Spiritual Gifts: The Gift of Apostles
Category of Gift: Speaking
“And He gave some as apostles, . . . .”
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Introduction to New Testament Apostles
1.1 Apostles Today? Today we see many people calling themselves apostles of Jesus Christ. In fact, some churches talk about a five-fold ministry, referencing Ephesians 4:11 and the five spiritual gifts described there: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Are these churches following New Testament teaching applicable for today? In this study about The Spiritual Gift of Apostles, we will explore New Testament passages about apostles and learn more about The Spiritual Gift of Apostles.
1.2 The New Testament Meaning of “Apostle.” The term apostle in the New Testament has a variety of meanings. Only careful study of the context of each occurrence of the term apostle will help us understand its meanings.
1.3 The Basic Meaning of the Term “Apostle.” The term “apostle” basically means a “sent one,” usually meaning someone sent on a special mission on behalf of someone else. Below we will look more closely at how the term “apostle” was used throughout the New Testament. Matthew used the term “apostle” only once (Matthew 10:2, page 1516). Mark too only used the term “apostle” once (Mark 6:30, page 1569). Both Matthew and Luke used the term “apostle” to refer to the Twelve disciples. Luke also used the term “apostle” many times and referred to the Twelve (Luke 6:13, page 1607; Luke 9:10, page 1615; Luke 17:5, page 1634; Luke 22:14, page 1645; Luke 24:10, page 1651; Acts 1:26, page 1700; Acts 2:43, page 1703; Acts 4:35, page 1706; Acts 4:37, page 1706; Acts 5:2, page 1707; Acts 5:12, page 1707; Acts 5:18, page 1708; Acts 8:1, page 1713–all of the references in Luke and Acts appear to refer to the Twelve, but the Jerusalem apostles may have included more than the Twelve).
1.4 Jesus the Apostle. Jesus Himself was referred to as an apostle (“ἀπόστολον“) (Hebrews 3:1, page 1871). He often referred to Himself as one sent from God (John 17:3, page 1689), to speak the words of God (John 12:49, page 1682), and to perform the works and will of God (John 5:30, page 1663).
1.5 Peter the Apostle. In Matthew 10:2, page 1516, Peter was listed as first (“πρῶτος”) among the twelve apostles (“ἀποστόλων”). Some people seek to establish the primacy of Peter among the Twelve because Jesus delivered the keys of the kingdom to Peter (Matthew 16:13-19, page 1530). Yet, Jesus made the same promise to all the disciples in Matthew 18:18, page 1533. Therefore, any attempt to elevate Peter to a position above the other apostles cannot be supported by Scripture. In fact, Peter’s own acts display his weakness (John 18:25-27, page 1692; Matthew 26:69-75, pages 1552-1553) and his hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-21, page 1821). Anyone who promotes himself as the greatest among the apostles or other believers falls prey to the Pastoral Heresy.
1.6 Paul as an Apostle. Paul described himself as an apostle “by the will of God” (Ephesians 1:1, page 1827) and declared that he was “not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead” (Galatians 1:1, page 1819). Yet, with Paul, we see a man who was not a part of the twelve original disciples in the Gospels (the Bible books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), because Paul became a believer after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus (Acts 9:1-31, pages 1716-1717). In John 13:16, Jesus referred to slaves and masters, and described the sent one (“ἀπόστολος”) as not being greater that the one who sent (“πέμψαντος”) him.
1.7 Variety of Meanings. The term “apostle” had a variety of meanings in the New Testament. The term first applied to Jesus Christ Himself, and then to the twelve disciples, and later to other believers. The term “apostle” can refer to both the office of apostle and also to The Spiritual Gift of Apostles. To understand the spiritual gift of “apostle,” we first need to understand the different uses of the term “apostle” in the New Testament, starting with Jesus selecting twelve apostles.
The Twelve Apostles
2.1 Apostolic Ministry. The ministry of the Twelve apostles changed after the Holy Spirit descended upon the Twelve at Pentecost, which followed the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Just before He ascended to heaven after His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus made a wonderful prophecy and a promise of great power for His disciples (Acts 1:8, page 1699). Jesus declared: “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Just a few days after Jesus ascended, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in Jerusalem at the Feast of Pentecost, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and great power came upon the Twelve.
2.2 Matthias, the Replacement Apostle. After Judas betrayed Jesus, and Jesus had ascended back to heaven, the eleven disciples chose a replacement for Judas. We may study that passage to learn more about the qualifications of the twelve apostles. When seeking and praying for a replacement to fill the vacancy left among the twelve apostles by fallen Judas Iscariot (who betrayed the Lord Jesus), the eleven apostles gathered together and sought a man to become a witness with them of Christ’s resurrection (Acts 1:21-23, page 1700). The eleven apostles put forward two men, Joseph and Matthias, on the grounds that both of them had “accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us–beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was take up from us” (Acts 1:21-22, Page 1700). They prayed, and then cast lots, with the lot falling to Matthias, who was “added to the eleven apostles (“ἀποστόλων”)” (Acts 1:26, page 1700). This group of twelve apostles, known in the New Testament as “the Twelve,” met the qualifications of Acts 1:21-22, page 1700, and were recognized as a special group of ministers to the Jews and eyewitnesses of the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ (Acts 6:1, page 1709; 1 Corinthians 15:5, page 1800).
2.3 The Office and The Ministry of Apostleship. The Book of Acts chronicles the birth and development of the early church. After Jesus ascended back to heaven, the eleven disciples (Judas Iscariot had betrayed Jesus and died) recognized both a ministry (“διακονίας”) and an apostleship (“ἀποστολῆς”) from which Judas “turned aside to go to his own place” (Acts 1:25, page 1700). Judas also held the office (“ἐπισκοπὴν”) as an apostle (Acts 1:19, page 1700). Judas, an unbeliever, never was baptized in the Holy Spirit, because Judas died before Jesus baptized the apostles with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 at Pentecost. Therefore, we may discern a very strong difference between the office of apostle and the Spiritual Gift of Apostles.
2.4 The Qualifications of the Twelve Apostles. Jesus always had special people in mind to serve as apostles. Indeed, after the baptism of the Holy Spirit, some men received a special Spiritual Gift of Apostles. Jesus chose twelve disciples and many apostles. Jesus appointed (“προσκαλεῖται“) twelve men to be with Him, and that He could send them out (“ἀποστέλλῃ”) to preach (Mark 3:12, page 1562).
