God has been talking to me about posting a Teaching on The Office of The Apostle for some time. I have not completed the Teaching but felt that I was to post related articles on The Subject of The Ministry of an Apostle before the end of this year. This Teaching is a very good one concerning – The Office of apostle.
There are several translations in the New Testament of the Greek word referring to the apostles: one of these translations is Apostolos, meaning delegate – one sent with full power of attorney to act for another. Apostolos is translated twice as messenger and translated 68 times to mean a “sent one.” One who is Sent to do the will of another that possesses the full stature, ability & authority of the one who sent them.
Remember that ministry gifts are chosen by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in combined authority. They work together in authority, not independently. Galatians 1:1 makes this point very clear where it says, “Paul, an apostle (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.)” Paul declared he was an apostle and he makes it clear who is responsible for raising up apostles. Notice he said that “men” (plural) were not responsible for his becoming an apostle, neither was it by “man” (singular). So no group of men and no individual man can choose and create an apostle – only the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father can choose and create a minister.
Jesus stood in all of the five-fold ministries (Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher) and He is our example. Jesus also had the Spirit without measure. Jesus is called an apostle in Hebrews 3:1, “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the APOSTLE and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” Jesus is the foremost example of a “sent one,” he was also a “delegate” in that he had the ‘full power of attorney’ to act for God the Father, and he was a “messenger” – he came with the message of salvation. – He was sent by God and the Holy Spirit.
The first twelve apostles who walked with Jesus are listed in Matthew 10:2-4. Jesus chose these men, set them aside, and anointed them that they might be “sent ones,” the cornerstones of the Church. These men were “super persons.” Almost all of them died a martyr’s death, giving their blood for the Church.
In summary, there are four classes of apostles, and each class had a different anointing:
a) Jesus – the Chief Apostle, the “Sent One” from the Father to make atonement for the sins of the world. The Apostle and High Priest of our profession (Hebrews 3:1) and the chief cornerstone of the univeral Church (Ephesians 2:20).
b) The Apostles of the Lamb – the twelve apostles who were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection. This was their purpose – to witness Jesus’ early ministry and to give testimony of His ministry to the world. They also laid the foundation of the Church (Ephesians 2:20). No one, not even Paul, could be an apostle in the sense the original twelve were. (Rev. 21:14) The qualifications (eyewitnesses) for the original twelve Apostles of the Lamb can be found in Acts 1:15-22 when they were to select someone to take Judas’ place.
c) The New Testament Apostles – Mathias (Acts 1:26), Barnabas 1 Corinthians 9:5,6), Andronicus and Junia (a woman) (Romans 16:7), Apollos (1 Corthinians 4:6,9), James (the Lord’s brother) (Galatians 1:19), Silas and Timothy (1Thessalonians 1:1), Titus (2 Corinthians 8:23), and Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25).
c) The apostles today – the work of the apostle today is to found and establish new works (Churches, Bible Schools, Ministry Centers etc.) throughout the world; to go into new territory and pioneer where there is not a work (New Church etc).
In the establishing of the universal Church *following the resurrection of Jesus, the apostles and prophets were obviously the most important ministry offices because they were the first ministry gifts to be developed or “set in the Body of Christ. They were foundational apostles and prophets – they laid the foundation for the New Testament, they brought forth the revelation of the The New Testament, which is the foundation upon which the Church in all generations is to be established.
General Characteristics of an Apostle:
• In the Old Testament, only the prophet, priest, and king were anointed to stand in these offices. The first position of church leadership in the New Testament is that of the Apostle, and there is an anointing associated with it – it is the same Holy Spirit, but the anointing to stand in a ministry office is different from that anointing that abides within every believer.
• An apostle is not appointed by men; the Holy Spirit is the One who establishes these ministries in the Church.
• An apostle is a person who is sent to do a work for God – this person is not greater than The Lord for the Lord Jesus Christ is always the Greater One. A true apostle is always one with a commission – not one who merely goes, but one who is sent by the Holy Spirit.
