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#28678 - Sat Oct 29, 2005 7:24 AM Apostles in the Church *****  
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Apostles in the Modern Church

I realize that there are a number of people claiming to be apostles these days, particularly in Chrismatic circles. Many of these people are the equivalent of heads of denominations or ‘franchises’ of churches. It seems ‘apostles’ is used to refer to someone who performs a role similar to a traditional bishop, except he is considered super-anointed.

I have done a little bit of study on the concept of apostleship. I know many people believe that the only apostles were 12 and Paul, but from what I have read, in scripture and in history, the word has a wider range of meaning.

For example, Acts 14:14 refers to both Paul and Barnabas as apostles. I Thessalonians 1:1 taken with 2:6 would indicate that Silas and Timothy were apostles along with Paul. Some interpret I Corinthians 4 as saying that Apollos was also an apostle, since Paul was talking about himself and Apollos before he spoke of ‘us’ apostles.

In the late first or early second century, the Didache refers to various itinerant ministers that traveled from church to church in that period prophesying and teaching as apostles.

There is a historical use of the word ‘apostles’ to refer to men who brought the Gospel to new peoples and regions. For example, Gregory is called the Apostle to the Armenians. There are several others: Cyril and Methodius apostles to the Slavs and various other people groups, Anksar apostle of the North, Patrick the apostle of Ireland, and John Elliot apostle to the Indians to name a few. I recall going to my sister’s graduation from a Congregational school and finding an old hymn about sending out missionaries that contained the quote ‘Make them apostles’ in reference to missionaries that were sent out.

How did Barnabas become an apostle, a ‘sent one.’ The apostles did ‘send’ him to Antioch. I suppose one could argue that at that point he was an apostle in a limited sense. But if we look further in Acts, we see that in chapter 13, he, along with Paul was sent out to do a work. The work involved traveling from city to city preaching the Gospel. In the account, it is after Paul and Barnabas were sent out that Luke begins to refer to them as ‘sent ones’—that is, as ‘apostles’. Paul’s comment about Barnabas in I Corinthians 9 seems to indicate that Paul considered Barnabas to be an apostle just like himself.

Also notice the context in which the Gospel authors, Matthew and Mark, first referred to the 12 as apostles. Matthew calls the 12 apostles just before he records that Jesus sent them out to preach the Gospel and do various healing miracles in the cities and villages of Israel. Mark calls them sent ones/apostles after they returned. Compare this to the fact that Luke begins to refer to Paul and Barnabas as apostles after they went on their evangelistic preaching journey.

Paul made some interesting comments about his own apostleship and the nature of his authority in relation to the Corinthian church. In I Corinthians 9, he tells the Corinthians if he were not an apostle to others, he was an apostle to them, because they were the seal of his apostleship in the Lord. This is an interesting statement. The fact that the Corinthian church existed was evidence that Paul was indeed an apostle. Earlier in this letter, he explains that he had laid the foundation of Christ among them, as a wise master builder. He also wrote that they had many teachers, but not many fathers, for in the Gospel of Jesus Christ he had become their father. This seems to indicate that Paul considered the fruits of his church planting ministry to be evidence for his apostleship, and the foundation for his authority in the Corinthian church.

II Corinthians 10 gives us even more detailed information. Paul and his co-workers (we) had a ‘measure of rule’ that extended to the Corinthians, because they had gone as far as Corinth in preaching the Gospel of Christ.

Based on this, some interpreters of scripture believe that it is still possible for their to be apostles, in the Biblical sense, who father new churches through evangelism, by preaching Christ in new areas and among unreached people. Watchman Nee promoted a view similar to this in some of his writings, and apparently many consider him to be an apostle to this day. Some house church Christians hold to a similar viewpoint.

#28679 - Sat Oct 29, 2005 9:54 AM Re: Apostles in the Church [Re: Link]  
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The word apostle had a broad usage, but applied in a specific, tehnical sense to the 12 (later 13). Think of "president." I could be the president of the local dog lover's committee, but when sombody says "The President" I know they are not refferring to me.

Acts 1 records the appointment of Judas' successor:

Quote
21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.”
23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias.
24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen
25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”
26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.


The technical usage of "apostle" is quite clear here- backed up by the fact that Justus actually had a higher chance of being "sent out" (Matthias would have remained in Jerusalem at that time teaching the church) and yet was not called an apostle.


