UNDERSTANDING APOSTLES IN TODAY'S NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
There is a great misunderstanding and lack of revelation of the ministry of the Apostle today. Many erroneously believe there were only twelve Apostles, yet we can count many others specifically named as such in the New Testament. And while they may not hold the same recognition or degree of identity as the original twelve, they nevertheless function in the same or similar manner today, except, as one example, they do not write canonized scripture.
There are too many that glorify the apostolic ministry as a "position" of the elite and having authority over others. It is not a "position" but rather a "gifting" to the Church. Read the scriptures about the 5-fold ministry in Ephesians chapter 4 where it is stated that "God gave gifts to men. He gave some as Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers." And all are for the equipping of the Church. They are not to control the lives of the people in it. The apostolic ministry is described as a gift whereas a position is more inclined towards pyramiding rank. I am not saying there are not different levels of spiritual authority but those walking in such authority should understand their ministry is a gifting to the Church and not designed to lord it over others, such as the "Me Chief -You Indian" mentality. Some claiming to be Apostles see it as almost a type of "kingship" and many erroneously think it is some license to exert control on others, which it is not....as opposed to simply advising and leading others in love who desire it. The Apostle Paul though understood, as I also understand, that Apostleship means servitude and humility. Paul called himself a "bond servant" of Jesus Christ. Jesus, who is called "the chief Apostle", washed the feet of his disciples. I see too many so called "Apostles" that want to get rich, drive the most expensive car, be catered to by their congregation, want to control others, have a posse or entourage like some type of celebrity and want the privilege of being the first person in the food line. That is not Apostleship, folks. Most of these people are not true Apostles at all.
Most know I walk in an Apostolic ministry, although within that ministry I function as an Evangelist-Teacher and prefer to be called such although I suppose it does not matter. However one must be appointed to this position of Apostleship by the Lord Himself and they must know it for themselves beyond doubt. Others moving in such a ministry themselves will most likely have witness of their apostolic ministry. And a qualification, although not the only one, is that person must have seen the Lord. No other man, I believe, including another Apostle can appoint you as an Apostle through the laying on of hands, although they can both recognize such a ministry and confirm it...confirm what you already know and commission you to go forth in that ministry, setting you forth by prayer and the laying on of hands. Some may know before you do that you are called to such a ministry but do not let them put you there. Instead, hold it in your heart or set it on the shelf until God reveals it and the timing of assuming this ministry to your own heart.
Quite simply the word, "Apostle" means "one sent by God" or "one sent with a message by God". Apostles are directly sent by God. Again, let me be clear...the ministry of Apostles are not a "position" but rather a "gifting" to the Body of Christ.
To be clear, man cannot "make" you an Apostle. You either are or are not one. Others can confirm the calling and as in the situation with the Apostle Paul, those he ministered to were the "seal of his apostleship"....even if some others refused to recognize his apostleship. In fact, we can read in both books of Corinthians that Paul was continually forced to defend his apostleship to those skeptical or unbelieving that attempted to create division in the Church of Corinth, which was a church that accepted and wanted his apostleship and guidance.
While Apostles (and perhaps prophets) are directly sent from God, other 5-fold ministries can be confirmed and set into position through common witness by anointed men who move and act "in the will of God".
