In Part Two, we learned that, “…When he ascended up on high, he…gave gifts unto men.” This is from Ephesians below.
Ephesians 4:8 (KJV)
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Okay then, how could they be called apostles in the Gospels and Acts 1? We need to look at a few things because there are two reasons. I have many Bible dictionaries as well as several Bible encyclopedias and most disagree as to when each book was written. I see no reason to say whose right as that is not what I want to prove here. For instance, Matthew, some say, was written in either the early 50’s A.D., while others say late 50’s or in the 60’s A.D., while others say in the 70’s A.D. So then, for me to say it was written somewhere between the early 50’s A.D. to in the 70’s A.D. I have it covered. While these sources disagree on the timing, they all agree that ole Matthew, the tax collector [an original disciple of Jesus’ Matt. 9:9, 10:3; Mark 3:18; and Luke 6:15] just wrote down what he remembered. The testimony of Scripture presents a different picture. Here are a couple of wonderful verses.
2 Peter 1:20 and 21 (KJV)
20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [spoke] as they were moved by the Holy Ghost [holy spirit].
The context is, “no prophecy of the Scripture” came in the past by the will of man, but holy men received the prophecy of Scripture by revelation [moved by the holy spirit]. See what Paul has to say in Galatians.
Galatians 1:11 and 12 (RSV)
11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of [from] Jesus Christ.
This states that the books of the Bible were given by revelation, not told from memory. I added this not to get off topic but to establish that God and Jesus are behind the Bible. God is the Author of Scripture, but men put the words on paper. As we showed in the verses above, men received by revelation from Jesus Christ what is in the Christian Scriptures [God gave men the information]. The Bible is not a history book; even though where it speaks about history it is true, it is a book which came to man, through the Lord [in the Christian Scriptures]. The point here is that the information in the Bible is from a spiritual source. I wanted you to know how we got the Bible. It is important to know that we are not dealing with stories here but records.
Now, back to Matthew. My point in saying that I do not care exactly when it was written, as I said earlier, it was written somewhere between the early 50’s A.D. to the 70’s A.D. [well after the Ascension]. We believe Jesus ascended in 27 A.D., this shows that Matthew was written 23 to 43 years after the Ascension. Why is that important? Because when it was written, Matthew would have known that they had received those gifts from the Lord when the Lord ascended on high. There is only one verse in Matthew where the word “apostles” was used. See this verse.
Matthew 10:2 (RSV)
The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
The other apostles are listed in the next two verses, and even Matthew was listed in verse 3. It is not used as a title; it is showing something different which I will get to shortly. I do not believe that here it is a talent or ability. It does not say anyone else knew that they were apostles, but Matthew, writing this after the Ascension, would have known they received this from Jesus. Matthew would have known they had received the gifts Jesus gave when he ascended and was projecting his knowledge in what he was writing. He is not indicating they had the gifts then, he is only acknowledging the fact they had received those gifts after the Ascension, but there is more. This is similar to the fact that God never revealed his name to anyone before Exodus 6:3 when he revealed it to Moses. Yet, His name Yahweh is used early in Genesis. The reason was because Moses knew His name, and therefore could say, “and Yahweh said.” Moses was not saying that anyone knew God’s name before that, but Moses the writer, knew what God’s name was. This is the same here with Matthew; he knew what they had received; there is more to that. We will get to why only apostles is used in the Gospels and Acts 1, and why the other gifts are not mentioned once we look at each of the Gospels and Acts 1.
The book of Mark has historians and scholars giving two views as to when it was written. Some say the 50’s or early 60’s A.D., while others say around 70 A.D. shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Again, this shows that Mark was written 23 to 43 years after the Ascension. Also "the apostles" is only used one time in Mark, and not as a title.
Mark 6:30 (RSV)
The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught.
Mark [also called John] appeared as a disciple in Acts; he was cousin to Barnabas and was active with believers in Acts 12:12. Later, he worked with Paul and Barnabas [Col. 4:10] on several occasions. He knew they received the gifts when Jesus ascended, and, as with many of the other writers, would have easily put apostles here. Mark knew those men had received the gifts.
