B. Childress
Aug 9, 2007

Whenever we study church government, we should go to the Word of God to understand how God wants His church
to be established:  God has given us his guidelines and principals in His Word, but He leaves the responsibility of how
to apply those guidelines and principals to us.

What is the origin of the word "church."  The word "church" in I Corinthians 12:28, comes from the Greek word
ekklesia.  Ekklesia comes from another Greek word
ekkaleo.  Ekkaleo is a compound word .  It is made from two word
ek-  and kaleo. Ek means "out" and kaleo mean "to call."  Thus, what the word "church" really means is "the called out
ones" or the "chosen ones" as translated in Ephesians 1:4.  When Paul said we were chosen in Him before the
foundation of the world, the same word is used

What is church?  First Corinthians 12:27-28 says, "
Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular."  Today,
the word "church" is loosely used to describe a building made of brick and mortar, which could also house a disco,
school, industry, or retail store. The universal church is made up of every born-again believer on the face of the
earth.  Every group of believers who worships together is a segment of the "universal church."  Those segments that
meet together are "local churches."

The church has been called out.  If the church is the "called out" or "chosen" ones, there has to be someone calling or
choosing.  "
God hath set some in the church." I Corinthians 12:28  God is doing the calling or choosing.  Ephesians 4:
11 says, "
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;"
- but who is "he."  To understand we can look at Ephesians 4:8-10, "WHEN HE ASCENDED UP ON HIGH, HE LED
Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended
first into the lower parts of the earth?  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens,
that he might fill all things)
."  The Lord Jesus Christ is the "he" who ascended, and the He Who gave gifts to men.

Referring back to I Corinthians 12:28, God the Father is the One who sets the ministry gifts in the church:  these
ministry gifts are chosen by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in combined authority.  Jesus is the One who
calls and appoints the ministry gifts. The One (Jesus) who does the calling has authority over the one He calls -
whoever chooses the ministry gift has authority over the one He calls - whoever chooses the ministry gift has authority
over the one who is chosen.  So, who is head of the church?  Ephesians 1:22-23 says, "
And hath put all things under
his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body the fullness of him that filleth all in
" The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church.  He was given that position by God the Father.  He was given
authority over the church by God the Father as well all ministry gifts He chooses to distribute.

And he gave some, apostles, and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the
perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
"  Ephesians 4:11,12


There are several translations in the New Testament of the Greek word referring to the apostles: one of these
translations is
apostolos, meaning delegate - one sent with full power of attorney to act for another.  Apostolos is
translated twice as
messenger and translated 68 times to mean a "sent one."

Remember that ministry gifts are chosen by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in combined authority.  They
work together in authority, not independently.  Galatians 1:1 makes this point very clear where it says, "
Paul, an
apostle (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.)
"  Paul
declared he was an apostle and he makes it clear who is responsible for raising up apostles.  Notice he said that "men"
(plural) were not responsible for his becoming an apostle, neither was it by "man" (singular).  So no group of men and
no individual man can choose and create an apostle - only the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father can choose and
create a minister.

Jesus stood in all of the five-fold ministries (Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher) and He is our example.
Jesus also had the Spirit without measure. Jesus is called an apostle in Hebrews 3:1, "
Wherefore, holy brethren,
partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the APOSTLE and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.
" Jesus is the
foremost example of a
"sent one," he was also a "delegate" in that he had the 'full power of attorney' to act for God
the Father, and he was a
"messenger" - he came with the message of salvation. -  He was sent by God and the Holy

The first twelve apostles who walked with Jesus are listed in Matthew 10:2-4.  Jesus chose these men, set them aside,
and anointed them that they might be "sent ones," the cornerstones of the Church.  These men were "super persons."  
Almost all of them died a martyr's death, giving their blood for the Church.  

In summary, there are
four classes of apostles, and each class had a different anointing:

Jesus - the Chief Apostle, the "Sent One" from the Father to make atonement for the sins of the world. The
Apostle and High Priest of our profession (Hebrews 3:1) and the chief cornerstone of the universal Church (Ephesians

The Apostles of the Lamb - the twelve apostles who were eyewitnesses of Jesus' life, ministry, death, burial, and
resurrection.  This was their purpose - to witness Jesus' early ministry and to give testimony of His ministry to the world.
They also laid the foundation of the Church (Ephesians 2:20).  No one, not even Paul, could be an apostle in the
sense the original twelve were.  (Rev. 21:14)  The qualifications for the original twelve Apostles of the Lamb can be
found in Acts 1:15-22 when they were to select someone to take Judas' place.

The New Testament Apostles -  Mathias (Acts 1:26), Barnabas 1 Corinthians 9:5,6), Andronicus and Junia (a
woman) (Romans 16:7), Apollos (1 Corinthians 4:6,9) , James (the Lord's brother) (Galatians 1:19), Silas and Timothy
( 1Thessalonians 1:1), Titus (2 Corinthians 8:23), and Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25).

