As promised, I am posting this in addition to, and further explanation of, my post yesterday concerning the Structure of God’s Church. It is rather lengthy, however I HIGHLY encourage you to take your time, and truly meditate on these very Biblical principles. Again, judge it based on the Word of God, and not personal opinions and preferences. I am completely convinced that this is one of MANY offices, gifts, and principles that God is restoring to the Body of Christ in our generation. I will explain WHY further down.
As we posted yesterday, Ephesians 4:8, 11 calls the Five Fold ministry “GIFTS.” However, Romans 11:13 also calls the ministry of an apostle an OFFICE. That means that the New Testament only records 3 offices: 1) apostles 2) elders 3) deacons (and “pastor” is not one of the offices listed). According to the apostle Paul, everything else besides these three are not offices in the church, but gifts (prophets, evangelists, pastors (Greek: poimen = shepherds), and teachers.)
Let us start with listing all the Apostles referenced in the Bible. This will help us to understand that the lineage and ministry of Apostles did NOT stop with the death of the original 12 by any means. Not only were there the original 12 Apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21:14 – and this includes Matthias who replaced Judas as the 12th Apostle of the Lamb in Acts 1:15-26), but there were various other apostles in addition to the original 12 such as: Paul and Barnabas.
Acts 14:14 (AV)
14 Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,
Timothy and Silvanus/Silas were apostles along with Paul:
1 Thessalonians 1:1 (AV)
1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 2:6 (AV)
6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.
Paul called James the Lord’s Brother an Apostle, and He was not the same James as the son of Zebedee, or James the son of Alphaeus who were both of the original 12 Apostles of the Lamb (Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16). This James, the Lord’s Brother, who was LATER to become an apostle was not even a believer until sometime after Jesus Christ called the original 12 Apostles of the Lamb (John 7:2-10):
Galatians 1:18–19 (AV)
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. 19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.
The Bible also calls Titus an Apostle:
2 Corinthians 8:23 (AV)
23 Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.
Notice the original language for the word “messengers” here:
Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek Edition
Messengers – 693 ἀπόστολος (apostolos), Str 652; TDNT 1.407—1. LN 53.74 apostle, a special messenger of Jesus Christ, a restricted group, the exact number variously reckoned (Mt 10:2; Ac 1:2, 26; Ac 14:14; 1Co 12:28, 29); 2. LN 33.194 messenger, envoy, one sent (Jn 13:16; 2Co 8:23; Php 2:25+)
Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon:
652 ἀπόστολος [apostolos /ap·os·tol·os/] n m. From 649; TDNT 1:407; TDNTA 67; GK 693; 81 occurrences; AV translates as “apostle” 78 times, “messenger” twice, and “he that is sent” once.
As is also the case with Epaphroditus:
Philippians 2:25 (AV)
25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.
“messenger” = apostolos in Greek = apostle
For those who would say that the minsitry of an apostle is not longer needed in our generation:
Ephesians 4:11–13 (AV)
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Paul said that the ministry of Apostles, along with the other four, would continue to operate “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a PERFECT man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” That standard has absolutely NOT been attained yet, and so therefore God desires that all these ministries still be in operation in His Church today. These required standards of perfection will be explained in more detail later.
So, understanding that there were many other apostles in the Scriptures besides the original 12, let us move on…
The ministry of an Apostle is the KEY to the functionality of the entire structure of God’s True Church: EVERY church, although having a plurality of Elders, MUST ALSO have access to an APOSTLE. We will explain WHY in detail further down.
What are the qualifications of an apostle? The apostle Paul tells us:
1 Corinthians 9:1–2 (AV) Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?
Galatians 1:1 (AV) Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
According to these verses the qualifications of an apostle are:
1) An apostle must be “free” – If you allow scripture to interpret scripture, Paul is speaking of being free from all sin (Romans 6:18, 8:2 among many others). Any man, who does not understand God’s call to sinless perfection, cannot be an apostle. The enemy will expose any sin in his life and use them to destroy the saints. This principle of sinless perfection also goes for EVERY CHRISTIAN, so to require it of an apostle is not strange. However, most churches teach that “we’re only human, so we are going to sin.” This is a lie from the pit of hell, and another Bible Study for another time…
2) An apostle must have “seen Jesus Christ our Lord.” – We have no Biblical record that Paul ever saw Jesus Christ in the flesh, so he must be referring to His experience with Christ on the Damascus Road (Acts 9), or some other experience. I Corinthians 15:3-7 is written by Paul as if he is in fact referring to seeing Christ in His resurrected/glorified form just as all the other apostles did whom he mentions in this passage. Regardless, every apostle today will have seen Jesus Christ come to him, whether in vision, dream, trance, etc. at some point in his ministry BEFORE he can be qualified to be an apostle. This is further explained in point 4).
3) An apostle must have a “work.” – In this context, Paul is referring to the Church at Corinth as his “work.” A modern day apostle will have a “work” as well. It may be one church in which he functions as the apostle (as with James, the Lord’s Brother), or it may be numerous churches that look to him to be their apostle (as with Paul).
4) An apostle must be called “by Jesus Christ” – If a man is a true apostle, at some point in his life, Jesus Christ will come to him in a vision, dream, trance, etc. and clearly call that man to be HIS apostle. An apostle cannot be appointed or ordained by any other man, as the Church is the possession of Jesus Christ Himself solely and not ANY man’s. Therefore ONLY Jesus can call His apostles. An apostle certainly cannot appoint himself. And an apostle certainly cannot be appointed by other men. Both of these situations were taking place in the early church which is why Jesus speaks to John concerning the church in Ephesus:
Revelation 2:2 (AV)
2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
Jesus commends the church at Ephesus because they held everyone who said he was an apostle to the above qualifications listed by Paul. And if a man did not meet these qualifications they were deemed a liar and a false apostle (II Corinthians 11:13).
Again, apostles are not ordained of men. They are called of Christ, taught of Christ, and sent of Christ.
Galatians 1:1, 15-20 (AV)
1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. 19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. 20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
The MAN Christ Jesus Himself being an Apostle, (Hebrews 3:1, Ephesians 2:20), was not called and ordained of men but of God: John 16:27 with many other scriptures to substantiate this fact. The original 12 apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21:14), we not called of man, but by Jesus Christ Himself. So it will be with ANYONE who is called to be an apostle in the TRUE Church today.
Concerning the responsibilities of an apostle: The ministry of an apostle is the ONLY WAY that continuity is brought about in every local assembly. Without the ministry of an apostle we have a mass confusion of varying beliefs from one local assembly to the next as it is in most “apostolic” Churches today. This was the main purpose of the ministry of the apostle Paul:
1 Corinthians 1:10 (AV)
10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
He alludes to this principle again in the same letter:
1 Corinthians 11:16 (AV)
16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.
The chief responsibility of an apostle is to bring the SAME culture, structure, and belief system to EVERY church that he oversees.
The word “apostle” translated from Greek into English means: a messenger that is sent, ambassador.
Webster’s Advanced Dictionary defines ambassador as:
1) A minister of the highest rank employed by one prince or state, at the court of another, to manage the public concerns of his own prince or state and representing the power and dignity of his sovereign ruler.
2) A person appointed and sent by another with powers to transact business as his representative.
In that an apostle is God’s ambassador, He is sent by God with power to transact the business of God’s Kingdom in a foreign land, which in our case, is this present world (Hebrews 11:13-16).
In my studies, I was curious as to why Jesus decided to call those ministering in this way “apostles.” The word apostle is not mentioned in the Old Testament. In fact, the word apostle is a word that originates in the Greek language = apostolos. It was Jesus who chose the Greek title “apostolos” for those whom He called, authorized, and sent out. Among the earliest uses of the term were the Greek historians who used it to describe an admiral over a fleet of ships sent out by his king to discover, explore, conquer, and establish his government in new territories. Jesus’ choice of the word reflects this meaning and stresses its emphasis on “one sent from another” or a fully authorized representative and ambassador of the sender. So, apostles are fully authorized representatives or ambassadors of the one who sent them, in our case, Jesus Christ is the King who will choose his apostles to represent Him to the world, and to order His Kingdom on the earth.
This was the practice of the Roman empire during the time Jesus walked the Earth in flesh. Once the Roman forces had invaded a foreign land, Caesar would send in an “apostle” with a small band of soldiers for the purpose of instituting the culture and custom of Rome on the newly conquered territory. The goal was to convert the barbarians and foreigners to the culture of Rome. And this is what Jesus chose to call His “APOSTLES” to do: take new territory for God, and convert the culture of that city and region to the culture of the Kingdom of God. He, the apostle, will bring THE order and structure of the Kingdom to every church that he has influence over.
Another responsibility of Apostles: As we see throughout the book of Acts, some apostles are anointed church planters. Whether they are planting the church themselves or assisting others to do it, they have an anointing to bring a supernatural power and efficiency to this vital task. (Paul, Barnabas, Timothy, Titus, etc.)
However, it is also possible to be an apostle without planting new churches. Such was the case of James. History records that the majority, if not entirety, of his ministry was spent edifying and structuring ONLY the church in Jerusalem.
Another responsibility of apostles: They are called to set local church Elders and Deacons into their offices. This is exemplified by the work of the apostles Paul and Barnabas.
Acts 14:23 (AV) And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
The Apostle Titus was doing this same work…
Titus 1:5 (AV) For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
Also, apostles are a key to every other Five Fold Ministry Gift being fully released…
Where the ministry of an apostle is not hindered, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders, and deacons will abound. The apostle’s ministry will empower the ministry of others (Romans 1:11), so that the church can MULTIPLY instead of simply add to itself. However, when you find that new ministries are NOT being raised up it is usually because that assembly lacks the ministry of an apostle.
These reasons, and many more, are why the modern church in our generation NEEDS the ministry of Apostles to be restored so desperately…
If every church had a plurality of Elders to teach and shepherd the saints, while having access to an apostle to set order in their assemblies, the Body of Christ could truly be PERFECTED. In fact, the only way that the Body of Christ can achieve true and perfect unity (I Corinthians 1:10) is through the ministry of an apostle. God has so ordained it this way, yet men have rejected God’s order and structure.
Many “pastors” today have a personal kingdom mentality in that they want complete control over God’s Church for themselves. They would never allow a plurality of Elders in “their” congregations. Much less allow a God-ordained Apostle(s) to come in and set order in “their” congregation. Sadly, these “pastors” and even more tragic, the precious saints in those congregation, will NEVER BE TRULY PERFECTED as God desires for them to be. Hence God’s prophecies concerning pastors with this mentality, such as Jeremiah 23:1-4 and others. This, among many other factors, is the grave danger of not allowing God-ordained Apostles to function in our midst.
I hope that this helps to open your understanding concerning the ministry of an apostle. If you have any questions please feel free to post them below and I will respond as soon as I can. Also please feel free to private message me if you do not wish to post publicly.
Again, I realize this is a revolutionary concept of church structure for many. I simply ask that you judge this by the WORD OF GOD, and not personal preference or opinion. If you find what I have presented to be Biblically sound, then the ONLY righteous choice is for you to change to align with THE WORD OF GOD. I am praying for everyone who reads this, as the Spirit of Truth is desperately trying to lead us into ALL TRUTH (John 16:13). God will work, but who will let him? (Isaiah 43:13)
Grace and Peace to you all, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus!