The Apostolic Myth

As the fifth post in the series called Five Myths Keeping Us Legendary, the idea of the Apostle will be our focus.

Yep. The Apostle.

I know what you’re thinking … maybe. You’re thinking, now Mark, you know Apostolic Cessation is factual. Paul was the last Apostle. He said so himself in 1 Corinthians 15:9. The people who were apostles are dead and gone. Let’s move past this and discuss something relevant to today.

The following information is taken from the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, the authors are Gerhard Friedrich & Gerhard Kittel in regards to the word apostle.

Theological Dictionary of the New Testament

a. In the NT ἀπόστολος always denotes a man who is sent, and sent with full authority.

b. Jn. 13:16: Here ἀπόστολος is simply a rendering of the legal term in its purely legal sense of one who is lawfully charged to represent the person and cause of another.

c. ἀπόστολος denotes the “commissioned representative of a congregation.”

d. Finally, ἀπόστολοι is a comprehensive term for “bearers of the NT message.” The name is first borne by the circle of the twelve, i.e., the original apostles (including Matthias brought in as a replacement). Their sending by Jesus is presupposed.

According to Paul the ἀπόστολοι (1 C. 12:28 f.) are not officials of the congregation, let alone the chief of such officials; they are officers of Christ by whom the Church is built. In this respect they may be compared with the prophets of the OT (Eph. 2:20; 3:5), whose office, on the basis of their commission, was to prepare the way for the One who was to come

e. In Hb. 3:1 Jesus Himself is called ὁ ἀπόστολος καὶ ἀρχιερεὺς τῆς ὁμολογίας ἡμῶν. Here the only possible meaning of ἀπόστολος is that in Jesus there has taken place the definitive revelation of God by God Himself (1:2)

This same word was also used in 1 Corinthians 15:9.

Sometimes I see a man who has Apostle “so-and-so” on his business card or church sign. I have always been perplexed by that title. I have not ever really been sure why seeing that title put a distaste in my mouth.

The drastic book-ends of the Christian faith is that some folks believe that Apostles have been long gone, Paul being the last. And then you have those guys who put the name on their business cards or church signs. So. What gives? Why the disagreement? Why the polar opposite perspectives?

The Apostolic Myth

The saying that apostles are long gone, or that guy is on a stage “being an apostle” … these perspectives are both myths. If we listen to the language of the Greeks, we can hear them. If we listen closely …

a. A man who is sent with full authority.
b. A legal representative.
c. Commissioned representative of a congregation.
d. Bearers of the New Testament message.
e. Officers of Christ by whom the Church is built. On the basis of their commission, they were to prepare the way for the One who is to come.

Do you hear the Greeks?

Do you hear them?

From these five examples of ἀπόστολος where is the common day myth? Do apostles really exist today? What does he/she look like? What do they do?

Before I answer those questions, let me discuss the Legend that may keep us from seeing the reality of a genuine, sent Apostle.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

What’s creepy about the Legend of Sleepy Hollow is that this guy rides into some town on a horse and he has this trench coat and gloves on and he’s holding a flaming jack-o-lantern … and the rider doesn’t have a head.

That’s creepy!

Do you know someone who has been a part of some group of people that sign some pledge that they are going to go to some part of the world and be a part of some church plant? No offense, but I liken this act to riding on a horse with a flaming jack-o-lantern in one’s hand.

Did I mention that the rider doesn’t have a head?

The Legend we have bought into is Church Planting Movements. Now, these are good things…taking Jesus to the nations is part of the Great Commission, I know. People who are called to plant churches have a heart for the Lord and feel like they should go to the locations they have been called.

I am thankful for those folks that have been called to be a part of the revelation of Christ in different parts of the world. I am so stoked about that, I have actively participated in some of those adventures.

But for the Legendary Church Planting Movements … you know, those that ask for your pledge to help plant a church, or those that have some folks move into a location because they are trying to multiply…

Brothers and sisters, we are holding the flaming Jack-o-lantern in our hands. We are headless. We are not functioning with Christ as our head. We have programmed our own initiatives into “good” things, not Life in Christ.

The Journey to the Source

If we could move past the Legend of the Church Planting Movement, and move past the Myth of Apostolic Cessation or Mr. Apostle at some building on some stage …

we would find the apostle or the worker.

The worker is the man or woman who has been sent with full authority of Christ. The worker is Christ’s legal representative in the heavenly realms. The worker has been commissioned by a congregation or a local Body of believers. The worker bears the message of Christ and founds the living stones with Christ as the Cornerstone. The worker is humble in their expression, knowing they are only part of the Body of Christ.

The worker is then sent to continue the work. He does not stay.

He leaves.

The Body functions with the headship and authority of Christ. Not a human. The worker points to this reality.

Christ is the Source of the Apostle, the Prophet, etc. Man is not. The Body of Christ, with the authority of the Head, Who is Christ, will send a worker to be about the Work of Christ and God’s Eternal Purpose.

