Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Apostle Test: A Case for the Modern Day Apostle

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Ephesus these words

 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ…”

We might come away at first blush with the premise that all offices are in play up to the current time. I mean, certainly, it would seem by all accounts that we have not: come to a unity (universality) of the faith, our knowledge is still incomplete to bring us possibly to perfection and the full stature we would have in Christ. So the conclusion is the offices of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers must be not only present today but essential in the operation of a fully functional church in any sense. 

Well there you have it, the argument for Modern Day Apostles, it is right there in the Bible written by perhaps the most revered apostle, Paul himself. Let’s all pack our lunches and start finding places where these guys are and set up shop.

This is the mindset of many and I have to be frank, I was one of them at one time. Not to get nasty because I honestly believe these men and some women (gasp) believe themselves to be apostles. Unfortunately, there are requirements for them that are not so easily achieved. Paul met many of these false apostles who on their part claimed credentials for the most part that they were approved messengers from the esteemed leading apostles on the counsel of the Jerusalem church. These men would enter the churches Paul had established with these credentials and preached a false gospel that mixed the pure gospel of Christ with circumcision.

In the New Testament there are actually two applications of the word apostle:

11>   Primary – the primary usage surrounds the actual apostolic call that was given to the original twelve and Paul. These are men that were personally called by Jesus Christ to their ministry. We could call them  ‘Apostles TO the Church’ What this means is covered below.

22>   Secondary – the secondary usage surrounds those who accompanied and aided the Primary Apostle in his spreading of the gospel. We could call them ‘Apostles OF the Church’
This is a good working definition of the usage of term ‘apostle’ as it is used in the bible in a grammatical, contextual and thematic way. One thing to notice here is the Secondary group of apostles is dependent on the presence of the Primary group. This secondary group either accompanied the apostle or was sent as a messenger by the Primary apostle. Let’s stop here for a moment and ponder this. I think the conclusion we could come to is there is not necessarily a symbiotic nature to this relationship where both independent parties find and share in ministries. No, the presence of the secondary group can only exist as messengers ( the term apostle used in a more general sense than the specific use of it when applied to the Primary group). For example, John Calvin had this conclusion regarding Andronicus and Junias when the term apostle is applied to them: “…he {sic Paul} calls them Apostles: he uses not this word in its proper and common meaning but extends it wider, even to all those who not only teach in one Church, but also spend their labor in promulgating the gospel everywhere…” (Calvins Commentary of the Epistle to the Romans). So the ‘wider’ usage of the term is quite different than the primary term in the sense that one is sent/commissioned by a Primary Apostle for a specified purpose. The key to understanding the usage here is that we might better interpret the role of this secondary group as a Relay/deputy of the Primary group.Ths can be said for any of the extraneous people who were mentioned as apostles or at least where mentioned when the term was used: Andronicus, Junias, Timothy, Silvanus, Epaphroditus, possibly Apollos and James.  Taking all this into account, explains the simple count of ‘apostles’ including both the primary and secondary group as approximately 22 give or take. .

Here is the first test: Can the ministry of an apostle exist on its own, independent of any other human person? If it can, then that person qualifies in part as an apostle in the Primary sense. In other words, their ministry is not dependent on another person. Of all in the secondary group, we can say in most every case, their ministry would not be possible without the Primary Apostle. This discounts them into a secondary group as messengers not apostles in the Primary sense.

Interestingly, the multi-ethnicity characteristic is removed from the Primary group. All these men, the Twelve, Matthias, Paul, Barnabas, Apollos and James were Jews. This will become a lynch pin in the forthcoming analysis.

This does not directly address the question at the outset. ‘Are there modern day apostles?’ In fact, there are many today that claim to be apostles whose ministries we could say can survive on their own. But the above does address one key issue, the secondary group of apostles (messengers), have a dependence that their ministries lifeblood is in their association with a primary apostle. In other words, where there is no primary apostle, there is no secondary on either. While this does not address the key question, it is a crucial point to note as was trudge on.

Now that we have separated the groups and defined the nature of the Primary Group, we can better define this group. Let’s start with the 14 Primary Apostles (I use 14 here at the outset).

