PART 4 APOSTLES - ARE THEY STILL AMONG US?

PART 4 APOSTLES - ARE THEY STILL AMONG US?

A Chapter by rondo
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There are functions of an apostle; do you know what these are?

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PART 4 APOSTLES - Are They Still Among Us?

CHAPTER 5

There Are More Functions for the Office Gift of Apostle

Who would have thought that for an office that many consider as being no longer viable that there would be almost as many functions and qualifications as someone who is called to the office of pastor. After we have looked at the remaining scripture sections we will summarize the functions and qualifications of an apostle.

Can an apostle become privy to the motives of one’s heart?

And kept back part of the price:

Suggested Reading: Acts 5:1-11

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? (Acts 5:1-3)

Ananias and Sapphira were two believers, who promised to sell a piece of land and give all of the proceeds to the apostles in order to provide financial assistance for their fellow Christian Jews, who were being persecuted by unbelieving Jews that decided to cut them off financially either by terminating their employment or if they owned their own business by not supporting them. However, when Ananias brought the money to the apostles, he only gave part of what he had promised. Peter, an apostle, being aware of this deception by means of the ministry of the Holy Spirit told him that when he sold the land it was in his power to give what he chose to give. Once he proclaimed that he would give it all, and didn’t, then he essentially lied before all. Immediately following this dialogue, Ananias drops dead. When his wife arrived sometimes later, she was also confronted by Peter. And likewise, she also dropped dead.

     Our giving for whatever the reason should be done with integrity and honesty. If we make a vow before others, we should keep it. 

-This function of an apostle is one of which the Holy Spirit conveyed to them the lying motives of another believer’s heart, in this case having to do with selling property and making a declaration (commitment) to give all of the proceeds to help their fellow believers who needed financial assistance because of persecution and then decided to keep back part of it for themselves. Acts 5:1-11

Which one of the office gifts was responsible for establishing churches?

Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city:

Acts 15:22-23, 35-36

Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:

Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.

Four men, Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas, have been sent with approval by the apostles, elders, and the entire church at Jerusalem with letters that were to be read before the assemblies of the churches of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia informing them that the Gentile believers did not need to be circumcised in order to be saved, and neither did they have to keep the law of Moses. After arriving at Antioch and remaining there for a period of time Paul suggested to Barnabas to consider going back and revisiting the churches in Asia Minor that they had founded in the preceding year, in order to see how the saints were continuing on in their faith.

-Another function of an apostle is to found churches, and to at various times return to visit them in order to see how the saints were continuing on in their faith. Acts 15:22-23, 35-36

Who is Titus?

Ordain elders in every city:

 Suggested Reading: Titus 1:5-9

 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: (Titus 1:5)

Paul is addressing Titus, who was abiding in Crete, to do that which he had appointed him, that being to ordain (out of the number of men of approved Christian reputation32) elders in every city. Even though there appears to be no mention of Titus position in the early church many believe that he was called to the office of pastor.

Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be inquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ. (2 Corinthians 8:23)

     What we do know about him was that he was a Gentile, who was a partner (friend) and fellow worker (representative; delegate) with the apostle Paul. He accompanied him when an epistle was to be read before some of the churches stating that the Gentiles did not need to be circumcised in order to be saved. On another occasion he was given a letter by the apostle Paul to be delivered to the Corinthians. And on a different endeavor he was given the responsibility to complete the financial collection, which was to be distributed amongst the poor saints at Jerusalem.

     In this particular instance, Titus was to remain on the island of Crete in order to: teach sound doctrine: be an example of such to the believers; ordain elders in every city.

-This function indicates to us that an apostle can delegate authority to a fellow worker (representative; delegate; an apostolic agent), who might have been a pastor, to go to different house churches in each town on the island of Crete and teach the assembly sound doctrine making sure that he himself was an example of such to them, and to ordain (appoint) elders. Titus 1:5-9

     Earlier in this study we looked at the functions of an evangelist as exemplified in Acts 8. What we also found there was one of the functions of an apostle.

What this function is all about?

Arise, and go toward the south:

Suggested Reading: Acts 8:5-24

Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. (Acts 8:5-6)

Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. (Acts 8:14-17)

Philip, one of the seven deacons of the church at Jerusalem, went to the city of Sychar of the region of Samaria. While there he preached Christ to the Samaritans, who were a people that were both Jew and Gentile, adhering to both Jewish and pagan rites. After they heard the gospel they repented, believed in Christ, and were baptized in water. Somehow word got back to the apostles at Jerusalem that the Samaritans not only had responded to the gospel and were baptized in water, but had not received the indwelling Holy Spirit. 

     How would the apostles have known about this?

     I’m assuming they received an awareness of this by means of the disclosure by the Holy Spirit. So the apostles Peter and John were sent to address this matter. When they arrived they laid hands on them while praying that they might receive the indwelling Spirit, which they did.

-This is a unique function of an apostle in that certain ones were sent by their fellow apostles, who had received divine awareness of certain people, who after hearing the gospel repented, believed in Christ, were baptized in water, but had not received the indwelling Spirit. When the apostles arrived they laid their hands on their foreheads with the accompaniment of prayer so that they might receive the indwelling Spirit, which they did. Acts 8:5-24

Was the apostle Paul appointed to the office of apostle by man?

Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man:

Galatians 1:1

Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;

Paul an apostle, one who was a representative with an official status that has been sent with a message to announce, was not of men (his apostleship did not come from men as its ultimate source); and neither was it by man. The word “by” in the Greek is dia a preposition denoting the means by which something is performed. In this instance Paul was saying that he did not receive ordination nor confirmation through the medium of any man to this office. Therefore, both the source of Paul’s apostleship and appointment to the apostleship was from divine origin.

     What can we deduce from what is being said here?

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (Ephesians 4:11)

     The first thing we can deduce is that the source of a believer’s calling is always from divine origin. Christ assigns or bestows these offices to whomsoever he wills. The second thing is that in certain cases ordination by the laying on of hands by man which is a gesture signifying commissioning and granting of authority33 does not always take place in this manner. What this is telling us is there was no official ceremony where Paul was ordained by the apostles at Jerusalem. Isn’t it interesting that issues concerning whether he was an apostle were brought up on a number of different occasions by the Corinthian church.

     Maybe there are a couple of lessons to be learned here. The first being that someone could be called to an office and evidence: the spiritual qualities of the Holy Spirit; the functions of the office; the qualifications of this office and never be appointed by man. Does the fact that this person was never appointed negate their calling? Second someone might not be called to an office and yet be ordained by man to it, because the calling is not based on the manifest spiritual qualities of the Holy Spirit; the functions of the office; the qualifications of this office. I wonder how many believers are appointed so an office for the sole reason of having gone to bible school or because they are related to the pastor.

-In some cases, a person who is called to the office of apostle does not have to be appointed (to lay hands on) to this office by man in order to substantiate their calling. The calling and appointment to this office by divine origin should be realized by the leadership and assembly of the church by their recognition of: the manifested spiritual qualities of the Holy Spirit; the functions of the office; the qualifications of this office. Galatians 1:1

The last scripture section which we will look at has already been looked at in regard to the function of a prophet.

What is this function that can also apply to the office of apostle?

Revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets:

Suggested Reading: Ephesians 2:1-22; 3:4-6

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; (Ephesians 2:19)

The apostle Paul was addressing the Ephesians Gentile believers, telling them that having believed in Christ they were no more strangers (of a different quality or nature than something else) and foreigners (people of another country), but fellow citizens (called to equal privileges) with the saints (Christian Jews) and of the household (members of the same family) of God. They were built up upon the foundation (the teachings) of the apostles and prophets, which were at one time called the mystery doctrine of Christ.

Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: (Ephesians 3:4-6)

     This mystery teaching unveiled truths that the Gentiles are: fellowheirs (of the same spiritual riches with the Jews); of the same body (fellow members with the Jews in the body of Christ); partakers of the same promise (of the Holy Spirit) in Christ by means of the Gospel.

-One of the functions of both the apostles and prophets was that they received new truths by means of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the absence of full written revelation. These truths were that the Gentiles are: fellowheirs (of the same spiritual riches with the Jews); of the same body (fellow members with the Jews in the body of Christ); partakers of the same promise (of the Holy Spirit) in Christ by means of the Gospel. Ephesians 2:1-22; 3:4-6

When the canon of scripture was completed many believe that this function of the apostle is no more, because there is no new revelation. It is true that there is no new revelation. However, one could assume that if this office was still operational then the apostle would unveil known truths to the assembly by means of the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

     I would like to leave you with a story about someone’s calling to the office of apostle that I was reminded of when the apostle Paul said that both the source of his apostleship and appointment to the office of apostle was from divine origin.

