Passing the Mantle – The Calling of the Five-fold Ministry

The expression, “Passing the Mantle,” means to pass an office from mentor to student. The phrase comes from 1 Kings 19:19-21 when Elijah the Prophet finds his successor, Elisha the son of Shaphat, and throws his mantle or cloak upon him. Elisha, understanding what this meant, runs after him and says, “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye and then I will come with you.” Then, Elisha burns his plow and sacrifices his oxen which shows that he is committed to following Elijah.

That is one of the Bible stories that I would really love to be able to get in a time machine and go back and watch. Can you imagine it? When Elijah threw his mantle over Elisha’s shoulder’s, everyone around would have known what that meant!

It is significant in 1 Kings 19, when Elisha is referred to as the son of Shaphat. Shaphat was a wealthy land-owner so when Elisha burned his plow and sacrificed his oxen, he was giving up a wealthy inheritance to follow the call on his life.

Twenty years ago, when I first realized that I had a call to ministry on my life, I felt the need to get rid of things that signified my life and my past and at the time, I didn’t really understand why I felt it so strong. I even burned my graduate school diploma, and I felt crazy doing it but I’ve come to understand that it was my heart saying “Yes” to God.

If there are any wide-eyed, newly called prophets out there, please don’t go burn important documents from your past. That was my test from God, but He tests His people all in different ways. If you are meant to receive and follow a call from God and He tests your heart concerning it, you will pass (or not) the test before you ever realize you are taking it.

After Elisha gives up everything to go with Elijah, he then follows and serves Elijah for about seven to eight years, and the next time we hear something significant about Elisha is right before Elijah is taken to Heaven.

Three times, Elijah tells Elisha to stay and not follow, but each time, Elisha says, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!” Elisha remains faithful and refuses to stay behind.

After ignoring Elijah’s request to not follow for the third time, Elisha follows Elijah to the bank of the Jordan River. Elijah, then, rolls up his mantle and strikes the water of the river. The water divides and the two men walk across on dry land.

As the time of Elijah’s departure draws close, Elijah says to Elisha, “What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?”and Elisha replies, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” Elijah tells him that he is asking for a hard thing but if he is able to see Elijah as he is taken then he will receive what he asks for.

Then suddenly, a fiery chariot with horses appears and takes Elijah. Elisha sees it and cries out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” As Elisha watches the chariot disappear into the sky, Elijah’s mantle drifts down from the clouds.

Elijah has granted Elisha’s request for a double portion. Elisha then picks up the mantle and receives the Office of Prophet. He goes to the bank of the Jordan River and strikes the water with his new mantle. The water divides just as it had for Elijah, and Elisha walks across on dry land. Elisha’s first miracle was the same as Elijah’s last miracle.

Passing the Mantle under the New Covenant

Under the Old Covenant in the Old Testament, the Office of Prophet was the only office spoken of. Under the New Covenant, there are five offices that Jesus has established, Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher which are known as the Five-fold Ministry.

When I first discovered that I had a call to one of the offices, I wanted a mantle. It was a legitimate desire but also an immature desire based on a lack of understanding at the time.

You still have to be called by God to walk in one of those offices but in the New Testament Church, that Jesus Himself established, the anointing (which is the Holy Spirit in you that enables you to flow in the Power of God) is available to any Spirit-filled Christian. And similar to Elijah and Elisha, there are still mentor and protege relationships where impartation of the anointing takes place.

However, in the New Testament, there is a difference in how the mantle for one of those five offices is given. Ephesians 4:7-8, 11 states: “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says: ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men’. So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, …”

In the Old Testament, Elijah ascended to Heaven, in that chariot of fire, and as he was going, he took his mantle and threw it down to Elisha. Many accounts in the Old Testament are a symbolic picture of what is to come in the New Testament, and Elijah ascending to Heaven and throwing down his mantle is a symbolic picture of what was going to happen in Ephesians 4.

Jesus ascended to Heaven and He took His mantle and ripped it into five pieces and threw it back to the earth to be caught by the ones that He Himself would call.