Who were these? They were the original 11 plus Matthias. These would could sub-divide as the Apostles to the Lamb. They had been with Jesus through His Earthly Ministry, Had seen him resurrected physically, been charged directly by the Resurrected Christ (save one Matthias who was chosen by lot to replace Judas Iscariot) to preach the gospel to the known world at that time. The thirteenth was Paul, who had also been commissioned by Christ and witness to the physical resurrection of Christ. (Acts 26:16). Paul was born as one out of time (1 Cor 15:8). This likened him to one premature born in the sense that he was not a ‘developed’ as the Apostles to the Lamb since he had not been trained by Christ during his earthly ministry yet seen as a peer to his ‘brothers’ having the same One that commissioned him. Then there is Barnabas. While known as a Cyprian Jew and his earliest mention in the scriptures right before the ordeal with Ananias and Sapphira  (Acts 4:36). What we do not know is of his commission by The Lord Jesus. We do not know if he was of the company that was with Jesus during His earthly ministry like Matthias. What we do know he was not chosen as one to cast lots for the lost office of Judas Iscariot. Frankly, we cannot know by the scriptures if he even saw the resurrected Christ. In all estimation, these have to go into account when we talk about his apostleship and it’s nature. I have no doubt that he was separated with Paul for a work to which they were called. I know that he was present with the working of miracles in their ministry but this is still no proof of him being in the primary group. An apostle? In some sense for sure but in my estimation and by the criteria above, he does not qualify as in the primary group. One additional note is that when there was a break with Paul, there is no more mention of Barnabas in additional ministry other than re-visiting the churches He and Paul had established. This in my mind relegates Barnabas to the Secondary grouping. Apollos was from Alexandria and by scriptural accounts was preaching the message of John the Baptist possibly during  and definitely after the ascension of Jesus Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit to the church. So, we stand at fourteen. The final reduction is Matthias, James the brother of Jesus and Apollos. While they meet all the criterion, there is one key factor missing: There is no mention of either receiving no documented personal calling by the resurrected Christ. Specifically, James no doubt was seen as a key leader but the formal title he held was bishop of the church at Jerusalem. He is credited with the writing of his epistle and is to be considered as perhaps holding a unique case concerning that. This is a true sign of an apostle which is that his teachings and works are universally accepted as canonized. However the bible is not clear regarding is personal call by Christ as the others.  This is crucial since to be in the Primary Group, the personal charge and choosing by the resurrected Son of God done in a physical form, is essential. Apollos was from Alexandria and by scriptural accounts was preaching the message of John the Baptist possibly during  and definitely after the ascension of Jesus Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit to the church. There simply is no record of Apollos receiving any direct charge from Jesus Christ and he in scripture is never associated with the term apostle in the primary sense. He deserves all honor but canonly be relegated to the secondary grouping, So in my estimation while apostles in the sense of the general use, they are relegated to the secondary group. We are down to twelve: The original eleven plus the Apostle Paul.

Here is the second test: Has the person been an eyewitness to the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ and in that same time space been personally charged by Jesus Christ Himself to be a witness and carry His revelation to the entire world. Now let’s pause here a minute and ask ourselves what this really means. First of all, this is no vision. This is a physical presence. He could be seen, heard and felt. He could be interacted with as Paul actually had a conversation with Him in his calling. Is this a rare occurrence in the Bible. Yes, one of the rarest. The number of theophany events that include a personal manifestation of God are something you can count with your fingers in recorded biblical history. It is rare, very rare. There has not been one I know of that has been recorded in over two thousand years. Secondly, the personal charge of Jesus’ revelation to bring into the world would simply mean that they would not be repeating the truths already recorded and known but would be revealing new revelation as they received it from  Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit and recording those revelations in holy writ. These men were innovators and were actually the conduit for the holy writ to come into being. They were the vehicles for God’s revelation in Jesus Christ.

So if we recap here in order to be  a part of the primary group of Apostles, one must be an eyewitness to perhaps the rarest of events. Can this take place in modern times? Yes but it is a possibility not a probability. One thing we do know, is one in the primary group would be able to add to the revelation of Jesus Christ being so charged by Jesus Himself with that very task. To be clear, this does not include the unlocking of the existing scriptures, it is being directly involved in their composition.

So after the whittling down a bit we are down to twelve key figures. These twelve have everything required in common as described. Here is an interesting fact: they were all Jewish. That might be obvious at first glance but here is what is not so obvious. Each was raised as a practicing Jew and were well acquainted with the Jewish practices, traditions and each passed the rite of transition into manhood where they lead the reading of the scriptures in a synagogue. Paul perhaps eclipsed them all being a Pharisee, a Jew of Jews. Why is this so important? It is because they were the products of the collective Jewish people from the beginning point from Abraham on ( and ever further back than that!). They knew the culture and the scriptures and how those ancient writings could be brought into the revelation of Jesus Christ to buttress and support it through examples and quotations inter-sprinkled in the new revelation they were recording. They understood the prophetic heritage of the Jewish people and were able to leverage it and emphasize the Lord Jesus being the fulcrum upon which the entire creation rests. They were able to reflect the nature of Yhwh into the person of Jesus Christ. These men were bridges to an ancient culture where they were physically the roadway and passage of the Revelation of God from the Old Testament to the New. These men were walking miracles in my opinion. Their grouping is perhaps one of the most unique in recorded history.

