Are apostles sent?
What is the role of apostles? Are apostles now presently sent to the church? Who are apostles? We have romantic ideas concerning this office as our imaginations run wild thinking about the Apostles Paul, Peter, John, and others. These few men changed their world, and are continuing to affect our lives today. God worked great miracles through them, and through their hand, wrote great verses in canon. The greatest revelation of “Christ and him crucified” comes through Apostle Paul’s letters. Even the “deepest revelators” presently in the church are still trying to grasp Apostle Paul’s message.
There is a great dissention within the church as to whether Christ is still sending apostles. In the past no one claimed to be an apostle therefore these questions have been unanswered. We cannot ignore them anymore. As a Baptist child I was taught that apostles had fulfilled their work and because of this, they are no longer needed, and not being sent. A seasoned believer made this statement “we do not need apostles anymore, because we have the Holy Spirit.” This idea is a presumed belief and no biblical doctrine supports this idea.
To find biblical truth, we must set aside all presumed beliefs. “John 16:13 … the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…” Our own beliefs hinder the “Spirit of truth.” Often the Lord has to tear down our unfounded doctrines before he can build us up. The Lord sends storms against our “houses” testing the doctrines that hold it up. As the house falls it reveals truth. “2 Corinthians 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner…” The fall is not for our destruction but to bring us to repentance. As the Lord builds us up and tears us down we “grow in grace in the knowledge of the Lord.” The building up and tearing down of our “houses” will continue until the day of the Lord. Truth evolves within us as the Lord tears down our presumed beliefs. Truth is absolute, but we are not absolute.
Ephesians 4:11-13 (KJV)
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 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:…
Apostles are one part of a fivefold gift that Christ gave the church. Most all churches believe evangelists, pastors and teachers have a part in the body and, depending on the denomination, prophets as well. The Lord states that he will continue sending apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers “till we all come in the unity of faith… unto a perfect man…” We are still looking forward to this fulfillment. “The perfecting of the saints” is a continuing work until the resurrection. Believers should quit inserting personal understanding on “who” the church needs. Whatever the denomination, believers cannot deny these verses.
1 Corinthians 12:27-30 (KJV)
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
28 And God hath set some in the church, first (place, order, or time i.e. chief [primary source]) apostles,secondarily (“Derived from what is primary or original: a secondary source” http://www.thefreedictionary.com) prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, help, governments, diversities of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
We should not make the mistake of thinking that apostles, prophets, teachers, etc… come in a linear order of time. This logic does not fit, because if we were to limit the apostles to just the beginning of the church then we must apply this logic to the rest of the passage. As stated before many denominations believe in prophets but if we follow the error of this reasoning, then the time of the prophets should have come and gone. Also, the evangelist and pastor are not mentioned in this passage. Where are they? Should we cast teachers aside after their “allotted” time has come and gone?
1 Corinthians 12:20-21 (KJV)
20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
This verse shows the error of the following statement “that there is no need for the apostles anymore,” because it clearly states the opposite. Members of his body cannot declare who belongs and who does not. All parts of the body are just as necessary now, as in ages past. Furthermore, because of unbelief and absence of apostles the church has suffered greatly.
1 Corinthians 12:26 (KJV)
And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
I believe from the death of the Apostle John in 100 AD until now there have been only a few apostles within the Church. There can never be apostles such as Peter or John that literately walked with Christ; however, if we take Peters requirement for an apostle then Paul was not an apostle.
“Paul, though he had seen the Lord Jesus, 1 Cor. 9:1; 1 Cor. 15:8, had not ‘companied with’ the Twelve ‘all the time’ of His earthly ministry, and hence was not eligible for a place among them, according to Peter’s description of the necessary qualifications, ‘Acts 1:22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.’ Paul was commissioned directly, by the Lord Himself, after His Ascension, to carry the Gospel to the Gentiles.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words
The commissioning of apostles should not be a question, because all biblically evidence proves the case. Christ is personally commissioning apostles and sending them into the church today. When we have removed our preconceived ideas and look solely to scripture for answers, then we can begin to understand truth. Ephesians chapter four states that God will give some apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, if pastors are accepted then apostles should be as well. We must lay aside the traditions of men and look solely to scripture for answers.
