Apostleship- An Exhaustive Study
By D.M.M. 4/1/02
This treatise is a summarization of an exhaustive study which I did using Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance (KJV). The following words and each of their occurrences in the Bible were exhaustively analyzed: “apostle”, “apostles”, “apostles’ ”, and “apostleship”.
The words were put on a grid as shown below. The grid was filled out longhand, primarily while commuting to work, so the entire grid is not readily reproducible. However, below is a summary version that contains the more important points. As you’ll see, the results are astounding.
LINK TO GRID- APOSTLESHIP
Sending Test- A premise is herein postulated that even the “twelve” are only called apostles due to their being sent by God. Postulating further, the Church of this age has misunderstood the spiritual ability of apostleship by putting the word and the ability on such a high pedestal that apostleship has lost it’s contextual biblical meaning. The Sending Test considers that premise. “Ys” means that entry strongly demonstrates the premise.
The following are points of note with references to the listing number from my original longhand grid:
1.) Apostle Means Sent One, Romans 1:1 “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God”. Note that Paul was clearly called to be an apostle. Also please note that the word “apostle” merely means, “sent one”. Paul was called from the Antioch gathering in Acts 13:2. The evidence from Scripture is clearly showing that even the “twelve”, and the other New Testament apostles, are only called apostles due to their being sent by God. See Mark 3:14, “He appointed twelve- designating them apostles- that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.” Regarding verse 14, my NIV Bible contains this footnote, “Some manuscripts do not have ‘designating them apostles’.” To anyone studying a language, what has happened is clear. The designation of apostle is not needed since the Greek verb used, “apostelle, already contains the intended meaning. The Greek, on page 111 of my above referenced interlinear Bible reads this way: “And he made twelve that they might be with Him, and that he might send them to proclaim and to have authority to expel the demons.” So, “apostle” merely means “sent one”. Further, the Church of this age has misunderstood the spiritual ability of apostleship by putting the word and the ability on such a high pedestal that apostleship has lost it’s contextual biblical meaning. Misapplication of Scripture is not good. Errors from such misapplication can range from necromancy to loss of God’s blessings.
Pursuing this fact that apostleship means the sending of a disciple by the Lord, the words “send”, “sendest”, “sendeth”, and “sending” were reviewed from Strong’s Concordance; and the following is noted:
a.) First reference, Genesis 24:7, “The Lord, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land- He will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. …’ ” Someone logically concluded a rule of first reference, whereby one seeking to study the Bible should go back to a word’s first reference in the Scripture to find the meaning. That rule of first reference hold true in this situation. This is not God sending a man but rather, God is sending an angel. But the meaning is clear that God intercedes and sends someone before hand to enable his will to be done. In the case of an apostle, God is sending someone who is focused on establishing local assemblies and saving souls in Christ’s name.
b.) As in Item#a, above, the concept of God’s interceding by sending someone is also found in the following Scripture passages: Joseph in Genesis 45:5, Exodus 3:10; Israel’s guardian angel- Exodus 23:20 (&33:2); enemies- Deuteronomy 28:48, King David- I Samuel 9:16; the prophet Samuel- I Samuel 16:1, (Also see Item#27d.); Rezin & Pekah against Judah- II Kings 15:37; destroying angels- Psalms 78:49; Isaiah as a type of Christ- Isaiah 6:8&9; Christ that Great Apostle- Isaiah 19:20 & Hebrews 3:1; Jeremiah- Jeremiah 1:7, 25:17, 42:5; God’s servants the prophets- Jeremiah 7:25, 25:4, 26:5, 29:19, 35:15, 44:4; hunters to hunt them down- Jeremiah 16:16; Nebuchadnezzar- Jeremiah 25:9, 43:10; spirit of a destroyer to Babylon- Jeremiah 51:1&2; Ezekiel- Ezekiel 2:3; Ezekiel 5:16&17, 28:23; Elijah/ John the Baptist- Malachi 3:1, 4:5, Matthew 11:10, Mark 1:2, Luke 7:27; workers for his harvest- Matthew 9:38, Luke 10:2; the twelve apostles of Jesus- Matthew 10:16, Mark 3:14, 6:7; angels at the 2nd coming- Matthew 13:41, 24:31, Mark 13:27; New Testament prophets, apostles, wise men and teachers- Matthew 23:34, Like 11:49; demons- Mark 5:12; seventy-two disciples- Luke 10:1; God’s own Son- Luke 20:13, Romans 8:3; God’s Holy Spirit- Psalms 104:30, Luke 24:49, John 14:26, 15:26, 16:7; Christ’s disciples (the Church)- John 20:21; Jesus Christ at his 2nd coming- Acts 3:20; Moses- Acts 7:34&35; Paul to the gentiles- Acts 22:21, 26:17.
c.) God did not only send people to intercede on his behalf, He also sent the following items: fear- Exodus 23:27, & Leviticus 26:36; hornets- Exodus 23:28, & Deuteronomy 7:20); curses, confusion, & rebuke- Deuteronomy 28:20, Malachi 2:2; thunder and rain- I Samuel 12:18, I kings 18:1, (&Psalms 68:33); “help from the sanctuary”- Psalms 20:2 (&Hebrews 4:16); salvation, love and faithfulness- Psalms 57:3; water upon the earth- Psalms 104:10, Matthew 5:45; his Word- II Chronicles 36:15, Psalms 147:15-18, Isaiah 55:10-11; lambs as a type of Christ- Isaiah 16:1; message of correction- Jeremiah 29:31; fourfold judgments: sword, famine, wild beasts, & plague- Ezekiel 14:21, Leviticus 26:22-25, Deuteronomy 32:24, Jeremiah 8:17, 9:16, 24:10, 25:16&27, 29:17; fire- Ezekiel 39:6, Hosea 8:14, Amos 1:4-2:5; grain, new wine and oil- Joel 2:19; a famine of hearing God’s Word- Amos 8:11; Holy Spirit fire- Luke 12:49; a strong delusion - II Thessalonians 2:11; the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John and the 7 churches- Revelation 1:11.
d.) Another point worth noting is that there were Old Testament sent ones (apostles) according to Luke 13:34.
e.) The Lord wants us to accept those sent by God (apostles) as if they were God Himself, for such people are indwelt and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit- who is a person of God. And, there are rewards for receiving those sent by God as one sent by God- John 13:20, “whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the One who sent me”. Herein we see why and how the Lord Jesus is clearly also an apostle, that Great Apostle according to Hebrews 3:1. (There are also rewards for receiving a prophet as a prophet- see Items #16&401a, in the Prophecy Section.)
4.) Seven Apostles Other than the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, I Corinthians 9:1&2 “Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.” The passage clearly shows that there were many who contested the apostleship of Paul. The entire ninth chapter discusses Paul and Barnabus’ struggle with their apostleship. Verses 5&6 are particularly definitive, “Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? Or is it only I and Barnabus who must work for a living?”
Please note that I Corinthians 9:6 places, Barnabus as an apostle along side the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, and Paul himself. This is verified in other Scripture: Acts 14:4, &14; Galatians 2:8; and Acts 13:2, &3.