• An true apostle is a divine delegate – one who has come to the people of the world representing the Trinity in heaven; he is anointed by the Holy Spirit to act in behalf of the Body of Christ, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
• Apostles are divine leaders God has commissioned to lead His Church. However, in terms of the operations of the local church today, 1 Corinthians 12:28 is *not a list of the offices of apostles and prophets in their order of importance. Neither is it a list indicating that apostles and prophets are the governing offices within the local church.
• You can stand in more than one office, but you need to find out where you are and what your office is (confirmation) and yield to that.
• The anointing will come upon you to stand in this office, if you are called to an apostleship. The anointing empowers you to perform in this office.
• An apostle of God has an ability and a ministry, but he must be directed where God wants him. God has the right to make you something and He also has the right to tell you where to function – it will not work wherever you please.
• People today are reluctant to recognize the ministry of an apostle for many reasons: they believe this ministry is not for the Church today; church leaderships prefer to look to the pastor to rule and reign, but they will perhaps, recognize the prophet and most certainly the evangelist and teacher; many fear that pride could enter in and cause someone to be lifted up. If a person is truly an apostle, he or she will never be prideful: When Moses’ face shown with the glory of God, he was the last to realize it. A person with the true power of God oftentimes hardly recognizes it himself. There is no need for pride – these spiritual qualities (gifts and ministerial abilities) that God has placed within His people are gifts – nothing is done to earn it. If a Minister raises themselves up to act better than anyone else because they have so many revelations from God, He will deal with them and their pride.
• It must be noted that this office is in power and not in name. If the power is not there to establish New Works (Churches, Bible Schools, Ministry Centers etc.), then those involved are not apostles.
• The New Testament never mentions missionaries, yet it is an important office. A missionary who is really called of God and sent by the Holy Spirit is an apostle. A missionary will have the ability of all the ministry gifts as mentioned earlier in this discussion.
• One does not start out as an apostle, even if they know that is their calling: Barnabas was a teacher, Saul (Paul) was a prophet and a teacher. God will eventually set that person in the office of an apostle in His own time according to His plans and purposes.
• If apostles are not accepted in the pulpits of the churches for the work of the ministry to the Body and each individual member, the Body cannot come into full maturity and unity of the faith.
• An apostle is one who can pioneer, who can construct and bring into being a work with no problem.
• An apostle is one delegated with the power of attorney to act on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ, sent by the power of the Holy Ghost to you – he is one with delegated authority. He does not act on his own and do as he pleases; he is one sent forth from God with a message from God for the people.
• The apostleship is different from the other four offices in that the person who fills this office has the ability to perform the functions of the other four offices (prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher) – this is what makes an apostle and why the Bible always lists the apostle first.
• Any person with an apostolic calling has the ability, the authority, and the anointing to raise up a church without any outside help: Paul had this authority and anointing. Paul could enter a town, have a church formed before nightfall, and stir up the devil and divide a city within hours. He also had the power and ability to remain there as pastor, teach the people in the church, establish a school and send out workers to other places. If a minister fills all five offices of ministry to the Body of Christ, then he is an apostle.
• An apostle can set church government in order. He can establish deacon boards, elderships, develop ministries of helps within a church body, and place governments in a church so the body will function properly. The apostle has the supernatural equipment called “governments” or “powers of organization.”
• All those who have a place of leadership in Christ Jesus, including the apostle, will suffer persecution. If you are seeking greatness in God, you may not achieve greatness with humans. The apostle may have to endure many unpleasant things, remember what the apostle Paul said in 1Corinthians 4:9, “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.”
