the question: Where there more Apostles than just the Twelve plus
An Apostle in the Church becomes
the proxy of the Lord Jesus Christ. He acts with the full
authority of the Lord (The New International
Dictionary of New Testament Theology, eds. Lothar Coenen,
Erich Beyreuther and Hans Bietenhard, English ed. Colin Brown,
1975 ed., s.v. "Apostle," by C. Brown, 1:126-137).
The Bible gives qualifications for
Apostles. These qualifications come from those applied by
the 11 original Apostles as they sought to find a replacement for
- A new Apostle had to have traveled
with Jesus from His baptism to His ascension (Acts
- A new Apostle had to be a
witness of our Lord's Resurrection (Acts 1:22b).
- A new Apostle had to be male
Furthermore, Apostleship was a
gift given to establish the church. Notice the figure of
the universal church as a building in Ephesians 2:19-22. In
that figure, the Apostles are the foundation. It would be
hard to believe that after two thousand years the foundation of
the church is still being built. In fact the teaching of
the passage is that our Lord is the Cornerstone, the Apostles and
Prophets are the foundation, and all the other members of the
Church make up the building which is being built on the
foundation. For me that
settles the question. There are no Apostles today and we
should not identify any to include in our local church structure.
There are two other ideas that
some use to support present day Apostles.
- The Apostle Paul:
Paul could not be numbered among the Twelve, but he was a
witness of the Resurrection (1 Corinthians 9:1b; 15:8)
and claimed authority direct from Christ (1 Corinthians
11:23-26; 15:1-5). The
Apostle Peter agreed that Paul had this authority (2
Peter 2 Peter 3:2, 15-16).
- Other Apostles:
- James, the
brother of Christ: He was an elder
in the church at Jerusalem and a writer of
Scripture (perhaps as a prophet?) but
Scripture never calls him an Apostle.
Galatians 1:19, though often brought forward as a
verse that says he was an Apostle, only says for
sure that Paul visited James, not the 12
Apostles. As you study through Acts you see
that the first leaders of the Jerusalem church
were the Apostles, then there was period when the
leadership consisted of Apostles plus non-Apostles,
and then a final period consisting only of non-Apostles.
Likewise, 1 Corinthians 15:7 only certainly says
the Lord after His resurrection appeared to James
before He appeared to all twelve of the Apostles.
- However, there are
others besides Paul and the Twelve who are called
Apostles. In Acts 14:4, 14, Barnabus
is called an apostle. However, the only
thing certain here is that Barnabus was an
apostle of the Antioch church, not a formal
Apostle. Notice that church at Antioch sent
out Barnabus, not our Lord (Acts 13:1-3).
Here apostle is being used in its more common
usage, simply as a representative (i.e.,
missionary) authorized by a local church to
minister in the Word in other fields. There
is no scene like Mark 3:14-19 or Acts 1:12-26 for
Barnabus . . . only Acts 13:1-3. By the
way, Paul was both an Apostle of our Lord and an
apostle of the church at Antioch.
- Paul speaks of
himself as having been in the company of apostles
of Christ at the church in Thessalonica (1
Thessalonians 2:6b). Paul is apparently
talking about his co-travelers, Silas and
Timothy (1 Thessalonians 1:1a).
There is no recorded scene in which the Lord or
the twelve Apostles appoint Silas as a formal
Apostle. But there is an Acts 13:1-3-like
scene in which it could be said that he is
appointed an apostle of the church at Jerusalem (Acts
15:22). Silas then took off with Paul on
his 2nd missionary journey. Silas was also
a prophet (Acts 15:32). Timothy was
discovered by Paul at the beginning of that
journey and he took him along. Again we are
not told that the Lord or the twelve Apostles
appointed him as a formal Apostle. But,
traveling with Paul and Silas on the journey
apparently authorized by the Jerusalem church,
Timothy could be called an apostle (i.e.,
missionary) of that local church.
- That Andronicus
and Junias were formal Apostles based on
Romans 16:7 is not a very strong argument.
The verse can, and probably does mean, that the
two were well known to the Apostles, not that
they were Apostles. For example, notice the
me to Andronicus and Junias, my tribal
kinsmen and once my fellow prisoners.
They are men held in high esteem among
the apostles, who also were in Christ
before I was (Amplified Bible)."
are respected among the apostles (New
have been respected missionaries (New
Life Version)." These
translators apparently believe that
apostles mean missionaries in this
are well known to the apostles (English
are highly respected by the apostles (Contemporary
apostles think they are good men (Worldwide
- The conclusion
is that there were apostles that were like the
missionaries of today but who did not have the
position, the authority, and the abilities of
the Twelve and of Paul.
So, we could say that we
have apostles today.
But it would be better to call them missionaries or domestic
workers so that they would not be confused with the Twelve
Apostles and the Apostle Paul. There are no Apostles
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Gifts in Ephesians 4 page.
Ken Bowles -- September 30, 2010, Edition
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