(Latin phrase goes here.)
#28680 - Sat Oct 29, 2005 1:04 PM Re: Apostles in the Church [Re: Link]  
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Quote
Link said:

....some interpreters of scripture believe that it is still possible for their to be apostles, in the Biblical sense, who father new churches through evangelism, by preaching Christ in new areas and among unreached people. Watchman Nee promoted a view similar to this in some of his writings, and apparently many consider him to be an apostle to this day. Some house church Christians hold to a similar viewpoint.


Welcome to the discussion board Link.

Although the Gospels call the same people "disciples" and "apostles" (Matt. 10:1,2; Luke 6:13), the terms are not synonyms. "Disciple" means "pupil, learner"; "apostle" means "emissary, representative," one sent with the authority of the sender. The twelve apostles (Rev. 21:14), as distinct from the apostles ("messengers") of the churches (2 Cor. 8:23), and from the rest of the disciples, were chosen and sent by Jesus (Mark 3:14) just as Jesus Himself, "the Apostle... of our confession" (Heb. 3:1), was foreordained and sent by the Father, so rejecting the apostles is rejecting Jesus (Luke 10:16).

Paul, the "apostle to the Gentiles" (Rom. 11:13; Gal. 2:8), announces himself as an apostle in the opening words of most of his letters. Because he had seen Christ on the Damascus road and been commissioned by Him (Acts 26:16-18) he was as truly a witness to Jesus' resurrection (which an apostle had to be, Acts 1:21, 22; 10:41, 42) as were the others. James, Peter, and John accepted Paul into apostolic partnership (Gal. 2:9), and God confirmed his status by the signs of an apostle (miracles and signs, 2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:3,4), and by the fruitfulness of his ministry (I Cor. 9:2).

The apostles were agents of God's revelation of the truths that would become the Christian rule of faith and life. As such, and through Christ's appointment of them as His authorized representatives (2 Cor. 10:8; 13:10), the apostles exercised a unique authority in the church. There are no apostles today, though some Christians fulfill ministries that are in particular ways apostolic in style. No new canonical revelation is being given; apostolic teaching authority resides in the canonical Scriptures. The abscence of new revelation does not put the contemporary church at a disadvantage compared with the church of apostolic days for the Holy Spirit interprets and applies the Scripture to God's people continually. (Theological notes from New Geneva Study Bible)


Wes


When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride. - Isaac Watts
#28681 - Sun Oct 30, 2005 10:24 AM Re: Apostles in the Church [Re: Wes]  
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Thanks for the warm welcome.

I agree with you that ‘disciple’ and ‘apostle’ are not synonymous.

>>>Paul, the "apostle to the Gentiles" (Rom. 11:13; Gal. 2:8), announces himself as an apostle in the opening words of most of his letters. Because he had seen Christ on the Damascus road and been commissioned by Him (Acts 26:16-18) he was as truly a witness to Jesus' resurrection (which an apostle had to be, Acts 1:21, 22; 10:41, 42) as were the others. James, Peter, and John accepted Paul into apostolic partnership (Gal. 2:9), and God confirmed his status by the signs of an apostle (miracles and signs, 2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:3,4), and by the fruitfulness of his ministry (I Cor. 9:2).<<<


And yet the term ‘apostles’ is used to include others besides Paul, like Barnabas, Timothy, Silas, and possibly Apollos. Based on the language of II Corinthians 10 (‘we’, ‘our’) Paul shared in a ‘measure of rule’ with his co-workers in Corinth.

>>The apostles were agents of God's revelation of the truths that would become the Christian rule of faith and life. As such, and through Christ's appointment of them as His authorized representatives (2 Cor. 10:8; 13:10), the apostles exercised a unique authority in the church.<<

Notice that the quote from II Cor. 10:8 is about Paul and his coworkers, and not just Paul alone. Assuming that II Corinthians is really one epistle, then these coworkers and co-authors are Timothy and Silas. If it is not, the first part of the epistle still identifies these as men who had declared the Gospel in Corinth.

So either Timothy and Silas had seen the Lord (;in Timothy’s case, it probably would have had to have been post-ascension in a supernatural manner considering) or else they could have this kind of authority without having seen Christ. Paul ties their authority to having brought the Gospel to an unreached area: Corinth. This is something the false apostles had not true claim to. Corinth was the seal of Paul’s apostleship in the Lord. So apparently, there fruitful church planting work can be a sign of true apostleship. I am not saying it is the only one.


