The Presence in the
Your online source for information about the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Friends Christian Renewal
Finding Quakers
Quaker Books & Video
Quaker Art Prints
What's New
Publishing at
Latest Newsletter
About Us
Calendar of Yearly Meetings
Privacy Policy
Facebook logo
on Facebook


Search Bill Samuel's
Web Sites

Except for a few reprinted old documents, articles on this site are copyrighted by the author, and may not be reprinted without permission. You are, however, free to link to any article or page on this site without prior permission although it's nice to know who's linking to us.

Bill Samuel, August 4, 2002
Bill Samuel

Three Levels of
"vocal ministry"

by Michael Fondanova
Part 1 of 4

Michael Fondanova became a convinced Friend (Quaker)in 1989, and died in March 2009. He joined Friends at Alhambra (California) Friends Church, and was a member of Friends Meeting of San Antonio (Texas) at the time he wrote this article. He earned a Doctor of Ministry from the Graduate Theological Foundation. Scriptural quotations are the author's own translation.

Besides Scripture, God's prophetic word to His people usually comes through several different channels. To understand how God communicates to us prophetically, we must know the differences between them. The three levels of prophetic gifts we will discuss are gifts of grace, acts of service, and operations of God.

The familiar 1 Corinthians 12 passage does not really discuss spiritual gifts, as such, but instead addresses the assignments of the Spirit. The text does not limit these assignments. This passage provides illustrations of varieties as miracles and the gifts of faith. The Holy Spirit manifests these gifts of grace through the believer. "Manifest" in the active phaino means to shine (e.g., of the sun, moon, or a lamp). The passive phainomai has a similar meaning, which, however, more frequently means to "appear, come into view." In the Septuagint the Greek usually translates the Hebrew 'or hiph "to let shine" and ra'ah (niph.), "to be seen, appear." When you receive the Holy Spirit, you are to be a light that allows Christ to appear or let others see him.

The following passage from 1 Cor. 12 discusses three directions for "vocal ministry." As the ecclesia, "called out" becomes more familiar with these directives for "vocal ministry"; we will remove the intimidation some may have concerning prophetic mysteries and ministries. Many of us do not recognize the realm of the prophetic ministry, which God has made available to the Body of Christ. Our Father in Heaven wants to bring clarity in this area so the entire Body of Christ might assemble, unified and triumphant in the Kingdom of God.

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I would not have you ignorant. You know that, while you were still pagans-there was an attraction to dumb idols and you were carried away. Therefore, I inform you that no one who speaks in the Spirit of God says: "Jesus is accursed!" and that no one can say "Jesus is Lord!” except in the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:1-3)

Paul did not want the ecclesia ("called out") to be (1 Cor.12:2) ignorant concerning these assignments of the gift of grace. A dumb idol is an image or statue fashioned to be an object of worship. The English word reflects several different Hebrew words. Some of these are neutral terms describing the manufacture, e.g., pasil or pesel, "(carved) image," and masseka, "(cast) image." For these "idol" is not always appropriate, an "image" or "statue" is sometimes better. Other Hebrew words for statues of deities are intentionally contemptuous and therefore appropriately translated "idols," e.g., elilim, "powerless ones," gillulim, "pellets of dung," and shiqqutsim, "shameful things." A dumb idol is void of the vox dei, "voice of God." There are assignments (varieties) of (the gifts of) grace, but (it is) the same Spirit. In addition, there are assignments of acts of service, but the same Lord. In addition, there are assignments of operations, but the same God who works overall. However, each has the manifestation of the Spirit in order to make use of it.

For to one is given through the Spirit to speak with wisdom, to another to speak with knowledge, according to the same Spirit, another is given faith, in the same Spirit, another gifts of healing, in the one Spirit, another the working of miracles, another "vocal ministry", another the distinguishing of spirits, another (various) kinds of (speaking with) tongues. However, all this is the work of the same Spirit, who assigns to each in particular whatever he pleases. (1 Cor. 12:4-11).

God-Lord-Spirit Gifts-Acts-Operation

Paul constructs three sentences in parallel. There is an underlying triadic formula: God-Lord-Spirit, which Paul links with three ideas related to the term pneumatika, "spiritual gifts." The three ideas are charismata, "gifts of grace," diakonia, "acts of service" and energamata, "operations." The charisma goes with the Spirit. "Acts of service" goes with the Lord. Finally, "operations" goes with God.

The words formed from the root char indicate things, which produce well-being. From this basic meaning of the noun, we derive the individual meanings of charis: grace, favor, beauty, thankfulness, gratitude, delight, kindness; expression of favor, good turn, benefit; in the plural debt of gratitude, recompense, thanks, etc. Charis also can designate the physical causes of the benevolent gift, charm, attraction, and in the plural, it can mean amiable characteristics. In pre-Christian literature, we find the noun charisma, gracious gift, donation (only from God to men) only in Septuagint. When we speak of serving, we imply work done for another either voluntarily or under command, the benefit of which will accrue to the one for whom accomplishes it. The activity of serving stands in contrast to ruling.

The ancient manuscripts use diakoneo and its derivatives mainly for personal help to others. Diakoneo, "serve" is cognate with Latin, conari, "give oneself trouble." Diakoneo can be service for a cause, e.g., for the good of the community. As such, it is an honorable task and a fitting occupation for a free man. The derivative noun diakonia expresses the occupations implied by the verb, and means service, office. The second derived noun diakonos denotes the person carrying out the task. Therefore, the primary meaning in secular Greek was a waiter at table.

