“Paul, an apostle, not from men, nor through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead…”
This verse is the crux to understanding an ‘Apostle.’ A person who is sent by another or a ‘sent one.’ The Greek word for ‘apostle’ is ‘Apostolos.’ An apostle in ancient society was someone who was sent.
APOSTLE FROM MEN
“Paul, an apostle, not from men…”
The Greek meaning for ‘from’ is ‘APO’ – it is a primary particle; “off,” i.e. away (from something near), in various senses (of place, time, or relation)
Paul makes it very clear that if you are an “apostle from men,” you will carry the mandate and authority from men. Your jurisdiction will be determined by men.
APOSTLE THROUGH MEN
Galatians 1:1 – “Paul, an apostle, not from men, nor through man…”
The Greek meaning for ‘through’ is ‘DIA’ – it is a primary preposition denoting the channel of an act; through (in very wide applications, local, causal, or occasional)
If you are an “apostle through men,” you then become a means to communicate effectively the will of men, the very ones who supposedly commissioned you by ordination, or conferred upon you some title.
APOSTLE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST
If you are the “apostle through Jesus Christ,” you then become an instrument of administrating the mind, the will, plans and purpose of Christ to the Church and all creation.
Paul later declared that he received the gospel which he preached by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Paul states that before he preached the gospel, it was revealed to him.
Galatians 1:11-12 – “But I make known to you, brethren, the gospel was preached to me, that it is not according to a man; for I did not receive it from man, neither was I taught it, but through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
The purpose, intents, will and plans of the Lord will be clearly revealed to all creation if we were to have more of these kinds of apostles sent by Jesus Christ.
CHRIST OR MEN
Now, if anyone claims to be an apostle, the question that follows is: through whom have they received their message: Christ or men? Today’s apostles claim themselves to be patriarchs or heads of dynasties, having their own networks, apostolic circles, a myriad of sons, etc.
Are we apostles because we have a network of apostles? Are we apostles because we were ordained by someone or we are the sons of an apostle? In fact, do we function in any of the five-fold graces of Christ because we were ordained into a title by a bishop, apostle, prophet or pastor?
A MESSENGER WITH A MESSAGE
In ancient society (the Greek-Roman world), an apostle was anyone who was commissioned to administer business on behalf of another. An apostle was a messenger carrying the message from one location to another. There was nothing spiritual about them. They were common people, slaves without value, who were dispensable.
The New Covenant graces (gifts) given by Christ to the Church were directly appointed and anointed by Him.
Ephesians 4:11 – “And he himself gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers…”
In this modern Church age, many people who claim themselves to be apostles and prophets have become celebrities, having a huge fan following. Their sons are taught not to question or correct them because they are fathers. Is this what Christ desires us to be?
TOP OR BOTTOM
The postmodern Church’s perception of apostleship is based on a hierarchical (rank based) understanding that positions apostles at the top of the church structure whereas in the New Covenant, it unquestionably sets them at the bottom.
The proper understanding of leadership in the New Covenant is that apostles are the foot-washing, low-status servants/bondservants/slaves.
1 Corinthians 9:19 – “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.”
TO THE GALATIANS
Galatians 1:1 – “Paul, an apostle-not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead…”
Paul writes to the Galatian Churches that his authority for writing letters does not come from people, or some prophet, or even an apostle; it came straight from Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.
PAUL – AN APOSTLE – A SLAVE OF CHRIST
Paul identifies himself as a slave and being a slave, called to go out with the message on behalf of Christ.
Romans 1:1 – From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.
The Greek word for slave is ‘doulos’ and although it is normally translated ‘servant,’ the word does not bear the implication of a free individual serving another. Paul commonly describes himself in many of his letters as a servant/slave/bondservant.
Paul explains what he intends: that slavery to Christ is in Christ being the Lord, Master and Owner of the apostle. The word used for master/Lord/owner is ‘Kurios.’
Galatians 1:10 – “Am I now trying to gain the approval of people, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ!”
Paul even mentions Epaphras to be a slave of Christ – one that prays on behalf of the church so that the church may become mature and walk in the will of the Lord always.
Colossians 4:12 – “Epaphras, who is one of you and a slave of Christ, greets you. He is always struggling in prayer on your behalf, so that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.”
SUPER APOSTLES – CELEBRITY APOSTLES
Sometimes our understanding of things is shaped by the images of ancient times. Many painters or sculptors in medieval times have painted pictures of the twelve apostles of Christ with halos or flashing lights around their heads. Now, through the years that followed, our understandings were through the paintings and statues.
However, this is not how the original ‘Apostle’ was. Before and after Jesus, apostles were low-status slaves with no power of their own, and they were common people. In those days, when you said ‘apostle’ no one would think of the rich, high-status person. They left everything for Christ and followed Him even to their own deaths.
‘Apostle’ was not a right to noble rank or authority, but a claim to low status and expandability. When you attached the words “of Christ,” this communicated whose business and authority the apostle was operating under.
THE TERM – APOSTOLIC
Jesus Christ is the chief Apostle, and he sends the messenger with His message and when the messenger declares the message, he is simply the channel.
The word ‘Apostolic’ which is so commonly used in Christian circles is not a scriptural term but it gives a general understanding of the workings, authority and functions as an apostle.
There were many apostles in the early Church who were not in the original twelve or even like Paul. These did not write letters or add to scripture. These would not consider the function of an apostle to be a title, rank or privilege. We need more of these kinds of apostles for the mission of Christ to the lost and hurting.
To function as an apostle is to become expendable, low status, and exposed to ridicule and insecurity in this life:
1 Corinthians 4:9-10 – “For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to die, because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to people. We are fools for Christ, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, we are dishonored!”
Apostles are given by Christ as gifts to the church and are needed most urgently. The purpose of apostles is to aid in equipping the Body of Christ for service, ministry and maturity.
Ephesians 4:11-13 – “And he himself gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God – a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature.”
As Christ was sent, so He is sending His apostles whom He owns to suffer and serve in order to make known His presence and coming fullness of His Kingdom.
A ONE MAN SHOW
There are many true apostles today, who were nobodies and who have become somebody to God through Christ. An apostle is not called to be a “one-man” show.
We do not need more celebrity apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers; but we need models and patterns of what it means to “submit yourself to one another out of reverence for Christ.” We need people carrying the heart and mind of the Lord.
Ephesians 5:21 – “and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
The best way to learn and function is to follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ.