Good to be home. #teambc #familyfirst #thecutest #rich (at Highland Square, Akron)
Great time this weekend in #Germany. It’s been an amazing end to the past 14 days in #europe – I love seeing #heartswake around the world. God is up to something wonderful, underground, majestic, and glorious. Grateful to bear witness to it.
Thanks to all of you who support us in seeing #liveschanged through this ministry. We’ve got some amazing stuff coming for 2017 – a new album, a community assembled, and a #newseason . For now, I’m just #grateful for all that God has done in 2016. #bornagainstory #thechurchcollective #bettertogether2016 #slovakia #perfectlovecastsoutfear (at Charlotte Douglas International Airport)
Site-seeing around Siegen, Germany was everything I hoped it would be :) Great your everybody. Thanks! #germany #altstadt #bornagainstory #touring #heartswake
Hey, look at that guy :) cc-Siegen did a great job on promoting this weekend. Lots of kingdom impact as a result. Thanks! #heartswake #bornagainstory #thechurchcollective
Great night with these cats after a great #tcconeday in #siegen . The #globalfamily just keeps getting better. #heartswake #bornagainstory #thechurchcollective
Team assembled. Good to be back in Germany with these friends from around the world. Looking forward to a great weekend with @calvarychapelsiegen . Olli, you’re the best of hosts! #newseason #heartswake #bornagainstory #germany #siegen #ccsiegen
Late nights and long hours. Worth it. Thankful for this week. Looking forward to meeting up with my team in Germany! #thechurchcollective #heartswake #bornagainstory #europewakes #germanybound (at Wien Hauptbahnhof)
Remind my heart when I first heard
The lover of my soul.
#speak #newmusic #heartswake #bornagainstory
The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of AD 381 confesses that “we believe … In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” The last of these four “marks of the church” describes apostolicity, namely, that the church is apostolic. Since the Creed is recited regularly in churches around the world, it seems natural to ask, what do we mean by ‘apostolic church’ (ἀποστολικὴν ἐκκλησίαν)?
The question is raised in part because of the emphasis today on the church as missional. Moreover, in contemporary discussions the church is described as apostolic. Both words are used popularly to describe the church as “sent” and “on mission.” So, is it possible that the mark ‘apostolic church’ describes the church as sent and on mission? In other words, is the ‘apostolic church’ missional? On the other hand, we may wish to ask, is the ‘missional church’ apostolic?
Or does it refer simply to the origin and beliefs of the church as rooted in the teachings of the apostles of Jesus? Or does it, as some claim, refer to the institution of the church as built upon Jesus and the apostles, with authority conferred successively to bishops through the laying on of hands? Although the Nicene Creed was written as a statement of orthodox faith in response to heresies, it nevertheless affirms the church as apostolic. So, how should Christians understand ‘apostolic church’? Is the apostolic nature of the church missional as well as doctrinal? It is characterized by orthopraxy as well as orthodoxy?
Originally, the Greek verb apostellō (ἀποστέλλω) from which the adjective ‘apostolic’ came meant to send forth a messenger, agent, message, or command. The one sent (apostlos) was the personal representative of the one sending him. A close connection existed between the sender and the recipient.1 The noun apostolos (ἀποστόλος), derived from the verb apostellō, was used first “in maritime language where it referred to a cargo ship, or the fleet sent, and latter denoted a commander of a naval expedition, or a band of colonists sent overseas.2 The Jewish historian Josephus used a form of the word for a “group sent on a mission,” specifically Jews sent to Rome.3 In the Septuagint, the
1 Colin Brown, ed., New Testament Theology Vol. 1, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986): 126-127.
3 Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews. 17, 11, 1. “So when Varus had settled these affairs, and had placed the former legion at Jerusalem, he returned back to Antioch; but as for Archelaus, he had new sources of trouble come upon him at Rome, on the occasions following: for an embassage of the Jews was come to Rome, Varus having permitted the nation to send it, that they might petition for the liberty of living by their own laws. Now the
Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, the verb apostellō was not used to denote an institutional appointment of someone to an office but authorization of a person to fulfill a particular function or clearly defined task.4 Interestingly, the stress fell on the one who gave authority to the one who was sent.
In the New Testament, John uses the verb apostellō to stress that it is the Lord who sends. For instance, in John 17:18, Jesus prays: “As you [the Father] sent (aposteilas) me into the world, so I have sent (apesteila) them [disciples] into the world.”5 John also uses apostellō with another Greek verb pempō (πέμπω)—a virtual synonym of apostellō—to emphasize that it is the Lord who sends. In John 20:21, Jesus says to his disciples: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent (apestalkev) me, even so I am sending (pempo) you.”6 Clearly, John’s use of pempo along with apostellō stresses the function of the disciples as being sent, in contrast to any institutional concept of apostolos.
Needless to say, apostolos is also used in the New Testament of the fixed designation of a definite office, namely, that of the apostles (ἀπόστολοι) or apostolate, most often designating the Twelve. Mark’s Gospel records:
And he [Jesus] went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles [apostolous]) so that they might be with him and he might send (apostelle) them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. (Mark 3:13-14)
Jesus appointed these disciples as apostles and soon sent them out to participate in his mission.7 It is important to note that originally the apostolate was not an office but a commission.8 This commission was renewed by Jesus following his resurrection, and certainly, the Twelve were called to their authoritative position as witnesses of the resurrection with missionary responsibility (Matthew 28:19).
And where did the Twelve go? Based upon the history of expansion of the church, traditions record that Matthew went to Persia and Ethiopia. Peter went to Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Betania, and Italy. Andrew preached to the Scythians and Thracians. Thomas traveled east and preached to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and Margians, dying in India. Philip preached in Phrygia, and was crucified in Hierapolis. Thaddaeus preached in Edessa, Mesopotamia, and died at Berytus. Bartholomew preached in India with Thomas, went back to Armenia, and perhaps to Ethiopia and Southern Arabia. James, son of Alpheus, ministered in Syria. Simon the Zealot went to Persia. Matthias who replaced
number of the ambassadors that were sent by the authority of the nation were fifty, to which they joined above
eight thousand of the Jews that were at Rome already.”
5 John 17:18, καθὼς ἐμὲ ἀπέστειλας εἰς τὸν κόσμον, κἀγὼ ἀπέστειλα αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν κόσμον.