• To stand in this office, one must have a personal experience with the Lord – something very deep and real, something beyond the ordinary – not just something secondhand or handed down by tradition. The apostle Paul had an experience of this type as he describes in 1 Corinthians 9:1, “Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?….Paul did not see Jesus in the flesh as the twelve did, but he saw Jesus in a spiritual vision. Even Paul’s conversion was beyond the ordinary. Paul was not taught the Gospel he preached by man. The Spirit of God taught it to him. He wrote, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:11,12
• Signs, wonders, and mighty deeds are characteristic of an apostle. The Bible says, “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” 2 Corinthians 12:12 The fruit of an apostle can be found in 1 Corinthians 9:1, “Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?” Here Paul is defending his apostleship. The fruit of Paul’s apostolic ministry were people who were solidly established in the Word; solidly established churches, 1 Corinthians 4:15; and a spiritual father to those whom he had established in the faith whom he would exhort, comfort, and give charge.
After churches are established, apostles can exercise authority over those churches they have established (1 Corinthians 9:1,2). In the New Testament days, apostles could exercise authority only over the churches they had established themselves. Paul, for example, never exercised any authority over the church at Jerusalem,or any of the churches other apostles had established. The Apostle Paul never built on a foundation someone else had laid. He preached the Gospel where Christ was not named, “Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:”
a) Apostles and prophets do not make up the office of “governments” found in 1 Corinthians 12:28. For one thing, Paul listed “governments” as an entirely separate office. It probably refers to the pastoral office.
b) For another thing, some offices are listed in a certain order in the ministry list in Ephesians 4:11 and in another order in the ministry list of 1 Corinthians 12:28.
c) Therefore, this list in 1 Corinthians 12:28 does not indicate that the offices of the apostle and prophet are the most important or the governing offices in the local church today.
An apostle acts as a spiritual father to those whom they establish in the faith. They don’t tell people and churches what to do in every area of life, nor do they try to run every aspect of the local church. They are not dictators – they address the church(es) in “fatherly” tones of genuine care and concern, “Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:1 Also refer to 1 Thessalonians.
• An apostle knows the voice of the Lord and moves instantly in obedience to bring it all to fruition. Their faith has already been established through years of training and experience to move as the Lord directs – hesitancy in this ministry could bring about many problems.
• All the gifts of the Holy Spirit are active at one time or another because they are used by the Holy Spirit as He moves at His discretion through the vessel who has been prepared by the Master’s hand to flow in His ministry to His Body.
• There is an anointing which is evident and a love relationship established between them and others. There is a humility bred into the apostle (and prophet) through the breaking process they have already passed through (these manifestations are not evident in those whom man has raised up).
• The apostle (and prophet) usually have a strong witness in their spirit to each other, as well as this evident expression of love, whether male or female. –
In summary, the five characteristics of an apostle today are:
1) As mentioned above, a preacher or a teacher of the Word.
1) Outstanding spiritual gifts.
2) Deep personal spiritual experience.
3) Power and ability to establish (new Works) churches
4) Ability to provide adequate spiritual leadership
5) Displays the characteristics of a prophet (one who has visions and revelations) and/or teacher.
Another great article about: Signs of an Apostle
Many people mistakenly believe that the word “apostle” is an honorary title, when in reality it is an office or function within the Body of Christ. Being an apostle doesn’t mean that the person is superior in any way to a prophet, pastor, teacher or evangelist since all ministries are equally esteemed before God’s eyes. In order to impede that certain “false apostles” (2nd. Corinthians 11:13-15 and Revelation 2:2), might arise within the contemporary Church, it is necessary for us to know which are the signs that identify the true, In the same way, that you know the (true) prophets by the fruit they yield (Matthew 7:15-20), you can also know the (true) apostles by the signs they bear (2nd. Corinthians 12:12). The word “sign” can mean, among other things, “ensign, emblem, badge, standard, evidence, distinctive mark or point of reference.” That means that according to the Bible there are certain guidelines that identify the true apostles, and therefore we urgently need to know them.
