Romans 11:29 declares, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” That said, man cannot deem the office of the Apostle is no more. Ephesians 4:11 says the Lord “…GAVE some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;” Please note that He GAVE — that means these offices are GIFTS from God!
These gifts also have a purpose, illustrated in Ephesians 4:12, “for the perfecting (or equipping) of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” We must therefore ask the question, “Have the saints been fully equipped?” The answer to that question, clearly, is, “no.”
And they have a time limit, shown in Ephesians 4:13, “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:” We are compelled to ask again, “Is the Body of Christ operating in unity?” The answer, sadly, is “no.”
1 Corinthians 12:28 tells us “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.” Note, here, the Apostle Paul says “in the church.” Since we are in the church era, this pertains to the “here-and-now.”
Apostles are “sent ones,” “ambassadors,” and “delegates.”
from 649; a delegate; specially, an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ (“apostle”) (with miraculous powers): — apostle, messenger, he that is sent.
AV (81) – apostle 78, messenger 2, he that is sent 1;
a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with ordersspecifically applied to the twelve apostles of Christin a broader sense applied to other eminent Christian teachersof Barnabasof Timothy and Silvanus
Apostles are sent to plant and to govern churches and to demonstrate the power of God with signs and miracles. And these miracles are there to help overcome unbelief, which helps win souls and disciple saints.
Now each office is unique — interdependent in the body yet independent in function. Neither is any greater than the other. You need not first become a Bishop before becoming an Apostle, no more than one need be an Evangelist before becoming a Pastor.
While I’m here, let me juxtapose Apostles and Bishops for the sake of comparison and contrast. Why? Because all Apostles are Bishops but not all Bishops are Apostles. The original twelve Apostles were all Bishops because they each had a “Bishoprick,” or Kingdom sphere of influence. Indeed, the Apostles cast lots for the Bishoprick of Judas, which was how Matthias was chosen to replace him (Acts 1:23-26)
Concerning the office of the Bishop, Strong’s renders it thusly:
From 1980; inspection (for relief); by implication, superintendence; specifically the Christian “episcopate”: – the office of a “bishop”, bishoprick, visitation.
In other words, the Bishop is a superintendant or overseer. In modern parlance, the Bishop is what might be referred to as a “Pastor to pastors.” A Bishop is, therefore, a Pastor but not all Pastors are Bishops.
I say all this to say that no ministry gift or office can be summarily dismissed until the Church is fully equipped, in unison, and fully matured and grounded. Since these conditions remain largely unmet, every ministry gift and office remains valid.
While these matters are, indeed, important to Church governance, I think they pale compared to the weightier matters of soul-winning and discipling. We must understand the offices of leadership are gifts to the Body of Christ but know that these gifts are not for the benefit of those who operate within them but for the Church and its edification. We must be faithful to that which makes disciples, matures believers and multiplies ministries.
© 2010-2016 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)