The Apostolic Movement ? Who is #1 in Rank? Apostle / Apostles?

When speaking of "rank," one must dispel any notion that we are talking about value or worth. God doesn't reward gifts or callings, God rewards obedience. Even a child can be more effective in his gift and calling than an apostle and receive a greater reward in Heaven. However, when we talk of rank we are talking about relative responsibility. James wrote in chapter 3, verse 1:

"My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation."

Are the five-fold ministers equal and complementary, or are the prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher supplemental to the apostle?

The ominous threat of competition within the Church leadership can only be eradicated by means of the revelation knowledge of the definite chain of command.

Since the end of the first century A.D. the enemy has been eating away at the Truths of the apostolic Church, namely the setting of the offices of the fivefold apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher within the Church. First, the truth of the office of apostle was eroded away, then the prophetic office, and so. As knowledge increases in these end times the offices have been restored in reverse order.

The prophets have been prophesying the return of the apostle to the Church mentality, and the prayer warriors have been praying for their re-emergence. The prophets and prayer warriors know in their spirits that the acceptance of the present day apostle is the key to the future success of the modern apostolic reformation of the Church.

Let us be sincere in our hearts: if the apostles were not called to be the functioning heads of the Church, we would not so greatly anticipate or depend upon their restoration to the Church. Common sense demands this rationale.

To be equally frank, it needs to be aired publicly that there is some resistance against receiving the revelation of apostolic headship even among even those who purport to believe in fivefold ministry. Such an independent attitude is divisive and will attempt to hinder the plans and purposes of God. The great last days priestly anointing will come only with agreement [Ps 133] upon the blueprint of the Masterbuilder's temple. He that buildeth all things is God. Let us cooperate with Him.

As we grow in this knowledge, we patiently show grace, allowing flexibility during the transitional process. At this juncture, the prophet's involvement is prerequisite, because it is he whom the, Lord often uses to reveal gifts and callings of members and potential leaders including apostles-in-training.

As John the Baptist, the prophet, looked forward eagerly to the manifestation of our Apostle, Jesus Christ, so the prophets of today earnestly anticipate the dawn of the age of the apostle!!

The Issue of "first" in command under Jesus:

The LORD told Moses to appoint "civil" leaders over 10's, 50's, 100's, and 1000's. [Ex. 18:19-26; Deut. 1:13-15; Deut. 16:18] to judge disputes. The unresolvable disputes reached the top level, Moses, who sought God's face on the matter.

Within these categories there is a distinct token of a vertical ascending authority structure as evidenced by the appointment of leaders over 10's, 50's, 100's, and 1,000's. A leader over 1,000 certainly has more authority than a leader over 10. ---Not more importance, but more authority. ---Not more worth, but more responsibility.

One thing is clear---Moses and God had the final say, and everybody knew it. In the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, God has a chain of command amongst His people who serve as warriors in His Kingdom. Theocratic government is never "one man = one vote". Since we see through a glass, darkly, we may not perceive this power structure as God does, but it surely exists.

Apostles are First

The word, "priest", is qualified by the word, "high", because there are levels of priesthood.

The word, "apostle", is not preceded by a qualifying adjective, because it is to be understood by the nature of the office that the apostle is number one. The idea of, "first", is incorporated in the title, "apostle".

The Foundation of the Church is the Lord Jesus Christ. [1 Cor. 3:11]

We are all living Stones: apostles, prophets, elders, deacons, and saints.

It has been purported by some, on the basis of Ephesians 2:19, 20 and 3:4, 5, that the apostle and prophet are of equivalent authority in the Church.

"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens 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;" [Eph 2:19,20]
"... The mystery of Christ, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;" [Eph 3:4,5]

The mystery of Christ will ultimately be revealed to all the saints [Col. 1:26,27], and is not exclusive to apostles and prophets, but yes, the apostles and prophets are the major conduits to pioneer new revelations or restored truths that will alter the course of the universal Church.

Whereas it is the duty of pastors, teachers, and evangelists to preach proven truths, the apostolic and prophetic ministries, in addition to sound apostolic doctrine, bring fresh direction to the Body, but it is the APOSTLES who will determine if the fresh word of the prophet will be incorporated as universal Church doctrine.

The prophets judge one another, and the apostles are accountable to other apostles, but we don't have a New Testament example of a prophet correcting an apostle; not that it can't happen, but it is not the norm.

So in spite of the fact that the Scriptures imply that apostles and prophets together form a categorical level that receives a "special" degree of revelation, yet it is not the prophet, but the APOSTLE by the unction of the Spirit who will decide if such revelation shall endure as the custom of the Churches.