The Apostles today  - the work of the apostle today is to found and establish individual local churches throughout
the world; to go into new territory and pioneer churches where there are no churches.

In the establishing of the universal Church following the resurrection of Jesus,
the apostles and prophets were
obviously the most important ministry offices because they were the first ministry gifts to be developed or "set in the
Body of Christ.  They were foundational apostles and prophets - they laid the foundation for the New Testament, they
brought forth the revelation of the The New Testament, which is the foundation upon which the Church in all
generations is to be established.

General Characteristics of an Apostle:

  • In the Old Testament, only the prophet, priest, and king were anointed to stand in these offices.  The first
    position of church leadership in the New Testament is that of the Apostle, and there is an anointing associated
    with it - it is the same Holy Spirit, but the anointing to stand in a ministry office is different from that anointing that
    abides within every believer.

  • An apostle is not appointed by men; the Holy Ghost is the One who establishes these ministries in the Church.

  • An apostle is a person who is sent to do a work for God - this person is not greater than his Lord for the Lord
    Jesus Christ is always the Great One. A true apostle is always one with a commission - not one who merely goes,
    but one who is sent by the Holy Spirit.

  • An apostle is a divine delegate - one who has come to the people of the world representing the Trinity in heaven;
    he is anointed by the Holy Spirit to act in behalf of the Body of Christ, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.  

  • Apostles are divine leaders God has commissioned to lead His Church.  However, in terms of the operations of
    the local church today, First Corinthians 12:28 is not a list of the offices of apostles and prophets in their order of
    importance. Neither is it a list indicating that apostles and prophets are the governing offices within the local

  • You can stand in more than one office, but you need to find out where you are and what your office is
    (confirmation) and yield to that.

  • The anointing will come upon you to stand in this office, if you are called to an apostleship.  The anointing
    empowers you to perform in this office.

  •  An apostle of God has an ability and a ministry, but he must be directed where God wants him.  God has the
    right to make you something and He also has the right to tell you where to function - it will not work wherever you

  • People today are reluctant  to recognize the ministry of an apostle for many reasons: they believe this ministry
    is not for the Church today; church leaderships prefer to look to the pastor to rule and reign, but they will perhaps,
    recognize the prophet and most certainly the evangelist and teacher; many fear that pride could enter in and
    cause that person to be lifted up.  If a person is truly an apostle, he or she will never be prideful:  When Moses'
    face shown with the glory of God, he was the last to realize it.  A person with the true power of God oftentimes
    hardly recognizes it himself.  There is no need for pride - these spiritual qualities (gifts and ministerial abilities)
    that God has placed within us are gifts, we did nothing to earn it.  If they raise themselves up to act better than
    anyone else because they have so many revelations direct from the throne of God, He will deal with them and that

  • It must be noted that this office is in power and not in name.  If the power is not there to establish churches, then
    those involved are not apostles.

  • The New Testament never mentions missionaries, yet it is an important office. A missionary who is really called of
    God and sent by the Holy Spirit is an apostle.  A missionary will have the ability of all the ministry gifts as
    mentioned earlier in this discussion.

  • One does not start out as an apostle, even if they know that is their calling:  Barnabas was a teacher, Saul (Paul)
    was a prophet and a teacher.  God will eventually set that person in the office of an apostle in His own time
    according to His plans and purposes.

  • If apostles are not accepted in the pulpits of the churches for the work of the ministry to the Body and each
    individual member, the Body cannot come into full maturity and unity of the faith.


  • An apostle is one who can pioneer, who can construct and bring into being a work with no problem.

  • An apostle is one delegated with the power of attorney to act on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ, sent by the
    power of the Holy Ghost to you - he is one with delegated authority.  He does not act on his own and do as he
    pleases; he is one sent forth from God with a message from God for the people.

  • The apostleship is different from the other four offices in that the person who fills this office has the ability to
    perform the functions of the other four offices (prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher) - this is what makes an
    apostle and why the Bible always lists the apostle first.

  • Any person with an apostolic calling has the ability, the authority, and the anointing to raise up a church without
    any outside help: Paul had this authority and anointing.  Paul could enter a town, have a church formed before
    nightfall, and stir up the devil and divide a city within hours.  He also had the power and ability to remain there as
    pastor, teach the people in the church, establish a school and send out workers to other places. If a minister fills
    all five offices of ministry to the Body of Christ, then he is an apostle.

  • An apostle can set church government in order.  He can establish deacon boards, elderships, develop ministries
    of helps within a church body, and place governments in a church so the body will function properly.  The apostle
    has the supernatural equipment called "governments" or "powers of organization.

  • All those who have a place of leadership in Christ Jesus, including the apostle, will suffer persecution.  If you are
    seeking greatness in God, you may not achieve greatness with humans.  The apostle may have to endure many
    unpleasant things, remember what the apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 4:9, "For I think that God hath set forth
    us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels,
    and to men."

