Apostles Today & Tomorrow

The ideas that apostles stopped being needed after the first century, and that there were only 13 of them, and that the ministry frequently called “missionary” is the current ministry of apostles are mistakes that have caused much of the lack of influence the people of God have in the earth.

Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus that people would be exercising the works that come through the gift of apostle “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.” (Ephesians 4:13-14.) I have seen many congregations and studied much history, and have not noticed any time or place during which or in which believers have been properly described as “having reached unity” in either faith or knowledge.

The Greek word we would render as “apostle” in English was used by Scripture writers 80 times, and most translations try to prevent us from being confused by calling anyone but “the 13” apostles by mis-translating it twice as “messengers,” which is the meaning of the word we usually translate as “angels.” The two times it is clearly referring to someone other than the 13 are in 2 Corinthians 8:22-24 and Philippians 2:25-30. Those two links are to Young’s Literal Translation of the two Scriptures, and he translated the word there as “apostle” and “apostles.”

The idea that pastors should be leading congregations of believers is the result of Martin Luther trying to repair the mistake imposed by Constantine on believers that congregations should be led by a caste of priests, like the congregations of the sun and the moon and Saturn and Jupiter. Martin’s idea was an improvement over the Roman priesthood, but it didn’t restore the design Jesus has in mind: apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists equipping the saints for the ministry in the earth, so that each part of the body of Jesus is effective: every believer (Ephesians 4:7-16)