The verb ergazomai, which is a cognate of the noun ergon, has the basic meaning to work, to be engaged in something. Ergon can be to create, to produce, to perform also to process e.g., a raw material. Ergon denotes a deed, an action, by contrast either with inactivity or with a mere word. Ergon can refer to a specific occupational/official activity (e.g., military profession), and means in certain cases achievement. In the plural ergon also can mean history.

The word energeia denotes activity. Writers translate energeia by the words activity, effectiveness, and force. Energeo accordingly means to be active, to be at work. The Septuagint uses energeia almost exclusively for the work of divine or demonic powers.

We often hear someone give what sounds like a "good" word. However, though the word began well, as the person adds to it, the word loses clarity and direction. The sick thud is usually because someone has moved beyond his or her measure of anointing. If someone is in the office of prophet, i.e., the governmental aspect, God gives the grace to function in a role that both steers and directs the ecclesia, "called out." Conversely, if one is not functioning in that office they will not have the authority and anointing for steering and direction.

The "vocal ministry" is a testimony of Jesus, and we testify to what He is saying to the ecclesia, "called out." The "vocal ministry" that God sends will be for edification, exhortation, and encouragement (1 Cor. 14:3). Manifestation of the Spirit Revelation expresses the significant self-disclosure of God to man. The Greek language possesses various terms and expressions relevant to this process. Apokalypto, a compound word formed from kalypto, "hide, conceal" and apo, "from" carries with it the idea of unveiling something previously hidden. Corresponding with its late appearance, we find the noun apokalypsis in the Septuagint only in 1 S. 20:30 for 'erwah, "nakedness." The verb apokalyto (found 80 times) almost without exception represents forms of the Hebrew verb galah, "expose, uncover." Deloo, derived from delos, "clear, manifest" calls more attention to the goal, i.e., resulting in something we know or manifest. In the Septuagint deloo is principally a designation for the divine revelation. The underlying Hebrew root equivalent is generally yada', "to declare, let know."

Epiphaneia, from the root -phan-; (cf. phainomai, "appear"; phaneroo, "let be seen"; phaino, "light") suggests a visual appearance, a manifestation of deity. In the Septuagint, epiphaino is the chief rendering of Hebrew 'or, "to cause to shine." In addition epiphaino is rendered by galah, "to show oneself," zarah, "to shine forth," and masa, "to (let oneself) be found." Always it is Yahweh's marvelous rescuing and redemptive vindication of his people in the sense of meaning found in the OT theophany. Other relevant concepts include gnorizo, "make known"; ginosko, "knowledge"; horama, an apparition (something seen) and optasia, a vision.

Yahweh, my God, you are great! In splendor and majesty have you clothed yourself; you cover yourself with light as with a mantle. He who spreads out heaven like a tent curtain. Who lays the beams of his lofty home on the water, who rides about on the wings of the wind who orders winds to be his messengers, and fire and flame his servants. (Ps. 104:1-4)

Ps. 104:2 is a passage which states that God "covers himself with light as with a garment," presenting difficulties. We cannot assume a theophany here; it is natural to think of a continuing attribute of God. We must interpret v. 2a in view of that which proceeds: light here appears in parallelism with "honor and majesty." His clothing is "light," and God, the Creator and King, radiates greatness (1 Tim. 6:16). This heaven is like a tent curtain – stretched out by Yahweh (Is. 40:22; Zech. 12:1). Yet, while "curtain" leads us to think of the "cover" that spans the earth, "beams" draws a picture of the dwelling place of God erected like pile-work (in the heavenly waters) (Gen. 1:7; Ps. 29:10).

Ascribe to Yahweh glory, O sons of God, Ascribe to Yahweh glory and strength! Give to Yahweh the glory of his name; prostrate before Yahweh at "his" holy appearance! Yahweh's voice resounds over the waters! The God of glory is thundering, Yahweh over the mighty waters! Yahweh's voice resounds with power, Yahweh's voice with majesty! Yahweh's voice shatters cedars; Yahweh shatters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon "skip" like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. Yahweh's voice flashes flames of fire. Yahweh's voice makes the desert quake; Yahweh makes the desert of Kadesh quake. Yahweh's voice brings the hinds to birth pains, makes the kids squirm in early birth. In addition, in his palace all cry out Glory! Yahweh is enthroned over the flood; Yahweh is enthroned as king forever. May Yahweh give strength to his people; may Yahweh bless his people with peace! (Ps. 29)
[next page]

Go to Part 2

Big Selection
of Quaker Books

Quaker and general books,
videos and other products.

Recommended Books: see all items
A Living Faith: An Historical and Comparative Study of Quaker Beliefs
Cover imageWilmer Cooper, founding Dean of Earlham School of Religion, provides an historical look at the beliefs of Friends (Quakers). Includes study questions.
Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home
Cover imageRichard J. Foster. Describes 21 types of Christian prayer. Harper San Francisco, 1992. 288 pages.
Journal of George Fox
Cover imageThe auto- biography of the founder of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).
Celebration of Discipline
Cover image20th Anniversary Edition of Richard J. Foster's million- selling work on Christian spiritual disciplines.
Imagination & Spirit: A Contemporary Quaker Reader
Cover imageA selection of excerpts from 15 contemporary Quaker authors who reached the mainstream market. See review.

Recommended Art Print: see all prints

The Peaceable Kingdom
by Edward Hicks
29 in. x 23 in.

List of Articles . About Us . Home . Quaker Books . Quaker Art Prints
Document last modified on Tuesday, 10-Mar-2009 19:44:38 EDT