I’ve had a few queries and comments about modern apostles. For some people, there’s just the twelve apostles, so all the alarm bells go off when someone is introduced as an apostle. That seems presumptuous, maybe even heretical.
I appreciate this reaction. It’s good and healthy to be disturbed by teaching that is different from what we have received. We must let such challenge us and judge it – like fishermen sorting through fish caught in a net, throwing out the bad and keeping the good. However, it is not healthy to immediately reject an idea, without first considering it. 2,000 years ago, the pharisees were so ingrained in their interpretation of scripture, that they killed the Messiah instead of receiving his amazing gift.
When we talk about the twelve apostles, we think of the twelve disciples who did life with Jesus. But then Judas hung himself and was replaced with Mattias, then the Holy Spirit came and infilled 120 people and thousands more that day. The most influential apostle in the Bible was Paul, who wrote half the new Testament. But he never met Jesus. Then there was Apollos of Acts 18, who went out teaching before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and knew only of John’s baptism. He is named alongside Paul and Peter as one followed by early Christians. There’s a few other debatable cases in the New Testament.
Some claim that God gave the apostles, only for a short time, to establish the church – there are certainly no apostles today. This sounds very like the claim that supernatural signs and wonders ceased – they were only for a special time to establish the church. I consider this an excuse made by political powers who commandeered the church without the infilling of the Holy Spirit. My hero, Ken Johnson, investigated this claim by reading through the writings of the ancient church fathers, to determine where they stopped talking about miraculous healings and demons being driven out. He gave up looking after about 350AD – well beyond the time alleged, as he continued to find witnesses of the supernatural.
I bought The Complete Works of the Church Fathers for a few bucks on Kindle, which contains about 10 bible’s worth of sermons etc. I scanned this for “apostle”, expecting to find people later being called apostle. I found only one case, of a person who led a sect. However, lack of evidence is not evidence in itself.
This presents a dilemma for me. There is reasonable support for the definition that an apostle is one who met Jesus. So, what’s up with all these people I stumble over today who are called apostles? Are they all charlatans? But they’re wonderful godly people. After encountering them, my spirit is warmed, and I’m invigorated to closer relationship with God. They’re manifesting the supernatural and God is glorified through this. There’s also prophets and evangelists that I encounter in similar manner.
The Bible warns us of false prophets and apostles. But how can there be false apostles and prophets when there are no real ones?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostle presents various meanings of Apostle, with the original Greek word meaning “sent one”. Pentecostal churches tend to equate apostle with missionary. The catholic church believes the Pope has inherited apostleship from a long line of Apostolic Succession beginning with St Peter. Other leaders of the Vatican are also considered to have succeeded such apostolic lines – like Elisha inherited his master, Elijah’s prophetic mantle.
Actually, I’m content to concede that we’re recycling an ancient term for something similar, but not the same. This does not negate the value in teaching the five-fold ministry, with teacher, pastor, evangelist and prophet specialists and an over-arching apostle.
Paul is proof that an apostle need not have met Jesus naturally. It is therefore arguable that this continues to happen today. In fact, this is the testimony I hear from apostles – that their position is birthed from such a deep, continually intimate experience with Jesus. Now, that’s what’s important – regardless of title, that we seek intimacy with God, spending hours in his presence through prayer, fasting and studying scripture – living a life preoccupied with Christ and his will in denial of our own desires and comfort.
Mark 16:17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In my name, they will cast out demons, they will speak in new languages, 18they will pick up snakes, and if they drink anything deadly, it won’t hurt them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.
If we’re a believer, but not manifesting the supernatural, then we should question why our experience does not match the Bible.
If you’d like to learn more about apostles and teaching about the five-fold ministry, I highly recommend Apostle Collette Toach who has been training and mentoring supernatural ministers for over 20 years. I always finish watching here YouTube teachings desiring a deeper intimacy with God.