Related: Office; Spiritual Gifts; Christian Priesthood
Three Spheres of Christian Activity. What God has asked the believer to do (i.e. Christian activity) can be largely divided into three spheres: office, gift, and priesthood. When all of these spheres are maintained in their proper order, the result is the God is glorified and His people are blessed. There is a danger of confusing the various spheres of activity, and this can lead to serious trouble.
- Office is that which is from man toward man, although the authority is from God. It covers the administrative care of God’s people, both materially (deacons), and spiritually (overseers).
- Gift is that which is from God toward man. It covers ministry of all kinds; teaching, pastoring, evangelism, etc. The individuals who exercise their gift are but channels through which the ministry flows, from Christ the head.
- Priesthood is that which is from man toward God. It covers things like prayer, worship, discernment, and testimony. This is the highest of the three spheres.
There is some similarity between office and gift (e.g. pastor is a gift, overseer is an office), yet the three spheres are kept distinct in scripture. For instance, gift is for the whole body, but office is limited to the local assembly. In 1 Tim. 5:17 Pauls shows that elders (an office) may or may not minister the word (a gift). In fact, the Catholic system is the product of confusing all three spheres: gift, office, and priesthood!