Let’s clear up the definition of “Apostle” once and for all. It is crucial that we understand its original meaning as it was used by the apostles in the New Testament and that the same context which was used to define an apostle in the New Testament also be used to define an apostle today.
As God restores apostles to church government today we are going to see more and more definitions for the word “Apostle” springing up. There is a lot of misinformation that is being shared, so we are going to need to disambiguate between a true definition of apostle and a false definition of apostle.
I am going to show you how a lack of experience causes leaders to extrapolate from the Greek and Hebrew language their expectations of an apostle. But without personal experience with the calling, their definitions lack depth; they are meaningless guesswork. We are going to learn how an over reliance on word study, while ignoring the meat of the subject, leads to speculation.
Did you know a word can be defined without really defining it? The Greek word “apostolos” means “one sent forth”. But if we obtain our definitions from word study rather than the grace of God we will try to define an apostle as a term rather than a calling and read into that calling a meaning that seems to have importance, but does not.
The Second Apostolic Age began in 1977 when God called me to the office of apostle. My testimony of God’s calling is confirmed by visions, dreams, and angelic visitations. In addition, God made known to me that His purpose to restore the office of apostle to the church is to restore the church to the original foundation of truth, which is the knowledge of Jesus Christ from which the church strayed.
The New Apostolic Government is Formed. God had radical changes in mind for the church. After calling me to the office of apostle, God spent the next 30 years preparing me to lead the church through this important transition. The changes began to be implemented in 1999 when God directed me to found Second 8th Week Ministries for the purpose of spreading the embers of truth from myself to other apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. The government of God was reborn.
The Church is Reborn. From the newly formed apostolic government the changes spread around the world; And as God touched hearts, the church was reborn.
The New Testament sharply defines an apostleas one who is given grace by God, and sharply defines grace as revelation, and sharply defines revelation as the understanding of the mystery of Christ, and sharply defines the mystery of Christ as the knowledge (doctrine) of Christ.
Let’s be Clear About Our Language
Let’s be clear about our language. I am going to take you through the definition of apostle one step at a time using the same language that God uses: grace, revelation, mystery, and knowledge.
What do we mean when we say “grace”, “revelation”, “mystery”, and “knowledge”? Let’s follow the thread from…grace… to the revelation…to the mystery… to the knowledge to learn more:
Ephesians 3:2Paul defines the apostolic grace of his experience saying, “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward.”
Ephesians 3:3, “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words.”
Ephesians 3:4, “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.”
Ephesians 4:7, “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the MEASURE of the GIFT (of the GRACE) of Christ.”
1) Definition of Apostle:I believe the word “apostle” should have this exact meaning assigned to it. I define an apostle as one that is called of God and is given the measure of grace to make known the mystery of Christ to the church. That is what the Bible says and that has been my experience as an apostle for over 30 years.
Apostles Teach the church the Doctrine of Christ
Let’s follow the thread in the Bible from… the apostle…to the doctrine… to the church:
Taking another look at Ephesians 3:2, where Paul defines the apostolic grace of his experience saying, “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward.”
Here God is very exact about what He is doing and Paul is very exact to make God’s will known to the church. He says, God gave me this grace (revealed the knowledge of the mystery of Christ to me) so that I could give it to you.
Let’s support that connection between the apostle and the Christian to observe how God uses the apostle to determine what a Christian is to believe about Jesus Christ.
Acts 2:42, “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
Philippians 1:7, “Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.”
2) Definition of Apostle:Apostles teach doctrine to the church.
Question: Where did you obtain your doctrines and beliefs? Were you taught by a living apostle today?
Apostles Lay the Foundation of Truth in the Heart
Having established the connection in God’s mind between the apostle and God’s grace to revel the mystery of Christ (which is His knowledge), we established the central role of the apostle: to teach doctrine to the church.
Did You Know…Faith is built upon truth. I define truth as facts that are consistent with God’s character, purpose, and plan. Who am I describing? I am describing Jesus Christ. He said, “I am truth.” He is the tradition of our faith. He is our faith as long as we carry His knowledge. Now we are getting to the meat of the subject of apostles.
We know that apostles are called master builders and foundations layers. Let’s follow that thread, from…master builder…to the foundation…to Jesus Christ…to truth:
“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I (an apostle) have laid the foundation…” (1 Corinthians 3:10)
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11)
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Did You Know…The foundation of knowledge is the mystery of Christ and is distinguished from the fundamental knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The fundamental knowledge tells us the truth of Jesus’ birth, ministry on earth, death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven.
The foundation knowledge is the definition of the 12 Elements of the Gospel: grace, faith, righteousness, justification, sanctification, holiness, peace, rest, charity, truth, regeneration, and the renewing of the mind. These stones of knowledge are essential to your understanding of Jesus Christ and your faith in Him. The job of the apostle is to set these stones of knowledge in their proper order in the heart as the doctrine of Christ.
