What is An Apostle?
As we continue to look at who the Holy Spirit is and His role in our lives in the church
We turn our attention today to the gift of the Apostles
Today if you mention the word apostle it can mean different things to different people in the body of Christ
Some believe that the office of the apostles ended with the original apostles
Some believe the office of apostle has carried on throughout the church age and those who would call themselves apostles today carry the same authority that Peter, Paul, and others had
But whenever we examine anything it is important we examine God’s word
It is important that our lives are based on sound doctrine
As Paul tells us that we rightly divide the word
We must also remember that Paul warned about false apostles
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
Today there are those who would give themselves the title apostle
They do so because it carries weight and authority
They take advantage of God’s people
But as followers of Jesus we must base all that we believe on what the word of God says
Sound doctrine is key for right living and victory
In Ephesians chapter 4 we find where the gift of the apostles are mentioned
Paul begins in Ephesians 4:7-10
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
8 Therefore it says,
“When He ascended on high,
He led captive a host of captives,
And He gave gifts to men.”
9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)
Every gift we have in Christ is by His grace
Grace means God’s favor and good will freely bestowed
It is given because of faith in Jesus Christ
For these gifts to be given to the body of Christ Jesus had to die upon the cross
Jesus descended upon His death and crucifixion
He was buried in the tomb and laid in the ground for three days
But on the third day he arose
Before the coming of the precious Holy Spirit Jesus ascended back to the Father
Jesus ascension has made it possible for the Holy Spirit to come and this is where the gifts of God come from
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,
The word apostles means one who is sent, messenger, delegate, ambassador
The apostles were essential in the beginning and foundation of the church
20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
The apostles and prophets spoken of by Paul here were essential in the building a sure and unshakable foundation when the church started
The New Testament was not completed yet and it was in the process of being written
The first century believers had the canon of scripture that we know as the Old Testament
As the church was growing and moving forward the apostles were writing what we know as the New Testament today
This is why their ministry was key in the beginning
When they ministered the words they spoke were led and guided by The Holy Spirit
But one of the greatest differences we have today is the full canon of scripture from Genesis to Revelation
We know there are different apostles listed in the bible
Three credentials needed that would qualify someone as an apostle
This is important because anyone can claim to be an apostle or even given themselves that title
But that doesn’t mean they are an apostle
Why would someone appoint themselves as an apostle?
I believe the answer has to do with a desire for authority and power
Sadly, we live in a time when few truly search the scriptures and test things against the truth of God’s word
But in God’s word there were three things a person truly needed to be called to be an apostle
1. They had to have seen the risen Christ
1 Corinthians 15:3-9
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;
7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;
8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
We see here that Paul speaks of the resurrected Lord appearing to apostles
He appeared to the disciples after his death
He appeared to His half brother James
Paul even says he appeared to the apostles
Even to Paul himself who he refers to as one who was untimely born
They phrase one who was untimely born was key because Paul’s encounter with the risen Christ was after Jesus had ascended to the right hand of the Father
But Just because someone had seen the risen Christ doesn’t mean they were called to be an apostle
2. They had to be commissioned and called by Jesus Himself
Luke 6:13 And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles:
It was Jesus who called the twelve
It was Jesus who chose them
He spent all night in prayer and by the leading of the Holy Spirit choose the twelve as his disciples who He would name apostles because He sent them forth
But beyond the original twelve there were others who were called as apostles
Acts 1:26: 26 And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
When Judas hung himself His place was vacated
When Peter sought the Lord as to replace Judas this is what Peter said in Acts 1:21-22 21 “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
Matthias was chosen by lots by the leading and guidance of The Holy Spirit
Acts 14:14 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out
Barnabas is known as an apostle
Galatians 1:19 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.
Romans 1:1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God
Paul is one of the most known of the Apostles
On the road to Damascus He encounted the risen Christ
Acts 9:3-6 As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him;
4 and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,
6 but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”
Acts 9:10-16 10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
11 And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying,
12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.”
13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem;
14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”
15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;
16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake
Paul was God’s chosen instrument
Just as God chose Jeremiah before he was born
Jeremiah 1:5 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Every person God chooses is done so by His wisdom and His authority
Those who were apostles were not self-appointed
They were chosen by Almighty God
Galatians 1:15-16 15 But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased
16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood,
Those who were called to be apostles were set apart by Almighty God
3. The third sign or credential of an apostle is signs, wonders, and miracles marked their ministry
2 Corinthians 12:12 12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.
If a person was an apostle their ministry was marked by signs, wonders, and miracles
Signs, wonders, and miracles point to the supernatural being manifested in the life of the person
Jesus told the original disciples that you will not only do the same things I have done, but you will do greater things
We know from studying the book of Acts that both Peter and Paul’s ministry were marked by supernatural signs and wonders
Acts 5:15 to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them.
Acts 3:6-8 But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!”
7 And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened.
8 With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
Acts 9:32-35 32 Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda.
33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years, for he was paralyzed.
34 Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed.” Immediately he got up.
35 And all who lived at Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.
Acts 13:9-12 But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him,
10 and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?
11 “Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.” And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand.
12 Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.
Acts 14:8-11 8 At Lystra a man was sitting who had no strength in his feet, lame from his mother’s womb, who had never walked.
9 This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his gaze on him and had seen that he had faith to be made well,
10 said with a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he leaped up and began to walk.
11 When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us.”
Acts 16:16-18 16 It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling.
17 Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.”
18 She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment.
In all of these accounts these are supernatural miracles
This is not the work of human power or wisdom
These apostles who had seen the risen Christ, were
commissioned and called by Jesus Himself, and were
given authority to person signs, wonders, and miracles
were a gift from Almighty God to the church
Their ministry demonstrated their authority
But today some wonder are there still apostles?
Personally I believe at the close of the canon of scripture
the office of apostle is not essential
Today we have the full canon of scripture
The Lord works through the local church to accomplish
His purposes and His plans
Through the working of the Holy Spirit God raises up
pastors, evangelist, and teachers to do the work of the
I believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still available to us
today because they are essential for the work of the
I believe The Lord is still sending people out to plant
churches and expand the kingdom
But I believe the office of the apostle was essential for
building the foundation of the church