Apostles to the Church
Apostle to the Church, Summary Doctrine
- The word for apostle (ἀπόστολος apostolos) Classical Greek—messenger, ambassador, envoy; commander of a naval force; messenger from God. Koine—messenger, envoy. Attic inscriptions—fleet, naval expedition. New Testament—delegate, messenger, God’s messengers, a group of honored believers with special function.
- The apostles to the church were men: “Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James,” (Acts 1:13), Paul (Romans 1.1), and possibly Matthias (Acts 1.26), James the Lord’s brother (Galatians 1.19), Barnabas (Acts 14.4, 14), and others. Church apostles had a different ministry from the apostles to Israel. The latter were to announce the Kingdom to Israel (Matthew 10.2-10).
- Appointed by God and had the highest spiritual authority in the church and over the entire church (1 Corinthians 12.28; Ephesians 1.1; 1 Thessalonians 2.6). No pastor possesses that kind of authority.
- Gifted by the Holy Spirit (spiritual gifts: 1 Corinthians 12.4-7, 11, 28) and given to the church along with church prophets, evangelists, and pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4.11-12).
- Purpose was to equip the saints and to further the gospel and Bible doctrine (Ephesians 4.11-12; Romans 1.1-5).
- Part of the foundation of the church along with church prophets (Ephesians 2.20).
- Began ministry after the ascension of Christ (Ephesians 4.7-12).
- The saw the resurrected Lord (Acts 4.33; 9.3-5, 22; 1 Corinthians 9.1; 15.7-9).
- God revealed Scripture to them for the church (Ephesians 3.5; 2 Peter 3.15-16).
- Had ability to perform miracles (Acts 5.12; 2 Corinthians 12.12; Romans 15.18-19; Hebrews 2.3-4).
- They were exhibits to the reality of the spiritual battle (1 Corinthians 4.9).
- Free to live as other believers (1 Corinthians 9.1).
- They were recognized as special men teaching the new church in the first century (2 Peter 3.2; Jude 17; 1 Corinthians 9.1).
- There are false apostles (2 Corinthians 11.13).
- Summary. Apostles and the church prophets were unique people chosen and gifted to be part of the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20; 4:11-12). The apostles physically ministered with the Lord (Acts 1:21-22); were a unique group called the twelve (1 Corinthians 15:5); Paul was added to that group and was unique in that the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-7; 1 Corinthians 9:1) and appointed him an apostle, though he did not know the Lord during the Lord’s earthly ministry (Romans 11:13; Galatians 1:1; 2:11-12; 1 Corinthians 15:8); and 1 Corinthians 15:7-9 seem to indicate that Paul was the last of the chosen apostles. The tone of 2 Peter 3:2 and Jude 17 indicate that the apostles were a select small group of recognized men in the first century. They were given temporary signifying sign gifts (Romans 15.17-19; Hebrews 2:3-4; 2 Corinthians 12:12). Most cults and aberrant ministries have begun with people who claim to be apostles or prophets and who claim to have great authority from God.
- Hebrews 2:4 indicates that apostles had temporary signifying sign gifts. The sign gifts (signs, wonders, various miracles) were used to verify (testify) to the truth of the message about Jesus. The second generation “them” were the apostles and some others. This teaches us the purpose of the sign gifts. Admittedly, it does not say that only the second generation had the sign gifts, but the implication is that they were the ones who needed and had the gifts. The principle of temporary spiritual gifts is found in Hebrews 2.3-4, 2 Corinthians 12.12, Romans 15.18-19, (and possibly 1 Corinthians 13.8-11), and there are others.