The Servant Gifts – Apostles and Prophets

God’s Spiritual Gifts to Believers at the Beginning of the Church Age

Ephesians 4:8-11


I.         Introduction


A.      The RECOGNITION of spiritual gifts.


1.        There is a difference between "the GIFTS of the Holy Ghost" (Heb. 2:4) and "the GIFT of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38; 10:45; cf. Luke 11:13).


a.        The GIFT of the Holy Ghost is the Holy Ghost HIMSELF coming to indwell the believer at the point of conversion.

b.       The GIFTS of the Holy Ghost are abilities given to believers by the Spirit to enable them to function within the Body of Christ.


2.        They were not developed skills or natural talents like:


a.        Musical abilities (singing; playing an instrument);

b.       Artistic talent (drawing; painting);

c.        Mechanical skills (carpenter; plumbing; electronics; auto repair)

d.       Oratory abilities (speech abilities).


3.        God may use these talents in conjunction with exercising of other gifts like the gift of helps or governments, but they are not supernatural gifts!

4.        DEFINITION: Spiritual Gifts are a divine enablement that was lacking in a person's life prior to salvation, and are given to be used to serve God through their church.

5.        These are gifts of God’s GRACE (1 Peter 4:10)–Received by someone without any merit of his own.

6.        Gifts are not earned. Spiritual gifts are not dependent upon superior intelligence, physical power, spiritual maturity, moral character, or the fullness of the Holy Spirit.


a.        The Corinthian Church was carnal, contentious, confused, immature, immoral, selfish, and heretical. Yet, they came behind in no gift!

b.       Spiritual gifts do not mean a person is spiritual – GET THIS! However, being spiritual will enable a person to exercise their gift effectively for God’s glory! When you see me preach, you are watching me exercise my gift, not my spirituality!


7.        Spiritual gifts are given according to God's will, not our will (cf. 12:11, 28). Nowhere are Christians told to pray for specific gifts (1Cor 14:12)!


B.       Three groups of Spiritual Gifts – there are lots of Spiritual Gifts – but it is important to see them in their proper groups!


1.        The Lord separated the gifts into three specific Scriptures: 1Corinthians, Romans, and Ephesians

2.        They each have a specific focus


Sign Gifts

Servant Gifts

Service Gifts

Miraculous Gifts

Men Gifts

Ministry Gifts

1 Corinthians
12:1-10, 28

Ephesians 4:8-11

Romans 12:3-8

Word of wisdom

Word of knowledge



Working of miracles


Discerning of spirits


Interpretation of tongues









All other people are of their own accord

Prophecy – Preaching

Ministry (helps)




Ruling (governing)



All done in Love…

For Reaching the Jews
(1Cor 1:22)

For the Church to do the Work of the Ministry

For All People to Reach All People


C.       Two groups of Servant Gifts


1.        Those that were available at the start of the Church Age

2.        Those still available today


D.      Apostleship and Prophets are the ones we are going to study tonight



II.       Message - The Servant Gifts – Apostles and Prophets


A.      The People.


1.        What are Apostles?


a.        Normal men who became followers of Jesus Christ

b.       They are quite a group – fishermen, tax collectors, married men, and single – all doing one thing – following Jesus – Disciples

c.        As disciples, they were specially called by Jesus to lead His church

d.       But they only BECAME apostles WHEN they were supernaturally empowered – the true supermen (Matt 10:1,2)

e.        There were tens of thousands of disciples


1)       Only 12 were specifically chosen by Jesus

2)       Those 12 were supernaturally empowered to do miracles


f.         Their Names – there are four places where all the apostles are listed (Matt 10:2,3; Luke 6:14-16; Mk 3:16-19; Acts 1:13-26)


1)       Simon, who is called Peter, and sometimes, Cephas

2)       Andrew his brother

3)       James and John, the sons of Zebedee, also known as the sons of Thunder

4)       Philip

5)       Bartholomew, also known as Nathanael

6)       Matthew the publican (tax collector), also known as Levi

7)       James the son of Alphaeus

8)       Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus, and also known as Judas, the brother of James, all three being sons of Alphaeus

