What is an Apostle?

Categories: Definition of Apostle

What is an Apostle?

With the emergence of modern day apostles there is a need to go to the Scriptures and try to define this all important ministry.

In a generic sense, an apostle is a “sent one” or “one sent on a mission.” The Greek word is apostolos.

In a technical sense the term refers to the person who functions in the ministry or office of apostle. That’s what we are talking about here. How can we define “apostle?”

I’ve developed this definition of an apostle:

“An apostle is a Christian leader called and supernaturally gifted by God to open new spiritual and geographical territory for the gospel, lay foundations, equip believers, and serve as catalyst and coordinator for churches and ministries.”

I’m not saying the definition is perfect or complete. If you can improve on it, go ahead. Please write out your definition and send it to me. (Maybe I can include it here.) My words are not written in marble but attempt to give the essential elements of a Biblical and modern day apostle.

My definition as written above does not include the all important aspect of character. A future post will explain the difference between character and charisma in regard to ministry.

C. Peter Wagner, certainly a forward thinker and prolific author regarding apostles, offers the following definition in his 2002 book Spheres of Authority: Apostles in Today’s Church:

“An apostle is a Christian leader, gifted, taught, commissioned and sent by God with the authority to establish the foundational government of the church within an assigned sphere of ministry by hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches and by setting things in order accordingly for the growth and maturity of the church.”

Wagner’s definition is thorough although somewhat cumbersome.

David Cannistraci offers this definition in his 1996 book Apostles and the Emerging Apostolic Movement: “An apostle is one who [is] called and sent by Christ to have the spiritual authority, character, gifts and abilities to successfully reach and establish people in Kingdom truth and order, especially through founding and overseeing local churches.”

Now it’s your turn. How do you define “apostle?”

Author: Mark Anderson

B Mark Anderson is first and foremost a lover-of-God. He doubles as husband, father-of-seven and senior pastor (since 1976) of the Church of the Living Water in Muscatine, Iowa. He and his wife Kari market grass-fed lamb and sell natural wool products.