This is an excerpt from Alan’s new book, 5Q:Reactivating the Original Intelligence and Capacity of the Body of Christ. This post will rock your world. Keep reading to discover how.


In Ephesians 4, the cosmic and eternal purposes in Christ are unfolding so as to include the fivefold typology at the heart of it. According to the text, the whole point of bequeathing APEST to the church is that it might be established with the full possibility for becoming mature and attaining to the “fullness of Christ.”

With this in mind, consider the word katartizō in 4:12. This word is ordinarily translated as “equip” or “built up,” in standard contemporary translations of the Bible. But while these are definitely legitimate translations, they are only two legitimate possible translations of the term. But much more is also implied. For instance, katartizō can equally can be translated as “mend what has been broken or rent,” (as in nets and even broken bones), to “perfectly join together,” “put in order,” “adjust,” “strengthen,” “perfect or complete,” and “make one what one ought to be.”

The Greek, katartizō, is to restore what is necessary for the health, vitality & mission of the church. #5Q Click To Tweet

Each of these are legitimate interpretations for the word and when applied, each one ushers in a completely different dimension to the possible meanings of the text.

A 5Q Word Study Exercise:

Being sensitive to the fractal design, read through single verse of Eph.4:12 nine times, but each time using the next possible meaning listed below, and you will see something of the sheer power of 5Q.

Jesus appointed some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers; for …

  • • equipping,
  • • the perfecting,
  • • mending,
  • • perfectly joining together,
  • • putting in order,
  • • ethical strengthening,
  • • completing,
  • • fulfilling,
  • • healing

… of the saints, for the work of the ministry.

Having done the multi-layered nuanced reading, what do you see?

What I see is that what I call 5Q is absolutely necessary for the health, and vitality of the church and its mission. Furthermore, all five functions are critical for the church to self-regenerate, develop, and “perfect” itself! In other words, the APEST system, as a whole, is like the self-healing capacity in your body. Your body has inbuilt capacities for self-regeneration, and so if you were wounded in an accident or your body ravaged by a disease, your body has the innate capacity to heal itself. It has an inbuilt capacity to be restored to functionality.

#5Q is to the Body of Christ what the Immune System is the your body. The Church can heal herself! Click To Tweet

This body analogy is also perfectly true for the Body of Christ! All five functions are needed that the Body of Christ might be perfected, healed, restored, and that it might self-generate, heal, grow, and develop. The activation and engagement of the fivefold does is not just vital for the mission of the church in the West, but signals renewal of the whole life of the church. It offers us a newfound wholeness to our identity, functionality, and ministry. If we exclude APEST from the equation we will thereby exclude our capacity to be made whole and function as Jesus intended us to in the first place.

And herein, my friends, lies the rub: the historical reduction of ministry down from the fivefold ministry of the New Testament to that of Christendom’s twofold function of shepherding and teaching has bequeathed a fatal and degenerative disease into the Body of Christ. The genetic codes have been corrupted. The result is that almost all churches in the West only operate with two of the fivefold functions of Jesus! No wonder we are frustrated, broken, and alienated from each other! We have an autoimmune disease…we are a body divided against ourselves. The net result is long-term dysfunctionality and self-alienation (auto-immunity) that has led to systemic breakdown…a diseased body.

This alone should rock your world! The church in the Western/European tradition—just think of your local church or denomination here— has assiduously edited the apostolic, prophetic, and evangelistic functions out of the original fivefold wholeness given by Jesus in his Ascension (Eph.4:7,11).

By breaking up, or bypassing, or purging the fivefold typology, the church has damaged its God-given capacity to heal and perfect itself! This is why we have never managed to mature or grow up and fulfill all that God has intended for us as mature expressions of his Kingdom on earth. Here is the fatal flaw buried in the heritage of the Christendom form of church.

By abandoning #5Q the church has damaged its God-given capacity to heal and perfect itself! Click To Tweet

In pondering the Church’s Sisyphean history, it’s hard not to despair of ever fulfilling the mission that God has given us to do:

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was the guy who somehow angered the gods and was condemned by them to ceaselessly roll a huge rock up a steep hill, only that after much effort when he reached the top of the hill, the rock would roll back to the bottom and he would have to retrieve it only to have the same thing happen all over again!

Wretched Sisyphus, condemned to endlessly repeating the same futile task—one that requires continual effort that never quite pays off. You don’t have to be a church historian to discern some real resemblance to Western church history. Just when we think we are getting the job done, it all goes to seed and we have to start again. I have become convinced that much (not all) of this Sisyphean despair is directly related to our bungling of the APEST typology. To break up the APEST typology, and thus undermine the power of 5Q, is a fatal flaw indeed!

The good news is that APEST has been given at the very constitution of the church in Jesus’ resurrection and ascension and it cannot be removed, although it can be suppressed. It is there…latent in the Body of Christ waiting to be activated.

No amount of historical suppression can finally remove what Jesus has constitutionally “given” in the very founding of his church when he ascended on high. And suppression can be reversed and latent potentials can be activated. All we have to do to be the church Jesus designed us to be is to remove those factors—what I call movement-killers—that are actively suppressing our innate capacity for health. This can be done, and is being done, to great effect. Relegitimize and functionally add APE back into the equation and voila, our capacity for maturity and fullness will be restored.

If ministry feels like pushing a rock uphill, it does not have to! Join the #5Q Revolution Click To Tweet

5Q is an invitation to transformation and conversation. Ignite a discussion in the comments below. We can’t change the world alone.

Alan Hirsch
Alan Hirsch founder of Forge Mission Training Network, 100 Movements, and now 5Qcollective. He is author of numerous award-winning books on movements, organization, and leadership, and teaches extensively across North America, Europe, and Australia.