- Religion and Philosophy
1 Mt 8:27 “But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!”
2. Mt 16:15 “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?”
3. Mt 16:16.
4. Mt 27:54.
5. Mk 3:14 “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,” //Mt 10:1-5; Lk 6:13.
6. Jn 20:22 ” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:”
7. Luke 24:45 “ Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,”
8. Matthew 18:18 “ Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
9. Matthew 16:19 “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
10. Acts 2:14ff. see 1:8
11. Acts 8:14ff. see 1:8.
12. Acts the 10th chapter, see 1:8
13. Acts 1:8 “...you shall receive power after the HG has come upon you...”
14. See the following Scripture to establish that the Holy Spirit is the Spirt of Jesus: The baptizer of the HS is Jesus: Mt 3:11; The HS (i.e. Spirit of Truth, i.e. the Comforter) is the Spirit of Jesus: Jn 14:18; the HS and the Spirit of Jesus is one and the same: Acts 16:6-7 (NASB), Greek New Testament, UBS 4th edition, Nestle-Aland 27th edition, to pneuma Iēsou. see, also Phil 1:16.
Such As I Have, Give I Thee
The Church of Jesus Christ is about to begin her third millennium on the earth. Who would have thought that from such a small beginning in an, seemingly, insignificant part of the world, that twelve men, no matter how dedicated, would establish a organization that would claim one third of the earth’s population in the twenty-first century. Christianity has around 2.2 billion adherents, out of about 7 billion people; it represents one-third of the world's population and is the largest religion in the world. This has happened, in this writers opinion, for two fundamental reasons: first, because of the founder—Jesus Christ; and second, because Christianity is not only an organization, but an organized organism.
The Person of Jesus Christ
First, Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, was not just a man. He was more, much more. The twelve disciples received this revelation when they witnessed His authority over the human condition as He healed the sick and infirm, His jurisdiction over the elements when He calmed the wind and waves of an angry sea, His dominion over death when He brought the dead back to life (Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, and the Widow of Nain’s son). The disciples asked one another in astonishment “What manner of a man is this?”1 Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”2 ∼ It was Peter who answered. Blundering and blustering Simon; a mixture of mud and stardust. One minute he would be as carnal as mud, the next moment he would have the twinkle of the Milky Way in his eyes. But this day he hung his coat on the stars when he answered the question by saying, “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”3Peter’s confession was echoed by the Centurion from Mt Calvary’s brow, when, as the foundations of the earth shook and evil drew its black curtain across the face of the sun, he cried, “Surely this was the Son of God.”4
The twelve men that Jesus hand picked5 were the recipients of special graces from Christ Himself. At one point He breathed on them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”6The Scripture also lets us know that He “opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.” 7 Further, He gave them the authority to bind and loose on the earth those things that Heaven had bound and loosed.8 Moreover, one (Peter), was made the first among equals by being presented with the keys to the Kingdom.9 His mission was to open the door of Heaven to the Jews first,10 the Samaritans second,11 and then to the Gentiles.12 The power to accomplish all this would be given to them when they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit,13 which was none other than the Spirit of Jesus.14
15.1 Cor 12:27 “ Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”
16.1 Pt 2:5 “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, ...”
17. genetics: the genetic properties and phenomena of an organism. genetic: pertaining to, or influenced by geneses or origins.
18. The number twelve speaks of governmental perfection or rule. following the exodus, Moses built twelve pillars on Mount Sinai (Ex 24:4). Twelve stones were set as a memorial after crossing the Jordan River (Joshua 4:3). Twelve stones were attached to the breastplate of the priestly garments bearing the names of the twelve tribes (Ex 39:8-14). The temple involved twelve in its measurements and furnishings. Whenever Israel went to war the number of warriors was alway in increments of twelve and multiples thereof.
The New Testament records the number twelve many times.
- Jesus speaks His first words in the Bible at the age of twelve (Lk 2:42).
- Later, He chooses twelve disciples patterned after the twelve tribes of Israel.
- Twelve baskets of fragments were collected after Jesus fed the five thousand (Mk 6:43).
- The Book of Revelation says there are twelve gates to the city, twelve angels as gatekeepers and the names of the twelve tribes written on the gates. The gates are twelve pearls and the wall will be on twelve foundations which bear the names of the twelve apostles. The measurements of the New Jerusalem also involve the number twelve, i.e. 12,000 furlongs.
- The number of the redeemed is set at 12X12,000 .
- The tree of life stands in the midst of the New Jerusalem and produce twelve kinds of fruit for the healing of the nations for each of the twelve months of the years.
19. Jn 18:36 “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”
20. Mt 19:28 “And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Lk 22:30 “ That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
21. Acts 1:15-26 “And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) 16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. 17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. 18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. 20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. 21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. 23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, 25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. 26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
22. Ps 41:9 “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” ”109:8. “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”
23. Ac 12:1-2 “Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.”
24. Re 22:9 “Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.”
25. He 12:22-23 “ But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,”
26. The Sacrament of Holy Orders is the continuation of Christ's priesthood, which He bestowed upon His Apostles; thus, Sacrament of Holy Orders is "the sacrament of apostolic ministry." "Ordination" comes from the Latin word ordinatio, which means to incorporate someone into an order. In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, a man is incorporated into the priesthood of Christ; in which are three offices: Bishop, Presbyter, and Deacon. The fivefold ministry of Ephesians 4:11 (apostle, Prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher) is manifested to the church through the holy orders of bishops, presbyters and deacons.