2.4.1 Chosen by Jesus. The New Testament writers recognized different types of apostles. Jesus originally called twelve men to be His disciples and have a special part in His ministry.
2.4.2 Judas Iscariot. Jesus knew from the beginning that one of the Twelve apostles was a devil (John 6:70-71, page 1667; Matthew 26:23-25, page 1550; Acts 1:2, page 1699) and identified Judas Iscariot as the betrayer (John 13:21-27, page 1683). Therefore, we know that Judas Iscariot was not saved from his sins, but remained the son of perdition (John 17:12, page 1689). Because Judas held the office of apostle, as we will see below, we know that an unsaved person may have held the office of apostle, but no unsaved person ever has a spiritual gift bestowed by God after Jesus baptizes the believer with the Holy Spirit.
2.5 The Authority of the Twelve Apostles. Jesus sent them out in pairs to the cities and villages of Israel, but commanded them to avoid the way of the Gentiles and told them not to enter any city of the Samaritans. Jesus gave them authority over unclean spirits, and directed them to take no provisions for their journey. As they went into various cities and villages, the Twelve were casting out demons and anointing with oil so that many sick people were healed (Mark 6:7-13, pages 1568-1569). Jesus gave the Twelve specific power to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons (Matthew 10:8, page 1516).
2.6 The Preaching of the Twelve Apostles. The Twelve preached that men should repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 10:7, page 1516). Having returned from their first missionary journey, the apostles (“ἀπόστολοι“) gathered together with Jesus and reported all that they had done (Mark 6:30, page 1569; Luke 9:10, page 1615). In Luke 24:10, page 1651, we learn that Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James, reported to the apostles (“ἀποστόλους”) all the things they had seen and heard at the empty tomb of Jesus. Before His ascension, Jesus Himself had given very specific orders to the apostles (“ἀποστόλοις”) whom He had chosen (“ἐξελέξατο”) by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:2). Following the ascension of Jesus, Jesus commanded the apostles to wait in Jerusalem until they had received power when the Holy Spirit had come upon them and then they would be His “witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8, page 1699).
2.7 The Faith of the Twelve Apostles. In Luke 17:5, page 1634, Jesus taught about basic relationships among brothers in Christ. Jesus explained that a believer must forgive a brother who repents and seeks forgiveness, even if the brother comes seven times in one day and seeks forgiveness. The apostles (“ἀπόστολοι“) then said: “Increase our faith Lord.” The faith of the twelve apostles came from Jesus. Jesus increases faith in His teachings, so that we may live according to the teaching of Jesus Christ. People tend to undervalue the teaching of Jesus, but they are the words of eternal life (John 6:68, page 1667; notice that the teaching of Jesus amazed the people because He taught with authority–Luke 4:32, page 1603 ).
The Apostles and Missionary Work
3.1 Apostolic Tasks. The apostles in the New Testament performed a variety of tasks in a variety of places. I have distinguished between the office of apostle and The Spiritual Gift of Apostles. The Spiritual Gift of Apostles produces a variety of different ministries and a variety of different effects. We will now take a closer look at the apostles and missionary work.
3.2 Missionaries. In 1 Corinthians 9:1-7, pages 1791-1792, Paul described himself as an apostle, who had seen the Lord Jesus, and declared that the Corinthian believers were his work in the Lord. Paul further emphasized that the Corinthian believers were the seal of his apostleship to them. Even if others may not have considered Paul an apostle, the Corinthians must recognize Paul as an apostle because of the work he had done sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. Furthermore, Paul proved that: (1) he and Barnabas had the right to take along a believing wife, as the other apostles took along their wives (plus the brothers of the Lord Jesus and Peter (Cephas)); and (2) the apostles (“ἀπόστολοι“) while on a missionary journey did not need to work (1 Corinthians 9:5-7, pages 1791-1792), although Paul actually worked with his own hands night and day at Thessalonica to avoid being a burden to any of them (1 Thessalonians 2:9, page 1847). As missionaries, the apostles (“ἀπόστολοι”) and prophets, in the Spirit, received the mysteries of God (truths not fully revealed in the past, as God in His wisdom, has now revealed those truths to the apostles and prophets–Ephesians 3:5, page 1829).
3.3 Persecution. A great persecution against the followers of Christ arose in Jerusalem after the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:1-60, pages 1710-1713; Act 8:1, page 1713). A young man named Saul of Tarsus began to hunt down Christians and persecute them (Acts 1:3, page 1714; Acts 9:1-2, page 1716). As the persecution of believers in Jerusalem caused them to flee into Judea and Samaria, the Gospel of Jesus Christ spread on their lips. Philip the deacon went to the city of Samaria, and many people there came to salvation in Christ Jesus (Acts 8:4-13, page 1714). When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent the apostles Peter and John (Acts 8:14, page 1714). Those apostles laid their hands (“ἐπετίθεσαν τὰς χεῖρας“) on Samaritan believers and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17, page 1714). When they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to many villages of the Samaritans (Acts 8:25, page 1715). After the conversion of Saul, the church enjoyed a time of peace in Judea, Galilee and Samaria (Acts 9:31, page 1717). Peter evangelized throughout the regions of Judea, Galilee and Samaria, with particular healing of Aeneas at Lydda, so that everyone in Sharon and Lydda “turned to the Lord” (Acts 9:35, pages 1717-1718). Peter was also instrumental in the resurrection of Tabitha in Joppa (Acts 10:36-43, so that many believed there in the Lord (Acts 10:42-43, page 1718)). Through the word of wisdom given to Peter at Joppa, Peter understood the mystery that God had cleansed the Gentiles, so that no man should call them unclean. The twelve apostles were all Jews and commissioned originally to go only to the people of Israel, and not the Gentiles (Matthew 10:5-6, page 1516; compare Matthew 15:24, page 1528). Jesus expanded this mission to include the entire world, following a pattern of geographical, cultural and spiritual expansion described in Acts 1:8, page 1699. Jesus emphasized in His commission to them that He gave them all authority in heaven and on earth, so that the twelve would go and make disciples of all the nations (“ἔθνη”), baptizing and teaching them (Matthew 28:18-20, page 1557). He promised them power to be His earthly ministers (Acts 1:8, page 1699), and the Holy Spirit fulfilled that promise and empowered their ministry as they preached, made decisions, performed signs, wonders and miracles, and turned the world upside down for Jesus Christ (Acts 2:14-36, pages 1701-1702; Acts 3:1-10, page 1703; Acts 17:6, page 1733-1734). They ministered primarily in Israel, but they obviously had a deep concern to spread the glad tidings of Christ to the entire world (e.g., Acts 2:7-12, page 1701 ; Acts 10:34-43, page 1720; Acts 11:19-30, page 1722; Acts 12:25, page 1724; Acts15:4-29, pages 1728-1730; 1 Peter 1:1-3, page 1893).