Here is the third test: In order to be common to the primary group, one must not only create teachings that extend the known revelation of God to the world, they must have a perspective and human experience that reflects and is common to the primary group. These writings as holy writ were confirmed by the fact that they were universally accepted by the churches at large during the first century and thereafter. This is a key factor to the proof one is truly an apostle: their teachings are universally accepted by the church at large. This is a challenge for any person who would propose that they are an apostle – in fact history would show that there has been no one since that primary group that has scribed anything to this scale. In addition, I would venture to say that if one is not of Jewish origin, there can be no claim to be in the primary group. That person simply has no basis or standing for it.  Without these points, at best, those persons must be relegated to the secondary group of apostles.

The twelve we have whittled down to all suffered for their ministry. In most cases, each died a martyr for their Lord. Countless beatings, shipwrecks, imprisonment, being exiled were the fate of these men. There is suffering in modern times I know. But what must be compared are the degrees of suffering using these men as a baseline.

Here is the fourth test: In order to be in the primary group, suffering must be documented that is to the degree documented in the bible of the primary group. It is easy to say one has suffered but holding one’s suffering to this standard and being able to compare them and conclude they are comparable, is a requirement. If not, then that person must be relegated to the secondary grouping.

This primary group was renowned for their spiritual power. This can be listed as the working of signs and wonders that accompanied their preaching the gospel to parts unfamiliar to the message as confirmation of the truth of their words. This is the most difficult one to assess objectively by the subjective nature we all hold about signs and wonders. What is a sign and wonder to me might not be that to you. So in order to cut down the list of a sign and wonder, let’s use the scriptures themselves to define what these are:
11>   A sign and wonder must be generally accepted by all. The example here is the working of signs and wonders by the Apostles Paul (primary) and Barnabas (secondary) in the city of Iconium. That caused the people to call them deities.
22>   Miraculous deliverances such as Peter’s and Paul’s deliverances for prison.
33>   Healings of people who had permanent disabilities from birth.
44>   Raising people from the dead.
55>   Power over natural creatures: On the island of Melita, Paul was snake-bit but survived.

These types are in a class by themselves that caused one thing to happen, conversion of people of those cities to Jesus Christ resulting in the establishment of churches.

Here is the fifth test: In order to be in the primary group, a person must have documented evidence that is generally accepted as miraculous that has also been documented to have caused the revival of those places in which the sign or wonder had taken place. This is because the main purpose of any sign and wonder was documented to be in an evangelical action or effort or the result or consequence of an evangelical action. Signs and wonders are done in the field of service and not within church walls. So, a true apostle must be one in the field actively working most of the time to even qualify for the potential of manifesting a sign or wonder as a result of their intent to forward the revelation of Jesus Christ to the world: If these are not evident and in operation in a person, at best they must be relegated to the secondary group.

So, how did your candidate fare with the test?

 Did he pass the test as an Apostle in the primary grouping?

What about the secondary grouping?

I would venture to say that there are still twelve.

What about the secondary grouping. Maybe your candidate falls more into the second grouping. Well, that might be true but the key here as detailed above, the secondary group depends on the presence of a Primary

Where there is no primary, there can be no secondary. 

We still have twelve.

The Final Analysis

The office of apostle has no legitimacy in this age because the group is still twelve. There are no more. There will be no more. A person can say they have ‘seen’ Jesus, any one can say that and often do. This is no different than the false apostles (messengers) in Paul’s day who brought false credentials in the name of the Council of Jerusalem to foist their additions to the gospel message in the form for the requirement for post-repentance acts such as circumcision. What one cannot do is be a bridge to a past that is no longer is present. The space-time window for an apostle is over. There is no being a bridge to transition the revelation of God from the Old to the New Testament mainly because it has already been done. There can be no tie or heritage or perspective to a culture lost to history. It is simply impossible. There will be no universal acceptance of anyone’s teachings to the magnitude of the works of the primary group. The scripture canon has been closed for almost two thousand years in a formal sense. There is no new revelation and according to John’s Revelation those that seek to add or take away will suffer dire consequences. To continue, the suffering one can undergo in this day can be heinous but is it ever to be to the degree of this primary group? I doubt it. Finally, the working of signs and wonders although controversial can be clearly legitimized as to the fruit those actions produce, namely people coming to Jesus as a result of the sign or wonder. The whole point is, has your candidate been enough in the field to produce even the possibility of these events occurring?
So, let’s revisit the scripture in Ephesians that we started with:

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, 
pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ…”

Our questions that we had at the beginning are still unanswered at first take aren’t they. But let’s look again using the analysis above on the office of apostle.

