Are Apostles born or appointed? Yes to both! How can that be...? The answer to that question in this article we could call... «Apostles-Doctrine 101», writes Greek apostle George E.Markakis.
Are Apostles born or appointed? Yes to both! How can that be...? The answer to that question in this article we could call... «Apostles-Doctrine 101» (smile!). Even though we smile, indeed we shall examine how Apostles are «made»... according to the Scriptures!
«Apostles-Doctrine 102»? Now that will be a challenge...! When everyone takes for granted that «apostle» means «sent», it is a challenge to propose a «new theory» that claims that «apostle» does not mean «sent» at all! Greek Grammar is clear about that; can it be wrong? Well, even if Greek Grammar could be wrong, can the Scriptures also be wrong? Let’s find out!
Is there «103»? Why not! Let’s talk about what Apostles do, and let’s call that «Apostles- Doctrine 103»; how ‘bout that! After all, it is quite foundational to know what they do!
What else could also be so foundational as to establish a 4th Doctrine for the Apostles? Lots of questions, practical and theological, seek answers when it comes to this «new» ministry that has been (re)«discovered» in the last couple of decades. Perhaps one of the burning issues in post-denominational and post-eldership churches is «to whom is an Apostle accountable»? Another one of similar nature would be «does Apostolic leadership validate top-down hierarchy»?
All of the above topics of Scriptural research are so good, and require so much space to answer, that we shall need to examine them in separate articles... (oops, Sorry! You’ll have to come back for more of this research of Scripture to define doctrinal foundations of Apostles).
Are Apostles born or appointed? Yes! «Apostles-Doctrine 101» (smile!).
In Galatians 1:15 Ap. Paul said «God separated me from my mother’s womb». On that basis I reckon it is scripturally sound to say that Apostles are born. I can relate to that from personal experience... No! I am not saying that to promote myself, but to bear witness through my own life; you know... what the Bible reveals to be the «power of testimony that defeats the devil»!
So, do you want to know what is my personal testimony? Ok, I will tell you (smile.. again!)
After God ‘called me to preach His Son among the nations’ (yes, I am quoting Galatians 1:16 but it happens to be my personal story too), I have had a few experiences that showed me I was in fact born with the same (spiritual yet in the flesh) nature as Apostle Paul. I will not describe the experiences, but I will say this: through those experiences I understood why Jesus, when He appeared on the way to Damascus to Saul (who was later called Paul), He did not ask Saul to believe in Him; see Acts 9:3-7. He just asked Saul «why are you persecuting me?»
Verse 6 in some manuscripts reports Saul as asking «Lord what do you want me to do?» Then the Big Boss gave immediate orders on a need-to-know basis... «go into the city where you will be told what you must do». The only way to grasp this is to remember spy movies, such as Mission Impossible... the undercover spy lives a normal life until the orders from HQ come in! Then the spy resumes his real identity (for which he was born) and starts the mission.
You don’t believe me; I can see it in your eyes! Ok! I pray for you to be free from the spirit of unbelief! But I will also give you more Scriptures, because Apostle Paul was not the only one; when Jesus saw Simon and Andrew He just said «follow me and I will make you fishers of men», and they just dropped what they were doing and followed Him... Matthew 4:19-20! Do you see my point now? They were like... drugged! Or, perhaps, it was like they woke up from a dream world and immediately carried on with real life... for which they were born!
Saul, Simon, Andrew... the only ones? Let’s keep reading, Matthew 4:21-22: when Jesus saw James and John He just called them! What did they do? They dropped their lives, the boat, and left their father to continue mending the nets alone, and followed Jesus; were they drugged? Or, did they just wake up from an assumed identity to fulfill the purpose they were born for?
Still not convinced? Turn with me to Matthew 9:9: «As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him ‘follow me’. So he arose and followed Him». The stories of Philip (John 1:43) and Nathanael (John 1:47-48) are similar and reveal what is expressed in the words of Andrew (John 1:43) «we have found the Messiah»; Philip (John 1:45) «We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law»; Nathanael (John 1:49) «Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel».
None of them was asked to believe in Jesus; when Jesus called them they knew who He was! How? How could they know? That is what I am trying to tell you! They knew Jesus from before they were born! When they met Him in the flesh, they immediately recognised the One who had set them apart from their mothers’ womb. If you are still not convinced after all that I think I will just give up on you... but let me complete this story: I understood these scriptures because when Jesus spoke to me I instantly knew Who He was. I never had a «conversion experience» as they call it in some Protestant circles; I was set apart from my mother’s womb.
Now, Saul was born to be an Apostle... but when did he become Apostle Paul?
Question: was Saul an Apostle when he was breastfeeding in his mother’s arms? Hmm.. this is a tough one! not really sure... I think I will vote ‘Nope! He was not an apostle! He was a baby!’
Next question: was Saul an Apostle when he was persecuting and killing Christians? Now that is easy! No! He was not an Apostle; he was a Pharisee! These two questions were easy!
Tricky question: was he an Apostle when he «preached the faith in the regions of Syria and Cilicia» for 14 years? (Galatians 1:21 through 2:1) ... if you said ‘yes’ you missed it!
The Kingdom Key to understanding when ‘Saul-born-to-be-apostle’ became ‘Apostle Paul’ is in Acts 13:1: «Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul».
Historically and Scripturally we know that Barnabas and Saul/Paul were Apostles of Jesus; yet in Antioch at that particular timing of their lives they were listed as either prophets or teachers!
Even though born-to-be-Apostles, Barnabas and Saul had not yet been fully prepared and/or approved to become Apostles. Acts 13:2 reveals the timing that the Lord found them ready to be entrusted with the authority and mandate for which they had been born to this world: «Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them».
Birth, upbringing and ‘secular’ life do not qualify anyone to be an ambassador of Jesus, even those who have been set apart from their mother’s womb for the calling. Even life in the faith or preaching and ministering on missions and faraway lands does not qualify anyone for the authority and mandate of an Apostle. The example of Apostle Paul was given to us by the Holy Spirit through the Scriptures so that we may know it takes the approval of the King for someone to be released as an Apostle for the particular work for which he has been called.
Side-note: this is a good place to explain that when for simplicity I use the masculine gender «he», I do not discriminate against women, but, merely apply the Scriptural terminology of «son of God», which is non-gender male or female (see Galatians 3:26-29). Now back to the subject...
Both Barnabas and Paul were ministers of the Gospel but operated in the authority and mandate or either a Prophet, or, a Teacher, before Jesus called them to the work of an Apostle.
Can we therefore conclude that those born-to-be-Apostles become Apostles when Jesus gives the specific calling for the task? I would argue that Acts 13:3 advises us otherwise... «Then, having fasted and prayed, and having laid [their] hands on them, they let [them] go».
Side-note: the accurate «they let [them] go» versus the erroneous translation «they sent [them] away» will be examined more thoroughly in «Apostles-Doctrine 102». Back to the subject:
It is neither enough to be born-to-be-Apostle, nor to hear the Voice of Jesus calling for the work of the Apostle’s ministry. The Scriptures lay the doctrinal foundation that Apostles need to be appointed by the laying on of hands of the spiritual leadership of a local community of disciples of Jesus, who confirm the call of the Lord and validate the appointment.
A couple of important points of clarification on this one:
The term «appointment» is not Scriptural literally, but interpretationally; other terms may be equally valid such as «ordination», or, «confirmation». However, the most accurate terminology should really be derived on the basis of Scripture, and that would be... «consecration»! Why?
Numbers 8:10 «So you shall bring the Levites before the LORD, and the children of Israel shall lay their hands on the Levites»; 11 «and Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD, [like] a wave offering from the children of Israel, that they may perform the work of the LORD».
I believe that the laying on of hands by the elders of the Church of Antioch upon Barnabas and Saul/Paul was an act of consecration for the work of the ministry. As in the Old Covenant Aaronic «earthly shadow» of the heavenly New Covenant Royal Priesthood of Melchizedek there was a need for a setting-apart of the Levites for the work of the ministry, likewise in the Kingdom of Jesus there is a need for His dedicated ministers to receive the laying on of hands.
That is how God’s calling is validated on earth by a Body that carries the Corporate Authority to release the respective Anointing for the work of the ministry.
Some people ask me «but how do you even notice these things in the Bible»? Simple: personal experience! I have gone through the very same stages too, and I can tell the difference. When a Body of elders/leaders validated the calling of the Lord, laid hands on me and released me for my Apostleship it was like heaven opened and new oil was poured out.
I was already in full time ministry and traveling in the nations preaching the faith, already recognized as an Apostle, but not operating in the fullness until I experienced Acts 13:3 in my own life; that is when I comprehended the Scriptures more fully in that particular regard.
Born-to-be-Apostles need to be called forth by Jesus, grown up in ministry skills, wisdom and maturity, be tested and found approved, and then be appointed/consecrated for the work of the ministry, when the Lord’s appointed time becomes validated by an earthly body of authority.
Amen? (I hope so... will you come back for the next article – Doctrine 102? ...goodbye smile! :-)
George E. Markakis resides with his wife Evi and four children in Athens, Greece. He is the leader of Shalom Apostolic Ministries and Shalom Center Athens. He is a native of Crete, and masters both New Testament and modern Greek language.