What is a true apostle, and do they exist today?

The Marks of an Apostle


Last week I posted an article describing a disastrous interview and the Mark of the Beast. As I was looking over the email the host had sent me, I noticed something that helped clear up some of my questions as to how things could have gone so horribly wrong. I noticed that after his name, the host listed the term “Apostle.” If this doesn’t raise a red flag for you, I hope to show you why it should.

The word “apostle” means “one sent forth as an ambassador who bears a message and who represents the one who sent him. In a general sense all Christians can be considered apostles since we have been sent forth as Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). There’s also the spiritual gift of apostleship (Ephesians 4:11) which is the special ability to start and strengthen new churches. We read of how this gift had been exercised by Titus and Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25-30 and 2 Corinthians 8:23. The issue at hand, however, is neither the general usage nor the gift of church planting or strengthening, but the “office of Apostle.” When someone today refers to himself as an Apostle, he is nearly always referring the office.

Scripture is very explicit when it comes to this use of the word. In fact, it lays out several marks or qualifications of a true apostle. As imposters in Jesus’ day falsely claimed the title, so do imposters today. The Bible says that a true Apostle:

1. has seen Jesus and witnessed His resurrection (1 Corinthians 9:1; Acts 1:22).
2. is able to perform signs, wonders, and miracles (Acts 5:15-16; 2 Cor. 12:12; Hebrews 2:3-4).
3. was chosen directly by the Lord or the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:1-2; Acts 1:26).

Here we have some very clear qualifications. The Bible limits its application of “Apostle” to those who met all of these. If a person lacked even one of these, he was immediately disqualified.


Applying these qualifications to today, it is easy to see why it is impossible for true apostles to exist. Number 1 puts the issue to rest instantly. If someone claims to have been called as an apostle, pointing to Ephesians 4:11, he has confused the gift with the office, two entirely different entities. What then, are we to make of someone who attaches “Apostle” to his (or her) name? I see only a few possibilities. If his problem is ignorance of Scripture, then everything else he preaches is in doubt. If he knows what the Word says and still maintains some special calling to the office, he is defying God and setting himself up for even greater judgment than the first. Finally, if he is too committed to his lie to care what the Word really says, then I don’t want to think about what awaits him.

Fortunately, the opportunity to admit his error and to repent is always there. This, of course, requires that he swallow the same pride that got him into the mess in the first place. For those seeking a name for themselves, this will be impossible. It is only when we are willing to deny ourselves and focus on making a name for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords that we will become true ambassadors for Christ. Do you know someone who claims to be an apostle? Will you confront him with the truth? Is that person you?



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