God who builds up the faith of the people and manifests the gifts of physical healings betimes. “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up” (Jm. 5:14–15a). Also see Heb. 13:7.
- Has a personal need for all of the saints. “And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary” (1 Cor. 12:21–22). Also see Rom. 15:30–32; 1 Thess. 3:7–8.
- Knows will lose salvation if does not fulfill the calling of messenger. “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (1 Cor. 9:27). Also see Lk. 12:47; 1 Cor. 9:16.
But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings. By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.2 Cor. 6:4–10