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All right, so Diane is asking what is an apostle and what is the function of one in the church?
Great question, Diane. And I actually appreciate this opportunity to dig into it a little bit to make sure I even understood it better. Because this is one of these things where we tend to use apostle sort of like and substitute it for disciple. And there’s a lot of overlap, especially in the way it’s used, but there’s a nuance. And I think the best way to look at that is the verse of Matthew, chapter ten. Starting at verse one it says, and when he Jesus had called his twelve disciples, so here says his twelve disciples to him, he gave them the power over unclean spirits to cast them out and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of diseases. Now the names of the twelve disciples, sorry, the twelve apostles are these. So notice it says here’s the twelve disciples, jesus gives them the ability to have power over spirits and all these things. And then next verse calls them now the twelve apostles. So I think this is sort of marking the transition of when did the disciples actually become apostles. And part of that is Jesus getting giving them a certain level of authority, power.
And then we go to verse five of chapter ten. And Matthew writes, these twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying do not go into the way of the Gentiles and do not enter the city of the Samaritans. But notice how it says there Jesus sent out, that sending out is very much a key aspect of the root definition like literal meaning of apostle. So apostle comes from the Greek word apostalos. Apostalos, a delegate, a messenger, or one sent forth with orders. That’s what it means, the delegate, messenger, one sent out with orders. And it comes from the Greek word apostalo, sorry, apostello, which means to order one to go to a place appointed or to send away or dismiss. So Jesus had the disciples, they were training by Jesus or training under Jesus. And then at some point the point that we see in Matthew ten, jesus basically says, you’re now ready to go out, I’m giving you authority, now go out, I’m sending you out. That there is what makes them the disciples, sorry, makes them the apostles. Boy. See this is why it’s so confusing. I always want to call them the disciples, but then they became apostles because Jesus sent them out.
And that is the literal understanding meaning of apostle. But in the Bible it is usually used to refer to just the twelve disciples minus Judas. Well he was for time. But then after Judas kills himself, then we see Paul entry the picture and also Matthias. So Matthias is added to replace Judas, and then God calls Paul and Paul himself refers to himself as a Gentile, sorry, as an apostle. Romans 1113, it says for I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles. And we kind of get an idea of the role of the apostles when we look at Acts, chapter six. And it’s a lengthy passage, but basically the idea is the followers in the church, this young fledging Christian church are getting larger and larger. There’s more of them, thousands are getting baptized in a day. And while they were small it was easy for the twelve apostles to manage everything. But all of a sudden now with thousands of members and they’re trying to do everything, they’re getting overwhelmed. And Peter says, and people are complaining that they’re not getting enough attention and all that. And this is where the apostles come up with a proposal.
So start at verse two. It says then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples. So there’s now many disciples, multitude of disciples. And the apostles said to them it is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. We’re not going to be busting tables. That doesn’t make sense for us to be doing that. Therefore brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit, whom we may appoint over this business. But we, referring to the apostles, will give ourselves continually to prayer and to ministry of the word. So we want to be about prayer and evangelism and we’ll let other people who become the deacons, like Stephen, those people then start handling the busy work of the church and the hospitality and these sorts of things. So that was where we start seeing now more of a distinguishing of roles within the Church. And apostles are kind of leading it. They become the pillars of the faith. So much so that we also see the literal pillars, the literal foundation of the holy city. In the book Revelation being named after the twelve apostles.
So Revelation 21, verse 14, it says, now the wall of the city had twelve foundations and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Now the interesting question is who are the twelve apostles? Because of course we lost Judas. Is it going to be Matthias or is it going to be Paul, one of those twelve that would be interesting to find out. But the twelve, this symbolic that those are the pillars of God’s holy city and they were kind of the pillars, the foundation of the early Christian church. And then Paul gives a clue, an indication that apostles isn’t something that will go away, that it is a type of gift that God will always provide to the Church. And we see this in one Corinthians, chapter twelve. And like verse 28 he says, and God has appointed these in the Church, first apostles, second prophets. So here he’s drawing a distinction between apostles and prophets. He says third teachers. After that miracles and gifts of healing helps administrations, varieties of tongues. So apostles is then something will be ongoing and then verse 29 are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?
Are all workers of miracles? Do all have the gift of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret but earnestly desire the best of these? And yet I will show you a more excellent way. And he goes into like love is the big thing. But Paul I don’t think is downplaying apostles. He listed them first though of all those different types of traits. And I am a believer that apostles can continue today. That’s not something that’s gone. And it says we are all called, we are all sent out. I believe that the great commission of Matthew 28 when Jesus said, all authority has been given to me in heaven and earth. Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, he says, there go. And I believe that go applies to all of us. All of us have been sent, all of us have been commissioned to go out and evangelize and baptize and teach. So I think we’re all chosen. As Peter says, we are all a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his special people that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
So that’s a very fascinating topic and thank you again so much for asking our friend Diane.
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