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Posts Tagged ‘restorationism’

Has The Five Fold Office Of Apostle Ceased To Exist?

Posted by Job on October 26, 2007

Myself and IndependentConservative have been debating this issue. I say “yes, these offices exist because I have found no scriptural evidence convincing to me that they would die out with the twelve”, IndependentConservative is more skeptical (and quite understandably so)! Yet, his comment on another post gave me the opportunity to continue the debate. He said:

No, Paul was the example of an apostle. Men like Timothy, Titus and Phillip were evangelists, 2 Timothy 4:5, Acts 21:8. An evangelist and apostles are not the same in the 5 fold ministry, Ephesians 4:11.

Evangelists do not hold “church leadership” posts. They are NOT elders or deacons. Timothy was an evangelist working on behalf of Paul and did not become a church elder till about his 60’s. Look up the history of Timothy’s life and you’ll see. An evangelist is not even required to meet all the requirements of an Elder or even a deacon, because an evangelist might be a single person who is rooted in scripture, but still seeking to marry. Consider evangelist work as a possible proving ground for potential elders. Evangelists offer prophesy (aka scripture exposition, aka a sermon) and help church leaders, but they function more on the side of spreading the Gospel, while Deacons are church leaders under elders who deal more with the service side of things. Today evangelists operate under the leadership of a home church assembly, but travel out as either instructed by their elders or as the Lord might lead them with their elders in agreement. We here and I wish I could say it was not true, we act in the role of teachers and will face the stiffer judgment for it, James 3:1.

Paul and the apostles planted churches and various evangelists, teachers and elders, but that was in the establishment of the church as a whole. Today, if Town X has no church and there are saints there, an elder from Town Y would do well to send an evangelist to help establish a church in Town X, by helping in the process of selection of elders. The evangelist would not be in Town X to become an elder themselves, just to convey and carry out the process of getting things established, working on behalf of their own elders. This would free the elders up to continue their duties to the church assembly in Town Y.

If I messed up, anyone feel free to offer correction.

My reply: “Today, if Town X has no church and there are saints there, an elder from Town Y would do well to send an evangelist to help establish a church in Town X …”

Would that church send an evangelist or an APOSTLE? After all, the word apostle does mean “sent ones” and IS a five fold office. Perhaps the role of the apostle in this instance would be to coordinate the efforts of the evangelists, choose the elders and deacons, etc. in building up the new church, and then when it is running move on to perform that same task someplace else. That is precisely what not only Paul did in Acts but also BARNABAS (who was identified by Paul as being an apostle and defended as such by people who said that he was not in the epistles) as well. It may well be that the “traveling evangelists/church planters” are actually apostles, especially when part of their duties are as missionaries in areas unreached. Another example: Patrick of Ireland (known as “Saint” Patrick), who is (falsely!) considered by “history” as the first person to take Christianity out of the Roman Empire. Quite appropriately, Patrick did not undertake his missionary journey to Ireland until AFTER he had been ordained as a bishop.

Of course, then since by the example of scripture the very nature of apostleship is itinerant, the people going about calling themselves apostles (and bishops … “let his bishoprick another one take” of Acts 1:20 seems to mean that “bishop” is another term for apostle) today are frauds and need to give themselves new names. The terms are usually in today’s speech used for a person that is in a position of authority over several congregations, whether in a Roman Catholic or liturgical denominational (who did retain much of the ecclesiastical and presbytery structure of the pre – Reformation) setting or among charismatics like Paul Morton that start their own network of churches.

Quite frankly, there is no scriptural precedent for such a role. Even in the days of the earliest church, there was no hierarchical system of governance. Instead, there were only local churches run by leaders chosen from among the church’s own members directly under the headship of Jesus Christ with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Jerusalem church was considered “the mother church”, but only because it was the first church and contained the people who personally witnessed the ministry and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was appropriate to look to the Jerusalem church in those days because of the witness and authority of the apostles in a time before the New Testament was completed and the revelation of God to man was finalized, but in these days it is unjustified, and is merely another way of elevating man in the place of God by placing men over several churches and his own authority, inevitably creating a cult of personality. This hierarchical structure simply did not exist in scripture, and historically can be shown to have come about with Constantine’s remodeling the church after the secular Roman government.

Proof of this was that the Jerusalem church, despite being the mother church where those that remained of the original 12 chosen by Jesus Christ and other such dignitaries were present, did not exert FINAL OR COERCIVE HUMAN AUTHORITY over the other churches, but only spiritual influence. Consider, for instance, the first Jerusalem council. The decision of the council was not handed down by fiat, but rather was arrived at by spiritual consensus with Jews from other churches participating and providing input.

Further, consider the reason why the council was convened in the first place: the Gentile mission, which was not initiated by the Jerusalem church, but by the church at Antioch completely of its own accord. The “mother church” only gave spiritual confirmation and guidance after the fact – and after it was already successful and thereby proving God was in it. (And this came after Philip the evangelist and other Hellenized Jews evangelized the Ethiopian eunuch and the Samaritans, also apart from being directed to do so by any centralised authority save the Holy Spirit.)

So this notion that “the church authority was transferred from Jerusalem to Rome because of the authority of Peter because the perfidious Jews rejected Christ” is quite simply lies, because nothing in scripture supports or justifies absolute central church authority resting with Peter, a pope or bishop, or anyone else other than Jesus Christ, Yeshua HaMashiach. This was demonstrated in Galatians when Peter himself had to be corrected by Paul. So, the people that call themselves “apostle” or even “bishop” because of their man – made authority over their feudal system are calling themselves things that they are not.

It is my contention that there are actual apostles out there, itinerant church planters that are not given much consideration or regard by the religion entertainment and merchandising complex and bureaucracy that we now call modern Christianity, that are filling the office even if they are not known by the title. In a similar fashion, the people that call themselves “prophets” in most instances are not, but there are nonetheless people that hold the office that are not known by the title and have no respect or honor in their own country or by their own people (and by this I mean church folk) save a faithful few.

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