(Part 4) Are there apostles in the church today?

Sat, 02/21/2015 - 7:00pm

There Are More Functions For The Office Gift Of Apostle                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           ●The Compiled List Of The Functions And In Some Cases The Qualifications Of The Office Gifts Of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, And Pastor

5. THERE ARE MORE FUNCTIONS FOR THE OFFICE GIFT OF APOSTLE

   This has been quite an enlightening study. Hopefully this will convince you to never use one verse as the basis to formulate a

 perspective on any biblical topic.

   Pray to God the Father for guidance by means of the ministry of the Holy Spirit based on the foundation of our life in Christ when you are about to undertake any biblical study.

   Let’s find out what the remaining functions of an apostle are.

   Two more functions of an apostle can be found in Acts 15.

Let Us Go Again And Visit Our Brethren In Every City

Acts 15:22-23,35-36

   Four men, Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas, have been sent with approval by the apostles, elders, and the entire assembly at Jerusalem with letters that were to be read before the assemblies of the churches of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia informing them that the Gentile believers do not need to be circumcised in order to be saved, and neither do they have to keep the law of Moses.

   After arriving at Antioch and remaining there for a period of time Paul suggests to Barnabas to consider going back and revisiting the churches in Asia Minor that they had founded in the preceding year, in order to see how they are continuing in their faith.

A couple of functions of an apostle can be derived from these verses.

An apostle is not ordained to be a pastor of one particular church.

  An apostle’s calling is to found churches, and at various times return to visit them in order to see how they are continuing in their faith. Acts 15:22-23,35-36

22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:

23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:

35 Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.

   In the next section of scriptures that we will look at I would like you to consider this question, could there be a possible connection in the process of choosing and appointing deacons and elders to the process of choosing and appointing apostles?

Whom We May Appoint Over This Business

Suggested Reading: Acts 6:1-6

   These verses talk about the complaining of the Grecian Jews (Jewish immigrants to Palestine-those who spoke Greek) against the Hebrews (the native Jews who also spoke Aramaic and Greek), because their widows were overlooked in the daily administration of money and food.

   The apostles recommended that the brethren “look ye out among you” seven men. The words “look ye out” are from the Greek word episképsasthe which means to choose by the showing of hands from among the Grecians and Hebrews. Before these men are chosen by the assembly the apostles conveyed to the assembly the qualities of the Holy Spirit that should be evidenced in their life. They must be of honest report [of an authentic testimony of being known by the assembly for being full of the Holy Spirit (those whom the Holy Spirit directs; those who are spiritually minded)] and wisdom (skill or aptitude for practical affairs). There were also further spiritual qualities of character that would need to be evidenced by them, which are found in 1 Tim 3:8-13.

   After they were chosen by the assembly, the apostles would appoint them ((put them in charge) over this issue.

Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. Acts 6:3

   The whole multitude of the disciples, who were gathered together, liked the recommendations. Based on the spiritual criteria they chose seven men. Remember, the idea of choosing means that there was a showing of hands in order to approve or disapprove.  

   I’m sure that as each person was recommended a vote was taken. This continued on until seven were finally agreed upon.

And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Acts 6:5

   The next verse seems to indicate that after the vote took place and seven were chosen that prayer for them took place.

   However, the words “had prayed” are in the form of the Koine Greek known as an Aorist Middle Participle. An Aorist Participle means that the participle specifies the preparations that preceded the action of the main verb, which in this case is the verb “set”. The idea is that prayer was engaged in that preceded the setting before and probably even the choosing of the men by the showing of hands. Prayer for the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit in the selection of these men would seem to fit the occasion.

Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. Acts 6:6

   These men, after they were chosen by the assembly, were set before (presented before) the apostles, who laid (placed) their hands on each person’s head indicating that they were appointed (put in charge) by them over the distribution of the alms of the church. The word “appointed” is from the Greek word katasteesomen, which does not connote the idea of the showing of hands, but conveys the idea of putting someone in charge as signified by the imposition of hands. The imposition of hands can also signify the commissioning and granting of authority31 along with symbolizing the blessing from the assembly.                     

   By the way this process of choosing and appointing deacons is similar to the process used in the choosing and appointing of elders in Acts 14:8-24.

   If we were to combine the process of choosing and appointing deacons and elders this would provide for us a couple of more functions of an apostle.   

●An apostle would describe to an assembly the spiritual qualities of character that should be evidenced in any believer’s life, before they would be considered for the position of deacon or elder. After these spiritual qualities were disseminated to the assembly prayer for the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit would take place. At some point in time certain believers would be chosen and voted upon by the assembly one at a time for approval. Those approved would be set before the apostles, who would lay their hands on each person’s head, which would signify the commissioning and granting of authority32 along with symbolizing the blessing from the assembly. Acts 6:1-6; Acts 14:8-24

   There is another function of an apostle that is directly related to the appointment of elders. The Book of Titus is where we will go next.