The Ministry of the Church-Planting Apostles
4.1 Church-Planting Apostles. God also called some believers to be church-planting apostles. Paul described himself as the apostle (e.g., 1 Corinthians 1:1, page 1782; Galatians 1:1, page 1782) to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13, page 1773; 1 Corinthians 9:2, page 1791; Galatians 2:9, Page 1821; Ephesians 3:8, page 1829; 1 Timothy 2:7, 1852) and their teacher and preacher (2 Timothy 1:11, page 1861). Peter, James and John were known as pillars of the church at Jerusalem (Galatians 2:9, page 1821). Peter ministered as an apostle to the circumcised (Jews) (Galatians 2:9-10, page 1821), as Paul ministered to the Gentiles. The church-planting apostles included Barnabas (Acts 13:2, page 1724; 1 Thessalonians 1:1, page 1846), the friend of Saul of Tarsus and missionary companion of Paul. The church-planting apostles also included Andronicus and Junias (outstanding among the apostles (“ἀποστόλοις“), who were in Christ before Paul (Romans 16:7, page 1780). Likewise, Sylvanus may be included among the church planting apostles and possibly Timothy (1 Thessalonians 1:1, page 1846; compare 1 Thessalonians 2:6, page 1847). Other passages cast doubt upon whether Paul considered Timothy an apostle, perhaps because Timothy did not see the Lord Jesus–Paul called himself an apostle (“ἀπόστολος“), but referred to Timothy as a “brother” (2 Corinthians 1:1, page 1804; Colossians 1:1, page 1841); Paul also referred to himself and Timothy as bond-servants (Philippians 1:1, page 1835). Likewise, Paul described Titus as his partner and fellow worker among the Corinthians. Paul also mentioned “our brethren” who were messengers (“ἀπόστολοι“) of the churches (2 Corinthians 8:23, page 1813). Finally, once the churches had been planted through a group of local believers receiving the free gift of eternal life from Christ Jesus, Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, commending them to the Lord in whom they believed (Acts 14:23, page 1728). Compare the work of Titus, whom Paul commanded to appoint elders in the cities of Crete (Titus 1:5, page 1865).
4.2 Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. Saul of Tarsus persecuted the church of Jesus Christ and supervised the death of Stephen (Acts 7:58, page 1713; Acts 8:1, page 1713). Shortly after Stephen died, Saul journeyed from Jerusalem to arrest Christians living in Damascus. On the road to Damascus, Jesus personally appeared to Saul and his life changed forever. Saul fell to the ground blinded by the great light and Jesus spoke directly to Saul. Saul followed the directions of Jesus, and became a believer who testified to many people about Jesus Christ. Saul of Tarsus became Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul described himself as a called apostle (“κλητὸς ἀπόστολος“), set apart for the gospel of God (Romans 1:1, page 1758; 1 Corinthians 1:1, page 1782). Paul recognized himself as the apostle to the Gentiles (“ἐθνῶν ἀπόστολος“) (Romans 11:13, page 1774). As a preacher and apostle (“ἀπόστολος”), he was a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth (1 Timothy 2:7, page 1855). Paul also proclaimed that he was appointed (“ἐτέθην”) a preacher (“κῆρυξ”) and an apostle (“ἀπόστολος”) and teacher (“διδάσκαλος“) to the Gentiles (2 Timothy 1:11, page 1861). When defending his ministry, Paul declared: Am I not an apostle (“ἀπόστολος”) (1 Corinthians 9:1, page 1791)? Paul considered himself least among the apostles (” ὁ ἐλάχιστος τῶν ἀποστόλων“), and not fit to be called an apostle (“καλεῖσθαι ἀπόστολος“) because he had persecuted the church of God (1 Corinthians 15:9, page 1800-1801). Yet, he did not consider himself “in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles (“μηδὲν ὑστερηκέναι τῶν ὑπερλίαν ἀποστόλων“) (2 Corinthians 11:5, page 1815). Likewise, in 2 Corinthians 12:11, page 1817, Paul asserted that he was in no respect “inferior to the most eminent apostles (“οὐδὲν γὰρ ὑστέρησα τῶν ὑπερλίαν ἀποστόλων“) . . . .” Paul proclaimed that he labored more than the other apostles, through the grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10, page 1801). As an apostle (“ἀπόστολος”), Paul denied that he had been sent from men or through the agency of men, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father (Galatians 1:1, page 1819). In 2 Corinthians 12:12, page 1817, Paul defended himself and described the signs of a “true apostle” (“τοῦ ἀποστόλου”) which he performed with “all perseverance” (“πάσῃ ὑπομονῇ“), including signs and wonders and miracles (“σημείοις καὶ τέρασιν καὶ δυνάμεσιν“) (compare the work at Iconium, where Paul and Barnabas spoke boldly about Christ Jesus and the word of His grace, “granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands. Even so, the people of Iconium were divided, with some siding with the Jews and some with the apostles (“ἀποστόλοις”) (Acts 14:4, page 1727)). Near the end of his life, the Jewish authorities trumped up charges against Paul in Jerusalem, and the Roman government arrested him (Acts 21:27-33, pages 1742-1743). Asserting the legal right of a Roman citizen to be tried by Caesar, Paul was sent to Rome for trial before Caesar and the Book of the Acts of the Apostles closed (Acts 21:34-28:31, pages 1743-1757). Jesus used Paul to plant churches and write letters to the Romans, Galatians, Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, and his friends in Christ, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (which are now New Testament books because God inspired them). Paul summarized his own life in Romans 1:5 where Paul described himself as having received from the Lord Jesus Christ “apostleship” (“ἀποστολὴν”) “to bring about obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake.” In contrast, Paul described Peter as having the “apostleship” (“ἀποστολὴν”) to the circumcised, while Paul had the “apostleship” (“ἀποστολὴν”) to the Gentiles, so that Christ worked effectually in Paul (Galatians 2:8, page 1820).
