The meaning of the word apostles are the sent forth ones. It comes from the Greek I send and from and is essentially the same word apostolos as we use in English. The twelve disciples of the Gospels are the foundation apostles that stand as the pillars of the church. They were to "be with Jesus" and called to cast out demons. There are pillars of the church called to be apostles today with the definite higher calling of the apostolic gift but the word apostle also includes anyone who has been sent by God for a special calling like missionaries or special emissaries. Paul, Barnabas and Silas all held the office of apostles "sent" by the Lord, as well as the disciples and many other New Testament persons. An apostle in any age is one that has been sent by God to help bring the church to maturity.

Today's apostles are still being sent out from Jesus to carry His message. Apostles are numbered with the five-fold ministry of Ephesians 4 with the prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers until "we all come in the unity of the faith." When you are sent, you go in the name of the One who sent you. When Jesus said to His disciples, "As my Father has sent me, even so I send you," in Matthew 10:16, He was using the Greek word apostle. He used the same word apostle when He sent out the seventy in Luke 10.

Apostles break new ground, this is why they are listed first in I Corinthians 12: 28. The false five-fold will not see this as sent first but as ranked first in authority. The example of Paul is in I Corinthians 4: 9 and 10, "For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are honorable, but we are despised."

An apostle will set standards for the church according to divine mandate. This will include ground breaking ministries for sure but most commonly, God uses us as His special envoys. An apostolic calling today should be given to bring churches together more than establishing new ones. We don't have to know that we are apostles to be sent.

Since the recognition of true apostles is found in the prophetic spirit, many fundamentalists and cults deny the existence of modern day apostles. True apostolic authority lies in the collective consciousness of true Holy Ghost ministries, establishing unity through us, as we all submit to the Lord. It is not subject to the heirarchy of church leadership.

The Jewish Sanhedrin had its apostles, and sent messengers with information to the various outlining communities. Paul was at first an emissary of the Sanhedrin, an apostolos, he later became an apostle for Jesus. The disciples that Jesus sent out door to door were apostles. In the everyday life of Greco-Roman world, an apostle was one sent to arrange a marriage or divorce or to deliver a legal decision.

Billy Graham uses the word apostle in three senses. First, apostleship is used in a general sense that all of us are sent into the world by Christ. The second uses are the messengers sent on particular errands. The third is the gift of apostleship.

Jesus is the One gathering His people together in these last days, to a unity that cannot be of any one ministry in any way except in the sense that we are the Body of Christ with Jesus as the Head and with us as members of His body. Jesus as the true shepherd is gathering us to Him by His spirit, no titles, no delineation, just obedience.

Some apostles mentioned in the New Testament are:

  • The Seventy (Luke 10:1, 3) Matthias (Acts 1:26)
  • James, the Lord's brother (Gal. 1:19)
  • Paul (Acts 14:14)
  • Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14; 1 Cor. 9:5 & 6)
  • Apollos (1 Cor. 4:6-9)
  • Andronicus (Rom. 16:7)
  • Junia (Rom. 16:7)
  • Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:25, {messenger is apostle in the Greek}
  • Titus (2 Cor. 8:23 {also messenger)
  • Unamed brother with Titus (2 Cor. 8:18, 23)
  • Timothy (1 Thess. 1:1, 2:6)
  • Silas/Silvanus (1 Thess. 1:1, 2:6)

False Apostles

There are also false apostles whom the Lord has not sent but go anyway. The knowledge of the apostolic office in ministries has been restored today but it seems to be too fashionable. False ones that look and act like the real thing have both subtle and glaring differences and we need spiritual discernment to recognize them. Jesus commended the Church of Ephesus in Revelation to John, who wrote, "I know your works and your labor and your patience and how you cannot bear them which are evil. And you have tried them which say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars."

Deceivers operate as if from a command from the Lord, speaking in His name, and getting us to follow after them or toward a doctrinal spirit that divides us. Jesus told us not to. True apostles will exemplify true servanthood but beware of feigned humility. False apostles resort to manipulation and control in order to maintain a following. Beware of half truths. Pride elevates spiritual gifts to maintain a false authority and a false spirituality. True spiritual authority will be a threat, just as it was to the religious leaders in Jesus' day.

Like pastors who lord it over the flock, there are apostles that stress the governorship of apostles. This is what Jesus said to His disciples, which were also His twelve apostles:

You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Matthew 20.

It bears repeating on the issue of authority: "IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU." That is very clear. The apostles were never sent to govern and rule but if we are to be the representatives of Jesus, then His authority and rule are to be governed through us. We need to know exactly what this means without replacing servanthood with headship, ministrations with governing and submission with leadership. And we must learn what it is to submit to one another.

So-called authority has been the way it has been taught but it is past time for church leadership to lay down their crowns and give Him all the authority, all the honor, with Jesus as Lord and we as His servants and ministers - just like it was in the early church. The man-child, the Manifest Sons, the 144,000, the remnant called out, the Bride of Christ and all those involved, whoever they are, whenever, whatever, will stem from these truths.

False apostles will in one way or another exhibit false characteristics. You will find false apostles with the sins of the Nicolaitans in the Babylonian "pecking order" of fleshly authority, forbid women in the ministry, they exalt themselves and try to gather others around them. False apostles come with their own agenda and traditions, their own version of the truth, subject only to false prophets, wise in their own eyes, a law unto themselves, authoritarian, tyrannical, expecting obedience to their teaching and will lash out in the flesh if criticized.

Many false apostles are sent initially but because of the pride of their calling become false and led away into delusion and arrogance. The false is easy to spot if you know the true. True sheep of the Great Shepherd hear His voice. Don't fall for the title apostle in front of a name.

True apostles throughout history are easy to find if you are looking in the right direction. They could be humble or radiate power and glory in their lives but they should be progressive enough by God's standards to be opposed by the established church leadership. You want anointed ministries? Pour love upon the brethren.
[12, 26, 30, 35, 87, 112, 117, 324, 334, Revelation 2, Ephesians 4. Apostles as part of the five-fold ministry was an item on the latter rain discussion list]

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