Apostles Today

By Terry Virgo

As a Charismatic and a Bible-loving Christian, I believe that when Jesus ascended he gave gifts to his church. Exalted to the right hand of God, he received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and poured out not only the Pentecostal blessing described in Acts 2:33 but also gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11) to help equip his church and bring it to maturity.

These variously named gifts obviously differ in their function and relevance. It doesn’t say ‘he ascended and gave priests’ or ‘he ascended and gave clergymen’. He gave diverse and distinct gifts. The evangelist differs from the prophet. The apostle differs from the pastor. Otherwise these titles are redundant – a waste of space.

If the inspired Scriptures distinguish between varieties of ministries and clearly imply that we need this diversity of gifting to bring about God’s ultimate intention, why do so many Bible-believing Christians and churches ignore the obvious implications?

For instance, the apostles of the New Testament had a distinct task from the evangelists or pastors, and it wasn’t, as so many of our evangelical brothers suggest, simply to write Scriptures! The apostle Barnabas (Acts 14:14) wrote no Scripture nor did most of the Twelve, while Luke, nowhere described as an apostle, wrote much of the New Testament.

What was the work of an apostle? Surely he was pre-eminently a church founder, giving clear identity to the new communities of believers that began to multiply around the Mediterranean as described in the book of Acts. Perhaps Paul’s most succinct description of himself as an apostle is found in 1 Corinthians 3:10 where he claimed to be ‘a wise master builder’ who had laid the foundation of the Corinthian church.

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

4 thoughts on “Apostles Today

  1. Good article but it leaves me begging for more.

    I believe that there is apostolic ministry today. Your own ministry could be characterized as such. My old pastor John Wimber could also be classified as having had that ministry.

    My question, is it ‘a’postle as you spell or ‘A’postle as a title that some want to give themselves.

    I believe that you are saying here that it is a gifting or function which I am entirely comfortable with.

  2. I agree with you Michael. I am happier speaking of ‘apostolic ministry’ too. It gives credit to the functional aspect of the ministry rather than the personality. Doing the work, deploying the gift, reaping the fruit, is the most important thing. If that is true, there are probably more ‘apostles’ than we think. However, recognising and honouring the gift/minster makes way for receiving from their ministry. It’s essential, however, that any apostolic ministry is true to the Apostolic message once and for all delivered to the saints.

  3. Greetings Peter!

    Terms are important here. Big ‘A’ and little ‘a’ is important.

    Sloppy terminology > unbiblical expectations of ministers > poor church government > ruined churches > dishonoured Christ.

    Clearly no one today is appointed eyewitness of the resurrected Christ, nor has anyone been personally commissioned or empowered to attest that calling. (e.g. No one today performs miracles in the way Paul/Peter did.) No one is authorised to write Scripture today or have revelation equal to it. Obviously the unrepeatable foundation of the BIG ‘C’ Church (1Cor.3:10, Eph.2:20) cannot be laid again. Every minister today builds on that foundation and should “take heed how he builds on it.”

    For these reasons I do not use the term Apostle of ministers today. My caution to those who do would take Paul’s example: 2Cor.10:13, “We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us”. While I desire to be as much like Paul as possible, I believe God has set different limits to my sphere today. We should accept that. Eph.4:7 “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

    This said, a ministry may be apostolic (by church-planting, input to many churches etc.) without interfering with the independency of the local church. The obvious people today are missionaries (cf. missio.Latin, apostello.Grk) who should be church-planting, training etc. But, we should take note to whom the Apostles devolved their authority (see Tit.1:5, 1Tim.3, Acts 14:23). The Apostles passed on the baton to elders responsible for each independent assembly.

    Simple clarification of terms helps lessen the perceived Reformed/Charismatic divide.

    Now… Prophets today…Oh don’t get me started!

    Ali

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