The Attributes of Apostolic Ministry

L. Campbell Evans - © 1992

     One of the greatest errors in the church today is the misconception that spostles are RULERS!  Many desire this calling for their desire a position of authority, respect, and a place of 'ruling over. Few have realized that apostles are SERVANTS to the body of Christ. Jesus was Apostles have many attributes and although we cannot put them in a 'BOX', there are clear definitions in scripture concerning this ascension gift which has been given to the body of Christ.  The Greek word for Apostle is 'apotolos' and means one who is sent, or sent one, emissary or ambassador. They have also been with, seen, and commissioned by Jesus Christ. The apostolic anointing is, along with the other ascension gifts, to be an extension of the Christ in the earth.

     All apostles, just like the body of Christ are ambassadors FOR Christ. The word ambassador means: an authorized agent or representative, a high ranking diplomat or messenger. "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ ..." 2 Cor. 5:20

     Apostles have been set in the Church 'by God' first in time, and first in rank. "And God hath set some in the Church, first apostles ..." 1 Cor. 12:28

     Greek word: proton: first in time, place, and order.  The importance of the positioning of the apostle is not to place them as being superior to others, but because of their unique calling and function, they are foundation facilitators and have been given divine authority within the parameters of their function to set order and uphold the doctrines of Christ. 

     Because this ascension gift to the church has been set by God, men do not have the authority to say that they are not for today.  They were set according to Eph. 4:11 UNTIL, and as we continue through this passage of scripture, we can clearly discern that the mandate immediately following UNTIL has not been fully accomplished yet. Further confirmation is found in this corresponding scripture,

     God's appointment of an apostle is revealed by the Holy Spirit and confirmed by other established elders. ( Acts 9:15; Acts 13:2-4; Acts 22:21)

    There are many today that proudly proclaim their apostleship and yet there is not confirmation to validate those claims. But those who are should boldly state their calling, just as Paul did.  Not in a bragging manner, but just simply state their function and not cower away from this destiny in Christ.  Although the other apostles feared for their lives because of the previous persecution of the Church by Paul, they did not strive against the revelation of the Holy Spirit and they confirmed his calling and set him apart for the work of the ministry.

    "... He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles: and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace of God that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen ..." Gal. 2:8,9

    "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus." Acts 13:2-4

    When Jesus ascended, "he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:" Eph. 4:11-13.  Laying aside four of the five ascension gifts, we are going to look at the gift of the apostle and their function in the body of Christ.

     1. Apostles are given for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry. The maturing of the saints comes through example, instruction and training for the work of the ministry. The work of the ministry belongs to ALL of the SAINTS and is not exclusive to the those in the pulpit or in places of instruction. Perfecting comes from the Greek word (katartismos 'kat-ar-tis-mos') which mean to mature, grow, completely furnish, or equip. A good example of how this works is the family. A child is born and has to be fed and trained by their parents until they come to the place of being able to function on their own.

     2. Apostles are to edify the body of Christ. In addition to perfecting, the apostle is to edify (build up, promote, encourage) another's growth in their Christian walk in spiritual wisdom, happiness, and the outliving of ones righteousness and holiness which is his new nature. Paul said concerning his role in the lives of others, "For even if I  boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it" 2Cor. 10:8. Yes, the apostle will build up and not pull down.

     3. Apostles are to facilitate unity to the church, knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. Specifically the unity in relationship to faith and knowledge of the Son of God is of utmost importance to the apostles. This is one of the real ways to identify them.  Many so called apostles today do not promote unity of any kind.  If they are self centered, building their own ministries and not endeavoring the church to come together then we must seriously question their call to the realm of the apostolic. 

    The apostle can function in all of the ascension giftings and though called to the place of apostleship, there is a time of growth and maturing toward that place. There will also be times and situations that require that they be operative in the ascension gifts.  We can see this clearly through the life and ministry of Timothy under the tutorage of the Apostle Paul.  Timothy started in ministry as an evangelist, became a pastor, and then was named among the apostles.

     Paul spent many years being instructed of the Lord and receiving revelation before he became fully functional in his calling.

     4. Apostles bring revelation to the Church.

    "which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;" Eph. 3:5

    "For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ." Gal. 1:11-12

     5. Apostles are defenders of the faith. Defenders are those who stand and resist attack so as to protect, being ever ready to justify and support at the cost of one's own life or reputation.  True apostles are not moved by religious dogma nor the ideologies or vain philosophies of men or society.  They are very staunch in their stands and are very definitive concerning such. 

    "I am set for the defense of the gospel." Phil. 1:17 

    "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. Gal. 1:6-8

    Paul was humble, loving, kind, sincere and yet in Galatians 1:10 he said, "For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."

     6. Apostles establish, set, and correct doctrine.  From the very beginning of the early church, the apostles were given the power and authority by the Father to set and establish the doctrines of the church. This is of enormous importance for us all to accept. A true apostle of the Lord walks in the revelation of the Holy Spirit and releases that revelation to the body of Christ. They know doctrinal error when they hear it and will work tirelessly to to correct it. Today, the body of Christ is in tremendous confusion concerning doctrine, traditions, etc. This would not be if the role of apostle was fully embraced and allowed to guard and watch over the doctrines as set forth in the early church.  The Holy Spirit was upon them in their writing, speaking and confirmed the word which they spoke with signs and wonders.

    We go into more detail concerning this under the subject of IMPORTANCE OF THE APOSTLE.

    "... They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine ..." Acts 2:42

    "And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?" Acts 17:19

    "I t was decided how much Jewish practices the gentiles must obey." Acts 15:19-30

    "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer." 1Tim. 4:1-5

    "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" Gal. 3:1-3

     Apostles are 'sent' by God to serve and protect and establish the body of Christ in sound doctrine.  Through their ministry, an atmosphere of stability and peace will be in place along with structure and order. As wise master builders (1Corinthians 3:10), they not only will build on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20), but they will also lay foundation for others to build upon (1Corinthians 3:10). They will raise up new works (Romans 15:20), ordain elders (Acts 14:23), and impart spiritual gifts (Romans 1:11).

     The apostolic ministry has always and still is today one of the most persecuted roles in the church today. The persecution comes from both within and without. One proof of this is the non-acceptance of their relevance in the church today (1Corinthians 4:11-13). Yet they continually intercede for the saints and lay their lives down for the cause of Christ.

     There are many other facets to the apostolic ministry, but suffice it to say that God is building HIS house in this hour and is swiftly restoring that which has been lost. Through the restoration of the function of the apostle, power and authority shall rest upon the church once again. The doctrines of the Old Order are being brought to nothing and God is restoring to the church that which has been lost.


© L. Campbell Evans - 1992