Click on link to download to your computer.
Doctrine of Apostleship
1. Meaning of apostle— Greek word
In the classical and older Greek it was used for a naval expedition or perhaps the commander.
The verb -apostello —to send a message.
apostolos— in our context has to do with someone who is specially commissioned—by Christ—who will be sent out with a mission
2. Their origin—
Lu. 6:13 When day came, He called His disciples and selected twelve from them, whom he also named as apostles.
Jesus chose twelve disciples from among his larger groups of disciples (6:17). These were designated as apostles.
3. Their names—
Names of the apostles—Mark gives us the names:
Mk. 3:14 And He appointed twelve (whom he named apostles), so that they would be with him and he could send them to preach (15) and to have authority to cast out demons (16) And he appointed the twelve:
Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter),
(17) and James, the son of Zebedee,
and John the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means, “Sons of Thunder”);
(18) and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot;
(19) and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.
4. Their witness:
All would be with Jesus from his early ministry up to and through the resurrection—except Judas. They would have first hand testimony of Christ’s words, works, including signs and miracles, His death, resurrection and post resurrection activities and finally His ascension.
Of the resurrection:
Acts 1:3 To these apostles (eleven), He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.
Of the ascension:
Acts 1:9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
5. Their purpose:
As Mk. 3:14 tells us this inner circle of twelve were appointed to that they would be with Jesus. They would be his closest and most highly trained disciples. They would undergo direct training through the example set by Jesus and His teaching.
After a time, they were given authority to preach and do miracles—on the job training.
6. Their mission:
Once trained and after the departure of Jesus and the sending of the Holy Spirit to indwell and empower them, they were to go out into the world and boldly preach the gospel and teach believers.
Matt. 28:18 Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Matt. 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Matt. 28:20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
This would included establishing churches, training and teaching, appointing elder leaders of these churches.
Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Confirmed —deacons—servants to the church Acts 6:6
Sent out to teach to Samaria—Acts 8:14
Helped settle disputes—Acts 15:2 ff.
7. Their power
Once indwelt and then controlled by the Spirit they boldly spoke the gospel, performed signs and wonders
Matt. 10:1 He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
Acts 2:43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
Acts 4:33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.
Acts 5:12 The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people.
8. Their persecutions
Flogged—Acts 5:40 cf. Mk. 13:9
People tried to kill Paul Acts 9:29
Condemned to death 1 Cor. 4:9
Spectacle to the world 1 Cor. 4:9
Killed James Acts 12:1-2
Paul’s list in 2 Cor. 11:24 ff. beatings, stonings, thirty-nine lashes
These twelve were to form the core of men who would in time carry on the mission of evangelism, establishing churches around the world. They would in a sense be the pillars, the foundational men on whom the church would be built. Some would be major writers of Scripture—and leaders. They helped appoint elders—leaders in local churches.
9. The Office—the First and most important office in the early church.
1 Cor. 12:28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers,
10. Foundational to God’s household—the church
Eph. 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,
Eph. 2:20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
Eph. 2:21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
Eph. 2:22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
These apostles would be closer to Jesus than the other disciples. They are the inner circle. They would get the highest level of training; spend the most time with Jesus, experience many of the greatest moments and miracles with Jesus—they were the closest eye-witnesses to the person and works of Jesus. They would be given authority and charged to go out into the world and witness of Jesus.
The other major thing they did—that made them unique is they not only witnessed the resurrected Christ but saw, spoke, touched, ate with and knew him up close after his resurrection. They would become his specially trained group of selected men to carry the mission he started and beyond. For they would also carry over from the Old Covenant period into the New Covenant, when the Holy Spirit comes to indwell every believer and kick off the New Covenant in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost.
Foundational to the early church (from Acts 2 to the death of the apostle John) apostles and prophets have been the pillars upon which God’s people have grown spiritually. Both apostles and prophets received direct revelation from God as part of their gift and ministry.
Before the canon of Scripture—that is the collected works of the writers were gathered and finalized as Scripture to the church, God revealed truth through supernatural communication to certain individuals in the church.
In the early church period, this came at two levels—those who were leaders considered foundational to the beginning of the church—secondly those within local churches who received revelation to be given primarily within the confines of their local church.
11. Their number—
The original twelve— the twelve apostles.
Matt. 10:1 He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
Matt. 10:2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John;
Matt. 10:3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;
Matt. 10:4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
The original apostles were from the original disciples—those we are familiar with.
Two things these apostles all had in common. They were chosen by Christ and they physically walked with him during years of His ministry.
Once Judas is dropped as the twelfth apostle, there is a seeking for a replacement among the remaining eleven apostles. This is what takes place in Acts 1—where we see Peter begin the process:
Peter calls for a replacement in Acts 1:15 ff. Combining material from two Psalms 69:25 and 109:8, he authorizes a replacement. The method of taking Scriptures from a different context and combining them to make another application was occasionally used by the apostles and writers of the New Testament.