4.3 The Apostles Barnabas, James, Apollos, Andronicus and Junias. Several other people are mentioned in the New Testament as church planting apostles. We will see how they functioned in the church.
4.3.1 Barnabas. In Acts 4:36, page 1706, Joseph, a Levite and Cyprian by birth, was called Barnabas (meaning “Son of Encouragement”) by the apostles (“ἀποστόλων“). In Acts 14:4, page 1728, Barnabas and Paul are both referred to as apostles (compare Acts 13:1-4, page 1724 and Acts 13:50, page 1727). Notice that in Acts 9:27, page 1717, Barnabas brought Saul to the apostles (“ἀποστόλους”), indicating that Barnabas was not one of that group of apostles at that time, and neither was Paul apparently (compare the phrase “Peter and the rest of the apostles in Acts 2:37, page 1702). Furthermore, notice also the crucial testimony of Barnabas that Saul saw the Lord Jesus on the road, and he had talked with Jesus, and how Saul had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. Such testimony to the Jerusalem apostles supported Paul’s own testimony that Jesus had appeared in person to him and spoke with him (1 Corinthians 9:1, page 1791). Furthermore, at Antioch, Paul and Barnabas opposed some men who came down from Judea, teaching people that they must obey the custom of Moses to be saved (Acts 15:1, page 1728). As a result of the great dissension, the church at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas and some others to the the apostles (“ἀποστόλους”) and elders in Jerusalem concerning these matters (Acts 15:2, page 1728). Notice that Paul and Barnabas again are not referred to as apostles like the apostles in Jerusalem. Paul himself explained that the Jerusalem apostles were apostles (“ἀποστόλους”) before him, but then he went away to Arabia and returned once more to Damascus (Galatians 1:17, page 1820). So, by the time Paul visited Jerusalem again after visiting Arabia and Damascus again, he had received the revelation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which Paul did not receive from men (like the apostles in Jerusalem), nor was he taught it by men (Galatians 1:11-12, page 1819).
4.3.2 James. In 1 Corinthians 15:7, page 1800, Paul wrote to that the Lord Jesus appeared to James (apparently the brother of the Lord Jesus), and then to the rest of the apostles (“ἀποστόλοις“). Paul also named James, the brother of the Lord Jesus, as an apostle (Galatians 1:19, page 1820; compare Galatians 2:9, page 1821) and he played a leading role in the church at Jerusalem (Acts 12:17, page 1723; Acts 15:13ff., page 1729). With James, the brother of the Lord, one can see that he may not have been with the twelve disciples during their entire time with Christ (John 7:5, pages 1667-1668) and so he may not have been considered to fill the position of Judas Iscariot. But it does show that other men figured prominently in the life of the Jerusalem church, who were also called apostles, but distinguished from the Twelve apostles.
4.3.3 Apollos. Apollos was an eloquent man, an Alexandrian by birth, and mighty in the Scriptures (Acts 18:24, page 1737). Priscilla and Aquila heard Apollos preaching about Jesus, but Priscilla and Aquila explained to Apollos the way of God more accurately, because he was only acquainted with the baptism of John. Apollos played a supporting role to the church-planting apostles by greatly helping those who had believed through grace, for Apollos powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 18:24-28,page 1737). After Paul had planted the church at Corinth by his personal visit and preaching, Apollos came to Corinth and “watered” the city with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, resulting in more believers coming to salvation in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:6, page 1784). In 1 Corinthians 4:6, page 1786, Paul described himself and Apollos as stewards of the mysteries of God, and in 1 Corinthians 4:9, page 1786, apparently called Apollos an apostle (see also 1 Corinthians 3:22-23, page 1785 where we see that Paul and Apollos and Cephas all belong to the Corinthians, who belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God).
4.3.4 Andronicus and Junias. In Romans 16:7, page 1780, Paul described Andronicus and Junias, as his kinsmen and fellow prisoners, and outstanding among the apostles (“ἀποστόλοις”).
The Church Messengers as Apostles
5.1 Church Messengers. The apostle Paul described Titus as his partner and fellow worker, and then said that his brethren, apparently traveling with him, were messengers (“ἀπόστολοι”) of the churches, a glory to Christ. Therefore, we see that the term “apostles” (“ἀπόστολοι”) can refer to men on the missionary team with Paul sent by particular churches.
5.2 Epaphroditus. In Philippians 2:25, page 1837, we learn that Epaphroditus was the brother and fellow worker of Paul, and also his fellow soldier, and the messenger (“ἀπόστολον“) and minister (“λειτουργὸν“) sent from the Philippian church. Consider also 1 Thessalonians 2:6, page 1847 where Paul spoke concerning the authority of “apostles of Christ” (“Χριστοῦ ἀπόστολοι“) who came with Paul to Thessalonica to minister there.
5.3 Silvanus and Timothy. Therefore, because of the plural “apostles” reference, Paul evidently was referring to the ministry team consisting of Silvanus and Timothy in addition to Paul (1 Thessalonians 1:1, page 1846). Therefore, it appears that Paul may have considered Silvanus and Timothy to be apostles of Christ (“Χριστοῦ ἀπόστολοι“). Yet, we do not see any indication that Silvanus or Timothy ever met Jesus face to face, as required of the Twelve apostles. So, sometimes the term “apostle” may be a general reference to a person sent by a particular church on a spiritual mission.
The Office of Apostle and The Spiritual Gift of Apostles
6.1 Judas Iscariot. As we noted above, Judas Iscariot defaulted from his office (“ἐπισκοπὴν”) of apostle. In order to distinguish the office (“ἐπισκοπὴν”) of apostle from The Spiritual Gift of Apostles, we must examine the work of the Holy Spirit.
6.2 The Holy Spirit and the Office of Apostle. Both John the Baptist and Jesus prophesied concerning the new relationship of believers to the Holy Spirit.
6.2.1 The Prophecy of John the Baptist. John the Baptist prophesied that Jesus would come and baptize believers with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Luke 3:16, page 1600). Therefore, we know that John spoke about Jesus bringing about a new ministry of the Holy Spirit (baptism and indwelling), separate from the experience of believers with the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. In the future, each believer would be baptized by Jesus with the Holy Spirit (“ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ”).
6.2.2 The Prophecy of Jesus. Just before Jesus ascended to heaven after the resurrection, He told the apostles that they will “be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5, page 1699). The prophecy of both John the Baptist and Jesus concerning the baptism with the Holy Spirit was fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13, pages 1700-1701).