Now that we have established that apostles have a part within church, we need to understand the role that apostles have in the church. By better understanding the role of apostles we can know the difference between true apostles and false apostles. Most true apostles are doing their best to biblically fulfill their function. We must understand that true apostles can have a false doctrine, but that false doctrine does not make them false apostles. Presently, there are true pastors that have false doctrine within their teachings, but that does not make them false pastors. These ministers are doing their best to obey God and fulfill their calling. The false doctrine that has been mingled within truth in their ministries is because of ignorance.
Through the passage of time the biblical role of apostles had been lost. Their roles were not necessary to understand, because they were not prevalent in the church. This is one of the reasons why the majority of the church does not believe in the “sent apostle.” It is not an easy task to understand the calling of apostles, because the body lacks teaching on this office. The absence of this office in the body has made it difficult to be “re-established.” We must take deliberate steps of establishment as this office grows within the body of Christ.
The fivefold gift
Hebrews 3:1 (KJV)
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest (“chief priest” was often used in the “Old Testament”) of our profession, Christ Jesus;
One of the best ways to discover any office is to look at Christ’s ministry. His (Christ’s) life illustrates the function of pastors, teachers, prophets, and apostles. When Christ came to a well in Samaria he met a woman who called him a “prophet.” “John 4:19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.” Nicodemus referred to Christ as a teacher, “John 3:2 …Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God.” The great book of Hebrews refers to him as a pastor, “Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd (pastor) of the sheep…” An evangelist, according the Strong’s Concordance, is a preacher of the gospel (cross of Christ), and a “bringer of glad tidings.” Christ exemplifies an evangelist, “Luke 8:1 And it came to pass afterward, that he (Christ) went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.” Therefore, we can learn the role of apostles by Christ’s example.
The word apostle means a delegate (“a person designated to act for or represent another or others”Dictionary.com); specially an ambassador (“a diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative” Dictionary.com) of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ [“apostle”] (with miraculous powers):- apostle, messenger, he that is sent.
Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary.
John 4:34 (KJV)
“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” Christ’s duty, as Chief Apostle, was to deliver the will of God. He (Christ) was manifest in the flesh to take away sin by the cross. God’s will was for Christ to come and go to the cross, “John 12:27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.”
From the Strong’s definition of an “apostle,” we can see why the book of Hebrews refers to Christ as an apostle. An apostle is one that is sent to perform a specific task, and Christ was sent to fulfill the “task” of the cross.
John 13:15-16 (KJV)
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
As Christ was washing the apostles’ feet at the last supper, he states “ye should do as I have done to you.” Christ’s mission was the cross, and everything he did revolved around that purpose. He (Christ) performed no work through his own strength but allowed the Spirit to work. Apostles who are sent have a mission similar to Christ’s mission, and their mission is the cross of Christ. An apostle that is on “another” mission is one not to be trusted.
John 10:15 (KJV)
As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
In John 13:15-16 Christ said he gave an example to the apostles. What is this example? John 10:15 answers this question, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” This is in reference to what Christ would do at the cross. The “cornerstone” of our faith is the laying down of Christ’s life. Everything in Christianity is based and held up by the death of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:20-22 (KJV)
20 And are built upon the foundation (the cross i.e. the laying down of Christ’s life) of the apostles and prophets (These two office help lay the foundation), Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone (An interesting side note is that “stones” can represent offices of apostles and prophets, and by knowing this attribute we can apply it throughout scripture such as in Joshua 8:31 “…it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings.” The true biblical alter is always an Old Testament type of the cross i.e. the foundation spoken of in Ephesians. Altars consist of more than one stone! Another example is in Nehemiah 4:2 “…will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?” Nehemiah built the broken walls of Jerusalem with these “burnt stones” that otherwise were overlooked, walked over, and thought of as trash. The office that has been “burnt” and overlooked, God is using to repair the breach in the church.);
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also (This signifies that everyone has a part within the whole house of God.) are builded together for an habitation of God (Instructions on the wilderness tabernacle were given to Moses so that God could have a “habitation” among them. “Exodus 25:8 And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” The Lord can only dwell in a “completed” sanctuary. Jesus Christ is the completed temple of God, and the church represents that temple on earth. A church that “excludes” certain members is an “incomplete” temple)through the Spirit.
I believe this verse is what “separates” the ministry of apostles and prophets from evangelists, pastors and teachers. Apostles and prophets are foundational offices. To clarify, evangelists, pastors and teachers have the foundational message within their ministry, but the primary focus is different. Evangelists bring people to the way (cross of Christ), pastors have a burning heart to shepherd i.e. protect the people as they walk in the way of Christ, and teachers instruct believers as they walk in the way. The ministries of apostles and prophets lay and establish the foundation for the church. A hallmark of apostles is the laying down of the foundation.
Ephesians 3:3-5 (KJV)
3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery (There is only one mystery and that is Jesus Christ and him crucified.); (as I wrote afore in few words,
4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
Unless scripture is wrong the mystery of God is NOW revealed. “Now” means at the present time or moment. God reveals the mystery of the cross to “his holy apostles and prophets.” Here again, the great mystery, “which in other ages was not known,” is the cross of Christ. Apostles correct a church that has veered off course. They also explain misunderstandings of the cross of Christ to a somewhat ignorant church. The present day church understands the cross relative to salvation, but past that understanding is ignorant. When a believer thinks they know all there is to know about the cross, they know very little.
As we learn the role of apostles we should not compare it to the ministries of evangelists and pastors, because they are vastly different; however, apostles and prophets are closer in relation. These ministries are both foundational offices, and by knowing the similarities and differences between these two ministries we can gain some insight into the role of apostles. One of the few differences of apostles and prophets is the receiving and giving of the cross. Prophets speak inspired words that come down from the father of lights above. Apostles can speak by inspiration but also they bodily receive and express the gospel (cross of Christ).
Apostles demonstrate the power of the cross as it manifests in their bodies. Paul declares that the marks of the Lord are in his body “Galatians 6:17 …for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Those marks are for demonstration i.e. manifestation of spirit and power.
1 Corinthians 2:4 (KJV)
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration (“manifestation” Strong’s; “a ‘showing’ forth or display [to show or exhibit; make visible; to unfold, spread out Dictionary.com], by the operation of the Spirit of God in him, as affecting the hearts and lives of his hearers, in contrast to the attempted methods of proof by rhetorical arts and philosophic arguments.”Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words) of the Spirit and of power(According to 1 Corinthians 1:18 the power is preaching the cross of Christ):
Demonstrating the cross is what separates true apostles from false apostles. This demonstration goes beyond words but a tangible and experiential example of the cross. The primary belief of most “misled” apostles’ is that they need to expound great revelations. Apostles have put too much pressure upon themselves to receive and explain “unrevealed” mysteries of God. “Pulling things out of the air” is a major fault in circles of both apostles and prophets. I should not single them out either, because many church leaders follow their denominational teaching because it feels right. “There is nothing new under the sun” goes the preacher of Ecclesiastes. There is no NEW REVELATION because all has been revealed by the manifestation of Jesus Christ.He (Christ) is the revelation. Apostles interpret that revelation to the church (I will biblically prove this point using both the Old and New Testaments.) Paul proclaims his apostleship in 1 Corinthians 9:1.
1 Corinthians 9:1 (KJV)
Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?
Two thousand years ago Christ walked this earth with his chosen apostles, and after his death he appeared to them on many different occasions. Christ also appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus calling him to the office of apostle, but many years would pass before Paul and the other apostles understood the mystery. All mysteries are revealed by the manifestation of Christ, and Christ manifests himself to his apostles. Every generation needs apostles for this reason.
Only by the revelation of Jesus Christ can anyone hope to grasp the mystery of God. Revelation is imputed to people by the manifestation of Christ. The manifestation of Christ is the demonstration Paul is referring to in 1 Corinthians 2:4. Apostles manifest the revelation of Christ to the church, and by this “demonstration” individuals can begin to fully understand the true mystery of God. The mystery of God is the cross of Christ, and apostles both show and explain that mystery.
John 14:19 (KJV) Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. John 16:16 (KJV) A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.
The revelation did not come to the “world” when Christ first manifested in the flesh. The world did not know or understand Christ’s purpose, and the apostles did not grasp what he (Christ) was there to do. It was only after the cross, when Christ appeared to his disciples, that they began to grasp the meaning of his life. Christ’s first appearing brings the revelation i.e. the manifestation, but his appearing after death starts to bring understanding to the revelation. It took three and half years of constant revelation and only forty days after the passion to begin to understand what he revealed. Only then was Peter was able to stand up at Pentecost and declare “this is that spoken of by the prophet Joel.”