Add to that that Peter was also a leader of the apostles and often the spokesman. So what he says at this point—goes.
The two qualifications that Peter requires is that this man had to have been with Jesus— the whole time from John the Baptist’s baptism of Jesus to the ascension of Jesus, —second, he had to have seen the resurrected Christ:
Acts 1:21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, (associated with us)
Acts 1:22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
These requirement is beyond what even some of the disciples themselves had experienced. John’s baptism likely refers to that time— months before Jesus even came on the scene and his own baptism. It would be a person who was already responding to God’s new program starting with John the Baptist, who was calling people to repent for the Kingdom of God is near. He was preparing people for Jesus Christ to come on the scene.
Probably not more than a few including the original disciples go back that far with Jesus. Read John 1:35-51 for that account of the disciples at the Baptism of Jesus.
Included with this requirement is that he had witnessed the resurrected Christ.
Simply put, this requirement stated that the qualified candidate had to have been with Jesus in ministry from the earliest times up to ascension of Christ. This candidate would have learned as the other disciplines—kind of like an alternate jury person in our courtroom today. Just like the others, they had witnessed and heard all that they others had heard and seen.
An important question here—why is it important that a twelfth apostles be chosen—why there be a replacement? And at this time?
Twelve as a symbolic number—
Twelve is an important number in Scripture. Twelve tribes from twelve sons—form a 12 tribe nation. The twelve apostles coming from the original twelve disciples chosen by Christ. Twelve times 12,000 equalling 144,000 witnesses during the time of the tribulation. Then with the New Jerusalem comes twelve gates of pearl with the name of twelve tribes.
The twelve disciples becoming twelve apostles represent the nation of Israel. Israel represented by the twelve was about to move from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. There was to be a full compliment of twelve apostles to represent Israel as this transition takes place.
A full compliment of Twelve disciples—not just believers but also apostles, high-ranking, gifted and qualified leaders —12 being the number of wholeness—represented the nation and were required to complete the analogy and symbolism. In other words, Israel was about to receive the first phase of a New Covenant—it was required that it be complete.
The process of selecting this replacement would go in two stages. First stage—The apostles themselves would select two from their larger circle who met this qualification.
Second stage— God would chose from among these two.
Showing us the process of selection from a group of leaders in combination with the Spirit, these men chose these two candidates and leaving the final selection in God’s hands.
As Jesus had chosen (Acts 1:2 eklego) the original apostles, so He was to choose again (Acts 1:24 eklego).
So as was done in those days and seeking God’s choice, they cast lots—though rare, it was a legitimate method of seeking God’s will under the Old Covenant system. Remember the breastplate and the Urim and Thummin (Ex. 28:30), which were used as a similar way to determine God’s will.
Some scholars disagree with Matthias being the replacement twelfth apostle, that this was not a valid method of selection and often cite Paul as the genuine replacement.
Some consider the Apostle Paul as the replacement twelfth apostle.
Paul was an apostle, a very important one at that but he was unique. But was outside the twelve.
12. Paul was not the Twelfth apostle.
Here are some reasons why this is not the case:
1) Paul did not meet the requirements to be one of the twelve.
The twelfth apostle had to have been with Jesus, early in his ministry, been under his teaching and to have experienced time with Jesus— with the other apostles.
The second requirement was that they experience at length Jesus post-resurrection ministry. Though Paul did see the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus, that was not the same as spending time with him during the 40 day period before his ascension and then being present at the ascension. Then the core group hearing him and then being commanded to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the Sprit.
To be one of the twelve, Paul met neither of these requirements.
2) The numbering of the apostles was twelve after Matthias’ appointment.
Scripture states that Matthias was added —
Acts 1:26 And they cast lots for them, and the one chosen was Matthias; so he was counted with the eleven apostles.
Acts 2:14 But Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “You Jewish men and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you; listen carefully to what I say.
When there was a problem with the distribution of food:
Acts 6:2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.
This is long before Paul was even saved.
3) This is an elaboration on main point 11 above.
The twelve represented the 12 tribes of Israel, which remain as a separate entity from the Gentiles at this point in the history of Acts. It was essential that this continuity be maintained as represented by the twelve, especially since the New Covenant was about to fall in the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2).
These twelve were also the primary men who took the gospel to Israel. As representatives of and ministers to Israel, the symbolism of the twelve was to be maintained. For this reason Peter would have wanted to quickly fill in the missing disciple.
We see this symbolism of the twelve representing Israel in both his prediction of his disciples sitting on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28; Lu. 22:30). Likewise, the heavenly city of Jerusalem has twelve gates with the names of the twelve tribes and on the twelve foundations are the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Rev. 21:10,12,14)
4) Though some may argue that this selection by lot was not a legitimate method of selection—at that time it was in fact legitimate and allowed though providence for the Lord to make the final selection.
Prov. 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the LORD.
No where is this process or the selection annulled or recalled by the Lord.
The apostles were given the authority to do this. On the one hand, they were allowed to whittle it down to two candidates but because it was an apostle—the final choice was to be by the Lord himself and this method allowed it.
