“Here’s my name card.” And the name cards states … Apostle “U-asked-for-it” ~ Enthusiastic “modern day apostle”
“The apostolic function is the most neglected and yet most necessary gift for the worldwide church.” ~ Robert Brow
“Many people like to claim the title in some circles today, but not all are aware of the biblical price involved in this calling” ~ Craig S. Keener
I was asked over the mobile phone today about my definition of the term “Apostle” and their ministry in today’s context. Wow … who am I to offer my feeble thoughts on such a massive subject. Pages 128 -132 of NT scholar Keener’s book “Gift & Giver” gave me some help. Here’s a summary:
Preliminary thoughts …
“Paul never restricted the use of God’s apostles to the Twelve or to the Twelve plus himself (Rom. 16:7; 1 Cor. 15:5-6; Gal. 1:19; compare occassionally even in Acts 1:26; 14:4, 14)”
And then some important considerations (more details in his chapter on “A closer look at Some Spiritual Gifts”:
1. Apostles seem to have broken new ground originating a ministry.
2. Apostles apparently exercised an authority generated by their ministry role, not by the church’s institutional structure.
3. Both signs and sacrificial, simple living chracterized apostolic ministry.
As for the term:
“An apostle is literally a commissioned “messenger” similar to the ancient idea of a herald or the Jewish custom of the shaliach. As an appointed agent of the one who sent him, a shaliach was backed by the full authority of the one who sent him (to the extent that he accurately represented his commission”
Robert Brow comes to the topic of “Apostles and Teams” from a different angle which is worth a look. His final comment on Apostle Paul was insightful!
“These fourteen years of preparation gave Paul his theological training and practical experience in the exercise of various spiritual gifts. We must recognize that, whereas most of us are one-talent men, there are others in the church with two or more spiritual gifts. Usually to qualify as an apostolic leader of a mission team, a man will need to have developed evangelistic, teaching, and administrative gifts. Paul obviously had these, and he also spoke in tongues and had a gift of healing. He was at least a five-talent man. Inevitably as he began moving in the Mediterranean world his gifts and leadership were recognized, younger men joined him, churches backed them, and the team enriched the Christian bloodstream in the Roman world.”
Personally, just putting a title on a name card means nothing to me. God’s calling as an Apostle is more about the Kingdom of God, the extension of his church, the development of the Body of Christ in different times and localities. Furthermore, I feel that a 21-century “Apostle” vocal volumne, eloquence, aggressiveness and charisma is so so secondary to his authentic Christian character, commitment to Missional advancement and enhanced abilities to lead pplus working with a wide network of churches. One who is a true servant both with multiple gifts and a genuine character of grace in the most enhanced way.
Funny, Professor X of the X-men came to mind when I was thinking about this in the shower.