27. Ac 2:42 “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
28. Daughter cells are the products of cell division which are young cells that are genetically identical to the parent cell. The cells are formed by either mitosis or meiosis. These two processes are the main cell division strategies used by living things for growth and reproduction.
mi·to·sis [mahy-toh-sis] noun Cell Biology . The usual method of cell division, characterized typically by the resolving of the chromatin of the nucleus into a threadlike form, which condenses into chromosomes, each of which separates longitudinally into two parts, one part of each chromosome being retained in each of two new cells resulting from the original cell.
mei·o·sis [mahy-oh-sis] noun Cell Biology . Part of the process of gamete formation, consisting of chromosome conjugation and two cell divisions, in the course of which the diploid chromosome number becomes reduced to the haploid.
29. Eh 4:11 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”
30.Titus 1:5 “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:”
31. 1 Tim 3: 1-13 “This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
32. 1 Tim 3:2 “A bishop then must be ... apt to teach;”
33. Ac 6:8,10 “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people ... v10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.”
34. Ac 8:5 “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.”
A Living Organism
The second reason for Christianity’s success throughout the world is the possessed quality of a living organism instead of being only an organization. Of a truth, any organism possesses organization, by necessity. But an organization does not necessitate organism (life). The following parable will illustrate my point.
The Parable of the Tree
My gaze was captured by a majestic tree growing in the midst of a glen. I was mesmerized by its beauty and awesome semblance of strength. Season after season I passed that way, if only to be inspired by the tree’s cathedral ambiance transferred onto its surroundings. Its kaleidoscope of color made life dance where motion would otherwise be absent. Season after season, the movement through the mysterious cycles of life and death seemed to transport me through the seasons of my own life. The tree was ever changing, moving, always greater than before.
Then a man with a need for wood took the tree’s life. The hands of the man were gifted and his eye true. From the offering of the tree a beautiful piece of furniture was fashioned. It happened that I was invited to view the piece. I stood amazed at the craftsmanship of the carpenter. How clever were the saw cuts and the hammer never left a track. The pegs were ever so strategically placed and the tongue and grove ever so tight. The dovetailing incomparable. The master craftsman had taken the tree from the glen and fashioned a thing of true beautify and utility. As admirable as the workmanship was, I remembered the tree when it grow in the glen, and was sad. It was alive then, ever changing, moving, always greater than before.
I think the thing that was the source of my sadness is that even though the tree had become a thing of beauty and utility at the hands of man, it was no longer living, no longer changing, no longer moving, and could never be more than that made by the carpenter, could no longer be greater than it was before.
There are many organizations in the world created by the hands of gifted men. Some of these men have even plied their craft to the Church of the living God. But the thing is, the Church of the Living God is as He is - Living. When man, in his imagination, needed a church to suit his idea of utility, he, as the carpenter above, cut the church from its life giving roots and fashioned an institution to suit himself. The problem with that is: That which is fashioned from the living is no longer living, itself. It may be true that it is a thing of beauty and utility, but it no longer breathes. Biblically, the Church is the body of Christ,15 a living thing; even when she is compared to a building, that building is said to be made up of lively stones16—i.e. stones that are living. The Church, as the tree in our parable, can only be all it can be when left to the natural organization of the living organism. We have already mentioned that all organisms are of necessity organized. The natural organization of the living organism is necessary for the life of the organism. So, the apostolic organization of the Lord’s church is naturally necessary to its wellbeing as a living organism.
Biblically the Church is the “body” of Christ in the earth. Body growth is through the process of cell duplication and multiplication. By examining the genetics17 of that first Christian cell and observing how it reproduced itself we may reasonably ascertain how the Lord’s body may continue to grow and remain healthy.
What does it mean to be Apostolic?
The Lord Jesus established His church with twelve apostles. Twelve is the biblical number of government.18 For the reason of government was the number of apostles established at twelve. This fact did not escape the Jewish rulers who saw Jesus as a revolutionary who had come to establish a new Judaism. They just did not understand that His was not an earthly, but a heavenly, kingdom.19
Moreover, Jesus had said that the twelve apostles would sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel;20 which was Jesus’ way of saying that the twelve apostles would replace the twelve tribes as being the building blocks of the new messianic kingdom. That this number was to be maintained in the kingdom is illustrated by the election of Matthias21 as the replacement of Judas Iscariot. Though it was important that the original apostles’ number be kept at twelve (it was even prophesied by the Psalmist22) for the birthing of the Church and the establishing of the twelve thrones in Heaven, it was not a number that was maintained upon the earth after the twelve passed into eternity. This is illustrated by the fact that when James, the son of Zebedee and the brother of John, was killed23 there was not an election held to replace him. (There are several things intimated by the above statements, but the glaring fact is: Those who have gone on to be with the Lord remain active participants in the Kingdom of God: the twelve apostles now sit on twelve thrones, the old prophets are employed to bring revelation,24 and the communion of the living and passed saints are testified to in Scripture.25)
For the church to be apostolic does not mean that the church must maintain twelve apostles in office on the earth. We have seen in the above paragraph that that number is maintained in the heavenilies. There, the original twelve apostles, indeed, do remain as the functional foundation of the Lord’s church. However, being apostolic means "of the apostles” and includes at least two things: 1. Be in apostolic succession in ordination of the ministry (holy orders26), and 2. being faithful to the example and teachings of the apostles.27 This genome is inherited by each succeeding generation of the Lord’s church.28 For the purposes of this paper I will only review the apostolic-ness of holy orders.