6 John 20:21, Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν, καθὼς ἀπέσταλκέν με ὁ πατήρ, κἀγὼ πέμπω ὑμᾶς.
7 Mark 6:7, “And he called the twelve and began to send them (αὐτοὺς ἀποστέλλειν) out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.”
8 Brown, New Testament Theology Vol. 1, 131.
Judas traveled to Syria with Andrew. John ministered in Asia Minor and was exiled on the island of Patmos.9
So, is it possible that ‘apostolic church’ describes the church as sent or on mission? Does “apostolic church” describe a mark of the church that is concerned as much with orthopraxy or orthodoxy? Is the apostolic church missional?
A discussion of the apostolic church as missional must not overlook the fact that Jesus Christ is called an apostle. The single verse in the New Testament where apostolos (ἀπόστολος) is used of him is Hebrews 3:1, which says: “consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession.”10 In this statement, the author of Hebrews ties apostolicity to the mission of the Triune God (missio Trinitatis). Jesus is the one whom the Father has sent, a theme repeated throughout the Gospel of John.11 In Hebrews 3:1, the basic idea of Jesus as “the apostle” regards mission. 12 He was sent by the Father with authority to accomplish a mission that was sacrificial in nature, as 1 John 4:10 states: “[God] loved us and sent (aposteilen) his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”13 Thus, the mission of the Triune God led to Jesus’ apostleship. Indeed, his apostleship is the basis of all apostleship. He is “the first apostle, the great apostle, and the source of all apostleship.” 14 His apostolicity is prior to and the ground of all other apostles.
After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the Eleven sensed the need to replace Judas, and so they sought someone who had been with Jesus and was an eyewitness of the risen Lord. The selection of this twelfth apostle was taken up in order to preserve the mission and authority entrusted to the Twelve. As such, they represented the church as the people of God on the pattern of the twelve tribes of Israel. Luke records in the Acts of the Apostles:
And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and
Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry (diakonias) and apostleship (apostolēs), from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:23-26)
With Matthias, the Twelve went on to fulfill their purpose as apostles of Jesus. Theirs was a unique and historic role in the establishment of the church—“the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,” (Gal. 2:19-20).
9 Cf. Alvin J. Schmidt, How Christianity Changed the World (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004): 19.
10 Hebrews 3:1, κατανοήσατε τὸν ἀπόστολον καὶ ἀρχιερέα τῆς ὁμολογίας ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦν,
11 John 3:17; 34, 5:36; 6:29, 57; 7:29; 8:42; 10:36; 11:42; 17:3, et. al.
12 Frank Gaebelein, ed., The Expositors Bible Commentary Vol. 12 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981): 31. 13 Cf. Mark 10:45.
14 Philip E. Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistles to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1977): 127.
Although the Twelve were a distinct group, the New Testament describes other apostles.15 Paul and James, the half-brother of Jesus, are two examples. Paul asks about himself: “Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord,” (1 Cor. 9:1-2). As for James, the half-brother of Jesus, Paul said: “But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother,” (Gal. 1:19). Clearly, as with Paul and, probably as with James, the apostolate referred to a group larger than the Twelve.
However, this idea of an apostolate larger than the Twelve has caused some to question the selection of Matthias, thinking that it was a mistake by the Eleven since Paul was clearly identified as an apostle who would have completed the Twelve. In my Formation Group with students at TEDS, I came across this view in J. I. Packer’s Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs that states:
Acts 1:15-26 shows us the church before Pentecost prayerfully asking Christ through the casting of a lot to choose a successor to Judas. Whether they were right to do this, and Paul was Christ’s thirteenth apostle, or whether Paul was Christ’s intended replacement for Judas and the choice of Matthias was a mistake, is not clear in Acts; Luke himself may not have known.”16
Of course, Packer does not mention James, the half-brother of Jesus, even though Paul wrote: “I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother.”17 Yet, Paul and James each rose to prominence in their respective spheres of leadership among the Twelve. Paul was named the “apostle to the Gentiles” and announced himself as an apostle in most of his epistles (Rom 1:1; 11:13). James, the brother of Jesus, became the leader of the church in Jerusalem and was a principal author of the apostolic decree of Acts 15. Moreover, both leaders are mentioned as eyewitnesses of the risen Lord:
[Jesus] appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five
hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen
asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.18 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me [Paul]. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (1 Cor. 15:7-9)
Let us also consider Barnabas. While Luke usually limits his use of apostolos to the Twelve, he does refer to “the apostles Barnabas and Paul” (Acts 14:14).19 Barnabas co-labored with Paul and was commissioned with him by the Holy Spirit to Seleucia and Cyprus (Acts 13:2-4). Like Paul, Barnabas worked to fulfill the apostolic ministries of proclaiming the gospel and planting churches.
15 For the Twelve, see: John 6:70 and Rev. 21:14. The New Testament describes other apostles—apostles of the churches as well. Paul states : “And as for our brothers, they are messengers (apostles, ἀπόστολοι) of the churches, the glory of Christ.” 2 Cor. 8:23 While some understand “apostles of the churches” as another category of apostles, it more like means messengers or envoys.
16 J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Carol Stream, Ill: Tyndale House, 1993): 197.
17 Some doubt whether James, the Lord’s brother, was an apostle, as the ei mē (except) of Gal. 1:19 is ambiguous.
Colin Brown, New Testament Theology Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publ., 1986): 130.
18 1 Cor. 15:7, ἔπειτα ὤφθη Ἰακώβῳ, εἶτα τοῖς ἀποστόλοις πᾶσιν.
19 See also Acts 13:50–14:4.
Let us further consider Apollos, Silas, and Timothy. Paul referred to himself and Apollos as apostles (2 Cor. 4:6-9), and to himself, Silas and Timothy as apostles (1 Thess. 1:1; 2:6).20 He even asked: “Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles (οἱ λοιποὶ ἀπόστολοι) and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?” (1 Cor. 9:5)
So what does it mean that Jesus is the source of all apostleship? It means that his apostleship as the “God-in-the flesh apostle” is prior to and the ground all apostleship.
The First Apostle
The Twelve Apostles of Jesus
Peter, James and John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas,
James of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon, Judas Iscariot, and later Matthias
Paul, James the brother of Jesus, Barnabas, Apollos, Titus, Timothy ↓
While the size of the apostolic circle cannot be determined exactly, the Twelve and all other apostles received their apostleship by virtue of their union with Jesus Christ, the first apostle. Indeed his apostleship is the basis of all apostleship, and his apostleship is the basis of the church apostolic.