Please note also that the Holy Spirit, through Scripture, has named six apostles other than the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. They are, chronologically: Junias and Andronicus (Romans 16:7); Paul and Barnabus (cited above); Silas and Timothy (I Thessalonians 2:6). The seventh apostle is Jesus Christ himself, named in Hebrews 3:1.
7.) The Authority of Apostleship, II Corinthians 1:1 “Paul, Called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, to the Church of God in Corinth”. Paul cites his own authority as an apostle sent by God to that particular group to whom he is writing, the Corinthian believers. The assertion that Paul is a “sent one” “of Jesus Christ by the will of God” is no small fact. This fact, coupled with the apostolic signs and wonders of II Corinthians 12:12, should, then and now, demand absolute God-fearing respect for the substance and authority of all his letters. His letters are Scripture, with a capital “S”, and are, therefore, God’s Word (II Peter 3:16, & II Timothy 3:16).
This verse is very similar to other statements by Paul in which he makes his apostolic authority clear from the start of the letter. Expanding this to Ephesians Chapter 4 we see that apostleship (along with prophecy, evangelism, shepherding, teaching, and healing) is the direct arm of God in Christ’s Church (Psalm 68:18, 34, & 35).
9.) Apostleship Equals “Sent-ship”, Galatians 1:1 “An apostle- sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead-“ Paul emphasizes the sending aspect of apostleship. He clearly explains that the mere sending out by men is not enough. It is God Himself, through Jesus Christ, who sends out apostles. In fact, the original Greek doesn’t contain the verb “sent”, but only the noun “apostle”. My Greek interlinear has it, “Paul an apostle, not from men nor through man but through Jesus Christ and God the Father”. So, an apostle is a person sent by God through Jesus Christ. And, this “sent through” aspect is fulfilled by the Lord Jesus- “to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it” (Ephesians 4:7).
12.) Sent by Commandment of God, I Timothy 1:1 Paul is “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God”. He was not just called to apostleship but commanded to go. Amy Carmichael, missionary to India, was such a person. If you read her biography, you’d see how she heard an audible voice from God one day saying: “Go ye”. Immediately she knew what she must do. An important aspect of "sentship" is that apostles are the Lord's apostles- sent specifically by God. The following passages emphasize this: II Peter 3:2, I Thessalonians 2:2-7, Acts 9:15, I Corinthians 1:1, II Corinthians 1:1, Galatians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1, Colossians 1:1, I Timothy 1:1, II Timothy 1:1, etc.. So, while men can commend individuals to the Lord's work (Acts 13:3), it's the Lord who takes ownership of the sending act.
13.) The Purpose for Paul’s Apostleship, I Timothy 2:3-7 “… God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men- the testimony given in its proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle- I am telling you the truth, I am not lying- and a teacher of the true faith to the gentiles.” There are four aspects of the reason for Paul’s apostleship/ sending.
a.) God wants all men to be saved. We should consider this in our reasoning as to why some events happen. God’s and the Lord Jesus’ first work is still the salvation of souls, and I/we sometimes lose track of that, especially in our search for Scripture explanations of events.
b.) God wants all men to come to a knowledge of the Truth. I want this too. I feel so sorry for hurting people who just wander around in stress and mental anguish, under the lies of Satan and the confusion of their own carnality. And this, when I know that knowledge of the Truth would solve their problems.
c.) There is one Mediator between God and men- Christ Jesus; and if Paul hadn’t obediently preached Christ Jesus, how would those Gentiles be reconciled to God? They would not be saved. They would have been lost- and other succeeding generations of Christians.
d.) Christ gave Himself as a ransom for all men- the testimony given in its proper time. The time of fulfillment had occurred, the ransom had been paid and the message of the gospel needed to get out, not just in Israel, but also to the Gentiles.
These reasons are still present in our time, so I don’t see why any would claim that apostleship has become obsolete.
14.) Spiritual gifts as Fulfillment of the Abundant Life Promise, II Timothy 1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus” One of the unexpected joys of studying the grace of God is that you get an understanding of the introductory remarks and descriptions of the various New Testament books. We conclude that Paul’s introductory comments are not just flowery speech, but, rather, meaningful necessary descriptions of the substance being communicated.
In this verse Paul points out that his apostleship is a part of the abundant life promise (John 10:10). I think that we ought to understand that the abundant life promise and the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38&39, John 14:16) are one and the same. More analytically, the “charismata” (Greek for spiritual abilities), which are the manifestation of God’s “charis” (grace), are in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (by the will of Jesus Christ). So, this is the abundant life, which has purpose and provision from and of God: to do his “works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
Some actually try to argue against this, saying: “The Lamb is enough for me”; as if saying that “walking by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16) is some sort of denial of Christ. However, that’s not the Lord Jesus’ teaching. He said: “It is expedient for you that I should go away; for if I do not go away the Comforter will not come to you” (John 16:7).
17.) Jesus was also an apostle, Hebrews 3:1 “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus the apostle and high priest whom we confess” Here the Holy Spirit is pointing out, through Scripture, that the Lord Jesus Christ also is one sent by God (“the apostle”). The Lord Jesus’ apostleship (sending) is compared with the sending of Moses to deliver Israel.
In a small reference we, the Church, are also described as having a “heavenly calling”. We Christians may be apt to take lightly our “heavenly calling”, particularly when compared with the Lord Jesus or Moses. But God wants us to accept the fact that our “ministry of reconciliation” is greater than that of Moses (II Corinthians 3:7-11); and, the holiness and glory and permanence of the Church of the Living God is greater than that of Mt Sinai (Hebrews 12:18-28).
20.) Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ- Six Apostles of the Holy Spirit, Matthew 10:2-5 “These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter), and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus; and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Jusdas Iscariot, who betrayed Him. These twelve Jesus sent out…” In the four gospel books the singular noun “apostle” is never used. This verse is typical of many in which the apostles are described as “the twelve” that “Jesus sent forth”. The Church, of course, loves the twelve apostles, as do I. So when the Scripture and most speakers discuss the foundational work of the apostles, they are usually referring to the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, as opposed to the seven other people named as apostles by Scripture. These other seven apostles are Jesus Christ (per #17 above) and the six apostles of the Holy Spirit, (noted in #4 above as: Junias & Andronicus, Paul & Barnabus, Silas & Timothy). This categorization, regarding sending by the pre-ascended Christ as opposed to sending by the Holy Spirit, helps us to understand the history of apostleship. However, the spiritual ability of apostleship isn’t so easily differentiated since Christ and the Holy Spirit are both persons of the one God. Also, Christ and the Holy Spirit were obviously harmoniously involved with the sending and work of all of the eighteen above listed apostles.
24.) Flesh vs. Spirit- a History of Persecution, Luke 11:46-51 “Jesus replied, ‘And you experts in the Law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be responsible for it all.’ ” A parallel account of these statements is found in Matthew 23:34. This is a very interesting verse; in that considering the timing of the events being foretold, it’s a verse for all times.
The Luke account quotes the Wisdom of God as having said: “I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute”. So, Jesus is quoting a past statement of the Godhead. However, the Matthew account quotes Jesus, himself, saying: “I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify, others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.”