You also said,
>The twelve apostles (Rev. 21:14), as distinct from the apostles ("messengers") of the churches (2 Cor. 8:23), and from the rest of the disciples, were chosen and sent by Jesus (Mark 3:14) just as Jesus Himself, "the Apostle... of our confession" (Heb. 3:1), was foreordained and sent by the Father, so rejecting the apostles is rejecting Jesus (Luke 10:16).<

The messengers of the churches in this passage seem to have been delivery men, rather than ‘apostles’ in the sense that Paul, Silas, and Timothy were. Paul was not one of the 12. He says that Jesus appeared to the 12 before appearing to him, and since Judas was dead at Christ’s appearance (if the Gospels are chronological) and apparently Christ did not appear to Judas’, then Christ must have appeared to Matthias. Acts tells us that he was a witness of the resurrection. Paul did not consider himself to be one of the 12.

So Paul was an apostle who was not one of the 12. So was Barnabas, Silas, etc.
>> There are no apostles today, though some Christians fulfill ministries that are in particular ways apostolic in style. No new canonical revelation is being given; apostolic teaching authority resides in the canonical Scriptures. The abscence of new revelation does not put the contemporary church at a disadvantage compared with the church of apostolic days for the Holy Spirit interprets and applies the Scripture to God's people continually. (Theological notes from New Geneva Study Bible)<<

Those are notes from below the text of scripture, and not holy scripture itself of course. Unfortunately, if one follows the axiom of sola scriptura, these assertions cannot be proven. The Bible does not teach that scripture replaces the apostles. The council that decided on scripture may have used apostolic witness as a means of determining what was canonical.

Timothy apparently had authority, even if he received his authoritative message from Paul (II Timothy 2:2.) Shouldn’t we consider that there may be an apostolic role for Timothy-types in our era?

I am interesting in having a Biblical ecclesiology. In the Bible, we see there is a role and a position of authority for the church-planting missionary type. The 12 were not the only ones with authority. Travelling apostles started churches and appointed elders who pastured these local churches. A lot of people have a concept ecclesiology that does not make room for the church planting role at all. I believe scripture gives us an ecclesiology that includes the church-planting role of apostles.

#28682 - Sun Oct 30, 2005 3:28 PM Re: Apostles in the Church [Re: Link]  
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Quote
Link says:

And yet the term ‘apostles’ is used to include others besides Paul, like Barnabas, Timothy, Silas, and possibly Apollos. Based on the language of II Corinthians 10 (‘we’, ‘our’) Paul shared in a ‘measure of rule’ with his co-workers in Corinth.


Hmmm... Sorry but I just don't see that.

It is my belief that the only ones that should be considered apostles were the disciples ( not Judas ) and Paul.

Apostleship with the understanding of those who had a special role in Gods redemptive plan and who were specifically called to spread the church of Christ during this "apostolic" time. The requirements I believe that generally qualifies one for "apostleship" are, they must have been with Jesus during His earthly ministry and been eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ. All of course except Paul, who of came later, but there is no doubt in scripture of his calling.

1Corinthians 12:28
1Corinthians 15:9
Matthew 19:28
Romans 1:1
Acts 1:21-22
2Corinthians 11:13


Let us not put any authority back into the hands of fallible men.

Sola Scriptura, Solas Christus, Sola Gratia and Soli Deo Gloria.

Of course if we are using the term "apostle" in the understanding of one who is called out to spread the Gospel, then we all are apostles are we not?

Dave.
Soli Deo Gloria, happy reformation Sunday everyone! <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. - Galatians 2:16
#28683 - Sun Oct 30, 2005 7:11 PM Re: Apostles in the Church [Re: Reformation Monk]  
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Being with Christ since John's baptism, was a requirement for being one of the 12, not for being an apostle. Otherwise Paul, Barnabas, etc. would have been disqualified.

Barnabas was an apostle. Acts 4:4, 14. Timothy and Silas--I Thes. 1:1, 2:6. Possibly Apollos. I Cor. 4. Possibly Andronichus and Junia--Romans 16.

#28684 - Sun Oct 30, 2005 8:20 PM Re: Apostles in the Church [Re: Wes]  
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Just wondering. Does the word, apostate, come from the same root as apostle? If so, would it have a bearing on this discussion?

btw, Wes' answer is what I have always been taught.

Last edited by John_C; Sun Oct 30, 2005 8:21 PM.

John Chaney

"having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith . . ." Colossians 2:7
#28685 - Mon Oct 31, 2005 3:05 AM Re: Apostles in the Church [Re: Link]  
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Quote
Link says: Barnabas was an apostle. Acts 4:4, 14.


Acts 4:4,14 NKJV

4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.


Sorry I don't see how this scripture proves that Barnabas was an apostle.