Now, it is Luke time. Luke was written either in 59–63 A.D. or the 70’s or 80’s A.D. Either way, many years after the Ascension. So again, he would have known they were apostles when he wrote it. The word "apostles" is used six times in the gospel of Luke 6:13, 9:10, 11:49, 17:5, 22:14, and 24:10. There were prophets at that time, and throughout the Hebrew Scripture. Jesus adds apostles also in 11:49, but they were all still under the Law, so apostles is all he adds here during his earthly ministry. The first usage of apostles here in Luke is very important to this topic because it answers the question from the last article, “What we have read here [actually in the first two parts of this series] makes this idea of them all being only apostles in the Gospels and Acts 1 a problem, which will need to be explained!” We will be covering that in a couple of minutes.
The gospel of John says nothing about apostles, so we have no need to cover that. Before we get into answering the question above, I want to mention the book of Acts. It was written by Luke and was written in 63 A.D. or 70 A.D. or even later. In other words, all four Gospels and Acts were penned by men who would have known the gifts given by Jesus and when he gave them. So, it is no stretch to think it could affect their writings. For any to say in their writings that each was an apostle was very understandable, but that is only part of the record. The rest comes from the first verse saying apostles in Luke.
This first verse in Luke with the word "Apostles" shows why apostles appear in the Gospels, and it is not in the Law or Hebrew Scriptures. See this verse in The English Bible in Basic English.
Luke 6:13 (BBE)
And the day came and, turning to his [Jesus’] disciples, he made a selection from among them of twelve, to whom he gave the name of Apostles;
Jesus gave them the name of Apostles. Jesus gave them [the twelve] the name Apostles! Title? No! Gift ministry? No! Name! Yes! I looked at many versions and they for the most part say the same thing [DBY, RSV, KJV, DRA, WEB, and YLT all agree]. Throughout the Christian Scriptures they were referred to as the Twelve. After that they were called the Twelve, the Twelve Apostles, or the Apostles. Since they are names I capitalized them. Let us look at a few. We will not capitalize apostle or apostles, in what we are writing, when referring to talents or abilities. In Mark 6:30, they were called the Apostles, which is what the Lord named them. This is clear in the next four verses.
Luke 9:10 (RSV)
On their return the apostles told him what they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a city called Bethsaida.
Luke 17:5 (RSV)
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
We know these verses are referring only to the Twelve, using the name which Jesus gave them. I like that The English Bible in Basic English capitalizes Apostles in the next two verses, since that is their name.
Luke 22:14 (BBE)
And when the time had come, he took his seat, and the Apostles with him.
Luke 24:10 (BBE)
Now they were Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James: and the other women with them said these things to the Apostles.
When it says the Apostles in the Gospels, it is always only referring to the Twelve original disciples of Jesus. In Acts 1, it starts that way, but then changes to the eleven after the loss of Judas. The Twelve being with the addition of Matthias in verse 26. See these verses below.
Acts 1:2 (RSV)
until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles [Apostles] whom he had chosen.
That verse says it all, “whom he had chosen” and is referring to Luke 6:13 above. Who would know better than Luke? He wrote both the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. It says chosen here and it is translated “…made a selection from among them of twelve…” in Luke 6:13 above. Many versions use chose, chosen, or made a selection, as the BBE does above. Either is fine, since both are all the same Greek word: ἐκλέγομαι which is transliterated into English as eklegomai. This word eklegomai is “chosen” in Acts 1:2 and “made a selection” in Luke 6:13. Luke 6:13 says, “chose” in RSV, KJV, ASV, and many more. The next verse is after Judas left.
Acts 1:26 (RSV)
And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles [Apostles].
When you read the verses in Acts 2 through Acts 10 it is only referring to the original Twelve, using Apostles, the name Jesus gave them. Acts 11 has other talents and abilities showing up. See the verse below.
Acts 11:27 (RSV)
Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.
