Let us now take an in-depth look at each of the five ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11.
THE MINISTRY GIFT OF APOSTLE
A. Definition Of The Term
The word “apostle” (Greek – apostolos ) actually means “one who is sent forth.” In the Greek culture of that time, the word was used in four different ways, referring to:
- An ambassador – someone who represents his government.
- A fleet of ships sent to establish a new colony.
- The admiral who commands such a fleet.
- The colony which was founded by that admiral.
In all four cases, those who were “sent” were faithful to fulfill the will of the “sender”.
An apostle, then, is a man with a mission. His mission is to represent and do the will of the one who sent him. An apostle is someone who speaks and acts on behalf of another. He has been sent forth with that purpose in view.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE SENDER AND THE SENT ONE
This special tie between the “sender” and the “sent one” is dearly seen in the earthly ministry of Jesus, the Great Apostle. He was aware that His mission in this world was to represent His Father and do His will.
“For I [Jesus) have come down from Heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him Who sent Me…I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father Who sent Me gave Me a command, what l should say …Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak” (John 6:38; 12:49,50).
It is interesting to note that Jesus chose to call His twelve disciples “apostles”. They were going to be His ambassadors to represent Him here on earth.
They would found or establish a new “colony” -the Church. It would be a royal colony backed by the authority of God’s Kingdom. Through the Church, God’s will would be done here on earth as it is in heaven.
“As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him Who sent Me” (Matt 10:40).
“…And upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it…” (Matt 16:18). “[You are] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph 2:20).
B. The Levels Of Apostles In The New Testament
There are four main levels of apostolic ministry in the New Testament. Of these four groups, two are no longer active. However, these two form a basis for the present day apostolic functions.
The four main levels or groups of apostolic ministry are as follows:
- Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ was and is the chief Apostle: “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus” (Heb 3:1).
He was sent from heaven to do His Father’s will on earth (see John 3:16, 20, 21).