The following points are derived from these verses:
a.) Both of these accounts are found in the same general context and sequence among our Lord’s other teachings. Therefore we conclude that these are the same occasion of teaching by the Lord, but not the same statements. Since the subject and predicate are different, these then are obviously separate statements made at the same occasion.
b.) The Jews didn’t usually crucify people, the Romans did. So, when the Lord directly addresses the teachers of the law, Pharisees, and hypocrites in Jerusalem, he’s actually implicating such people from creation (Matthew 23:35) to the millennial coming of Christ (Matthew 23:39).
c.) Summarily, the flesh of man has persecuted those walking by the Spirit, (apostles and prophets) since creation; and will continue to do so until the coming of Christ. Truly the flesh wars against the Spirit of God (Ephesians 5:17). The Lord stated that “all this will come upon this generation” because in their hearts they are agreeing with the killing and persecution of prophets- present, past, and future. Eventually, that generation would cry out, “Crucify Him!...We have no king but Ceasar” (John 19:15, also John 18:22&23). God is the judge, not I, but I perceive that these passages portray two types of God’s judgment. First there’s a sinking to the level of your heart. A person, once stealing, is then a thief, until and unless he stops stealing and is restored by God. The Lord Jesus was warning that this generation’s heart was the same as their forefathers’, this was proved in their crucifixion of Christ and persecution of His Church. So their immediate judgment was the sinking of their souls to the level of their forefathers. And, if any person gives in to sin, this type of immediate discernment by God (judgment) comes upon their soul and being, since God is continually testing us. (But the Lord can deliver repentant Christians from this judgment, in this life; and we’re guaranteed deliverance from such judgment, when Christ comes to give His Church new, incorrupt bodies and bring His Church home). The second type of judgment is not immediate, but is the future judgment that will occur at Christ’s throne. The Lord Jesus is stating that sins of their ancestors will be heaped upon His generation, because they had the same heart as their forefathers. Not being God, I don’t know how this works. Exodus 20:4, however, relates, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me”. This sounds harsh. But since we know God’s Word is true, we should seek to understand this concept. The generational curse was passed on to Jerusalem’s people in two ways. Their sunken souls were taught them, or otherwise passed on to them by their ancestors, and allowed them to persecute the prophets and apostles. Secondly, they would be included in the sins of their ancestors at the judgment- “This generation will be responsible for it all” (Luke 11:51).
d.) Also, by mere definition of the word “apostles” (Luke 11:49), there were Old Testament apostles (that is, Old Testament saints sent by God). Other than studying the true sending by God, and the definition of the word “apostle”, I wonder what merit that strain of teaching would have.
28.) Apostolic Power through the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:1&2 “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instruction through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.” The 12 apostles of Jesus Christ were given instructions by the Lord Jesus and later through the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus told them to wait for the Holy Spirit and then they would be his “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”. The Lord has really shown me personally that, with the rise of worship to the moon god Allah and other such ridiculous idols, true apostleship and the preaching and encouragement of apostles is what’s sorely needed to reach those “ends of the earth”. God is willing to send apostles. Believe it or not, though, evangelical Christian churches are telling young people, who have been sent forth by God, to “stay home”. I’ve experienced at least two acquaintances who’ve gone through that. These were people of sound mind and body, of reasonable age, called and willing to follow the Lord’s call.
29.) Pre-Pentecost Peter Selects Judas’ Replacement, Acts 1:26 “Then they cast lots and the lot fell to Matthias, so he was added to the eleven apostles”. This verse covers the selection, by lot, of Matthias as Judas replacement among the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. Some relevant points are:
a.) There were approximately 120 believers who gathered on a regular basis, keeping in mind that at least 500 brothers witnessed the resurrected Lord, according to I Corinthians 15:6.
b.) Of the 120 only eleven were apostles selected by the Lord for apostleship to that area and the ends of the earth.
c.) There is a pale over the selection of Matthias since Peter had not yet been filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and especially since he’d been told by the Lord to “wait for the gift my Father promised you…you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit”. This is not an insignificant decision by Peter. Most who claim apostleship is obsolete today do so using Peter’s definition of apostleship. However, we cannot put authoritative weight on Peter’s definition since this is merely rambunctious Peter with no Lord Jesus to correct him and the Holy Spirit not yet being poured out on him. Paul and the other 5 apostles of the Holy Spirit obviously don’t fit pre-Pentecost Peter’s definition. Really, there’s no untenable dilemma here, since the position was clearly that of one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, not as an apostle of the Holy Spirit such as Paul and Barnabus (Acts 13:2, and 14:4). The pre-Pentecost Peter situation is similar to the situation with Job’s counselors. What’s being said is obviously Scripture, but such counsel was never meant to be as from the Holy Spirit. However, we do hear quotes from Job’s counselors as being authoritative advice from Scripture, as is the situation with pre-Pentecost Peter. To help bracket the situation, ask yourself this question: Does that great Apostle Jesus Christ (Hebrews 3:1), or even Paul, meet pre-Pentecost Peter’s definition? No, then Peter’s definition wasn’t addressing apostleship in general, but rather, inclusion in “the twelve”. (Also, see Item#110-d in the Teaching Section)
34.) Apostolic Signs and Wonders for Apostolic Works, Acts 5:12 “The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people.” As the Lord Jesus had promised, the work of the apostles and the Church was accompanied by miraculous signs and wonders. So today we pray for and expect miraculous intercession in our lives. However, if you really want to hear miraculous stories, listen to the accounts which the missionaries are bringing back from the mission field. You might recollect that Mark 16:17 & 18 lists such signs and wonders: “These signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people and they will get well”.
Many people would like to explain away these verses saying that this happened in the so-called apostolic age but doesn’t happen now. But that’s not true; and that’s why I caution you to look at what missionaries are saying regarding miraculous signs and wonders. Missionaries are Christians who are forced to walk totally by faith, and as such have a focused eye on the miraculous. Along this line the following points are very important:
a.) We have a family friend who was born into a Buddhist temple house in Korea. Her grandfather was the priest. She was deathly ill with a tumor as a child. Practically dead, as a last resort, her mother allowed her to see some Presbyterian missionaries who laid hands on her and she was healed, and became a Christian. (I’ve never heard of Presbyterians that lay hands on people.) So, the point is you have to look at what’s being done by those doing the work in the mission fields.
b.) My understanding and experience with these passages lead me to accept the following axiom: “Apostolic signs and wonders for apostolic works”. So, if you accept the teaching of well meaning teachers who’ve never experienced the daily reality of God’s total provision for all our needs, you could easily end up with a misunderstanding of such verses. Again, look to the missionaries, the people doing the apostolic work.
c.) The words “will accompany them” is very important in explaining a rift that exists among Christians today. The Lord Jesus actively worked miracles presenting these as signs that he is the Christ (Matthew 11:5). However, I don’t see the apostles as working miracles as signs, but rather that miracles accompanied them wherever they went. Really though, this then is Jesus continuing to aggressively work sign miracles, but through the believers, who become walking sign posts in their day to day Christian lives. This is very akin to what’s been said herein regarding how God indwells the Church through the grace gifts according to Ephesians 4 and Psalm 68. (Please see #68 below.) The rift is that some people are staging miracles as signs rather than looking for the miracles which accompany Christian work. Consider the above named signs. Were the apostles to grab snakes in order to be healed of their venom? Were they to deliberately drink poison? No! But, if they did, they were assured that the Lord’s miraculous provision would accompany them. Truthfully, in small ways I’ve experienced this provision accompanying myself as well; and all who truly seek to “live by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16) will eventually perceive this provision. But, we need to take steps of faith (“test the spirits” I John 4:1). We don’t set out to do signs and wonders. But rather, we set out to do the Lord’s grace work in our lives, and signs and wonders accompany us because Christ accompanies us.
d.) The negative backlash of the staging of supposed miraculous signs and wonders is that some conclude that signs and wonders became obsolete since the passing of the so-called apostolic age. To me, they’ve “thrown the baby out with the bath water”. They’ve missed out on that very important grace of God; and the important tasks, that the Lord would have them do, become less plausible and more difficult.
e.) Consider the eight missionaries to Afghanistan, which the Taliban took captive in 2001. In Philippi the Lord shook loose the foundation of the prison that held Paul and Silas. In 2002 the Lord shook loose the foundations of the entire country of Afghanistan, toppled the Taliban, and loosed those modern day apostles. We have to look and expect the miracles of God. They’re all around us. They accompany us in our Christian work.