  • To stand in this office, one must have a personal experience with the Lord - something very deep and real,
    something beyond the ordinary - not just something secondhand or handed down by tradition.  The apostle Paul
    had an experience of this type as he describes in 1 Corinthians 9:1, "Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I
    not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?...." Paul did not see Jesus in the flesh as the twelve did, but he saw Jesus in a
    spiritual vision.  Even Paul's conversion was beyond the ordinary. Paul was not taught the Gospel he preached by
    man.  The Spirit of God taught it to him.  He wrote, "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached
    of me is not after man.  For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus
    Christ."  Galatians 1:11,12

  • Signs, wonders, and mighty deeds are characteristic of an apostle.  The Bible says, "Truly the signs of an apostle
    were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds."  2 Corinthians 12:12  The fruit
    of an apostle can be found in I Corinthians 9:1, "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?"  Here Paul is defending his apostleship.  The fruit of Paul's apostolic
    ministry were people who were solidly established in the Word; solidly established in the churches (I Corinthians 4:
    15); and a spiritual father to those whom he had established in the faith whom he would exhort, comfort, and give

After churches are established, apostles can exercise authority over those churches they have established (I
Corinthians 9:1,2).  In the New Testament days, apostles could exercise authority only over the churches they had
established themselves.  Paul, for example, never exercised any authority over the church at Jerusalem,or any of the
churches other apostles had established. The Apostle Paul never built on a foundation someone else had laid.  He
preached the Gospel where Christ was not named, "
Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was
named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:

a)  Apostles and prophets do not make up the office of "governments" found in 1 Corinthians 12:28.  For one thing,
Paul listed "governments" as an entirely separate office.  It probably refers to the pastoral office.

b)  For another thing, some offices are listed in a certain order in the ministry list in Ephesians 4:11 and in another
order in the ministry list of 1 Corinthians 12:28.

c)  Therefore, this list in 1 Corinthians 12:28 does not indicate that the offices of the apostle and prophet are the most
important or the governing offices in the local church today.

An apostle acts as a spiritual father to those whom they establish in the faith.  They don't  tell people and churches
what to do in every area of life, nor do they try to run every aspect of the local church.  They are not dictators - they
address the church(es) in  "fatherly" tones of genuine care and concern, "Now I Paul myself beseech you by the
meekness and gentleness of Christ..." 2 Corinthians 10:1 Also refer to I Thessalonians.

  • An apostle  knows the voice of the Lord and moves instantly in obedience to bring it all to fruition.  Their faith has
    already been established through years of training and experience to move as the Lord directs - hesitancy in this
    ministry could bring about many problems.

  • All the gifts of the Holy Spirit are active at one time or another because they are used by the Holy Spirit as He
    moves at His discretion through the vessel who has been prepared by the Master's hand to flow in His ministry to
    His Body.

  • There is an anointing which is evident and a love relationship established between them and others. There is a
    humility bred into the apostle (and prophet) through the breaking process they have already passed through
    (these manifestations are not evident in those whom man has raised up).  

  • The apostle (and prophet) usually have a strong witness in their spirit to each other, as well as this evident
    expression of love, whether male or female.

In summary, the five characteristics of an apostle today are:

1)  As mentioned above, a preacher or a teacher of the Word.

1)  Outstanding spiritual gifts.

2)  Deep personal spiritual experience.

3)  Power and ability to establish churches

4)  Ability to provide adequate spiritual leadership

5)  Displays the characteristics of a prophet (one who has visions and revelations) and/or teacher.

"It takes a word of knowledge, wisdom, or visual revelation to know the root of a
problem, corporately or individually - spiritually, emotionally, physically, or financially.  
The visionaries function in this realm and speak the Word of the Lord to alleviate the
problem.  Our Lord knows all things.  This is His earthly ministry today (Hebrews 13:5).  
He sets His people free because He is the Deliverer.  He lays the ax to the root because
only He knows when and where this root began.  He reveals this knowledge to His
servants to instigate healing, deliverance, and release because He has delegated this
authority to believers, but it is the work of the Holy Spirit finishing what He began in the
lives of each individual member of the Lord's Body on earth."

June Newman Davis


The Shaping of an Apostle,  June Newman Davis, Copyright 1981 by Scripture Keys Ministries, Inc.

Understanding the Anointing,  Kenneth E. Hagin,  Copyright 1983 RHEMA Bible Church.

The Gifts and Ministries of the Holy Spirit,  Lester Sumrall, Copyright 1982 by Lester Sumrall Evangelical
Association (LeSEA).

Decently and In Order,  Bob Yandian, Copyright 1983, 1987 by Whitaker House.

The Ministry Gifts,  Kenneth E. Hagin, Copyright 1998 RHEMA Bible Church.