6.2.3 Pentecost. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit filled the apostles and they spoke with other tongues, as the Holy Spirit was giving them utterance (Acts 2:4, page 1700; Joel 2:28-32, page 1432). Because the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurred after Jesus had ascended into heaven, we know two important points.
126.96.36.199 Believers and Spiritual Gifts. During the lifetime of Jesus in the flesh, none of the twelve apostles had received any spiritual gift from the the Holy Spirit because those gifts were not bestowed upon men until Jesus had ascended (Ephesians 4:8-9, page 1830; Acts 2:38-39, page 1702) and the Holy Spirit had baptized them and indwelt them (John 14:17, page 1685 and Acts 2:4, page 1700).
188.8.131.52 Unbelievers Can Hold a Church Office. The office of apostle existed before Pentecost and the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Yet, Judas Iscariot, an unbeliever, held the office of apostle (no unbeliever can ever receive a spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit). Therefore, we may safely conclude that the office of apostle remains separate and distinct from The Spiritual Gift of Apostles.
184.108.40.206 Judas Iscariot and the Office of Apostle. The original twelve disciples all held the office of apostle (including Judas Iscariot, the son of perdition (John 17:12, page 1689)), before anyone received The Spiritual Gift of Apostles. Only after Pentecost would the Twelve apostles be baptized in the Holy Spirit by Jesus and The Spiritual Gift of Apostles come into existence. The timing seems very important here. Furthermore, Judas Iscariot could hold the office of apostle, but he never had The Spiritual Gift of Apostles because he was never baptized by Jesus in the Holy Spirit and never indwelt by the Holy Spirit. In contrast, only after Pentecost, do we see the arrival of the spiritual gifts, signaled by the filling of the Holy Spirit and the utterance with various tongues at Pentecost.
6.3 The Office of Apostle. Jesus inaugurated the office of apostle during His earthly ministry. Notice that Judas held the office of apostle, even though he was the “son of perdition” (John 17:12, page 1689). Therefore, before the spiritual gifts were given by the Holy Spirit coming down upon men at Pentecost, the office of apostle had already existed. Therefore, the office of apostle may be distinguished from The Spiritual Gift of Apostles, as describe above. Furthermore, this specific office needed to be filled after the demise of Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:15-26, page 1700). The office of apostle numbered only twelve men, no more and no less. Notice that when Judas Iscariot died, they did not merely appoint all the qualified candidates to hold the office of apostle, but chose only one. Eleven apostles were too few and thirteen apostles were too many to hold the office. We may safely conclude from this passage that the office of apostle was held only by twelve men who met the qualifications of described in Acts 1, pages 1699-1700. Jesus commanded the apostles to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit had come upon them with power before they went out to all the world to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8, page 1699). Jesus baptized believers with the Holy Spirit, but did not do so until Pentecost. Notice that Judas Iscariot was never baptized by Jesus with the Holy Spirit. As an apostle Himself, Christ is also the Guardian (“ἐπίσκοπον”) of our souls (1 Peter 2:25, page 1896). Jesus not only functions as prophet, priest and king, but He also holds the office of Apostle (Hebrews 3:1, page 1871–notice the coordination of High Priest (Old Testament office) with Apostle (New Testament office)).
6.4 The Offices of Elder and Apostle. One may argue based upon Acts 20:28, page 1741, and similar passages that the office of elder now corresponds to the office of apostle, but such a claim falls short because the office of “elder” is never described as a spiritual gift in the New Testament, but always an office; in contrast, the term “apostle” refers to both a spiritual gift and an office. We see that the Twelve apostles held a special position after the resurrection of Jesus because we read that Jesus appeared to the Twelve apostles (which number included Cephas–1 Corinthians 15:5, page 1800), then later to James and the rest of the apostles (James was a member of separate group of apostles, not a part of the Twelve apostles–1 Corinthians 15:7, page 1800)). Likewise, many people may be apt to teach (elders in 1 Timothy 3:2, page 1856), but not all elders have The Spiritual Gift of Teaching. So, not every person has The Spiritual Gift of Apostles. Clearly, the term the “Twelve apostles” had special meaning even after the resurrection and before Pentecost, and the Twelve apostles were distinguished from the other apostles like James the brother of Jesus (James was not even a believer at the time Jesus went to Jerusalem in John 7:5, page 1667). Likewise, many people may be apt to teach (elders 1 Timothy 3:2, page 1856), but not all elders have The Spiritual Gift of Teaching. So, not every person has The Spiritual Gift of Apostles.
6.5 The Spiritual Gift of Apostles. Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, He commanded His disciples to wait for what the Father had promised: each of them would be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5, page 1699). Jesus further explained that the baptism of the Holy Spirit will provide power to be witnesses of Jesus both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:7-8, page 1699). We know from our discussion above that the Twelve apostles had not yet received a single spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit, because Jesus had not yet ascended and Jesus had not yet sent the Holy Spirit upon them (John 16:7, page 1687). For those Twelve original apostles, The Spiritual Gift of Apostles came upon them through the ministry of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Those Twelve original apostles had held the office of apostle for years before Pentecost and performed ministries as apostles. With the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the Twelve apostles became empowered with The Spiritual Gift of Apostles to become the witnesses of Jesus to all the world (Acts 1:8, page 1699; compare the command to wait in Jerusalem until His power had come upon them). While many may hold The Spiritual Gift of Apostles, only the Twelve held the office of apostle. Furthermore, we should keep in mind that The Spiritual Gift of Apostles (“ἀποστόλους”) appears at the head of the list of spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:28, page 1797 and in Ephesians 4:11, page 1830. Any male believer may aspire to the office (“ἐπισκοπῆς“) of elder, but no one may aspire to the office of apostle (1 Timothy 3:1, page 1856). Male believers may be appointed to fill the offices of elder (“πρεσβυτέρους”) and deacon (“Διακόνους”) in every city, but only the Twelve may fill the office of apostle, limited to just twelve men meeting specific criteria described in Acts 1:21-22, page 1700). Likewise, many people may be apt to teach (e.g., elders–Timothy 3:2, page 1856), but not all elders have The Spiritual Gift of Teaching. Notice that the number of apostles holding the office of apostle was twelve, not more or less (Acts 1:15-26, page 1700). Because the number twelve was significant, and required the replacement of Judas Iscariot, we know that the seventy apostles (Luke 10:1-16, pages 1618-1619) did not hold the office of apostle because that number for the office of apostle was twelve and no more and no less. Furthermore, the seventy apostles had a limited mission of going to the specific cities and villages to be visited by Jesus (Luke 10:1, page 1618). They also preached the hopeful message of “The Kingdom of God has come near to you” (Luke 10:9, page 1618). Now we may explore more deeply the office of apostle in the New Testament and The Spiritual Gift of Apostles in the New Testament.
