Do Apostles Govern?

April 29, 2000

Hi, servants of the Lord, (or should I call you rulers of the church?)

Good discussion. There seems to be a continuity here which really shows definite unity. We begin with the affirmation of the role of apostles, and of the authority of Jesus in those that have been sent. Check out the progression in these excerpts:

The role of apostles remains unchanged from the role of the original apostolic fathers. It is a spiritual authority demanding not a physical or mental submission, but instead a spiritual submission to these ambassadors of the Lord.

Anyone may be called as an apostle. There is no pre-requisite other than devotion and submission to the Lord. Many see the apostle as a superhuman, which he is not. He is a humble servant of the Lord Jesus and doing His work, not following his own agenda or be among those who manipulate and control.

An apostle may be a person sent out by God for the purpose of setting up a new church but there are many roles for an apostle. There are the ones that are called to the single nation they live in. And, you have the ones called to a local area. But, an apostle is the humblest of all of the Government of God. I like what one said, In the role of 'Fishers of Men', the same rule applies as it does with actual fishing, "You've gotta catch 'em, before you can clean 'em".


The idea of authority and governorship is the area we need to work on. It has already been discussed somewhat from different perspectives in the discussions below and I would like to now confine the discussion to the issue of authority alone. Down at the bottom of these submissions is the following quote. I have heard this govern, guard, etc. thing before and it really looks cute with all the attributes of the five-fold beginning with "g" and all, I wondered where others were quoting this from, thanks Gary.

1.) Apostles govern
2.) Prophets guide
3.) Pastors guard
4.) Evangelists gather
5.) Teachers ground

The part I have a problem with is that "Apostles govern." Correct me if I am wrong but I am under the opinion that only the Lord Jesus should govern the church and we as members of His body are to be walking in unison according to His headship. I know we are talking about a spiritual authority here that is dispensed to the church but every time I hear the word authority as regards the church, I always think that the word could just as well be replaced with responsibility, service or ministration. We have already discussed the doctrine of the Nicolaitans that has replaced godly leadership with fleshly leadership in the separation of clergy and laity, but there are still many that think my problem with this is that I have a problem with it. The same goes for authority, I think that we are back to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which God hates but we should discuss it openly and see if you can change my mind.

If we are truly to be servants, no matter what part of the five-fold we are in, and to submit to each other as in the Lord, how can we assume an authoritarian position, even if we think it is the authority that has been given to us by God. I know that this so-called authority has been the way it has been taught but this is the problem that I have with it, that it is time for church leadership to lay down our crowns and give Him all the authority, all the honor, and acknowledge Him as our only leader and us as servants and ministers just like it was in the early church. And that would apply to apostles as well as to the other members of the body. There is but one head and the last day revival will be brought about by those that submit completely to the authority of Jesus Christ. I believe that the man-child, the Manifest Sons, the 144,000, the remnant and all those involved, whoever they are, will come from those that have this attitude of being in One accord with truths like this, irregardless of what has previously been taught.

Now if this is how we gain the authority, by submitting to each other as in the Lord, let's hear it. We all know of tyrant apostles who think that we should come into one accord with them because of the pretentious governorship authority that they think they have from their calling. True apostles cannot submit to them, because they are an authority to themselves and cannot submit to others that God has indeed called. If we are to consider them false apostles or just misled, ignorant, deluded or mistaken, let's hear it.

I understand that the authoritarian way is the way it has been done in the past and in deference to others that hold to this, they might be right, I just cannot accept it as yet and believe that it is time to take a firm stand on who is the true leader in the church, who it is that should truly govern us and whose authority it is that we should follow. It is as simple as that. It is said that the Lord is in the process of restoring apostolic government to the Church, why cannot it be said that the Lord is restoring apostolic responsibility in the church or apostolic ministration or apostolic servants in the church. We have already established in our agreement that apostles are to be the greatest servants, is that enough for us or are we to accept we are to submit to fleshly authority in rulership? Does the "fathering" authority of apostles reveal the true nature of Christ? Or should we finally accept that Jesus is our brother and we should accept others in the church as our brothers and sisters as well and not as rulers and the ruled.

It has been said that the true apostles will exemplify true servanthood. Also acknowledge that the false apostles will be evident in that they have to resort to manipulation and control in order to maintain their following. It's mentioned that true spiritual authority will be a threat to them as it was to the religious leaders in Jesus' days on earth. So, do we have that true spiritual authority as Jesus did, if we are among the true?

