Types of Apostles
“Paul, an apostle - sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead...” (Galatians 1:1)
Welcome back! Today we are going to continue with our current theme surrounding the Apostolic Ministry and specifically in this article we are mainly going to focus on what differentiates between two separate groups of apostles. In successive articles that will follow on directly after this, we will discuss the many different aspects of this subject. However to begin here right at the start, the word “apostle” literally means: “to-send-forth,” in other words, someone who has received a commission and will go-forth to fulfil it while representing the very same authority that sent them. We see this in the following scriptures; “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but He sent me...’” (John 8:42) “Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute’” (Luke 11:49). “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you’” (John 20: 21).
Therefore an “apostle” is not someone who is sent by men or appointed by men, but by God. Again we go straight to scripture in order to see this; “Paul, an apostle - sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead... (Gal 1:1) “Paul called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God...” (1Cor 1:1) “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me...” (Matt 10:40 - see also Acts 14:14; 15:23; Rom 16:7; 2 Cor 8:23; 1 Thess 1:1).
However before I go any further, let me add to this by taking an excerpt from one of Ulf Ekman’s books called “The Apostolic Ministry” (p20-21).
“Apostles and Prophets lay the foundation for the Church: This century has seen increasing revelation on the ministry gifts. We have begun to understand what a pastor is, how an evangelist functions and what a teacher does. However, there are two special gifts that we need to understand so that God can develop strong local churches in the Last Days. There is a fierce struggle concerning these gifts going on right now across the earth. The devil hates strong churches. He tries to crush them, tear then down and render them passive and ineffective. If he can remove the gifts that develop strong local churches, then he’ll be satisfied. Apostles and prophets are the gifts that do this more than any other.
The apostle and the prophet are like spearheads, and the church is built on the foundation they lay (Eph 2:20). If they are not allowed to lay a proper foundation, then the church will lose direction, strength, anointing and spiritual insight. You can have good meetings, interesting conferences and fantastic campaigns without these gifts. But when the preachers leave and the crowds disappear, where is the strength that’s needed for the local church? If you look closely, you’ll see that the church is small, exhausted, confused and unsure of its direction.
The apostle and the prophet, especially the apostle, channel strength to the churches that helps them grow on a daily basis. Churches are not built on conferences, campaigns and seminars. They are built by the steady labour of ordinary people, who are constantly developing and maturing. Maturity, in a biblical sense, refers to increased vigour and stability, which makes us stronger. The apostle’s ministry is vital and the Bible gives us many examples of this”.
Therefore it is important that we have a balanced concept of what an apostle is and what an apostle is really sent to do. Otherwise (and just as I have witnessed around the world), this authentic and much needed role of the apostle is “misunderstood” and is desperately lacking in the church. Often it is misconstrued as something intolerable, domineering and threatening. It couldn’t be further away from the truth and totally robs the church of a vital element that will help it grow strong and STAY strong! In stead of complaining about weaknesses in the Church – let the apostle take back his rightful position in the Body of Christ – and then we will witness the power and strength of the early church, that we all crave to see! The devil fears this strength and will do anything to uphold the myth that apostles (and prophets) are obsolete and not necessary anymore. The devil IS a liar! Oh how we need the apostolic ministry today… and little will be achieved without it. Nothing substantial anyhow… we can make a fanfare about anything. But will it stand the test of time? To be of significance again – we need the apostolic ministry to do what it was sent forth to do – to bring stability, maturity and growth.
None of us want to create works that have no substance. Consider how puff-pastry is just fluff-n-stuff! It looks substantial on the outside but once we break through its crust – little substance is found. It lays on top, glazed and looks impressive – but has little (if any) foundation. Spiritual puff pastry is a far cry from what God has planned for His church and for that which Christ has died to liberate.
Let’s commence onto different types of apostles. Ignorance not only fails to recognise the significance of the apostolic apostleship but also refused to grasp its depth of identity. Take for instance the original twelve - minus Judas – those directly commissioned by Jesus. These are the RESURRECTION APOSTLES. They received the “in-breathing” of resurrection life directly from Him, as the first fruits of His new creation. From Him they received proof of His being alive and principles of the Kingdom first hand. Reinforced by Mathias (Acts 1:12f) they received the promised Holy Spirit at Pentecost. These are the APOSTLES OF THE LAMB as seen clearly in the 21st chapter of the book of Revelations verse 14; “The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (emphasis added).