Ordain Elders In Every City                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Titus 1:5-9

   Paul is addressing Titus, who is abiding in Crete, to do that which he had appointed him, which was to ordain elders in every city.

   It is possible that Titus was a pastor. We do know that he was a Gentile, who was a partner (friend) and fellow worker (representative; delegate) with the apostle Paul. He accompanied him when an epistle was to be read before some of the churches stating that the Gentiles do not need to be circumcised in order to be saved. On another occasion he was given a letter by the apostle Paul to be delivered to the Corinthians. And on a different endeavor he was given the responsibility to complete the collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem.

Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be inquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ. 2 Corinthians 8:23

   In this instance Titus is sent by Paul to Crete in order to teach sound doctrine, be an example of such to the believers there, and ordain elders in every city.

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: Titus 1:5

   I would assume that if Paul sent Titus to ordain (lay hands on) elders in the many house churches on Crete that Titus would be able to convey to each assembly the spiritual qualities of character that potential elders needed to exemplify before being considered for this position.

   This leads us to the next function of an apostle.

●An apostle can delegate authority to a fellow worker (representative; delegate) to go to a certain assembly of believers and ordain (lay hands on) elders. Titus 1:5-9

   Earlier in this study we looked at the functions of an evangelist as exemplified in Acts 8. What we also found there was a function of an apostle. Let’s briefly restate the background and indicate what this function is all about.  

Arise, And Go Toward The South                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Acts 8:5-24

   Philip, one of the seven deacons of the church at Jerusalem, went to the city of Sychar, of the region of Samaria. While there he preached Christ to the Samaritans, who were a people that were both Jew and Gentile that held to both Jewish and pagan rites. After which they were baptized in water.

   Somehow word got back to the apostles at Jerusalem that the Samaritans not only had responded to the gospel and were baptized in water, but had not received the indwelling Holy Spirit. 

   How would the apostles have known about this?

   I’m assuming that they received confirmation of this by means of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. So the apostles Peter and John were sent to address this matter. When they arrived they laid hands on the Samaritans while praying, and they received the Holy Spirit.

   What could be the explanation for the Samaritans not receiving the indwelling Holy Spirit?

   The context doesn’t clearly tell us. Some commentators suggest that these apostles were sent there in order to authentic this office gift and subsequently their ministry as being of God in their eyes.

   If the office of apostle is still operative today, could this happen again? It depends on God’s plan and purposes. I don’t know.

   So this brings us to another function of an apostle.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       ●An apostle or apostles could be sent by their fellow apostles, who have received divine awareness of such, to go to a certain geographical area and lay hands on people with the accompaniment of prayer, who have repented, believed in Christ, and were baptized in water, so that they might receive the indwelling Holy Spirit. Acts 8:5-24

   Earlier we looked at the appointment of Matthias to the position of apostleship that was vacated by the death of the apostle Judas Iscariot. What we learned from this was that while Matthias’ call to the apostleship was from God, his appointment to the office was by the nomination of the apostles through a process known as, by lot. To summarize, he was called by God, but appointed by man.

   What about the apostle Paul, was he called by God and appointed by man?

   Gal 1:1 will give us the answer.

Paul, An Apostle, Not Of Men, Neither By Man                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Gal 1:1

   This verse tells us that Paul an apostle, one who is a representative with an official status that has been sent with a message to announce, was not of men (his apostleship did not come from men as its ultimate source); and neither was it by man (nor did he receive ordination nor confirmation through the medium of any man), but by Jesus Christ and God the Father.

   Both the source of Paul’s apostleship and appointment to the apostleship was from divine origin.

Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

   What is this telling us about the office of apostleship?

   As Eph 4:11 says, And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

   Christ assigns or bestows these offices to whomsoever he wills.

   In both cases, Matthias and Paul were both called by God to the office of apostle. However, Paul on the other hand was not chosen by the assembly or voted on for approval. Neither were hands laid on him by the apostles as a gesture signifying commissioning and granting of authority33.

   So what are we to conclude concerning the source and appointment of a person to the office of apostle?

In this particular instance an apostle is someone, who has not only been called by God to this office, but whose source and appointment to this office was only from Him. Gal 1:1

   In another instance, which we have already looked at, the disciples chose and approved certain for the position of apostleship who had been in the company of Christ beginning with the baptism of John to His resurrection. They would then be placed in the presence of the apostles before whom only one would be appointed to this office by means of a method known as by lot.

  We can also infer a previous section that was looked at that the possibility exists based on the protocol for choosing deacons and elders that future apostles could be appointed in a similar manner.

   With this said the functions of the office gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors have been determined.