Please do not get me wrong here, I am just raising the questions and not trying to rule out the authority that Jesus may in fact be giving us. Understand that Paul wrote of authority and rule in II Corinthians 10, but that we should not boast or commend ourselves or compare ourselves with others. There has been such a strong tendency for authority in any measure to be misused that I wonder if there is any way that it can be used righteously. Is this among the new thing that Jesus would have us learn? Are we singing a new song or the same old tired one that brought the church into the lack of knowledge? In the parable of Mark 13:34, "For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch." Jesus has gone and left us His authority? We are warned not to be found sleeping when the master comes back. Also in John 5, Jesus said that:"For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man." We are His brothers and we are to be the representatives of Christ, do we in truth have that authority?

All power has been given to Jesus in heaven and in earth, all power, right, not some of it to be shared with us but all power, isn't that right or am I mistaken? We do know that when we are baptized in the Holy Ghost that we too have power, is it the power to exert His authority? We know for sure that we have authority over the demons and He gave that authority to the disciples, but that is in the name of Jesus, right? He is the One with the authority to drive them out, isn't He? If we, in the name of Jesus wield the authority of Jesus, is it enough? or has He given us power of our own?

Matthew 20, "Ye 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." Does this mean that our ministrations and servant-hoods are actually derived authority, even though Jesus said that it would not be so? Jesus had the authority and He was here to minister and to serve. Maybe, it goes both ways, you tell me. It is also mentioned in Luke 22 in a different way: And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve." Am I getting it right what Jesus is saying, or are we to be rulers and have authority over others in the church or apostles to be governors over the rest of the five-fold? I was under the impression that it was the Jesus to be born that was prophesied to be the governor over Israel, not us. Should I submit to another's rulership if we are submitting to each other? I may rule my house, but in the church? Now you see my problem.

We also know that we will have the authority in the kingdom, but is that the kingdom of now or the kingdom to come? Another parable of Luke 19 has us given the authority over cities, if we have been faithful, we will have authority. Saul had authority before He received the Lord but that was temporal authority from the high priests. Once He became a Christian, he talked of himself being a minister and servant and even a slave. When Paul writes of the second coming in I Corinthians 15, he says that Jesus will "put down all rule and all authority and power." Are the true apostles in that day among those that will be "put down." Paul asks us to pray for kings and those in authority, is he speaking of ministers? He does however tell Titus "These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee." What kind of authority is Paul speaking of here? Elders are to rule well, what does that mean? Is Paul teaching differently than Jesus? Paul speaks of us following him as he follows the Lord as if in leadership but he also tells us that it is his example that we are to follow.

No conclusions have been drawn here, only questions. Our questions may be as valid as the Egyptian who addressed Moses, "Who made you a ruler and judge over us?" I recognize that there may be a godly authority, but if we are to submit to each other in the Lord, what is it? What of the apostles and pastors that use authority to lord it over others and would have us come to one accord with them? Can we have authority without rule and lordship? Can we have order without rule? Are we to truly be governors like Jesus told us not to be?

Get back to me on the issue of "authority in the church and do apostles govern."


Hi Jay and all,

Amen to the comments thus far concerning the office of apostles, and what to look for in those claiming to be the Lord's appointed. What I glean from your words in regards to the original question of the role played by today's apostles is that it remains unchanged from the role of the original apostolic fathers. Indeed, because it was Christ who established this appointment and He and his teachings remain unchanged.

I would like to offer further comment in regards to the 'spiritual authority' mentioned by Doug. I feel that this is a key point in recognizing those called as apostles. We know that no one is born an apostle (though they are set apart at birth), and that they are 'appointed and anointed' by the Lord and through the Holy Spirit. Part of this anointing includes a 'spirit' of authority, which is clearly recognizable by all that share the spirit of Christ. This presence is undeniable and indisputable. This 'spiritual authority' is very different from the charismatic and manipulative leaders of the world, and the children of God are drawn by the potency of the Holy Spirit which seems to emanate from them, demanding not a physical or mental submission, but instead a spiritual submission to these ambassadors of the Lord.

