Summary: Did Apostleship die with the 12 Apostles and Paul?
Part 2 - Matthew 10:2-6 - WHO GAVE YOU THE AUTHORITY? ... OH.
I was speaking to Alexandra Batchelor, a Regional Chaplain for Baptist Community Services in Sydney, Australia, and she was saying that Jesus prayed all night before choosing His disciples, from 6 pm to 6 am - 12 hours for 12 disciples. That's a good thought. How much prayer do I put in before choosing people to place in ministry areas? Not an hour for each of them. I can hear the Lord speaking to me concerning this area of my life. So often I see gifts before seeking the Lord's person. Lord, help me in this area.
Matthew 10:2-4 says "Here are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (also called Peter), then Andrew (Peter's brother), James (son of Zebedee), John (James's brother), Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew (the tax collector), James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the zealot), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him)."
Jesus believed in working with a small group. I know the benefit of belonging to a small group of people who explore God's Word together and seek to put it into practice. I know the benefit of doing life together in such a way as to be accountable to eachother.
Twelve seems to be a great number for a small group. But why 12? Maybe it's because they were told to go to Israel. There were 12 tribes of Israel, a disciple representing each tribe. Who knows? In Matthew 19:28 (NLT) Jesus says "...I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon His glorious throne, you who have been My followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." I don't know how Judas fits into this concept but it is clear that the idea of 12 disciples was related to the 12 tribes of Israel. Peter obviously thought the number was important when he went to a lot of trouble to choose Matthias, (Acts 1:15-26), but before I get to that I need to explore this a little more.
Two names are used for these 12 men in this passage. They are called disciples and APOSTLES. An Apostle is "ONE WHO HAS BEEN SENT". An Apostle is a MESSENGER, but more than that. An Apostle is sent with AUTHORITY TO ACT. Jesus is called "the Apostle and High Priest of our confession" in Hebrews 3:1. And when Jesus sends me out to represent Him, I am sent out into the world today with HIS AUTHORITY. In that sense, I AM AN APOSTLE OF JESUS. That is really cool - I BELONG to Jesus! He is the One who SENDS me! He has CALLED AND COMMISSIONED me! He has given me the POWER AND AUTHORITY to act in His Name! That's an awesome and APOSTOLIC RESPONSIBILITY
OK, I know that in the strict sense I am not an Apostle. Apostles were CHOSEN DIRECTLY by the Lord while He was on earth. An Apostle literally saw Jesus after His resurrection. There are only 12 Apostles and the Apostle Paul who fit this criteria. After Judas hung himself, the other disciples chose Matthias as an Apostle. One of the criteria was that he had seen Jesus after He was resurrected. In Acts 1:21-22 (NLT) they say "So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus from the time He was baptized by John until the day He was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus' resurrection."
Some people say that the 12 Disciples were the ONLY APOSTLES, but that's not true. The word "apostle" refers to other men who preached the Gospel, such as BARNABAS (Acts 14:4, 14, 17) and SILAS (1 Thessalonians 2:6), and two messengers, TITUS (2 Corinthians 8:23) and EPAPHRODITUS (Philippians 2:25). JAMES, the Lord's brother (Galatians 1:19), and ANDRONICUS and JUNIA (Romans 16:7) are also referred to as apostles.
Did Apostleship die with the 12 Apostles and Paul? I don't think so. I may not have seen the Lord in His resurrection body but I know Him intimately and I know the power of His resurrection in my life. Paul speaks of this in Philippians 3:10. He says "I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead. ..." (NLT).
The giftings Paul mentions in Eph. 4:11-12 were connected to offices that were recognised by the whole church at that time and obviously part of the local expression of the Church life. They were APOSTLES, PROPHETS, EVANGELISTS AND PASTOR/TEACHERS.
I know men such as Pastor Brian Houston who in my mind exercises the office of an Apostle today in an extraordinary way on a world scale. Many other Christian world leaders seem to have this authority, such as Pastor Rick Warren and Pastor John Macarthur, though not all of them would call themselves apostles.