First, then, we look to the apostolic-ness of holy orders. Holy orders is a term indicating the authoritative ordaining of New Testament ministers. When we move beyond the original twelve apostles (which are enthroned in the heavenlies on twelve thrones ruling and judging) the New Testament Scripture introduces us to five classes of ministers.29 They are the apostles (not to be confused with the original twelve), the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers. Further, the New Testament introduces us to two types of church officers: the bishops (also called elder [presbyter], or pastor) and the deacons. The New testament shows different levels of bishops; such as the relationship between James, Paul, Titus, and the local bishops of Crete30—we will look to this association a little later. (The qualifications for both the bishops and deacons are found in one chapter of the Bible - 1 Timothy chapter 3.31) The bishop is always a pastor and teacher,32 but may function also in the ministry of apostle, or prophet, and on occasion as an evangelist; the deacon may function in the ministry of a teacher and/or evangelist (as did Stephen33 and Philip34). The question should be asked and answered: How are these New Testament ministries and offices made?
35. De 39:9 “And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him:”
36. 1 Tim 4:14.” Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.”
37. 2 Tim 1:6 “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.”
38. Acts 6:6 “Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.”
39. Ac 6:2,4 “Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. ... 4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
40. Ac 6:1-3 “And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.”
41. Ac 10:35 “...It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
42. Jn 13:16 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.”
43. Ac 3:6 “Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
The Laying on of Hands
It is the way of God to consecrate ministers through the medium of laying on of hands of an authority figure or figures. Laying on of hands was used in the Old Testament period to confer blessings (Ge 48:13-20), to transfer guilt from sinner to sacrifice (Le 1:4) and to commission a person for a new responsibility (Nu 27:23). In the New Testament period, laying on of hands was observed in healing (Acts 28:8; Mk 1:41), blessings (Mk 10:16), ordaining or commissioning (Acts 6:6; 13:3; 1 Tim 5:22) and imparting of spiritual gifts (Acts 8:17; 19:6; 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6). In the Old Testament the priesthood was consecrated by Moses through the anointing with oil and the laying on of hands. The Bible states clearly that Joshua was full of wisdom “because Moses had laid his hands on him.”
The laying on of hands was the reason Joshua was full of wisdom. The wisdom of Moses passed onto Joshua through the laying on of Moses’ hands. This is also seen in the New Testament by the laying of Paul’s hands on the head of Timothy. Paul tells Timothy to stir up the gift that was in him through the word of prophecy and the laying on the hands of the presbytery, but especially through Paul’s hands.
When the deacons were set apart from the congregation for their ministry it was done through the laying on of the apostles’ hands. These seven men were appointed to responsibilities turned over to them by the twelve apostles. The Greek word used to describe their responsibility (“serve,” v2) is the verb from which the noun “deacon” comes. Later, one reads of deacons in Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8-13. The Greek noun for “deacon” can also be translated as “minister” or “servant.” The men appointed on this occasion were simply called “the seven” (Acts 21:8), just as the apostles were called “the twelve.” Each group had its specific duty to the body: i.e. “the twelve” were to minister in the word and prayer, and “the seven” were to care for the physical needs of the Church. Here is evidenced of the natural organization of the living organism called The Body of Christ.
The laying on of hands speaks of an association between the one who lays hands on and the one who is the recipient of the imposition of hands. The association is that of giver and receiver, the sender and the sent, and always demonstrates the structure of the order, i.e. rank. The giver of the gift or blessing, or appointment (ordination), is in a higher position of blessing then is the receiver of the gift, blessing, or appointment (ordination); the sender is greater then the sent. Thus, a rank is established in the ministry through the ordination process by the laying on of hands.
The ministry of “laying on of hands” is the ministry of giving. One can only give what one has. Before Peter and John healed the lamb man at the gate Beautiful, Peter said to him “...such as I have give I thee...” The power to heal was resident in the apostles Peter and John, and available to be given by the laying on of hands. The wisdom passed to Joshua was resident in Moses first, or Moses could not have given it; one can give only what one has. The ministry gift in Timothy was first in Paul and the other bishops, before it was imparted to him through the laying on of their hands; one can only give what one has. This maxim “One can only give what one has” demonstrates that one cannot offer apostolic ordination unless one possesses apostolic ordination.
44. Jn 11:49-52 And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all,50 nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 Now this he did not say on his own authority;but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.
45. Ga 4:26 “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.”
46. Ac 9:6-17 ‘And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. ...10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, ... 15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:...17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
47. Ac 10:1-6 “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. 3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. 4And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: 6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.”
48. Jn 20:23 “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”
49. Jn 6:11-13 “ And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.
50. 2 Cor 5:20 “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.”
Apostolic-ness of the Ordination
Perhaps the reader will forgive me a personal reference. I was ordained at the age eighteen into a fellowship calling itself “The Tennessee Apostolic Fellowship.” This was a group of fine brothers and I was honored to be part of them, and to this day I hold each one in fond memory, but this fellowship did not offer papers. So, a year later I was preaching revivals throughout the northern states and was courted by the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI). The pastors of this group had employed me as an evangelist throughout the state of Illinois. Desiring papers, for several reasons, I submitted to a second ordination by the UPCI; I was nineteen years of age at the time. The bylaws of the UPCI stated that one must be twenty-one years of age to be ordained, but because I was already ordained by a respected independent Pentecostal group, I was received into the UPCI at that level. To my knowledge I was the youngest ordained minister in the UPCI at that time – or maybe ever. My point to this is: Two separate groups of godly men had laid their hands on me to commission me to preach the gospel; but was it apostolic? Did they possess apostolic holy orders? “One can only give what one has.” In my late twenties I became alarmed by reading books, biographies and autobiographies, on early 20th-century Pentecostal leaders and learned how groups of ministers would ordain, and even baptize one another - with no interest in, or concern for, apostolic succession for either. I know of no other way to say this, but to say: I became acutely concerned of where we had come from — just as much as to where we were going. This led me on a lifelong search for the unbroken line of apostolic succession for a truly apostolic ministry. I had read, in those books of 20th century Pentecostalism, that when missionaries reached Lake Van, in Turkey, in the early 1900’s they found Christians who baptized in Jesus name and believed in the oneness of God who had always been there. So, I looked to the eastern orthodox churches to find my brothers. To my joy I was led by the Holy Spirit to the Ancient Orthodox Church of the East where I was introduced to the Western Rite of the Antioch Orthodox Apostolic Succession with bishops who embraced both Modalism and Jesus name water baptism. No less that four of this bishops laid hands on me and consecrated me into the holy line of apostolic succession. Here, I have a platform of apostolic ministry from which I may preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and call my brethren into true apostolic continuity.
Knowing, as I do, the objection of some that the line of bishops going back to Peter, Paul and James is tainted with those bishops that did not, in one way or another, hold the teaching of the apostles absolutely, I would, then, make the following observation from holy Scripture. The anointing to perform ones apostolic duties resides in the office — not the person. No man is perfect, but some have flaws that are more apparent that others. So, does an apparent flaw, touching ones doctrine or character of holiness (pride, jealousy, spiteful, uncharitable, argumentative, etc., all sins for sure), disqualify one from administrating the sacraments of the Church? First, it is not the holiness of the minister that makes the consecration holy. He is but an imperfect vessel, that, in that moment, is made acceptable in the eyes of the Beloved, just as we all are. (Who of us do not, if not verbally, at least in our minds, at the Lord’s table say: “Lord I am unworthy, but say the word and I will be healed?”) Second, let us remember that, though the person may be imperfect, the office is holy, and that which comes from the office shares in that holiness. I would share, as an example, the Old Testament office of High Priest. The High Priest at the time of Christ’s crucifixion was Caiaphas, a co-conspirator in Jesus’ murder. However, he prophesied a true prophecy under the influence of the Holy Spirit; not because he was a holy, or even a godly, man; but, solely because “he was high priest that year.”44 So, it is the holiness of the office of the Bishop/Pastor/Elder that is important, not the perfectness of a man’s doctrine or character.
The power of the Holy Spirit and all of its graces (gifts) were deposited into the Church on the Day of Pentecost AD 30. All blessings, gifting, and ministries flow as a natural genome from that original cell of the body of Christ. It is a mistake to think that God works in the earth independent of His church. The Church is His “body” carrying out His will throughout the earth. Whoever said, “He who has not the church for his mother, has not God for his Father,”45 was correct. It is noteworthy that Saul of Tarsus (the Jew) was sent to Ananias,46 and Cornelius (the Roman) was sent to Peter:47 in both cases, salvation was administered at the hands of the Church. Jesus had told the disciples that they would have the authority to remit sin.48 The miracle of the loaves and fish,49 and the taking up of twelve baskets full, presaged the apostolic ministry administering the provisions of Jesus of Nazareth to the world—on His behalf.50
51. Saul/Paul, Although it has been popularly assumed that his name was changed when he converted from Judaism to Christianity, which happened during his encounter with Christ on the Road to Demascus ,(Acts 19:1-19) that is not the case. His Jewish name was "Saul" Šāʼûl ; "asked for, prayed for, borrowed"), perhaps after the biblical King Saul, a fellow Benjamite and the first king of Israel. The testimony of the book of Acts is that he inherited Roman citizenship from his father. As a Roman citizen he also bore the Latin name of "Paul"—in biblical Greek: Παῦλος (Paulos), and in Latin: Paulus. (Acts 16:37; 22:25-38) It was quite usual for the Jews of that time to have two names, one Hebrew, the other Latin or Greek.
In the book of Acts, when he had the vision that led to his conversion on the Road to Damascus, Jesus called him "Saul, Saul", in the Hebrew tongue, Aramaic. Later, in a vision to Ananias of Damascus, "the Lord" referred to him as "Saul, of Tarsus". When Ananias came to restore his sight, he called him "Brother Saul".
In Acts 13:9, Saul is called Paul for the first time on the island of Cyprus—much later than the time of his conversion. The author (Luke) indicates the names were interchangeable: "...Saul, who also is called Paul...". He thereafter refers to him as Paul, apparently Paul's preference since he is called Paul in all other Bible books where he is mentioned, including those he authored. Adopting his Roman name was typical of Paul's missionary style. His method was to put people at their ease and to approach them with his message in a language and style to which they could relate.
52. Ac 7:58 “And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.”
53. Ac 22:20 “ And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.”
54. Ac 9:1-2 NASB “Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, 2 and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”
55. Ga 1:17-18 “Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.”
Robertson on v17: ... Into Arabia (ei Arabian). This visit to Arabia has to come between the two visits to Damascus which are not distinguished in Acts 9:22. In verse 23 Luke does speak of "considerable days" and so we must place the visit to Arabia between verses Galatians 1:22-23.
Robertson on v18: Then after three years (epeita meta tria eth). A round number to cover the period from his departure from Jerusalem for Damascus to his return to Jerusalem. This stay in Damascus was an important episode in Paul's theological readjustment to his new experience. To visit Cephas (istorhsai Khpan). First aorist infinitive of istorew, old verb (from istwr, one who knows by inquiry), to gain knowledge by visiting. Only here in N.T. ...
56. Ga 4:25 “ For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.”
57. Ga 1:18 “Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.”
58. Ga 1:18-19 “...I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. 19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.”
59. Ac 9:30 “...they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.”
60. Ac 11:25-26 “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
61. Ga 4:4 “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,”
62. Ga 4:6 “ And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”
63. Ac 17:14-15 “ And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. 15 And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.”
64. Ac12:11 “And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.”
65. Ac 11:22 “Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.”
66. Ac 9:30 “Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.”
67. Ac 7:12 “ But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.”
68. Lk 20:10-11 “ And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty. 11 And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty.”
69. Lk 1:53 “He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.”
70. Ac 23:16 “And when Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.”
71. Ro 16:7 “Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. ... v11 “Salute Herodion my kinsman. ... v21 “Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.”
72. Ac 11:22 “Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.”
73. Ac 11:25-26 “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. ...”
74. Ac 13:2-3 “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”
75. Later accounts expand on the brief Biblical mention of his visit to Antioch. The Liber Pontificalis (9th century) mentions Peter as having served as bishop of Antioch for seven years and having potentially left his family in the Greek city before his journey to Rome.Claims of direct blood lineage from Simon Peter among the old population of Antioch existed in the 1st century and continue to exist today, notably by certain Semaan families of modern-day Syria and Lebanon. Historians have furnished other evidence of Peter's sojourn in Antioch. (This is provided in Downey, A History of Antioch, pp. 583–586. This evidence is accepted by M. Lapidge, among others, see Bischoff and Lapidge, Biblical Commentaries from the Canterbury School (Cambridge, 1994) p. 16. Lastly, see Finegan, The Archaeology of the New Testament, pp. 63–71.) Subsequent tradition held that Peter had been the first Patriarch of Antioch.
76. Ac 16:4 “And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.”
77. Lk 2:1 “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.”
Apostolic Succession of Paul the Apostle
There are some who will point to the apostle Paul to dispute my previous statement concerning God not working independent from His church; because, he was called and commissioned by God on the road to Damascus—some say, without going through the Church’ (holy orders) process. So, lets look at the ministry of Paul for a moment. First, his Hebrew name was Saul and his Roman name was Paul.51 He was from the city of Tarsus, a city of Asia Minor, modern day Turkey. He is introduced to the New Testament at the stoning of the deacon Stephen. He was the one who held the cloths of the ones doing the stoning.52 This indicates that he was overseeing the execution.53
We, next see him on his way to Damascus to persecute the “Way”54 who where in that place. Here God interrupts his journey and he becomes converted. After his encounter with Ananias, and receiving Christian baptism and the imposition of hands to receive healing for his sight and the infilling of the Holy Spirit, Saul then retreats to the Arabian desert for two to three years,55 to learn from God the Scriptures. (Many have asked where in the Arabian desert did Saul go, for that period of time. We do not really know. But, if I would be allowed an educated guess I would say Mount Sinai. I would guess this for a number of reasons, not the lest of which would be: Saul considered himself a Jew of the Jews, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; Sinai was were it began for national Israel, it would only be natural at this point in Saul’s life—when he is in crises—to begin again at the beginning place. One would not think of Mount Sinai being in Arabia, but, Paul did [Ga 4:2556].) Upon leaving the desert he attempts to begin his ministry in Damascus, but is unsuccessful and would have been killed in that place if the brethren had not helped him escape through a window in the wall of that city. He then goes straight to Jerusalem and the apostles (this is three years after his conversion57). There, he spends fifteen days with Peter and James.58 Then he is “sent ... forth”59 by the brethren to Tarsus where he ministered until brought to Antioch by Barnabas.60
Here we come to the crux of the matter concerning Saul of Tarsus’ consecration as an apostle and a minister of the Gospel. When the Bible states that the brethren “sent” Saul to Tarsus, there is a very unique Greek work used. The word is “exapostello.” Exapostello is unique in the New Testament, in that it is particular to Paul’s ministry. It is only used by Paul and his companion Luke. There are 15 different Greek words translated “sent” in the New testament, of their 15 choices Paul and Luke chose “exapostello” because of its ability to convey the thought of “sent forth” - not “sent away.” Here are the particulars of the word “exapostello” and why it is used by Luke in Ac 9:10 for the “sending” of Saul to Tarsus:
1. Strong’s #G1821 is a compound word, from “ex” St’s #1537 and “apostello” St’s #G649;
- “Ex” St’s 1537 means: “a primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence motion or action proceeds;”
- “Apostello” St’s #G649 means: “set apart, i.e. (by implication) to send out (properly on a mission, ...”
