The recent Langstaff Letter discussing ‘Apostles and Prophets’ brought more than the usual responses. So much so that I felt I should write a follow-up article, including some of the comments I received. I had some stimulating interactions with readers. I always look forward to reading all the comments I receive, both for and against whatever was written.
In the initial article, I pointed out this was not a comprehensive study of apostles and prophets. Instead, it was meant to emphasize some significant aspects of these ministries. In this Langstaff Letter, I want to add a few more important points about apostles and prophets.
ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS ON APOSTLES AND PROPHETS
BY PASTOR ALAN
Apostles and Prophets are Human – Too often, people think of apostles and prophets as ‘super saints,’ who are superior to others, even the other fivefold ministries. This is not so. Apostles and prophets are human, and as James described the great prophet, Elijah, as a man with a nature like ours. They can and do sin. They can make mistakes. If they have been placed on a pedestal, they need to be taken down. Remember, they are human.
Apostles are not meant to be Dictators – They are not intended to be domineering but are meant to fulfill their calling, just like any other ministry. The very first church council was held in Jerusalem to consider the matter of circumcision. Acts 15:6 records, “Apostles and elders came together to consider the matter.” There was unity amongst the leaders, and in the final statement, albeit it was the apostle James that brought it all together, it is said that it pleased all the apostles and elders (which presumably included pastors and teachers).
What about False Prophets? – Another reader drew my attention to Deuteronomy 18:15-22, which includes the admonition to put to death false prophets. However, we need to read the end two verses, “And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” In other words, do not fear if it is not 100% correct.
Modern-Day Apostles – If you follow my definition of apostles as ‘leaders of leaders,’ you will recognize them in the modern Church. Like positions in the army, there are various ranks of apostles. Some have greater influence than others. Just recently, Pastor Jack Hayford died. He was undoubtedly a ‘leader of leaders,’ an apostle, but he was never introduced as Apostle Jack Hayford. Rather he was always Pastor Jack. Twenty years ago, I thought that it would be helpful to use titles such as ‘Apostle’ or ‘Prophet,’ but I have come to the conclusion that the Church as a whole is not ready for such a move and that it is better to stick with titles such as ‘Pastor.’
Next, here are some of the responses that I received.
THE EPHESIANS 4 REFERENCE
Another reader commented on the Ephesians 4 reference to apostles and prophets, particularly as it relates to when Jesus gave these ministries: I thought I would mention another interesting thought from Ephesians 4:8-11 (NKJV
‘Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (quoting Ps. 68:18). Now this, “He ascended”–what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, …’
Notice when it says Jesus gave these gifts to men – after He ascended! In other words this passage isn’t referring to the 12 apostles Jesus called and gave while on the earth, but all the apostles he called and gave (and other office gifts) after He ascended!
One reader drew attention to an excellent article in Charisma Magazine: A rather timely (Langstaff) letter as the current March/April 2023 issue of Charisma magazine that features a host of wonderful tributes to Jack Hayford also includes an article that compliments this offering of yours. “The Case For Modern Apostles” by J.D. King addresses a number of questions that includes a helpful understanding of the Greek use of “Apostolos and Apesteilen.”
His reference to Rev 2:2 also shows that there was also an evaluation process to determine true apostles from false ones. Since this was arguably written after all the other original Apostles had died, what need for a test was necessary if the office had ceased? This idea of a test for Apostles and Prophets is also included in the 2nd century’s Didache, which is accepted as an early church document.
Thank you for another fine letter, and I know your best one is yet to be!
‘Is your connection with the NAR￼? The reason why I asked this question is because I was sent here across the United States . . . I see so much corruption in this movement of apostles and prophets false titles.’
‘Good word pastor Alan and I certainly agree as one who is operated in this gift for a number of years. I believe that accurate prophecy comes out of a place where the presence of God (is present).’
‘Thanks for your article on apostles and prophets. I did not know about John Calvin’s view. I will save the article for future reference.’
Another reader wrote: Meanwhile, I continue to wrestle with what sort of ministry “apostleship” really is today, if we subtract the NT authority piece that Jesus imparted to the Eleven and to Paul.
Being a visible “leader” falls short, at least in so far as history is concerned . . . . Once we set aside the foundations piece and its historic, biblical normativity, I lose any clarity in being able to make the word “apostle” carry any “fixed” meaning here at all. You have likely wrestled with it all much more than I have, so I do prayerfully support you in whatever follow-up article you can produce to make the case for a “new ‘apostolic’ reformation.” But no SAFE “movement” can result if we do not get our initial categories and concepts and labels right in the first place. Wagner was simply mistaken in too quickly thinking that a “Second Apostolic Age” was happening among us, that supposedly would “finish what the original apostles began”
Well, that is it. I assume that the subject of apostles and prophets will continue to be discussed without people necessarily agreeing. However, in my opinion, we need these ministries in the church today more than ever.
Pastor Alan, I love this discussion, I have seen the abuses and the fruit of both ministries in many realms. What I have learned simply is i’am careful with who I walk with and walk under, we can be very public with our opinions however the “apostolic prophetic” leadership I have walked with over the years has been very fruitful and personal to me,however not without not some conflict or disagreement but these things never became a bigger issue then our relationship nor did I think making them public could ever bear fruit for me. I did believe however that if I did make them public it would do very little to unify people in the circles that I was in, in the body of Christ. To me my greatest lessons are these, 1 we must have relationship and friendship with people who we see in these offices, 2. Honor to those who I walk with,3 love well, loving well does not mean I always agree, but I love well. Thanks for the letter, be blessed