7 Characteristics of an Apostle
As stated before, the original churches struggle with identifying false apostles, Ephesus in particular, was complimented by Christ because they were able to successfully test false apostles. There is no more room for any other apostle as it refers to the twelve, but what about the rest of the apostles? There was a way to determine who was and who was not an apostle by taking a look at the basic characteristics of an apostle.
- The apostle must be a man: There are no female apostles in the Bible. Sorry! In you are a woman and you call yourself an apostle you are out of order.
- The apostle must have a supernatural conversion; a call from Jesus himself: Let us remember what Jesus states in John 17:18,
“As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” John 17:18 (NIV)
In Acts 9:1-6 the Bible describes Paul’s supernatural conversion where Jesus speaks and call him directly. In Galatians 1:1 Paul stated, “Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.”
In Second Corinthians 11 Paul is responding to harsh criticism against his apostleship; some are questioning that he is even a true apostle. He is literally defending his call.
- The apostles have a notable insight knowledge of the things of God: In 2 Corinthians 11:5-6 Paul tells us,
I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” 6 I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge… 2 Corinthians 11:5-6 (NIV)
- An apostle must be descendent of Abraham:
Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I.” 2 Corinthians 11:21-22 (NIV)
If this is not a qualification for an apostle, why did Paul mention it here? Paul asked the questions very specifically, are they, referring to the apostles, Hebrews? This was the name given to them in connection to Abraham. He also asked are they Israelites? This is the name given to them after Jacob. And then he goes back and asked the question, are they Abraham’s descendants? He gives no doubt that the apostleship must be connected to the descendants of Abraham. So, I conclude that just as women have no business walking around with the title of an apostles, a gentile either.
- The Apostles is a messenger of Christ: (Philippians 2:25) As you see through the New Testament the apostles focus on teaching sound doctrine and, at the same time, confront false doctrine. However, the cross is at the center of the apostolic message. In First Corinthians 2:1-2 Paul tells us,
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (NIV)
- The apostles walk in a great deal of power from the Holy Ghost: In First Corinthians 2:4-5 the Apostle Paul tells us,
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. (NIV)
Even as this power is available for all of us; there is an apostolic distinction. Acts 5:12 tells us, “The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people…” (NIV) Notice that these self-proclaim apostles have a lot of talk, but no demonstration of God’s power. In the life of a true apostle, this power is evident.
- The apostles equip and assigned elders on each church: This is one of the reasons I believe that apostles still exist today. They are in charge of appointing elders in each local church. In Acts 14:23 we read,
Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. (NIV)
As you can see the characteristics of the apostle are needed as much today as it did 2,000 years ago. I believe that the main reason why the church is so out of order is because of the lack of apostolic order. Lacking apostolic order means a very lose view of theology, doctrine and a water down gospel. Lacking apostolic order is an invitation to all kinds of foolishness to enter the church unchallenged. That is the reason why identifying these false apostles is so important to Jesus; if the apostle is out of order, the whole church is out of order.
To be continued…