Finding God In The Center of APEST

The first clue to the divine origin of 5Q can be found in the first few chapters of Genesis. It has continued to intrigue us in that it enables us to gain insight into the archetypal aspects of what it means to be human, to be made in God’s image, and to live in relation to God. Again, once we have a clear typology of the fivefold, we can use it as an interpretive lens in order to be able to discern motifs that associate with different aspects of our nature. Right at the roots of creation, we are told that men and women in their very being reflect aspects that are derived from their Maker and mirror something of his nature and character. The so-called imago Dei can be viewed using a 5Q lens to help us recognize that in some real but mysterious way APEST is derived from God himself.

Relationality: The desire to “know and be known” reflects in some sense the inherent human desire for righteousness (right relationship), personal intimacy, and for covenantal relationship. Using APEST as a hermeneutical key we can say that this in some way reflects distinctly prophetic as well as pastoral concerns and motifs.”

Agency: Humanity is given the command to rule and subdue, exercising vice-regency (under God) over the domain of earth. This kingdom agency reflects apostolic and perhaps evangelistic concerns.

Rationality: The human capacity for logic and reason has always been understood as part of the imago Dei. In relation to 5Q, it lends itself to the acquisition of wisdom associated with the concerns of the teacher and the systems awareness of the apostle.

Creativity: Our ability to reflect God’s good creation in our actions can serve all the fivefold functions equally, but might express itself more fully in the more entrepreneurial and innovative instincts of the apostolic and evangelistic.

Responsibility: This involves the inner capacity to choose between good from evil, to obey or disobey, and comes with the related ability to make right judgments and choices. This likely energizes prophetic and educative (teacher) capacities within the fivefold.

Language and communication: This is important throughout, but apostles, teachers, and shepherds are likely to be especially attentive to communication and community.

It’s important to note here that all humans have all these dimensions as part of their nature as image bearers. While these are markers of universal human nature, not all people express these in the same proportion and measure; some aspects are highlighted in some in a way that is not in others. But all have the latent potential of relationality, rationality, language, morality, agency, etc.

Using 5Q as an interpretive lens then, we can say that we can find the roots of APEST in various dimensions of God’s nature. Consider the following …

The roots of the apostolic are grounded in the fact that God is:

  • the source of all things—the origin and fount of all existence
  • designer, creator, and foundation of all
  • the sent and sending God
  • the source of pure will and purpose—and therefore the source of meaning
  • the electing and predestining God—he works all things for good
  • sovereign King over all creation
  • the judge—he measures all and judges justly

The roots of the prophetic are grounded in the fact that God is:

  • faithful—his word and nature are utterly true and dependable
  • revealer—God always takes the initiative in communicating
  • holy—pure and transcendent (wholly other)
  • personal—pure relationship to be understood in terms of I and Thou
  • passionate—God does experience holy love and anger
  • covenantally related to his creatures—God is loyal and binds himself in relationship
  • the source of meaning—the ultimate meaning of the world is found in the purposes of God
  • omnipotent—he is powerful beyond measure
  • worthy—of true worship
  • transcendent Spirit—while he is immanent within creation, creation cannot be identified with him

The roots of the evangelistic are grounded in the fact that God is:

  • savior and redeemer—he seeks out and saves that which is lost
  • gracious—the source of mercy and all gifts
  • abundant—his divine love flows out of his infinite abundance
  • the source of true joy—rejoices in himself
  • pure relation—he invites his creation into relationship
  • lover and elector —he pursues his people and purposes
  • sent—in himself, Jesus Christ, and the Spirit

The roots of the shepherding are grounded in the fact that God is:

  • trinity—he exists in community-in-relationship (perichoresis)
  • fully present in all things (divine immediacy)
  • comforter—he has compassion and concerns himself with his creation
  • known in intimacy—he knows (yada) us and likewise is known in immediacy
  • righteous—he is in himself perfectly ordered and rightly related
  • merciful and forgiving—it is his nature to be merciful
  • love—and the ultimate lover
  • family—he is the divine parent; we are his children
  • shepherd—he reveals himself as a shepherd (Psalm 23, Psalm 80:1, Genesis 49:24)”

The roots of teaching are grounded in the fact that God is:

  • all-knowing—nothing is not known by him
  • logos (Word)—and the source of reason in human beings
  • glorious—he manifests himself in all things
  • prescient—he has direct knowledge and foreknowledge of all things
  • good and beautiful—and the source of all truth and beauty
  • whole and complete in himself—his “system” is perfectly and ecologically balanced
  • wise—he is the source of all wisdom and understanding

If we were to really index the fundamental qualities of the fivefold types with essences in the revelation of the Godhead, I would humbly suggest that:

  • the apostolic best represents and expresses the eternal purposes (sentness-missio) of God
  • the prophetic best represents and expresses the holy covenantal heart of God
  • the evangelistic best represents and expresses the saving mercy of God
  • the shepherding best represents and expresses the loving communal embrace of God
  • the teaching function best represents and expresses the infinite truth and wisdom of God