What are the functions of an apostle in the church?


By BibleAsk Team

Ministries in the Church

About the ministry in the church, Paul wrote, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11 ). The purpose for all of these roles in the church is found in the verse that follows, “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (verse 12).  

The Bible states that the twelve disciples of Christ were appointed as apostles (Luke 6:13). An apostle is defined as one who is on a mission and one who initiates moral reform. In the church today, most Christians do not use the word apostle to describe leaders in the church. This is likely because many only consider the twelve disciples and Paul true apostles because they had direct contact with Jesus (Acts 5:29, 32).

The Functions of the Apostle

The Bible does not lay out the exact functions of an apostle, however, it is understood by the example of the disciples that they were leaders in the church, spreading the gospel, baptizing new members, and demonstrating what it is to follow Christ (Acts 2:37-38,  4:33, 5:29-32, 15:5-7).

A true apostle is called by God for this office as Paul was: “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name” (Romans 1:5). Paul often writes of his call to apostleship as the “grace that was given” to him by God (Romans 15:15, 16; Galatians 2:7–9; Ephesians 3:7–9).

To Paul, his conversion and call to apostleship, took place simultaneously. From being “a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious” (1 Timothy 1:13), he was called right away to preach “the faith which once he destroyed” (Galatians 1:23). No wonder Paul could exclaim, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10), not only a converted Christian, but also a commissioned apostle.

But a false apostle appoints himself instead to this holy office like Judas (Luke 22:48). A false apostle works for his own interests rather than for the glorify of God. “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13).

The Great Commission

While most churches might not call someone an apostle, perhaps out of humility, there is still a role for missionaries to go into all the world, preach the good news, and show all what it means to follow Jesus. The great commission states:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20). The disciples had been learners in the school of Christ; now, as apostles, they were sent forth to teach others (Mark 3:14). And in turn those who have been taught by the apostles are included in the great work of evangelism.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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