Also mentioned was the outward appearance or impression of an apostle. The Lord's appointed have but one agenda, and that is to continue the Lord's work, without compromise or partiality, yet with selfless motivation. Apostleship is not a part-time job and requires unbridled and constant devotion, often taxing one's physical and mental capacities. Their life is not their own, and pleasure comes from a succession of completed tasks, eager to begin the next. Food and sleep are concessions to the earthly tent, but not celebrated or anticipated events. They have no interest in personal recognition, but aspiring only to see that what the Lord has accomplished through them, is successfully administered to His glory. Though they share the global objective of Christ, they will in all humility and compassion look to the needs of any individual. They are human in every way except in their attitude, which has been injected with an extra measure of faith and fortitude, necessary to their calling. There is no theology in apostleship, because for them it is a way of life.

Anyone may be called as an apostle. There is no pre-requisite other than devotion and submission to the Lord. The first to be called were fishermen and tax-collectors, but the potter molds the clay for his own use. The appointment is evidenced by the anointed spiritual authority, the humility and sincerity of their hearts, and the fruits revealed in their ministries. Peace be with you in Christ Jesus,

It's refreshing to finally get to talk about Apostles. Although they are not yet fully accepted by the present-day Church, I believe a very positive influence is being made. Manifest Sons and Apostles do fall in the same category, however a Manifest Son does not necessarily mean apostleship. We see today many mega-ministries. Some I would consider Manifest Sons, but certainly not apostles. Check out their fruits. The criteria as laid out in Acts, etc. shows a set pattern on Apostleship "operations". Apostle is not necessarily, and rarely, the head of a ministry. I believe this is a current belief. The Apostle is a five-fold minister and operates in the gifts and calling of God with signs and wonders. I also perceive that many see the Apostle as a superhuman, which he is not. He is a humble servant of the Lord Jesus and doing His work, not following his own agenda as we see many so-called today. God's agenda is first and foremost, but I see many have taken on the role of "all-knowing, all-doing" tactics. God forbid that this attitude should continue. These Manifest Sons must operate towards unity of the Body and not division.

What I see is happening as I search and study various modern Apostles is that there is the age-old tendency to become "groupies" with our groups. This, therefore is causing the manifestation of cell-groups, rather than a bringing together of the Church. I see different doctrines emerging from these groups. The intent is good, but already we see division and separation, AGAIN, on the same issues that have divided the Church for years. Are these Manifest Sons? Or an "elite" group looking for self-glory? It hurts the heart of God to see this. I thank the Lord for this discussion, Jay. Bless the Lord for this site. More to follow....

love in Jesus, Joseph

Greetings to all,
I would like to throw out a few thoughts on the "office of apostles".First i agree 100% on the five fold foundation of any spirit lead church.To leave any part out would be taking away of God's word.We as flesh people seem to always desire a title to prove our worth.To people we like we give good titles to and to people we don't like we brand them with bad titles.Therefore we are setting ourselves up as judges.The truth is that our actions set us up as whose and what we are.To me the word says to be true to our calling,but we seem to limit that calling as to what we want it to be.If we are bought by the blood then we no longer our own,but instead,we are to obey the leading of the spirit of the one who bought us.To me an apostle is a person sent out by God for the purpose of setting up a new church.If you look at what a church is you might find that it means people.So.if an apostle sets up a new church then that could mean that the apostle has introduced Jesus to a lost and dying soul.The gathering together of these souls as a group in a building is what we in modern times are calling churches.For we are one body with no one part any more important than the other.As we are called of God ,we are to do His bidding,which can change at any time.We can all do the works of the five fold if we but humble ourselves before an all might God and say"here i am Lord,use me."This takes time to learn how to kill the flesh in our lives and to raise up His spirit within us.What we know in our minds and what we have learned in this world gets in the way of our following His leading.The more we learn of Him the easier the Yoke.I think that any born again and spirit filled child of God can do the work God has for us to do,if we do as we are told to do,that is to love Him with all of our body,soul,and mind.To limit what God can do thru us is to not believe that we are dead and it is He that lives in us that has the power to do all things.Then if that statement is true that nothing is impossible with God, then we at anytime can be called upon to be any part of the five fold.So i feel that or role today is to be willing to take the role as an apostle as God calls us out to do so,to be willing to lay down anything that would stop us from being able to fulfill that office,and to be able to step out in faith with the promises of God as our shield.An apostle needs to be a circuit rider setting out in this lost and sin filled world to do the work of his father without any thought of his own glory,but instead,to bring glory to God.

Once again I say thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts,your brother in Christ Jim S.

There are many roles for an apostle. There are those that are called to the nations. There are the ones that are called to the single nation they live in. And, you have the ones called to a local area. But, an apostle is the humblest of all of the Government of God. I agree to an extent with apostles being under the authority of Jesus. But, they have to submit to a counsel of elders, ie. other apostles, pastors, and those called to be elders. Paul is a good example. In the book of acts, we see that Paul returned to Antioch to give an account of his trips to the counsel of elders. No matter how high the call you have, there must be someone there for you to submit to. Without that submission, your humbleness falls to the wayside. This leaves room for pride to sink in. If you are operating in pride, you aren't operating in the Spirit of the Lord. This is all I have for the moment.
Be BLESSED in Jesus name,

Hi Jay,

I believe that we would first have to drop everything the minute we heard Jesus say "Follow Me". Think about it, how many people would really do it? I know I have & the rewards are certainly worth it, even here on earth. I believe that Jesus is looking for more people to teach The Word of God on an individual level. I pray each morning that God sends me those most in need in my workplace, so I can hear their concerns & if possible, provide viable, Christian based solutions. I've had people ask me why I don't seem bothered by what goes on in the workplace & I'll sometimes say "I've been praying a lot". Some smile & accept it & perhaps try it, some really don't know what to say, but at least I got it into the conversation non-intrusively, perhaps if they encounter hard times, they'll remember my conversation with them. I believe that Jesus wants us to be 'sharp-shooters' helping one or a handful of people at a time, instead of scatter-gunning, just hoping one person hears us. In the role of 'Fishers of Men', the same rule applies as it does with actual fishing, "You've gotta catch 'em, before you can clean 'em". Some of my favorite biblical points of reference I like to use are found in 1 thessalonians 1:2 thru 1:10, 1 thessalonians 3:9 thru 3:13, 1 thessalonians 4:1 thru 4:12 & best of all Matthew 10:1 thru 10:42.

In Christ,

Tom Besade

Hello to all,

This is a great topic to discuss. I read something from a minister named Ralph Mahoney that simply defines the primary function of the five-fold ministry:

1.) Apostles govern
2.) Prophets guide
3.) Pastors guard
4.) Evangelists gather
5.) Teachers ground

While there is some "overlapping" between each five-fold position, it is necessary to specifically define the boundaries of each so that they can be fulfilled as the Lord desires. It is also necessary to define the boundaries of the other five-fold ministries also. This helps an individual to define their specific five-fold ministry calling, and keeps confusion, chaos, control, and manipulation out of the church.

The Lord is in the process of restoring apostolic government to the Church. More specifically, this involves apostolic authority and doctrine. This governing authority is a "fathering" authority that reveals the true nature of Christ. It will reveal to the Church what it really means to take up your cross and follow Christ. Jesus Christ and Him crucified will be the preeminent message. The power of the cross will come alive as we have not experienced, because it will be preached by men (not excluding women) to whom God will entrust many churches, cities, regions, and nations.

These apostles will exemplify true servanthood, and will have no problem in being "team players". Because of this, their authority will be unmatched. They will speak with a mouth and wisdom that the adversary cannot gainsay or resist. Those, in the Church, who submit to them will be released from the yoke of religion and will come to know the kind and light yoke of the meek and lowly Jesus. Those who already operate in true spiritual authority will recognize the apostles' authority and submit to it.

Mr. Morrell made an excellent point in stating that each man must function according to the measure of faith and grace given him to fulfill His ministry. This is Biblically sound and true concerning the apostolic. Apostles will function on different levels of responsibility and, thus, authority. This is supported in Scripture as was pointed out. It is important that we understand this so that we do not make the mistake of not accrediting apostleship to "lesser apostles". Not every apostle will function in the authority of Paul, yet some will.

The false apostles will be evident in that they have to resort to manipulation and control in order to maintain their following. True spiritual authority will be a threat to them as it was to the religious leaders in Jesus' days on earth.

I leave you with the following response I gave to a friend who ask some interesting questions concerning Church government:

Answers to Church Government Questions

A good friend of mine asked me the following questions:

(The questions and answers have been slightly modified)

Was wondering...what authority does the pastor of a church have in church government? What responsibility and authority do the deacons, elders have?
Is the five-fold ministry in operation in the local churches, or are they separate from the local church?
Should they operate in the local church?
In your spiritual experiences is the gift of pastor greater than the other four of the five fold?
If you were my pastor and someone called me to ask me to pray for them, do I have to call you before I can pray for that person?
There's a name for that, isn't there?
My wife and I would value your spiritual discernment on these questions.

