Two comparable New Testament Greek words, apostello and pempein, both meaning, “to send,” reveal three fundamentals concepts: “being sent to originate and being sent to finish what was started.” Especially for John, the idea of being sent links Jesus to the Father as His Representative. The words are common in natural life, of course, but take on a special meaning when applied to the spiritual and kingdom context of being sent.
From that idea of representation, the word, apostolos, “apostle,” became a specific descriptor of a person sent by the king, usually on board a ship, with ambassadorial authority, the original meaning of “admiral” carrying more than messenger or emissary, with messages written by or signed by the king’s own hand and sealed with the king’s own seal.
Originally, the word described a naval expedition through which a group of men, sent with specific intention, not merely to establish settlement, but more to represent the king at a distance. The word immediately means that those who went never did so on their own accord or decision. They were sent on this journey with specific intention, purpose, strategy, and objective.
The Hebrew word, shalach, is closest to the Greek word, “apostolos,” but is more technically applied to those that represent by commission. We see this, for example, in 2 Chronicles 17:7-9. The person sent is always under orders, makes decisions upon the basis of those orders, obeying those orders even to the death. The New Testament word, apostle, has a more specific and narrowly defined kingdom meaning.
When the word, “apostle,” comes from the mouth of Jesus, we have these several flavors of historic and cultural use, but we must place the meaning of the word into the context in which Jesus uses it. Jesus is speaking first of Himself as the Father’s Representative, then of the representatives He prepares and positions. He originates and finishes His assignment; but, that assignment resets the kingdom for new apostles, apostles representing Jesus as Jesus represented the Father once Jesus receives the kingdom on earth that He represented from heaven.
Because the bulk of the uses of this word comes in Luke and Paul, we tend to link the greatest meaning and model of “apostle” to what they have to say, Luke spending a great deal of time with Paul writing the book of Acts, and greater emphasis is given to Paul’s apostolic life and ministry for this reason. However, we do err to assume that Paul is the only, highest, last, or dominate apostolic voice or model. Jesus is. We learn a great deal from Paul’s experiences about “apostle in kingdom expansion and Ecclesia,” but we do not read that, “Paul is the only model for apostles” nor do we ever read, “Paul is the last apostle.” The idea that Paul was the real replacement for Judas, thus completely the one and only “twelve” is spurious conjecture without Biblical authority.
Understand that man fitting the Bible to their own designs over centuries, for the institutions of church-anity instead of establishing kingdom and the design of its King has led to odd applications of many Bible ideas and the meaning of many Bible terms. With that, we have the added confusion of perverse piling on of meaning to bolster dysfunction and malpractice, so we have “super, elect, arch, primary, first, macro, special apostle of the first order, “cardinalized” and canonized by succession from the most holy, reverend, and right reverend bishop of Mesopotamia.” Usually, this means something really odd sitting in a big chair, wearing a big hat. In other words, it is a substitute for the real thing that lacks real power and authority, to be ignored until “quite dead and plucked up by the roots. “We just need all of this stuff to go away as quickly as possible!
The Meaning of Apostle
“Apostle” in the mouth of Jesus, like “ecclesia” and “kingdom” in the mouth of Jesus, is special in meaning. It applies to a spiritual kingdom, a legal authorization to represent, speak for, take action, command, correct, judge, enforce, announce, and ordain. While Jesus had many disciples, He had fewer apostles, in particular, the twelve.
In particular, John records this from Jesus:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is an apostle greater than the one who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” [See John 13.]
Here we have the sense of sending and receiving the one sent, the scope of the one sent cannot be greater than the scope assigned by the One who sent him: that is, in sending someone to represent him, the king delegates something less than the total scope of the king’s authority. The apostle cannot have a greater scope of authority than the one who sent him. The apostle receives specific scope of authority, sphere of influence, and a definite assignment.
