Modern-day apostles

“The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci

There are two basic views on Apostles within Christendom. There is the one which would be more along the line of charismatic Christianity. That is the branch of Christianity that believes all of the spiritual gifts are still functional today, just like they were in New Testament times. The charismatic branch of Christianity is not considered mainstream by many Christians. Some consider charismatic Christians to be genuine brothers and sisters in Christ that just believe some strange stuff. Others go so far as to call charismatic Christians false teachers, false converts, or heretics who need to be saved.

Then there is mainstream Christianity, which commonly teaches that when the Apostle John died at the end of the first century, some of the spiritual gifts — what they call “sign gifts” — ceased from being in operation. According to this view, the only purpose for the sign gifts, such as healing, prophecy, etc. was to validate the Apostles’ message since scripture was not complete to validate itself. But once scripture was complete after John finished writing Revelation, those sign gifts that authenticated the Apostles’ message were no longer needed. Thus, they ceased from being an operation and will continue to not operate throughout the Church Age until the Rapture.

I laid the groundwork by talking about spiritual gifts because that ties into the thing about apostles. Charismatics who believe that all the spiritual gifts are in operation today believe that there are still apostles today. Christians from mainline denominations that believe the cessation theory that all of those gifts are not in operation today tend not to think that there are any living apostles. To understand this, we have to know what an apostle is. And just like anything else, if we’re going to know that, we need to go to the Bible itself as it is the source of all truth.

The Greek word in Revelation 2:2 translated “apostles” is the Greek word “Apostolos.” I chose that particular verse even though the word is used 81 times in the New Testament. That word means “a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.” It can be applied explicitly to the 12 Apostles of Christ. It can be used in a broader sense by other eminent Christian teachers such as Barnabas, Timothy, or Silvanus. The Strong’s Concordance differentiates Apostles from other messengers as ones with miraculous powers, insinuating that other Christian messengers obviously do not have those miraculous powers. So even in the definition of the word, we see a divide based on theological disagreement over this issue.

To a mainstream Christian, apostles are those who had seen Christ face-to-face and had explicitly been given the role of an apostle by Jesus and thus the power to carry out that role. That included the ability to write scripture that would apply to the whole church for all time and miraculous powers to authenticate their message. So, in their view, if Apostles existed today, then not only would they be able to perform miracles, but they could actually add to the Bible.

On the other hand, charismatic Christians agree with the rest of Christendom that the Bible is complete and cannot be added to. However, they believe that apostles still exist today because, as I pointed out when I looked up the Greek word, an apostle is just a delegate or messenger, one sent forth with orders. They would say that we are all delegates of the kingdom of God with orders sent forth to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19 NKJV). Therefore, to charismatic believers, the distinction between an apostle and any modern-day messenger is an artificial one that cannot be supported by the Bible. Thus, in charismatic denominations and non-denominational churches that believe in charismatic doctrines, you will still see some church leaders called “Apostle.” But if you were to go to a Baptist, Lutheran, or other mainstream denominational church, as well as other non-denominational churches that do not agree with charismatic doctrines, you would never see someone referred to as an apostle because they would see that as a false title given to someone today that could not have possibly seen Jesus alive or been given the authority to add to God’s written revelation. Therefore, according to that doctrine, no apostles exist today. Anyone claiming to be an apostle would either be lying and a false teacher or a genuine person with the wrong philosophy needing correction.



My interests are Jesus Christ and all things Christianity, news and politics, current events, conservatism, sports, and entertainment. And I love to write!

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Steve Johnson

My interests are Jesus Christ and all things Christianity, news and politics, current events, conservatism, sports, and entertainment. And I love to write!