TRUTH is the profession of Jesus Christ and work of the Spirit in each of the 12 Elements.
3) Definition of Apostle: The apostle is the master builder, laying the foundation of truth (the 12 Elements of the Gospel) in the heart of the believer.
A true apostle lays the foundation knowledge of Jesus Christ in the hearts of believers. That results in the church embracing one doctrine of Christ. A true apostle today describes the unity of the faith as being in one mind of Christ, all sharing the same exact meaning of each of the Elements. (This is known as apostolic grace.)
An exact knowledge of the Elements of the Gospel is of considerable importance for the understanding of our salvation and for the operation of God to form the fruit of Christ in the inner man. For example, an exact knowledge of the relationship of grace to the strengthening of the will for faith would contribute much towards the understanding of spiritual growth.
A false apostles lays the foundation in the fundamental knowledge of Jesus Christ. The result is confusion. There are over 33,000 different Christian denominations in the world today all claiming the same fundamental knowledge, but disagreeing on the foundation knowledge. The result of that confusion is an exigent faith.
Lacking the foundation of truth placed in their heart by an apostle, false apostles today believe in imperfect knowledge. Leaders accepted this mindset because they were introduced into a Christian culture where truth is ever evolving. This conditional thought pattern made them blind to the ramifications of not having an exact knowledge-they lacked the basis for instruction. They cannot instruct the Body of a truth they do not possess.
The assumption made about truth evolving is based on a lack of experience with truth, and consequently false apostles draw the wrong conclusion, that an exact knowledge of the 12 Elements is not possible (or desirable). It is incorrect to reach a general conclusion based on assumptions.
Lacking an exact knowledge,false apostles describe truth by their experience of wandering in the wilderness looking for it. And from that experience, false apostles believe truth to be a journey. To them, the word “mystery” means “I don’t know”.
C. Peter Wagner Definition of Apostle
C. Peter Wagner defines an Apostle as a: “Christian leader who is gifted, taught, and commissioned by God with the authority to establish the foundational government of the Church within an assigned sphere of ministry by hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches and by setting things in order accordingly for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.”
Flaws in C. Peter Wagner’s definition of Apostle:
Wagner fails to identify the gift as grace and fails to connect the grace to the knowledge.
Wagner wrongly connects the word “foundation” to “government”. This critical error prevents the knowledge of truth its rightly place as the foundation and tells us quickly that truth has been displaced as we see in the next point
Wagner assigns apostles to “spheres of ministry” according to their human giftings and talents: some who are strong in the marketplace call themselves “marketplace apostles”, some who like to travel a lot call themselves apostles who focus on world missions (they used to be called “missionaries”). Others who are excellent organizers, speakers, and motivators call themselves networking apostles (they used to be called conference speakers).
What is happening here? Wagner, by placing the foundation in government rather than truth, focused the definition of apostle on the manifestation of human signature talents and confused these giftings with the gift of grace.
This has been a common mistake that ministers have been making for hundreds of years. The church got stuck in a certain way of thinking and was not aware that signature giftings were being confused with the gift of grace and this misdirection of knowledge contributed to the misunderstanding of an apostle. This is a good example of what I said earlier, that if we define an apostle as a term rather than a calling we will read into that calling a meaning that seems to have importance, but does not.
The result of applying Wagner’s definition is that nothing changed. Those influenced by his teaching restructured the current culture of spiritual government by adding the title apostle to what they currently do. This is a spiritual subterfuge aimed at acquiring the apostle’s office without due order of calling and grace.
Why should we care about these distinctions between human giftings and the gift of grace? The task of making distinctions is to come to an actionable judgment. If we are duly instructed on the difference between human signature gifts, talents, and skills and the grace of the apostle’s office we can recognize at once the insincere tone of the natural man and make the necessary radical change away from substituting human giftings for the gift of grace.
What Did We Learn:
False apostles cannot distinguish between human giftings and the gift of grace.
False apostles developed a language for faith to express its lack.
False apostles are unclear in their instruction of the Elements of the Gospel
Let’s choose an Element of the Gospel (righteousness for example) and follow this thread from…unclear instruction on the element of righteousness…to ignorance of the righteousness of God…to establishing their own righteousness…to not submitting themselves to the righteousness of God…to an exigent faith symptom. What would we expect to see in the church when instruction in the element of righteousness is unclear? According to study released by Campus Crusade in 2005, “the average Christian is living a defeated and frustrated life”. That experience of exigent faith is a direct result of lack of instruction in righteousness.
“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:3)
Furthermore,lacking the foundation of truth placed in their heart by an apostle, false apostles isolate the Elements from each other and fail to understand the synergy of the work of Christ. As a result, their doctrine is disorganized and chaotic. This is why false apostles are forced to move accountability from truth to other organizational structures and relationships. They are apostles of their own order, but not apostles of Jesus Christ.
Finally, lacking the exact knowledge regarding grace, faith, righteousness, justification, sanctification, holiness, peace, rest, charity, truth, regeneration, and the renewing of the mind, false apostles lack the ability to pinpoint the true cause of the failure a Christian experiences to succeed at their faith.
Did You Know…having an exact knowledge of the Elements of the Gospel opens the door for the Holy Spirit to do a real and personal work in your heart. The grace God gives to an apostle to lay the foundation of truth in your heart joins you to the grace of God for your growth. God daily gives you grace for your faith to function.
4) Definition of Apostle: The apostle possesses an exact knowledge of the machinery of God’s kingdom and instructs the church in the knowledge and function of faith in Jesus Christ. An apostle describes the unity of the faith as being in one mind of Christ, all sharing the same exact meaning of each of the Elements of the Gospel.
Grace for salvation:The revelation of Christ to the heart for faith, for conversion. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
Grace for growth:The continued, daily revelation of Christ to the heart for faith, for spiritual growth. “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18)
Grace for calling:A specific measure of the revelation of Christ to function in one of the 5 callings of God’s spiritual government. “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ…And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” (Ephesians 4:7,11)
Apostles Are Stewards of the Mystery of Christ
Having established the function of an apostle as the office that God assigned to build the church in the doctrine of Christ, and having identified that inspiration as grace, and the doctrine as the truth of Jesus found in the 12 Elements of the Gospel, which are laid as a foundation in the heart, we now take a look at the need to maintain the purity of the doctrine and oversee the spiritual growth of believers.
Here we see the importance of living apostles today. Apostles are God’s living stewards to minister the mysteries of God to the church.
Let’s follow this thread from…apostles… to ministers of Christ…to stewardship…to the mysteries of God:
“Let a man so account of us (apostles), as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2)
What did we say earlier? That the mystery of Christ was the knowledge of the 12 Elements of the Gospel. This means that the apostles are stewards of knowledge, or knowledge stewards.
Jesus Christ is the author of the knowledge of His covenant, but apostles are the gatekeepers of the knowledge and safe guard it from being taken and misdirected by the carnal mind and fleshly appetites of man, as we saw earlier when disambiguating the signature giftings from the gift of grace. We saw a far different history with the signature skills and talents that suggested a far different outcome. One cannot expect the true Christian experience to emerge from the clay of the nature man.
1 Corinthians 15:2, “By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.”
1 Timothy 1:3, “…that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine.”
Galatians 4:18, “But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.”
5) Definition of Apostle: A living steward of the mystery of Christ.
Apostles Are a Refuge for the Church
What is the church in danger of? The church is vulnerable to false doctrine (false knowledge). As your knowledge is, so if your faith. If the knowledge you embrace as the Christian faith is built with the stones of Christ, then your faith reflects Jesus Christ perfectly. But if your Christian faith is mixed with the knowledge of this world, then your faith does not reflect Jesus Christ, your faith reflects the image of man, which is the idol of the heart.
Let’s follow this thread from…the absence of apostles… to grievous wolves…to the introduction of false knowledge…to the church departing from the faith:
“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29-30)
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 1:9)
6) Definition of Apostle: Living apostles today are a refuge for the church.
Apostles Are Ambassadors for Christ
An ambassador is a representative of a king and kingdom that sends Him. An ambassador, as a representative, carries out the oath of the one who sends him. Therefore, an apostle is a representative of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God, is charged to carry out the Word of God.
Jesus Christ is the Oath of God, He is God’s Word. The apostles carry out the Word of God in Jesus’ absence, to build faith in the hearts of the people. Let’s follow the thread from… Jesus…to God’s word…to truth…to apostles sent into the world with truth.
“I (Jesus)have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them (the apostles) through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.”
You are tethered to a kingdom by an oath. The oath carries the custom and tradition of that kingdom, which shows the mind of Christ. Apostles are tethered to God’s kingdom by the Oath of Christ. Your faith is a pledge to God. But you are commanded to pledge yourself to that which God inhabits (sanctifies), not that which is defiled.
If you pledge yourself to the knowledge the spirit of Antichrist inhabits then your whole faith is defiled, you have a false oath.
Setting an apostle in the proper context by first looking at how God used them to set the foundation of truth in the heart, will make the difference in how you understand the function of an apostle. On the other hand, if the definition of apostle is limited to word studies it will be difficult for you to answer these questions: What does it prove? What am I learning?
