The Greek Geek

ἀπόστολος: Apostle

By Chris Conner

The role of apostle has run into some abuse lately. Apostle, or ἀπόστολος (transliteration: apostolos; phonetic pronunciation: ap-os'-tol-os) means "a delegate; specially an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ ['apostle'] (with miraculous powers); apostle, messenger, he that is sent." (Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary). According to The New International Dictionary of N.T. Theology (pg. 64-65), the word apostolos
...first meant a cargo ship or fleet sent out. Later it denoted a commander of a naval expedition or a band of colonists sent overseas. In the papyri it could mean an invoice or even a passport. Josephus uses the word for a group sent on a mission. All of its usages have two ideas in common: a commission, and being sent overseas. It is used about 700 times in the LXX.
In the Septuagint ("LXX") the term was used for the prophets. The one sent (apostle) was representative of the one who sent him (in the case of the New Testament, Jesus). Rabbis were sent to the Synagogues as representatives for inspections, collections, etc. Apostello, literally "I send," is used 132 times in the New Testament. It is specifically used in Luke 6:13: "When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated, apostles..." (NIV 2011). In Matthew 10:2 and Mark 3:14, the term apostle is at the head of the list. And in Mark 6:30 they came back to report to Jesus all that they had done. Their mission, "should they decide to accept it" (Mission Impossible), was to preach the gospel.

It is interesting that Luke never calls Paul an "apostle." Paul was not with Jesus like the other apostles were as they lived and walked with Him. He met Jesus after Jesus' resurrection (on the road to Damascus in Acts 9) and declared himself to be the last of the apostles (1 Corinthians 15:8). So there were no more apostles after Paul. "The apostle was originally a commission and NOT an office" (New International Dictionary of N.T. Theology, pg. 66). Paul showed that being an apostle did not mean that he was above other church members (1 Corinthians 12:25-28; Ephesians 4:11). They were missionaries for life. They were divinely sent messengers. The New Testament never tells us that an "apostle" is an office in the church, so in a GENERAL sense, we can be apostles today (not having divine powers as they did) in that we are sent to preach the gospel to others! Let's go preach the gospel!

TagsBiblical-Truth Christian-Life

comments powered by Disqus
Published 1-11-16