When you get to Acts 14, “others” start to be referred as apostles. Then, it goes from the name for the Twelve to the talents and abilities given by Jesus when he ascended.
Acts 14:14 (RSV)
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out among the multitude, crying,
In the book of Revelation it goes back to the Twelve. Remember when Jesus first came he was the Lamb of God.
Revelation 21:14 (RSV)
And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles [Apostles] of the Lamb.
Please understand that while Jesus was here that he gave the Twelve the name Apostles. This is unique in biblical history. Those men were shedding new light to the generation in which they lived. It was what had been written in the Hebrew Scriptures but had been lost in their understanding. That is like much of the Truth today which has been lost to people’s understanding, and we are trying to re-find it and share it with the world. I am introducing new light today, yet I do not believe it is new. It just has not been taught since the very men I am writing about were still alive. Yes, I believe I have all these talents and abilities, and so does every Born Again believer.
I want to go to a verse which I said we would get to when I did the last article. I was sticking with the talents and abilities of Ephesians and said there were more in 1 Corinthians 12:28. I want you to see something besides that there are more talents and abilities. What I want you to notice is the time words, “first,” “secondly,” “thirdly,” “afterwards [many versions say: then],” and “afterwards [many versions say: then].” This shows that God, through Jesus, gave these in succession, not all at one time.
1 Corinthians 12:28 (YLT)
And some, indeed, did God set [some say, “put,” a few say “appointed”] in the assembly, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, afterwards powers, afterwards gifts of healings, helpings, governings, divers kinds of tongues;
He gave “first” Apostles, throughout the Gospels and Acts 1 that is all you see. “Secondly” prophets, which is the next to appear [Acts 11:27]. I cannot show them the way it is listed here, but God may not have shown when they were given in the Bible, yet this verse was the way He did it. For us Christians, these are talents and abilities, but for the original Twelve, Apostles was the name Jesus gave them and what they were called, and it was what they did. Jesus is now, after his Ascension, called an Apostle. Look at this verse.
Hebrews 3:1 (KJV)
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;
Note: for all those out there who believe thirteen is an unlucky number better not study the Bible, because there are many thirteens in it. Jesus and the Twelve original disciples makes thirteen. Also, here the first Apostles were the same Jesus and the Twelve. Moses and the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel make thirteen, and there are more!
Now back to the topic. Jesus lived as an Apostle, shedding new light. The new light was old light to him but new light to the people of his generation. Many of the leaders of the day no longer believed in the resurrection of the just, which is throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. See this verse.
Matthew 22:23 (RSV)
The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question,
In the context, he teaches them the Truth. Also, in the beginning the Twelve believed in reincarnation, which is wrong biblically, or they would not have asked this question.
John 9:2 (RSV)
And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
If they did not believe in reincarnation, they would never have asked: “…who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” How could this man have sinned to be born blind unless they believed he had lived before? All of this error had crept into their society after the Babylonian captivity. A bunch of garbage had filtered into Israel through that, and because they had inter-married with those of pagan nations (something also warned about in the Hebrew Scriptures). Jesus even tried to teach the people that the Hebrew Scriptures were about him. Check this out.
John 5:39 (KJV)
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
Okay, now let us get back to 1 Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 12:28 (YLT)
And some, indeed, did God set [some say “put,” a few say “appointed”] in the assembly, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, afterwards powers, afterwards gifts of healings, helpings, governings, divers kinds of tongues;
Once this Administration started the Apostles [the Twelve] were getting progressive revelation. They were at the start of the Administration of Grace, also called the Administration of the Secret of God. Once this Administration got going and new revelation started to be revealed, then the other gifts were going to be needed to do what Ephesians says.
Ephesians 4:12 (KJV)
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Then the need for the other gifts came into play. Pretty awesome! I want to throw one thing in here before someone asks me. How about when the Bible talks about, “ministry and apostleship.” That phrase is used one place in the Bible. Some have said that shows ministry and apostle in one verse, so it must be a gift ministry, but first let us look at the verse.
Acts 1:25 (KJV)
That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
Judas was first named an Apostle by Jesus, so that is not a ministry but a name. The word, “ministry” in the Greek is, διακονία, which is transliterated into English as diakonia. This word is translated “ministry” in the KJV but is also translated “servant, service, and ministration” in many versions of the Bible. Let us look at some of the verses where diakonia is translated in different ways. If we leave it “ministry,” then it contradicts everything else we have seen in previous articles. These are the same verses in other Bible versions; notice how they each translated diakonia differently.
Acts 1:25 (BBE)
To take that position as a servant [diakonia] and Apostle, from which Judas by his sin was shut out, so that he might go to his place.
Acts 1:25 (DBY)
to receive the lot of this service [diakonia] and apostleship, from which Judas transgressing fell to go to his own place.
Acts 1:25 (YLT)
to receive the share of this ministration [diakonia] and apostleship, from which Judas, by transgression, did fall, to go on to his proper place;’
I could give you more proof, but I feel this shows my point that it does not have to be translated ministry. I want to show you two more because even the KJV translates it many ways, not just other versions.
2 Corinthians 11:8 (KJV)
I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service [diakonia].
Acts 6:1 (KJV)
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 [diakonia].
I feel it can be translated service and ministration, and it is in other versions as well as the KJV. Since it is translated in other ways, I would go with one of them. Why? Because then it would not be contrary to every other verse we have covered in this series. I use the American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster; from 1828 A.D. Words did not change their meanings in the past, before the last part of the twentieth century like they do since then until now. I have found the 1828 to be very accurate. Many times Webster used a Bible verse to show how a word should be understood. Here, Webster used Act 6:1c as the example and it fits with the context:
MINISTRATION, noun, [L(atin). ministratio] the act of performing service as a subordinate agent; agency; intervention for aid or service. —because their widows were neglected in the daily ministrations. Acts vi.
You may wonder why I chose this word to use. First, using ministry contradicts what we have been teaching. Secondly, the King James Version uses this word as one way to translate diakonia. Also, service is a major key to understanding every part of the definition. Even though we teach that there is no hierarchy, we are referring to those within the Body of Christ [the Church]. Christ is the Head of his Body [that is us, the Church], and remember Hebrews 3:1 above which ends with: “…consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” We are a, “subordinate agent” of the Apostle and High Priest of our profession. Service to the Head, the Apostle and High Priest, Christ Jesus, is our profession, our job.
We have shown how to handle this verse in Acts 1:25 (KJV) above, “That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship….” The Bible contains many verses on many subjects; some of them are easy to understand, while others are more difficult. Usually, it is the case that there are many more clear verses on a subject than difficult ones. Proper explanation requires that difficult verses must be interpreted in light of the many clear verses on the same subject. The scope of the entire Bible must be the final judge of what constitutes Truth and error. That is why we have spent so much time handling this verse. Every article we have done on leadership and the so called "gift ministries” demands us to take the time showing it should not be translated, “ministry.” We can conclude that while the fact was each writer knew these men were Apostles, and that may have influenced what they wrote. The main reason was it was a, “name” Jesus gave them!
Each of the Gospels portrays Jesus in a different light: Matthew as a King, Mark as a Servant, Luke as a Man, and John as the Son of God! In Luke he is a Man! Here it states in Luke as we read before:
Luke 6:13 (BBE)
And the day came and, turning to his [Jesus] disciples, he made a selection from among them of twelve, to whom he gave the name of Apostles;
Jesus Christ was the Man dealing with men. He was training them to shed new light to a new generation. He knew he was going to die and leave them for a while. He was preparing them for what they were to do during his absence. So he took the Twelve disciples and gave them a name that represented who he was, “the Apostle” They became the Apostles and were at first the only ones. After Jesus’ Ascension he gave gifts to men [that is us too], and they were given one-by-one, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then the other gifts. This is what the gifts for us are for.
Ephesians 4:12 (KJV)
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
This verse is what we are to use all the talents and abilities for! That verse pretty much is the definition of our profession, our job! So let us get to work!