How Does APEST Move Disciples To Fullness In Christ?

As the Founder and Designer, Jesus provides us with the exemplary pattern of behavior against which all other corresponding models, patterns of discipleship, ministry, and leadership in the movement are to emulate. Jesus provides the model of humanity and service by which all disciples are to be evaluated and legitimized. It’s like a spiritual template of sorts—a pattern of behaviors that, once discovered, helps us better understand ourselves and others. And here’s the critical thing in relation to 5Q: Jesus’ person and work are the perfect embodiments of APEST. Conformity to Christ in the Body of Christ must also therefore reflect the fivefold nature of Christ’s ministry, if it is to be authentic ministry!

[bctt tweet=”Conformity to Christ in the Body of Christ must also therefore reflect the fivefold nature of Christ’s ministry, if it is to be authentic ministry! @alanhirsch #5Q” username=”@5qcollective”]

Similarly, the fivefold must feature in individual discipleship because discipleship is essentially formation in Christ. To become a mature Christlike person then, would mean engaging all the elements of fivefold latent in our living relationship with Jesus. Actually, this idea of becoming like Jesus lies at the heart of all genuine spirituality and discipleship. Imitation of Christ can therefore take the form of the imitation of the fivefold as it is expressed in Christ. Disciples follow their master in all things (Luke 6:40). One of the most clarifying definitions of ministry then, is doing the kind of things that Jesus did for the same reason that he did them. Now think of this in terms of the fivefold.

So how does the ministry of Christ, and with it his fivefold ministry, get into the church? To answer this, we need to recall briefly the primary imagery of Ephesians 4:1–16—that is in his ascension Jesus “has given” (vv. 7, 11) to his Body its inherent callings and functions so that the church APEST may mature (vv. 13, 15) and in so doing “attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (v. 13). In other words, APEST is not only the mode of Jesus’ presence among his people, he gives APEST to the church that she might grow, mature, and “attain to the fullness of Christ”! So perhaps the central idea of Ephesians 4:1–16 can be portrayed as follows:

There are huge implications here for both you and your church/organ­i­zation—this is a Yoda-moment so please pay attention to the following logic: We have seen how Jesus lives, fulfills, and exemplifies the APEST types in his life and ministry. We have also seen that in his ascension, Jesus confers (routinizes) the now-redeemed and perfected APEST functions to the Body of Christ with the explicit intention that these be expressed throughout the church’s life and discipleship. As the diagram above shows, the Ministry of Christ is given to the Body of Christ so that it might attain to the Fullness of Christ!

But here’s where the rubber hits the road for most readers and their respective churches or organizations: Assuming the logic of 5Q portrayed thus far, and assuming that the core purpose of the church is to extend both the meaning and impact of Jesus in the world, then we must honestly answer the question, can we extend Jesus’ ministry if we are only operating in a truncated twofold, ST form of ministry? To restate this in another way for clarity: If Jesus clearly operated as APEST, do we think we can extend Jesus-impact if we have any less? And once again we see how tampering with the APEST typologies has damaged our capacity to be faithful witnesses … New Testament ministry in the Body of Christ cannot be done with anything less than all the dimensions inherent in Christ’s own ministry.

We’re now clear that the Body of Christ exists to extend the ministry of Christ in the world. If Jesus expressed his ministry in terms of the fivefold, then the church must also have all the fivefold functions operative to do what Jesus did and to attain to the fullness of Christ. When we put it all together we can sense the amazing symmetry that Jesus has built into the Body.

Without full APEST expression, a church cannot expect to logically extend Jesus’ ministry in the world; neither can it attain to the fullness of Christ or achieve its purposes/mission—it will inevitably have dangerous gaps in its culture. And herein, folks, lies a huge amount of the church’s dysfunction! We are trying to extend Jesus’ ministry with only two of his at-least-five functions! In fact, as we shall see later in the explorations of the 5Q marks of the church, I believe that many of the church’s dysfunctions can be traced back to one or more of the fivefold functions being absent from the equation.

[bctt tweet=”#5Q simply allows the Body of Christ to see and reactivate what Christ has already given us through the fivefold ministry. @alanhirsch” username=”@5qcollective”]


Create a vision statement for your 5Q maturity six months and eighteen months from now. Where will you have grown? How will you have deepened and developed as a disciple and leader? What will your relationships look like? How will you be expressing more of the fullness of Christ in and through your life?

Share your journey with us in the comments.