If there is no presence of an apostle made in the modern church, it would seem that there is no progression of the Lord’s church to reach full maturity. This is the conclusion of some and as such, they still make a case for modern-day apostles. It would seem that this scripture is at odds with the findings of the analysis thus far. What is the answer? The answer comes in the subject of the verse. The church. It is for the church that Christ gave the gifts unto men as he ascended to take His rightful place. These gifts were to the church described here as in the ministries listed in this verse. 

To get it down to basics, there are stages to any building. There is preparation of the building site such as the removal of brush and debris, perhaps terra-forming to some site plan. There is also the building of a foundation upon which that church will rest. There is the actual building, its occupancy and maintenance. In this analogy, the office of apostle can be seen as the building phase. They do the prep work and lay the foundation (see 1 Cor 3). The primary role of the apostle was to establish the foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ. This was through their life’s work of preaching and writing the scriptures to establish the church and to provide its foundation. Once that work is accomplished, the church is ready for the next step. All the while the vision of Jesus for His church becomes more a reality upon that foundation laid where the scriptures written provide the vehicles for unity and maturity. It is not that we ever arrive at perfection. We will not in this life but the church goes beyond life. What is pictured here is a life lived in a foundation built that allows entry into the church, a life lived housed in the church of Jesus Christ where the man enters and is established by that foundation and grows and changes into maturity through their life and when their life is reaching completion, they are ready for the next phase where the full stature and the unity of the spirit are manifested, in the presence of their Lord and Savior. This process of the saints within the church is balanced and confirmed with Ephesians 2:19-20:

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone…”

This scripture confirms a general sense unity of the body as well given this is addressed to a gentile based church. The emphasis of this scripture is that there is one unified body and there is no difference between Jew or Greek. Both are built upon the foundation of the apostles (New Testament) and prophets ( the Old Testament is also a part of  that foundation because the word of God spans both time frames).  Taking these scriptures into account, the fact that the foundation is laid and there can be no other ( 1 Cor 3). As a point of emphasis, the phrase ‘are built’ is in the aorist tense in particular the first aorist tense. The aorist tense is used to set the action firmly at some point in time in the past. There is no on-going or continuing action. It is set firmly in the past.

The redeeming factor here is that in the analysis presented, the ancient primary group is essentially active and present even though their physical presence is not. They are most certainly there in everything the church does, everything the church grows into and everything the church will be. The same way a foundation is active in the sense it supports and upholds all activity that will occur in a structure. I will mention in passing that the teachers and pastors as well as evangelists play an active and continuing role  during the church age but the role of prophet in the sense of writing holy writ and the role of apostle as being a living personified force is long past.

The point being, there is no need for modern-day apostles because the role of the primary group is STILL active and powerful as when they trod this world. In eternity, there is no time. These are men of eternity, being a bridge from an ancient past into the ever present. They are still with us so there are no needs for their replacement.

So, where does this put a modern day Apostle?

This has great implications for those who press the issue of modern day apostles. There is no more shakier ground to stand upon than to say the foundation of the church is flawed and needs supplements. In fact, the assertion of the need for the continued apostolic office does not fully appreciate the work of Christ for the church. In the words of our Savior:

It is Finished.


  1. I agree with you that there was a separate, special role for the original 12 that you call the primary apostles. However, I disagree with your assertion that in order for what you call the "secondary apostles" to exist there has to be a primary apostle. The original apostles were special, they were the Apostles to the Lamb, and because they had been through Jesus's ministry they had a special place. They are the ones that will sit on the 12 thrones. But I don't think Paul is one of them. Here is why, the Bible directly states that Matthias became one of the 12. Here's why, straight from the scripture in Acts 1. 15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers and sisters,[d] the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.”

