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Apostolic Requirements?

What is the requirement, according to the Bible, that a person would be called an apostle?

The requirement for the original twelve apostles is recorded in Act chapter 1.

Acts 1:21, 22 "Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection."

So only faithful men who had been with Jesus (necessitating that they be Jews at that time) from His water baptism by John, witnesses of the Resurrected Christ, and present at His ascension. Matthias fulfilled these requirements and was chosen by the Lord through the Holy Spirit to replace Judas. There is a false doctrine that has been around for centuries that Matthias was the choice of the apostles and that Paul really was God’s choice to come later. But we know this is untrue, not only through the record in Acts 1 showing that the Lord chose him, but Paul did not fill the requirements set forth in Act 1 for one of the twelve. These twelve will always be known as the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb. There will never be another who can join them nor replace one of them. However, there are numerous post-ascension apostles, Paul being only one example of this much larger group of apostles.

There are five post-ascension ministries directly given through the present day ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. These are current day extensions of His presently functioning ministry on the earth.

Eph 4:11 And He Himself [Jesus] gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,

Unlike the gifts of the spirit which are given to the individual to minister to the church, these are gifts of individuals whose lives are the gift Christ is giving to the church.

There are a number of requirements for post-ascension apostleship listed in scripture beginning with Paul’s listing in 1 Cor 9:1, 2.

“Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.”

The apostle must first and foremost have the heart of a bond servant. A bondservant is someone who has been set free from all bondage and duties of an indentured slave and has willingly placed their life back in service to the master forever (Deut 15:13-18). All of the apostles considered themselves first and foremost bond-servants and today’s apostles will likewise carry the marks of Christ their master, notably their servant’s heart and humility.

Rom 1:1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God.

2 Pet 1:1 Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ...

The apostles have a close relationship to the Lord, often being mentored by him as well as by other apostles. The Lord made a promise to the apostles that he would visit them after ascending to the father.

John 14:18 "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”

The fulfillment of this promise is recorded in scripture as He still is doing so today (Acts 9:5; 23:11; 1 Cor 9:1). This is not to say that The Lord only appears to apostles. He is revealing Himself at a much increased rate today, even to non-believers who are searching for truth. As the apostolic age increases and the apostolic anointing increases to the church He will more often personally visit churches and regions. However, the apostle of today will have a visitation of the Lord at some point in their life which will impact them to the point that they carry something from Him to the church, they will be marked. What they have seen of Him will impact them in the way that a vision of a building impacts an architect, so that what was imparted to them directly by the Lord will be built by them in the body of Christ.

When Paul said to the Corinthian church that he was their apostle even if he was not an apostle to others, he was pointing out that apostles have spheres of influence and calling. No apostle is an apostle to everyone in the body of Christ. While they might be a teacher, prophet or evangelist to many more, the apostle will have an apostolic sphere of influence which will be recognized by those whom he serves as apostle and others who recognize this. The Corinthian church was “the seal of apostleship in the Lord” for Paul. As an apostle he established churches. This mandate for apostles is often confused with planting churches which is not an attribute of apostleship, but an attribute of discipleship (see also http://www.flintnet.org/THE%20SEAL%20OF%20APOSTLESHIP.htm  & http://www.flintnet.org/Teaching1.htm ).

In the early church, churches were planted by disciples and other ministers beside apostles (Acts 11:20; Acts 8:5). However it was felt that even churches which had been planted needed to be established by apostles. This is referred to by Paul writing to the church in Rome, which was already quite large.

Rom 1:11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established.

The gift that he was speaking of was that of the apostle which he has already mentioned to them in his opening verse to them (Rom 1:1). This also was seen in the case of the church in Samaria which was planted by Philip the evangelist, but was established by the apostles Peter and John (Acts 8:5, 14). It is also interesting to note that these churches were not the type that we have today that we call “local churches” or “house churches”. These churches referred to were entire city-churches. This is something that you will notice with the modern day apostle, in that they have a kingdom heart and vision that goes beyond their own church or ministry and encompasses the well-being of all the churches of a city or region.

2 Cor 11:28 “Besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”

This attribute often manifests it’s self in a self sacrificing nature even within the apostle’s own ministry. They will have a vision that goes beyond their own sphere which may often frustrate those for whom the apostle is directly responsible for. But the more mature the apostle becomes the more likely he or she is to understand this and have the ability to raise up the understanding of the saints and appropriate the faith necessary for the saints also to have a kingdom vision.

2 Cor 10:13, 15, 16 “We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us; a sphere which especially includes you. ... but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you ...”

Lloyd C. Phillips, Director
The Fellow Laborers' International Network (FLInt Net)
P.O. Box 113 Missoula, MT 59806
Phone (406) 251- 5730


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