Therefore, Ephesians 3:4, 5 is a statement that denotes the high revelatory nature of the ministries of apostle and prophet, but is not an indicator of an alleged "equal" rank of the two ministries. For example, in nature, many organisms may share a trait or a plurality of traits, but that does not mean they have the same genetic composition. Neither do they have the same status in the biologic kingdom.

In the Old Testament, the prophet was not above the king, but divine revelation came to both occupations in the fashion necessary to fulfill their unique commissions. The prophet could rebuke a wayward king, but a king, good or evil, had the authority to kill a false prophet or even a godly prophet. The prophet had to let God deal with an ungodly king, but the king himself could deal with an ungodly prophet, which illustrates that the king has preeminence over the prophet. There is a parallel between the Old Testament king and the New Testament apostle:

In Paul's second letter to the Corinthian's Chapter Four, verse 8, he says,

"Ye have reigned as kings without us."

He, an apostle, was speaking to a church that was out of order that had inverted priorities. The implication is that if the Corinthians reigned as kings "without us [the apostles]", then conversely, in a church IN order WITH the apostles, the apostles would be in the rightful role of kings second to Jesus, Who is both Apostle [Heb. 3:1 and King [Rev. 19:16].

If the reader feels that the correlation between Old Testament kings and apostles has inherent short-comings, such is to be expected in allegories and metaphors. There is not a direct one-to-one correspondence between a king and an apostle in all cases. However, looking at the apostle from another political slant, the apostle is more specifically referred to in the New Testament as an ambassador. In Strong's Concordance, ambassador means, "senior", or "representative," derived from the base of the word used for "elder." Webster's Dictionary describes an ambassador as:

"the HIGHEST RANKING diplomatic representative of one country to another." Not by coincidence, the secondary definition of the word, "agent" (not found in the Bible), is "one that acts as the representative of another which is almost the same definition as ambassador a with the omission of the phrase, "highest ranking." More importantly, the primary connotation of agent is: one that acts or has the power to act; a person or entity empowered to act for another; a representative of a government agency. It follows that if an ambassador is highest ranking, then synonymous to an agent, he has power from the one who sends him, therefore it is not surprising that Paul wrote, "Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds." [2 Cor. 12:12] On the other hand, John the Baptist, perhaps the greatest of the prophets, was a spokesman for God, but did no miracles, although he was not without a great anointing. It would seem that the prophet, though not necessarily without miracle power, is foremostly anointed as a messenger, whereas the apostle is anointed for executive decrees accompanied by actions, that is, words plus commensurately ensuing deeds.

As we compare the PROPHET to the APOSTLE, notice that whereas the prophet is a messenger of God to speak for God, the apostle rather is sent to speak and act. He is the highest ranking representative. The prophet may carry the message that God will judge the hearer(s), but the apostle may both warn of judgment and also be an instrument of judgment in the spiritual realm.

Regarding a messenger: his rank can vary, he is a conduit of communication with the MESSAGE as the emphasis, but an ambassador is definitionally high ranking with RESULTS as the emphasis. Such is the inherent trait of the ambassador and apostle. As a master-builder, the apostle is an agent and contractor for God, empowered to change environments, but like the prophet, the apostle's work begins with a message--the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets
"And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the Chief Corner Stone;" [Eph 2:20]

The emphasis here is on the Corner Stone, the revelation of God in the flesh, Jesus Christ.

[2 Pet. 3:2] - "... Be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets [Old Testament], and of the commandment of us the apostles [New Testament] of the Lord and Saviour:"
[1 Pet 1:10-12] - "Of which salvation the prophets [Old Testament] have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you ... [by the New Testament apostles.]

To the Old Testament prophets it was revealed that Christ would come. To the New Testament apostles and prophets it is revealed that He has come, and will come again.

[Matt. 7:24] - "... Whosoever heareth [by revelation] these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock [stone foundation]."

[1 Cor. 3:10,11] - "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

[Matt. 16:17,18] - "... Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock [verbal profession of the revelation knowledge of the Lordship of Jesus Christ] I will build my Church;"

The revelation of Christ within the authors of the Old Testament, the prophets; together with the revelation of Christ held by the New Testament apostles; grant them the privilege to be "living stones" with us built upon the foundation upon which the Church is built, the foundation of the revelation of Jesus the Christ. "Upon this rock I will build my Church." [Matt. 16:18] The church is not built on apostles or prophets, but upon the foundation which they preach, Jesus Christ.

It has been alleged by some--that the apostles and prophets themselves are the foundation stones. The preposition, "of," in the verse phrase, "foundation of the apostles and prophets" draws a direct relationship between apostles/prophets AND the foundation. You are faced with one of two choices:

1. ... that the foundation is composed of apostles and prophets, or

2. ... that the foundation, Jesus Christ, pertains to apostles and prophets ONLY in that It was laid by them and dwells in them.

