I am now posting my twelfth article on this larger series in regards to the ministry gifts listed in Ephesians 4:11-13, though I am mainly focusing in on apostles. You can click here to start at the first article and read through the series if you so desire.
And I suppose that there are quite a few more to come. This is a delicate topic, one with lots of misunderstandings, one with lots of baggage, one with lots of abuses. And, so, I feel the need to slowly walk through some things, slowly work some things out.
Sure, I could have posted a handful of articles and get on with other stuff. But I wanted to take the time to really consider things both biblically and theologically. I don’t mean to split the two, but when I refer to things theological, I am more referring to the conclusions that we come to from our reading and study of Scripture. It’s not always as simple as reading black ink on white paper. We read it through a lens, me included. And so I am trying to faithfully look at various portions of Scripture pertinent to the topic at hand, as well as the theological conclusions of such.
Hence, I’m on my twelfth article so far and plan to put out a handful or so more.
With regards to apostles, I said I would address the issues in this order:
- Apostles in New Testament Scripture.
- Objections to the existence of apostles today.
- What an apostle actually is.
So far, I have finished off the first point – looking at apostles in the New Testament. Whereas, when many people think of apostles, they think of the twelve, or possibly the twelve and Paul, Scripture actually lets us know there were a few other apostles at work in those early years following Christ’s resurrection, ascension and the outpouring of the Spirit of God.
We can definitely confirm that both Barnabas and James were apostles, but I believe there were others alive and well in those early decades – people like Apollos, Silas, Timothy, Titus, Epaphroditus, and probably a few others. It’s not so much that the word ‘apostle’ shows up next to their names (although it does in some cases). Rather, these people functioned in an apostolic ministry, what it meant practically and actually meant to be an apostle.
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and squawks like a duck, it seems that it’s a duck. And those people mentioned above definitely lived and walked out the ministry of an apostle.
No, they didn’t write Scripture (though Apollos has sometimes been connected with the letter to the Hebrews). But they functioned very much like the twelve and Paul – helping found, establish, build, train and equip the early church to be faithful to Christ and the gospel. I’ll share more of what it means to be an apostle later, though I am hitting on it here and there. But you can read my two articles about apostles in the New Testament by clicking here and here.
But, the second focus is to move on and look at the objections to apostles today. I believe there are four major objections to the notion that apostles exist today (or post-first century). I shall spend some time over a few articles addressing these objections below: Continue reading