40.) Apostles Stay in Jerusalem, Acts 8:1 “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.” Here we see that due to persecution all except the apostles were scattered from Jerusalem. Here is a curious set of verses, which makes me wonder where the twelve apostles were sent and what their time frame was. Acts 1:8 says: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”. I always expected the twelve apostles to immediately burst out of Jerusalem and set the ends of the earth on fire for Christ. I suppose that there’s not much documentation of the amount of their work done at “the ends of the earth”, as opposed to the Jerusalem area. We do , however, see Peter at Cornelius’ house in Caesarea. We also have traditional stories of the twelve apostles reaching those distant lands with the glorious gospel of Christ. One such account shows the apostle Thomas martyred and buried just outside Madras, India.
44.) Luke’s Scripture Confirms the Apostleship of Barnabus, Acts 14:4, & 14 “The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles….When the apostles Barnabus and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: ‘Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you.’ “ These are very important verses, which any bible scholar would have to totally ignore, in order to claim that apostleship is currently obsolete. Here Paul and Barnabus are both referred to as apostles by that “scripture…which cannot be broken” (John 10:35). And why shouldn’t they both be described as apostles!? They were both, at the same time, called by the Holy Spirit and sent out by the Church and the Holy Spirit, per Acts 13:2-4.
I can’t say enough concerning these verses. But, there it is in black and white: apostles of the Holy Spirit, who are obviously not counted among the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ.
The only conclusion that can be drawn is that there were and are twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of Revelation 21:14. These apostles carried out the Lamb’s foundational (Ephesians 2:20) and representational (Revelation 21:14) work. (Also see Items Nos 74 & 66 below.) However, there are also apostles of the Holy Spirit being sent out even today (Romans 1:5). (See Item#4, above.)
It’s ironic, but not surprising, that nominal Christendom did to the twelve apostles that which Paul and Barnabus begged the pagans in Lystra not to do: they worshipped the apostles as something more than mere human beings. It’s not surprising because Galatians 5:20 lists idolatry as one of the manifestations of our old, fleshly nature.
46.) “Magisterium”, and Apostolic Succession, Acts 15:2, 4, 6, & 22 “This brought Paul and Barnabus into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabus were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question” These verses contain what some have mistakenly claimed as the “magisterium” of the apostles of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. In other words, some claim that the apostles in Jerusalem made executive and doctrinal church decisions over all the other local gatherings. Then, since Peter was the leader of the apostles, this magisterium authority passed by what’s been mistakenly termed “apostolic succession” to succeeding religious leaders (later called patriarchs, archbishops, and popes).
I note the following bible teachings that clearly dispel this incorrect doctrine:
a.) Apostleship, by definition, clearly requires a sending from one place to another. When someone is specially called and sent by God to do his will they are a direct arm of his mighty power. Along with the person, the calling, and the sending, God also sends grace to help the apostle accomplish the task for which he is sent (I Corinthians 3:10). So, it is God’s direct power and authority, working through the apostle, to which we are to submit in the case of apostleship. That’s why the Scripture says: “First apostles, second prophets, third teachers…” (I Corinthians 12:28). But consider the so-called archbishops and popes. These people aren’t sent anywhere by God, neither do they claim to be. So, their claim of apostleship is false. Rather, they are trying to claim God’s authority and the pomp and privilege that accompanies such a claim, without the actual sending and the struggle which accompanies the apostolic tasks (I Corinthians 4: 9-13).
b.) Since Satan “is a liar and the father of it”, “because there is no truth in him” (John 8:44), it should be clear that those who argued with Paul and Barnabus at Antioch (Acts 15:2) were of Satan. These false teachers were teaching a false gospel of works and the Law. When Paul and Barnabus wouldn’t fall to their false gospel, another powerful snare of false authority was laid. (Beware of false authorities. This satanic trick is rampant throughout history, and can trick you into doing strange things which you or others would never do otherwise.) This snare of Satan is and was the teaching that the church in Jerusalem holds primacy/ “magisterium” over other Christian gatherings since the twelve apostles (particularly Peter) gathered there. It’s important to note that the teaching begins and ends with falsehood and lies.
c.) The gathering in Jerusalem had obviously not taken a position of authority over Antioch or any of the other gatherings. This conclusion is based on the following:
1.) The apostles and elders met in committee to discuss the situation (Acts 15:6 and 22). The discussion and affairs of the Jerusalem gathering were just as much directed by James (not an apostle, but an elder) as by Peter.
2.) The letter (Acts 15: 23-29), sent by the “apostles and elders your brothers”, did not connote a higher authority at Jerusalem than at the Antioch meeting. The letter is meant to correct bad teaching from those who “went out” from the Jerusalem gathering. (I hope every serious Christian realizes the difference between “went out” and “sent out”.) The “burden” is the undue burden of Judaic law mistakenly being proliferated by those false apostles.
3.) The closing statement of the letter does much to explain the organizational relationship between these two gatherings. The closing statement is merely “farewell”. The letter doesn’t say, “see you at the annual conference”. It doesn’t say, “looking forward to your report”. It merely says, “Farewell”. This is as if to say, “We hope that you do well, but from now on the matter is between you and God”. Contrast this with some of Paul’s letters. Paul is the apostle sent to these churches; and Paul does claim direct authority and responsibility for those churches, In I Corinthians 9:2 Paul says, “Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord”. In Romans 1:1 Paul says, “I long to see you so that I might impart some spiritual blessing in the Lord”. In Philemon Paul says, “Therefore in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love.” In II Corinthians 13:10 Paul says, “This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority- the authority God gave me for building you up not tearing you down”.
4.) Summarily, Paul takes ownership and claims responsibility and authority from God over the Gentile churches. This is in contrast to Jerusalem Christians, including the apostles, who only took responsibility for the Jerusalem gathering (Galatians 2:8&9). Also, please note the difference between a loving founder of a church/ churches, who pleads with the believers who are his children in the Lord, as opposed to the Islamic teachings of forced submission to their supposed deity. Apostleship is the Christian way and God’s chosen way.
So, what’s the difference between the supposed Jerusalem “magisterium” and Paul’s apostleship? The difference is that apostles are sent to a people by God, and they know it. They have both responsibility and authority over the people to whom they are sent, to establish and build up local churches. This is clearly brought out in Paul’s epistles. As an example I Corinthians 12:28 states: “In the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles”.