What does it mean that the church is apostolic? It means that it is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” (Gal. 2:20). It means that the church is sent on mission to continue the missio Trinitatis, doing so through its witness to the gospel in word and deed. It means the church is entrusted to guard the deposit of faith, the apostles’ teaching recorded in the New Testament, in order to dispense it throughout the world.
If the church is not missional, can it be apostolic? (part 3)
When asking if the expression ‘apostolic church’ refers to the church’s missional nature, one
must understand it in its historical context. Clearly the use of ‘apostolic church’ (ἀποστολικὴν
ἐκκλησίαν) in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 referred to the church that continued from
Jesus and the Twelve to that day. In early Christianity, the Twelve were the first bearers of the message
and teachings of Jesus and they in turn sent other messengers with this message. The pattern is heard
in Paul’s statement to Timothy: “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ
Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also,” (2 Tim. 2:1-2).
The “one holy catholic and apostolic church” in the fourth century referred to the authentic and authoritative church that continued from Jesus and the apostles, and faithfully transmitted their
20 1 Thess. 2:6b δυναμενοι εν βαρει ειναι ως χριστου αποστολοι
teaching—the teaching of the apostles that was canonized in the NT writings. With the rise of Gnostic texts by the second century that claimed apostolic authorship, and by the fourth century as heretical doctrines of Arius were spreading, it became necessary to draw up lists of bishops that could be traced back to the Twelve.21 As J. N. D. Kelly says, when Christians inserted the title ‘apostolic church’ into the Nicene Creed, they wanted to affirm the historic and verifiable continuity of the faith of the church.22 The emphasis was on the teaching derived from the apostles and the inherent authority therein.
Although ‘apostolic’ did not refer at the time explicitly to missionality, it did so implicitly by the church’s connection to Jesus and the apostles. J. F. Torrance states:
The one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church is the Church continuously occupied with the interpretation, exposition and application of the Holy Scripture, for it is in that way that the Church opens its mind and life to the direction and correction of the Word of God. And that was precisely what the Church was doing, not least in the theologically turbulent years between the Nicene [AD 325] and the Constantinopolitan Councils [AD 381]. I refer to the constant exegetical activity undertaken by the Church fathers in their attempt to bring to consistent expression the internal connections of the Gospel and thus, not only to clarify and defend the apostolic and catholic faith in the face of heretical disruption, but to provide the Church with a structural framework within which its members could meditate upon the Holy Scriptures, worship the Holy Trinity, proclaim the Gospel of forgiveness, reconciliation and sanctification, and so fulfill its mission in obedience to the command of Christ.23
Certainly the authority of the apostolic church was derived from the teaching of the apostles. By the third century, Tertullian of Carthage linked “apostolic churches” to Jesus’ mission of sending the Eleven into the world (Matt. 28:18-20).24 Tertullian stated that Jesus commanded them to “go and teach all nations,” and so “did the apostles, whom this designation indicates as ‘the sent.’”25 Tertullian held that having “received the promised power of the Holy Spirit and after bearing witness to the faith in Jesus Christ throughout Judea and the surrounding churches,” the Twelve “next went out into the world and preached the same doctrine of the same faith to the nations.”26 In this manner, they “founded churches in every city, from which all the other churches, one after another, derived the tradition of the faith and the seeds of doctrine.” He then states:
Indeed, it is on this account only that they will be able to deem themselves apostolic, as being the offspring of apostolic churches. Every sort of thing must necessarily revert to its original classification.
21 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, trans. Sister Mary Frances McCarthy (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1987), in Stanley J. Grenz, Theology for the Community of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 468; Angelo Di Bernardino, Ancient Christian Doctrine 5: We Believe in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2010), 56. Francis A. Sullivan, From Apostles to Bishops: The Development of the Episcopacy in the Early Church”, 155.
22 J. N. D. Kelly, “Catholiqué et ‘Apostliqué aux premiers siècles,” Istine (1969): 33-45, in Bernardino, 56.
23 Thomas F. Torrance, Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Faith (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000), 288.
24 Prescriptions Against Heretics 20. (ANF 3:252) in Bernardino, 82.
Therefore the churches, although they are so many and so great, comprise but one primitive church, founded by the apostles, from which they all spring. In this way all are primitive, and all are apostolic while they are all proved to be one, in unbroken unity, by their peaceful communion, and title of brotherhood and bond of hospitality…27
From this statement, Tertullian goes on to qualify what constitutes apostolic churches. They are founded on the facts that Jesus Christ sent the apostles to preach and what they preached was the gospel. This gospel message was received by the apostolic churches from the preaching of apostles (vive voce, living voice) and subsequently by their epistles.28 Tertullian claimed:
If, then, these things are so, it is in the same degree made known that all doctrine agrees with the apostolic churches—those original formations and sources of the faith must be reckoned for truth, as undoubtedly containing that which the very churches received from the apostles, the apostles from Christ, Christ from God. Whereas all doctrine must be prejudged as false that tastes like anything contrary to the truth of the churches and apostles of Christ and God.29
With this foundation Tertullian and others were able to judge any teaching as orthodox or heretical by comparing it to the teaching of the apostles. If it was different—heterodox – then its author was “neither an apostle nor an apostolic man; because, as the apostles would never have taught things that were self-contradictory.”30
Interestingly, Tertullian went on to state: “…those churches who although they do not derive their founder from apostles or apostolic men as being of much later date, for they are in fact being founded daily, yet, since they agree in the same faith, they are considered no less apostolic because they are agreed in doctrine.”31 In other words, Tertullian affirmed that any church which arises without a direct tie to a bishop—something that happened regularly—was no less apostolic if it held to the same teaching as the apostolic churches. For Tertullian, apostolicity was orthodoxy. However, orthodoxy originated in Jesus who commissioned the apostles as “the sent” in order to “go and teach all nations.”
This raises questions about authority, orthodoxy, and missionality. As Tertullian claimed authority is derived from apostolic teaching.32 Thus, someone in a line of ordained bishops could be disqualified when deviating from apostolic teaching. Such heresy would cancel ecclesial authority among apostolic churches. This would apply equally to those who were missional.
