Apostles Today Part 3

More on Apostles Today….

 

 

There are some people who believe that the word apostle as it is used in Ephesians 4.11-13 finds its modern fulfillment in the sending of missionaries. They reason that missionaries are the “sent ones” of churches today. Again, they grab the general meaning of the word apostle and try to fit it to the post-Reformation reality of the church. I am a missionary, but I am not an apostle in the Ephesians 4 sense of the word. Where Ephesians 4 is concerned, I am a teacher, but I am also a cross-cultural missionary. Most of the missionaries that I know are evangelists, pastors and teachers, but very few are apostles as we read about them in Ephesians 4 (and I have yet to meet any who are prophets). So, I do not agree with those who see missionaries today as all being equivalent to the apostles that God has given to the church in order to have a complete and healthy church.

We find the word apostle used in many texts in the New Testament, but the word is not always used to indicate the same thing. Let’s look at a few examples.

The word apostle is applied to Jesus in Hebrews 3.1. Jesus was certainly one sent. However, Jesus was not an apostle in the Ephesians 4.11-13 sense of the word apostle.

Jesus chose twelve men to be His disciples. The word “apostle” is sometimes used in reference to these twelve men. The ministry of the twelve and their unique relationship with Jesus leads me to believe that the apostles referred to in Ephesians 4 are not apostles in the same sense as the twelve apostles (and Matthias and Paul). The key to understanding this will be to understand that the New Testament refers to more than 14 men as apostles.

In fact, there are 22 people in addition to Jesus who are referred to as apostles in the New Testament.

For I [Paul] delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also (1 Corinthians 15.3-8).

In I Corinthians 15:3-8 Paul refers to Jesus appearing to Peter and then to the Twelve after His resurrection and before His ascension. In the same context, Paul states that Jesus appeared to James and then to all the apostles. Paul stated that Jesus had already appeared to the Twelve and Paul goes on to refer to all the apostles. That he referred to both seems to indicate two different groups. I believe the two different groups are the Twelve (a group of apostles that would include Matthias and Paul) and then the Ephesians 4 type of apostles. I believe the first type is no longer with us, but that the later type of apostles remain and minister among us today.

See more at: http://rockymeadow.wordpress.com/2010/02/23/apostles-today-part-3/

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