- “Apostello” is the verb for which the noun is “apostolos” (Strong’s #G652: “from G649 [apostello]; a delegate specifically an ambassador of the Gospel; offically a commissioner of Christ [“apostle”] (with miraculous powers):—apostle, messanger, he that is sent.”
- “Exapostello” is used 12 times in scripture (which itself is significant to the discerning heart and mind) and by no other writers but Paul and Luke. Each time it is used it means: one who is “sent out” or “sent forth” and proceeds from a source whose actions and supply derive from the source.
- Exapostello is used by Paul for the Son being sent from the Father (Ga 4:461); for God sending forth the Spirit of the Son (Ga 4:662); of Luke for the brethren of Berea sending Paul forth from their city with their own delegation accompanying him (Ac 17;14-1563); for the Lord sending His angel to rescue Peter from prison (Ac 12:1164); for the church at Jerusalem sending forth Barnabas with the authority to go as far as Antioch (Ac 11:2265); for the Jerusalem church sending forth Saul to preach in Tarsus, Cilicia and Syria (Ac 9:3066); for the sons of Jacob being sent to Egypt on the mission for their father (Ac 7:1267); for the unjust husbandmen who sent the servant of the landowner away empty (Lk 20:10-1168); for Yahweh sending the rich away empty (Lk 1:5369). This exhaust the use of “exapostello” in the New Testament.
Throughout their writings Paul and his companion, Luke, use 11 of the 15 Greek words available to them for “sent.” But these two New Testament writers reserve “exapostello” for the idea of “sent forth from an origin on a mission.” That they, alone, of all the New Testament writers, would uses this word is clear indication that Paul understood the sending from Jerusalem to Tarsus as his commission into the ministry. This should be clear to us when we understand “apostello” is the verb of the noun “apostolos (apostle);” and that the prefix “ex” supplies the added meaning of “sent out from.” Thus, Saul was send out from the Jerusalem church to Tarsus. The brethren commissioned and sent him to that place, as their apostle to Tarsus and regions roundabout.
Therefore, Tarsus was his commission from Peter and James. This would have only been fitting. He who had terrorized the Church would be sent, by the Apostles of Jerusalem, back to his home to begin his work as an apostle among his own. This may have been Peter and James’ idea of restitution. It, most likely, was at this time that he became the instrument of gathering into the fold of Christ those "kinsmen," that "sister," and perhaps her "son," of whom mention is made in Ac 23:16;70 Ro 16:7,11,21.71 It is noted that, though called by God to preach unto the Gentiles, Saul was unsuccessful until he submitted to the jurisdiction of Jerusalem and was “sent ... forth” by them.
During the five years that Saul ministered in Tarsus and the regions roundabout (Cilicia, and Syria), there was a move of God taking place in Antioch of Syria through the preaching of some men from Cyprus and Cyrene. Here, again, the central authority of Jerusalem is declared in that though the revival in Antioch was the result of Christians who had arrived from Jerusalem via Cyprus and Cyrene, when the church at Jerusalem heard that Antioch had received the word of God, they did not rely on the preachers from Cyprus and Cyrene to establish the church there but sent Barnabas for that job, and to shepherd the flock. Thus, the first pastor of Antioch was appointed from Jerusalem. Notice, also, that Barnabas was give authority to go only as far a Antioch, but not beyond.72 Moreover, it was Barnabas (who himself was an apostle - not one of the twelve) who, at this time, went to Tarsus and fetched Saul to Antioch, where, for an entire year they met with the believers and taught great numbers.73 When the Holy Spirit called Paul and Barnabas to the first missionary trip the Lord spoke through the Church and it was the Church that “sent.”79
So, in considering the ministry of Saul/Paul it must be acknowledge that though called by God to his ministry, the authority to carry out the calling of God centered in the established Church at Jerusalem. (Even his water and Spirit baptism was at the hands of an agent of the Church.) It was Peter, the first of the twelve, and James, the bishop of the Jerusalem congregation, along with “brethren” that “sent” (exapostello) Paul to minister in Cilicia and Syria. It was Barnabas, Jerusalem’s apostle to Antioch, who brought Saul to Antioch to teach the church for a whole year. Then it was the church of Antioch that laid hands on Barnabas and Saul to “send” them into the missions field. At some point Peter assumes the bishopic or Antioch - perhaps it was at this time.75 The truth is, Saul/Paul did nothing apart from the blessings of the Apostles and the Jerusalem church. Paul recognized and honored the Bishop of Jerusalem and carried his letter of instruction to all the churches he had established. This letter came to be called the “Apostolic Degree.” It was stated by the Apostles and Elders in the Council: "the Holy Spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you, except these necessary things, to abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication. If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper." (Acts 15:27-28).
