Does "Apostle" Mean "Missionary?"

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by John of Japan, Jun 8, 2006.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    In my thread on the Great Commissison, I brought up the fact that most veteran missionaries I know believe that the word "apostle" in the NT means "missionary" in today's language. I was asked why, and this is what I wrote:
    Consider these facts:

    (1) The 12 (I include Matthias) were special in that they will sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel, and their names will be in the foundation of the New Jerusalem.
    (2) However, there are quite a few more than just 12 apostles mentioned in the Bible. Most commentators simply ignore this inconvenient fact, like the seminary prof I had who taught 4 credits worth of the book of Acts but hardly mentioned missions.
    (3) As I said above, the evangelist = missionary view is hard to defend. What else is left? Apostles!
    (4) We have a whole book, the Acts of the Apostles, which describes cross-cultural, church-planting missions work done by who? Apostles!

    Try to shake my belief that I am an apostle (though not a special one like the 12). Go ahead--make my thread!! :smilewinkgrin: :smilewinkgrin: :type:
     
    #1 John of Japan, Jun 8, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 8, 2006
  2. rlvaughn

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    1. I agree.
    2. A good point that many people overlook. Possibly around 20 men are called apostles in the New Testament. There are questions about a few references, and some people delete Judas Iscariot when counting. All the Apostles of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer is a book that deals in depth with the subject. A good concordance will also quickly yield the names of those other than the twelve, Matthias and Paul who are called apostles.
    This following link lists twenty-one:
    http://www.fellowshiponline.org/biblestudies/howmanyapostles.htm
    3. Here I am not convinced that "evangelist = missionary" or "apostle = missionary" are the only two options. See next answer.
    4. Mostly apostles, though not exclusively so -- at least some are not called apostle specifically.
     
  3. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    I don't get it, rlvaughn. What are the additional options for missionary other than "apostle" or "evangelist"?
     
  4. PastorSBC1303

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    Ok, here is the big question of the day...ready?

    So what?

    If Apostle does or does not mean Missionary, what difference does it make on ministry, church planting, missions, etc?

    Ok so maybe that was more than one question, but you get the point... :)
     
  5. LeBuick

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    I thought Apostle was one taught by Christ. I know of the 11 minus Judas. Mathias who they cast lots for and was numbered with them but I believed the true replacement was Paul on the Demascus road. Where are these other references to Apostles found?
     
  6. John of Japan

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    It means a lot to me, as a missionary!! It means I get to read the book of Acts with personal relevance, instead of thinking, "Oh, those guys are apostles, I can't be like them. Their office ceased in the first century."
     
  7. PastorSBC1303

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    Does not the principles of Acts apply whether it means missionary or not?
     
  8. StefanM

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    In a non-technical sense, I find it acceptable to think of missionaries as "apostles." By this I mean that they are sent (which is the basic, non-technical meaning of apostolos). However, the NT usage at times indicates a core of individuals called "apostles," a group which includes those like Peter, John, and Paul. I find this technical meaning inappropriate for missionaries.

    Therefore, it depends on what you mean, but if you go around calling yourself an apostle, most people are going to think of the technical sense. Personal motivation, however, is a different story.
     
  9. John of Japan

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    The view that an apostle must be one who was taught by Christ is based solely on two passages. First of all, in Acts 1:21-22, the replacement for the Judas had to be someone who was a witness of the resurrection and had been with the other 11 from the start. Thus, it doesn't apply to the other apostles in the NT.

    The second passage is 1 Cor. 9:1, where Paul says, "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?" However, the phrases here are parallel. There is no statement of purpose, such as, "I am an apostle because I have seen the Lord."

    Concerning where the other apostles in the NT are, here are just a few: Baranabas is called an apostle along with Paul in Acts 14:14, Andronicus and Junia in Acts 16:7, James the Lord's brother in Gal. 1:19, Silvanus and Timothy in 1 Thess. 2:6 (compare with 1:1). Also, the word "messenger" in Phil. 2:25 is the Greek apostolos, indicating that Epaphroditus was an apostle. The same goes for 2 Cor. 8:23.
     
  10. John of Japan

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    Oh, don't worry, I don't go around calling myself an apostle. The typicil Baptist would unthinkingly think I had gone Charismatic!

    But tell me more about your position. Why is the technical meaning inappropriate for missionaries? When did the office of apostle cease, and why? Eph. 4:11 lists apostle with pastor, evangelist, etc., and no one thinks those offices have ceased.
     
  11. John of Japan

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    Let me put it this way. If, believing that the office of apostle has ceased, a theologian does a proper exegesis of Acts 13, he must logically say to me, "Sorry, John, you can't claim this passage is talking about a missionary and his sending church. Those guys were apostles and you are not." With that, the whole Biblical basis for a modern missionary going home on furlough and reporting to his sending church after his term collapses. Yet that is what Paul and Barnabas did after their first missionary journey--they returned to the church at Antioch and reported.
     