A case in point is Ulfilas, the fourth century missionary who evangelized the Goths and translated the Bible into a Germanic language. Ulfilas was consecrated bishop of the Gothic Christians by Eusebius of Nicomedia, bishop of Constantinople, a follower of Arius who taught the heretical
29 Ibid., 83.
32 Hendrikus Berkof, Christian Faith, trans. Sierd Woudstra (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 409, in Grenz, 468- 470.
doctrine that Jesus the Son was neither equal with God the Father nor eternal. 33 Uflilas held to this Arian teach as well. Moreover, his missional activity led him, as some historians report, to aid 375 persecuted Christian Goths to cross the Danube into Roman territory. Although he labored to create the Gothic church among Visigoths and other Germanic peoples, because of his Arian heresy, he was not apostolic.
Thus, apostolicity requires not merely missionality but orthodoxy. And both are necessary. Missionality must be orthodox in its formulations and orthodoxy should lead to orthopraxy—going, loving one’s neighbor, and making disciples in the way of Jesus and the apostles. In the final analysis, apostolicity refers foremost to the church’s grounding in the Scriptures, especially in the teaching of the apostles, the NT, but nevertheless, as John G. Flett states: “… a community of the word is a community engaged in the movement that engaged the apostles.” 34 The church exists “by the ongoing work and word of the apostles.”35 For Christians, this means taking part in the movement that engaged Jesus and the apostles. In summary, J. F. Torrance states:
In its simplest sense the apostolicity of the Church refers back to the original foundation of the Church once for all laid by Christ upon the apostles, (Matt. 7:5; 1 Cor. 3:10ff; Eph. 2:20f; cf. Matt. 16:13-23; 1 Pet. 2:4-9) but it also refers to the interpretation of the existence and mission of the Church in its unswerving fidelity to that apostolic foundation. As the incarnate Son of the Father, Jesus regarded himself as having been anointed by the Spirit and clothed with his power for the fulfillment of his unique evangelical mission. (Luke 4:18f.). With its completion in the cross and resurrection, he commissioned his disciples as apostles to act in his name, thereby linking their subordinate mission with his own supreme mission: ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ At the same time he breathed his Spirit upon them, thereby constituting their sending by him as the empirical counterpart to the sending of the Holy Spirit by the Father in the name of the Son, which took place as Jesus had promised on the day of Pentecost (John 17:18; 20:21; cf. 14:25f; 16:12; Lk. 24:49; Acts 2:2-8). Jesus was the Apostle in the absolute sense. (Heb. 3:1). The apostles, however, were sent out by him as his chosen witnesses whose word he promised to empower as his own, and thus to unfold in them his own self-revelation. That was the peculiar function of the apostles, to be the link between Christ and the Church, the hinge on which the incarnational revelation objectively given in Christ was grounded and realized within the continuing membership of the Church. The apostolate was designed and formed by Christ to be the nucleus of the Church corporate with himself which his own self-witness was integrated with inspired witness to him and translated into the appropriate form ( i. e. the New Testament Scriptures) for its communication in history. As such the apostolate in its embodiment of the truth of the Gospel or the deposit of faith constituted the unrepeatable foundation on which the Church was built, and to which the Church was committed ever afterwards to refer as its authoritative norm for the understanding and interpretation of the Gospel. That was the apostolic Church which Christ sent out into the world with the command to teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and with the promise that he himself, to whom all power in heaven and earth have been given, would always be with it right to the end of time.36
33 Everett Ferguson, ed. Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, Vol. 1 (New York: Routledge Press, 1990), 1149.
34 John G. Flett, The Witness of God: The Trinity, Missio Dei, Karl Barth, and the Nature of Christian Community (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 263.
35 Ibid., 264.
36 Torrance, 285-286.
The message and mission of Jesus Christ is entrusted to his disciples who are called to be faithful witnesses, from original Twelve to those who will take their place in the mission of announcing the kingdom of God and preserving the faith once for all delivered to the saints.
In 1987 George G. Hunter III, Dean of the E. Stanley Jones School of Evangelism at Asbury Theological Seminary, introduced the theme of apostolic ministry for the post-Christendom context, and developed this theme in writings on the new apostolic age, advancing the apostolic movement, and the importance of evangelism in apostolic ministry. 37 He defined an apostolic church as a local body where leaders believe that they and the church are called and sent by God to reach an unchurched pre- Christian population. 38 By ‘new apostolic age’ Hunter meant there is renewed vision of apostolic ministry to unbelievers. This vision has everything to do with seeing the mission and mission field in the way that Jesus and the early apostles saw them. Hunter does not wish to confuse this meaning with “apostolic succession,” and states:
… those who believe in ‘apostolic succession’ are likely to interpret this as ordination to mere chaplaincy services and teaching orthodox beliefs to the faithful. Very few ordained clergy and other Christian leaders understand themselves, much less their congregations, as having inherited the work of the apostles [emphasis mine] to people who do not yet believe.39
For Hunter, apostolicity has as much to do with vision of ministry to and work among people who do not yet believe, as it does teaching right doctrine. His definition of apostolic is tied to ‘apostle’ as one sent by the Holy Spirit to a new region or community in order to proclaim the gospel. An “apostolic leader (or leadership group)” he says, “reaches a remote tribe or an urban vocational group or some other distinct population—begins communicating the gospel, raises up some converts, forms them into a congregation, equips the congregation for its mission, grounds the people in the beliefs, lifestyle, and vision that inform and energize the mission, and eventually some of its members become apostles to other populations.”40 For Hunter, ‘apostolic’ describes functions of the first apostles in their evangelistic and missional work of establishing churches or extending the church.
This use of ‘apostolic’ is not far from that of “lay apostolate” in Lumen Gentium of the Second Vatican Council of 1964.41 The “lay apostolate” (which in some circles is oxymoronic) exists along with the “apostolate of the Hierarchy” in the Roman Catholic Church.42 Lumen Gentium affirms:
The lay apostolate … is a participation in the salvific mission of the Church itself. Through their baptism and confirmation all are commissioned to that apostolate by the Lord Himself. Moreover, by the sacraments, especially holy Eucharist, that charity toward God and man which
37 Gary L. McIntosh, “Reaching Secular Peoples: A Review of the Books of George G. Hunter, III,” The Asbury Journal
66: 2 (2011): 108-119.
38 George G. Hunter III, How to Reach Secular People (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1992), 108.
40 Ibid., 110.
41 The Latin Lumen Gentium means “light of the nations.”
42 Lumen Gentium, III: 27. See Richard Gaillardetz, The Church in the Making: Lumen Gentium, Christus Dominus, Orientalium Ecclesiarum (Paulist Press, 2006).
is the soul of the apostolate is communicated and nourished. … Thus every layman, in virtue of the very gifts bestowed upon him, is at the same time a witness and a living instrument of the mission of the Church itself “according to the measure of Christ’s bestowal.”43
The apostolate described here is clearly missional and extends to all the faithful through baptism and confirmation. Thus, every layman is herald of the gospel and functions in the “way certain men and women assisted Paul the Apostle in the Gospel.” Lumen Gentium explains further:
Upon all the laity, therefore, rests the noble duty of working to extend the divine plan of salvation to all men of each epoch and in every land. Consequently, may every opportunity be given them so that, according to their abilities and the needs of the times, they may zealously participate in the saving work of the Church.44
Such a statement is an example of why Vatican II has been described as the “Protestantization” of the Roman Church. Nevertheless, the point is that Lumen Gentium understands ‘lay apostolate’ in terms of mission, and it extends from Jesus and the Twelve to the laity who served alongside them.
Historically, the Protestant counterpart advocated by Martin Luther spoke of “a general priesthood” that dismissed the view that Christians were to be divided into two classes, the spiritual (sacred) and temporal (secular). He stated:
As for the unction by a pope or a bishop, tonsure, ordination, consecration, and clothes differing from those of laymen – all this may make a hypocrite or an anointed puppet, but never a Christian or a spiritual man. Thus we are all consecrated as priests by baptism, as St. Peter says: ‘Ye are a royal priesthood, a holy nation’ (1 Peter 2: 9); and in the book of Revelation: ‘and hast made us unto our God (by Thy blood) kings and priests’ (Rev. 5:10).”45
Luther held that all baptized Christians are “priests” and “spiritual” in God’s sight. Thus, as Timothy J. Wengert asserts: “In tearing down this wall, Luther did not eliminate priests or do away with the priesthood. Instead he eliminated the laity!”46
Thus, apostolicity of the church refers not merely to its foundation in Jesus Christ and the Twelve to whom he gave authority over the church and through whom the gospel was to be transmitted (Matt. 28:18-20), but apostolicity refers also to the character of the apostolic origin and nature of the church as embodying the apostolic witness and testimony through its life and mission.47
43 Ibid., IV, 33.
45 Martin Luther, To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, 1520, in J. H. Robinson, ed., Readings in European History (Boston: Ginn, 1909), Third Wall; Cf. De captivitate Babylonica ecclesiae praeludium, Weimar Ausgabe 6, 564.6–14 in Norman Nagel, “Luther and the Priesthood of All Believers,” Concordia Theological Quarterly 61 (October 1997) 4: 283-84.
46 Timothy J. Wengert, Harvesting Martin Luther’s Reflections on Theology, Ethics, and the Church, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 127.
47 Torrance, 287.
The Protestant traditions have tended to identify apostolicity almost exclusively with fidelity to apostolic teaching while the Roman Catholic tradition has identified it with apostolic succession in ministry.48 Yet all agree that the church must be apostolic in faith and mission. In the Lima Report from the Faith and Order Commission prepared by representatives from many Christian traditions including Roman Catholic, section IV, 37 states:
In the churches which practice the succession through the episcopate, it is increasingly recognized that a continuity in apostolic faith, worship and mission has been preserved in churches which have not [emphasis mine] retained the form of historic succession. This recognition finds additional support in the fact that the reality and function of the episcopal ministry have been preserved in many of these churches, with or without the title “bishop.”49
This brings up the question of marks of apostolicity. While one of the “four marks of the church” is apostolic (“one, holy, catholic, and apostolic”), what are the marks of apostolicity? Origin and foundation upon Jesus and the Twelve? Orthodox (ορθοδοξα) teaching and worship in accordance with the NT—the teaching of the apostles? Authority based upon ordination through the laying on of hands? Character and pattern of the apostles’ mission? Evidence of the Holy Spirit as seen among the Twelve?
What are the marks of apostolicity? What are characteristics of the apostolic church? Are there tests or qualifications of apostolicity, and if so, what are they? And what constitutes a breach or break in apostolicity?
Briefly described, apostolicity is continuity with Jesus and the Twelve Apostles in origin, teaching, mission, character, and life in the Spirit. Apostolicity relates to, or is derived from, the authority, teaching and practice of the Twelve. Generally speaking, there is continuity of this apostolic tradition and identity with Jesus and the Twelve.50
The first mark of apostolicity is continuity in origin in and foundation upon Jesus Christ and the Twelve (Ephesians 2:20). In other words, there is a volitional identity and visible solidarity with Jesus as the Christ and the message of the gospel which he gave to the Twelve (Gal. 1:12; 1 Cor. 11:23-25; 2 Cor. 4:5). While such continuity may be an unbroken succession of bishops back to the Twelve, apostolicity is neither guaranteed by historic succession, especially when deviating from apostolic character and teaching (1 Tim. 4:16; 2 Tim. 1:13-15; 1 John 2:19), nor does it preclude spontaneous works of the Holy Spirit that result in new churches in unity with the “one, holy catholic, and apostolic church.” When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God—a work that started without an apostle—they sent Peter and John to validate the work (Acts 8:14-17).
As the Lima Report states, Christian traditions that have not retained the episcopate, nevertheless, “appreciate the episcopal succession as a sign, though not a guarantee, of the continuity