Although Paul has a commission to the non-Jews, Paul is not sent to all the non-Jews; and when Paul seeks to go somewhere outside his scope of assignment, Holy Spirit stops him. Also, when the Ecclesia in Antioch send Paul and Barnabas on a mission, to represent the greater company of apostles, this isn’t the same scope of authority as Paul and Barnabas each receive from Holy Spirit to represent Jesus for “the work I have called them to do.” In one case, they are apostles sent to represent the company of apostolic leaders. In the other, they are sent by God to represent God on special assignment. We tend to mix these “sendings” in our discussions when they are not the same at all; the special meaning of “apostle” in Ephesians 4:11, bestowed upon the Ecclesia to prepare and position the saints, cannot be the same meaning as “messenger” or “representative of man or a group of human leaders.”
For example, as an apostle, I can send representatives from this kingdom center to do the work of this assignment. In this way, you would be representing me and my assignment, as assignment we all share together as shareholders, international in scope and authority. On the other hand, an apostle sent by Jesus to represent Him would maintain relational covenant with us because we are the ones recognizing and validating that God indeed sent them, but they directly represent Jesus in their mission as apostles.
Timothy was sent by Paul to represent Paul in places Paul established ministry. In this way, Paul says, “No one has my heart like Timothy.” However, Timothy had his own kingdom commission after Paul’s death, or even during Paul’s life, that was Timothy, the representative of Jesus Christ. Because Holy Spirit directs all these sendings and representations, no conflict arises between or among them: Timothy can represent Paul because Paul represents Christ; Timothy can directly represent Christ without Paul sending him because Timothy is recognized and validated by Paul and other kingdom leaders.
The meaning of the word “apostle” comes from the words that mean, “to send,” but the meaning in the mouth of Jesus is much more, and that meaning must include the sense of “kingdom representative.” The apostolic commission can be for a specific time with expansion, change, or reset, but the basic understanding is that an apostle represents Jesus who Represents the Father, and can also represent someone Jesus sent. In this way, we see the only sense of “apostolic succession.” (A false doctrine of Roman Catholic sourcing that says the pope traces his authority back to Simon Peter who got all the authority of the universal church from Jesus.)
So, the “apostle” always receives a commission directly from Jesus if he or she is “apostle” in the sense of Ephesians 4:11 and the apostolic function that partners with prophets as blueprint, foundational, construction managing, judgment declaring, fathering and originating.
Hebrews 3:1 says, “Brothers and sisters who share the heavenly calling, discern and understand Jesus, The Apostle and High Priest of our complete consensus about what God loves and hates.” Jesus being both the Son Representing the Father and the Priest dealing with our sins forever, giving us a body of complete understanding for what the Father wants and doesn’t want.
Jesus so represented Father that He could redeem All. We never have that scope of representation, of course, but we do have some scope of representation of what Jesus does representing the Father now because of the finished work of His Cross, Resurrection, Ascension, and Intercession. We are representing Him from where He is seated at the right of the Father, representing what Father wants with the power and authority to establish what Father wants in the earth, here and now! That is apostolic!
Although “apostle” means “one sent” in the simplest meaning, it means much more than that in the mouth of Jesus, and we see that the simplest meaning and the kingdom function are both shown in the Bible, clarifying that “apostle of Jesus Christ” means something that “apostle” does not mean in any other context. Just as Jesus being “Apostle of the Father” means something no one else in all history could be, an “apostle of Jesus Christ” also carries a special meaning because of Who sends that person and what that person is authorized to be, do, and say as the special representative of Jesus Christ.
So, by definition, an “apostle” is a kingdom leader personally called by God, sent to represent Jesus, prepared and positioned by Divine process involving other kingdom leaders, given authority to use God’s power to produce God’s purposes with blueprints for the finished building, alignments for the mature Body, and beautification of the mature Bride, originating kingdom within a scope of assignment, fathering leaders to inherit unfulfilled purposes, working with prophets to clarify what Holy Spirit communicates to the Ecclesiae, and bringing governmental order to the kingdom through personal and corporate relationships.
In this definition we have meaning, method, message, means, management, manifestation, ministry, and mission, as well as the basis for a host of other particulars as the apostolic is applied to every arena of spirit as kingdom leadership influence.
Ministry of the Apostle
Jesus brings some of His disciples into kingdom representation, moving their discipling preparation into a ministry positioning. He did not do so with all His disciples in the same sense. At one point, He expands this representation to 70, sent out in twos to announce that Messiah will be coming to their cities, sent to prepare those cities with demonstrations of kingdom authority and power.
