Doctrine of Apostleship, 6 requirements to be an Apostle

September 19, 2014

Six requirements to be an apostle

1. An apostle of Jesus Christ must be a Jew. He had to be from Messiah’s nation.

2. An apostle must have received a specific call and commission to his office directly from Christ. The nature of his office: he had full plenary powers, full authority. This was the highest rank in the church age. The precedent was set by the Lord Himself in Luke 6:13 NASB “And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles.” Paul elaborates on this in 2 Corinthians, and especially here in Galatians 1:1.

3. They must have been an eyewitness of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and have heard His teaching. If they were to be foundational witnesses to Jesus Christ and what He taught then it was necessary for them to know a) what He taught, and b) to have seen His public ministry while He was alive on the earth. (Paul was probably among the Pharisees and scribes who were arguing with Jesus during Jesus’ time on the earth) Paul made is specifically clear that he was an apostle.1 Corinthians 9:1; 15:8; Acts 22:6-21.

4. An apostle must possess authority in communicating divine revelation. When an apostle spoke it was “Thus saith the Lord.” He was the mouthpiece for God; he gave absolute truth. What he wrote from divine revelation was directly from the mind of God. 1 Corinthians 2:16.

5. An apostle is required to furnish the signs of the Apostles. 2 Corinthians 12:12 NASB “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.” All of these things authenticated their message. They demonstrated the veracity of their message.

6. An apostle possessed plenary authority among all the churches. Peter, for example, judged Ananias and Sapphira on the basis of his authority as an apostle. Paul asserted his responsibilities over all of the churches, 2 Corinthians 11:28 NASB “Apart from {such} external things, there is the daily pressure on me {of} concern for all the churches. And he dictated to the different churches what they should do in various, e.g. disciplinary matters such as in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 5:3. They had authority to tell every local church congregation how to conduct their business.

In summary, apostleship was a unique spiritual gift that was sovereignly delegated by the Lord Jesus Christ and distributed by the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:27, 28; Ephesians 4:11; Colossians 1:1. In the pre-canon period of the church age certain spiritual gifts such as apostleship were necessary in order to communicate the revelation about the church age and the unique spiritual life of the church age because they didn’t have it written down yet. Once it was all written down it was no longer necessary for these people to continue their function—apostleship, prophecies, healing and tongues, for example. Apostles were not appointed until after the resurrection of Christ and they did not really become operational until the day of Pentecost when the church age began. Galatians 1:1 NASB “Paul, an apostle (not {sent} from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead).” The reason he mentions resurrection here is because Paul himself was commissioned by the resurrected Christ, and he is reminding his readers of his testimony of how he came to know the Lord on the road to Damascus when Jesus Christ appeared to him.


3. An apostle is a unique spiritual gift sovereignly delegated by the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:27, 28; Ephesians 4:11; Colossians 1:1.

4. Today all spiritual gifts are the permanent spiritual gifts. All spiritual gifts can be classified into two categories: permanent and temporary. The temporary gifts included miracles, knowledge and wisdom, prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues, healing—temporary gifts given during the transition period of the early church when the canon of the New Testament was not complete in order to communicate revelation in the early church age that was not accessible through a written canon of Scripture.

5. In the pre-canon period of the church age (35-95 AD) certain temporary gifts were given for the church to carry on until the canon was completed.

6. Certain gifts such as apostleship, prophecy, miracles, healing, tongues, interpretation of tongues, knowledge and wisdom, exhortation, discerning spirits, faith, ceased their function by 96 AD.

7. Once the canon of the New Testament was completed and circulated all temporary spiritual gifts were withdrawn.

8. The apostles to the church were not appointed until after the resurrection of Christ, according to Ephesians 4:8, 11. Christ distributed them.

9. Apostles to the church therefore are not to be confused with the apostles to Israel in Matthew 10:2-4.

10. The apostle John was the last of the apostles and died in approximately 96 AD.

11. Any claim to be an apostle today is heresy, blasphemy, a complete violation of the Word of God.