Apostleship: A Biblical Perspective

Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ…

Romans 1:5, 6

The word “apostle” comes from the Greek word “apostolos” which means delegate, ambassador of the gospel, commissioner of Christ. These three elements of the definition overlap, much as availability, vulnerability and mobility do (please see David Brickner’s lead article). But there are nuances, illustrated by Scripture, that bring the definition of apostle into sharper focus. For example:

A delegate is a person authorized or sent to act for or represent another:

He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me (Matthew 10:40).

An ambassador is the highest diplomatic representative that one sovereign power or state sends to another; an ambassador is an official herald, messenger or agent with a special mission:

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).

A commissioner is a person who has been officially authorized to take charge or oversee matters for the person or government that employs him or her:

We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us—a sphere which especially includes you. For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ … (2 Corinthians 10:13, 14).

The Scriptures actually refer to Jesus as the ultimate apostle:

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house (Hebrews 3:1-3).

Jesus was the perfect example of availability, vulnerability and mobility for us; He needed each of those qualities to be obedient to the task for which His father sent Him. If God has set us apart as ministers of the gospel, if He has appointed us for the task of making the Messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to our Jewish people worldwide, we must follow His example and that means making ourselves available, vulnerable and ready to be mobile should the need arise. God grant that we may be so!

Please note: We do not see ourselves as filling the office of Apostle. We are using biblical examples as a model for an apostolic lifestyle.


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