48 Francis A. Sullivan, S.J., From Apostles to Bishops (New York: The Newman Press, 2001), 7.
49 Lima Report, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, IV: 37, in Sullivan, From Apostles to Bishops, 8.
50 Christopher J. H. Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2006), 66-67.
and unity of the Church.”51 Continuity with the historic, orthodox and apostolic church is embraced generally in principle, even by many evangelicals. They highlight connections such as that of Irenaeus, the church father and apologist, who was a hearer of Polycarp, who in turn was a disciple of the Apostle John, the Evangelist.52 What is often taught as a principle of disciple-making (Matt. 28:19-20; 2 Tim. 2:2), and practiced in ordination “when persons in whom the Church recognizes the authority to transmit the ministerial connection,” is a type of apostolic succession.53 Protestants, however, hold that whatever authority is conferred with an office is nevertheless conditional upon continuity with the Apostles’ teaching, mission, character, and life in the Spirit.54
The second mark of apostolicity is holding to the apostles’ teaching canonized in the NT and equally authoritative with the OT (Acts 2:42; 2 Pet. 3:14-18). The Twelve were authorities of early Christianity who safeguarded the gospel of Jesus Christ. Apostolicity of doctrine requires that the deposit of faith be held as authoritative and infallible, and remain unchanged (2 Tim. 1:14; 2:2; 3:16; Jude 1:3).55 Even though “the apostles’ teaching” is infallible, the church is not infallible in her teaching. While the scriptures are understood from the horizon of church tradition, church tradition remains subject to the authority of the scriptures.56 Clement of Rome summarized the continuity of the apostles’ teaching:
The apostles have preached the gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ has done so from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Spirit, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand.57
The third mark of apostolicity is missionality; in other words, the church is missional in nature. The Gospels give accounts of Jesus calling his disciples to a special appointment as apostles who then were sent as witnesses of the risen Jesus Christ (Matt 10:1-4; 28:16-20; Mark 3:16-19; 16:14-18; Luke 6:12-16; 24:36-49; John 6:60-70; 20:19-23). He commissioned them to continue his mission on earth. Apostolicity is thus linked to the apostles in a dual sense of the word. The church is founded on the
51 Lima Report: Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, IV, 38, cited in Francis A. Sullivan, S. J., From Apostles to Bishops:
The Development of the Episcopacy in the Early Church (New York: The Newman Press, 2001), 9.
52 McDonald, Lee Martin and James A. Sanders, eds. The Canon Debate (Hendrickson Publishers, 2002), 368. In his writing against Gnostic Christians, Irenaeus maintained that orthodox bishops could be traced back to the Twelve. This succession which included succession of elders was important to establish orthodoxy. It is also of interest to note that not all who were connected to the Apostle John remained apostolic (1 John 2:19).
53 Lima Report, in Sullivan, 8-9.
54 Protestants are mindful of examples of those who held ecclesial posts but lacked Christ-like character for the office. See Russell Chamberlin, The Bad Popes (Sutton Publishing, 2003).
55 Holding to “the apostles’ teaching” is a prerequisite for corollary marks of the church “where the Word of God is properly preached and the sacraments are properly administered.”
56 The three eastern sees of Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople were under the jurisdiction of heretical patriarchs simultaneously during five different periods: AD 357-60 (Arian), 475-77, 482-96, and 512-17 (Monophysite), and 640-42 (Monothelite).
57 I Clement, ad. Cor., 42 in Bernardino, 77.
“teachings of the apostles (ἀποστόλων)” and like them, is sent (ἀποστέλλῃ) into the world as witnesses.58
The mission of the Apostles (missio Apostolica), like the mission of Christ (missio Christi), flows from the mission of God (missio Dei). The Twelve understood their mission in this sense. Just as they transmitted their mission by appointing others to the work of ministry, so their successors were to appoint elders to perpetuate the same mission given by Jesus Christ (Matt. 28: 18-20; Acts 14:23; 2 Timothy 2:2; Titus 1:5). In the same way, the apostolic church, following the existence and example of the apostles, “exists only as she exercises the ministry of a herald.”59 As Chris Wright says, “The church is missional or it is not church.”60
Similarly, John Howard Yoder asks: “Is a non-missionary church a church? Can we say that missionary identity and commitment is a good thing, but dispensable?”61 His conclusion is that when “the missionary mark of the church” is missing, the church is apostate. In contrast to heresy, Yoder holds that “apostasy is not something we think wrong; it is something we do wrong.”62 Denying mission is apostasy, and on this point he concludes:
Then we have to ask, can a theology be condemned as apostate if it does not point to mission, if it rejects the necessity of mission or does not contribute to mission? There are theologies that deny the usefulness or necessity of mission or that reject the conversion of non-Christians to Christianity as a goal. … An adaptation of my thesis would say that to exclude any category of persons from the imperative to make disciples is apostasy. … Faithfulness or apostasy depends on whether the church is a community that is propagating the Jesus message.63
The fourth mark of apostolicity is Christ-like character—the church represents the character of Jesus Christ. The church not only proclaims Christ but proclaims Christ in Christ’s way. Paul declared: “For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.” (2 Cor. 1:12) The mission of Jesus and the Twelve concerned both presence and proclamation of the kingdom. Words without deeds are empty but deeds without words are void of meaning. Apostolic character requires faithfulness to truth, justice, integrity, mercy, and compassion.
The fifth mark of apostolicity is life in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. The Acts of the Apostles written by Luke reveals equally the acts of the Holy Spirit. This book records the state of the apostles after Jesus’ ascension, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them, and their subsequent mission “in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
58 David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission (New York: Orbis, 1997), 120.
59 Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, IV/1 (Bloomsbury: T & T Clark, 2004), 724.
60 Christopher J. H. Wright, The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 93.
61 John Howard Yoder, Theology of Mission: A Believers Church Perspective (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2014), 185.
62 Ibid., 189.
63 Ibid., 192.
At every step in the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit’s work is recognized. Ananias with his wife Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3). The seven deacons who were chosen to serve were characterized as “full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.” (Acts 6:3) Stephen was “full of faith and the Holy Spirit,” and scolded Jewish leaders because they “always resist the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51). The Apostles Peter and John went to the Samaritans to “pray for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:15). The Spirit tells Philip to go and join the Ethiopian eunuch’s chariot to preach Christ to him (Acts 8:29). Paul’s conversion was completed by the laying-on of Ananias’s hands and the reception of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17). The acceptance of the Gentiles in the person of Cornelius is attested by the pouring out of “the gift of the Holy Spirit” which resulted in a Gentile Pentecost (Acts 10:44-48). Barnabas was “full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 11:24), and the Spirit set apart Paul and Barnabas for mission to the Gentiles.
This presence and power of the Holy Spirit is often manifested in signs and wonders. (Acts 5:15; 13:8-11; 19:12; 1 Cor. 2:4; 2 Cor. 12:12). Paul described such work of the Spirit in his apostolic ministry, saying:
For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.” (Rom. 15:18-21)
Continuity with Jesus and the Twelve, however, may be broken or breached when there is a serious digression from the apostolic origin, teaching, mission, character, and life in the Spirit. This is why Paul advised Timothy: “Watch your life and doctrine closely.” (2 Tim. 1:13) Paul knew this for himself equally as well and said: “… lest after preaching to others, I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Cor. 9:27) The apostolic office is conditional; the most obvious case is that of Judas Iscariot, one of the original Twelve.