The False Apostles
7.1 Warning: False Apostles. New Testament writers not only described the activity of prophets from God and apostles of God, they also warned against false prophets and false apostles. In fact, the very existence of false apostles suggests that The Spiritual Gift of Apostles was bestowed upon many people, and not just a few believers. So, if only twelve believers had The Spiritual Gift of Apostles, then there would be no room for imposters because everyone knew the twelve apostles. Therefore, the warning about false apostles clearly implies that The Spiritual Gift of Apostles was bestowed on more than twelve believers. Otherwise, the false apostles would have been easily discerned because the relatively few people with the authentic Spiritual Gift of Apostles would have been well known. But I do not claim certainty here, but merely make the suggestion and observation.
7.2 Disguises of the False Apostles. In 2 Corinthians 11:13, page 1815, Paul warned the Corinthians about the false apostles (“ψευδαπόστολοι”), deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ (“ἀποστόλους Χριστοῦ“). Those false prophets preached another Jesus (“ἄλλον Ἰησοῦν“), whom Paul did not preach, and a different spirit (“πνεῦμα ἕτερον”) which they had not received, and a different gospel (“εὐαγγέλιον ἕτερον“) which they had not accepted, although satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:1-15, pages 1815-1816).
7.3 Testing “Apostles.” In Revelation 2:2, page 1915, Jesus commended the Ephesian church for not tolerating evil, and they “put to the test” (“ἐπείρασας”) those who call themselves apostles (“ἀποστόλους“), but are not and found them to be false (“ψευδεῖς”). Please notice that each church apparently had the spiritual ability to test apostles and see if they were truly from God. Because these false prophets spread evil in the churches, it certainly shows that many people calling themselves apostles moved into churches. Obviously, if they were one of the Twelve apostles, it would have been easy to identify them. Furthermore, by the time of the writing of the Book of Revelation, in the late 80’s to early 90’s A.D., some apostles must still have been known to the church. The Spiritual Gift of Apostles may have continued, but John appears to be the last living one of the Twelve apostles.
7.4 The Dangers of the False Apostles. The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings salvation to everyone who receives the free gift of salvation by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9, page 1828). False apostles often target the Gospel and proclaim a false Gospel (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-6, page 1800 for a description of the Gospel). Paul warned the Galatians that if an angel from heaven or anyone else appeared preaching a different Gospel than the Gospel Paul preached, that preacher must be accursed! (Galatians 1:6-9, page 1819). Believers must follow the example of the Berean church and examine the Scriptures with great eagerness to see if the Gospel preached matches in all aspects the Gospel presented in the New Testament (Acts 17:10-11, page 1734; likewise, believers should test the spirits: 1 John 4:1-3, page 1907).
The End of the Spiritual Gift of Apostles?
8.1 The Spiritual Gift of Apostles Today? Do we have The Spiritual Gift of Apostles still active today? The answer to that question is both yes and no. So, let me first present the case that The Spiritual Gift of Apostles is not active today. Then, I will discuss the other side: yes, The Spiritual Gift of Apostles is active today.
8.2 No, The Spiritual Gift of Apostle is not Active Today. The key to answering the question of whether The Spiritual Gift of Apostles is still active today depends upon what you mean by the term “apostle.” We know that the office of apostle ceased with the death of the last of the Twelve apostles, as described below. The spiritual gift of apostles may still continue.
8.2.1 The Foundation of the Apostles. Consider the popular argument from Ephesians 2:20, page 1829 that The Spiritual Gift of Apostles no longer exists. In essence, the argument runs that Jesus, the apostles (“ἀποστόλων”), and prophets are called the foundation of the church, with Jesus Himself described as the corner stone, upon which the entire building is being fitted together, and is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, and a dwelling of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:21-22, page 1829). In passing, we know that the New Jerusalem has twelve foundation stones, each bearing the name of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (“τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων τοῦ ἀρνίου“) (Revelation 21:14, page 1940). Therefore, because the foundation has been laid, the work of the apostles, at least the Twelve, has been completed, just as the foundational work of Jesus Christ was finished as He ascended to heaven. In my mind, this arguments overlooks that the office of apostle has ended with the death of the Twelve, but The Spiritual Gift of Apostles may have still continued. Let us first explore the concept that the office of apostle ended with the Twelve apostles.
8.2.2 The Office of Apostle Ended with the Twelve. As we observed above, the office of apostle consisted of only the original twelve apostles, less Judas Iscariot, with Matthias taking his position, so that the number of men holding the office of apostle remained fixed at twelve, not eleven or thirteen (Acts 1:21-26, page 1700). Furthermore, the qualifications of the office of apostle required the candidate to fill the position of apostle vacated by Judas Iscariot to be with the other apostles all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and among them. Furthermore, the candidate must have been with Jesus from the His baptism by John the Baptist to the day of the ascension of Jesus (Acts 1:21-22, page 1700). Therefore, no person alive today meets those qualifications to hold the office of apostle. Notice too that the particular ministry of the Twelve holding the office of apostle focused upon being witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 1:22, page 1700).
8.2.3 The Teaching of the Apostles. The teaching of the apostles forms another basis for recognizing that the work of the office of apostle ended with the death of the last of the Twelve, who held the office of apostle. The office of apostle closed with the writing of the New Testament and ended with death of the last of the Twelve. Yet, through the purpose of God, the mysteries, commandments of Jesus, and the teachings of God continue to bring salvation and blessings to the church by remembering and observing the revelations of God in the New Testament.
220.127.116.11 The Mysteries. The ministry of the apostles included the revealing of the mysteries of God (Ephesians 3:5, page 1829). As we have seen, the term “mystery” refers to something in other generations which was not made known to the sons of men as it has now been revealed to His apostles and prophets in the Spirit (Ephesians 3:5, page 1829). The apostles revealed the mysteries to the church and to rulers and authorities in the heavenly places, according to the wisdom and eternal purpose of God which He carried out through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:10-11, pages 1838-1839). Therefore, the apostles received special revelation from God which formed the basis of the New Testament. Similarly, the prophets also received revelations from God, which are recorded in the New Testament. Because all the mysteries had been revealed through the prophets and apostles, and those mysteries were all revealed in the New Testament, the revelatory work of the apostles closed with the last New Testament writer completing his work. Therefore, we see that the revelatory work of the apostles closed with the New Testament.
