forum home

September 01, 2014, 01:11:27 AM
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

EC Links

Bible study Resources

Links of Interest


Egalitarian Christian Alliance » Theology » General Theology (Moderators: TL, Dawn Wilson, KR Wordgazer, Larry S, Don, Marg) » Qualifications of an Apostle

Author Topic: Qualifications of an Apostle  (Read 7442 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Guy Coe

  • Overseers
  • Senior Member
  • Posts: 2135
  • Neither mail nor e-mail; URL one in Christ Jesus..
Qualifications of an Apostle
« on: April 16, 2008, 10:17:25 PM »
I took this from a random Google search on "qualifications of an apostle."  I did this because I remember clearly being taught something just like this in the Conservative Baptist church I attended some 35 years ago, when I was a high school student at the time.  I had recently read some of Don Williams' book, The Apostle Paul and Women in the Church.  So I was on the lookout for both missed egalitarian moments in my interpretation, as well as patriarchal assumptions as I approached the text, or as others taught it.  See if you track with me on this.

"According to the New Testament there are basically two qualifications that someone had to fulfill to be counted as an apostle. Now, I admit that nowhere in the pages of the New Testament do we find something like "These are the qualifications of an apostle, and they are..." On the other hand, neither do we find the word "trinity" in the Bible, but we do believe it, because the concept is unmistakably taught in the pages of the Bible.
 
The first qualification of an apostle is that he had to have seen the resurrected Jesus with his own eyes. He had to have been an "eyewitness." This is indicated to us by Acts 1:21-22, "Therefore, one of the men who have associated with us all the time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning with the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us, must become a witness with us to his resurrection." (ISV)
 
Again, after "he had suffered, he had shown himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them through a period of forty days and telling them about the kingdom of God." (Ac. 1:3 ISV)
 
In Paul's writings, he is adamant that he indeed did meet this qualification, even though it was in a very unusual way (Ac. 9:5-6; 26:15-18). Paul, in defense of his apostleship wrote, "Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?" (1 Cor. 9:1 NIV).
 
He also said "then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles" (1 Cor. 15:7-9 NASB).
 
The second qualification of an apostle is that he received specific appointment by Christ Himself. The term "apostle" is not common in the gospels, yet the disciples are called "apostles" in a context where Jesus commissioned them by "sending" them: "JESUS summoned His twelve disciples ... Now the names of the twelve apostles ... These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them..." (Mt. 10:1-7).
 
Jesus reminds them that they will be His witnesses in Ac. 1:8. When the need arose to replace Judas Iscariot, the eleven apostles went straight to the Lord to reveal His choice of replacement: "And they prayed and said, You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place. And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles" (Ac. 1:24-26).
 
Even Paul insists that his appointment as apostle was by Jesus Himself on the Damascus road: "But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you;" (Ac. 26:16).
 
Paul also starts most of his epistles with the fact that he is an apostle by the will of God."


...Okay, maybe not the most thorough study, but certainly true enough, besides being a somewhat expansive view of apostleship.  But here's what I was thinking as a teacher taught me something like this some 35 years ago.

Who is the first person to meet these two criteria?  Who was the first to see the resurrected Lord, and who was the first commissioned by Christ to take a message, as an envoy, to the whole church?

(Matthew 28:1-10) 1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
 2There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."
8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."


Did Mary miss her calling as an apostle?  No, she did as she was asked.  Unfortunately, the men came close to ignoring her.  Did Mary relay Jesus' message to the "brothers" to go to Galilee?  It would seem so, yes, but they also seemed to take their time about it.  Perhaps the context of waiting until the combined festivals of Passover and Pentecost were over would have been implied.  Either way, Mary fulfilled her calling, but did not seem to claim it as a permanent office.  Is this a sign of her true humility?  Is it one reason why she was awarded the first glimpse of the risen Lord?  

On a broader note, are we seeing a difference in how a male vs. a female might understand the call to be "an apostle?"  That, for Mary at least, it was for a specific task, and not necessarily an ongoing office?  To be sure, Jesus did seem to give longer and/or shorter-term instructions to different individuals among His apostles, as He shaped their ministries.

But it also seems to me that Jesus had to deal with two different kinds of "ambitions" as concerned apostleship.  The men seemed preoccupied over who would be the greatest, and what roles they'd play in positions of "favored" power.  The women among Jesus' disciples, however, seemed to be content with real intimacy with Him, and with passing that along to others. 

Are we seeing two different "versions" of called and committed apostleship here, that are together the complementarian whole of how men and women view and embrace apostleship?  Men seem to seek roles and offices more, while women seem to seek intimacy and relationships more.  One without the other is stilted and risks being false, while the other runs the risk of being too private, singularly-focused and unexpansive.  Together they are mutually corrective.  

I can only speculate about this, because I have never had the privilege of being under the ministry of a committed man and woman team as pastoral leaders.  But I suspect there's something here.  If so, the danger of a lack of gifted women in positions of pastoral leadership is the risk that it all becomes about the "career" of the pastor, and easily becomes false or stilted.  I sure know I've REALLY enjoyed getting to know all the pastor's wives over my years in ministry!

The egalitarian complementarity of men and women serving together in pastoral ministry is vitally missing from too many of our local fellowships. We need intimacy along with our ambitions, or we lose focus.  We need expansiveness along with our intimacy, or we become too insular.   Immanence AND transcendence are both aspects our God exhibits, and calls us to exhibit in our own imitative ways.

Any feedback, correctives or objections? I know I've painted with a very broad brush!


God chooses the weak things to change the strong.  Be strong in your weakness!  Love your enemies, bless those who persecute you, as God does so graciously towards us all.

