I’m planning for one of my next books to be on the five-fold ministry, but I have a few words for you now. I met a man today who fits the Bible definition of an apostle. When I asked him what I should call him, Pastor, Bishop, Apostle, he said, “Just call me Daniel.” Don’t you like that? What is the Bible definition of an apostle? It would seem that many have misconceptions. He’s not just a person who builds churches or is over a network of ministries. So many today are caught up in titles and having respect. And we should give honor to whom honor is due. After you read the rest of this, you might be able to determine that some people today calling themselves apostles really aren’t at all. But to give them honor, don’t go out and tell them they’re not apostles, or even stop using the title. I’m not suggesting that. However, we should be taught. Actually, in Scripture, I see four categories or classifications of apostles. And a loose definition may be anyone especially called or sent, even as a voice with a specific message, such as Apostle of Faith. But let me give you the short version of this teaching with just a few Scriptures.
II Cor. 12:12: “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” So, an apostle will do signs, wonders, and mighty deeds. But wait, that alone doesn’t make an apostle. There’s more.
I Cor. 12:28: “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles …” This is God’s plan for sending the Gospel to the world … to people who have never really heard the message of Jesus. The first ministry needed is the apostle’s … for signs, wonders, and mighty deeds to demonstrate the resurrection of Christ. Then after they receive Jesus, they need the prophet’s ministry (and it could be the same person), for ministry and teaching on spiritual matters. Then next is general Bible teaching, … and so on.
The New Testament apostle in the Church today has the anointing, the spiritual equipment, and the desire to go first into an area where the Gospel has never been preached. He’ll have signs, wonders, and mighty deeds, plow new ground, lay a new foundation, and build churches and ministries where the Name of Jesus has never even been spoken. Look at Romans 15:19-20: “Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:” The word “apostle” is not in these two verses, but Paul is speaking with the heart of an apostle. He had the heart-felt call to go where Christ was not named. The apostle is sent first … then the prophet … then the teacher … and actually, this could all be the same person, but with different anointings in operation.
One more Scripture before I close: I Cor. 9:1-2: “Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.” An apostle isn’t one to everybody. He is an apostle over the churches he has started … and again, those were churches that were started in areas where Jesus was not widely known. You understand, a pastor can start a church … and again and again. That doesn’t make him an apostle. An evangelist can have miracles and certainly wants to preach Christ to the unbeliever, but he’s not an apostle equipped to build a church and provide further spiritual foundation. Philip, in Acts 8:5, had apostles from Jerusalem come and help him in Samaria. Philip wasn’t equipped to do all that was needed to continue the work there.
So, an apostle isn’t an apostle to everyone. He isn’t just someone over churches or a network of ministries. He is, however, equipped to go into an area where Christ has never been named, and preach and/or teach with signs, wonders, and mighty deeds. And he is able to supply or oversee that which is necessary for the spiritual growth of this new church.
The man I met today fits that definition. He spoke often of his burning desire to take Christ to people who had never heard … he has been instrumental in building many churches … he has had many signs, wonders, and mighty deeds, and raised two people from the dead. And when I asked him what I should call him, he said, “Daniel.”