What is the
requirement, according to the Bible, that a person would be called an
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
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
Eph 4:11 And He Himself [Jesus] gave some
to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and
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
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
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