According to the Word of God it is evident that an apostle has many tasks and responsibilities to carry out, such as planting and overseeing churches and training and commissioning workers. One of his main challenges will be to offer adequate covering and care to the ministries that God has raised up and placed under his apostolic authority. An apostle has to have “Body Vision”, which means that his main interest will be the general well-being of the Church of Jesus Christ and not only of his own church or apostolic network. In my consideration, these are the marks of a true apostle:
1. An apostle by biblical standards is a servant, someone who demonstrates in all his actions that he has the heart or spirit of a servant, willing and ready to serve God and humanity at all times (Luke 22:24-27). Even Christ, the Apostle of our profession (Hebrews 3:1), said that He had come ‘not to be ministered unto, but to minister” (Matthew 20:26-28). He gave us the supreme example of servanthood at the last Passover when He wrapped Himself in a towel and washed the feet of the apostles that He had chosen (John 13:4-17), offering them an example that they ought to follow. It is evident that today there are “apostles” that delight to be treated with great respect. Some of them have surrounded themselves with unconditional followers that treat them as if they were “little Popes.” Some have even allowed their assistants to “deify” them, which in the long run will certainly destroy them, since God will not share His glory with no human being (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11).
2. A genuine apostle is patient in suffering (“…the signs of the apostle were wrought among you in all patience,” 2nd Corinthians 12:12). Patience is developed in the midst of persecution and tribulation (Romans 5:3-4; 2nd Corinthians 6:4-5,8-9; James 1:3). The ministry of the apostle has always been ruthlessly attacked by Satan and his followers, both human and demoniac. It is not surprising then that an apostle must face and endure sufferings that are not commonplace in the life of other believers and ministers. When you read about the suffering of the apostle Paul in 1st. Corinthians 4:12-13 and 2nd Corinthians 12:23-28 you cannot help but arrive at the conviction that a person that takes upon himself this ministry without having received it directly from God must be out of his mind. In the life of a true apostle there will be trials, difficulties, conflicts, etc., that he will not be able to avoid no matter how hard he tries. He will have to learn to bear them with patience and faith (2nd Thessalonians 1:4; Hebrews 6:12; James 5:10- 11; Revelation 13;7,10) while God intervenes in his behalf. The price of the apostleship is the cross (Matthew 10:38; 16:24) and the cross represents contempt, suffering and death.
3. The Scriptures demand, above everything else, that the apostle have a supernatural ministry (“…the signs of an apostle were wrought among you…in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds”, 2nd Corinthians 12:12). Jesus Christ Himself declared in the Great Commission — which ought to be called the Apostolic Commission, since according to Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-20; Luke 24:33,45-49 and Acts 1:2-8 it was given primarily to the “eleven” apostles that remained at His side after Judas’ defection, betrayal and death — that the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom would be confirmed by such signs. In Acts 5:12 it says that “by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people.” Also in Acts 14:3 it declares that “the Lord…gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by (Paul’s and Barnabas’) hands.” Additionally, in Hebrews 2 4 it states that God testified with and through the apostles “…with signs and wonders, and with diverse miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.” The apostle Paul, who has been considered the model of the apostolic ministry, affirms in Romans 15:18-19 that he only dared to speak about the things that Christ had wrought through him “to make the Gentiles obedient by word and deed, through mighty signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit of God…” What other proofs do we need that in the life of every apostle there must be signs (such as miracles, healings, deliverance, etc.) that validate the legitimacy of his ministry? God’s miraculous intervention through these signs is evidence that the Kingdom of God is being manifested in a certain place (Luke 10:9; 11:20). The signs have been intimately related to the manifestation of the Kingdom of God in all ages of history (Daniel 4.2-3) and how much more in these end times.
The colossal task of the apostle is to proclaim, demonstrate and establish the Kingdom of God in the areas of the world that have been assigned to him by the Lord of the Harvest. The primary purpose of his apostleship, according Romans 1:5 and 16:26, is to lead the nations into “the obedience of the faith”, and that will never be possible unless the Holy Spirit works in a supernatural way through those that have been invested and entrusted with this ministry.
Great articles from the internet on Apostles.