Summary: A look at the Kingdom Now / Five-Fold Ministry / Apostolic-Prophetic movement teaching and the Authority and Gifting of Every Believer
Jesus dwells in every Born-Again Christian, and they have complete access to the fullness of God. He is as He has always been, and as He will always be (See Heb 13:8). The supernatural gifts and governmental authority have been given to every Christian to edify and perfect them as needed at any given moment in time. It is up to the individual Believer to appropriate the gift(s) as the Holy Spirit directs.
Filling the role, or ministry duties, of an apostle or prophet, and being in the official office of an Apostle or Prophet are two very, very different things. The underlying meaning of the word ‘apostle’ (Gk: apostolos) is one that is sent on a mission as an authoritative delegate. Anyone who has served as a church planter or missionary, or proclaimed the Gospel, has fulfilled the equipping ministry spiritual gifts of an apostle or prophet, but that does not make them a Prophet, or an Apostle like the 12 Jesus personally chose.
A person would be hard-pressed not to find the vast majority of Bible scholars throughout history have taught that the offices of Apostle and Prophet, which were used to build the initial foundation (Gk: themelios: the beginning substruction of a building, wall, or city) of the church, are on-going. A foundation of a building project is laid only once, and not continuously. The Church built its foundation on the “faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." We are to "remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 3, 17 NIV, see also 2 Peter 3:2).
In the New Testament, those who held the office of Prophet or Apostle in the first century spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit and were precisely what God intended to build the final foundation (a noun, not an adjective) of the Church, ‘Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone” (2 Pet. 1:19-21; Eph 2:20; Acts 2:42). The new life in Christ has been firmly built on the rock-solid foundation of Jesus and cannot be destroyed by the storms of circumstances (Matt 7:24-27).
The teaching that there are modern-day Apostles and Prophets is not new to church history. Many protestant fringe groups have attempted to restore the offices, including the Montanists (second century), the Irvingites (the 1830s), and the Apostolic Church (early 1900’s). The modern so-called Five-Fold Ministry morphed out of the Latter Rain Movement which started around 1910, along with the Manifested Sons of God / Joel’s Army, Kingdom Now, Word of Faith, Dominionism, the 7-Mountain Mandate, the New Apostolic Reformation, and its latest iteration, the heterodox Apostolic-Prophetic movement.
The name/term for the movement was conjured up by C. Peter Wagner, a self-appointed apostolic ‘general,’ to describe this loose informal network of an unadvertised governmental structure that seeks to establish a fourth house within the Church (distinct from Catholicism, Protestantism and Orthodox Christianity) that will take dominion of the earth, under the authority of new Apostles and Prophets, because God originally gave it to humanity and lost it at the fall.
The restored offices of Apostle (the highest office) and Prophet (2nd in command) are to govern the church because they have the god-given authority to receive new extra-biblical divine revelation and are commissioned to instruct their followers on how to appropriately respond and implement it.
This supposedly started happening in the 1980s, and then the ‘2nd apostolic age’ began in 2001, according to Wagner, who explained how he came up with the name in the book Churchquake!: How the New Apostolic Reformation Is Shaking Up the Church As We Know It (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1999), 34-37.
The teaching of the restored offices of Apostle and Prophet is actually built upon a false premise (see Eph 4:11-16). It reads in the Greek as a four-fold ministry because the words ‘pastor’ and ‘teacher’ are separated by the Greek word “‘kai” which is a conjunctive (meaning even as, even so, also), and links the words "pastor/shepherd/bishop" and "teachers" as a single ongoing office.
The official offices of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Teaching-Pastor were given “gave (Gk: ‘didomi’ – a demonstrated pronoun already granted and bestowed) some (Gk: ‘tous men’ – to make a partition or distribute into), on the one hand, as Apostles…” by Jesus in order to equip the saints (Eph 4:7).
After the death of the traitor, Judas Iscariot, Peter was adamantly intent on filling the vacant position with a qualified person and personally deemed it necessary that there must remain 12 Apostles, no more, and no less (Acts 1:15-17, 20-22). In a detailed manner, he lays out exactly what the replacement's qualifications must be. For a person to actually be an Apostle, they had to physically (not spiritually) have met one or all of the following requirements: