APOSTLE: A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
I) APOSTLE DEFINED
A) GENERAL SENSE OF THE WORD APOSTLE: ONE SENT WITH A MESSAGE
Apostle from the Scripture text which is the Greek "apostolos" literally can be translated "one sent with a message" =
"apo" = from
"stello" = to send
From a Roman army context an apostolos would be a courier, a forerunner who brings an order from the general.
In early use of Greek, the word rendered "apostle" was used of a naval expedition, commissioned to represent Greek interests in foreign service. In Greek-speaking Judaism it was used of authorized representatives, either an individual or a body of persons.
B) THE OFFICE OF APOSTLE WAS GIVEN FIRST BY JESUS CHRIST TO THE TWELVE DISCIPLES WHOM HE CHOSE TO BE HIS WITNESSES - SET APART TO PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL OF GOD
1) [Mk 3:13-15]:
(Mk 3:13 NASB) "And He [Jesus] went up on the mountain and summonded those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him.
(Mk 3:14 NASB) And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach,
(Mk 3:15 NASB) and to have authority to cast out the demons."
2) [Jn 20:19-24]:
(Jn 20:19 NASB) "So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'
(Jn 20:20 NASB) And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
(Jn 20:21 NASB) So Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also sent you.'
(Jn 20:22 NASB) And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.
[Only with the Spirit can the office
of Apostle be effectively carried out. The use of "apestalken" = "has
and "pempO" =
Jn 20:21 shows that
is ultimately Christ’s own work in which He gives the disciples a share
as He sends them out into the world to proclaim His message about
Himself - faith alone in Him alone unto eternal life. The messengers’
is through the Spirit from Jesus.
The Spirit is indispensable to the office of Apostle, for in the Spirit the Apostles received assurance of Christ’s presence, and they received power in the form of supernatural spiritual gifts to authenticate their message as true to those to whom they give that message]
(Jn 20:23 NASB) If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.'
Proclaiming the forgiveness of sins was the prominent
feature of the apostolic preaching in the Book of Acts, (cf. Acts 2:38;
10:43). Jesus was giving the apostles (and by extension, the church)
the privilege of announcing God's terms on how a person receives
forgiveness of sins: If one believes in Jesus, then the apostle - one
of the twelve or a believer in Christ may announce that his sins are
forgiven. If a person rejects Jesus' sacrifice for sins, then an
apostle may announce that that person is not forgiven of his sins.
3) [Lk 6:13]:
(Lk 6:13 NASB) "And when day came, He [Jesus] called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles"
Notice that the original 12 Apostles were so designated by Christ in Lk 6:13 quoted above from 12 of His disciples. They were to be in a position of leadership and witnesses of the gospel.
Personal commissioning by the risen Lord, as well as personal meeting with him, is the basis of becoming an apostle. This applies primarily to the twelve (Matthias replacing Judas), who have been prepared for the task but have now to preach Christ as the fulfilment of OT prophecy. They become his authoritative representatives, but the very nature of their commission means that they are now also missionaries. A number of others join with the twelve in receiving and executing this commission (cf. Acts 15:1ff).
4) [Lk 9:1-6]:
(Lk 9:1 NASB) "And He [Jesus] called twelve together, and gave them power and authority over al the demons and to heal diseases.
(Lk 9:2 NASB) And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing.
(Lk 9:3 NASB) And He said to them, 'Take nothing for journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money, and do not even have two tunics apiece.
(Lk 9:4 NASB) Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city.
(Lk 9:5 NASB) And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.' '
Notice that a key duty of the office of apostle is to preach the Word of God, especially the gospel, as well as to have supernatural capacities such as casting out demons and healing diseases.
5) [Mt 10:5-15; cf. Mk 6:7-13]:
(Mt 10:5 NASB) '''These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: "Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;
(Mt 10:6 NASB) but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
(Mt 10:7 NASB) And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
(Mt 10:8 NASB) Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.
(Mt 10:9 NASB) Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts,
(Mt 10:10 NASB) or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support.
(Mt 10:11 NASB) And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city.
(Mt 10:12 NASB) As you enter the house, give it your greeting.
(Mt 10:13 NASB) If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace.
(Mt 10:14 NASB) Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.
(Mt 10:15 NASB) Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city." '''
that the Apostles were sent out to preach that the kingdom of heaven is
at hand - that if all of Israel believed in a coming
Messiah Savior for eternal life in the kingdom of heaven that that
kingdom would commence with those that believed as residents .
And the Apostles were to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the
cast out demons - at first exclusively to the house of Israel. So a key
function of the Apostles was to proclaim the message of the gospel of
the kingdom of heaven is at hand and perform miraculous signs, the
latter evidently to authenticate that their message was from God.
6) [Lk 10:17-21]:
NASB) "The seventy returned with joy,
saying, 'Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.'
(Lk 10:18 NASB) And He said to them, 'I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightening.
(Lk 10:19 NASB) Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.
(Lk 10:20 NASB) Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.'
(Lk 10:21 NASB) At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, 'I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this was well-pleasing in Your sight."
The godly works of the Apostles are not to be the subject of boasting or of self-evaluation, but of joy that one is serving God.
7) [Acts 1:1-2, 20-26]:
(Acts 1:1 NASB) "The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach,
(Acts 1:2 NASB) until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen.
1:20 NASB) For [referring to Judas' suicide and the need to replace
him, (vv. 18-19)],' [said Peter], it is written in the book of Psalms,
'Let his homestead be made desolate, and let no one dwell in it;' and,
'Let another man take his office.'
(Acts 1:21 NASB) Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us -
(Acts 1:22 NASB) beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us - one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.
(Acts 1:23 NASB) So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias.
(Acts 1:24 NASB) And they prayed and said, 'You, Lord, Who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen
(Acts 1:25 NASB) to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.
(Acts 1:26 NASB) And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles."
8) [Ro 1:1]:
(Ro 1:1 NASB) "Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,"
Notice that a key function of the apostle is to proclaim the gospel. The original 12 Apostles were so designated by Christ in Lk 6:13 from 12 of His disciples. They were to be in a position of leadership.
C) THE TWELVE APOSTLES
Vol. 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke]:
|James son of Alphaeus
||James son of Alphaeus
||James son of Aphaeus
||James son of Alphaeus
||Simon the Zealot
||Simon the Zealot
|Simon the Cananaean
||Simon the Cananaean
||Judas brother of James
||Judas brother of James
||[Vacant to be replaced by
Matthias, ref. Acts 1:1-2, 20-26)]
Many significant things arise from comparing the names in the above chart.
1. Peter is always first, Judas Iscariot always last. Matthew uses "first" in connection with Peter; the word cannot mean he was the first convert (Andrew or perhaps John was) and probably does not simply mean "first on the list," which would be a trifling comment (cf. 1 Cor 12:28). More likely it means "first among equals;" cf. further on Mt 16:13-20.
2. The first four names of all four lists are those of two pairs of brothers whose call is mentioned first (Mt 4:18-22).
3. In each list there are three groups of four, each group headed by Peter, Philip (not to be confused with the evangelist), and James the son of Alphaeus respectively. But within each group the order varies (even from Luke to Acts!) except that Judas is always last. This suggests, if it does not prove, that the Twelve were organizationally divided into smaller groups, each with a leader.
The commission in Mark 6:7 sent the men out two by two;
a) [Mk 6:7]:
(Mk 6:7 NASB) "And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave thenm authority over the unclean spirits;"
perhaps this accounts for the pairing in the Greek text of Matthew 10:2-4.
b) [Mt 10:2-4]:
(Mt 10:2 NASB) "Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
(Mt 10:3 NASB) Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;
NASB) Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot,
the one who betrayed Him."
5. Some variations in order can be accounted for with a high degree of probability. For the first four names, Mark lists Peter, James, John, and appends Andrew, doubtless because the first three were an inner core privileged to witness the raising of Jairus's daughter and the Transfiguration and invited to be close to Jesus in his Gethsemane agony. Matthew preserves the order suggested by sibling relationships. He not only puts himself last in his group but mentions his less-than-savory past.
6. Apparently Simon the Canaanite (Matt, Mark) is the same person as Simon the Zealot (Luke, Acts). If so, then apparently Thaddaeus is another name for Judas the brother of (or son of James (see further below).
Information About Each Apostle:
Simon Peter. Simon is probably a contraction of Simeon (cf. Gen 29:33). Natives of Bethsaida on Galilee (John 1:44), he and his brother Andrew were fishermen (Matt 4:18-20) and possibly disciples of John the Baptist before they became disciples of Jesus (John 1:35-42). Jesus gave Simon the name Cephas (in Aram.; "Peter" in Gr. [John 1:43]; see on Mt 4:18). Impulsive and ardent, Peter's great strengths were his great weaknesses. New Testament evidence about him is abundant. Tracing Peter's movements after the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) is very difficult.
Andrew. Peter's brother is not nearly so prominent in the NT. He appears again only in Mark 13:3; John 1:35-44; 6:8; 12:22, and in late and unreliable traditions. The Johannine evidence shows him to have been quietly committed to bringing others to Jesus.
James and John. James was probably the older (he almost always appears first). But as he became the first apostolic martyr (Acts 12:2), he never achieved his brother's prominence. The brothers were sons of Zebedee the fisherman, whose business was successful enough to employ others (Mark 1:20) while his wife was able to support Jesus' ministry (Matt 27:55-56; Luke 8:3). His wealth may help account for the family's link with the house of the high priest John 18:15-16), as well as for the fact that he alone of the Twelve stood by the cross. The brothers' mother was probably Salome (cf. Matt 27:56; Mark 15:40; 16:1), and her motives were not unmixed (see on Matt 20:20-21). Perhaps the sons inherited something of her aggressive nature; whatever its source, the nickname "sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17; cf. also Mark 9:38-41, Luke 9:54-56) reveals something of their temperament. John may have been a disciple of John the Baptist John 1:35-41). Of James we know nothing until Matthew 4:21-22. John was undoubtedly a special friend of Peter (Luke 22:8; John 18:15; 20:2-8; Acts 3:1-4:21; 8:14; Gal 2:9). Reasonably reliable tradition places him after the Fall of Jerusalem in Ephesus, where he ministered long and usefully into old age, taking a hand in the nurture of leaders like Polycarp, Papias, and Ignatius. Broadus's summary does not seem too fanciful: "[The] vaulting ambition which once aspired to be next to royalty in a worldly kingdom (Mt 20:20ff.], now seeks to overcome the world, to bear testimony to the truth, to purify the churches, and glorify God."
Philip. Like Peter and Andrew, Philip's home was Bethsaida John 1:44); he too left the Baptist to follow Jesus. For incidents about him, see John 6:5-7; 12:21-22; 14:8-14. In the lists he invariably appears first in the second group of four. Polycrates, a second-century bishop, says Philip ministered in the Roman province of Asia and was buried at Hierapolis.
Bartholomew. The name means "son of Tolmai" or "son of Tholami" (cf. LXX Josh 15:14) or "son of Tholomaeus" (cf. Jos. Antiq. XX, 5 [i.1]). Many have identified him with Nathanael on the grounds that (1) the latter is apparently associated with the Twelve, (John 21:2; cf. 1:43-51), (2) Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, (John 1:43-46), and (3) Philip and Batholomew are always associated in the lists of apostles. The evidence is not strong; but if it is solid, we also know he came from Cana (John 21:2). He is remembered for Jesus' tribute to him (John 1:47).
Thomas. Also named "Didymus" (John 11:16; 21:2), which in Aramaic means "Twin," Thomas appears in Gospel narratives only in John 11:16; 14:5; 20:24-29. Known for his doubt, he should also be known for his courage (John 11:16) and his profound confession, (John 20:28). Some traditions claim he went to India as a missionary and was martyred there; others place his later ministry in Persia.
The name "Matthew" may derive from the Hebrew behind "Mattaniah" (1
Chronicles 9:15), meaning "gift of God," or, in another etymology, from
a word meaning "the faithful" (Heb. emet). In Mark the name is "Levi"
(though in Mark there are difficult textual variants), and the change
to "Matthew" in the first Gospel has prompted much speculation. Since
Jews not uncommonly had two or more names, the simple equation of Levi
and Matthew is the most obvious course to take. Matthew may have been a
Levite. Such a heritage would have assumed intimate acquaintance with
Jewish tradition. Mark and Luke have "Matthew" in their lists of
apostles (Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15...). So Mark and Luke use both "Levi"
and "Matthew," but Matthew uses only the latter.
... Matthew's work as a tax collector assured his fluency in Aramaic and Greek and that his accuracy in keeping records fitted him for note taking and later writing his Gospel.
James the son of Alphaeus. The extra phrase distinguishes him from James the son of Zebedee. If we assume (and this is highly likely) that this James is not the same as "James the brother" of Jesus (see on Mt 13:55), we know almost nothing about him. Assuming Matthew = Levi (see on 9:9), then Matthew's father was also called Alphaeus (Mark 2:14); and if this is the same Alphaeus, then James and Matthew are another pair of brothers among the Twelve. Some have argued that Alphaeus is an alternative form of Cleophas (Clopas), which would mean that "James son of Alphaeus" is the same person as "James the younger" (Mark 15:40) and that his mother's name was Mary (Matt 27:56; Mark 15:40; 16:1; John 19:25). But such connections are by no means certain.
Thaddaeus. The textual variants are difficult. The longer ones (e.g., KJV, "Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus") are almost certainly conflations. "Thaddaeus" has the support of early representatives from Alexandrian, Western, and Caesarean witnesses (cf. Metzger, Textual Commentary, p. 26). Through elimination he appears to be identified with (lit.) "Judas of James"—which could mean either "Judas son of James" or "Judas brother of James." The former is perhaps the more normal meaning; but the author of the Epistle of Jude designates himself as "Jude [Gr. Ioudas]... a brother of James" (Jude 1, where adelphos ["brother"] is actually used). If Jude is the apostolic "Judas of James," then the meaning of the latter expression is fixed. On the other hand, if canonical Jude is the half-brother of Jesus and full brother of Jesus' half-brother James (see on Mt 13:55), then "Judas of James" most likely means "Judas son of James." "Thaddaeus" comes from a root roughly signifying "the beloved." Perhaps this apostle was called "Judas the beloved" = "Judas Thaddaeus," and "Thaddaeus" was progressively used to distinguish him from the other Judas in the apostolic band. Only John 14:22 provides us with information about him. Later traditions are worthless.
Simon the Zealot. Matthew and Mark have "Simon the Cananaean" (not "Canaanite," which would suggest a pagan Gentile; cf. the different Gr. word in Mt 15:22). "Cananaean" (qanan) is the Aramaic form of "Zealot" specified in Luke—Acts. The Zealots were nationalists, strong upholders of Jewish traditions and religion; and some decades later they became a principal cause of the Jewish War in which Rome sacked Jerusalem. The Zealots were probably not so influential in Jesus' time. The nickname may reveal Simon's past political and religious associations; it also distinguishes him from Simon Peter.
Judas's father is called "Simon Iscariot" in John 6:71; 13:26.
Scholarly interest has spent enormous energy and much ingenuity on the
name "Iscariot." Explanations include (1) "man of Kerioth" (there are
two eligible villages of that name (cf. ZPEB, 3:785; IBD, 2:830); (2)
transliteration of Latin sicarius, used to refer to a Zealot-like
movement; (3) "man of Jericho," an explanation depending on a Greek
corruption; (4) a transliteration of the Aramaic seqaryac ("falsehood,"
"betrayal"; cf. C.C. Torrey, The Name Iscariot, HTR 36 : 51-62),
which could therefore become a nickname for Judas only after his
ignominy and not at this point in his life; (5) "Judas the dyer,"
reflecting his occupation (cf. A. Ehrman, "Judas Iscariot and Abba
Saqqara," JBL 97 : 572f.; Y. Arbeitman, "The Suffix of Iscariot,"
JBL 99 : 122-24); (6) as an adaptation of the last, "Judas the
redhead" (Albright and Mann). The first and fifth seem most likely; the
second is currently most popular. Judas was treasurer for the Twelve,
but not an honest one (John 12:6, 13:29; see also on Mt 26:14-16;
27:3-10). Matthew and Mark add the damning indictment-"who betrayed
him." Luke 6:16 labels him a traitor.
The Twelve Apostles And The Apostle Paul Had A One Time Historical Role
Establish The Church And
Set Down The Final Pages Of The Word Of God For The Duration To The End
Of The Age
Historically speaking the Apostles fulfilled a one time role to lead the body of Christ, the Church, and thereby establish the Church and set down the final pages of the Word of God for the duration to the end of the Age. Once this was done, no other Apostles appeared on the scene of the type that fit all of the qualifications of Apostle, especially to accomplish such a purpose.
a) [Cp Mt 10:1-8, (cf. Mk 3:13-19)]:
(Mt 10:1 NASB) '''Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
(Mt 10:2 NASB) Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
(Mt 10:3 NASB) Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;
(Mt 10:4 NASB) Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him.
(Mt 10:5 NASB) These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: "Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;
(Mt 10:6 NASB) but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
(Mt 10:7 NASB) And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
NASB) Heal the
sick, raise the dead, cleanse
the lepers, cast out demons.
Freely you received, freely give."
b) [Compare 1 Cor 4:1, 9]:
(1 Cor 4:1 NASB) "So then let us [Apostles, (v. 9) be looked upon as ministering servants of Christ and stewards [trustees] of the mysteries - that is, the secret purposes of God.
(1 Cor 4:9 NASB) "For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles [apostolous] last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men."
This passage continues to make the distinction between the Apostles and the general body of believers through verse 13 - suffering a great deal of persecution.
c) [Ephesians 2:19-20]:
(Eph 2:19 NASB) "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household,
(Eph 2:20 NASB) having been built on the foundation of the apostles [apostolOn] and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,"
The office of
apostle is the foundation of the Church - the body of Christ - those
who have trusted in Christ for eternal life.
d) [Eph 3:4-6]:
(Eph 3:4 NASB) "By referring to this, [the mystery of the Christ, (vv. 1-3)] when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,
(Eph 3:5 NASB) which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;
(Eph 3:6 NASB) to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,"
God's design for the office of apostle in the New Testament links with Christ, the cornerstone of the Church, the office of apostle as the foundation - a foundation which by definition is immutable and unmovable. Just as Christ is a once-for-all and never to be repeated Cornerstone that was laid as part of the foundation of the Church, so also, the apostles are a once-for-all and never to be repeated aspect of the foundation.
This truth rejects
the unbiblical teaching of Apostolic
Since the office of apostle was foundational to the church; and since
the church is past the stage of having built that foundation; then
there is no longer a
need for the office of apostle in this regard.
since the canon of Scripture has been completed until the end of the
age; and since the
apostolic office comprised those final books; then there again is no
longer a need for the office of apostle in this regard as well.
Finally, God sent apostles to direct and lead His church; which evidently was turned over to the members of the Body of Christ through the various spiritual gifts.
9) Six Signs Of An Apostle
[C. I. Scofield states, The New Scofield Study Bible, NIV, New York, Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 984]:
"The word 'apostle' (Gk apostolos) means a messenger, one sent forth with orders. It is used concerning our Lord Himself (Heb 3:1). Elsewhere it is used of the Twelve, who were called to that office by our Lord during His earthly ministry; of Paul, called to the apostleship by the risen and ascended Lord, (Acts 9:1-15); of Barnabas (Acts 14:14), specially designated by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2); and of Matthias, chosen by lot to take the place of Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:15-26). Although Matthias is never actually referred to as an Apostle, it is said of him: 'so he was added to the eleven apostles.'
The 'signs of an Apostle' [i.e., the technical and special spiritual gift of Apostle] were:
(a) They were chosen directly by the Lord Himself or, as in the case of Barnabas, by the Holy Spirit (Mt 10:1-2; Mk 3:13-14; Lk 6:13; Acts 9:6, 15; 13:2; 22:10, 14-15; Rom 1:1; Gal 1:1).
(b) They were endued with sign-gifts, miraculous powers which were the divine credentials of their office (Mt 10:1; Acts 5:15-16; 16:16-18; 28:8-9; 2 Cor 12:12).
(c) Their relation to the kingdom was that of heralds, announcing, at first to Israel only - that the kingdom of heaven is near in the sense of imminent should all of Israel believe in Christ, (see Mt 4:17), and manifesting kingdom powers (Mt 10:7-8).
(d) The apostles' future relation to the kingdom will be that of judges over the twelve tribes (Mt 19:28).
(e) Consequent upon the repeated rejection of the kingdom by Israel and the revelation of the mystery hidden in God (Mt 16:18; Eph 3:1-12), the Church, the apostolic office was invested with a new endowment, the baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4); a new power; a new relation, that of foundation stones of the new temple - the body of Christ, the Church, (Eph 2:20-22); and a new function, that of preaching the gospel of God of salvation, through a moment of faith alone in Jesus Christ to Jew and Gentile alike.
(f) It is implied that an Apostle was one who was an eyewitness of the resurrection of Christ (Acts 1:22; 1 Cor 9:1), i.e., he must have seen the risen Lord. There is no N.T. record that Barnabas, called an apostle in Acts 14:14, saw Christ after His resurrection, but if such a qualification was implicit in apostleship, he must have been such an eyewitness.
THE GENERAL SENSE OF APOSTLE AS IT APPLIES
TO ALL BELIEVERS IN THE CHURCH AGE
The general sense of the word apostle as it applies to all believers in the Church Age characterizes them as messengers of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world in their daily lives as Ambassadors of Jesus Christ. After Christ's death and resurrection, many of the more than 500 became apostles in the general sense.
1) [2 Cor 5:20]:
(2 Cor 5:20 NASB) "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."
(Eph 6:18 NASB) "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
(Eph 6:19 NASB) and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me [Apostle Paul] in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,
(Eph 6:20 NASB) for which I am an ambassador in
chains; that in proclaiming
it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."
3) [Acts 14:4, 14-15]:
(Acts 14:4 NASB) '''But the people of the city were divided; and some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles [apostolois].
(Acts 14:14 NASB) But when the apostles [apostoloi] Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out
14:15 NASB) and saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? We are
also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that
you should turn from these vain things to a living God, 'Who made the
heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. [Ps 146:6]' "
4) [Ro 16:7]:
(Ro 16:7 NASB) "Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles [apostolois], who also were in Christ before me."
5) [2 Cor 8:22-23]:
(2 Cor 8:22 NASB) "We have sent with them our brother, whom we have often tested and found diligent in many things, but now even more diligent because of his great confidence in you."
(2 Cor 8:23 NASB) As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, they are messengers [=apostoloi] of the churches, a glory to Christ."
6) [Phil 2:25]:
(Phil 2:25 NASB) But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger [apostolon] and minister to my need;"
7) [1 Thes 2:4-6]:
(1 Thes 2:4 NASB) "But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God Who examines our hearts."
(1 Thes 2:5 NASB) For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed - God is witness -
(1 Thes 2:6 NASB) nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles [apostoloi] of Christ we might have asserted our authority,
(1 Thes 2:7 NASB) But we became gentle in your midst, as a nurse may cherish her own children,"
II) PAUL'S APOSTLESHIP WAS APPOINTED BY THE RISEN LORD TO BEAR THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST BEFORE THE GENTILES AND KINGS AND SONS OF ISRAEL
.ON THE WORD APOSTLE
A) [Acts 9:15]:
(Acts 9:15 NASB) "But the Lord [Jesus Christ] said to Ananias, 'Go! This man [Paul] is My chosen instrument to carry My name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.' "
Acts 9:1-15 provides the account of Paul's salvation unto eternal life , wherein verse 15 quoted above authenticates the Lord Jesus Christ's appointment of Paul as Apostle to the Gentiles.
B) [1 Cor 9:1]:
(1 Cor 9:1 NASB) [Paul wrote] "Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?"
Paul declares that the basis of his apostleship begins with his seeing the risen Lord Jesus and that this is affirmed by the work that he did with the Corinthians.
C) [Ro 1:1; 11:13]:
(Ro 1:1 NASB) "Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,)
(Ro 11:13 NASB) But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry,"
D) [Gal 2:6-8]:
(Gal 2:6 NASB) "But from those who were of high reputation [Apostles and leaders of the church in Jerusalem, (vv. 1-5)] (what they were makes no difference to me [Paul]; God shows no partiality) - well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me.
(Gal 2:7 NASB) But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised
(Gal 2:8 NASB) (for He [God] Who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles),"
E) [1 Cor 15:7-9]:
(1 Cor 15:7 NASB) "then He [Christ] appeared to James, then to all the apostles;
(1 Cor 15:8 NASB) and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me [Paul] also.
(1 Cor 15:9 NASB) For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God."
Paul’s begining as an Apostle started with his enounter with the risen Lord Jesus Christ with him on the road to Damascus. His conversion was a sharp break in - a reversal of - his life. He credits it to the eternal will and special action of God. His response was immediate and one of commitment to the Jesus he had formerly persecuted, (Acts 9:1-15). He became an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God (1 Cor. 1:1; 2 Cor. 1:1; Eph. 1:1), but nevertheless of his own volition. Being an apostle means being “set apart for the gospel” (Rom. 1:1) by God “before he was born” (Gal. 1:15). The office of Apostle is one that is to be characterized by faithfulness, hence it will be accomplished by the will and grace of God, (1 Cor. 15:10).
F) [2 Cor 12:1-21]:
(2 Cor 12:1 NASB) [Paul wrote of himself]: "Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.
(2 Cor 12:2 NASB) I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago - whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows - such a man was caught up to the third heaven.
(2 Cor 12:3 NASB) And I know how such a man - whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows -
(2 Cor 12:4 NASB) was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.
(2 Cor 12:5 NASB) On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses.
(2 Cor 12:6 NASB) For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me.
(2 Cor 12:7 NASB) Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me - to keep me from exalting myself!
(2 Cor 12:8 NASB) Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.
(2 Cor 12:9 NASB) And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
(2 Cor 12:10 NASB) Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Cor 12:11 NASB) I have become foolish; you yourselves compelled me. Actually I should have been commended by you, for in no respect was I inferior to the most eminent apostles, even though I am a nobody.
(2 Cor 12:12 NASB) The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.
[So Paul does in fact boast of supernatural experiences and performing signs and wonders and miracles; but he does not emphasize them lest the predominate role of God's grace in his life be diminished. On the other hand, he makes mention of them to authenticate himself as a true Apostle and to show the authority of God behind his appointment as an Apostle - the justice of his cause; and not the significance of himself. Compare this with the following passages: Ro 15:18-19; Gal 3:5; 1 Cor 2:4; 1 Thes 1:5 which write of signs authenticating Paul's proclaimed word. The book of Acts also records several miracles in connection to authenticating Paul's apostleship: Acts 14:8-10; 15:12; 16:16-18; 19:11-12; 20:7-12; 28:1-9]
(2 Cor 12:13 NASB) For in what respect were you treated as inferior to the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not become a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!
(2 Cor 12:14 NASB) Here for this third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek what is yours, but you; for children are not responsible to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.
(2 Cor 12:15 NASB) I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?
(2 Cor 12:16 NASB) But be that as it may, I did not burden you myself; nevertheless, crafty fellow that I am, I took you in by deceit.
(2 Cor 12:17 NASB) Certainly I have not taken advantage of you through any of those whom I have sent to you, have I?
(2 Cor 12:18 NASB) I urged Titus to go, and I sent the brother with him. Titus did not take any advantage of you, did he? Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit and walk in the same steps?
(2 Cor 12:19 NASB) All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ; and all for your upbuilding, beloved.
(2 Cor 12:20 NASB) For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances;
(2 Cor 12:21 NASB) I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced."
G) [2 Cor 5:11-21]:
(2 Cor 5:11 NASB) "Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.
(2 Cor 5:12 NASB) We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart.
(2 Cor 5:13 NASB) For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.
(2 Cor 5:14 NASB) For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;
(2 Cor 5:15 NASB) and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him Who died and rose again on their behalf.
(2 Cor 5:16 NASB) Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.
(2 Cor 5:17 NASB) Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
(2 Cor 5:18 NASB) Now all these things are from God, Who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,
(2 Cor 5:19 NASB) namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
(2 Cor 5:20 NASB) Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
[Note that word rendered "we" referring back to verse 17: anyone who is in Christ refers to all believers in Christ Jesus, to which is applied the function of "ambassadors for Christ," in the sense that all believers are messangers / apostles of the gospel of God]
(2 Cor 5:21 NASB) He made Him Who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."In 2 Cor 5:11-21 quoted above, Paul stressed his apostolic authorization and calling as an ambassador - a messenger for Christ. Note that he included all believers in that general function as well. An apostle is a bearer of divine revelation about being reconciled to God unto eternal life which is fulfilled in Christ through faith in Him so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him - a message which is to be proclaimed by all believers.
H) [Compare Acts 22:12-15]:
(Acts 22:12 NASB) "A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,
(Acts 22:13 NASB) came to me, and standing near said to me, Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And at that very time I looked up at him.
(Acts 22:14 NASB) "And he [Ananias] said, 'The God of our fathers has appointed you [Paul] to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth.
(Acts 22:15 NASB) For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard."
Ananias, who was evidently led by the Spirit of God, having declared Saul's sight received / restored in verse 13, authenticates Paul's office as an Apostle in verses 14-15 quoted above.
I) [2 Pet 3:15-16]:
(2 Pet 3:15 NASB) "and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,
(2 Pet 3:16 NASB) as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction."
Apostle Peter refers to Paul as "our beloved brother." He states that Paul wrote "according to the wisdom given him." Peter refers to the collection of Paul's letters, calling them "Scripture."
Note that Luke was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write what he wrote, including his account of Paul being called to be an apostle in the Book of Acts.
III) APOSTLE WHEN IT REFERS TO JESUS CHRIST
A) Jesus The Apostle Was Sent From God
Scripture uses this word "Apostolos" to describe Jesus Christ's relation to God the Father (Jn 17:3; Heb 3:1) - a unique relationship known only to God the Son Who in His Apostleship for God the Father reveals His Glory as only the Son of God can.
1) [Jn 17:3]:
(Jn 17:3 NASB) "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent."
2) [Heb 3:1]:
(Heb 3:1 NASB) "Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;"
Jesus is declared to be "Apostle and High Priest of our confession in Heb 3:1. And in the gospel of John, such as in Jn 17:3, there is the implication of Jesus Christ, an Apostle sent from God into the world. This sending brings out the significance of the Person of Christ and of what God has done through and in Him, namely, that the Father speaks and acts through Him, especially through the signs that are manifested by Jesus in His earthly ministry, God manifests His Son as the Promised One.
IV) THE FALSE CONCEPTS OF APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH FATHERS
Apostolic church fathers is a phrase used by some to refer to the earliest Christian writers outside of the writers of the New Testament. They belong to the time between A.D. 80 and 180.
Actually there were only thirteen Apostles the original twelve disciples and one to replace Judas and then the Apostle Paul. The spiritual gift of Apostle was a special gift which God gave to these thirteen men during the early church years to evangelize the world, church plant and lead the spiritual growth of the early churches in a highly authoritative manner evidencing all the miraculous spiritual gifts including healing, raising from the dead, prophecy, tongues and power of life and death over individuals in order to authenticate their office of Apostle.
Thereafter, no one evidenced such spiritual gifts or authority so the idea of the early church leaders being called Apostolic Fathers is a misnomer perpetrated by a number of church organizations in order to usurp the authority of the individual believer - violating the private priesthood of the believer and attempting to dictate to him how to run his spiritual life when that is a matter between himself and God.