Over the last 50 years, there has been an acceleration in the restoring of apostolic and prophetic leadership to the body of Messiah around the world. There are many spiritual principles we can glean from the original meaning of "apostle" that will clarify the role of apostles today. Yes, we all have been sent out from King Jesus, but not everyone has been given the grace and gifting to lead as an apostle (Eph. 4:11).
Jesus is the original apostle who was sent from the Father in heaven to the "foreign territory" called earth, in order to transform the earth to be like heaven. Like Roman apostles being sent from Rome, and like Jesus sending His apostles from Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, so today God is still sending apostles out all over the earth to lead His church in the mission of kingdom advancement.
The worldwide church is supposed to be led by apostles, who work with skilled team members of prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Together, they raise up many "colonies" (ekklesia—congregations), all of which have the same mission—to make earth like heaven. The apostle's job description includes keeping his team unified and focused on the mission for which they were sent, without compromising the King's commands and desires.
Apostles are to be connected with, and in mutual submission with, other apostles. They cannot accomplish their mission alone. When the unique and diverse gifts of the prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher are submitted to apostolic leadership, they become an unstoppable, kingdom-advancing team that the gates of hell cannot prevail against (Matt 16:18).
The prophet stays focused on being in regular communication with the "home government" (heaven!), and keeping the team updated on what he is hearing in the Spirit. The evangelist stays focused on inviting everyone in the "foreign territory to embrace the Kingdom citizenship that is being freely offered. The pastor stays focused on serving, feeding and unifying the citizens. The Teacher stays focused on teaching the Constitution (Word of God) and culture of the kingdom. The apostle stays focused on the big picture and makes sure his team members, along with himself, are intentionally equipping citizens to carry on the work of "colonizing" the earth with the culture of heaven.
Not only is the apostle focused on leading his team but also on connecting the generations. At the core of every true apostle is the heart of a father (1 Cor 4:15). Multiplying himself and this kingdom vision into the next generation is not put off for the latter years of his life but is a lifestyle lived through the decades.
Jesus and the writers of the New Testament had no problem using the word "apostle" in their day. So why do we?
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