SPECIAL TOPIC: SEND (apostellō), FROM WHICH COMES "APOSTLE"

 This is a common Greek word for "send" (i.e., apostellō).  This term has several theological usages:

1. In Classical Greek and in the rabbis this term is used as one called and sent as an official representative of another, something like our English "ambassador" (cf. 2 Cor. 5:20)

2. the Gospels often use this verb of Jesus being sent by the Father.  In John the term takes on Messianic overtones (cf. Matt. 10:40; 15:24; Mark 9:37; Luke 9:48 and especially John 5:36,38; 6:29,57; 7:29; 8:42; 10:36; 11:42; 17:3,8,18,21,23,25; 20:21 [both "apostle" and its synonym pempō used in v. 21]).  It is used of Jesus sending believers (cf. John 17:18; 20:21 [both "apostellō and its synonym "pempō" in John 20:21]).

3. the NT used the noun "apostle" for disciples

a. the original twelve inner circle of disciples (e.g., Mark 6:30; Luke 6:13; Acts 1:2,26)

b. a special group of Apostolic helpers and co-workers

(1) Barnabas (cf. Acts 14:4,14)

(2) Andronicus and Junias (KJV, Junia, cf. Rom. 16:7)

(3) Apollos (cf. 1 Cor. 4:6-9)

(4) James the Lord's brother (cf. Gal. 1:19)

(5) Silvanus and Timothy (cf. 1 Thess. 2:6)

(6) possibly Titus (cf. 2 Cor. 8:23)

(7) possibly Epaphroditus (cf. Phil. 2:25)

c. an ongoing gift in the church (cf. 1 Cor. 12:28-29; Eph. 4:11)

4. Paul uses this title for himself in most of his letters as a way of asserting his God-given authority as Christ's representative (cf. Rom. 1:1; 1 Cor. 1:1; 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:1; 1 Tim. 1:1; 2 Tim. 1:1; Titus 1:1).

5. The problem we face as modern believers is that the NT never defines what this ongoing gift involves or how it is identified in believers.  Obviously one must distinguish between the original Twelve (#3a) and the later usage (#3b).  See Special Topic: Inspiration and Special Topic: Illumination.  If modern "apostles" are not inspired to write more Scripture (i.e., the canon is closed, cf. Jude v. 3; see Special Topic: Canon), then what do they do that is different from NT prophets or evangelists (cf. Eph. 4:11)?  Here are my possibilities.

a.  missionary church starters in unevangelized areas (used as such in the Didache)

b.  leaders of pastors in a given area or denomination

c.  ?

     I like #1.

 

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