If you will notice in Ephesians 4:11, Paul says, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, …” If you are reading a Bible translation like the NKJV that says, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,” you will notice that the words “to be” are in italics and the reason for that is that the words are added to the original version. So what this verse is actually saying is that Jesus gave the people (the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers) as gifts to His church.

You can compare this to the gifts of the Holy Spirit talked about in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11:

“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills.”

You can see that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are the ability to perform a supernatural action, whereas the gifts of Jesus are the people that have an innate ability to perform supernatural actions. The ability is in the person at birth but they will not begin to start using their abilities until such a time as God calls it out.

When I was first called, I wanted whoever was supposed to pass me a mantle, to do it and I wasn’t very patient about it.  What I didn’t realize was that I already had my mantle. I was born with it. God was calling it out, and for a while, after He called it out, it felt like He beat me to death with it, but that’s the subject for another article!

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Yours In Christ,

Shiloh Mandi Griffin, M.Ed.

Founder of PrayingProphet.net

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8 comments on “Passing the Mantle – The Calling of the Five-fold Ministry

  1. Shiloh Griffin Post author

    Hey Phil,
    I had never really thought about how we do have so many expressions that come from the Bible. Now, I’m going to have to google it to see just how many there are.
    Thank you for bringing that up because I love to research things like that!
    Be Blessed,
    Shiloh

    Reply
  2. Todd P Matthews

    I love what you wrote here in regard to the passing of the mantle, but for many of us, failing to realize we’re already born with the mantle, and upon such a mantle I believe is our true calling in life. For some of us, it is ministry, but for others, such a mantle is the calling to help change and influence others in a positive manner. Unfortunately, I believe many wait for this mantle to be passed and fail to realize they’re born with it. They wait, wait, and wait, until one day the waiting game ends and they retire unfulfilled, which believe it or not is the number one regret among retirees. But, there are also many of us who realize we’re born with this mantle, but a far lesser number than those who don’t realize they had it to begin with. We follow the path of this calling, and it’s not always easy, as people, sometimes even our own parents, might question or even ridicule our choices. But for us, sometimes it’s a calling only we understand and we have no choice but to follow such a calling, as we’re naturally drawn to it.

    Reply
    1. Shiloh Griffin Post author

      Hey Todd,
      You said a lot of deep stuff in your comment! There’s a verse in the bible that says “Deep calls unto deep” meaning it takes a deep person to understand the depth of another deep person because not everyone is deep. All of what you were saying is so profound and other deep people will get it. I feel your passion which is probably why you’re such a good writer!
      I really appreciate the comments,
      Shiloh

      Reply
  3. Old George

    Hi Shiloh,
    I didn’t know that story before to be honest. But it’s a nice one to think about it every day.
    I think we do forget so many things due to our daily work stress or something else instead of
    keeping calm a few minutes to calm down our mind and think of non physical matters.
    Thanks for giving me those few minutes today! 🙂
    Best,
    OldGeorge

    Reply
    1. Shiloh Griffin Post author

      Thanks for your comment George! I’m happy my article gave you a time of peace and relaxation. You are so right about the need to stop what we’re doing and make time to relax. I think it’s more important than we even realize. Stress is so harmful to us emotionally and physically! Thank you for reminding me of that!
      Be Blessed,
      Shiloh

      Reply
  4. Nadia

    I would love to go back too and witness that awesome event!
    I like your post it is really inspiring. I love the part where Elisha asks for the double portion of what his master had. It’s a proof that everything we ask God is ready to give if only our hearts are pure, if only He is indeed the master of our lives.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Shiloh Griffin Post author

      Hey Nadia,
      I’m glad you liked my article. I also have always liked the part that Elisha asked for a double portion because to me it seemed like a bold request and I really admire that. It takes courage and passion to be bold like that!
      Thank you for your comment,
      Shiloh

      Reply
  5. Phil

    Hello Shiloh,

    Interesting article and I will never forget where Passing the Mantle as a phrase comes from. Actually, so many phrases people use comes from the Bible such as The Writings On The Wall.

    You have given much though for me and I am looking around your site here as well to see what else catches my eye. Great positive work here and I am happy to have found your site and have bookmarked it for future reference.

    Reply

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