Also see Item # 82 below.
53.) Junias and Andronicus- Apostles of the Holy Spirit, Romans 16:7 “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.” If you dig around in the right spot, you might find a nugget. This is a nugget in Scripture. This verse alone should tear apart any argument against the current existence of New Testament apostleship. Here’s some points concerning this great nugget of Scripture:
a.) Junias and Andronicus are listed as yet two more apostles who are not listed among the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ.
b.) If you really look into this verse you can come out from it with a good grasp of the definition of current day apostleship. Paul is the writer, so when he’s referring to “the apostles”, he’s referring to those workers in his periphery which are Godly people sent by God to establish and edify local churches. Consider that time when the apostles’ images had not yet been put on stained glass windows; and the teaching that put apostleship on an unattainable pedestal had not yet been launched. So, when Paul or Luke refers to such people as apostles, he’s acknowledging that they are clearly called and sent by God to do God’s work in their portion of the harvest field.
c.) “My relatives who have been in prison with me…they were in Christ before I was”. Chronologically, their ministry was sandwiched between the Twelve and the remainder of the apostles mentioned in the New Testament. From the little that’s said concerning them, we can surmise that they were saved before Paul and were probably in prison for serving with Paul. Their lifestyle was probably one of duress and persecution for the cause of Christ, as were many Christians at that time. They were Paul’s kinfolk, and saved before Paul, probably praying for Paul and possibly witnessing to him prior to his conversion.
54.) The Need for an Actual Sending by God, I Corinthians 4:9&19 “For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong. You are honored, but we are dishonored!” Paul reports that from a worldly perspective apostleship is not a pleasant undertaking. The apostles are “dishonored”, so that the church might be “honored”. I read the biography of C.T. Studd, and he and his wife knew that he was sent by God to spread the glorious gospel And, in his forties, plagued by malaria, he set out for the first time for Africa, successfully establishing the Africa Inland Missions. The point is that he knew that he was probably called to die on Christ’s battlefield, and that death was not going to be the end of it all. I have two recent acquaintances, with their children, who are doing all they can to get back to West Africa as missionaries because they know their calling and where they were sent. I, and the Lord through me, have tried to make it clear that, once you are sent to some distant land for the cause of Christ, you have no business staying in the land that you were sent from- even if death is clearly at the end of the mission.
The establishment of churches in foreign lands takes some mettle, determination, and endurance as in Paul’s day. That’s why it’s clear that the spiritual ability of apostleship is what is, and has been, practiced by missionaries in the church today. Just like Paul of old though, today’s missionaries need to look back and know that there was a time when God sent them to their harvest field. It will be that sending experience and authority that will carry them through the trials, particularly the trials that deny their apostleship/ call (I Corinthians 9:2). Hudson Taylor was such a man. He knew there was a time when he offered his life on the altar; and God accepted his offering and told him, “Go for me to China”. (See also Amy Carmichael in Item#221 of the Prophecy Section.)
54a.) Since the sending experience is being discussed, we should review the sending of the twelve, as opposed to the sending of the seventy disciples, with the following points being made:
a.) First, we realize that in both instances, there is an actual sending experience, and those being sent (apostles) can look back to that sending experience for direction and encouragement, when needed. (Now, we immediately see that there are more than one sending experiences in the New Testament. Here are four: the sending of the twelve in Matthew 10:1-42 (also Mark 6:7-13 and Luke 9:1-6&6:14, and above Item#9), the resending of the twelve in John 20:21-23, the sending of the seventy in Luke 10:1-24 , and the Great Commission (The Great commission is also discussed in Item#86 of the Evangelism Section, and Item numbers 33j, 1431p, &172 of the Teaching Section.) The twelve were called by the Lord Jesus, while the seventy were appointed by the Lord Jesus. (And, I’m purposely not considering separately the sending of the other seven apostles mentioned in the Scripture, per the above Item#4. This is since six of the seven would have been included in the Great Commission.)
b.) In both instances Christ warned, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”- Matthew 10:16 & Luke 10:3.
c.) Both the twelve and the seventy were given the following similar instructions: “Take nothing for the journey- no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.” (Luke 9:3-5, and Luke 10:4-11).
d.) Both groups were told to heal the sick and preach that the kingdom of God was near. And both groups were to go out two by two. Also see Items# 9 & 13 in the Healings Section.
e.) I note that the twelve were told to heal the sick and “raise the dead” (Matthew 10:8), while the seventy were only given authority to heal the sick and preach the gospel (while they did have “authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy”, even demons- Luke 10:17-20). Looking at Scripture the following people (other than the Lord Jesus) displayed power to raise the dead: Peter (Dorcas/ Tabitha) in Acts 9:40, Paul (Eutychus) Acts 20:9-10, Elijah (Zarephath widow’s son) in I Kings 17:20-22, Elisha (Shunammite’s son) II King 4:32-35, and the Father (raised the Lord Jesus) per Romans 8:11.
f.) I note that the twelve were told “Do not go to among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.”- Matthew 10:5&6. But then they were reminded “On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.”- Matthew 10:18.
So what can be gleaned from all this? Well, much in the way of evangelistic and apostolic callings and campaigns! The fact that disciples were sent out two by two ahead of the Lord has been used successfully in evangelistic campaigns to scope out towns ahead of the preachers and to also pray in that town prior to arrival of the rest of the staff. The true sending experience has sustained many people sent out by the Lord, in their hours of testing. And, while it’s apparent that there is an actual sending experience to individuals who are sent out by the Lord, the Church itself is sent symbolically, (Luke 10:2, and Romans 1:5- per Item#80 below) and commissioned to be an apostolic group by its Great Commission. (See Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15 and Item#a, above.)
55.) Practicing Apostleship, I Corinthians 9:5 “Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? Or is it only I and Barnabus who must work for a living?” There’s much contained in verse five and the passage surrounding it; and the following is noted regarding apostleship:
a.) An apostle has freedom to choose, as he sees fit, to best serve Christ.
1.) An apostle has a right to a “material harvest” and a “right of support”. Christians today extend this right beyond missionaries to the so-called pastors of the church. This is wrong, and not what’s taught, or demonstrated, in Scripture. Such practice obviously stifles the provision for the Lord’s apostles to the mission fields. This also harms the local gathering. The true pastors, which Christ raises up from elders in the local gathering, are resisted in their shepherding. (I Peter 5:1). Such bad teaching is still proliferated through “Dark Ages” Christianity even today. (This will be addressed more completely in the Shepherding Section of this study.)
2.) An apostle preaches voluntarily, not for pay. (verse 17).
3.) An apostle has freedom of association and conduct in order to accomplish his God given work.
b.) As was the case between the Corinthian gathering and Paul, the local gathering becomes the “seal” of an apostle (verse 2). However, true apostleship need not be sealed in such a manner. The recipients of the gospel could have been disobedient to the gospel/ apostle (Acts 13:46). Also, there can be seemingly successful gatherings set up by false apostles using a false gospel (II Corinthians 11:13, III John 9&10).
c.) Paul evidently met with resistance to his apostleship (verse 2). Even the apostleship of John was met with resistance (III John10). Since resistance is being discussed, please realize that all grace of God will be met with fleshly resistance, because the flesh (the old sinful nature) wars against the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:17).
d.) An apostle practices self control, particularly over his flesh, and remains focused on the Lord’s work (verses 24-27).
