Office, Gift, Priesthood Encyclopedia


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 concerns the leadership of the local assembly by individuals that are owned by God (formally in the beginning, informally today) and ought to be recognized by the assembly as being those raised up by God with that responsibility. Office covers the administrative care of God’s people, both materially (deacons), and spiritually (overseers).
  • Gift is that which flows from God toward man, through human instruments in the power of the Holy Spirit. Gift is necessary in 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 of the body.
  • Priesthood is that which arises in the heart of man as a response toward God. It covers things like prayer (supplication, intercession), worship, discernment, and testimony. This is the highest of the three spheres, because in it the soul is brought into the presence of God.
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!

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