    18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

    20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms:

    “‘May his place be deserted;
    let there be no one to dwell in it,’[e]

    “‘May another take his place of leadership.’[f]
    21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

    23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. That is very clear, to be an Apostle to the Lamb, one of the 12, you would've had to have been there from the beginning. Paul just wasn't. Also it is interesting in verse 20 that it is said directly that Matthias was replacing Judas as one of the 12, he wasn't filling a temporary apostolic void to be later filled by Paul, he was one of the 12, the Bible says so. Your conclusion about Matthias comes from logic and reason, mine comes straight from the Bible. So, if Paul was not one of the 12, he falls into your second category, and my category of apostle. I believe an apostle's roll is different than that of an Apostle to the Lamb, but they are still very similar. Just look at James and Jude, the brothers of Jesus, they were not Apostles to the Lamb, yet they wrote scripture and seemed to be involved in a very similar fashion to the Apostles in Jerusalem. Here's the difference, the Apostles to the Lamb were there from the beginning, from John's Baptism until the Resurrection, and have a special place in God's Kingdom, judging the 12 tribes of Israel. All of the rest of their ministry I think was available to the rest of the apostles in their day, and is available to any modern day apostle. Of course, the canon of scripture is closed, but not all of the apostles wrote scripture, in fact, most didn't.

    1. You have a good argument for Matthias. I concede that point in the sense that the story is in the scripture. However, what is not present in this choosing was a direct commission. I have to accept that Matthias was chosen – by lot not direct commission. As a side commentary, look at what is stated: ‘And they nominated’…this is not a direct commission. I do concede the point that they offer one of the most challenging requirements to one claiming to be a modern day apostle – a physical witness of the resurrected and material body of Jesus Christ – something some astronomically improbable for any one living today. So while I believe that Matthias was in that company, I can't help but think the one who filled that office was Paul. Paul certainly does not fit into the secondary category and those points are obvious and have been clearly stated in this post. He even says of himself that he was their peer in the scriptures, this must be considered. The apostle Peter commented on his epistles (2 Peter 3). No, you are not correct in your assertions regarding his secondary status – he exceeds by far the role of the secondary group who are indelibly bound to the primary group and thus dependent on them. As stated, there is no real place for the secondary group without any living primary. You continue to fabricate your argument based on weak support because you want it to be so, it must be so. Regarding James and Jude, you said in your first rebuttal they were apostles and used them yet now your point is more in line with the fact that they were most likely not apostles. A point of concession I offer is both were related to Jesus. You still need to revisit the points I have laid out for qualifications on an apostle. My guess is you are under a modern day apostle. If you are, then you must justify your point in their ministry, else more than likely all the world comes crashing down. Let me ask you a question, what is your life built on, the apostle or Christ? If they turned out to be a fraud, would that destroy your faith and all what you believe? If so, then you have misplaced your faith and you border on idolatry. I think your faith is somewhat misplaced and I think an objective look regarding the facts, will yield solid conclusions. Finally, the group you describe and its cut at twelve is most likely true but your inclusion of 'all the rest' in a lump group – including modern day apostiles-- is not at all correct. The fact is the apostolic ministry has passed and I have shown exactly why that is the case. You are a very intelligent person and I admire that, but true intelligence comes from induction of the facts, I do not think you have done a complete job. What have been your sources? If it has solely been your private teachings, there is certainly no balance in that and there is much you need to avail yourself to. I have stated my case, you have rebutted but I see no convincing arguments that are consistent yet self supporting in any of what you have presented. With all respect, take the blinders off and look again.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Reply part I:

      Ok let’s take your points in succession.
      Where do you get the scriptural support that the secondary group is bound to the primary. In each instance, we first have to understand the relationship between the primary and the alleged secondary. Let’s take them in succession:
      Andronicus and Junias (Rom 16:7) – It does require a sieving of the facts that are not readily apparent. Fortunately there are those that have done so. The phrase that is key here centers around the word ‘among’. What does this ‘among’ mean. It is controversial but the phrase in Greek is used in many ancient writings. In those writings, the word ‘among’ here is used to contrast groups not to perform an inclusio. Having said that we may conclude that these were two separate groups – the apostles and the two. Now what could this word ‘outstanding’ mean? This is a word of recognition as a comparison versus others. Common sense would dictate that it would concern the focus of not the two but the apostles. What would they be concerned about and assess as valuable and notable work? I think that conclusion is obvious. They served the apostles and aided in their work. They were ‘messengers of the apostles’.
      Timothy – it is quite obvious that Timothy was an evangelist and was sent by Paul to the church at Ephesus to assess the church, plant leaders and train them and eventually pastor that church. Without the commission of Paul, there was not authorization. I would conclude this as a dependency as well.
      Apollos- this man is a real enigma. What we know of him is that he was an itinerant preacher who preached the message of John the Baptist and when so enlightened was converted to Christianity. There is no mention of him as an apostle in the new testament in the primary sense. However, Paul saw him as on equal footing with his message and purpose. In my opinion he was a forerunner to the ministry of evangelist and could have even been a pattern for Paul’s definition of what that ministry was. The only reason he is relegated to the second group is that there is no clear evidence to put him in the first group. In early church writings (Clement), Apollos was not considered to be an apostle. To me, he is still a very special and received the distinction and honor Paul gave him “Apollos planted, I watered”.
      James the brother of Jesus – By default James should not be considered in the primary group. He is distinct from Matthias and the other because although most likely present at the choosing of the 12th to fill the role of Judas, he was not considered. Finally, James, was appointed by the apostles to fulfill the role of chief elder over the church at Jerusalem – this means he would not have his ministry without the support of the twelve.

