Unity and Hierarchy in Christ
Not all gifts are given the same authority, with some carrying more responsibility and authority than others.
1 Corinthians 12 states that there is a hierarchy amongst the gifts. This is necessary to maintain order amongst distinctive individuals in Christ. If all are leaders then none would lead; Who are they supposed to lead? This would make the whole union ineffective. Diversity makes the whole union stronger, whereas diversity without unity is destructive.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts.
(1 Corinthians 12:27-31 ESV)

While the point is clear this list is not exhaustive:
1. Apostles
2. Prophets
3. Teachers
4. Miracles
5. Healing
6. Helping
7. Administrating
8. Various kinds of tongues

As already discussed, God determined both the hierarchy and the allotment of gifts. Therefore any authority that the possessor of one gift may have over others has been given by God. This means that from first to last every gift must be used in accordance with his purpose, building and sustaining unity in Christ. While possessors of the higher gifts are granted greater authority in the union of Christ they also have greater responsibility and accountability for the use these gifts properly.

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
(Matthew 20:20-28 ESV)

As previously stated each gift can’t be separated from the person. Just because a person is willing and able does not mean they should be given authority. The Bible clearly places strict demands on the personal conduct and faithfulness of all Christians, however the greater the authority in Christ the stricter the requirement. More than anything Christian leaders are required to be faithful, upholding the unity (spirit, love and order) of the Holy Spirit (e.g. 1 Timothy). If you desire to lead you must be willing to demonstrate extreme faithfulness to God in the face of hardship (much like the prophets). Rejoice when you suffer, knowing that it teaches you faithfulness and gives you new opportunity to show your faithfulness to the one true God (James 1).

Therefore the hierarchy of gifts does not supersede the order of marriage given by God in creation, rather it is subservient to the order of marriage. It also means that gifting is not directly equated to ability. For example, just because someone has the ability to teach or lead does not mean they should automatically be given authority to teach and lead within the Church.

God determines all things according to the council of his will. He gives ability, gender, circumstances of life, etc. Why then would he not consider the place of each whole person (over time) in his Church? God does not contradict himself when he forbids certain actions based on gender yet approves the same actions based on skill and faithfulness, both must be understood within the order of unity, to the glory of God.


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