So, is the “apostolic church” missional? While apostolicity is not limited to missionality it includes it. This is observed in those who have been identified as apostles throughout church history. Such apostolic work on the pattern of the Twelve and their congregations has yielded missional apostles throughout the centuries.
As discussed earlier, Jesus Christ is the first apostle, the ultimate apostle, and source of all apostleship (Heb. 3:1). The twelve apostles were foundational to the church, unique in their office, and represented the new covenant of Jesus Christ to the world. Paul, Barnabas, James, Apollos, and others beyond the original twelve were apostles as well, demonstrated not only by their apostolic teaching but by their apostolic witness “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Paul’s words to Timothy communicated the pattern of continuity and connection with the apostles to future generations when he said: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of
many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Tim. 2:2) These words were put into practice in the first centuries as seen in Tertullian’s description in De Praescriptione Haereticorum when he offers examples of church fathers that stood in historic connection and doctrinal continuity with the original twelve apostles. Interestingly, Tertullian not only mentioned the first- century apostles, but spoke in addition of “apostolic men” (apostolicis uiris), namely, those “who continued steadfast with the apostles.”64
While the church or household of God is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20), the apostolic nature and mission of the church continued throughout history. As the Nicene Creed states, we believe in the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.” This confession applied to the fourth century church as well as the first. To borrow Tertullian’s phrase, there have been “apostolic men” (apostolicis uiris) who have “continued steadfast with the apostles.” As stated earlier, this is not merely in origin and doctrine, but in mission, character, and life in the Spirit. Such “apostolic men” functioned on the order of the twelve apostles of Jesus, even though they did not necessarily fill an office unique to or like that of the original twelve.
Such apostles or apostolic men, gifted by God, were often sent or commissioned with authority to extend the church to some region or segment of society which previously was without a viable witness to the gospel. They were described as apostles because of their pioneering and ground- breaking work to establish churches where no or few Christian communities existed.
While the list of the “Apostles of the Seventy” is rooted in church tradition, it illustrates the idea that there were apostles beyond the original twelve. For example, Hippolytus of Rome (170-236), a disciple of Irenaeus who was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of the Evangelist and Apostle John, produced an early list of seventy apostles.65 In The Ochtoechos, John of Damascus confirmed that there were “seventy-two lesser apostles.”66 Such lists were based on the fact that Jesus “appointed and sent seventy disciples ahead of him,” as described in Luke 10:1.67 Many, if not most of them would have been among the “five hundred brothers” to whom Jesus appeared following his resurrection from the dead (1 Cor. 15:6). Based on such texts and various traditions of church fathers, the Eastern Church names the “Apostles of the Seventy” as:
James the Brother of the Lord, Mark and Luke the Evangelists, Cleopas, Symeon, Barnabas, Justus, Thaddeus, Ananias, Stephen the Protomartyr and Archdeacon, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Onesimus, Epaphras, Archippus, Silas, Silvanus, Crescens, Crispus, Epenetus, Andronicus, Stachys, Amplias, Urban, Narcissus, Apelles, Aristobulus, Herodion, Agabus, Rufus, Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobus, Hermas, Linus,
64 Tertullian, De Praescriptione Haereticorum: XXXII, “ex apostolis uel apostolicis uiris, qui tamen cum apostolis
perseuerauerit”; “of the apostles or of apostolic men,—a man, moreover, who continued steadfast with the
65 Hippolytus’s list of the Seventy Apostles was regarded dubious, and thus put in the Appendix of his works in the collection of Early Church Fathers.
66 He changed: “The all-praised ten and twain, leading the seventy-two, their rivals in zeal, were manifested as
67 Some manuscripts say seventy-two.
Gaius, Philologus, Lucius, Jason, Sosipater, Olympas, Tertius, Erastus, Quartus, Euodias, Onesiphorus, Clement, Sosthenes, Apollos, Tychicus, Epaphroditus, Carpus, Quadratus, Mark called John, Zenas, Aristarchus, Pudens, Trophimus, Mark nephew of Barnabas, Artemas, Aquila, Fortunatus, and Achaicus.68
The point of this list here is not to say that these were the seventy disciples that Jesus sent (ἀπέστειλεν, aposteilen) ahead of him (Luke 10:1) but that church fathers have described other apostles beyond the original twelve. Such lists were based on the NT, traditions passed down from church fathers, and accounts of early historians. The fact that such lists include two of the Evangelists—Mark, the companion of Peter, and Luke, the companion of Paul—makes it, at least in principle, difficult to refute. They were authors of canonical scriptures, the written form of the apostles’ teaching.
Beyond the seventy, the Eastern, Roman, and Protestant branches of the church have identified historically additional missionaries as apostles, giving further evidence of the church’s apostolic nature. Many of these apostles are:
•Aristobulus, Apostle to the Britons, ca. AD 63 (named among the Apostles of the Seventy)69
•Abercius of Hieropolis, d. 167, evangelized Syria and Mesopotamia and considered in the Eastern Church as “Equal to the Apostles”70
•Saturninus, Apostle to the Gauls; ca. 257; Fabian sent him to Toulouse71
•Nino, Apostle to the Georgians (ca. 296 – ca. 338 or 340); a woman known as St. Nune in Armenia72
•Gregory the Illuminator, Apostle to the Armenians, 256–331; credited with converting Armenia from paganism to Christianity73
•Frumentius of Axum, Apostle to the Ethiopians, d. 383 74 •Patrick, Apostle to Celts of Ireland, 373–46375
68 Hieromonk Leonty Durkit (Transl.). The Lives of the Seventy Apostles. Elkhorn, WV: Orthodox Brotherhood of the
Virgin Mary, 1997. There were discrepancies and errors in some lists of the Seventy. See: Demetrius of Rostov ,
The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints, Volume 5: January.
69 Philip Carrington, The Early Christian Church: Volume 1, The First Christian Church. Cambridge University Press, 2011.
70 F. G. Holweck, A Biographical Dictionary of the Saints (St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1924).
71 Richard Travers Smith, The Church in Roman Gaul (London : Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1882). 111.
72 Marjory and Oliver Wardrop, The Life of Saint Nino (Piscataway, NJ : Gorgias Press, 2006).
73 R.G. Hovannisian, The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume I: The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).
74 Rabenstein, Katherine. “Frumentius of Ethiopia. For All the Saints (Washington, D.C. : Saint Patrick’s Church, 1997).
75 Philip Freeman, St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography (Simon & Schuster, 2005)
• Ninian, Apostle to the Southern Picts of Scotland, 360-43276
• Remigius, Apostle to the Franks, c. 437 – 533; baptized King Clovis, leading to the conversion of the Frankish people to Nicene Christianity77
•Columba, Apostle to the Scots, 521–59778
•Augustine of Canterbury, Apostle to the English; Archbishop of Canterbury, 601-605.79
•Felix of Burgundy, Apostle to the East Angles; introduced Christianity in eastern England, d. ca. 64880
•Kilian, Apostle of Franconia (Bavaria) c. 640 – 68981
• Boniface of Devon, Apostle of Germany, 680–755.82
•Aidan of Lindsfarne, Apostle to the Northumbrians (North England), 590-65183
•Hubertus, Apostle to the Ardennes, 656–727; preached in the dense forests of the Ardennes (Belgium and Luxembourg but stretching into Germany and France)
• Gall of Bangor, Apostle to Switzerland, 550-64584
•Willibrord of Northumbria, Apostle to the Frisians (Netherlands), 658–73985
•Modestus, Apostle to Carantania, c. 720; evangelized Alpine Slavic people (Austria and north- eastern Slovenia)86
•Ansgar, Apostle to the North (Scandinavia), 801–86487
•Cyril, 826-869, and Methodius, 815-885, Apostles to the Slavs, considered by the Eastern Church as “Equals-to-the-Apostles”; were missionaries to Bulgaria, Moravia, and Bohemia.88
76 Bede, Ecclesiastical History, Book III, Chapter IV, 271, 273.
77 A. Hauck, Remigius of Reims, in Philip Schaff, The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge
78 F. A. (Frances Alice) Forbes, Life of Saint Columba Apostle of Scotland (London : R. & T. Washbourne, 1919).
79 Michael Green, St. Augustine of Canterbury (London: Janus Publ., 1997).
80 Bede,The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Book II (Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1999), chs. 15,
81 Friedrich Lauchert, “St. Kilian,” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8 (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910).
82 John Cyril Sladden, Boniface of Devon: Apostle of Germany (Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1980).
83 Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Book III (Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1999), ch. 5. 84 Henry Wace, Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D. (London, J. Murray, 1911).
85 Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation (Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1999).
86 Michael J. Walsh, A New Dictionary of Saints (London, 2007).
87 Rimbert and Charles H. Robinson, Anskar, the Apostle of the North, 801-865 (London: Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, 1921).
88 Cyril J Poto ek, Saints Cyril and Methodius, Apostles of the Slavs (New York, P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1941).
• Anastasius Astric, Apostle to Hungary, 954–104489
•Otto von Bamberg, Apostle to the Pomeranians, 1060–1139; traveled to Stettin on the Baltic Sea.90
•Sava, Founder of the Serbian Church (1175 – 1235); considered by the Eastern Church as “Equal to the Apostles.”91
•Stephen of Perm, Apostle to the Komi Permyaks (Russia), 1340–1396; rather than imposing Latin or ecclesial Slavonic on the indigenous pagans as contemporary missionaries did, he learned the Perm language and traditions and worked out a distinct writing system.92
• Bartolomé de las Casas, Apostle to the West Indies, 1474–156693
• Francis Xavier, Apostle to the Indies (eastern Indonesia) and Japan, 1506–1552; co-founder of the Jesuits94
• John Eliot, Apostle to the North America Indians, 1604–169095
•Hans Egede, Apostle to Greenland, 1686-175896
•François Picquet, Apostle to the Iroquois, 1708–178197
• John Williams, Apostle to the South Seas, 1796-1839; worked among the Pacific Islands near Tahiti
•Innocent of Moscow, Apostle of Alaska, 1797–187998 •Cephas Washburn, Apostle to the Cherokees, 1793-186099
89 John McClintock, James Strong, Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Volume 1, 2
New York, Arno Press, 1969; 17-218.
90 Charles Henry Robinson, ed., The Life of Otto, Apostle of Pomerania, 1060-1139 (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1920).
91 Velimirović, Nikolaj. The Life of St. Sava (Crestwood, N.Y. : St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1989).
92 Joshua Fishman, Charles Ferguson, and J. Das Gupta, eds., Language Problems of Developing Nations (New York: Wiley and Sons, 1968): 27–35.
93 Arthur Helps, The Life of Las Casas, “the Apostle of the Indies” (London: Bell and Daldy, 1868).
94 Louis F. Hartman, “Saint Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Indies and Japan,” Lives of Saints (New York: John J. Crawley, 1963.)
95 Martin Moore, The Life and Character of Rev. John Eliot, Apostle of the N.A. Indians (Boston: T. Bedlington, 1822).
96 Eve Garnett, To Greenland’s Icy Mountains: The Story of Hans Egede, Explorer, Coloniser, Missionary (London: Heinemann, 1968).
97 Robert Lahaise, “Picquet François,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. IV, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 1979.
98 Charles R. Hale, Innocent of Moscow, the Apostle of Kamchatka and Alaska (Davenport, IA.: Borcherdt, 1888).
99 Joyce B. Phillips and Paul Gary Phillips, The Brainerd Journal: A Mission to the Cherokees, 1817-1823 (University of Nebraska Press, 1998).
•Hudson Taylor, Apostle to China, 1832-1905100
•Nicholas Kasatkin, Apostle to Japan (1836 – 1912)101
The title of apostle given to these pioneering leaders through the church’s history describes them as gifted by God, sent or commissioned with authority to extend the church to an area without a viable witness to the gospel. This list is not to establish that they were necessarily all apostles but that the church historically has identified certain people as such. It can be argued that while their work was built on the foundation of Jesus and the original twelve apostles, many had ministries that were at least equal to if not greater in scope or influence for the gospel than the original twelve apostles of Jesus.
Is the “apostolic church” missional? The traditions of the Eastern, Roman, and Protestant churches argue that it is.
100 Ruth Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya: A Biographical History of Christian Missions (Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 1983): 173.
101 Doreen Bartholomew. “Enlightener of Japan, Blessed Nicholas Kasatkin" Orthodox America XII (No. 5-6, Jan-Feb, 1992).
Out of many nations, God calls a people to himself. Out of the crowds, God continues to pursue the “one.”
I love learning about the why behind the what. THE BIBLE AND MISSION, by Richard Bauckham today. #theology #doctrineofmission #doctrineofworship #heartswake #bornagainstory (at Starbucks)