18.104.22.168 The Commandments of the Lord and Savior. The ministry of the apostles also included proclaiming the commandments spoken by Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:2, page 1902). All believers should remember the words of the prophets and the teachings of the apostles (2 Peter 3:1-2, page 1902). Peter referred to a body of teaching (the commandments of Jesus) already established by Christ and now proclaimed by the apostles. In further support of the miraculous teaching ministry of the Twelve apostles, Jesus had promised the Twelve apostles that the Holy Spirit would supernaturally bring to their remembrance all that Jesus had said to them (John 14:26, page 1685). Therefore, any claim that people today function as an apostle must not include a claim that they have received revelation from God, because the New Testament contained all the commandments of Jesus we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3, page 1900).
22.214.171.124 The Salvation of God. The Lord Jesus spoke about salvation by faith in Him alone (Hebrews 2:3, page 1870). The writer of Hebrews reveals a familiar pattern of: (1) Jesus speaking during His physical ministry on earth; and (2) then the apostles confirmed to other believers what they had personally heard from Jesus and witnessed with their own eyes; and (3) God attested to the veracity of the witnesses with signs and wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will. (Hebrews 2:3, page 1870; compare 1 John 1:1-4, page 1904; 2 Peter 1:16-21, page 1901).
8.2.4 The Spiritual Gift of Apostle. While I personally have high confidence that the office of apostle terminated with the death of the Twelve apostles, The Spiritual Gift of Apostles may not have terminated. Let us consider Paul the apostle for a moment. Paul did not hold the office of apostle, because he could not meet the qualifications for the office described in Acts 1:21-22, page 1700. Yet Paul described himself as a “called apostle” (“κλητὸς ἀπόστολος“), set apart for the gospel of God (Romans 1:1, page 1758; 1 Corinthians 1:1, page 1782). Paul also received direct revelation from God concerning the Gospel (Galatians 1:12, page 1819). At any time, the apostles might have asserted their authority (δυνάμενοι ἐν βάρει) (1 Thessalonians 2:6, page 1847). Because we described various ministries associated with the spiritual gift of apostle, let us review them briefly below to evaluate whether they continue today.
8.2.5 Office of Apostle Terminated. So, in summary, the office of apostle is not active today and The Spiritual Gift of Apostles today does not include any revelatory powers. Concerning the revelatory powers of some of the apostles, the New Testament has been written and no need exists for further authoritative, inerrant revelations from God. In the Old and New Testaments, believers today have all the revelation we need for life and Godliness (2 Peter 1:3, page 1900), so that the man of God has been fully equipped by the Scriptures to live for Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:16-17, page 1864).
8.3 Yes, the Spiritual Gift of Apostle Is Active Today. Because the New Testament shows that The Spiritual Gift of Apostles manifested itself in different ways with different ministries and different effects, we see that some manifestations of The Spiritual Gift of Apostles have passed away. Please recall that the separate Spiritual Gift of Works of Powers may have accompanied The Spiritual Gift of Apostles, so that the apostle may have been able to do works of powers, to confirm his apostleship. Yet, not all apostles necessarily had the ability to work signs and miracles. Likewise, The Spiritual Gift of the Word of Wisdom has passed away, because the revelation of the mysteries of God has also ended with the completion of the New Testament. Please recall that one spiritual gift may result in different ministries with different effects (1 Corinthians 12:1-7, page 1796).
8.4 The Ministry of the Church Planting Apostles. The ministry of the church planting apostles focused upon spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to new areas. We see several examples of this ministry of The Spiritual Gift of Apostle in the New Testament.
8.4.1 Barnabas, Andronicus, Junias, Sylvanus. The church planting apostles included Barnabas (Acts 13:2, page 1724; 1 Thessalonians 1:1, page 1846), the friend of Saul of Tarsus and missionary companion of Paul. The church planting apostles also included Andronicus and Junias (outstanding among the apostles (“ἀποστόλοις“), and in Christ before Paul (Romans 16:7, page 1780). Likewise, Sylvanus may be included among the church planting apostles and possibly Timothy (1 Thessalonians 1:1, page 1846; compare 1 Thessalonians 2:6, page 1847). Therefore, The Spiritual Gift of Apostles in the sense of someone specifically gifted to go and start churches seems to be a viable gift today. Please recognize that these church planting apostles did not all receive revelations, and all were not apparently eyewitnesses of the Lord Jesus. Only Paul was specifically mentioned as receiving such revelations from God, and also the only one specifically mentioned as seeing the resurrected Jesus. One may question whether all the church planting apostles had seen the Lord Jesus after His resurrection, especially in light of Paul’s comment that he had seen the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 9:1, page 1791). We may study that passage for further insight into The Spiritual Gift of Apostles.
8.4.2 1 Corinthians 9:5-6, Pages 1791-1792. Paul distinguished among several groups when he discussed the rights of an apostle to take along a wife. Paul separated: (a) the rest of the apostles; and (b) the brothers of the Lord; and (c) Cephas (1 Corinthians 9:5, pages 1791-1792). We learn several interesting points here about various people, so let us delve deeper here.
126.96.36.199 The Rest of the Apostles. Paul claimed authority equal to rest of the apostles (“οἱ λοιποὶ ἀπόστολοὶ“) (1 Corinthians 9:5, page 1792). Therefore, we may conclude that Paul recognized he was a part of a larger group of apostles. All of the these people took along (“περιάγειν”) a wife with them when they performed the work of an apostle.