9)       Thomas, also called Dydimus, known as the Doubter

10)    Simon the Canaanite, known as the Zealot

11)    Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, or Traitor

12)  Saul of Tarsus – who later becomes Paul the Apostle


2.        What are Prophets?


a.        People who would speak for God – be the mouthpiece of God

b.       Able to tell the future

c.        Used by God to write the New Testament

d.       Old Testament prophets


1)       Elijah, Isaiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Samuel, Jonah

2)       The list is extensive

3)       God used prophets to speak mainly to His people

4)       But He also used prophets to speak to other nations


a)       Jonah to Pagan Nineveh

b)       Balaam to Edom


e.        New Testament prophets


1)       Every apostle was a prophet – but not every prophet was an apostle

2)       Agabus

3)       John the Baptist was a prophet


B.       Their Purpose.


1.        To lay the foundation of the NT Church (Eph 2:19-22; 1Cor 3:9-11) by teaching and preaching (Acts 2:42)

2.        To protect the church from doctrinal errors (as with 1 Cor, Galatians, 1,2,3 John, etc)

3.        To reach the world in their generation (Col 1:23) – showing us that it can be done


C.       Their Passing - Why God Did Away with Apostles and Prophets (Rev 21:10-14; 1Cor 13:8-10)


1.        An Apostle is different than a disciple – we are going to see why

2.        There are no more apostles.

3.        As a matter of fact, there were only twelve, as seen by the twelve layers of foundation in the New Jerusalem

4.        They were only needed to lay the foundation – like a builder hires someone to come and dig out a trench and then pour a foundation – once they finish their job, then they leave. Someone else comes along and builds on the foundation



D.      Their Problems Today.


1.        People still think apostles and prophets are valid for us – brings about a load of confusion in Christianity

2.        It allows churches to re-invent styles and methods outside of the Scriptures (“who needs the Scriptures when you have a Holy Spirit filled apostle leading your church?”)

3.        So today we have all sorts of apostles


a.        Pope – continuing replacement for Peter

b.       “Apostolic Churches” – churches with people who claim to be new apostles

c.        People who claim to have “apostolic” powers

d.       This has led to our modern day explosion of cults!


E.       Their Persuasion – How to Win them over


1.        Scriptures (Jn 5:39)


a.        Rev 21:10-14

b.       Matthew 10:1-4

c.        1Cor 13:8


2.        Scandals


a.        In the “spiritual gift filled church” at Corinth

b.       In so many of modern charismatic churches

c.        These things ought to get people to wake up and see that their leaders are only men, and are not apostles and prophets

d.       Show people the false prophecies of their groups – just like we show Jehovah Witnesses THEIR false prophecies


3.        Scrutiny - Put them to the test (Rev 2:2)


a.        Should be able to fulfil Matthew 10:1,2 (2Cor 12:12)

b.       Should be able to tell both short term AND long term predictions and be 100% accurate

c.        Their words are equal to Scripture, so they have to match exactly what is already written (Isa 8:20)


4.        Testimony (1Pet 2:12; Tit 2:8)


a.        Show them the better life, the better home, the better message of the Gospel!

b.       Show them how to live depending only on God, not on some gift!!!


III.     Conclusion


A.      Two groups of Servant Gifts


1.        Those that were available at the start of the Church Age

2.        Those still available today


B.       Apostleship and Prophets were looked at tonight


1.        We learned who they were

2.        And we learned what they did

3.        But then we learned that their gift ended – there are no new apostles or prophets being called by God

4.        We learned that having such a belief causes terrible confusion in Christianity


C.       But we also learned that we have the answer to confusion and that we must deal with this confusion


1.        Using key Scriptures

2.        Reminding them of their scandals

3.        Testing them, and proving them to be deceived

4.        Protecting our churches from such scandals – checks and balances

5.        Live our lives so that we can put to silence sceptic’s attack against US


Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church

Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland