Before we can answer this question, we must first define what is the meaning of the word “apostles” from the Bible.
The word “apostles” was first mentioned in Matthew 10:1-2 referring to the twelve disciples.
- Matthew 10:1-2 “1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these;”
While the word “disciples” means “a learner” or “pupil” in Strong’s G3101, the word “apostles” means a “delegate”, “ambassador”, “commissioner with miraculous power”, “messenger”, or “he that is sent” in Strong’s G652.
The book of Mark said that the twelve apostles were ordained by Christ whom He sent forth to preach having power to heal and cast out devils.
- Mark 3:13 “13 And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. 14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, 15 And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:”
The word “ordained” means “appointed” - G4160
In other words, the office of apostles was designated to the pupils of Christ whom He ordained or appointed to be His delegate and ambassador, who were commissioned or sent to preach and were given miraculous powers as a sign of their appointment.
Additional qualifications were laid down when the eleven apostles choose a substitute for Judas Iscariot who fell by betraying Jesus, and was replaced by Matthias.
- Mark 16:14-15, 17-18 “14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven… 15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature… 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
- Acts 1:21-22, 26 “21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection… 26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. ”
After Jesus’ ascension and the Pentecost, the believers continued diligently to the doctrine or instruction of the apostles.
- Acts 2:42 “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
Paul and Barnabas were also separated and ordained by God to be apostles through the Holy Spirit. Their untiring work of preaching the gospel and their corresponding work of miracles gave evidence and true signs of their apostleship.
- Acts 13:2 “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.”
- Act 14:14 “Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,”
- Romans 1:1 “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,”
- 1 Timothy 2:7 “Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”
- 1 Corinthians 9:1 “Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?”
- 2 Corinthians 12:12 “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.”
- Acts 5:12 “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.”
- Acts 19:11-12 “11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.”
- Acts 15:12 “Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.”
CHARACTERISTICS AND SIGNS OF APOSTLES
To sum up, we have the below characteristics and signs to be qualified as an apostle:
- He was chosen and ordained by Christ Himself and by direct revelation of the Holy Spirit. Luke 6:13; Mark 3:14; Galatians 6:1; Acts 3:2
- He is sent to preach the gospel of Christ. Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; 2 Timothy 1:11
- He has miraculous powers to heal and cast out devils, etc. Matthew 10:1; Mark 16:20; Luke 9:1; Acts 2:43
- He has been associated and eyewitness from the start of Jesus ministry till His resurrection. Luke 1:2; Acts 1:2-9, 21-22; 10:40-41; 1 Corinthians 9:1; 1 John 1:1
JESUS AS THE APOSTLE AND HEAD OF THE CHURCH
Interestingly, the word “Apostle” is also designated to Jesus since He was sent by God the Father to the world.
- Hebrews 3:1 “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;”
- John 17:18 “As thou [Father] hast sent me [Christ] into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.”
- John 20:21 “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”
Jesus is the head of the church and the church is the body of Christ.
- Ephesians 5:23 “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body.”
The body of Christ have many members with different offices, functions, or works. (G4238)
- Romans 12:4 “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:”
FOUNDATION OF THE APOSTLES AND PROPHETS
As Christ was sent by the Father to the world for the salvation of men, likewise, Christ sent the apostles to preach the gospel of salvation. In the ordination of the twelve apostles in the beginning of His earthly ministry, Christ founded the organization of the Apostolic and Christian church which will carry on His work on the earth.
- Ephesians 2:20 “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.”
When Jesus, the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24), reproved the Pharisees and lawyers of their hypocrisy, He foretold that they would slay and persecute the prophets and apostles that He should be sent them.
- Luke 11:49 “Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:”
The beginning of the Christian church is built upon the foundational work of the apostles and prophets.
- 1Corinthians 12:28-29 “28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?”
The word “first” (G4412) in the above text means firstly in time, place, order or importance, at the beginning, or chiefly. So, God has set the apostles at the beginning of the Christian church to be the chief messengers entrusted with all the powers necessary to found a church and make an entire revelation of God’s will.
The various offices, works, functions, or gifts in the church are needed for the perfecting of the saints till we all come in perfect unity of faith. These various functions or gifts in the Christian church are essential but again, not all are apostles or prophets, not all are teachers, etc., just like the members of the body have different functions.
- Ephesians 4:11-15 “11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”
The apostle John saw in vision that names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are inscribed on each foundation of the city walls in New Jerusalem symbolizing that it was by the “foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20) and the “apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42) that laid the foundation of the Christian church.
- Revelation 21:14 “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”
As there were false or counterfeit apostles and prophets in the days of Paul and John, there will also some who will claim to be apostles today who will pretend to be ministers of righteousness but actually are deceivers and liars working under the power of satan because they are preaching another Jesus and another gospel which is not another but corrupting the truth.
- 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 “13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
- Revelations 2:2 “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:”
- 2 Corinthians 11:4 “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”
- Galatians 1:6-7 “6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.”
- The Roman Catholic church believes that the pope is the successor of the apostle Peter.
- "All the faithful must believe that the Holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff [the Pope] possesses the primacy over the whole world, and the Roman Pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and is true vicar of Christ, and heed of the whole church, and father and teacher of all Christians; and that full power was given to him in blessed Peter to rule, feed, and govern the universal Church by Jesus Christ our Lord."--First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ, "Eternal Pastor," published in the fourth session of the Vatican Council, 1870, chap. 3, in Philip Schaff, Creeds of Christendom. vol. 2, p. 262.
- "Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors." (Pope Pius XI, Encyclical, Mortalium animos, January 6, 1928, The Papal Encyclicals, Claudia Carlen, I.H.M., McGrath Publishing Co., 1981, pp. 317, 318).
- The Mormons or the Latter Day Saints church believes that the “Quorum of the Twelve Apostles” or a group of twelve individuals are given divine responsibility as the early apostles.
- “Apostle was the title Jesus gave to the Twelve whom He chose and ordained to be His closest followers and supporters1. Apostles are chosen to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ2. Just as Jesus Christ called and sent His Apostles forth to represent Him, today’s Apostles are given the role to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is the second-highest leadership body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the First Presidency being the highest).
- “Jesus Christ calls Apostles to represent Him in our day just as He did in the Bible. They leave behind their regular work lives and devote their life to full-time Church service. They oversee the growth of the global Church, and they travel the world to share God’s love with His children and invite all to come unto Christ, learn, and follow Him.
- “A quorum is a group of individuals who are given priesthood authority and responsibility to do God’s work. The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles includes twelve everyday men with the same divine responsibility as Peter, James, John, and the other early Apostles.” Quorum of the Twelve Apostles - (Mormons)
MYSTERY OF THE GOSPEL REVEALED TO HOLY APOSTLES AND PROPHETS
- Ephesians 3:5-6 “5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:”
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
Since the mystery of the gospel of salvation were all revealed to the holy apostles and prophets by the Holy Spirit, all scriptures both the Old and New testaments are sufficient to make all men perfect completely fitted to do good works. The doctrines, teachings, and acts of the apostles laid down in the New Testament clearly shows that their function and role still exist for the benefit of the Christian church today. So, in essence we still have the apostles today through their works though they have long gone physically.
SO, ARE THERE APOSTLES IN OUR DAY?
So, the question, are there apostles in our day? The simple answer is No!
NO, there are no apostles in our day for its function has been done by the early apostles, there are no apostles today who have the same characteristics and signs as the apostles back then. Whoever claim that he is an apostle or a successor of the apostle in our day must show signs of his apostleship and be able to pass the test as laid down on the Bible. Unfortunately, those who claim today that they are apostles NEVER passed the true signs of apostleship for they are preaching another Jesus, another gospel, and perverting the gospel truth. NO, there are no apostles in our day!
Back to top ⇧