With prayer and seeking God’s will, who knew all men’s hearts, they let the LORD make the final decision.
5) Some argue that Mattthias was never heard from again. But that is true of other apostles—Bartholomew and Thomas to name a couple.
What about Paul—
6) Paul was in fact unique as an apostle. Unique in no less than two ways—first in selection as an apostle and secondly in mission.
In selection, the one time unusual event on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19)
Paul said by his own admission “abnormally born” as an apostle ( I Cor. 15:8).
Speaking of Jesus resurrection appearances, Paul writes:
1Cor. 15:7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;
1Cor. 15:8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
Paul even puts himself outside the original group of apostles. But then as one outside the normal timeline—he confesses that Jesus appeared to him also.
The word for “untimely born.” basically refers to a premature birth, a miscarriage or even an aborted child.
The point is that Paul sees himself outside the norm as an apostle, coming late as an apostle—though still very much an apostle. While the other apostles were out ministering to the church, he was persecuting the church (Acts 8:1; 1 Cor. 15:9).
Clearly, Paul would not have met the requirements of being one of the original twelve—He was saved some time after Jesus ascension and the New Covenant was well underway.
In mission—Even before Paul was aware of it—the Lord spoke to Ananias about Paul
Acts 9:15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.
Paul’s target audience was going to be Gentiles and Jews.
As with the other apostles, Paul would begin his ministry within the Jewish communities but then he would turn to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46).
Acts 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.
Acts 13:47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’’”
When Paul writes about his background to the Galatians:
Gal. 2:7 On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews.
Gal. 2:8 For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.
Gal. 2:9 James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.
Rom. 11:13 But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry,
1Tim. 2:7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
Again, we see Paul describing himself as an apostle to the Gentiles time and time again—while James, Peter and John were the influential leaders within the Jerusalem church.
However, as outsiders, the church leaders did offer both Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship and that there would be agreement to whom each group would primarily minister—
By now the Holy Spirit was thriving among Gentile believers with the New Covenant now open to all Gentile believers.
As a nation, the Jews rejected Christ as the Messiah as well as the majority of Jews. The transition to a Jewish-Gentile church was well underway.
The original twelve were and were going to be mostly martyred out of the picture—beginning with James, the brother of John (Acts 12:2).
Peter’s and James’s speech of Acts 15:7 ff. further supports this.
Again, Paul and Barnabas were key in keeping the merger between Jew and Gentile believers the early church.
In conclusion—Paul was a specially selected Apostle. He was outside the twelve for good reason— first he came in as a believer and an apostle under the New Covenant—the first and greatest apostle outside the twelve. His unique selection and ministry make him the perfect person for becoming the key writer of New Covenant teaching building up the church in new teachings and in leading the Jew-Gentile church to harmony as a new man in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:12-15).
13. Other apostles
James, the Lord’s brother is called an apostle Gal. 1:19; 2:9
He did see the resurrected Jesus (1 Cor. 15:7).
Barnabas—is called an apostle—Acs 14:4, Barnabas is part of that group called apostles
Acts 14:14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out—
Barnabas was one of Paul’s traveling companions. We first learn about him in Acts. 4:36 ff. He like Paul worked with both Jews and Gentiles 9:27; 11:22-30; 13:1-14:28; 15:2-4, 12, 22, 36-41; see also 1Cor 9:6).
Barnabas first brought Paul to the apostles (Acts 8:14).
Silas—1 Thess. 2:6 where he includes Silas using the terms “as apostles” and the pronoun “we.”
1Th. 2:6 We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. ¶ As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you,
Lesser known called apostles:
Rom. 16:7 Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
14. The End of the Apostolic Age.
This period ended most likely with the death of the Apostle John.
John, originally one of the twelve disciples, the one exiled to the island of Patmos and the one who wrote the gospel, epistles of I,II,III Jn. and Revelation.
No more apostles. No new revelation. No more Scripture to be recorded. No more inspirational writings.
Apostles were foundational to the church (Eph. 2:20). We are well beyond the foundation some 2000 years later.
Simple application: There are no apostles today—no new writing of Scripture—no new revelation today. The church is well beyond that.
15. Succession of apostles—that is that they would continue on and need replacements or that one would be the main apostle that the church would look up to like a Pope.
There is no scriptural authorization for it. When James, the son of Zebedee was executed in 44 A.D., no replacement was sought by the church or the apostles (Acts 12:1-2). The church under the New Covenant was some fifteen years into existence at this time, the foundation had been laid. The office was phased out as the last apostle died—most likely the apostle John.
16. Christ is called The Apostle.
Heb. 3:1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;
Christ was sent from the Father on a mission to accomplish His purposes.
17. False apostles—There are those who have claimed in the past and claim today that they are apostles.
There were false apostles who gave Paul and John trouble. Paul in
2Cor. 11:13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
2Cor. 11:14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
2Cor. 11:15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
Rev. 2:2 ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false;