For example, when talking about a literal building, if we say that the foundation of such-and-such an edifice is the foundation of Christian Brothers Incorporated, do we mean that the Christian Brothers are buried in the cement of the foundation, or instead should we properly assume that the preposition, "of," means that the men, the Christian Brothers, either were cement workers or manufacturers of cement mix? In the same way, the substance of the foundation of the Church of God bears a relationship to its builders, who are not themselves that substance, but carriers of the substance.

I am convicted that the foundation is Christ, and Him alone:

1. ... Christ and his Word are equated to foundations in several passages [1 Cor 3:10,11; Heb 6:1,2; Mat 7:24,25] In many verses Jesus' Doctrine of Christ is presented as being exactly equal to the Living Word Himself.

2. ... The prophets are not listed in Rev 21:14. The verse only says that the apostles' names were written on the foundations, not the prophets. On the prophets behalf, I say that those foundations are not the apostles, but merely have their name written there as a remembrance, else why the omission of the prophets in Rev 21:14?

3. ... A house is built from the foundation up. Modern day apostles and prophets could not be in the ancient foundation, as God's house nears completion in this final hour. We are part of the superstructure.

4. ... The foundation is the Spirit of Christ that we as apostolic and prophetic people impart from our anointing into people's lives that cements with love the precious Rock of Jesus Christ into the ground of their receptive hearts.

5. ... If this foundation is Christ and Him alone, no man, whether apostle or prophet, can usurp that foundation.

6. Christ is the Alpha and Omega, and the First and the Last. He is therefore the Foundation and the Capstone.

All those who have the revelation of Christ within are "living stones" in the house of God. [1 Pet. 2:5; 1 Cor. 3:16, Rev. 21:2, 22]

We can call apostolic and prophetic ministries foundational ministries if we qualify the term, "foundational." Apostolic and prophetic ministries are "foundational" in that they lay the foundation of Christ within the hearts of individuals.

Unfortunately, many teachers have gone forth proclaiming that the apostles and prophets are actually the foundation stones of the Temple of God. This teaching emanates primarily from prophets who, while introducing the Christian public to the concept of the apostle, desire to be more than a messenger; They covet the same functional level of authority as the apostle, rather than stepping aside as John the Baptist did after introducing Jesus Christ to the expectant populace. The spurious teaching that apostles and prophets are the Foundation Itself does nothing to benefit the apostle whose position is secure, but if we swallow such a notion, it will be of benefit to that prophet who is craving an authority not appointed to him. In the Scriptures we see that King Uzziah became a leper because he lusted after the priest's office. He didn't necessarily loose his salvation, but his ministry was tainted from that day forth.

A similar self-serving teaching says that an apostle must be "yoked with a prophet," as if the apostle were functionless without the prophet. Ideally, the apostle should be accompanied by a host of other five-fold ministers, but the apostle's effectiveness is based on the accompanying grace to perform his calling, not being based on an accompanying prophet. We see times in Paul's ministry when he was deserted by men, and other times when he chose to go ahead alone, or remain behind alone. There were times when he was accompanied not by a prophet, but by another apostle.

Deuteronomy 22:10 says, "Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together."

Why? Because they are two different beasts with two different natures. The prophet and apostle don't plow the same furrow; They can work on the same farm, but not in the same harness. The apostle and prophet can still complement each other, without wearing the same shoes. So biblically, the afore-mentioned misleading term, "yoked with a prophet," is a misnomer; They are not yoked in tandem, but yes, they do work for the same Husbandman.

No doubt the majority of ministers who publish misleading information are not trying to usurp authority, but are merely parroting teachings they have been exposed to.

In this era, strategic implementation of God's revealed plan is the role of the apostle. The prophet is a crucial aid to the apostle in that the prophet is a visionary, seeing afar off. The walls are built through his encouragement, comfort, and exhortation, according to Ezra 5:1. The apostle is an activist who grabs hold of the heavenly vision, bringing it into reality.

The Church will be built upon revelation knowledge of Christ vocalized through the prophet and implemented by the apostle.

The offices of apostle and prophet are not of equal rank. The majority of prophets have this revelation, and are content with their unique role, seeking to submit to the apostles, who are the generals in the army of the Lord Jesus Christ. Know that one's rank does not determine his rewards and position in Heaven. Our honor is Heaven is dependent upon the degree of our obedience to the individual unique calling placed upon our lives.

We are striving for excellency, not competition. As we take rest in our hearts, receiving with humility the callings that God has individually ordained for each of us, we will be united as one family into that Holy temple, enabling the vast army of the Lord's host to move forward as one synchronized unstoppable body spreading the Gospel to the corners of the earth, and then Shiloh shall come. (click here for more on the subject of the rank of the apostle)

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