Who are apostles and are they relevant?
Sunday Gleaner Writer
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband … Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife ... And the wall of the city had 12 foundations, and in them the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb. (Rev 21:1-2, 9, 14)
There is no shortage of titles in Christendom - reverend, pastor, bishop, elder, etc, and there are usually ordination ceremonies to install such persons. However, lately, there has been a plethora of 'apostles' popping up all over, with no evidence of them ever having been ordained by anyone. The first set of apostles was directly chosen by Christ – His 12 disciples.
It, therefore, begs the question, who ordained them? And, how did the calling on their ministry come about? There is also the question of whether there is still a need for ‘apostles’. Family and Religion put the questions to Christian lawyer Adrian Smith and asked him to share his opinion on the matter.
He responded by wondering aloud about the fascination that some have with the titles prophet and apostle.
“Tell me one apostle today that you know that did not take that title upon himself. While you are at it, check the significant increase in people who call themselves prophets today. What is it with this unhealthy preoccupation with these titles?” he asked.
Smith expressed concern that some Christians are not interested in proper exegesis of the Word but will sit and listen to, and agree with, preachers simply because they have 'respect' for them or because they have a title called 'apostle' or 'prophet'.
According to Smith, many of those who take titles unto themselves are actually “butchering the Word” every time they open their mouths.
Commenting on Ephesians 4:11-13, which highlights the ordination of the brethren who were appointed “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers”, which are all designed for the perfecting of the saints, Smith zoned in on whether the titles are still being given.
“Just because some of the other things mentioned in the list exist today doesn’t automatically mean that the apostles, just like the 12 apostles, exist today.” To think that, he said, is “very simplistic” and is an inaccurate interpretation of the Scripture.
“Careful scriptural study will show that the word 'apostle' used in the verse above was used in the restrictive sense as referring to the 12 Apostles (Luke 6:13). The word 'apostles' is also used in places in a general sense when referring to the missionary work of witnesses, which we (Christians) all are,” he noted.
Smith said that there are many doctrinal errors being preached in church today, and it appears that no one is interested in really breaking down the word but more interested in sound bites. “We hear about generational curse, we hear the public speaking of tongues interspersed in the preaching and without interpretation, and several other errors which are clearly mentioned in scripture as being wrong, but how many of us want to challenge our pastors with the Word on these errors? As soon as one puts these questions to their pastors, they get shut down simply because the pastor can't really explain the Word himself,” Smith said.