Monday, October 29, 2012


Some time ago I wrote an entry on the validity of the scriptural office of Apostle and in that blog, I enumerated several points that support the low probability that an office of this magnitude is truly applicable and even possible today (see The Emperor’s New Clothes – A Comparison to Authentic Authority April 02, 2010). For the most part, the office of Apostle as it is used today is more akin to the usage of the office of bishop in the second century of the church. If you would take the time to read some of the second century writings (especially Clement I and II), you would see an ecclesiastical viewpoint of a main leader within a group of churches. This person is defined as key to the operation of any church or churches (bishopric) that they are leading. The essential nature of the office of the bishop is clear in the writings and in fact many of the functions of the church such as baptisms and the like cannot be performed without their consent and even presence. This office no doubt is 'apostolic' but only in function. So could we say that the bishop of the second century is an apostle? Many would like to make that inference but it cannot be made. There are many qualifications for an apostle and I have enumerated them in my first blog relating to this but perhaps the most important distinction between the office of apostle (1st century) and bishop (2nd century) is the power invested in the office through the personal call and authorization (the key credential) for the Apostolic call - the eyewitness of the physical resurrection of Christ and His personal calling of that person to the work of an Apostle during that event.


Many have said that there is a 'post-ascension' class of apostles yet the Bible by itself does not clearly and indisputably confirm such a possibility. While there are possible references during the 1st century of other apostles (Andronicus and Junia - Rom 16:7), a good exegesis will show that it is more than likely Paul is referring them in their reputation among the apostles as being of note and so certifying them before the Roman churches. They were kinsmen of Paul and were in Christ before Paul. Given they are grouped here there are two possible interpretations:

1> they grouped to classify them as being among the elite company of apostles. What is the rub here? Junia was most likely a female - Junia is a female name - this is in essence rules out an apostolic call for Junia since in the time of the first century, women were not seen as leaders of this magnitude in the church and even today there is a solid argument against female apostles. This leads to the second reason why they are mentioned together

2> Andronicus and Junia were married and so mentioned together - not to group them with the apostles. This must be admitted and so changes the true tenure of her husband Andronicus as not being an apostle either but well known and respected among them. In context, married people of note are mentioned together in other places (e.g. Aquila and Priscilla Acts 18:2,18,26; Rom 16:3, 1 Cor 16:19, 2 Tim 4:19) so it is not unusual to mention them together.

Friends, this argument for modern day apostles is VERY weak and does not hold scriptural water. Those that use this scripture in such a way to authorize their own apostleship in this day do so either under poor exegesis or flat out ignorance. Post-ascension? Get Real. Do your homework.


The modern day apostle proponents also reference Paul as being a post-ascension apostle and so gives ground to anyone that the office is still possible under the right circumstances. Let's take a deeper dive on Paul's own testimony about his apostleship.

So here is Paul's account:

1 Cor 15: 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

In context, Paul is listing the appearances of the Lord from the resurrection event to the Mt. Olive ascension (1 Cor 15:5-7). Each of these accounts is a physical eyewitness. Yet Paul includes himself in this company of appearances and equal to the others. Friends this was no vision, this was in the class as the pre-ascension appearances. This has tremendous implications for the modern-day apostle proponents:

1> Paul experienced a theophany. These are quite rare in the entire biblical history and occurred to such as Abraham, Moses and perhaps Joshua. These are the most notable. God's purpose for such is to change the face and destiny of nations and even the world. Those that claim such as Paul - whose calling was in this class - need to show forth the fruits -in their lifetime as well as beyond. Time is the main witness of such a class of calling and to be honest I have met none in my life that have such a degree and proof of such a calling.

2> the phrase 'as one born out of time' - the original greek context is not necessarily one born 'late' as many have interpreted it. This real meaning here is one born - abnormally. That is a birth that is not considered to be late but in essence pre-mature - that is unexpected. What this implies is the supra-normal' connotation of Paul's experience. This coupled with the context of the appearances of Christ smack of one conclusion - Paul's experience of the Christophany was unique and non-repeatable because it was 'abnormal'.

3> the phrase 'And last of all' - can only be interpreted as the last component of a grouping of appearances. To conclude that this is the final physical appearance of the Lord to anyone holding the office of apostle is plausible. Why? In the context of the verse and its usage as coupled with 'as one born out of time' this is seen as not only the last of a sequence of appearances of such a nature but the final one.


One last argument in this post that needs to be addressed. Paul references the Corinthian church as proof of His apostleship. Many times 'modern day' proponents will use this argument citing the many church plantings that they have done as being proof of their apostleship. Paul cites:

1 Cr 9:12 If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.

This is where context is important. Let's be frank, anyone could apply this scripture by itself and gain some type of credibility. This is where it is important to look at the entire context of the epistle. Apparently, Paul is being questioned in terms of general authority. Just look at chapter 1. Here the Corinthian church has an identity problem in that they cite many 'authorities' from where they draw origin. From the beginning of the epistle Paul is fighting against those who question his apostleship. Yet in the body of the epistle, this is a recurring theme and Paul mounts his arguments on many points that together support his apostleship.

1> He has seen the Lord (1 Cor 9:1, 1 Cor 15:8)

2> He has labored as an apostle to establish the Corinthian church. (1 Cor 9:2)

3> He has done the signs of an Apostle among them (2 Cor 12:12).

These along with other 'proofs' (preaching the gospel sacrificially) frame Paul as an authentic apostle. One cannot just cite one of them but all and this is the final nail. One in essence is an apostle not by what they have seen but also their manner of life and their teaching.


That is the stark fact. There is no material to use to sew a mantle of apostle and the above solidly refutes those who would go by such monikers. Those who call themselves apostle in this day and time are sadly deluded as much as the fairy tale king that traipsed around in front of his subjects in his under-ware. When all is said and done there are a plethora of those who go by such names but have little claim to the title. So, what about what they teach in general. Can there still be solid teaching coming from such who call themselves apostles? I think so, but if the teaching is founded for the most part on the authority of one teaching, isn't it a good idea to look again at it and compare it to other points of view? The premise to do so here is that if the one that teaches you is basing their whole place in which to teach upon a false premise, can they be trusted to deliver to you teachings that are of a nature counter to their own false premise? I think not. Friends, no matter how grand they tell you their clothes are, they are poor, naked, wretched and blind.

Sola Scriptura.