“Apostle” as Authorized Representation

While there’s nothing wrong with simplistic references to Greek root words in a discussion, we often make complex statements from simplistic dictionary references of root words that really do a disservice to proper interpretation.

For example, while there’s nothing wrong with continuing to discuss “apostle” from the root word sense of “sending,” building complex discussions for apostles, apostolic ministry, and apostolic sending from that simple root reference may be terribly misleading and inaccurate to the extreme – to the extreme when the simplistic gets carried out to the extreme. In other words, simplistic references to dictionary root words can be misleading, allow for people to proof text a point of view that isn’t in the meaning at all, and provide building blocks for a discussion and description of apostolic function that just isn’t in the word meaning at all.

Consider the word, “apostle,” a Greek compound, carries a greater meaning than “sent” or “sent one.” The compound of “apo” and “stello,” combine “from” and “send” to say, “sent from someone as a representative.” “Authorized representation” comes with credentials that prove representation authenticity. These credentials are essential when we consider Who the apostle of Christ is representing.

The term also requires some examination of the Hebrew word, “siliah,” because the sense of the word in the mouth of Jesus and the Gospels has this meaning in it. To understand how the word comes into New Testament Greek use, we need to see how Jesus established His representation in the context of representation already available in the earth through Israel, and His own representation of the Father as Messiah King. (I mean, the meaning of “apostolos” in Jesus’ mouth as we identify His special meaning for His special representatives in His special kingdom.)

So, being sent doesn’t make someone an apostle. Sending people isn’t necessarily apostolic. And, having designated representatives doesn’t sum up an apostolic ministry. If being simply is our goal, let’s start with “sent from” as “authorized representation” and build from that point. Let’s dial back the exaggerations and logical extensions that are based upon overly simplistic references to root words and look at function, maturity, credentials, and sustained representation (“once an apostle isn’t always an authentic apostle”) since an apostle is false when they no longer or never did represent the Master.

While we don’t ascribe to apostolic succession as Roman Catholics do, we do have expectations that “sent from” has more than a “Jesus sent me” validation. Certainly, Paul made his case for “Jesus sent me,” but he also received human apostolic validations from other apostles who could recognize his credentials as an authorized representative in life, ministry, message, power, and authority.

The idea, “Jesus sent me but no one else realizes that,” is pretty much flakey on its face, by definition, since the very people Jesus would have sent you to would fail to discern that you are sent. Paul’s defenses of his apostolic authority applied more to “you already know I was sent from Jesus” but now others have come to replace me by attempts to diminish that authentic representation.”

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Dr. Don

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