    4. Reply Part II:

      Jude the brother of James – Also known as Thaddeus. Here is a case where the name change reveals all. He was one of the twelve and preached the gospel. His brother on the other hand James was a skeptic and was later converted – ergo his inclusion in the twelve – the primary group. He is said to have been martyred in Armenia.
      Epaphroditus – was sent by Paul to the Philippian church by Paul. He was received by Paul in Rome and served Paul as a representative of the church at Philippi.
      Silas – aka as Silvanus was a prominent leader in the church at Jerusalem and was chosen by the apostles and elders to return to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. This clearly defines him as being sent by the church there. He must be relegated to the secondary group at best.
      Barnabas – In the analysis of the terms Luke uses the word ‘apostle’, it is clear that the application of that word is different for the twelve versus Paul and Barnabas. This initially distinguishes them both from the primary group. However, Paul is unique in that he considers himself a peer where Barnabas in the book of Acts is never considered in that group even though he is referenced. As I stated before, Barnabas deserve his place in the secondary group but only Paul of all those covered here can be placed with the twelve. We need only look at the history of Barnabas after his parting with Paul. What is mentioned is no real additional in-roads. His zenith was with Paul and after that parting, there very little mentioned. Regarding his argument with Paul, this cannot be offered as proof of their being peers. Paul had controversy with the others on many subjects. In fact, I would say debate on important topics is the lifeblood of the church. Had it not been for controversy most of the theological works in the first three centuries would have not occurred nor would there be a canon.
      Regarding the argument of lumping apostles and gifts in the same grouping I think is a little premature. Looking at it at face value there is a primary difference: one is sourced in individuals as all ministries are and the other sourced in the third person of the trinity. One avenue is temporal and the other eternal. One will change and the other is unchangeable. Perhaps some of the gifts of Christ were in the form of ministries no longer needed while the Holy Spirit’s gifts are essential. I see no required joining of the two as you offer.
      Finally, ‘If the primary group is so influential, why are so few of the primary group mentioned? I think if you will go through some history of all these men, you will have that question answered. They evangelized the known world and beyond. I have an Indian friend who is from the Southern tip of India. His name is Philip. I asked him if he chose a name that was more user-friendly that his Indian name. He told me that was his name. He told me the story that the apostle Thomas had come to India as a missionary and established a church there. My friend Philip is a Catholic and his spiritual heritage can be placed directly back to Thomas the apostle. How is that for influence? Just because someone isn’t mentioned in the New Testament means that it was more or less finished before the fall of Jerusalem in approximately 57 a.d. You have to look at the whole story. With all respect, you need to seriously consider all the above.

    5. Replay Part III:

      Here is what I recommend, let's table this discussion, you do some research if you want to and then we will engage again. Frankly, I have no desire to change your life or your beliefs, that is up to God and I handed this kind of stuff over to Him years ago. I had some information I wanted to share. I wanted to show you that I had been in your line of thinking for years, in fact I was a Pastor at one point and taught these same concepts. I now no longer hold them as dear and I have presented the reasons why that are consistent, plausible and sound. I have tried not to construct anything without supporting material. Just because we want something to be so, doesn't mean it is. I do hold the personal conviction that I learned from William of Ockham...he was the grandfather of the Reformation he stated "Any authority that violates the scripture, has made their authority forfeit." To me, men or women that tout their calling as apostle have violated this maxim in a serious degree. Whatever was given to them by another has been forfeit as well. In my opinion, the door is open there is nothing to hold you if you so desire it. There is no vow made that binds you to an authority that has mis-represented themselves. Take it or leave it, it is your choice not mine, not anyone else's and most certainly not their's or their minions. Please take care of yourself. He who seeks the truth and is willing to pay for it above all else will find it.