Do you know him/her? Are you looking to Christ for His Headship? Have you listened with the Body of Believers you are with and beheld the Lord to hear his leading? Have you heard specifically about someone who was to be sent to do the Work? Have you supported that person fully to facilitate their Work? Have you committed yourself to the Work?

May we see Christ and His expression which includes the Apostle, the Worker. May we be a part of a local Body of believers who are expressing Christ and who have all agreed on the receiving of a worker to plant the Church. May we be a part of an expression of Christ that has agreed on the sending of a Worker. May we fully support the Work through this Worker who has been sent under all authority of Christ to establish the Church in another location.

And may we grow and learn to fully function. Because if we do, we may realize …

We may be the Worker.

16 comments

  1. Marc Winter · August 13, 2012

    Words are important! The reason church and churchianity has reached mega cult status is in part due to the use of archaic language and terms. Jesus used contemporary terms, with easy to understand meanings. Apostle?

    • marklchampion · August 14, 2012

      Marc, thanks for reading and commenting. I am with you bro. Words are important to see in the context of the age they were spoken. Thankful we are on this journey together.

  2. Susan · August 13, 2012

    Had to say I’ve had that same “distaste” .. or uneasy feeling in my spirit ~ whenever I’ve seen or heard someone with the title of Mr. Apostle at some building on some stage … or worse yet, have it on a “business card”.

    One who functions in this gift, doesn’t need the title.

    • marklchampion · August 14, 2012

      That’s right, Susan! Praise the Lord for His strength and power working through His people as they function as members of His Body!

  3. Peter · August 13, 2012

    Thanks, brother, for encouraging us in Christ, our Apostle. Also, thanks for encouraging those who express His Apostleship, as apostles. Just to add a little, 1 Cor 15:9 doesn’t actually say “last”, but it says “least or smallest”.

    • marklchampion · August 14, 2012

      Thanks for reading Peter. He is our Apostle! It is wonderful to see His apostles functioning. Thanks for making the distinction you did about 1 Cor 15:9. Forgot to add that. Like Marc Winter said, the words we use are important. Thanks bro!

  4. kaleymayer · August 14, 2012

    Amen, Mark! Christ the apostle. His apostles were simply those who lived out The Apostle in a way that caused the Body of Christ to built up rapidly. You know Christ said unless a seed falls into the ground new seeds could not grow up. The establishing of the church Christ does through an apostle and the later sending out of said apostle is many times a process of death for the apostle. Then the seeds grow up into the fullness of Christ. One plant seed dying creates a whole new plant of seeds.

    • marklchampion · August 15, 2012

      That’s right, Kaley! Being able to see the seed that is planted and then dies and what grows after the death is an amazing gift. I love that perspective of the character of the worker and have seen it first hand. The apostle has to deny himself, or die to the planting. Then water and light and nutrients and fruit and replanting are added later. Such a wonderful picture of the different functions of the Body of Christ. It’s great to be dead!

  5. Lynn Wenzel · August 14, 2012

    Amen! Those living by and through Christ “are sent”, Apostles, the called of Jesus Christ! Rom 1:5-6Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith AMONG ALL NATIONS FOR HIS NAME, AMONG WHOM YOU ALSO ARE THE CALLED OF JESUS CHRIST; …. We are all equal in His sight, without partiality otherwise He would be a respecter of persons.

    • marklchampion · August 15, 2012

      Hey Lynn, thanks for reading and for commenting. It is a wonderful privilege and honor to live by and through Christ. I am also thankful He is no respecter of persons. I am thankful that the Lord has called us into His Life. And when we come into His Life, He then equips us to be a part of His Eternal Purpose with the function that His Spirit gives our spirit.

      And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13 NASB)

      Amen. I am thankful for the one’s the Lord has given the function of apostle, or worker. I am thankful for the one’s the Lord has given the function of teacher, etc. May we all seek our function through the eyes of Christ! And be equipped in those functions as part of the Body to express Him in this age.

  6. Lynn Wenzel · August 15, 2012

    Amen!….May we be open to His Indwelling Spirit in “Being” where He takes each of us….

  7. Trevor Honeycutt · August 16, 2012

    “The headless horsemen of the apocalypse!” What a picture. Good one, bro!

  8. unknownwellknown · August 19, 2012

    Yes, we can all be apostles and we should be in the sense of it’s meaning in Greek. I am curious why you think 1 Cor. 15:9 speaks of Paul being the last apostle? He says he is the least of the apostles in this verse. Furthermore John was an apostle, Acts 1:26 among many verses show this. What do you think?

    • marklchampion · August 22, 2012

      Dan, thanks for reading and for commenting. I posted the 1 Cor 15:9 passage to allow folks to comment on it. I am with you. I agree that he said he was the least of the apostles. There were many other apostles after Paul as well, Barnabas, Erastus, and more! Thankful for His continuing expression of His Body through the multiple members. What other apostles do you know of?

  9. Pingback: What Matters « marklchampion
  10. Pingback: Essence « marklchampion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s