Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Categories of apostleship in the Bible

1. Jesus - the 'Apostle and high priest of our profession'. Sent by the Father. Obviously no-one else stands in that category.

2. The Twelve Apostles of the Lamb. Eye witnesses of the entire ministry of Jesus from His baptism to His ascension. Chosen and appointed by Jesus Himself; plus Matthias who replaced Judas. Obviously no-one today can be sent to bear a personal eyewitness testimony to the entire ministry of Jesus.

3. Other foundational Scripture-writing Apostles. Such as Paul and James. Chosen by the Holy Spirit, and later officially endorsed by the Twelve as well. Since the foundation of Christian doctrine has already been laid, and since the canon of Scripture is closed, and since the Twelve aren't still around to endorse someone today, no-one today can be an apostle in that category.

4. Non canonical Scripture-writing apostles. Chosen by the Holy Spirit, and sent from the church. Barnabas. Titus. Silas. Timothy. Mark. Perhaps Apollos. Aquilla/Priscilla. Epaphroditus, Andronicus, Junia perhaps. And others. There can still be 'apostles' today in a similar category to some of these. Basically 'sent-ones'. 

5. All believers are 'sent' in a sense. But that's not quite the same as standing in the office of 'apostle'. (Just as all believers can witness, but that's not the same as standing in the office of Evangelist. Or, all believers can care for each other, but that's not the same as standing in the office of Pastor.)

6. In a parable in the New Testament, the Old Testament prophets were described as 'apostles' to Israel. The gospel is 'according to the Scriptures (the Old Testament Scriptures'), but obviously apostleship in the New Covenant is different to Old Covenant ministry. Mentioned here because it shows another example of the word 'apostle' being used in ways not limited to the Twelve.