Apostle

<<commissioned one, person sent>>

This is generally, but not exclusively, the term given to the men who had been Jesus’ disciples. Jesus was the ‘one sent’ from God (Heb 3:1). He trained the 12 disciples who were subsequently commissioned to preach the Kingdom of God. Later these men became leaders and teachers of the early church. The original disciples who became apostles were: Simon (Peter), his brother Andrew, brothers James and John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew (Levi), Thomas, James, Judas (Thaddaeus), Simon and Judas Iscariot who, after his betrayal of the Lord and his suicide, was replaced by Matthias (Mt 10:2-4; Mk 3:16-19; Lk 6:14-16; Act 1:13,26). Paul and Barnabas as well as others were also termed apostles (Act 14:14; Rom 16:7; Gal 1:19; Col 1:1). Paul became an apostle to the Gentiles, while Peter was primarily an apostle to the Jews (Act 9:15, 13:46,47, 18:6; Gal 2:7,8). They started new churches, formed policy, gave doctrinal teaching to the church, administered its affairs and suffered for Christ (Act 2:42, 4:35, 5:40, 6:4, 15:6). Paul stated the church was "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself the chief cornerstone" (Eph 2:20).

Paul wrote “God has appointed apostles (along with prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers), to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” (1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11,12). The church needs equipping in each generation, so today a church leader of distinction who exhibits apostolic qualities and leads by

Pray for more apostolic leaders                                   for our churches

example is sometimes called an apostle. Such people have a fuller awareness of the presence of God than most – as well as demonstrating His power through their ministry. Their influence usually extends beyond the confines of the local church, having ability to influence and draw other people into the work of God. Like Paul, apostles pioneer new congregations then when these churches are firmly established move on to new areas while maintaining some measure of connection as a spiritual father. We could call such people Christian statesmen as they are truly ‘Godly people’, holding to the words, “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” as they consider the presence and worship of God, together with the agenda of heaven, their top priorities (Mt 6:10).

To the detriment of the church body, there are few people functioning in the apostolic and prophetic roles today and so the pastor is often the most visible leader. Where there is no apostolic or prophetic leadership, the church members consequently receive teaching and knowledge but little if any modelling and experiential training. Compare this to the ministry of Jesus who not only taught but demonstrated His message with miracles (Act 1:1, 10:38). This is not belittling pastors and teachers, however they are not adequately supported in their roles, as God requires and many times results in burnout.

See also: Apostle’s creed, apostolic age, apostolic succession, burnout, disciples of Jesus, new apostolic reformation.

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