Are all apostles?
Thoughts for Today:The Greek word Paul uses for "apostles" is defined by Strong's Lexicon to mean: "a delegate or messenger who is sent forth with orders." This term can specifically refer to the twelve Apostles (capital "A") of Jesus Christ, whom He chose during His earthly ministry to provide the inspiration and witness of His identity and work as recorded in the New Testament. However, the word "apostolos" is also used to describe other people who are doing the work of an apostle (lower case "a", versus capital "A" -- Barnabas and Timothy are examples in Scripture). Two of the characteristics of an apostle are: the miraculous gifts of the Spirit which are evident in their ministry, and doing (what we call today) the work of a missionary. In other words, they evangelize and plant churches.
I recently returned from a mission trip to India, so I am well aware of the on-going work God is doing to call His people into a saving relationship with His Son Jesus. And I have news for a lot of Christians in this country -- God continues to greatly use the office of the apostle! Churches are being planted and miracles regularly accompany this spread of the Gospel message. Why? Mark 16:20: "Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it."
The Lord has always confirmed the preaching of His Word with miracles. If Jesus and the first century Christians needed the word they preached to be confirmed with miracles (Hebrews 2:4: "God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will."), then we do too. No Scripture states these miraculous signs have passed away, nor that the office of "apostle" (lower case "a") is no longer needed.
Questions to Ponder:So often terminology creates great division within the church. Is there a difference between the Apostles of Jesus and simple apostles (those sent out with orders)? Of course there is. However, God did not intend for us to ignore His instruction just because we've placed too much emphasis on one word or another. If we take out the holiness of the original twelve Apostles -- is there a Scriptural place for an apostle in the world today? What about church hierarchy? Paul thought so and instructed accordingly. Do you?