For example, we know that the Greek word for apostle means “sent one”. But what does that prove, what are you learning about an apostle, that God sends them? What are they sent to do and what does that have to do with how I function as a Christian? Armed with only the Greek meaning of the word apostle, most assumed apostles were sent out to the mission fields, so they called them “missionaries”. That assumption was both shortsighted and careless.
Realizing the word “apostle” needs context, some try to get context by looking further into the lexicon. They found the Hebrew word Sheliach, which means “one commissioned and authorized to represent fully his sender” and they believed they had the paint to add color to the word “apostle”. But do they? Let’s see if applying the meaning of the word Sheliach to the word “apostle” clarifies the meaning of “apostle”.
The word Sheliach allows us to go to the book of Genesis where we find Abraham commissioning his servant Eliezer to get a wife for his son Isaac from among Abraham’s people. Eliezer places his hand under Abraham’s thigh to pledge his loyalty to the oath of Abraham, that he will fulfill that which he is sent to do. Eliezer, the Sheliach, went in the name of Abraham on this mission, to perform this task (Genesis 24).
Back to our questions, What does that prove? What am I learning? That apostles are not only sent, but that they have accepted the oath of the King that sent them, that they are commissioned by our Lord, that they have full power and authority to complete the task in Jesus’ name, and they pledge an oath of loyalty to that end. But these are still definitions without context.
Context is Everything
Context is everything. Context builds understanding. The word “context” refers to specific things that are written or spoken that precede and follow to clarify meaning.
By learning the 12 Elements of the Gospel we gain context for the word “truth” and learn what Jesus meant when He said that He is the Word and Oath of God. Jesus did not think or speak Greek, or Aramaic-Hebrew. He thought and spoke the language of His Father, which is the kingdom of His righteousness.
The Elements help us to appreciate Jesus’ truth and sum up His truth in the language of His Father. The Elements give truth the context that we need to clarify the gospel apostles are commissioned to preach for the purpose of expressing Christ. The word “apostle” then has the context God intended-it is set within the environment of truth.
If you do not understand the purpose of the Elements to the Word of truth then you will be susceptible to believe that God wants to give you a “word” or “vision” for ministry. Drawing from your signature skills you will “hear” your signature angel confirm the earthly talents God gave you for the flesh, and mistake these for a ministerial calling in the kingdom of God. This would be a step in the wrong direction.
This is the danger we talked about earlier when I explained the pitfalls of defining the word “apostle” by word study rather than the grace of God. I stated that when we define an apostle as a term rather than a calling we will read into that calling a meaning that seems to have importance, but does not. I also said that an overreliance on word study, while ignoring the meat of the subject (the important role the 12 Elements of the Gospel play in truth) leads to speculation.
You are asking God to show you what to do, where to go, how to bring healing to the church. You pray, “Use me! Send me!” You are asking God for a word of direction and prophesying to each other about the who, what, where, when, and why of the sins of the church, your own sins, accountability, and ministry vision based on signature skills.
You are throwing anything you can think of into the spiritual stew of prophecy to “put it all on the line for God”. But you are not getting any closer to making the transition from the current Christian culture to apostolic governance.
Do not misunderstand me. There is a place for the gifts of the Spirit and God does speak to the church through all 5 callings and there is a place for Body Ministry. And that is happening now in the new emerging Body of Christ under my stewardship. However, the gifts are not to be used to find truth. Build the foundation of truth first with the knowledge of the 12 Elements God has restored to the church, begin to function in your priesthood that God has restored to the church, and then God can trust you with the gift of prophecy and ministry calling.
Stewardship Teaches the People the Behavior of the New Kingdom
Stewardship teaches the people the behavior of the new kingdom. This again takes us back to the 12 Elements of the Gospel, which is the language of the Spirit to teach us God’s ways. Now if the people are not being taught the behavior of the new kingdom it is because those claiming to be stewards do not have the key to the house. They are standing outside the gate. They do not know the way.
As Christ’s representative on earth, an apostle represents Jesus Christ to give the knowledge of Christ to the people. Jesus taught this to us when He multiplied the bread and gave it to His apostles and His apostles gave the bread to the people. This demonstrates to us the pattern Jesus was establishing: That truth comes from Him through His apostles to the people. (Mark 6:38-44)
Jesus gave His apostles authority to represent Him in His knowledge, even as He showed them, “And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.” (Mark 1:22; Acts 5:42)
“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)
7) Definition of Apostle: Living apostles today are ambassadors of Christ. Apostles accept the oath of their King that sent them, they are commissioned by our Lord to teach truth to the people, they have full power and authority to complete this task in Jesus’ name, and they pledge an oath of loyalty to that end. This is why an apostle is called a steward of His grace. By giving believers the 12 Elements of the Gospel, apostles are giving the people the mind of God and the Bread of Christ.