I answered as follows:

You have some very good and timely questions. These questions and others like them must be answered in order for the Church to advance toward New Covenant reform.

God has prompted me to write on "The Restoration of Apostolic Authority." I will be doing that as soon as I complete two other articles.

As the Church transitions into true New Covenant church government, there will be some resistance and extremes that we will have to deal with.

The primary definition given to the term "rule" by Strong's Concordance is "to feed the sheep; tend the flock". "To govern or rule" is a secondary definition. Any man (or woman) who "rules" over the house of God, must do it as a shepherd does over his sheep. The true shepherd serves his flock - laying down his life for the sheep. Rulership in the house of God has nothing to do with someone lording over or controlling people's lives. That is how cults begin. This later type of rule is what took place during "The Shepherding Movement" a few decades ago.

The pastor's authority in a church is like unto the protective authority a shepherd has over his sheep. If a pastor requires that you ask him before you can pray for someone who has called you on the phone, then that would be overstepping the boundaries of his authority. Unless, the person who was asked to pray was someone who had problems in their life that would cause more harm than good to the one who asked for prayer. Always remember this: A pastor's primary motivation is to protect the sheep. Therefore, you would have to discern as to whether the pastor is being protective or is insecure and controlling. A pastor has protective authority ONLY over those who willingly submit to him.

Every fivefold ministry position must clearly define and stay within the boundaries of authority that God has given them to operate in or they will end up operating in a form of witchcraft. Personally, I will not submit to anyone who does not know his or her boundaries.

The fivefold ministry must be a part of the local church in order for her to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:11). When it comes to the operation of the fivefold ministry in the local church, the pastor has the greatest authority, but only in reference to the church they pastor. The governing authority in the Church as a whole would be the apostle. The guiding authority in the Church as a whole would be the prophet. The protective authority in the individual church is the pastor and he must see the important role that the other fivefold ministry gifts have so that the church he pastors would not be lacking in anything. The evangelist authority lies within his ability to exhort the Church to fulfill the Great Commission. The teachers authority is in his ability to ground people in the truth of God's Word.

If I went into an area, having been sent by God (as an apostle for instance), the pastors of the local church would have to embrace the authority I operate in or I would not have much authority in that area. I must submit first to their authority. Then they in turn would have to submit to my authority and, thus, reap the benefit that it brings. Apostles can have authority over whole cities or regions (including numerous churches). If a pastor wants to see the whole the city or region where his church is located transformed then he must submit to the apostle. If apostles want to see whole cities and regions transformed, they must submit to the pastors.

You can only rule where your authority is accepted. That does not mean a person has to have cooperation from all spiritual leaders in a city or area in order to see that city or area transformed. God gave the Apostles in the early Church favor with all the people. You will have favor with whom God gives you favor. If the apostle or prophet exemplifies the nature of Christ, then pastors will easily accept their authority. In addition, the pastors must also function as true New Covenant pastors, or else they will consider all true spiritual authority a threat.

While protecting the sheep, the pastor will determine to whom they can safely subject their sheep. If an apostle, prophet, evangelist, or teacher desires to minister in a particular church he must first submit to that pastor's protective scrutiny. He must also look like he has been with Jesus. A truly discerning pastor knows the Spirit of Christ. On a more practical note, they will want to know to whom the apostle or prophet, etc, has made themselves accountable to. Spiritual lone rangers do not have a good reputation. Most of them are out of balance in doctrine and have strange ideas (this has been my personal experience, and the experience of many pastors.) To be in authority, one must be under authority.

Most important of all - a man's reputation goes before him. If we have true spiritual authority from God, others who operate in true spiritual authority will recognize it. This is how we obtain a platform for ministry. It is not about self-promotion.

Deacons should be in charge of the helps ministry in the local church and that is it. (Sadly, many churches are deacon possessed). They are to tend to all the practical needs of the body. An elder should serve primarily as a source of accountability and counsel for the pastor. Yet, the pastor should have the final decision on all things unless the elders unanimously are in disagreement. This keeps the pastor in check. No man is infallible. Proper church government brings true order, keeps everyone accountable, and at the same time covers a multitude of sin.

All true ministry is about serving under Christ's yoke. It is not about us. Jesus alone must be the center, and not the personalities of men. When we miss it at this crucial point, then everything else will be out of order.

Well, that is enough for now. If you have any other questions, let me know. We will see y'all - not this Monday but the next.

Gary Patterson

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