The ministry gift of apostle is needed within the body of Christ. We must understand that there are different levels of apostles. There is broadening of the term in the New Testament that goes well beyond the original twelve. The term “apostle” means “sent one.” The one who does the sending determines the level of apostleship. Theologically speaking, there are different “Senders” within the Godhead, the Holy Trinity: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. In other words, there is able to be sent one(s) of the Father, sent ones of the Son, and sent ones of the Holy Spirit.
- Sent One from the Father: One, and One only, the Lord Jesus Christ: Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus (Hebrews 3:1); As You (Father) have sent me (Jesus) into the world… (John 17:18a).
- Sent Ones from the Son: Twelve, and only twelve. Revelation 21:14: And the wall of the city; had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; I Cor. 15:5: And that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve. There are only twelve apostles of the Lamb. They were hand-picked by Jesus after a night in prayer (Luke 6:12-13). Jesus told them in John .17:18, As You have sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. The twelve, along with Paul, are foundational to the Universal Church. After Judas’ betrayal, Matthias was ‘ chosen by lot to replace Judas among the twelve (Acts 1:26). There will never be another apostle of equal rank with the twelve. In Biblical numerology, 12 is the number of divine government.
- Sent Ones from the Holy Spirit: While the twelve were pre-ascension apostles (Ephesians 4:8, 11), this level of apostle is a post-ascension apostle. This is the level of apostle that is functional in the church today. The precedent for this type of apostle is found in Acts 13:2:
As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
The work which the Holy Spirit spoke of was that of apostle. As mentioned, Paul was a chosen vessel, to be of the same rank as the twelve. He is the one exception. Barnabas serves as an excellent example of this level of apostleship. The Holy Spirit is still calling His servants to the ministry office of apostle today.
New Testament Apostles
There are 24 so-named apostles listed in the New Testament:
Sent One from the Father:
1. Jesus Christ (Hebrews. 3:1)
Sent Ones from the Son:
2. Simon Peter (Matt. 10:2)
3. Andrew (Matt. 10:2)
4. James, son of Zebedee (Matt. 10:2)
5. John, James’ brother (Matt. 10:2)
6. Philip Matt. (10:3)
7. Bartholomew (Matt. 10:3)
8. James, son of Alphaeus (Luke 6:16)
9. Judas, James’ brother (Luke 6:16)
10. Matthew (Luke 6:15)
11. Thomas (Matt. 10:3)
12. Simon Zelotes (Luke 6:15)
13. Judas Iscariot (Matt. 10:4)
14. Matthias (Acts 1:26)
Sent Ones for the Holy Spirit:
15. Paul (Gal. 1:1)
16. Barnabas (Acts 14:14)
17. Andronicus (Rom. 16:7)
18. Juneau (Rom. 16:7)
19. Apollos (I Cor. 4:6-9)
20. James, the Lord’s brother (Gal. 1:19)
21. Silas (I Thes. 1:1, 2:6)
22. Timothy (I Thes. 1:1, 2:6)
23. Titus (I Cor. 8:23)
24. Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:25)
The present age has been referred to by theologians as the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. This age began on the day of Pentecost two-thousand years ago when the Holy Spirit fell upon the 120 in the upper room (see Acts 2:1-4). This was in fulfillment of Joel 2:28-29:
28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
Part of this Holy Spirit outpouring is the gifting of the ministry of apostle.