However, “disciple” and “apostle” are not equal terms. Jesus disciples individuals and cultures to produce their destinies and purposes. In this case, He disciples apostles because they were called to represent Jesus. In other words, discipling prepares every kingdom leader for his or her calling, and some of those are “called apostles” and discipled as preparation and positioning for that personal purpose. You can be discipled to be a teacher if you are called to be a teacher. You can be discipled to be serving leader if you are called to be a serving leader (what people call a “deacon.”) You can be discipled as a sheep if you incapable of maturity because of infirmity.
Jesus, who is Apostle, disciples those called to be apostles. While the term, “apostle,” retains its meaning as “messenger and representative” in some instances, the function of “apostle” as a kingdom leadership dynamic takes on the meaning only Jesus can invest into it through discipling. Jesus has this intention from the beginning of His ministry. He is developing kingdom leaders so when the kingdom resets after He finishes His assignment, the kingdom will have the leadership infrastructure to mature even further through direct representation.
We recognize this sending in the original twelve and the seventy because they return to give report to Him of what they were sent to do. The accounting of their mission speaks directly back to the sending itself. Jesus receives a report because He is the One who sends them. They represent Him as He represents the Father. They do not directly represent the Father, cannot directly represent the Father, but represent the Son because the Son establishes the kingdom on earth for the Father in heaven.
In some ways, Jesus bridges the Jewish tradition of shalach with the kingdom reality of apostolos. To test this concept, we hear John complain that someone is casting out demons who is not being discipled as they are by Jesus. John thus recognizes that they are authorized to use power by Jesus, and others doing something like what they are doing in a different way are not so prepared to represent Jesus.
Then, Jesus shares that the shalach or apostolic representative, in any case and by definition, when representing the one who sends him or her, will share the response of that representation: if they accept Jesus through your representation, they accept you as His representative; if they reject Jesus through your representation, they reject you. With the representation comes the response, and sharing the representation causes you to share the response. If they persecute you, it is because they are persecuting the One who sent you. If they embrace you as His representative, they receive all He sends to them through you.
The ministry or serving of an apostle positions him or her to serve Jesus, then to serve other people as Jesus would serve them if He was the one present. Jesus gives them this example in His own life and ministry, serving the Father by serving people as the Father would if He were the One present. Note that the serving doesn’t diminish the Divinity of Father or Jesus but releases the authority and power of heaven to people on earth. Note that this serving doesn’t demote the servant to be a rug for scrapping off mud, but positions the servant for the response: if they accept you…if they reject you…if they persecute you…if they follow you…if they kill you…if they submit to you…all that means they are responding to the One who sent you. The apostolic package carries both rejection and acceptance.
Understand that some of the response you see to apostolic leadership are people manifesting their rebellion or submission with God. The imperfections of human leadership never justify this response because the imperfections of those sent are not the issue: the issue remains whether or not they were sent. So, we say, “I know God called you and you are obviously anointed, but I disagree with you and will not follow anymore.” So we say, “I know you are imperfect, but I recognize that God sent you and will submit to your assignment by aligning as a shareholder of that assignment to establish and expand what the One Who sent you wants.”
The apostle makes it real and personal that Jesus is establishing and expanding kingdom on earth through specific assignments His representatives are authorized and empowered to reveal, build, appropriate resources to, share strategies about, and prepare and position God’s people so they can fulfill their own personal assignments within that kingdom assignment. We can submit to God by submitting to His representatives, building a kingdom building, functioning as a kingdom Body, beautifying a kingdom Bride, or we can insist upon directly representing God in some way we devise and build outhouses, leave roadkill, and develop the allure of a whore in our own authority.
“Ministry” means “serving.” As representatives, we are serving the One who sent us, but His sending carries “serving instead of being served” within it because that is what He would do. We do not seek a throne when we already represent His! We do not use power and authority to pad our pockets even though we may certainly become wealthy as the representatives of the King. (The difference should be obvious: we don’t grow rich on the backs of the people we serve; but we may certainly enjoy blessings as the representatives of the One who owns it all.)