56.) An Order to the Spiritual Abilities, I Corinthians 12:28 “And in the Church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.” This verse is important because it lists the spiritual abilities in order within the Church. The following is noted:
a.) “In the Church God has appointed”-
1.) God appointed the people and the gifts, and we ought to realize that these people and gifts are necessary to the functioning of His Church.
2.) Paul is obviously writing to the Corinthian gathering, but is extending this teaching to the entire body of Christ on Earth (verse 27).
b.) “The greater gifts”-
1.) There is a sequence and an order to this passage, and apostleship is listed first. You might say that this has to do with the timing since apostles would be the first to reach a group of people. But the timing aspect doesn’t hold true for the remainder of the list. So, the only logical conclusion remaining is that the gifts are in the order of greatness, with apostleship at the top of the list. It becomes clear that each gift’s ranking in greatness is dependant upon it’s ability to edify the Church. This edification ranking is easily seen by noting apostleship at the top of the list, miracles in the middle, and tongues at the bottom of the list. In fact, this edification value as the ranker of gifts is somewhat stated in I Corinthians 14:12, “Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the Church”.
2.) “Eagerly desire the greater gifts”. When I was a young man getting out of the U.S. military, I didn’t think that employers would want to hire veterans who went to college on the GI Bill. I also thought that, being just one person in this huge world, my one life wouldn’t count for much. But, as I matured I realized that my education and experience meant a lot to my employers and me. I also saw that military veterans were being put in the highest positions in society.
The point is that the disciple of today is going to have such a great role in shaping the Christianity of tomorrow that this simple verse becomes monumental on the eternal scale. “Eagerly desire the greater gifts”!
When I tried out for football in high school, I couldn’t even get the coaches to notice my skills because there was so much competition. But in the eternal realm of God’s work, there are not many who would “eagerly desire the greater gifts”. So, it’s not that hard to make the team. Also, the coach (God) is continually looking for players with desire. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him” (II Chronicles 16:9).
60.) Mark These Supposed Super Apostles, II Corinthians 11:5 “But I do not think that I am in the least inferior to those ‘super-apostles’.” This verse addresses those false apostles which Paul calls “super-apostles”. The marks of these “super-apostles”, as noted in the surrounding passage are as follows:
a.) Boasting (vs. 18)- Note that Paul boasts only on defense, and even then facetiously calling himself a fool (vs. 16). If you see a preacher boasting (or even chronicling) who he is in Christ, be careful. The work of Paul is extracted from his letters, and the history as shown in Luke’s book of Acts. The apostle John refused to even mention his own name, but only referred to himself as “the disciple whom He loved” (John 19:26).
b.) Deceitful workmen-
1.) Preaching a different Jesus (vs. 4).
2.) Receiving a different spirit (vs. 4).
3.) Preaching a different gospel (vs. 4).
4.) “Masquerading as apostles (sent ones) of Christ” (vs. 13)
66.) Foundational but not Abolished, Ephesians 2:20 “…built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.” Paul is comparing God’s household and its oneness to a building, with Christ, the apostles, and the prophets as parts of the foundation. But, all are one in Christ, and indwelt by one Holy Spirit.
Some are tempted to argue that apostleship and prophecy are foundational and were abolished after the apostolic age according to this passage. To do this you must maintain that all apostles are what’s being contained in this passage, including Paul and his group. Also, you must maintain that all New Testament prophets (Agabus, et al.) are all included in this passage. This is not acceptable as a viable understanding to this passage. Actually, the precedent for these considerations was established by Zechariah (Zechariah 8:9). Zechariah made the same type of statement, except in an Old Testament setting. He referred to quotations from Isaiah and Jeremiah as foundational to the Lord’s work on “the house of the Lord Almighty”. You really have to study Zechariah’s statements to conclude that the foundation is not a physical foundation of stone, but rather the Word of the Lord through these two not too distant predecessors of Zechariah. However, no one tried to say that Zechariah and his post-exilic contemporaries were not prophets because prophecy was supposedly only foundational. So, to argue the foundational aspect as including abolishment of future prophecy or apostleship is not an argument upheld by Bible history. Paul, being an ardent student of the prophets and all Scripture (Acts 26:5, II Timothy 4:13), was undoubtedly intimately familiar with Zechariah. Albeit in a New Testament context, he was in the same position as Zechariah when Paul cited the foundational aspects of the work of his not too distant predecessors as contained in Ephesians 2:20.
So, to conclude an abolishment of prophecy and apostleship when it’s not stated in the passage, is plainly gross error. Regarding this the following logic is noted:
a.) Paul is himself obviously an apostle ( and somewhat of a prophet). So, when he refers to “the apostles”, he’s obviously not contained himself in that group. So, then is the Ephesian gathering built upon an incomplete foundation? No, because Paul is merely citing that there was a foundation laid by his predecessors before him.
b.) Revelation, the principal book of New Testament prophecy (written circa 90 AD), had not been written yet. Again, this begs the same question as to an incomplete Ephesian foundation, in terms of prophecy.
c.) While there’s much speculation as to the deaths of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, Paul and John were alive in 64 AD, when the Ephesians epistle was written. So apostleship, as some would recognize it, was not complete either. So the same question is posed. Is the Ephesian gathering on an incomplete foundation at the point of Paul’s writing, circa 64 a.d.
So, while the work of Paul’s predecessors, the holy prophets and the twelve apostles, was foundational to the Ephesian gathering, this cannot mean that apostleship and prophecy became obsolete; else the Ephesian gathering would have been “built” (past tense) on an incomplete foundation (incomplete in that the apostleship and prophecy by John, Paul, and others were not yet complete). Also, common sense tells us that apostleship and prophecy are and were necessary to the founding of other gatherings throughout the world. So, how can apostleship and prophecy be obsolete in 100 a.d. when thousands, if not millions, of assemblies of believers have been started since then?
As well, Paul’s apostleship wasn’t complete at Ephesus. Else, why was he writing the epistle? A better understanding for Christ’s Church today would be as follows:
a.) The work of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ as well as the Law and the Prophets is foundational to each local gathering, with Christ as the Chief Cornerstone. This is true of 64 AD gatherings and also of today’s local gatherings.
b.) Those sent by God to establish churches (founders) are the still very necessary apostles of today, whose work is foundational to each newly formed local gathering.
c.) People are still raised up by God to correct (I Corinthians 14:3 & 4) and edify the local gatherings. “Do not treat prophecies with contempt” (I Thessalonians 5:20). The work of such preachers and servants of the Lord, who speak for the Lord in the early stages of a local gathering’s history, are, indeed, foundational to that newly formed gathering, with Christ as the Chief Cornerstone.
d.) A legitimate study along these lines would entail how the Ephesian (or any other local) gathering is built upon the foundational work of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ and the Law and the Prophets.
This entire topic, of foundational prophecy and apostleship, is further explained in the Prophecy Section, in Item # 381. (Also see Item Nos 44 &74 herein.)
68.) Gifts- God’s Indwelling of the Church, Ephesians 4:11 “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.” This passage essentially lists apostleship as one of the “gifts to men” discussed in Ephesians 4:8 and Psalm 68:18. Psalm 68:18 explains why God gave such “gifts to men”: “That you, O Lord God, might dwell there”. So God indwells his Church through the various gifts of the Spirit, apostleship being one of them. Other lists of God’s grace manifested as spiritual abilities are contained in Romans 12:6-8, and I Corinthians 12:7-11 and 27-29. I’ve never been convinced that these lists of gifts limit God’s distribution of grace from His throne. In other words, God is not limited in only interceding in ways that have been used by him in the past. This is why early Christians encouraged each other with statements like I Corinthians 1:3, “Grace and peace to you”, or the last verse of Scripture, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people”, or similar verses- Romans 1:7, II Corinthians 2:2, Galatians 1:3, etc.. These lists, however, are useful in defining certain grace gifts, and searching out your own calling in the Lord, or studying the grace of God. After all, we are told to “eagerly desire the greater gifts” (I Corinthians 12:31, 14:1&12).
How, then, does God indwell the Church through apostleship? Chiefly there are two ways:
a.) Apostles, sent by God, preach the gospel and establish churches, through which God indwells the members.
b.) All the gifts are manifestations of God’s grace (charismata). So God is indeed working in and through the individual apostle (or evangelist, or pastor, etc.).
So God indwells the Church by indwelling each believer. Further, he’s manifesting his power through the engifted worker, and the grace to manifest that gift. A good explanation of empowering through grace is seen in Ephesians 3:7-11. Paul explains that his apostolic work to the gentiles was all through the gift of God’s grace.
69.) Silas and Timothy Cited as Apostles, I Thessalonians 2:6 “As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you”. Paul writes in the first person plural (we/our) throughout the Thessalonian epistle. He succinctly states the epistle as being addressed from “Paul, Silas, and Timothy” (I Thessalonians 1:1). Therefore, it’s extremely obvious that the “apostles of Christ”, being referred to, are “Paul, Silas, and Timothy”.
From this passage there can be no doubt that Paul accepted the apostleship of Silas and Timothy. Ignatius, a young student of the apostle John also recognized this use of the term apostleship citing Timothy, Paul, and John as such apostles. Ignatius wrote in Chapter 11 of his letter to the Ephesians’ church: “May I attain to this, so that I may be found in the lot of the Christians of Ephesus, who have always had intercourse with the apostles by the power of Jesus Christ, with Paul, and John, and Timothy the most faithful.” The Church today should recognize the efficacy of such apostleship, and warmly accept as apostles those whom Christ has called and sent to apostolic work- past and future.
70.) Apostle’s Authority Comes Directly from Christ, II Peter 3:2 The NIV renders this: “The command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles”. This verse accentuates the authority of the apostles over the believers to whom they were sent. The authority comes directly from Christ, who is seated at the Right Hand of the Father.
74.) Twelve Apostles and twelve Tribes- Representational, Typological, and Foundational, Revelation 21:12-14 “On the gates were written the twelve tribes of Israel….The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” This is a very important passage in the Scripture. It really complements the typological significance of the twelve apostles and the twelve tribes of Israel, as relating to the patterns of the heavens (Hebrews 8:5; 9:23 & 24). These patterns were carefully constructed by Moses according to God’s commands (Hebrews 8:5), and meticulously fulfilled in Christ (Hebrews 8, 9, 10; and I Corinthians 15: 3, & 4). (Regarding typology, please also see Item#67 of the Evangelism Section, and Item#92 of the Teaching Section.)
Christ is foundational to each local gathering. As well, the twelve apostles are foundational to the wall surrounding heaven. So we see that the partition between “the dwelling of God with men” (Revelation 21:3) and all that is not such, is based upon the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles of the Lamb. As such the twelve apostles and the twelve tribes are representational of the Old and New covenants, and all the labor done by those believing in those two covenants.
75.) “The Apostle’s Teaching” Cannot be Altered, Acts 2:42 This verse contains the four marks of the early Church. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer”. It’s obvious that a gathering would soon run into difficulties without devotion to these four ingredients.
However, some are teaching that “the apostles’ teaching” has been somehow altered for today’s Christians. My experience has three such groups:
a.) Older ritualistic Christian groups allow their clergy to teach contrary to the Canon of Scripture. The clergy is allowed to do this by claiming apostolic succession for their chief patriarch. To such I say this. Since their apostolic succession doesn’t really exist, neither do their alterations to “the apostles’ teaching”. If such patriarchs are claiming apostleship, then to where are they being sent? (Please see #46 above.)
b.) In a second group I place all those who for one reason or another have added books to the body of acceptable Scripture, or in order to proliferate their own cause have grossly changed the wording of the Bible. To them I would warn that they could be placed under three main judgments, as contained in Galatians 1: 8, Revelation 22:18 & 19, and Jeremiah 23: 25-40.
c.) Some Christians have wandered into the view that “the apostles’ teaching” was severely altered with the completion of the Scripture. They claim that “when perfection comes the imperfect will disappear” (I Corinthians 13:10); and that this perfection is the completion of the Bible, circa 90 AD. So they conclude the manifestations of God’s grace changed with the completion of Scripture. They adamantly maintain that no revelation is possible apart from Scripture, or the preaching/ sharing of it. They maintain that all the spiritual abilities listed in I Corinthians 12 are abolished, even “great faith”. One such person told me that Christ’s Sermon on the Mount is also obsolete. However, none of that is true. Quite the contrary, I Corinthians 13:8-12 guarantees that until Christ comes (when we see him “face to face”) the manifestations of the Holy Spirit according to I Corinthians 12 will continue. The Lord has promised, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Further, through the Lord Jesus, “having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (Ephesians 1:13 & 14). So we “know in part and we prophesy in part” (I Corinthians 13:9), but when Christ comes we “shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (I Corinthians 13:2, also see Item#1f of the Prophecy Section). To such people I advise, “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (I Corinthians 8:1). Also, “God opposes the proud but gives grace (charis) to the humble” (I Peter 5:5). Please understand that such false teaching is inhibiting the work and power of God in your life.
80.) Apostleship Belongs to the Church, Romans 1:5 “Through Him and for His name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.” In terms of this grace study, this is an extremely valuable nugget of Scripture. Its contextual value is immense. Earlier I explained that studying God’s grace causes once casual verses to pop out at you. This is such a verse.
From this verse the following immense points are noted:
a.) Grace (that is, charis or intercession from God’s throne) is given through Christ and for his name’s sake. In this case the manifestation of God’s grace is apostleship.
b.) True New Testament apostleship is defined herein. Believers are selected and sent out by God, and their local gathering, “to call people from among all the Gentiles”. Were all the Gentiles reached by the end of the (man entitled) apostolic age? Certainly not!
c.) Paul obviously meant that apostleship is an enduring gift given to the whole Church in its battle against the world’s darkness. I say enduring in that its meant for people and ages yet to succeed Paul. The proof is as follows: Paul is writing in the first person singular (“I”), yet he says , “We have received grace and apostleship”. Who’s the “We” being discussed? It’s the whole Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, even though his immediate meaning is himself and the church at Rome collectively.
d.) Apostleship is given “to call people from among all the Gentiles”. All the Gentiles had not been reached by the end of the apostle John’s life, which signaled the end of the (man entitled) apostolic age. Please be warned! Do not speak against modern day apostleship! You’ll be speaking against the Holy Spirit of God!
e.) Apostleship is listed with the necessary functions of the Church in Ephesians 4:11. However, when people say that apostleship has been abolished, a severe dysfunction is allowed to occur. Those which God has sent as missionaries are deliberately discouraged from going (I’m speaking from personal experience, not from speculation). Further, those who were never called by God eventually become the so-called (man entitled) missionaries.