(Scriptural uniformity can easily be seen in the “apostolic” general assembly at Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15). In fact, this general assembly "delivered decrees" that were binding on all the individual churches that were part of the one visible church which adhered to apostolic doctrine. The Greek word used in Acts 16:476 for “decrees” is “dogmata.” Compare this with the word "decree" used in Luke 2:1. This same word as used in Luke 2:177 is referring to the decree of Caesar Augustus, regarding his call for an empire-wide census. This was not a suggestion given by Caesar, nor was it just advice that could be ignored without penalty—it was law! In the same way the decree enjoined by the general assembly that took place in Acts 15 was to be received as law for the Church. Furthermore, these pronouncements (because in keeping with the mind of the Spirit) held sway over all the churches. These decrees were carried out from Jerusalem to the churches in the cities of Asia Minor, as well as Antioch, indicating that the scope of the synod's authority extended not only over the church at Antioch which made the initial request, but over ALL THE CHURCHES!)
Paul was an apostle in the true sense of the word. He was not self-appointed. The term “apostolos” (Strong’s #G652) means: a delegate; specifically an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a Commissioner of Christ, ... he that is sent. Paul was “sent” (“exapostello” verb form of “apostolos”) by Peter, James, and the brethren of Jerusalem (Acts 9:27-30 cf Ga 1:18-21) to minister throughout Cilicia and Syria, with Tarsus (his home town) being his headquarters. Then, after six more years of teaching and preaching he was, again, formally consecrated and sent as an apostle to the Gentiles at large, by the Apostolic church at Antioch; where Peter was most likely the bishop by this time.
Apostolic Holy Orders
Further organization of the holy organism, that is the Church, is seen in the Apostle Paul’s administration of holy orders (holy orders is the making of other ministries). We have already mentioned his spiritual son, Timothy. The ministering gift was “placed” into Timothy through two mediums: prophecy and the laying on of hands. Paul tells Timothy in his first letter to that young presbyter, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” (1 Tim 4:14); and then again in his second letter, “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.” (2 Tim 1:6). The “presbytery” of 1 Tim 4:14 is the council of bishops, in that episkopos (Strong’s #G1985, bishop), and presbyteros (Strong’s #G4245, elder), are synonymous terms in the new Testament Greek. So Timothy was made a minister of the Gospel through prophecy and the imposition of the hands of the bishops, of which Paul was one.
We can follow Paul further into the apostolic sacrament of holy orders in his letter to Titus. Here we read Paul’s instructions as to how the apostolic ministry on the island of Crete was to be established. To his son Titus, the Apostle Paul writes:
“To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. 5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:” (Titus 1:4-5).
Notice, that Paul, who was consecrated an apostle by Peter, James. and the brethren of Jerusalem, and the church of Antioch, has here appointed (ordained) Titus to be the overseer (bishiop) of Crete, who is instructed to ordain elders (bishops) in each city on the island. There can be no clearer example of ecclesiastical order in the New Testament —and it is episcopal. Before us is the cell structure of the apostolic ministry: the original apostle > the consecrated apostle > the district bishop > the local elder. We may best understand if we start at the local level and work our way up, using Crete as our example: first, on the local level there are the pastors (also biblically called bishops, or elders; there are more than one per assembly); then at a higher level is the bishop-overseer who serves as a superintendent over an area (such as Titus in our example); third, at yet a higher level, is the apostle bishop who oversees more than one district (such as Paul in our example); then, lastly is the chief of all the bishops (such as James in our example). One must not get hung up on titles. But, it is important to acknowledge the several levels of authority, and that the Church adopted certain titles for them is only a matter of utility.
So, here is what we have at this point in apostolic organization:
- Christ choses twelve apostles, whose number remain constant in the heavenlies and who are referred to simply as “the twelve;”
- These twelve ordained and commission other apostles;
- The apostles who have been commissioned by the twelve further commission bishops over districts;
- The bishops over districts are appointed to ordain other bishops in the local assemblies.
- The bishops of local assemblies ordain deacons (who have been elected by the local congregation) to oversee temporal matters of the church.
(The term “bishop” is an appropriate biblical designation for any person in any overseeing role in the Church, from the lowest pastor to the highest prelate. However, as the Lord’s church grew the mother church of a city sent out daughter works under the leadership of elders; the pastor of the mother church retained the title “bishop” while the leaders of the daughter churches were called pastors, presbyters, or priests.)
We know from Titus 1:5 and Philippians 1:1 that the apostolic custom is to have more that one pastor (then called bishop) to an assemble. Notice that Paul instructs Titus to, “...ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:”(Titus 1:5) g.e. the number of elders (presbyters) in each city was to be plural. Then, when Paul greets the church in Philippi, he writes, “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:” (Philippians 1:1); ergo, the bishops in Philippi are plural in number just as the deacons. Also to be acknowledged, from Philippians 1:1, is the distinction made between the saints and the bishops and deacons. Paul makes it a point to address them differently. The saints are “with” the bishops and deacons. Oh, that God’s people would stay “with” their bishops and deacons!