The ministry of the apostle represents the ministry of Jesus, what He is doing right now within a context of what He did while on earth. Both the ministry of what He does now and the ministry He finished while on earth feed into the ministry model of apostles. Of course, no one apostle completely represents the fullness of the Apostle, Jesus Christ; so, what we observe in real life, in each apostle, is some aspect of that full scope of apostolic leadership. No one apostle is “Jesus on earth.” To see “Jesus on Earth” we have to observe the whole enterprise of kingdom on earth, best seen in the operation of His Ecclesiae.
Do not attempt to be Jesus when you are sent to represent one aspect of Jesus. Do not attempt to produce the entire ministry of Jesus when you are sent to produce a defined, assigned, and measured aspect of the ministry of Jesus. Do not arrogantly assume that you can be all things apostolic to any scope, region, sphere, measure, people, place, or generation. You are not Jesus, nor can any one apostle or apostolic ministry hope to represent the King Eternal when assigned one aspect of His eternal kingdom.
The greatest enemy of truth is exaggeration, and we see more dysfunction and malpractice in attempts to be all that Apostle Jesus is in kingdom leaders seeking to the end all of apostolic leadership. No matter what level of leadership the scope of your assignment might reach, it will never legitimately be “all that Jesus is.” It will always be one aspect of Apostle Jesus just as apostle, teacher, shepherd, prophet, evangel each represent one aspect of His ministry. (The order of apostle first, prophet second, teacher third is not followed in this statement on purpose because I am pointing out that the fivefold ministry reveals kingdom leadership dynamics only completely available in One Person, Jesus Christ.)
So, the ministry of the apostle begins with sacrificial surrender of total obedience and submission to the One who sends the apostle as His special representative. The maturity of the apostle always answers to that sending and is measured by the finished product his or her mission asks him or her to complete. (More than one mission may be specified, and a total “this is my life’s work” answers to completing the work you are assigned.)
The idea that authority and power produce increased arrogance, pride, showmanship, personal fame and celebration of the personality of the apostle to the point of requiring that the apostle be cloned as a matter of course strikes directly to the heart of false apostle definitions. In other words, these characteristics help us identify the pseudo, not the authentic.
Serve! Sacrifice! Surrender! The apostle will be given much because the apostle must give much. The apostle does not gather in order to hoard – anointing, power, authority, provision, revelation, scope of leadership, influence, and accumulations of people – the apostle immediately distributes to those building upon the foundation laid, continuing the subcontractor building that will complete the entire edifice.
The apostle works with the prophet foundationally, but with the teacher, evangel, and shepherd just as well and consistently, because he or she has a more complete set of blueprints, greater and more defined scope of representative authority, and expanded perspective for establishing and enforcing kingdom order through kingdom principles and protocols.
On the other hand, we learn from the storied lives of apostles in Scripture that the variations on the theme, “apostle,” can be great. Comparing Paul with Simon Peter, or any of the apostles with John and James the brother of Jesus, for example, reveal the broadest possibilities of apostolic disposition, assignment, success, authority and power, function, and faithfulness. John lives a long time. Paul dies rather quickly after he commences his full apostolic endeavors. Simon Peter has a very different disposition from any of the others. Some are married, and rightly so. Some are single for strategic reasons that answer to their assignments, exceptions to the rule, so to speak because marriage is a kingdom norm. Some seem to blow up a storm and blow out of town on the next wind while others seem to settle in for a longer stay.
Beware the tendency to create a checklist for “marks of an apostle” when no such list exists in the Bible and merely collecting the several sayings of apostles about themselves fails to provide the last word on apostolic descriptions. The collected sayings of Paul about himself do not serve to describe every apostle, nor does the apology of Paul to defend his own authorization to “apostle” the Corinthians provide exhaustive last words on what an apostle is or does. All the saying about “apostle” in the Bible completely agree, but the Bible is not an exhaustive book on any subject. (I do not mean by that statement that we now know more about apostles. We do not. The Bible is the Authority on all but it doesn’t exhaust any subject.)