Acts 1:1-3 (KJV) 1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up (Before Christ ascended into the cloud he taught all the disciples including those who were not apostles.), after that (ascension) he (Christ) through the Holy Ghost(i.e. the Holy Spirit or comforter) had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen (“many are called but few are chosen;” God’s chief messengers are chosen and “sent” apostles, and he communicates to his church through these emissaries): 3 To whom also he shewed (This “second” appearing is not an open appearing but only to the chosen apostles) himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
What things did Christ speak of those forty days to his apostles? Scripture can answer this question as well. While two disciples were walking on the road to Emmaus, Christ appears to them and begins to explain scripture.
Luke 24:27 (KJV) And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
These disciples, upon learning that the man who explained scripture was the Lord, ran back to join the rest of the disciples. Christ then reveals himself to the disciples by showing them the wounds in his body, and in turn opens up the disciples’ understanding.
Luke 24:36-39 (KJV) 36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 38… 39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
Luke 24:45(KJV) Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
During those forty days Christ was opened to the understanding of his apostles. These apostles walked with Christ for over three years and could not grasp the revelation (Christ is the revelation) he showed them. After the passion their understanding could begin to be opened. It is by the cross that revelation and understanding now comes to his apostles and prophets. His apostles and prophets then show that revelation and understanding to the church.
We know that apostles have the manifestation and explanation of Christ within their lives as evidenced in the life of the Apostle John.
Revelation 1:1 (KJV) The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him (the Apostle John), to shew(i.e. to expose to the eyes) unto his servants (followers of Christ) things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ” is the only true revelation and Apostles Peter, John, and Paul both testify to this truth.
Paul: Galatians 1:12 (KJV) For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Peter: 1 Peter 1:13 (KJV) Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
The phrase “which God gave unto him,” indicates to Apostle John, but as the above verses clearly proves, John was not the only one that received “the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
2 Corinthians 12:4 (KJV) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
I believe Peter and Paul were witnesses just as John was. There are a couple of similarities between Paul’s passage and a few passages in the Book of Revelation. In Revelation 4:1 John was told to “come up” similar to Paul being “caught up into paradise.” Paul also heard words that are “not lawful for a man to utter.” The Apostle John had a comparable incident in Revelation 10:4 when he heard the “seven thunders.” He tried to write the words he had heard but he was instructed to “seal them up.” I believe Paul and John’s revelations are one in the same.
Apostles are Mediators
Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and men. “1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” “Galatians 3:20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.” A mediator is one that reconciles differences between two parties. In the Old Covenant, Moses was a mediator between God and the Jewish people, and both parties had requirements to fulfill. Jesus Christ as the mediator reconciles the differences between God and men. In Galatians 3:20 Paul shows us that between two parties there is a mediator, but goes on asserting “but God is one.” In the New Covenant Christ mediates between both parties, and being both God and “the man” fulfills the requirements of each one. Christ therefore mediates between “himself” and “himself” i.e. “but God is one.”
To reiterate the definition of apostle, the word means a delegate; specially an ambassador of the Gospel.
2 Corinthians 5:20 (KJV) Now then we (apostles) are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseechyou by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
An ambassador is a diplomatic official of the highest rank sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative. Sent apostles represent Christ in the world, but not all apostles are “sent.” The original apostles that physically walked with Christ were not sent until the foundation was laid in their hearts, and within each individual apostle the foundation has to be laid before he too can be sent.
“Un-sent” apostles frequently misunderstand their purpose. The original apostles taught us this lesson in Luke 9:54-55 “And when his disciples James and John (some of the original apostles) saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he (Christ) turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” Those that are called to be apostles will exhibit this type of behavior (called to be prophets should not be excluded from this).
There may be some that are having a hard time believing that apostles represent Christ in the world. Paul declares in Philippians 1:23-24 that he wanted to “depart, and be with Christ,” but he knew he needed to represent Christ to the world and the church.
Philippians 1:23-24 (KJV) 23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
This passage is the very definition of “being sent.” Paul writes that he has “a desire to depart and to be with Christ.” Logically if Paul wants to depart and be with Christ then he was not with Christ at that moment, but was an emissary for Christ. An apostle is someone that is sent from Christ to the world.
When Paul prayed “be reconciled to God” his prayer could not reconcile anyone, but it was the gift he was offering that brings reconciliation. The gift that he was offering is the slain lamb. Sent apostles, as Christ’s representatives, are empowered to negotiate peace to a hostile world. God is not hostile towards us, i.e. the world, but we are enemies towards Him. It takes sent apostles to help navigate believers from a carnal mind unto a spiritual mind.
