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.
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.
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.