The original apostolic band was made up of men who a) had been with the other followers of Jesus from the time of John’s baptism until the ascension of Jesus Christ; (Acts 1:21-22) and b) were called by Christ and appointed to “be with him, sent out by him to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.” (Mark 3:13-19). Paul describes himself as one ‘born out of season’ when it came to his own joining this leadership band outside the normal New Testament boundaries.
In recent weeks I have had discussions with current leaders about the new “apostles.” These are current leaders who seem to have appointed themselves to a special role within the kingdom. They seem to lack accountability and are unconcerned that their “authority” does not line up with the apostolic role in the New Testament. They loosely use a term which I believe has strict boundaries.
Here are a few questions on my “So you think you’re an apostle” checklist –
a) Read Ephesians 2:20 – In what way do you serve a “foundation” purpose in God’s household that is not already established in Scripture by the apostles called directly by Christ? Does the New Testament closed canon of Scripture not provide sufficient foundation for any church in any culture?
b) Read Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:1, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Galatians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1, Colossians 1:1. When you write letters to churches are they being added to the inspired text of the New Testament?
c) Read 2 Corinthians 12:12 Do signs, wonders and miracles ‘mark’ your ministry, confirming as they did Paul his genuineness as a bona fide ‘apostle?’
d) Read Acts 17:11 Do you encourage those over whom you have ‘authority’ to examine the Scriptures every day to see if what you are teaching is true?
e) Please show in explicit Scriptures the names of other ‘apostles’ who did not meet the Biblical requirements of Mark 3, Acts 2 and 2 Corinthians 12:12.
f) Can you demonstrate “apostolic succession” clearly as a biblical principle? Read 1 Peter 5 – Why does Peter, who introduces this first letter describing himself as “an apostle” now appeal to the elders as a “fellow elder?” Is there some kind of transition happening as the church moves forward by God’s grace?
For further study – Romans 16:7 requires consideration, but a hermeneutical principle I was taught was to interpret the not-so-clear passages in light of the clear passages of Scripture.