The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:11-16 that “(Jesus) gave the apostles…to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
There are two positions held in the Church today: God is appointing Apostles, and the second position is that God is not appointing Apostles. That seems simple enough to understand, but what evidence is there for us to consider?
Let’s take a look at the reasons people believe God is not appointing Apostles today.
The claim that God is not appointing Apostles is based on the idea that you would have to spend time with Jesus personally, face to face in order to be qualified for the position. This allows Peter and the other disciples as well as Paul of Tarsus (who met Jesus on the Damascus Road) to be eligible.
The underlying assumption is they were chosen to be the writers of the New Testament, and when the last part of the New Testament was written, there was no reason for more Apostles to be appointed in the Church.
The basic flaw in this argument is that not all of the Apostles contributed to the writing of the New Testament.
When you look closely at the New Testament here is a list of the Apostles who wrote in it:
Now look at a list of the Apostles who did not contribute to the New Testament:
- James (the brother of John)
- James (the son of Alphaeus)
- Simon the Zealot
- Judas (the son of James)
- Matthias (who replaced Judas Iscariot)
These nine Apostles made no contributions to the New Testament, yet the Holy Spirit still allowed them to carry the title, because the title was not given to them so they could write the New Testament. (Let’s remember not everyone who was recognized as a Prophet in the Old Testament added to it).
If the Apostles were not exclusively appointed for the purpose of writing Scripture, then what were they responsible for? This brings us to the idea that the Holy Spirit is still appointing Apostles, which I want to summarize now.
The purpose of the Apostles ministry is clearly defined in the New Testament for us.
All we have to do is examine the original language with unbiased eyes.
The definition we are supposed to look at is focused on the Greek Noun “Apostolos” and the Greek Verb “Apostello.” I have compiled a list of places in the New Testament where these terms were being used.
Note: The following are a few places where these one of these two Greek words refer to a specific person.
I. The Greek Noun “Apostolos” (Apostle)
“And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:26 ESV)
“But Peter standing with the eleven…” (Acts 2:12 ESV). The only way Peter can stand with the eleven is if we include Matthias. When the Holy Spirit was writing Scripture, he made sure to mention there were 12 Apostles present on the Day of Pentecost (see Peter AND THE ELEVEN above).
There can only be Peter and the eleven – that is, 12 Apostles – in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost if the Holy Spirit endorsed Matthias. Otherwise, Scripture would have spoken of Peter standing with the ten.
There is another reason for the Holy Spirit to endorse Matthias. The first generation of the Church was full of Jewish people, and if God had not appointed 12 men BEFORE Pentecost, there would be no credibility among the Jews who were present during Pentecost.
#2. Barnabas and Paul
In the Book of Acts, the Holy Spirit recognized Paul and Barnabas as apostles. In Acts 14:14 (ESV) the Holy Spirit used the phrase “the apostles Barnabas and Paul.” The Holy Spirit also put Barnabas’ name first because he was the leader on Paul’s first missionary journey.
The Holy Spirit gave Paul permission to mention Titus as an apostle.
In 2 Corinthians 8:23 (ESV) we read this: “As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are “apostolos” of the churches, the glory of Christ.”
The original Greek word translated as “messenger” is the same word Paul used to introduce himself in his letters: “Paul, an apostle…” (Romans 1:1 ESV)
“I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your “apostolos” and minister to my need…” (Philippians 2:25 ESV)
The Holy Spirit allowed Paul to describe Epaphroditus with the same word he used to describe himself in each of this letters. Paul recognized the Holy Spirit was appointing Apostles within the local Church at Philippi, and he allowed them to join his traveling ministry team.
II. The Verb Apostello
#1. Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy
“Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 2:6 ESV)
The first letter to the Thessalonians said “we” are apostles of Christ, and the “we” being referred to is “Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy” (1 Thessalonians 1:1 ESV).
The Apostle Paul, writing under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, used a word to describe the work done by Silvanus and Timothy with the same word used in other places to describe work done by the Apostles.
When the Holy Spirit was writing Scripture, he directly choose Greek words associated with Peter and Paul to describe people like Matthias, Barnabas, Silvanus, Timothy and Epathroditus, some of who were not in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit used Greek words that would have placed these men on Paul and Peter’s level of authority and influence within the local Church in the original language.
Was the Holy Spirit confused when the writers of the New Testament used these words? Did God make a mistake in writing Scripture, or did we make a mistake by limiting the number of Apostles to Paul and the 12 disciples?