  2. Now let's look at the verse in Ephesians "He gave some as apostles (lower case), some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints, for the work of service, for the building up of the body of Christ. Has the body of Christ been built up fully yet? Have all the saints received the equipping they need? And do we no longer need those that serve? We still need these things today, so the ministry of apostle is not obsolete. It is interesting to note that this is the only scripture where the word pastor is mentioned in the New Testament. Yet this is such a commonplace role of ministry that is never questioned. The role of the apostle is talked about a lot in the New Testament. I think this attack on the ministry of the apostle comes from our modern day experiences. We see pastors everywhere, so we think that's normal, but we don't see apostles everywhere, so we think it must not be for today. That is not the case, we must judge the scriptures as they were originally intended, not how men view them in light of today's society. I'm not questioning the place of the pastor, I just use this to show the hypocrisy of the church today, that such a scarcely mentioned ministry is never questioned, yet the role of apostle, because it is not seen everywhere today, is attacked.

    1. It is a good argument that you have stated. But I believe the premise is a little off kilter. You have ignored all the facts presented in this case. Taking your points:
      1> Has the body of Christ been fully built up yet? Well, it depends on what you mean by ‘fully built up’. I think what you mean is matured. This is where I believe it is good to go back to the greek roots of the word. In essence, this means the perfecting: the complete furnishing or equipping. Your premise is there is work to be done and can only be done by the ministries you have cited. My point is there has been a complete furnishing and equipping – the teachings of the apostles have provided both. These words do not infer training. They talk of providing what is necessary for survival and the means in which to operate with that equipping. The word is also related to providing in essence a ‘just and orderly arrangement’ as Calvin put it. What this means is a set of ‘laws’ (instructions) that help to define a governmental reign (Kingdom). With that said, a natural kingdom, country or commonwealth survives the death of its leaders by its laws and those laws are inherited by those who now lead and are bound by those laws. This is exactly what I presented and what you have skimmed over. The scriptures have defined the temporal nature of the office of apostle, not me. I think the premise of your argument is a little askew. It is well known that the body of Christ will never be fully built here in terms of its composition (members) this side of eternity. Whose responsibility is it to mature oneself? I believe personal responsibility should be taken and this is completely scriptural. We will stand before the Lord and give and account for ourselves. It is also true that leaders will answer for how they led but we are all responsible for our own actions.

      2> Have the saints received the equipping the need? Absolutely. There is not one thing Christ left undone. The question is what are we doing with it? This is where the training you infer comes into play. So, the question is who does the primary job of training? It is clear from the Biblical account these are done by the Pastors and Teachers – using apostolic teaching as a basis for their authority and subjects. Again, it is the canon that supplies the material for the perfecting of the saints.

      3> Do we no longer need those that serve? Of course but the field of those that do, in my opinion, does not require the office of the apostle. In fact, from the case presented, it is impossible.

      4> We see pastors everywhere, so we think it is normal, but we don’t see apostles everywhere, so we think it must not be for today. Exactly my point. If it was a crucial ministry for the modern day, we would not be having this conversation at all. To believe otherwise is to believe that God Himself is withholding the church what it needs to survive. It has never died out and will not. It has survived without this ministry for two thousand years and will continue to do so until HE comes for us all.
      Finally, attack is a very strong word and you seem to be focused on it. What has been presented is a logical and methodical argument. The conclusions hold and the onus is not on those who question the validity of the office, it is on those who don’t question the validity of the office.

    2. I can see I'm not going to change your mind through the scripture, you've developed your rationalization of the scripture and it is diametrically opposed to my interpretation. Neither of us will change our interpretations. Just as I want the ministry of apostle to be for today, so do you want the ministry of the apostle to not be for today, so you are justified in your rebellion against what you perceive as an illegitimate authority. Both of us let our desires affect our interpretation. One of us is right, we'll have to wait and see who it is. One thing I would ask is why would God pour out His Spirit so evidently and abundantly in Lakeview if Pastor James is violating His Word? God does not honor liars or deceitful people, look at the old testament false prophets. Yet God has blessed us with His presence and has not departed. So either we are worshipping in a high place He has allowed for a time (meaning we and our leadership are ignorant to how we are violating His Word), or we are correct in our interpretation. I see very little room for the argument that the authority is deliberately being deceitful and controlling, yet I hear this all the time from former members. Do you acknowledge that God moves here? And do you acknowledge that either we are doing it right or God is allowing this violation for a time? (Personally I think we are doing it as close to right as we can, otherwise God would have called us on it at some point over these 50 years).

    3. Acts, you have offered NO arguments that have invalidated any of what I have provided. I have consistently refuted each point you have offered and as far as I am concerned, the interpretations you have taken are nothing more than the eisgesis your leaders have always practiced. I have studied and shown myself approved. My points are NOT rationalization but a researched and supported exegisis of the scriptures. Most are not even my own words but the giants of the faith whose writings have lasted hundreds of years and more than that. The teachings you follow have not stood the test of time. Why? Your leaders are obviously not skilled in the proper methods of analysis and so the very nature of their interpretations are based on their own perceptions and conclusions. I have heard it said from Latter Rain variants ‘the sum of the word, is the truth’. Well? My conclusion is you want it to be so, so it is. For me, it is not because I want it to be so, it is because it is so. My ‘rebellion’ is yet another word-speak from your group to label and demonize, it is my yellow star (look it up). The point is, I am no longer a victim and will never be so again. I have engaged you and reached out to you as you have with the best of intentions. As far as my stance on this issue, I was once ignorant of the facts, I am no longer. As far as God moving in your midst, are you saying He does not move elsewhere? Your premise is that ‘God moves here, so we must be right’. I think that limits the Holy Spirit don’t you? So, are you saying that there is no legitimate movement of the Spirit of God elsewhere? Check your history. MANY have stated what Latter Rain churches have stated. What is the reality? Latter Rain is over. The movement is dead. As far as I am concerned, God has already judged it. How can I say that, by your own admission. You stated in an entry on another blog, that your churches were the only ones practicing what you practice. After the 75 years from Pentecost, the church had spread to the known world was vibrant and although under attack was flourishing. If you are the ‘Latter Rain’, then why is it your churches are not the same? Why has God allowed your movement to still be obscure. Your leaders through history have touted such great things as far as I can tell, they were the new apostolic authority that was going to change the churchscape into the New Testament church. Where is it? Where is the proof? In the glory years of your movement, there were hundreds of churches like yours now yours are left. What is the fruit that has been produced? The fruit is clear. Your leaders went on and spawned offshoots that produced church abuse by their own admission ( the discipleship movement, the prophetic movement,sings and wonders, etc.). Please don’t tell me your church is different than them. The proof is the very people you are debating with on several fronts. They have lost families, been divorced and have suffered greatly because of their association with your churches. There are not dozens there are hundreds. I have no doubt of your sincerity and that your people are not good people, they most definitely are. Ironically, they are duplicitous and are the hammer used to abuse. You have raised your leaders to levels that were never intended. The pattern is clear reverence becomes an idol. Most likely, there are those that want to be a part of your life but you refuse because they question your authority and your leaders would rather label and demonize than confront. Why? Because the scripture , the rightly divided scripture itself is the great equalizer and is the authority not them. I have seen leaders bumble when confronted with alternative views because they simply were not used to being challenged about it, I wonder if your situation is the same. You wanted to go down the rabbit hole and so you have. Take a look back from where you were and where you are now. If it is the same viewpoint, you have learned nothing from this engagement. Go back to sleep.

  3. Where do you get the scriptural support that the secondary group is bound to the primary group? Let's look at the primary group, how many are referenced in the book of Acts or the Epistles? I believe only Peter, John, James who was beheaded, and Paul. If this primary group is so influential, why are so few of the primary group mentioned? Yet Apollos, Timothy, Barnabas, James the brother of Jesus, and Jude the brother of Jesus all had major impacts on the early church, some independent of the "primary apostles". Granted, not all of these are stated as apostles, yet their ministry gives pretty strong evidence that they were. Barnabas was called an apostle, and was the one who initially stood up for Paul. He and Paul were equals in the first missionary journey (just look at the disagreement about John Mark, if Paul was Barnabas's superior, there would've been no argument). Timothy and Apollos are both alluded to as apostles and we're directly affected by Paul's ministry. James and Jude wrote scripture and James was influential in the book of Acts, this does not seem to be the characteristic of someone who is dependent on the primary group. Also, the argument that is used to say the ministry of apostle is no longer used by God is the same argument that is used to deny present day spiritual gifts, that the 1st century was a special time and since we have the scripture we don't need these gifts from God. I don't know about you, but I want the fullness of what God has for me, as He as laid out in His Word. He never said anything about apostles or spiritual gifts being for a time, man had tried to quench these things because they are not the norm to him.