Bible verses about
Apostle, Function of
(From Forerunner Commentary)
1 Corinthians 3:9-10
If God places us within an office in the church—as an elder or a deacon—it must be looked upon as a blessing that is a responsibility, not a reward! It is given for God's purposes. Paul even had his office as apostle because it was given to him. It is implied that all the powers to perform it were also given. He used them to lay the foundation.
Everybody else is the same way. The important thing is that each one of us must use our gifts to build. Paul says, "Be careful how you build." The foundation that was laid is Jesus Christ. When we begin to expand on it, it consists of the apostles and the prophets as well—the things that they wrote and the examples that they set. Everybody is to build on the same foundation! God gives everybody the gifts to enable them to do so.
To some, God gives gifts to be apostles; to others, He gives gifts to be an evangelist, pastor, teacher, or whatever. They are given, though, and every time God gives an office, He gives all that is needed for the person to fulfill that office—including overcoming sin.
The Bible consistently teaches that an office is not a place from which to exercise power, but a position from which to exercise service. The authority is certainly there, since God gives it. He always gives the authority to go with the office, but having it means that the elder or deacon must also have the right perspective on how to use the office God has given him. The office is given, not earned.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Grace Upon Grace
Related Topics: Apostle
| Apostle, Function of
| Building Analogy
| Building Metaphor
| Building on a Foundation
| Deacons, Responsibility of
| Elder, Function of
| Evangelist, Function of
| Foundation as Metaphor
| Foundation, Building on a
| Gifts Edify Church
| Gifts of God
| Ministry, Function of
| Pastor's Responsibility
| Responsibility, Sense of
| Servant Attitude
| Serving Others
| Spiritual Gifts
| Spiritual Gifts, Abuse of
| Spiritual Gifts, Neglect of
| Teachers, Role of
2 Corinthians 10:13-16
Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles. It was his province, his area of authority, his area of influence. Paul says that he lived within it and worked within it. He did not go into other men's areas to extend his influence beyond what was given to him. Peter was made preeminent over them all, and then as the work grew, God divided it up, saying in effect, "Paul, concentrate on this. Peter, concentrate on that." They had leadership in those areas, and it was almost as though the two shall never meet.
The picture that appears from all of this is that, not only did Paul adhere to the sphere of influence that God had given him, but so did the other twelve apostles. They divided up the world, went to their areas, and conducted their spiritual and governmental responsibilities only within their regions. That is the only way God could keep order over a worldwide work at the time.
The people who responded to the teaching of those men in those areas were not confused by other voices speaking to them. Each stayed within his own sphere of influence, the one that had been given by God. In that area, he was the top authority, as far as the doctrines that were to be followed, and in this way, God could keep order. Quite likely, the apostles were all speaking the same thing, yet by this method, confusion in terms of government was kept to a minimum. The people were not confused about whom they were to look to in their region for authority in matters pertaining to their relationship with God. It is a wonderful system.
God is not the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33). Doctrine was put into the church as the work expanded in the way that He has always done it - as He did through Moses, through whom He gave the first five books; as He did through Samuel, who may very well have been the author or main editor of all the books from Joshua to II Samuel; then through others whom God used to add to the scriptures so that we might have the complete Bible today.
So, it is God who puts doctrine into His church by the man He chooses to be His ambassador, His representative to those who have been called. That keeps matters in order. Our job is to have faith in God's decision and in the pattern that He reveals in His Word. That will keep us on track if we choose to make the right choices.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 2): God's Pattern of Leadership
The bulk of this chapter is occupied with Paul's defense of his apostolic office. False teachers,the people who had access to the Galatian Christians' ears,were teaching them that what Paul had previously taught them had no authority from God because Paul did not meet the qualifications of being an apostle.
These people could come up with all kinds of things. They might say, "Well, Paul never met Jesus": that he had not been an eyewitness to Jesus' preaching, that he had received no commission from God to be an apostle, and that he had not even been chosen like Matthias. Paul's calling, conversion, and commission were done apart from large numbers of people. Nobody had seen him trailing around after Jesus as they had seen the Twelve. He had not been eyewitness to the miracles that Jesus did. "He had not been taught directly by Jesus," was what they were saying.
Thus, Paul spends the first chapter and more defending his position. Immediately, he states that his authority did not come through men. He confirms that he was an apostle, but his selection was not of men but by Jesus Christ. Right off he states his authority, and that it had come directly from God. By doing this, Paul puts himself in the same class as the Twelve, because even these false teachers were willing to concede that the Twelve's offices did not come through men either. Everybody knew that they were directly chosen by Christ. So Paul asserts, "So was I."
He also speaks of his experience on the Damascus Road as his commission, and then he references the resurrection, further linking his commissioning to the risen and glorified Christ. All of this is contained within the first three verses. He had to establish his authority quickly, and this is how he chose to do it.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 24)
2 Thessalonians 2:15
Tradition is broader than some admit. A note from a study Bible contains a bit of useful information regarding this word:
Traditions refers to more than customs. In view here is the totality of the apostolic doctrine as it was given to them—all of the teachings, not just what we would think of being the foundational teachings that appear in Hebrews the sixth chapter or things directly pertaining to the great goal in life that gives us the vision of being born in the kingdom of God.
The writer understands that word applies to the whole revelation given through the apostles. "Traditions" reach out to include policies and practices or procedures that the Bible does not specifically speak to. The apostle has the authority to establish them while he is God's apostle.
Notice an application in I Corinthians 11:2. Corinth was a badly divided congregation, at least internally; church members there had all kinds of different ideas. In I Corinthians 1:10, the phrase about being "perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" has to do with the way we see things, with our perspective. He is saying that we should not be divided even in our perspectives. I Corinthians 11:2 reads,
Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
Ordinances is the same word that is translated "traditions" in II Thessalonians 2:15 and II Thessalonians 3:6. Here, the translators have rendered it "ordinances," as if it referred to law. However, consider the issue in I Corinthians 11: the way—the manner—in which Christians should keep the Passover, the procedures that were to be followed. He instructs them to eat at home first before coming to the service. The passage deals with what we would call church-service procedures. "Traditions" includes these matters.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 5): Ephesians 4 (B)
1 John 1:1
Who is "we" and "our" here? They are the apostles of Christ: Peter, James, John, Andrew, and even Paul, an apostle "born out of due time" (I Corinthians 15:8). Why would they be unimpeachable as sources? John tells us why: "We were with the Boss for three and a half years. We heard our Lord, Master, and Savior with our own ears, saw Him with our eyes, watched Him do miracles, saw Him walk on the water. We touched Him. We ate with Him. We slept by Him." It really makes a difference to have good sources, and eyewitnesses are among the best.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 20)
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