     In the late 70’s, I responded to the saving knowledge of Christ. A short time ensued and I began attending a small church gathering in my hometown. I was told on many occasions that the President of an affiliate bible college would be speaking on Friday nights in a neighboring town and that I should go to listen to him speak. As it was I was already attending Thursday night, Sunday morning, and Sunday evening gatherings, the messages of which were presented by a young and dynamic speaker. At this time I didn’t see the need to attend the Friday night service.

     Over time, I would hear time and time again by the other members of my hometown assembly who had attended the Friday night gathering that the messages were enlightening and the presence of God was saturating. So I decided to go. When the President of the bible college got up to speak the first thing I noticed was that he had a toupee on his head which in my opinion looked kind of out of place. I soon forgot about this physical feature when the message was brought forth.

     Being newly converted to the faith I can honestly say that I didn’t understand a lot of what was being said. However, the message itself was captivating. There was no instruction brought forth which said that those who were listening had to kneel at this or that time nor was there a suggestion made that certain words had to be repeated at certain times as was the case when I attended a particular church format with my parents during my younger years. There was also not an emphasis on world peace or doing certain things that would procure God’s favor. What there was, was an awareness about the new person that I had become at salvation. There was conviction about what sin is and how to address it. And lastly, there was an intense impact of God’s presence penetrating my inner being.

     I found out later that this speaker had a spiritual encounter with God in the early days of his ministry. It was alleged that God called him to go into a certain section of woods near a particular lake where he was living at that time. While there he received certain promises from Him. Over time a world-wide ministry was developed that emphasized preaching, teaching, evangelism, and missions.

     Was this encounter in the woods near a lake the place where this person saw the risen Christ?  

     Was there recognition by the other members of the body of Christ that there was evidence in this believer of: the manifested spiritual qualities of the Holy Spirit; the functions of the apostolic office; the qualifications of this office?

     Was he ordained (appointed) by God or man to this office?

     Did God use him by the agency of the Holy Spirit to perform signs, wonders, and might deeds?

     Did he establish churches?

     Was he an apostle?

     What I would like to do now is summarize all of the functions and qualifications of an apostle that we have come up with. As you read these over what I would like you to do consider is this, are there any functions of an apostle that would enhance the spiritual welfare of believers for today?

     The functions and in some cases the qualifications of an apostle are that:

~ They (the original 12 apostles) were called and ordained (appointed) by Christ. (Mark 3:13-14; Matthew 4:21-22; Matthew 10:1-2a)

~ They can be privy to the motives of one’s heart by means of the ministry of the Holy Spirit as in this case in regard to the selling of one’s property and making a declaration (commitment) to give all of the proceeds to help their fellow believers who needed financial assistance because of persecution, and then to decide to keep back part of it for themselves. Acts 5:1-11

~ They are commissioned by Christ to go into all of the world and preach the gospel (good news) to every creature, and to place or appoint others when they left a city as their substitutes in order to complete the work that had begun. Mark 16:15

~They are to go into all the world and teach (make disciples) of Christ, who will then be baptized (brought into union or communion) unto God, who is not only one in essence but three co-equal, co-infinite, and co-eternal persons34Matthew 28:19-20 

~ They are to be witnesses (to testify to the life, instructions, death, and resurrection of Christ, even in the midst of persecution and death35) of Christ throughout the world. Acts 1:8

~ They would appoint (lay hands on each person’s forehead) in accompaniment with prayer, signifying the giving of responsibility or the granting of authority, a believer to a particular leadership office, in this case the office of apostle.