Most of the literature treating this subject tends toward a generalization, a “one size fits all”, an “every apostle looks like this”, or a “Paul is all” approach to everything New Testament. This brings lasting false impressions about apostles to the kingdom, lays groundwork for apostolic competition so some can prove themselves superior, more mature, or even contend for greater scope of leadership authority to boss everyone else around. This treatment also warps the preparation matrix of apostles toward cloning: “we learn how to be apostles by being just like this apostle or Apostle Paul.” (In reality, we can learn a lot about function when we find an apostle somewhat like us, knowing none may be available to model our assignment perfectly.)
The ministry of the apostle speaks to him or her serving the One who sent them. No apostle can rightly alter his or her assignment to suit the people demanding to change their job descriptions. Impossible! People recognize the apostle is sent, recognize their assignment to assist in the assignment by accepting their share as shareholders, answering their assignment to Ecclesia, submitting to their preparation and positioning to function personally in the kingdom Ecclesia, and receive what Jesus makes available through the apostle and the apostolic team Jesus assigns to complete the mission the apostle leads. The apostle is serving the Sender, the mission, the people who share the assignment, and the scope of his or her apostolic authority.
Mantle of Apostle
Mantling for the apostolic always answers to the assignment: the apostle has the authority of his or her assignment. Those who come into alignment with the assignment share in the authority by submitting to the strategy to prepare and position them to function within that assignment.
First, we must define “mantle.” We use this term, rightly so, in a prophetic sense, remembering Elijah casting a mantle upon Elisha, the preparing and positioning Elisha to receive that mantle when Elijah releases it from the whirlwind. We use this term prophetically to speak a spiritual capacity identified with a certain calling, leadership function, or ministry. So, the “apostolic mantle” simply means, “the authority and power that comes with this kingdom leadership dynamic.”
When Jesus made representatives of some of His disciples, He gave them authority. The authority He gave them released spiritual power. The spiritual power was resident in Jesus, authorized by the Father to represent Him. So, the disciples received some mantling to represent Jesus by demonstrating His kingship as they announced His kingdom.
That same authority and power remains available in the earth today, and to the extent that it does, a particular mantle comes with the apostolic assignment. Again, an apostle has the authority of his or her assignment, and those who come into alignment with that assignment have access to that mantling to some measure, a measure equal to how their personal and particular assignment fits and functions within the apostolic assignment.
While that sounds like some kind of multi-leveled machinery, it is decidedly not! I like to refer to this as a spiritual matrix that births, supports, and sustains what it births in a systematic way. We have come to use the word “network” for this spiritual reality, but I prefer “matrix” because it speaks more to a life-giving, and life-operating system. While the “networking” of which we often speak in apostolic terms speaks to relationships, the matrix speaks to the character of the connections that allow for relational covenants that operate on a spiritual basis even more than they operate on a personal basis. Networks tend to allow personalities to interfere and natural relationships to define spiritual operations. I tend to see a matrix more capable of explaining how SpiritFirst relationships define personal and natural relationships, rather than the reverse.
Mantling represents the spiritual authority and power the special representative receives from the One sending them, authority and power equal to and appropriate for the assignment in scope, function, grace flow and capacity.
Message of the Apostle
In a non-kingdom sense, “apostle” can sometimes be translated “messenger” because the apostle may carry a message or be the announcer of a message. The apostle may also arrive to call together an Ecclesia from the region to which he or she is sent so those authorized to represent that region hear the announcement, judgment, decree, decision, or orders of the King who rules that region.
When Jesus says, “Apostle,” He certainly has much more in mind than “a sent mouthpiece”. While apostles were some of those who wrote Scripture, they were certainly the ones who heard the instruction, commands, training, revelation, and strategies of Jesus and were authorized to be witnesses of His Resurrection, Gospel, and kingdom culture. That is, the apostles were immediately concerned with preaching, teaching, discipling, and ordering the kingdom as a basis for calling together into assembly a kingdom Ecclesia.
While the Gospel of salvation cannot be separated from the apostolic message, the apostolic message is an announcement of “Kingdom Come”, kingdom culture, and kingdom conquest. The apostle has a message to preach, but the message also contains a body of information that brings governmental order to the kingdom and function to the Ecclesia. The apostle has revelation blueprints, the “Word of the Lord” for people, regions, and nations in the same sense of the phrase is used in Acts 19:20:
“In this manner, the word of the Lord gained momentum through overcoming spiritual might, and dominated.”
The “Word of the Lord” was not the Bible but the apostolic announcement of kingdom purpose for the city-states of Asia Minor, as well as the entire region. This is apostolic preaching, teaching, discipling, and kingdom ordering with a sense of kingdom government. The apostle represents the King in a particular way – not that other leaders do not or individual believers do not represent Jesus individually – apostle represent Jesus apostolically while others represent Jesus on the basis of their unique and differing callings and assignments.
When the apostle preaches the Gospel of the kingdom, he or she is calling people to obedience to the entire process required to produce the kingdom assignment. People must receive personal redemption and restoration in the process of discipling that matures them personally to fulfill their kingdom assignments, to prepare and position them for ministry work, so they can operate within the building, body, and bride systems and relationships that mature the Ecclesia. The apostle is preaching kingdom come and kingdom culture.
The kingdom culture orders the kingdom by the principles and protocols set by the King, and the apostles in particular join in with other leaders to reset kingdom where it lags behind in kingdom order, correct what gets out of alignment, enforce Divine decisions (judgments) and make judgment decisions about broken or dysfunctional kingdom relationships and behaviors contrary to kingdom culture, and identify false teaching and leadership to protect the kingdom from intrusions and infiltrations.
While this certainly includes repentance, a staple response for the entire kingdom for needed change, the Gospel is more than “get your sins forgiven and be baptized.” The order of the culture of the kingdom blends spiritual authority and power into the personal lives of every kingdom citizen to prepare and position them to function in the kingdom Ecclesia.
Very often, the preparation and positioning of other preaching and teaching leaders begins with those leader preaching and teaching the message the apostle preach and teach. The point being that apostles and prophets help originate messaging in terms of timing, emphasis, spiritual architecture, DNA, and beautification (building, body, bride). As the apostle matures other voices, they become more specific to their calling in message, increasingly more specialized in message as they mature. A consistent and constant apostolic message matures the ministry as momentum in spiritual authority and power expands the conquest of kingdom come.
Manifestations of the Apostle
Without doubt, the apostle who preaches the Gospel of the Kingdom will particularly represent the ministry of Jesus in miracles, signs, and wonders, as power demonstrates the authenticity of the Message. As well, the spiritual authority and power Jesus authorizes in those who represent Him represent the authority and power of Jesus, so what He did and does will manifest in what they do.
We know that miracles, signs, and wonders can be released in ways other than through an apostle, of course, but we should come to expect a particular demonstration of authority and power in and through apostles. We should not, however, create another checklist of miracles, necessarily, or demand that all apostles perform the same demonstrations. We should not make a check list of miracles the qualification section of any resume for apostolic validation. We cannot say, “Until we see the raising of the dead, you just aren’t there yet” or, “You’ve done a couple of blind eyes open miracles but we haven’t seen any lepers cleansed, so keep at it until you finally get to the ‘apostolic level.’” We don’t say, “Well, when you get bit by the poisonous snake and live, people marveling at the fact you didn’t drop dead, then we’ll all be assured that you are sent by Jesus.”
“Manifestations” is another way of saying, “revealing.” So, the revealing of an apostolic authority and power in ministry occurs over a period of time, accumulations of manifestations may fill a list experiences while apostolic authenticity operates during the entire timeframe in which those manifestations happen. Perhaps the apostolic should fill us with anticipation of what will be demonstrated more than a demand that an apostolic assignment be proven. And, the thing that most points to a “false positive” on the apostolic may not be miracles at all.
On the other hand, we may anticipate that apostles will have access to greater spiritual authority and power because they represent Jesus in way other believers do not. Nothing about this statement or reality should concern our sense of God’s embrace of love for every believer, every person. We simply recognize that Jesus chooses “some apostles,” bestows “some apostles,” anoints and authorizes “some apostles.” We are not all going to be apostles when we grow up, in other words, because we can only become apostles in function when we are called apostles by Jesus.
