My husband and I were driving and passed by a church where the sign said the church was led by “Apostle So-and-so.” It made us wonder, are there still apostles today?
The term apostle in the New Testament meant ‘one who was sent.’ But when we look at the precise nature of the so-called 12 apostles, we have at least three qualifications for the technical term. One, they had to be with Christ, which is supported in Acts 21. Secondly, Christ chose them. Lastly, they did the work of Christ. This is why the Apostle Paul came along later and referred to himself as the least of these.
Christ called Paul, and he worked the works of Christ, but was he indeed with Christ? He calls himself ‘the least of these’ because he was not with Jesus like the twelve were. Today, apostolic ministries typically fall under the charismatic nomenclature. Some say they are like the apostles of the New Testament. However, there are a couple of times in the NT that ‘apostle’ is not used to represent an office holder. 1 Corinthians 12:28 outlines that the church contained appointed apostles. Therefore, those who follow the idea of ‘apostles today’ will use this passage broadly to support their point.
Just as there are THE disciples (the twelve), there were disciples beyond that. This is where context becomes extremely important. Some churches ascribe a fourth point to apostles: they saw the risen Christ. When we look at scripture, being an apostle was an office, not a gift. You can have other giftings as an apostle. However, the Bible reserves it for the 12 plus Paul. When people are called apostles today, what it means is that they are missionaries. If we have to define all the nuances of what apostle means today, out of line with the Biblical parameters, there is a problem. However, we can call ourselves disciples. We are learners who adhere ourselves to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
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