In addition Paul must be included in this group of resurrection apostles, “...and last of all he appeared to me also, as one abnormally born” (1 Cor 15:8). It must be noted here that it is the testimony of this exclusive group of men that forms the definitive standard of teaching and doctrine for us. For example, we believe Jesus through their word – in the context that Jesus spoke of here in John 17:20, “My prayer is not for them alone, I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message...”
Strictly speaking (concerning these “resurrection apostles”) their only true successor is the New Testament itself; which preserves the record of their inspired testimony. “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes; he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you...”(John 16:12-14)
All subsequent apostolic ministries (namely “ascension apostles”) must submit to and accurately reflect their testimony. I can be said like this; the words of the “resurrection apostles” are still primary and still Scripture; but however, any other apostolic word is derivative and non-scripture. Unfortunately this is just where some of our modern-day apostles (both resent-past and present) have made their errors. Some of them have wrongly imagined that this status of being an “apostle” gave their own words the same footing and weight as scripture itself! Clearly mistaken they have misunderstood their proper boundaries.
To be clear about this, no one is receiving “additional revelation!” that can add or take away from the original foundation of the gospel. We already have the revelation of the New Testament. Paul said, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that, which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8). Paul warned that we are to take heed how we build upon the foundation that has already been laid (1Cor 3:10). Quite simply we can’t add to it or take anything away from it.
As mentioned already above, there exists a clear and definitive distinction between these two sets of apostles; those of the resurrection (apostles of the Lamb) and those of the ascension. In addition to this fact and to further explain this, it can be said that Paul was very much a “pivot” in that he was not only the last of the RESURRECTION APOSTLES (who actually saw the risen Lord Jesus Christ) but was also the first of a new series of apostles, namely the ASCENSION APOSTLES.
Again I want to appreciate the writings of another apostle here – so we will return to Ulf Ekman’s book to insert another paragraph of his book, that has the full title: “The Apostolic Ministry – can the Church Live without It?” (P23).
“The Apostolic Ministry has Long-term Effects: we must be set free from the idea of a religious “St Paul” as portrayed in marble statues, icons and ancient historical images. We must see him in the unique role he had. It was Paul who received the revelation of Jesus’ resurrection and wrote one-third of the New Testament. He remains the most important example of a Christian today after Jesus – our primary example.
Paul is an example in two areas: first he shows us how a Christian should live… lives of consistency. Second, he exemplifies the ministry of an apostle. He demonstrates the function of an apostle and the results that follow… Every ministry gift operates within the restrictions of time. The ministry of John the Baptist was effective for only a short period of time, yet his influence was great. Paul not only affected his era, but his influence has remained from generation to generation up to our present day.
An examination of the apostolic ministry will show that its influence continues even after the apostle has died. History speaks of men who weren’t called apostles but were in fact just that. Wycliffe was definitely an apostle, as his degree of influence demonstrates. Huss, Luther, Calvin, Knox and Wesley were also apostles. How do we know? From their preaching, their message, their ministry and the enduring legacy they left behind. These are some of the signs of the apostle”.
Yes! And like I said in the last article – the apostle is certainly in it for long-haul not the short term. Even his natural death can not limit his influence! That’s exciting… but there is much more to an apostle than this - we have only discussed “some” of the signs of an apostle – there is much more yet! And we will endeavour to draw this out with each article that follows...
Inclosing for today let me summarize by saying that clearly not all apostles were like Paul. Some had a lesser anointing and some a greater anointing, all with differing gifts. But the fact remains; there are two distinct categories of apostles; the resurrection and the ascension. Today these commissioned individuals “sent-forth” with great influence can still be referred to as “ascension apostles.”
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Father its clear at every turn we take – when we study Your Word – how magnificently You made provision for Your Church to succeed and to thrive; to overcome and to have influence in this earth – from generation to generation. We must continue having maximum impact today in this world, help us to accept the role of those You have sent-forth as apostles today and to willingly loose our ignorance about this subject - apostolic apostleship. Restore truth to Your Body, restore revelation… so that Your will can be achieved in this earth and not hindered by our own ignorance, unwillingness or un-teachable spirits...
CONFESSION OF THE DAY
I accept the will of God – not only for my personal life – but also for the entire Body of Christ. I do not stand against revelation being restored back to the Church. I yield to God’s Spirit, who is causing the apostles to rise once again around the earth; divine foundation layers – who influence the nations and the generations to come.
THANK YOU FOR HELPING TO MAKE THIS MINISTRY POSSIBLE! WE LOVE YOU…!
Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’
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