“A ‘priest’ is an authorized minister of deity who officiates at the altar and in other cultic rites. A ‘priest’ performs sacrificial, ritualistic, and mediatorial (“Characteristic of a mediator” Dictionary.com) duties; he represents the people before God. By contrast, a ‘prophet’ is an intermediary (“mediator” Dictionary.com) between God and the people.”
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words
The role of evangelists, pastors and teachers is like that of a priest. They are “mediators” between people and God. In other words, a pastor would stand before God for his congregation. Prophets and apostles being similar in duties are “mediators” between God and people. They are God’s representatives to the congregation. Sent apostles “face” the people, whereas pastors “face” God. Un-sent apostles are “facing” God until they are sent. Sent apostles also function as “high priests” representing people before God.
Types of Apostles in the Old Testament
To have a better understanding of apostles we must understand their role in the Old Testament. Paul did not “pull teaching out of the air” but always had a base for his teaching. Knowledge of scripture is not good enough either, because few could contend with Paul’s knowledge. Yet, that knowledge was not sufficient, and until he was “taken up to paradise” for the “second appearing” of Christ, was he able to truly understand.
The word “apostle” is never used in the Old Testament; however through careful study we can find the definition of apostle throughout Old Testament scripture. A King often sent delegates with messages into foreign lands, hostile nations, and neighboring kingdoms for many purposes. They came in the name of the King wielding words of comfort, reproof, and condolence. Princes would send them to interpret the “wonders” done by the hand of God. Ambassadors were a vital office within kingdoms of old and without them nations and alliances could not have happened.
In the Old Testament the word “ambassador” means “a hinge (as pressed in turning); also an errand-doeralso a throe [i.e. pang as in a spasm of pain] (as a physical or mental pressure).” Jesus Christ is the door (John 10:19) and doors have at least “two hinges.” I believe this could be a picture of apostles and prophets. Apostles and prophets “hang” Christ so that others can plainly see the way. It is also interesting to note that “pangs” can not only be a physical pain as in child labor, but mental pain as well. This may indicate a believer’s mind being changed from a “carnal” mind towards a “spiritual” mind. A “spiritual” minded person is one that is solely focused upon Jesus Christ and him crucified.
The Hebrew word “ambassador” originates from a root word meaning “to cramp, i.e. confine (in many applications, literal, and figurative, formative or hostile).” The “cramping” may be an indication of the pregnancy pains of birth that a woman experiences, but throughout scripture this root word is used to convey the idea of an enemy pressing inward against a fortification. We can see this type of usages in passages such as 2 Kings 24:11“And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it.” The Apostle Paul travail in birth for the Galatians.
Galatians 4:19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
Moses was an Old Testament type of an apostle. On the top of the mountain God gave Moses a message to deliver to Pharaoh.
Exodus 3:10 (KJV) Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
Moses was destined to be used by God to bring “his people” out of bondage, but it took many years on the backside of the desert before this would happen. Only after Moses ascends the Mountain top and has an encounter with God (“seeing” the bush that “burnt but was not consumed”) was he able to go into Egypt. Many years before this heavenly vision, Moses tried to fulfill his calling by delivering a fellow countryman from the hands of an Egyptian.
Acts 7:24-25 (KJV) 24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he (Moses) defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 25 For he (Moses) supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.
While Moses was “un-sent” he could do nothing for God, but when God sent him then he was able to lead the nation out of bondage. Moses seeing God in the bush and his “backside” was truly an Old Testament apostle.
There are numerous passages in the Old Testament that refer to “messengers” and “ambassadors.” If we look at the passage in 2 Samuel 10:1-5 we can utilize multiple functions of ambassadors within a few verses instead of going through all the different passages that reference them.
