And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XI, Number 13 February 24, 2008
In this issue:
An apostle is literally “one sent forth” (Vine, 30). The word is applied in the New Testament to any number of individuals who were sent forth on any number of tasks (Heb. 3:1; Acts 14:14; 13:3; 2 Cor. 8:23).
Our interest here is to consider the men whom Jesus chose, appointed and sent into the world to bear the particular fruit of preaching and confirming the gospel that would be revealed to them by God: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain…” (Jno. 15:16; cf. 6:70). Thus it is recorded that Jesus “chose twelve whom He also named apostles” (Lk. 6:13). The Lord replaced Judas (who fell from his apostleship and betrayed Christ) with Matthias (Acts 1:24-26; Jno. 6:70-71). And, the Lord selected Saul of Tarsus to be His “chosen vessel” whom He sent to the Gentiles with the gospel of salvation (Acts 9:15; 26:16-18).
The apostles are a gift Christ gave to the world and to His church for the purpose of salvation and edification (Eph. 4:7-16). Entrusted with the gospel of salvation, the apostles of Christ fully preached its saving message to the world (Mk. 16:15; Acts 20:20-21, 27; Col. 1:23). As a result of the fruit they bore (in revealing and preaching the gospel, the “word of the cross”, the New Testament of Jesus Christ), one can be saved from sin, grow to spiritual maturity in Christ, and have a sure hope of glory (Rom. 1:15-16; 1 Cor. 1:18; Eph. 4:12; Col. 1:27-28).
The New Testament also warns of “false apostles” (2 Cor. 11:13). These made false claims of apostleship, declaring to have been chosen and sent by Christ. But, unlike the genuine apostles of Christ, these were “deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (2 Cor. 11:13). They were not to be believed or followed.
The veracity of their claims was put to the test: “And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars” (Rev. 2:2). It was not enough to merely claim to be an apostle of Christ. There were “signs of an apostle” as well as qualifications to be an apostle by which one could distinguish between true and false apostles (2 Cor. 12:12).
There continue to be those today “who say they are apostles” and are not. For example, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) boasts of having “living apostles” today. When these are tested against the New Testament qualifications of apostles, their signs, powers and works, they miserably fail. They are not to be believed or followed by those seeking to please Christ (Gal. 1:6-10).
Some may challenge whether or not we can test modern-day claims of apostleship as the Ephesians did in Revelation 2:2. We believe we can, and must, do so (1 Jno. 4:1, 6). All agree the New Testament apostles were selected by Jesus Christ and sent into the world by Him to preach the gospel. It is reasonable and Scriptural to use the New Testament as our guide to know the qualifications and work of the apostles of Christ. Claims of apostleship can be tested by (1) The words of the New Testament apostles (what they taught, 1 Jno. 4:1-6; Gal. 1:8-9), (2) Their works (what they did and why they did it, 2 Cor. 12:12; Acts 8:18), and (3) Their qualifications (Acts 1:21-26). We now turn our attention to the New Testament qualifications of an apostle of Christ.
The Qualifications of the Apostles
How did a man become an apostle of Christ? There were no nominations or campaigns to become an apostle. Apostles were not elected by the members of the church. Jesus personally chose His apostles: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you (Jno. 15:16). Some have mistakenly concluded that the eleven apostles selected Matthias to replace Judas, but in truth, Jesus selected Matthias and revealed His selection to the eleven:
And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:24-26).
Concerning Saul of Tarsus, the Lord said, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Jesus appeared to Saul in order to choose him and qualify him to be an apostle (Acts 26:16).
The apostles of Jesus Christ were thoroughly familiar with Him, having been in His presence throughout His personal ministry on earth.
“Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection” (Acts 1:21-22).
They heard Jesus teach; they saw His works; they touched Him. And, they declared these things to us so we can have life and fellowship with our God:
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 Jno. 1:1-3).
When promising the apostles that the Spirit of truth would be sent to the apostles from the Father, Jesus affirmed, “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning” (Jno. 15:27). The Holy Spirit empowered the apostles with full remembrance of what Jesus taught and directed them in what to say and write (Jno. 14:26; Matt. 10:19-20; 1 Cor. 2:6-13; Eph. 3:3-7). As a result, we can have complete confidence in the apostles’ testimony concerning the life and teachings of Jesus. It is by their message we are brought to faith in Christ and eternal life in Him (Jno. 20:30-31; 1 Jno. 1:3-4).
It is obvious that no one living today was with Jesus when He was on the earth. Nobody meets this qualification, and on this basis is not an apostle of Christ. If someone raises Paul as one who did not meet this qualification, it is true that Paul was an exception – an exception which Jesus Himself made. Paul regarded himself as “the least of the apostles” because he persecuted the church of God (1 Cor. 15:9). Yet, the Lord was gracious to him and appointed him to be an apostle (Rom. 1:5; 15:15-16; 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11). To point out the exceptional nature of Paul’s apostleship does not prove some one today is an apostle. The Lord had the right to make an exception, which He did in Paul’s case. He made no others.
In addition to having been with Jesus before His death on the cross, the apostles were also eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ. Their appointed work was to be witnesses who would give competent testimony that Jesus was raised from the dead:
“Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:40-42; cf. Acts 1:8; 2:32; 3:15; 5:30-32).
Jesus appeared to Saul of Tarsus so that he, too, would be an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ (Acts 22:14-15; 26:16). Paul noted that after Jesus had appeared to the other apostles, “Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (1 Cor. 15:8; cf. 9:1).
The eyewitness testimony of the New Testament apostles is competent, having been confirmed “in signs and wonders and mighty deeds” (2 Cor. 12:12; Rom. 15:18-19; Heb. 2:3-4). Their testimony was inspired of God and sufficiently upholds the message that “this Jesus God has raised up” (Acts 2:32; 1 Cor. 2:1-5; 10-13; Gal. 1:11-12). No additional apostles are needed to testify that Jesus was raised from the dead. Those who claim to be apostles of Christ are “false apostles” who deceive the innocent (2 Cor. 11:13).
The New Testament
qualifications of an apostle of Jesus Christ are:
The apostles accomplished the work Jesus gave them. The gospel was preached, confirmed and written. We have their testimony of Christ in the inspired Scriptures of the New Testament, the incorruptible word of God (1 Cor. 14:37; 1 Pet. 1:22-25). There is no need for living apostles today because we have the living word of God that was preached by the first century apostles (Heb. 4:12). No one today meets the Scriptural qualifications to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. Those who claim otherwise fail the test and show themselves to be false (1 Jno. 4:1, 6; Rev. 2:2).
HOW TO BE SAVED
* BELIEVE Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, John 8:23-24; 20:30-31; Mark 16:16
* CONFESS your faith in Jesus as the Son of God, Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:9-10
* REPENT of your sins, Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38; 17:30
* BE BAPTIZED in water for the remission of your sins, Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:36-38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21
* LIVE FAITHFULLY by doing the Lord’s will, Luke 17:10; Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:7; Hebrews 5:8-9
Are you saved? If not, obey Jesus now!
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Matthew 10:27-31
1. Modern psychology defines self-esteem as
“the opinion you have of yourself.”
cf. Prov. 23:7.
Humility, Phil. 2:3-5 (cf. Rom. 12:3, 16)
Selfishness, Js. 4:1-3
Self-importance, Matt. 16:26
*Live by Faith
to have Proper Estimation of Self… (Gal. 2:20)
*Loving God and Loving Others, Matt. 22:37-39
*Happiness is a Choice of Faith, Phil. 4:4-7 (Christian, Matt. 5:11-14; 1 Pet. 4:16
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 03/10/2008
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA