Apostles and underdeacons
An OAC member wrote: “...En hoekom is die Kerk die regte Kerk? Want dit is gebou op die fondament van die Apostel en die Profeet(Efesiers 2v20)…en alle die ampte wat in die skrifte van gepraat word is in die Leer van die Apostel te vinde...” Sic
For those of you who don’t understand Afrikaans, this member is saying that the OAC is the right church “...because it’s built on the foundation of the apostle and prophet (Ephesians 2v20)... and all the offices mentioned in the scriptures are found in the doctrine of the apostle...”
This is like saying that if you call your skateboard a Ferrari then your skateboard must be the right racing car.
|One OAC "Apostle" takes over from another OAC "Apostle"|
Some OAC members like to boast that all of their offices are mentioned in the Bible and then poke fun at other churches that don’t have the offices of “apostle”, “prophet” or “evangelist”.
These OAC members believe their argument carries more weight when someone from another church can’t show the titles of their officers in the Bible. They conveniently ignore the fact that there’s no mention in the Bible of “underdeacon” either. The OAC also don’t have bishops and deacons which are specifically mentioned as offices in the Bible (1 Timothy 3:1-13, 2 Timothy 4:22, Titus 1:7-9, Titus 3:15). The offices of bishop and deacon did exist in the Catholic Apostolic Church which forms a part of the history of the OAC. There’s also no mention in the Bible that an “overseer” is the double office of a “pastor” and a “teacher”. As for the need for “priest”, Jesus did away with the Levitical priesthood forever when He became our eternal High Priest (Hebrews 7:1-28). Jesus’ priesthood after the order of Melchisedec is forever and non-transferable (Hebrews 7:24).
Hebrews 7:24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.
According to Strong’s, the word “unchangeable” is translated from the Greek word aparabatos and is defined as:
not passing away, that is, untransferable (perpetual): - unchangeable.
Regarding the titles of the office bearers of “apostle”, “prophet” and “evangelist”, this is based on a literal interpretation of certain passages in the Bible.
1 Corinthians 12:27-28 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 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.
Ephesians 2:19-20 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
If the literal titles of “apostle” and “prophet” are literally applicable, then there should also be literal titles in the OAC for “teacher”, “miracle”, “gift of healing”, “diversity of tongues” etc. (1 Corinthians 12:27-28).
Further reading of the Bible reveals that certain women were known as prophetesses whereas every female congregant in the OAC is simply known as “sister” (Exodus 15:20, Judges 4:4, 2 Kings 22:14, 2 Chronicles 34:22, Nehemiah 6:14, Isaiah 8:3, Luke 2:36).
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
At this point some OAC members may say that these are not titles, but the gifts of Christ. They will then use the example of Christ Jesus and say that Christ is the “gift” and that Jesus is the “flesh”. Then they will imply that “Brother Jones” for example carries the spiritual gift of “brother” and that “Jones” is his flesh.
- Firstly, Jesus IS the Christ (Matthew 1:16, Matthew 16:20, Matthew 26:63, Matthew 27:17, Matthew 27:22, Mark 12:35, John 20:31, Acts 2:36, Acts 17:3, Acts 18:5, Acts 18:28, Romans 8:11, 1 John 2:22, 1 John 5:1) and throughout the Bible, Jesus and Christ are used interchangeably.
- Secondly, spiritual gifts are functions of the Spirit, not offices or titles (1 Corinthians 12:1-31) and the best gift is charity (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
- Thirdly, nowhere in the Bible will we read of “apostle Peter” or “apostle Paul” in that order as if it were an office or a title. What we do read is “an apostle of Jesus Christ” and that Paul was also an apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13).
Paul was an unmarried apostle and if the Bible is supposed to be understood “spiritually” and not literally according to the OAC, then there’s no reason why the OAC’s unmarried single members and “sisters” can’t also be ordained as “officers” (Matthew 19:10-12, Matthew 22:29-30, Mark 12:24-25, Luke 20:34-36, Romans 16:1-3, 1 Corinthians 7:7-8, 1 Corinthians 7:32-40).
There are also other churches who claim to have “apostles” because they believe that additional “apostles” were ordained besides the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus. They cite Ananias, Andronicus, Junias, Epaphroditus, Silvanus, James the Lord’s brother and Apollos as examples.
- Jesus sent seventy disciples in pairs to the cities (Luke 10:1-17) but there are never more than twelve apostles mentioned (Matthew 10:1-4, 1 Corinthians 15:4-7).
- Regarding Ananias, the Bible doesn’t refer to him as an apostle but as a certain disciple (Acts 9:10, Acts 9:17-18, Acts 22:12).
- Andronicus and Junias are mentioned only once in the whole Bible and the Bible does not say that they were apostles (Romans 16:7). They were Paul’s kinsmen and fellow prisoners, and therefore of note among the apostles. It doesn’t say of note as apostles.
- Epaphroditus is mentioned only three times in the Bible and not once is he referred to as an apostle (Philippians 2:25, Philippians 4:18, Philippians 4:23).
- Silvanus is mentioned only four times in the Bible and not once is he referred to as an apostle (2 Corinthians 1:19, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:1, 1 Peter 5:12).
- James, the Lord’s brother is not called an apostle (Galatians 1:19, 1 Corinthians 15:7).
- Apollos is mentioned ten times in the Bible and not once is he referred to as an apostle (Acts 18:24, Acts 19:1, 1 Corinthians 1:12, 1 Corinthians 3:4-6, 1 Corinthians 3:22, 1 Corinthians 4:6, 1 Corinthians 16:12, Titus 3:13).
Saul (his Aramaic/Hebrew name) also known as Paul (his Roman/Greek name) was selected by Jesus Himself to be a chosen vessel to bear His name before the Gentiles, kings and children of Israel. Jesus selected him to suffer for His name’s sake (Acts 9:1-16). Jesus called Paul to be an apostle, Paul himself literally saw Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 9:1). He was the last of all the apostles to see Jesus as of one born out of due time. Paul considered himself as the least of all the apostles and didn’t feel fit to be called an apostle (1 Corinthians 15:3-9). Despite the way he felt, Paul displayed all the signs of a true apostle through signs, wonders and mighty deeds (2 Corinthians 12:12). You’ll notice that Paul wasn’t “prophesied” into apostleship.
Barnabas was one of certain prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1). As they fasted, they received an instruction from the Holy Ghost for Barnabas and Saul to go preach the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews in Salamis (Acts 13:2-5). Later on Barnabas and Paul are referred to collectively as apostles (Acts 14:14). They didn’t operate independently though, they still went to Jerusalem to consult with the apostles and elders when there was a dispute (Acts 15:2). There was also sharp contention between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:36-41).
According to Strong’s, the word “apostle” is translated from the Greek word apostolos and is defined as:
a delegate; specifically an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ (“apostle”), (with miraculous powers): - apostle, messenger, he that is sent.
The same Greek word apostolos is also used to mean:
- “...he that is sent...”
- “...they are the messengers...”
John 13:16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
2 Corinthians 8:23 Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.
Philippians 2:25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.
Therefore in a broader sense, the word “apostle” is transferred to the other eminent Christian teachers who were sent as messengers. Not as an office or a title, but as a function. To be a messenger you don’t need to carry an official title of “Messenger”. Anybody can be a messenger, even a pigeon or a child could be a messenger without an official title. The messenger isn’t greater than the message.
Jesus had many more disciples but only twelve were selected to be His apostles. Therefore in a narrower sense, the word “apostle” is specially applied to the twelve disciples of Jesus who were selected out of the multitude of His disciples. They were His constant companions and were called to proclaim the kingdom of God to men (Luke 6:13, Luke 22:14). To these twelve apostles He also gave the power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease (Matthew 10:1). Jesus’ apostles and disciples were literally able to heal the sick and raise the dead (Mark 6:7-13, Acts 3:1-16, Acts 5:12-16, Acts 8:5-8, Acts 9:36-43, Acts 14:8-18, Acts 20:7-12, Acts 28:3-9).
The names of the twelve apostles that were handpicked by Jesus (Matthew 10:2-4):
- Simon, who is called Peter
- Andrew (brother of Simon, who is called Peter)
- James the son of Zebedee
- John (brother of James, son of Zebedee)
- Matthew the publican
- James the son of Alphaeus
- Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
- Simon the Canaanite
- Judas Iscariot
Judas was numbered with these twelve and obtained part of the ministry (Psalm 41:9, John 13:18). After Judas by transgression fell, only one other was ordained to be numbered with the eleven remaining apostles. He had to be a witness with them of Jesus’ resurrection, beginning from the baptism of John unto the same day that Jesus was taken up from them. Two were appointed; Barsabas Justus and Matthias. Then they prayed and gave forth their lots and the lot fell upon Matthias to be numbered with the eleven apostles (Acts 1:15-26). You’ll notice that Matthias wasn’t “prophesied” into apostleship.
That great city, the holy Jerusalem out of heaven from God has twelve gates named after the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. The wall of the city has twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Revelations 21:10-14).
In other words you won’t see the names of Klibbe or Ninow or Campbell or Boshoff or Dywili or Sgenu on these holy foundations. Before a house is built, the foundation first needs to be laid. Once the foundation has been laid, the house can be built. Once building starts, there’s no need to lay the foundation again!
|A foundation is only laid once|
There is only one instance in the whole Bible where Apostle is spelled with a capital “A”:
Hebrews 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus
The Apostle and High Priest is not a church or some mere mortal thousands of years later, but the one and only Jesus the Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).