Quote
Timothy and Silas--I Thes.


1 Thess 1:1, 2:6 NKJV

1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,


sorry again this doesn't prove apostleship.


6 Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ.


I see the word "apostle" used in a broder sense in this case, as in being a missionary of Christ.


Again, I believe there are two uses of this word "apostle." Used in our modern english translations. I'm not a theologian and I don't know greek, so I can only go by what other reformed preachers and teachers have said. Which is to say, I can certainly be wrong. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

My main concern with this type of thinking and teaching is that it opens a doorway to allow people in the church today claiming that they are profits and appostles and that they are receiving special revelation. I don't believe the Holy Spirit is working in such a manner today. I believe in the orthodox reformed church, that there is an understanding that scripture teaches that all special revelation has ended with the death of John on the isle of Patmos.

Dave.
Soli Deo Gloria.


Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. - Galatians 2:16
#28686 - Mon Oct 31, 2005 1:32 PM Re: Apostles in the Church [Re: Link]  
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Link,

I would only affirm and also add to those who have already replied to you by saying that apostolos has both a narrow and a broader usage in the N.T. First, as we would all agree, it refers to the core group of men who were disciples of the Lord Christ and who were eye witnesses to His earthly presence, with the exception of Paul who was given a special manifestation of the risen Lord. These men were given special authority and gifts for the purpose of establishing the new covenant Church. Secondly, in the broader sense, there were those men called apostles who were commissioned to further the outreach of the Church through the preaching of the Gospel and the teaching of doctrine, but who were under the direct authority and supervision of the original 12/13. We see mention of such men as Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14, 27; Gal 2:9), James (1Cor 15:5-8), Andronicus and Junia (Rom 16:7), and Silvanus and Timothy (1 Thess 2:6).

There is really no solid evidence that one who was an "apostle" was the equivalent of a "missionary". We can see that to be an "apostle" was more than being one who preached, (cf. 2Tim 1:11). All the disciples were supposed to be preachers but not all were apostles, (cf. 1Cor 12:29). It is interesting to note that during one period, they were all taken up with preaching except the apostles, (cf. Acts 8:4).

Lastly, it is vitally important to remember that the purpose of the Apostles was to establish the Church, thus the place of the Apostles and Prophets was temporary, (cf. Eph 2:20; 4:11) and disappeared after their function had been fulfilled. For a detailed excursus on this matter see here: Gaffin and Grudem on Ephesians 2:20 by R. Fowler White.

One may chose to call modern-day missionaries "apostles", but at best it is an accommodation of language but it has no biblical basis or relationship to those called "Apostles" in the New Testament.

In His grace,


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simul iustus et peccator

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#28687 - Tue Nov 01, 2005 11:47 PM Re: Apostles in the Church [Re: Pilgrim]  
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I made a typo earlier. Barnabas and Saul are called 'apostles' in Acvts 14:4.

Btw, where does scripture every say receiving special revelation was part and parcel of being an apostle. Do we have any evidence that Barnabas received any special revelation (apart from his name?) How do you define special revelation.


The Bible shows us that Jesus called the 12 apostles. But it also shows as the that Lord can call other men as apostles, too. Where is the scripture that shows the office ceased? Ephesians 4 says that apostles, etc. are given until we all come into the unity of the faith.

About Grundem and the arguments that have gone on in theological discourse, consider the passage from Ephesians 2:
19. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20. And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

The church was already built on the apostles and prophets at that point in time, but the roles did not cease in the church. Revelation talked about prophets in a future date (at least from the author's standpoint, no matter which of the major conservative views you take.) Plus, from a local church standpoint, Paul was involved in the foundation of individual churches before and after he wrote this verse, in his churchplanting ministry.

#28688 - Thu Nov 03, 2005 1:21 AM Re: Apostles in the Church [Re: Link]  
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Quote
The church was already built on the apostles and prophets at that point in time, but the roles did not cease in the church. Revelation talked about prophets in a future date (at least from the author's standpoint, no matter which of the major conservative views you take.) Plus, from a local church standpoint, Paul was involved in the foundation of individual churches before and after he wrote this verse, in his churchplanting ministry.


After the foundation was laid why would there be a need for apostles to continue. Your premise that because Paul was still (at the time of this writing) still involved in church planting mission doesn't mean that more apostles needed to come into existence. Just as Christ taught his disciples and then left so too the Apostles trained elders knowing that they too weren't long for this world but that the people that they trained would carry on for them as overseers and shepherds of the church.


Peter

If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself. Augustine of Hippo

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