  12. LeBuick

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    Whats wrong with being a Missionary? Why is it important to be an Apostle?

    But Peter basically said in Acts is of the guys that was with us all this time, let's choose one. I don't see where it was a divine requirement.

    See Romans 1:1 and 5 or Gal 1:1


    I will look into these when I am by my Bible but I don't recall them specifically saying they were Apostles except for James the Brother of Jesus.
     
  13. rlvaughn

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    John, it's not so much that I see additional options namewise. It's just that as I think of this it seems that not all of the New Testament traveling "church-planting" preachers were called apostles.

    But I do believe the fact that the Bible challenges our traditional Baptist thinking of 14 men that were called apostles (the original 12, Matthias and Paul) means we need to adjust our theology concerning apostles. I haven't got mine adjusted yet! I'm not sure just what the implications are, but to me it seems that it has to come down somehow as two categories of apostles.
     
  14. John of Japan

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    But you see, my point is not that it is one or the other, my point is that they are exactly the same!

    I agree that it wasn't a divine requirement, and that strengthens my argument that there were more legitimate apostles than the twelve.

    Note these direct statements (I'll let you look up the other passages yourself):

    Acts 14:14--"Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul...."

    Rom. 16:7--"Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles."
     
  15. John of Japan

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    I'm willing to go with two categories of apostle. In my OP I noted that the 12 (I include Matthias, since he was "numbered with the apostles") were special, since the 12 will judge the 12 tribes and have their names in the foundation of the New Jerusalem.

    Both categories are missionaries, though. I have a wonderful book entitled The Search for the Twelve Apostles, by William McBirnie, which gives the history of each individual apostle and how they did cross-cultural evangelism. Foxe's Book of Martyrs also does this some, to an extent.
     
  16. AresMan

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    apostle = a ("not") + post ("stationed") + le ("one who is")

    An apostle is "one who is not stationed," thus could be a "missionary" (or the modern concept of "evangelist").
     
  17. John of Japan

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    You are arguing from etymology rather than usage. My definition of apostle, based on 1st century usage, is "one who is sent with a mission or message."

    I'm not sure how you are equating the modern concept of evangelist with missionary. Please explain further, and equate it with the Biblical term "evangelist."

    Gotta go to the church and do some apostle work, I mean missionary work. :smilewinkgrin: :smilewinkgrin:
     
  18. AresMan

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    It seems to me that in the modern IFB circles, the difference between a "pastor" and an "evangelist" is that the former is "posted" at a particular congregation while the "evangelist" is a traveling preacher. I know that etymologically, "evangelist" means "one who proclaims the good news". By "modern concept of evangelist" I meant the "traveling preacher" which could equate to "one who is not stationed."
     
  19. John of Japan

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    Okay, I see where you are coming from. But it doesn't quite fit. Church planting missionaries usually stay in one place for a long time. Even the apostle Paul stayed in Ephesus for three years, and other places for a long time. We may have a home base and preach in several towns around, but we still locate in one place.

    Note that Philip the evangelist was not a church planter. Sure, he did evangelistic work in another town and saw a lot of people come to Christ. But when push came to shove, he called the apostles over from Jerusalem to establish the work (Acts 8). I consider apostles/missionaries to be foundation builders, or the founders of churches in that respect.

    "Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation: But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand" (Rom. 15:20-21).
     
  20. EdSutton

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    I just blindly stumbled into this thread, while looking for something else, so I decided to bring it out of it's long hibernation, so to speak.

    I am definitely open, these days (unlike 30 years ago, when I definitely would have said "No!"), to the idea that the gift of "apostle" (one sent forth, with a commission) is both 'permanent' (as opposed to the, IMO, 'temporary' gifts such as 'prophecy', 'knowledge', and 'languages', and by reasonable association, 'interpretation of languages') and the same as "missionary". (30 years ago, I would definitely have said the gift of apostle was temporary. I am not anywhere that sure of that, these days, and in fact lean strongly, although not yet dogmatically, in the other direction and more and more believe it is a permanent gift.)

    BTW, I believe I noticed when reading through all the thread, the overlooking of the identifying of one, who is also named an apostle in the NT. He was not, as far as I can tell, "taught by Christ", from what I have read. (Nor was Epaphroditus, as far as I can tell, for that matter.) He is still, however, also of some "fair-to-middlin'" importance, I figure, in this list of Apostles. His name happens to be mentioned in Heb. 3:1. Perhaps, without looking it up, some of you may have even heard of this name, already.

    His name is Christ Jesus.

    Ed
     
    #20 EdSutton, Apr 8, 2008
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