   The method used in regard to how someone was selected varied. Some believe that the apostles chose out from the assembly those who exhibited: the spiritual qualities of the Spirit, the functions of the office, the qualifications of the office, and its divine skill. Others believe that the assembly would vote by the showing of hands those who exhibited: the spiritual qualities of the Spirit, the functions of the office, the qualifications of the office, and its divine skill. Acts 1:12-26

~ They would receive during times of intense persecution the proceeds from Christians, who had chosen to sell land or houses, and distribute such in order to help their fellow brethren who had lost their jobs and businesses. Acts 3:1-4:31                      

~ They would convey the new truths about the new kingdom to the newly converted under the leading of the Holy Spirit, Spirit, which eventually would be written down and compiled to form the New Testament canon. Acts 2:42-47

~ They have seen the risen Christ either by means of a vision (an altered state of consciousness in which extrasensory audiovisual experiences, usually revelatory in character, are perceived in private by individuals36)or theophany (a visible appearance of the risen Christ) the confirmation of such would be by another believer along with exhibiting evidence: in patience (remaining loyal to the faith in trials and sufferings); in signs (miracles with emphasis on their ability to increase spiritual understanding by pointing to a spiritual reality); in wonders (in the sense of awe, which the miracle creates); mighty deeds (miracles resulting from divine power). Acts 9:8-19; 2 Corinthians 12:12; 10:2, 10

~ They would establish churches and at various times return to visit them in order to see how the saints were continuing on in their faith. Acts 15:22-23, 35-36

~ They could delegate authority to a fellow worker (representative; delegate; an apostolic agent) to go to various churches and teach the assembly sound doctrine making sure that they themselves are an example of such to them, and to ordain (appoint) elders. Titus 1:5-9

~ They (some) could be sent by their fellow apostles, who have received divine awareness of certain people, who after hearing the gospel repented, believed in Christ, were baptized in water, but had not received the indwelling Spirit, to lay hands on

their foreheads with the accompaniment of prayer so that they might receive the indwelling Spirit. Acts 8:5-24

~ They (some) might be called and appointed to this office by divine origin. The calling and appointment to this office by divine origin should be realized by the leadership and assembly of the churches by their recognition of: the manifested spiritual qualities of the Holy Spirit; the functions of the office; the qualifications of this office. Galatians 1:1

     Quite a list! Based on this list how could anyone say that this office is no longer in operation?

     Here is what some of them might say.

- In order for someone to be called to the office of apostle, they must have seen the risen Christ. While it is true that Paul saw the risen Christ they would say that this was an anomaly. Another word this was an exception to the rule.

- Another reason that this office is no longer in operation is because the new truths which the apostles received by direct revelation from the ministry of the Holy Spirit are now written down to form the New Testament canon, and therefore because there is no longer any new revelation this function is no longer needed.

- Last, but not least, they might say that the rest of the functions of an apostle could be carried out by a pastor.

     Let’s do this. Let’s say that the reasons just stated are valid, thenare there any functions of an apostle that still could be used to promote the kingdom of God?

     The first thing I would say is that if this office was still operational then its qualifications would still be in effect.

~ They have seen the risen Christ either by means of a vision (an altered state of consciousness in which extrasensory audiovisual experiences, usually revelatory in character, are perceived in private by individuals36)or theophany (a visible appearance of the risen Christ) the confirmation of such would be by another believer along with exhibiting evidence: : in patience (remaining loyal to the faith in trials and sufferings); in signs (miracles with emphasis on their ability to increase spiritual understanding by pointing to a spiritual reality); in wonders (in the sense of awe, which the miracle creates); mighty deeds (miracles resulting from divine power). Acts 9:8-19; 2 Corinthians 12:12; 10:2, 10

     And I will now make the following conjecture. Wouldn’t the performing of signs, wonders, and mighty deeds promote the kingdom of God especially in relation to the two functions mentioned below?

~ They are commissioned by Christ to go into all of the world and preach the gospel (good news) to every creature, and to place or appoint others when they left a city as their substitutes in order to complete the work that had begun. Mark 16:15

~ They would establish churches and at various times return to visit them in order to see how the saints were continuing on in their faith. Acts 15:22-23, 35-36

     Now that we have looked at the various functions and in some cases qualifications of the office gifts let’s put them together in one place and read them over again before taking a look at a different approach that might help in answering the question, are their apostles in the church today?

Endnotes

32Vincent.

33Bible Knowledge.

34R.B. Thieme Jr.

35Barnes.

36International Standard.

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© 2017 rondo



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rondo
rondo

BLOCK ISLAND, RI



About
My name is James Rondinone. I am a husband, father, and spiritual leader. I grew up in Massachusetts and began my own spiritual journey early on in life. I attended bible college having completed a.. more..

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