   What I would like to do now is compile these functions and in some cases qualifications under their perspective offices.

   Please read them over and see if you can come up with reasoning that either supports the idea that there are apostles in the church today or that there are not apostles in the church today.

 

 6.     THE COMPILED LIST OF THE FUNCTIONS AND IN SOME CASES THE QUALIFICATIONS OF THE OFFICE GIFTS OF APOSTLE, PROPHET, EVANGELIST, AND PASTOR

   These lists will be presented in the order that each office gift was initially addressed.

   After you read over all of the functions for each office and in some cases their qualifications I am going to try to shorten them for the purpose of distinguishing the purpose of each. Hopefully, this will allow us to understand in a very clear and condensed manner how these office gifts differ.

   Let’s get started.

A Compiled List Of The Functions And In Some Cases The Qualifications Of Prophets

●They received new truths by the Holy Spirit in the absence of full written revelation. These truths are that the Gentiles are: fellowheirs (with the Jews of the same spiritual riches); of the same body (fellow members with the Jews in the body of Christ); partakers of the same promise (the Holy Spirit) in Christ by means of the Gospel. Eph 2:1-22; 3:4-6

●They could declare (predict) a future event by means of the disclosing of this information to them by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Proof of this prophetic word having come from the Holy Spirit is if what was foretold came to pass. You could also say that this would be a qualification of a prophet. Acts 11:27-30

●They can by the conveyance to them of words from the Holy Spirit give a warning to a fellow believer to refrain from going to a particular geographical place. Acts 20:17; 21:8-15

They will build up (strengthen), encourage, provide comfort, and hope to the listeners when a prophetic word is spoken (speaking under the impulse of the Spirit from the light of a sudden revelation at the moment). Concerning the exercising of the gift of prophecy let it be that no more than three prophecy. If one of the prophets is designated to speak first, but has not received anything from the Spirit to convey to the church, and another prophet who is sitting nearby mentions that they have just received a particular revelation from God, then let him have the liberty immediately to speak it34. While this prophet is speaking the other prophets who are sitting nearby will judge (as to whether what was said was dictated by the Holy Spirit). 1 Corinthians 14:1-40

   So there you have it. Let’s look at the functions and in some cases the qualifications of an evangelist.  

A Compiled List Of The Functions And In Some Cases The Qualifications Of Evangelists

●They are to go a certain place as guided by the words of the Holy Spirit whether directly or indirectly by another agency (e.g. angel). When the evangelist arrives in the geographical area he will receive further instructions that would provide further clarity as to what to look for which will help him to identify whomsoever he is to interact with and at some point in time share the gospel with. Acts 8:5-24

   That’s all that was generated for this office.

   The next one to look at is the office of pastor.

A Compiled List Of The Functions And In Some Cases The Qualifications Of Pastors

●They, being indwelt by the Holy Spirit, have been endowed with the gift of teaching so that the beliefs and duties of the Christian faith with assistance of the Spirit can be conveyed to the Christian converts. Acts 13:1  

●They have been called and qualified by the Holy Spirit to be an overseer. As an overseer the pastor inspects not only his own spiritual state, but also the spiritual state of each member of the assembly. Furthermore, he should be a protector of the flock by being aware (observant) that at any time someone could come in from the outside who might try to indoctrinate the church with false teaching. And not only so, but he needs to be attentive (be on guard) in detecting anyone from within the church, who might be distorting the truth by speaking crooked, perverted, and distracting doctrines. Acts 20:3-21:4

●They as well as apostles, prophets, and evangelists are to preach the gospel to unbelievers. Romans 10:13-14

They emphasize accuracy of words and love to study; delight in research to validate truth35; and give instruction in the Christian faith of truths already revealed. 1 Cor 12:1-13:1

They exhort the believers to perform their duty, along with admonishing (advising; counseling) them if they go astray. 1 Thess 5:12-13

●They are to give attention to: “reading” (the public reading of scripture); “exhortation” (to the explanation of the scripture passages that are read, making their meaning and relevance clear to the gathered congregation36); “doctrine” (the act of teaching a systematized body of teaching). 2 Tim 1:6; 1 Tim 4:12-13

They should labor with wearisome effort whether by: the preaching of the word; instructing by categories (topics); or explanatory teaching (verse by verse). 1 Tim 5:17

●The content of their messages as relating to the assembly of believers should not: agree with their carnal desires; conceal the gravity of their evil propensities; deal gently with their vices (immoral practices such as adultery; formication; incest; rape; homosexuality; lesbianism; pedophilia; etc.). 2 Tim 4:3-4

●They are available to go to the residence of anyone in the church who is physically sick and pray (with hands extended) for them, anointing with virgin oil on the forehead with the sign of the cross. The anointing with virgin oil would signify the inward anointing of the soul with the Holy Spirit. And prayer would be made for the restoration of bodily health and strength.  Ja. 5:14-20

   When I initially did this study on the functions of a pastor the amount of information that I looked at seemed endless. This condensed list is a lot easier to absorb.