2 Samuel 10:1-5 (KJV) 1 And it came to pass after this, that the king of the children of Ammon died, and Hanun his son reigned in his stead. 2 Then said David, I will shew kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father shewed kindness unto me. And David sent to comfort him by the hand of his servants (The King sends ambassadors to comfort king Hanun on his loss; apostles are sent to comfort the church) for his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the children of Ammon (These ambassadors traveled into a “foreign land,” and apostles are sent into “foreign” land.). 3 And the princes of the children of Ammon said unto Hanun their lord, Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? hath not David rather sent his servants unto thee, to search the city, and to spy it out, and to overthrow it (The king’s heart believed that the ambassadors were going to try and “overthrow” the city. In verse 2 David states the reason for sending those ambassadors, it was to “show kindness” to the new king. When God sends an apostle to a congregation it is to bless and show favor to them. Sadly, the heart of many pastors is akin to king Hanun. I personally believe that the heart of these pastors is not necessary evil, but that they are “uneducated” in the role of apostles.)? 4 Wherefore Hanun took David’s servants, and shaved off the one half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks, and sent them away (This was a great offence done towards King David. How kingdoms receive ambassadors is a reflection on how they receive the one who sent the ambassadors. “John 13:20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send [apostles according to the strong’s concordance are “sent” and therefore apostles] receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.” Sent apostles can either be received or rejected. Even If a person does not believe in apostles they should take careful steps in regards to how they receive them because if a sent apostle comes to a congregation and is rejected, then that congregation has rejected the one who sent him. Also, In the culture of this time, men who had beards were free, and King Hanun treated them like slaves when he shaved their beards. Ambassadors are always free men and the treatment of them should be with the courtesies afforded to that position. The King does not send “house servants” or “slaves” but “noblemen” to meet foreign dignitaries. 1 Corinthians 9:1 Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? Sent apostles are “free.”). 5 When they told it unto David, he sent to meet them, because the men were greatly ashamed: and the king said, Tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown, andthen return.
Numbers 20:14-18 (KJV) 14 And Moses sent messengers (Strong’s definition means messengers, but also “angel,” and “ambassadors.” Moses sent these messengers or ambassadors to solicit favors from the King of Edom. Ambassadors are sometimes sent to certain congregation needing “help” to get to their destination.) from Kadesh (A word meaning “sanctuary” and the children of Israel had taken a temporary sanctuary while they sent ambassadors to the King of Edom. For a congregation to processed continually forward apostles are needed at the forefront.) unto the king of Edom (Edomites originate from the elder twin-brother of Jacob; From what we know about sanctification, Esau represents the first nature of all human beings, and he is akin to “first” Adam in that he is “red” and “ruddy.”), Thus saith thy brother Israel (The reason why Moses refers to the Edomites as brother is because both Edom and Israel come from the loin’s of Isaac.), Thou knowest all the travail that hath befallen us: 15 How our fathers went down into Egypt, and we have dwelt in Egypt a long time; and the Egyptians vexed us, and our fathers: 16 And when we cried unto the LORD (The whole congregation fervently prayed to the Lord for deliverance and help.), he heard our voice, and sent an angel(Although in this case the Hebrew word is rendered “angel,” it is the same word that is also used for “messenger” and “ambassadors.” When a local congregation “cries” unto the Lord, he will send an apostle or prophet to them to help them transition from one place to another. Congregations desiring to move into the promises of God need an apostle and/or prophet to help them. Also, when the Lord wants to move a congregation to transform to“higher heights” he sends an apostle.), and hath brought us forth out of Egypt: and, behold, we are in Kadesh (As mentioned before Kadesh means “sanctuary” but this is a temporary sanctuary.), a city in the uttermost of thy border: 17 Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country (Although “Kadesh” can be thought of as a “holy place” it is not the promise. Before they can enter into the promise land they have to traverse through surrounding lands and it takes apostles to navigate through the land.): we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink of the water of the wells: we will go by the king’s high way, we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders. 18 And Edom said unto him, Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword (Even having the five-fold gift of God within the body the way is never easy. God has a prescribed order of victory but there will still be difficulty. A church that does not walk in the prescribed order has no chance of attaining what God has for them).
The Present Day Condition of the “Apostle-less” Church
Proverbs 13:17 (KJV) A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but a faithful ambassador is health.
Apostles are “health” to the church and without them a church cannot be healthy. In the Strong’s Concordance the Hebrew word “health” means cure, medicine, deliverance, and placidity. Sent apostles are medicine to sick congregation. They are deliverance to those held captive, and bring a calming hand to an upturned church.
Without sent apostles in the church the body will be left sick. We are left with a church full of wounds and sores that have been closed or bound up. The Lord shows us the sick body in the first chapter of Isaiah.
Isaiah 1:5-6 (KJV) 5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it;but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
Finally, we must open our eyes and take ownership in regards to the present condition of the church today. Time and time again Apostles have been sent, yet they are turned away by unbelievers. Without Apostles declaring the way of God, the church will remain scattered and the will of God unknown. There are many who are called to be Apostles if they would only submit unto God and embrace the cross. Scripture is the written truth of God, and the human heart and mind cannot begin to comprehend that revelation. We must all come to a point in our lives to lay aside our personal ideas and beliefs so that God can reveal unto us the way of the cross.