the weblog of Alan Knox

Gifting vs. Office 3…

Posted by on Nov 27, 2006 in elders, office, spiritual gifts | 2 comments

At ETS this year, Harold Hoehner presented a paper titled “Can a Woman be a Pastor-Teacher?” He argued that there is a difference between gifting and office. Scripture designates an “office” (Remember, I do not like that term. I am using it because Hoehner used it.) by listing qualifications for the office. He recognizes apostle, elder/bishop, and deacon (possibly deaconness) as scriptural offices.

On the other hand, Hoehner argued that gifts are not given based on qualifications. Instead, gifts are given by the Holy Spirit to all believers. He recognizes all of items listed in Eph 4:11, 1 Cor 12, and Romans 12 to be spiritual gifts. Any believer may exercise his or her spiritual gift as sovereignly endowed by the Holy Spirit. According to Hoehner, Eph 4:11 lists individuals who are exercising their spiritual gifts, not offices. Therefore, any believer may have the gifting to operate as an apostle (not as the office of an apostle though), a prophet, an evangelist, or a pastor-teacher (not as the office of an elder/bishop though).

Is Hoehner correct that there is a difference between gifting and office? Could any believer possess any spiritual gifts? Is there any scriptural evidence that some categories of believers (women, for instance) will never be granted certain spiritual gifts (pastoring/teaching, for instance)?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 11-27-2006

    OK, your comment on my blog inspired me to come over here and comment, since I’ve been wanting to get onto these posts and comment on them. I know, I know, you were wanting me to post on my blog, but… 😉

    Your closing question is whether there is “any scriptural evidence that some categories of believers (women, for instance) will never be granted certain spiritual gifts (pastoring/teaching, for instance)”.

    My short answer is no, not that I’m aware of. Regardless of one’s position on the issue of egalitarianism vs. complementarianism (and I’m torn between the two, honestly), I don’t think it necessarily leads to a view that certain gifts themselves are “off limits” to certain groups of people.

    To use your example of women being pastor/teachers, even a very strict complementarian (is that a word?? Spell-check does not like it!) should be able to admit that a woman can teach other women, in which case the gift of pastor/teacher would come in very handy! It appears from your introductory post on this topic that Hoehner agrees with me on that.

    I’m not real keen on Hoehner’s distinction between gift and office, however, even though it’s hardly a novel view, and this is not the first time I’ve heard it. In fact, that topic often comes up in institutional vs. simple church discussions. Some are of the opinion that offices were designated for the church. However, the term “office” usually then ends up being a situation where the office determines the role of the person in it, rather than that role being determined by the person’s giftings.

    Just some rambling thoughts…

    steve 🙂

  2. 11-27-2006

    Thank you for your comments. If I understood Hoehner correctly (and I’m still looking for his paper online), he would agree with your assessment of spiritual gifts, but not with your view of “offices” within the church. I am trying to present his argument before I comment on them, but I have already stated (several times) that I do not agree with the term “office”. However, I must deal with Hoehner’s understanding of the qualifications given in Scripture for apostle, elder/bishop, and deacon. That will come soon. Thanks again, now go post on your blog!
    – Alan