188.8.131.52 The Brothers of the Lord. We know that the Lord Jesus had physical brothers born of Mary: James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon (Matthew 13:55-56, page 1525). Certainly James, the brother of the Lord, was an apostle (Galatians 1:19, page 1820). Therefore, Paul recognized a separate group he labelled the brothers of the Lord (“οἱ ἀδελφοὶ τοῦ κυρίου“), apparently the physical siblings of the Lord Jesus (the Book of Jude was apparently written by a physical brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3, page 1567; 1 Corinthians 9:5, pages 1791-1792; Jude 1:1, page 1912)). Perhaps they were all apostles, but definitely not part of the Twelve, because they were unbelievers in John 7:5, pages 1667-1668. So, in this context of taking along a wife with doing the ministry of an apostle, the brothers of the Lord rank along with Paul. I add a word of caution here that I am not certain one could prove all the points above, but they seem to make the most sense of the context. Furthermore, Paul separated out Cephas from the Twelve, and it may be that the Twelve did not routinely journey as an apostle to plant churches (the apostles stayed in Jerusalem, even as the persecution following the death of Stephen arose–Acts 8:1, page 1713; compare Acts 9:32, where Peter traveled throughout the regions of Judea, Galilee and Samaria, building up the churches there and bringing comfort in the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:21-31, page 1717; see also Galatians 2:11-21, page 1821, where Peter came to Antioch to preach and visit). We also note that the Jerusalem apostles sent (“ἀπέστειλαν”) the apostles John (the son of Zebedee) and Peter (both of the Twelve apostles) to Samaria, where they laid hands upon the new believers and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17, page 1714). Notice in passing that all the apostles acted in concert to send Peter and John. Yet, strong evidence exists in Acts 1:8, page 1699, that every one of the Twelve apostles were sent into all the world, even to its remotest parts (compare also Matthew 28:18-20, page 1557; Luke 24:46-48, pages 1652-1653 “all the nations;”)
184.108.40.206 Cephas. Paul put Peter in a separate category here. Notice he did not put Peter first in the list, but last. Peter apparently was not the preeminent apostle, but rather the apostle to the Jews, as Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles.
220.127.116.11 Barnabas. Paul cited Barnabas as an apostle who also had the right to take along a wife (1 Corinthians 9:6, page 1792). As noted above, Barnabas first appears in Acts 4:36, page 1706, who was named Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth. Barnabas took Paul and introduced him to the apostles in Jerusalem after Paul’s conversion (Acts 9:27, page 1717). Notice that Barnabas was not one of the Jerusalem apostles at that time, and neither was Paul. Later, the Jerusalem apostles sent (“ἐξαπέστειλαν”) Barnabas to Antioch to encourage the Greeks who had believed there (Acts 11:21-22, page 1722). After both Paul and Barnabas had ministered for about a year in Antioch, the people of Antioch sent a financial gift by the hands of Barnabas and Saul to the elders at Jerusalem (Acts 11:27-30, page 1722). After Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch from Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit called (“προσκέκλημαι“) and the elders sent (” ἀπέλυσαν“) them and the Holy Spirit sent them out (“ἐκπεμφθέντες”) to the work of spreading the Gospel and planting churches (Acts 13:1-4, page 1724). Therefore, we know that some work of the church planting apostles like Barnabas existed separately from the work of the Twelve apostles. No record exists that Barnabas saw the Lord Jesus after His resurrection, although someone may imply the same from Paul saying that Paul had seen the Lord Jesus, and then mentioned Barnabas in the same paragraph as an apostle, as described above in 1 Corinthians 9:1-7, page 1791-1792. So, Barnabas stands as a good example of a church planting apostle, apparently called and gifted by the Holy Spirit to the work of planting new churches as an apostle. Therefore, taking all the verses together, the Holy Spirit may still bestow the spiritual gift of church planting apostle upon some men today, but it would not be the apostolic gift conferred upon Paul or the Twelve apostles.
8.4.3 Summary of Church Planting Apostles. So, we may conclude that The Spiritual Gift of Apostles, manifested with the church planting ministry, may still be in effect today. These men have The Spiritual Gift of Apostles that moves them to go into all the world to make disciples in new places, bringing the good news of Jesus Christ with them. This spiritual gift will be closely related to The Spiritual Gift of Evangelism.
8.5.1 The Ministry of the Church Messenger Apostles. As we saw above, Epaphroditus was the spiritual brother and fellow worker of Paul, and also his fellow soldier, and the messenger (“ἀπόστολον“) and minister (“λειτουργὸν“) sent from the Philippian church (Philippians 2:25, page 1837). Likewise, consider Silvanus and Timothy whom Paul called part of the ministry team of apostles laboring at Thessalonica (see 1 Thessalonians 2:6, page 1847 where Paul spoke concerning the authority of “apostles of Christ” (“Χριστοῦ ἀπόστολοι“); compare 1 Thessalonians 1:1, page 1846). In some cases, the church messengers brought gifts of money (e.g., Acts 12:30, page 1722) or went to investigate a matter (e.g., Barnabas sent to Antioch, Acts 11:22, page 1722).
8.5.2 Summary of the Church Messenger Apostles. So, we also conclude that The Spiritual Gift of Apostles, manifested as a church messenger ministry, may still be active today. These men have The Spiritual Gift of Apostles that moves them to travel on behalf of a local church to carry messages and encouragement to the missionaries in foreign places and return to the local church with greetings, encouragement, and more from the missionaries.
HALLMARKS OF THE SPIRITUAL GIFT OF APOSTLES
Apostles: Understanding the Spiritual Gift. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of Apostles ministers to a wide variety of people. As above, the ministry of the believer with The Spiritual Gift of Apostles may take many forms, and produce a variety of effects. I have listed a few of those hallmarks below.
Please review this entire chapter to understand The Spiritual Gifts of Apostles to see if you have that spiritual gift.
Check out the list to see if you have some of the spiritual qualities listed below and then see if other believers confirm your understanding. You may have The Spiritual Gift of Apostles.
♦ Apostle-gifted believers do not hold the office of apostle today.
♦ Apostle-gifted believers may have a ministry of being sent by the Holy Spirit and a local assembly to start a new local assembly.
♦ Apostle-gifted believers may have a ministry of being sent as a church messenger from one local assembly to another.
♦ Apostle-gifted believers may bring strength and encouragement to foreign assemblies.
♦ Apostle-gifted believers may have a ministry of traveling to foreign assemblies to investigate a matter.
♦ Apostle-gifted believers may transport gifts from one place to another.
The Office of Apostle Ended and the Spiritual Gift of Apostles Continues in Part. The office of apostle no longer exists, but The Spiritual Gift of Apostles may now continue in some ministries. The office of apostle terminated with the death of the last of the Twelve apostles. The spiritual gift of apostle no longer includes the work of revealing God’s Word contained in the New Testament. Therefore, an apostle like Paul or Peter no longer walks among us. But, the church planting apostles, like Barnabas, may still be laboring to establish new churches. Likewise, the church messenger apostles, like Epaphroditus, may still be moving among believers to bring an encouraging and strengthening word to another church or church planters.