In Ephesians 4:11-16 the Bible tells us that Apostles are needed for the Church to grow up. At this point in time, there are two basic positions people have towards the ministry of the Apostle in the Church.
The first position is best represented by John MacArthur, who believes there are no Apostles being appointed to serve in ministry today. Not to long ago, John MacArthur hosted a series of meetings to deal with his point of view on this issue.
The name of the meetings was The Strange Fire Conference, and you can find the first meeting below.
The second position is to say that God is still appointing Apostles to serve in ministry today. This is done along with the encouragement to believe in supernatural displays of power (to perform miracles, heal the sick, and so on).
In response to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire Conference, a Church holding the second position hosted a series of meetings on these issues as well. Here is a response to John MacArthur’s position.
If you want to do some research on Apostles for yourself, here are some ideas for you to consider. There are two words in the New Testament to describe Apostles, and I want to show some of them to you.
I. The Noun Apostolos
“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 – in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost if the Holy Spirit endorsed Matthias. Otherwise, Scripture would have spoken of Peter standing with the ten.
#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 mentioned 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 messengers 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 messenger and minister to my need…” (Philippians 2:25 ESV)
Paul described 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 of the Philippians, and he allowed them to join his 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 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 directed 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?