*ARE THERE APOSTLES TODAY?* (part 1 of 2)
The word ”apostolos” in Greek means ”one who is sent with authority”.
The word ”APOSTLE” (singular) appears 19 times in the New Testament: Rom1:1;11:13;1Cor1:1;9:1,2;1Cor15:9; 2Cor1:1;12:12 ;Gal1:1; Eph1:1; Col1:1; 1Tim1:1; 2:7; 2Tim1:1;1:11;Tit1:1;Heb3:1;1Pe1:1;2Pe1:1
The word ”APOSTLES” (plural) appears 59 times: Mat10:2; Mar6:30; Luk6:13;9:10;11:49;17:5; 22:14;24:10; Act1:2,26;2:37,42,43;4:33,35,36,37;5:2,12,18,29,34,40; 6:6;8:1,14,18;9:27;11:1 ;14:4,14; 15:2,4,6,22,23,33, Act16:4;Rom16:7;1Cor4:9;9:5;12:28;12:29;15:7,9;2Cor11:5,13;12:11; Gal1:1,17,19; Eph2:20;3:5;4:11;1Th2:6;2Pet.3:2;Jud1:17;Rev2:2;18:20;21:14.
The word ”APOSTLESHIP” appears 4 times: Act1:25; Rom1:5;1Cor9:2;Gal2:8
The word ”SHEPHERD” (”POIMEN” in Greek) appears 18 times in the New Testament and 4 times in plural form (in the Gospels).
The word ”ELDER” (”PRESBUTEROS” in Greek) appears 9 times in singular form and 60 times in plural form in the New Testament.
The word ”BISHOP” (”EPISKOPOS” in Greek, it means over-seer) appears 6 times in singular form and 1 time in plural form in the New Testament.
In Mark3:16-19 Jesus has appointed the 12 apostles as special representatives, in a different way from the 70 disciples He had sent to evangelize Lk10.
Eph2:20 says the apostles and the prophets (through their teaching) are the foundation on which the believers are built together, Jesus being the cornerstone; Rev21:14 mentions the names of the 12 apostles (only 12 !) on the foundation of the future New Jerusalem.
The Bible uses the word ‘apostle’ with THREE DIFFERENT MEANINGS:
1. ones SENT BY JESUS with His authority; these are the 12 Apostles (let’s say capital ‘A’ but the Greek does not have capital letters) Mk3:14, Mat10:2; no available positions in this list of 12 today, see Rev21:14
2. ones SENT BY THE CHURCH – as Acts14:4,14 calls Paul and Barnabas ”apostles” (we will write here with small ‘a’) even though Barnabas is not part of the 12 Apostles; churches often call their pastors ‘apostles’, but many people are confused and see them equal with the 12 Apostles and also superior to pastors;
3. Jesus is called ”Apostle” being SENT BY THE FATHER to save us by dying on the cross Heb3:1; none other than Jesus can claim such a title and mission.
CONDITIONS to be an Apostle (capital ‘A’):
1. for one to be an Apostle, he had to be APPOINTED BY JESUS HIMSELF; in Mark 3 Jesus chose the 12 Apostles, of which Judas fell and Paul was elected by Jesus to replace him, see 1Cor1:1;9:1; 2Cor.1:1;Gal1:1.
In Acts1:21-26 the 11 apostles drew lots to elect a replacement Apostle for Judas who had killed himself; however, they gave God 2 options: Joseph and Mathias, but they should have offered God a third option: ”or none of the above”, as Jesus had Paul in plan as Apostle replacement for Judas; Mathias could be referred as an ”apostle” of the church, small ‘a’, one sent by the church;
2. for one to be an Apostle of Jesus, he must have been an EYE WITNESS of Jesus while He was on the earth, see Acts1:21-22, also 1Cor9:1;15:7-8. Paul must have seen Jesus before his crucifixion as he was an important pharisee but he did not believe in Him, then he saw Jesus after His resurrection Acts 9:3, 22:14,18
3. For one to be an Apostle, he had to have MIRACLES AND SIGNS: 2Cor12:12; the gift of healing certified Paul as a true apostle in the beginning of his ministry: Acts 19:12 HANDKERCHIEFS and APRONS of Paul were sent with disciples in near-by areas where sick people were healed and demons cast out with a simple touch of these articles; (however later in life Paul did not have this ‘aprons-gift of healing’ anymore: he had to ask Timothy to drink a bit of grape juice for his stomach problems 1Tim5:23; he had to leave Trophimus sick in Miletus 2Tim4:20; one of Paul’s greatest disciples Epaphroditus was sick for an extended period of time Phil2:25-30; Paul asked Jesus trice to remove his thorn in the flesh, a demon causing him pain, instead of using the apron…Jesus explains why Paul’s apron healing had cease: ”My grace is sufficient to you and my power is made perfect in your weakness” 2Cor12:7-10; in John6:15,26 the crowds were following Jesus because the miracles with the bread and fish, not of faith; God would still make miracles when He desired but not automatically through the apron-type of ministry as in the beginning).
4. Another condition, or rather a proof that one is an Apostle of Jesus, is to be CONFIRMED BY THE OTHER APOSTLES: following a vision from God, Paul went to present his message to the 11 Apostles and they have agreed that Paul’s message is authentic and sourced indeed in Jesus, see Gal1:15-24 and 2:2-10; see also 2Pet3:16.
*THE PURPOSE OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES OF JESUS* (CAPITAL ‘A’)
–In John14:26 Jesus said to the Apostles that the Holy Spirit will bring to the Apostles’ remembrance the things He had taught them;
–1Thes2:13 – Paul states his words and Gospel were from God, not from men; nobody can claim that today, as today we have received our Gospel via 2Tim2:2 as written to Timothy, ”things you have learned from me, teach others, who will be able to teach others”, also 2Tim1:13; Mat28:18-20 ”go and make disciples and teach them to observe what I have commanded you”
–Acts1:2 The Apostles have received teachings FROM JESUS HIMSELF;
–Acts2:42 – the first Christians continued in the teaching of the Apostles;
–2Pet3:1-2 presents the teaching of the Apostles as a COMPLETED FINISHED ACTION, not as a continual action, which means Peter did not consider that the gift of an Apostle would continue through the centuries, but in verse 1 he desires that the already established teaching of the Apostles would continue to spread and to be followed. The same in Jude 1:17.
–The Apostles’ teaching is the FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH (Eph2:20;3:5-6, 2Pet1:20-21, 1Thes2:13, Gal1:9, 2Pet3:16), their teaching being recorded as the New Testament (Luke wrote his Gospel under the supervision of Paul and Mark wrote under the supervision of Peter; however in the Gospels and in Acts we have historical presentation of events, while in the epistles there is the main doctrinal teaching of the Apostles). The New Testament is completed and nobody can add anything to it today; no ”apostle” can speak new teachings that are equal with the words of the New Testament or give new revelations, otherwise he falls under the condemnation announced in Rev22:18, Deut4:2 and Prov30:6.
Jesus praised the church of Ephesus for discerning FALSE ”Apostles” in Rev2:2; Paul is warning also of such false ”Apostles” in 2Cor11:13; read also 2Pet2:1-3; we discern false ”Apostles” by comparing their words with the written words of the 12 Apostles in the New Testament; it is important to learn to say, as Jesus did, ”it is written”: Mat4:4 and Luke4:4. It is what the Berean believers did, see Acts17:11; we also know that Rev21:14 only recognizes 12 Apostles.
…see part 2