A listing of possible manifestations is distraction, I suppose. Of course, some give time to this consideration. Some discussion could be made about the miracles of Jesus matching up to a list of expected Messianic miracles, including the miracles recorded by John – a man blind from birth, raise the dead, a Moses’ manna like miracle, etc. – as if apostles should be able to duplicate the list we could assemble for the life and ministry of Jesus. I think most people would agree this to be a distraction, that the manifestations of an apostle need not be exactly like the experiences of Jesus, mostly because the manifestations of the apostles He sent initially were not carbon copies or check lists of spiritual manifestations. The earliest apostles healed, set free, commanded nature, and manifested power (as Simon’s overshadowing shadow) in ways that Jesus did not, or ways not recorded in the Gospels of Jesus’ life and ministry.
We should expect that what Jesus did, apostles can do greater. Jesus promised this to the initial group as a standard of apostolic discipling, preparation and positioning, to say that representatives of the kingdom would represent Him in ways that expanded and exceeded what He did in a relatively short period of time. We also understand that Jesus did what He did in the power of Holy Spirit, and all apostles receive the same Holy Spirit! So, whatever Holy Spirit can manifest through a representative of Jesus is totally possible right here, right now!
Maturity of Apostles
Apostle mature. They do not appear like Adam, fully formed at their highest and most developed. They experience greater tests of obedience and submission. They submit at deeper levels to Father’s discipline. They gather expertise and experience. They live lessons learned where the greater fulfillment of assignment surrounds them with mature people, intercession, prophecy, order, character, meekness, and spiritual fruit. Apostles mature because they are like Jesus.
“Though He was a son yet learned He obedience [by submitting to the process of] passionate suffering; becoming mature, He became the Source of eternal salvation for all those that obey Him.”
Jesus learned obedience through lessons learned without any failing grades; apostles endure lessons learned through endurance as well, since their lessons learned include some failures. Apostle never become the source of eternal salvation, but they certainly represent that eternal salvation to all those who respond to their lives and ministries. And, in a sense different from obeying Jesus, obeying and submitting to apostles releases what Jesus provides in His sent ones.
Apostles are leaders, so their leadership must mature. Apostles are worshippers, so their worship must mature. Apostles should mature in worship and leadership at a somewhat equal rate so that these aspects of the eternal representation produce maturity in those that follow their leadership. Apostles measure the maturity of their leadership by the fulfillment of their assignments, the maturity of those that follow them, and the preparation and positioning of kingdom inheritors. If apostles personally mature without maturing their worship and leadership, their assignments diminish in fullness and fall short of fulfillment simply because apostles are sent to represent Jesus to the kingdom Ecclesia. Simply achieving great things, great messaging, great miracles, great ministry, great methods, but not achieving great leadership by maturing others, means the apostle fails to represent Jesus in making others greater than themselves and leaving prepared and positioned inheritors of kingdom purpose for the next generation.
Maturing the apostolic means we have fewer obvious kingdom dysfunctions, false apostles and pseudo prophets, greater blueprint expertise, stronger regional expressions of kingdom as centers for kingdom conquest originate and mature. Maturing apostolic leadership means our grasp of Bible revelation enhances in each generation with greater clarity of what Jesus established as kingdom culture. Maturing the apostolic means we have increased understanding of kingdom principles and protocols so we achieve greater oneness in building, body, and bride. Maturing the apostolic means we become much more efficient in preparing and positioning every believer for ministry work within the intricate building, body, and bride systems of the kingdom. Maturing the apostolic means kingdom Ecclesia gains greater oneness in achieving the assignments of the King in every region and nation.
Maturing the apostolic means we deal with the infiltrations of the way of Cain, the error of Balaam, and the rebellion of Korah. Maturing the apostolic means we maintain our primary passion and do what we did at the first when that primary passion released greater power. Maturing the apostolic means that prophets are more mature in function, teachers are more authoritative in training, evangels are bold in preaching and demonstration, and shepherds are more aware of the needs for provision and protection for those most vulnerable in the kingdom of God.
“Until we all arrive together, building ourselves up in love, representing Jesus as mature and complete, as big as a full-grown man.” The words of Paul remain important: “Apostles first.” Not exclusively. Not overwhelmingly. Not eclipsing any other sent representation. But, “primary, fundamental, first order, special, unique, and distinct,” apostles representing Jesus in our generation.