We should give earnest heed to the words of Bishop Igantius, “Let that Eucharist be held valid which is offered by the bishop or by the one to whom the bishop has committed this charge. Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be.”
78. Ac 4:36 “And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,”
79. Ac 4:37 “Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.”
80. Ac 9:26-27 “ And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.”
81. A testimony of the struggle the Jewish Christians had in breaking with the Law of Moses. It was this friction that lead to the Jerusalem council where the issue was settled.
82. Ac 13:13 “ Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.”
83. Later Paul and Mark were reconciled for Paul writes: “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministering” (2 Tim 4:11). And in Colossians 4:10 it is seen that the once rejected worker is now commended to the saints of Colosse.
84. Ac 16:4 “And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.”
85. Ac 15:36-38 “And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. 37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. 38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.”
86. Ac 15:40 “And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.”
87. Ac 15:39 “And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;”
Sent by the Church
We have viewed great heroes of the Old and New Testaments in this short space, and have seen how they are tied to one another and how that no man or ministry is an island. No one can, must not, go it alone. All are part of a greater whole and must function in harmony within the body where Christ is the head. Perhaps, the greatest surprise came to our readers when it was demonstrated that the great Apostle Paul was, himself, subject to the twelve, and James the bishop of Jerusalem. And how his ministry did not prosper until it was brought into submission to the mother church. As eye opening as that was, I have left an important observation for the last point.
Through the book of Acts we come to love Barnabas. His pre-consecration name was Joses,78 but he was called Barnabas by the apostles. He is seen as one who loves the Church. He sales property and gives the proceeds to the twelve for the ministry.79 He is truly, the Son of Consolation. When Saul first came to Jerusalem, the twelve would have nothing to do with him, but Barnabas took the outcast to himself and introduced him to Peter.80 One could never comprehend the courage it took on Barnabas’ part to do such a thing for the murderer of Christians. Who knew but that Saul’s reported conversion was not just a master plan of the temple - to get to the twelve? While the twelve shut Saul out, the Son of Consolation sought him out. Five years later, after Barnabas is appointed the first apostolic pastor of Antioch, he once again seeks Saul out by going to Tarsus and bringing him to Antioch as a teacher. Much later, although Paul disagrees (when Peter withdraws himself from the Gentile Christians at meal time, because of those who came from James), Barnabas, thinking he is right in not offending the Christians at Jerusalem, follows his bishop (Peter) in standing apart from the Gentile Christians in their common meal.81 It was his nature. Barnabas was a compromiser in matters of conflict. If he were not, he would have never interceded for Saul of Tarsus, the Christian killer, to the apostles; and no doubt he would have never sided with Peter in this dispute with Paul concerning the Judaizers. Then there is the matter of John Mark. Mark had begun the first missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas, but had left them in the lurch.82 Paul, unlike Barnabas, was not to forget, nor forgive very quickly.83
It has now come time for a second missions trip to take the Apostolic Decree to all the established churches,84 and Barnabas wants to take John Mark; Paul says no.85 What is Barnabas to do? He is the Son of Consolation; isn’t he. “Is that not what the twelve called me?” he must be thinking to himself. What is such an one to do? True to himself, he refused to leave John Mark behind. Paul, true to himself, refused to take him. Paul forgot - or did not care to remember - that when no one wanted him, who it was that brought him in out of the cold. This created a separation between Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas took John Mark and went his way; Paul took Silas for his preaching companion. We could debate who was in the right and who was in the wrong. Those of us who are forgiving would say that the Son of Consolation was right to give Mark a second change; for after all, Who does not need a second change? And here is where it gets dicy: From this point Barnabas drops off the pages of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. And Paul? Well, he goes from glory to glory. One might say, That is not fare. Barnabas did nothing wrong. It may be for what he did not do right, that we never hear from him again. If we looked for the one difference between the ministry of Paul and the ministry of Barnabas, at this point, it would be this: Paul and Silas were commissioned and sent forth from the church at Antioch,86 while the Bible states that Barnabas and John Mark just went. They just sailed away.87 Here, is demonstrated the importance of the Church sending the ministry, and not people just going. I am reminded of the saying; Some are called, some are sent, some just picked up their Bibles and went. Those who just pick up their Bibles and go are not apostolic. They minister without apostolic authority.
In the beginning of this paper we considered the Parable of the Tree. In the meadow it grew and went through all the stages of life, empowered by its own unique organic organization. Then man cut the tree from its life giving roots and interrupted its organic organization. The man gave the tree his own idea of organization. And it was beautiful and served good purposes, but it was dead. Because the tree was dead. it could never be any more that what the man had organized it to be. Such is the case with the churches that men have made. There is a natural organic organization in God’s apostolic church—His body. Men, for over two millennia, have fashioned churches after their own ideas of what the church should be. They have cut the Church from its apostolic roots and interrupted its natural organic organization. What they have made has beauty and utility—but it does not live.
In this paper we have viewed the organic organization of the holy orders of the apostolic church. What we have discovered may have surprised some of the readers. Others may be feeling disappointed because I have not developed this topic further. However, it must suffice the reader for now that this is as far as the Holy Spirit will permit me, presently, to go.
☩ Jerry Hayes