   I have one more office gift for you to look at, that being of an apostle.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

A Compiled List Of The Functions And In Some Cases The Qualifications Of Apostles

●They were commissioned by Christ to go into all of the world and preach the gospel (good news) to every creature. Mark 16:15

They are to go into all the word and teach (make disciples) of Christ, who because of such will be baptized (brought into union or communion) with God, who is not only one in essence but three co-equal, co-infinite, and co-eternal persons37.

   After which they are to teach the newly converted to observe the same commands that Jesus commanded them. Matt. 28:19-20 

They are to be witnesses (to testify to the life, instructions, death, and resurrection of Christ, even in the midst of persecution and death38) of Christ throughout the world.  Acts 1:8    

●In this instance they let the assembly (of disciples) know that a person would be appointed to the position of apostle, which was vacated because of the death of Judas Iscariot. It can only be assumed by the examples of choosing deacons in Acts 6 and elders in Acts 14 that the assembly (of disciples) would be asked to vote for approval those whom they chose. A few things might have preceded this such as:

the requirement that any person chosen would have to have accompanied Christ beginning with Jesus baptism by John the Baptist until His ascension into heaven; there being qualities of Godliness evidenced in each candidate’s life; prayer for direction and guidance in the choosing and subsequent voting for approval of the candidates. .

   Two men were chosen and voted on for approval. One was appointed to this position by means of using a method known as by lot. Acts 1:12-26

They received monetary contributions from those in the assembly, who sold lands or houses, for distribution to their fellow Jewish believers that became financially destitute, because of persecution. Acts 4:31-37                    

They would convey to the new believers new truths about the new kingdom that they entered into at salvation by means of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:42-47

●One of the qualifications for a person to be considered for the position of apostle is that they must have seen the risen Christ. This doesn’t mean that they would have to have been of the group that saw Jesus beginning with his baptism by John the Baptist up to his ascension.

   However, they could have seen Christ after his ascension by means of what is called a theophany. A theophany could refer to persons, whether divine or demonic, who suddenly come on the scene and are only visible to the one or ones that they are sent. Acts 9:1-18

   Another example of a theophany is found in Acts 12:1-11.

   The second qualification for a person to be considered for the position of apostle is that there would be another witness, a disciple, who would have received a confirming word by whatever means, albeit in this case a vision, that this person had indeed seen the risen Christ. By the way just for the sake of clarification a vision is an altered state of consciousness in which extrasensory audiovisual experiences, usually revelatory in character, are perceived in private by individuals39 when they are awake. Acts 9:8-19

They will evidence patience (remaining loyal to the faith in trials and sufferings); in signs (miracles with emphasis on their ability to increase spiritual understanding by pointing to a spiritual reality); in wonders (in the sense of awe, which the miracle creates); in mighty deeds (miracles resulting from divine power). 2 Cor 12:12; 2 Cor 10:2,10    

They are not ordained to be a pastor of one particular church.

  Their calling is to found churches, and at various times they will return to visit them in order to see how they are continuing in their faith. Acts 15:22-23,35-36

●They would describe to an assembly the spiritual qualities of character that should be evidenced in any believer’s life, before they would be considered for the position of deacon or elder. After these spiritual qualities were disseminated to the assembly prayer for the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit would take place. At some point in time certain believers would be chosen and voted upon by the assembly one at a time for approval. Those approved would be set before the apostles, who would lay their hands on each person’s head, which would signify the commissioning and granting of authority40 along with symbolizing the blessing from the assembly. Acts 6:1-6; Acts 14:8-24

●They can delegate authority to a fellow worker (representative; delegate) to go to a certain assembly of believers and ordain (lay hands on) elders. Titus 1:5-9

●They could be sent by their fellow apostles, who have received divine awareness of such, to go to a certain geographical area and lay hands on people with the accompaniment of prayer, who have repented, believed in Christ, and were baptized in water, so that they might receive the indwelling Holy Spirit. Acts 8:5-24

In this particular instance an apostle is someone, who has not only been called by God to this office, but whose source and appointment to this office was only from Him. Gal 1:1

   This is still a lot of information to assimilate concerning each of the office gifts. So beginning in the next chapter let’s condense the functions and in some cases the qualifications of each office one more time. I think that by doing this we will be able to clearly see what the primary function is of each office gift and what qualifications cause them to be recognized by the body of Christ.

   And keep in mind the focus of this study, are there apostles in the church today?

   Do you have an opinion on this or has your opinion changed since you have been involved with this study?