Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. (NKJV: 1 Corinthians 12: 27 – 28)
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner[stone,] in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, (NKJV: Ephesians 2: 19 – 21)
The first thing we must note is that none of the scriptures above have any connotations of superiority or significance of one office or administrative structure over another. The prophet is in no way more significant to the teacher nor is the Apostle greater than the evangelist. In fact, if you read the entire book of 1 Corinthians 12, you will find that Paul addresses this and I would encourage you to read that entire chapter. Paul is addressing the essence of their roles, that these men play a central role in the structure of how the church works.
The meaning of the word Apostle comes from the greek word ἀπόστολος (apóstolos) which means “the sent one.” In the bible, Jesus selected men and he made them his disciples (students) but before he left, he named them Apostles and he sent them out in Matthew 10. An Apostle is an emissary, they represent the interests of the one who sends them. If you pay close attention to this it means that an Apostle must have several factors present to make their ministry valid.
- They must have a message
- They must have a mission
- They should be sent, by one greater than themselves.
- They must be in transit
- You cannot be an apostle if you do not have a message, you are literally a messenger on an urgent mission to deliver a message given to you. This requires that you are prepared, informed and up to date on the nature of your message and the urgency of the call.
- Several things need to come together to facilitate a transfer of a message. We have a missional perspective. It costs something to run with a message, it takes your energy, your time, your neglect of certain things and self deprivation. The message becomes the agenda. You do not enforce or add to it, you do not leave it for another mission. You deliver the message with urgency and mission perspective.
- You carry a message handed to you by another. You cannot send yourself out. Jesus highlights that it was God, His father (who is greater than Him) that had sent Him. As a result Jesus would then commission these men just as He was sent. You see John 17 offers a deeper revelation of the relationship between the sender and the sendee. You have to be willing to honour the weight of the one who sends you because it also emphasises the value of their message as well. Paul sets an example of this and he says “Follow me as I follow Christ and imitate me as I imitate Christ” because we are essentially following men who carry the mission that Jesus has.
- In persuance with point 3, I always tell people that, you cannot follow a static object and you cannot follow if you are not moving. You cannot be an Apostle on a treadmill, you cannot be busy going nowhere and you certainly cannot be a potfolio Apostle. This is about being on the move, being in the mud and actually getting in the dirt. Its a messy business and not an office collar job. You need to be applied, with an absolute willingness to get on the trek.