Consider the proliferation of Islam. At the beginning of Islam the nominal church was led from Rome by the Pope. (The word means “papa” even though Christ has forbidden believers to call anyone Father but their heavenly Father, per Matthew 23:9.) At that time the Pope had settled into his Apostolic Palace (true name of the Pope’s building even today). The twelve apostles plus Paul were enshrined on stained glass windows throughout the world. The concept of apostleship was carefully guarded by the Pope and his wealthy hordes as their claim to worldly control over the nominal church. (The situation in Constantinople was similar- with the Patriarch of Constantinople claiming the “apostolic succession”. See Item#82, below.)
The point that I’m getting to is that the very necessary Church functions of apostleship and evangelism were being stifled and taught as non-existent. Indeed these abilities were, and to varying degrees still are, considered as being abolished. The result of this folly is this. Through the proliferation of Islam we see that, without Christ’s grace gifts, believers are rendered “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17), not to mention being “lukewarm”.
Sadly, the nominal Christian world is still fighting the idolatry of Islam with carnal weaponry. Today laser guided missiles have replaced the swords and armor of the Crusades; and Islam has continued to proliferate.
The crux of the matter, though, is that God has endowed his Church with the spiritual weaponry to reach these people. This weaponry is found in Ephesians 4:11. However, most nominal Christians today would agree with the papal and Orthodox teachings that apostleship and prophecy have been abolished. So, idolatrous countries are not being won for Christ, neither blessed by God; and these people continue to live in stifling poverty and dysfunctional squalor
82.) “Magisterium”, and Apostolic Succession- More Considerations, Galatians 2:8 “As for those who seemed to be important- whatever they were makes no difference to me…. For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.” This set of verses brings out two important issues.
First, the ”magisterium” and “apostolic succession” concepts are squelched by these verses as they were in Item # 46, above. Paul, “in response to a revelation”, went to Jerusalem. His trip was to oppose Judaizers who came down from Jerusalem. His trip was after approximately seventeen years of apostolic ministry, according to Galatians 1:18 – 2:1.
Paul went back to the source location of the gospel, Jerusalem. He does this because false teachers from the source location are teaching that the believers must go back under the law of Moses (hence the term Judaizers, and there’s still plenty of Judaizers around today), and also because God urged him to do so in a revelation. The satanic lie (snare) which was used then is similar to such lies today. The lie merely contends that authority is connected to the source location, Jerusalem; rather than the true source, God.
But Jesus taught “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). These were given to Christ’s apostles, taught by them through the Holy Spirit, and then canonized into Scripture by that same Holy Spirit. (II Timothy 3:16, II Peter 3:16). So, true Christianity has as its source the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ our Savior, the “Head of all things for the Church” (Ephesians 1:22).
Note that the closing comments of this Jerusalem meeting were words of congenial encouragement, not commands or dogmatism. The closing comment of this meeting was “fare thee well” ( Please see Item #46 above). Additional comments were: “We should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All that they asked is that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do” (vs. 9 & 10). Are you a Jew living in first Century Jerusalem? No, then don’t put yourself under this non-existent “magisterium” authority!
Also, please don’t neglect the point that “James, Peter, and John” were “reputed to be pillars” (vs. 9). Some would put Peter alone as the only pillar of the Jerusalem gathering in order to promulgate the false teaching of apostolic succession through Peter.
In verse 6 Paul says: “ As for those who seemed to be important- whatever they were makes no difference to me;… those men added nothing to my message”. Of all the verses in the Bible, this verse shoots a giant hole in the “magisterium” teachings and the notion of “apostolic succession”. Paul wasn’t in rebellion against the Jerusalem gathering. He just plain was not under the Jerusalem gathering’s authority, and neither are we today. Christ himself is “Head of the body, the Church” (Colossians 1:18), and also “the Head of every man” (I Corinthians 11:3).
The second point brought out was that the Jerusalem gathering “agreed that we (Paul, Barnabus, and Titus) should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews” (vs.9). So Paul, Barnabus, and Titus focused on the peoples to which the Lord sent them, the Gentiles.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT POINTS
Lest someone misconstrue, or even deliberately twist, the results of what’s being concluded from this study, the following summary points are noted:
1.) Apostleship never became obsolete with the death of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. The Scripture does not teach such obsolescence. Neither does the history of Christ’s Church show such obsolescence. (The above items reference this: Nos. 44, 46, 53, 56, 66, 68, & 80; also see No. 85 of the Evangelism Section).
2.) The “charismata” of apostleship was not limited to the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. (The above items reference this: Nos. 44, 53, 69, & 80).
3.) Apostles are still sent today. We recognize them as missionaries. (The above items reference this: Nos. 44, 68, & 80.)
4.) Apostleship is a manifestation of God’s grace. (The above items reference this: Nos. 14, 68, & 80.)
5.) Apostles have always been resisted by fleshly people, particularly opposing their sending by God. (The above items reference this: Nos. 4, 24, & 54.)
6.) Apostles were not just called, but commanded to go. (The above items reference this: Nos. 9, & 12.)
7.) The two concepts, “apostolic succession”, and “magisterium” rule from outside a local gathering, are contrary to the apostles’ doctrine (with the exception that a church founder should be recognized as one sent by God to build that church). Each local gathering should be materially and spiritually administered by a committee of local elders, who report only to Christ as their Head (Hebrews 13:17, Ephesians 1:22). (The above items reference this: Nos. 46, 75, 80, & 82.)
8.) An apostle has authority, in relation to a local gathering, as one directly sent by God. (The above items reference this: Nos. 46, & 70.)
9.) The twelve apostles of Jesus Christ are foundational and representational to Christ’s Church and to the Church’s place in heaven itself. (The above items reference this: Nos. 66, & 74.)
10.)Any attempted change to the apostle’s doctrine, as canonized in the New
Testament, must be met with skepticism, careful rebuttal, and a loving concern for
future generations of Bible students, and the unsaved. (The above items reference
this: Nos. 1, 7, 14, 44, 46, 54, 56, 60, 69, 75, & 80.)
 Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament In Greek And English (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975) p. 110.
 James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (McLean, VA: MacDonald Publishing Company, 1894 1st publishing) p. 900-901.
 Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament In Greek And English (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975) p. 549.
 Sam Wellman, Amy Carmichael (Urichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing Inc., 1998) p. 50.
 Sam Wellman, Amy Carmichael (Urichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing Inc., 1998) p. 85.
 Norman Grubb, C.T. Studd Cricketer and Pioneer (Fort Washington, PA: CLC Publications, 1933) p. 201.
 Vance Chrisitie, Hudson Taylor, (Urichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing Inc., 1999) p. 27.