Offline Don

  • Overseers
  • Senior Member
  • Posts: 8231
  • Christ is LORD!
Re: Qualifications of an Apostle
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2008, 02:43:32 AM »
FWIIW, Mary Magdalene is called the apostle to the apostles by the EOC.

I will give a brief overview of my understanding, this gives an alternate way of seeing those verses.
See if it makes sense to you.  If my summary is too brief, ask questions.

1. A geneic apostle, pastor, etc. is not an office in the NT, it did become an office afterwards in a human tradition.  It is not Apostle Paul, it is Paul, an apostle, etc.
2. The 12 can be seen as being in an office, as there needed to be 12 to map to the 12 tribes of Israel.  So Judas gets replaced when he betrays Jesus, but James does not when he dies.  Eventually all 12 apostles die and are not replaced.  The discussion on requirements are for the 12, not for a generic apostle.
3. Paul does not meet the criteria for being one of the 12, as he was not with Jesus from the beginning.  However, he certainly is an apostle.  There are also other apostles mentioned that are not the 12.
4. Apostle is not a special term used only by the church, it means "sent out one".  In a Christian context, it means being sent out by a church under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
My translation of Eph 5:21-22 ... mutually submitting in the fear of Messiah; wives (mutually submitting) to your husbands as to the Lord.

Offline TL

  • Administrator
  • Senior Member
  • Posts: 8861
  • Christ in me!
Re: Qualifications of an Apostle
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2008, 06:14:24 AM »
I believe that the anointing and calling of an apostle is still around.  Yes, in one sense churches send missionaries as an apostolic work.  But also God still calls people to anointed God sent ministries.  I call Loren Cunningham such because of his special anointing and direction by God to start YWAM ministries.  I also call Marriane Sitton one because of her anointing and direction by God to start Shiloh university and ministries.
"Man is a being capable of subduing his emotions and impulses; he can rationalize his behavior. He arranges his wishes into a scale, he chooses; in short, he acts. What distinguishes man from beasts is precisely that he adjusts his behavior deliberately." Ludwig von Mises

Offline Don

  • Overseers
  • Senior Member
  • Posts: 8231
  • Christ is LORD!
Re: Qualifications of an Apostle
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2008, 06:43:54 AM »
I believe all the spiritual gifts are active today.
My translation of Eph 5:21-22 ... mutually submitting in the fear of Messiah; wives (mutually submitting) to your husbands as to the Lord.

Offline Guy Coe

  • Overseers
  • Senior Member
  • Posts: 2135
  • Neither mail nor e-mail; URL one in Christ Jesus..
Re: Qualifications of an Apostle
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2008, 08:24:24 AM »
I agree with all these observations.  

Many see such views as diminishing the 12, but I don't.  They served in a unique historical situation, with firsthand information and hard-won discipleship.  Their role is and will always be seminal.  

But I agree that turning spiritual gifts, given for specific works, into permanent offices is a problem, because as humans, we'll eventually virtually always end up abusing the position at one time or another.  

David did, in an obvious way.  The case is sometimes made that Paul did, in parting ways with Barnabas over Mark's re-inclusion.  Paul himself makes the case that some of the others did!

All this to say, be careful about validating your beliefs because they're taught by someone you've come to trust, or assuming a permanent anointing when the Lord seems to withdraw.  As "Bereans" we've all, whether we know it or not, got the responsibility to "see whether these things are true" by looking into the Scriptures ourselves, listen to a variety of counselors, and bring it before the Lord.

If we take the time to question and search, we'll almost always find someone somewhere who's had the same questions and struggles, and at least gone somewhat down the path we're prompted to explore.  I'm grateful for the company of fellow explorers here!

Just be ready to turn back, if you find the path leads to a place that doesn't glorify God, or overly glorifies yourself.  A repentant heart is a lifelong servant  that God will use, when and as He sees fit.  Of course a woman could be an "apostle to the apostles" --and as a priest in the priesthood of all believers, you have the exact same kind of calling --to be available for the kind of work that God has for you today, no matter how "big" or "small!"  And no matter who else recognizes it.

After all, we serve a God Who tends to use the small in big ways, and works patiently for change.  Shalom, priest of God!  What do you and He have in store today?  
God chooses the weak things to change the strong.  Be strong in your weakness!  Love your enemies, bless those who persecute you, as God does so graciously towards us all.

Offline TL

  • Administrator
  • Senior Member
  • Posts: 8861
  • Christ in me!
Re: Qualifications of an Apostle
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2010, 08:26:51 AM »
We are discussing this in Sunday morning Bible Study.  Interestingly, I'm having to differentiate between the 'calling' that all of us have to be used of the Holy Spirit in the giftings (manifestations of the HS) that all have been given, and the special personal specific calling that some Christians have from God to serve in specific ministries.

A couple people got hung up on the fact that an apostle as in 1 Cor. 12 and Eph. 4 is one who is called, as in commissioned, with a specific purpose.  There is a difference because God calls "some" in the church to be gifts back to the church.  Some people in our group were having difficulty seeing the difference in that and someone who God calls to serve as an elder or anything else in service in the church.

Not all ministries are life callings such as those in the 'five fold ministries'.
"Man is a being capable of subduing his emotions and impulses; he can rationalize his behavior. He arranges his wishes into a scale, he chooses; in short, he acts. What distinguishes man from beasts is precisely that he adjusts his behavior deliberately." Ludwig von Mises

 


SMF 2.0.6 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines
Manuscript © Blocweb

Page created in 0.112 seconds with 27 queries.