There "may" be female apostles also. It took awhile for me to accept this possibility but there is one specific example in the bible and at least one other example where scripture suggests it. We see in Roman's 16:7 that Junia is referred to as an Apostle. Being Jewish, I understand this is the Jewish name of a woman and the majority of New Testament scholars also agree. Some scholars however suggest the name "Junia" was a unisex name and therefore could have referred to a man. In any case, if a woman, she moved in that ministry with Andronicus...believed to be her husband. Also many believe Aquila and Priscilla functioned together as husband and wife in apostolic ministry. In Acts 18:26 Priscilla and Aquila instructed and taught Apollos. We know there were and still are women prophets or prophetess's that functioned and spoke within the church, although they had no direct authority over any one person nor did they "teach" to the best of my knowledge. Those who do not believe this will quote where the Apostle Paul states in 1 Timothy 2:12 that he does not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, however, many scholars believe he was warning Timothy because of the unruly and uneducated nature of the women attending the church in Ephesus, where Timothy was destined to travel and minister. Others suggest Paul was looking back at his own ministry and warning Timothy while addressing a problem specific to the Corinthian Church, where he had encountered some difficulties particular to that specific church in that women were speaking, interrupting and distracting the teaching in those services, arguing with their husbands in church and so forth. Many think Paul did not intend this as doctrine but was merely expressing his opinion. Paul's opinion, for the circumstances he was in and according to his own bad experience was that if a male teacher was more qualified, he should take the lead. That being said, however, if in ministry, many believe a man...particularly a husband in Apostolic ministry or a church pastor can spiritually "cover" a woman in his congregation, allowing her to teach everyone and function, but for the most part, again, according to Paul, it seems his advice was that if there is a male teacher and HE IS MORE QUALIFIED, (some are not) then he should "take the lead" otherwise the woman can do so. As pertaining to the issue of silence, according to Paul, he believed it best the woman was to be silent regarding the teachings, unless there was no qualified man, which is often the case at times. But again he was apparently basing his statement on the turmoil he experienced in the Church at Corinth and also what he knew of in the Ephesus Church, where women would not keep silent and were disrupting the services by yelling across the room at their husbands to ask questions. The customs then were for men to sit together on one side of the sanctuary while women sat together on the other side.
The idea women could not move in authoritative positions can be countered and often is by the fact that at least one woman, Nymphas, believed to be a pastor or house leader, is named in the New Testament in Roman's 16:3, 5, as well as Colossians 4:15 and a woman such a Deborah was appointed as a judge in the Old Testament, certainly exercising significant authority. Additionally others point to where the New Testament states that in Christ there is no distinction between male and female, or Jew and Greek. So as you can see, this is a complex issue and has been debated for centuries with both good and foolish arguments on both sides.
It is noteworthy to mention that while Paul said that HE does not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, he does not state that others hold or must hold his same view. Just as Paul likewise expressed HIS OPINION that he thought it better a man or woman remain single than to marry, it appears the issue of a man or woman teaching also may only have been his "opinion." He states this was his personal choice. Again, it is not absolute doctrine but more of his personal preference, as he was advising Timothy. I may teach more on this specific "woman question" issue later.
To continue regarding apostolic ministry, most who call themselves Apostles simply are not one although some are. Apostles must be sent directly by the Lord, they will know their calling...not simply wish for or covet it; they must have seen the Lord; they deal with issues of church government, plant churches, set in and counsel ministries, walk in other 5-fold ministries and move in the miraculous gifts.
I touched on this before but want to make it clear that true Apostolic ministry and spiritual authority is not given to exercise "control" over others. There are those who do so, claiming, "You have to submit to me." Some may not like to hear this, but such is false teaching and abuse of power. We submit to Christ. Spiritually authority is for advice and guidance, yes. All armies have leaders but in the Army of the Lord submission is not a forced thing. We first get our witness from the Lord and based on that witness we "allow" those in spiritual authority to teach, disciple and guide us...but never forcefully by threat or innuendo should anyone let those purported ministries "control" you or exercise authority OVER you. You do not "blindly submit" to anyone. You submit by praying and allowing God to guide you in your submission but you submit freely and not under threat. Further, some Word of Faith and Charismatics teach that you need spiritual "accountability" and "covering", and they try and force that on others. Those two words are nowhere in the bible in that capacity. No man can "cover" another man in this manner of "control". Apostles and other ministries do lead, but church members should follow voluntarily, not under compulsion. We submit first to the Lord and allow our relationships in the Body of Christ to develop from there.
This is just a short introduction, but I hope it helps and that you enjoy it. :-)
By Apostle & Evangelist Mischa Safdie', August 2019