Ephesians 4:7-16; Spiritual gifts – the apostles.

Class Outline:

Sunday October 24,2021

Apostolos - literally “one sent forth” (apo = from; stello = to send). Used for Christ (HEB 3:1)


We noted that the title was used for Christ and that Christ Himself said that He was sent by the Father using the verb apostello.


And as Jesus was sent, in the same manner, He sent the apostles.


JOH 20:21-23

Jesus therefore said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you."  22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."


Of course, we can’t be left wondering about the much-debated interpretation of vs. 23. What authority do these words give to the apostles? I will cut right to what I think is the best interpretation, as is evidenced by its simplicity. We know God alone forgives sins. The apostles are not given a tyrannical rule over who can be saved. As we know, and will see, the apostles were sent with the commission to spread the gospel and the truth. Their ability to forgive sin or retain sin is in their authority to spread the gospel, of which they would be the first. Faith in the gospel is the forgiveness of sins, rejecting the gospel is the retaining of sins.


LUK 24:47

and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.


In John’s gospel, sin is defined as rejecting Christ on three separate occasions. Remember, the Lamb of God takes away sin, He redeems us from the slavery of sin, moves us from darkness into light, not perishing but having eternal life.


“Therefore the authority to forgive and to retain the sins of others that Jesus gives His disciples does not consist in the application of moral standards but in placing people before the decisive choice to accept in faith the grace of God manifest in the sending of His Son or to remain in sin and to fall under divine judgment.” [Herman Ridderbos, The Gospel of John]


And, as JOH 20:22 reveals:

The proper function of the apostle was dependent on the Holy Spirit as are all the spiritual gifts (also ACT 1:8).


ACT 1:6-8

And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" 7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. "


The apostles would also suffer great hardship [“If they persecuted Me they will persecute you”], and they would suffer for His name’s sake, which makes perfect sense in this world that is under the nose and thumb of Satan.


“Since no foundation repeats itself, they are irreplaceable in any subsequent generation.” [ISBE]


The apostles were sent out on a temporary mission during the incarnation.


LUK 9:1-6

And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons, and to heal diseases. 2 And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God, and to perform healing. 3 And He said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece. 4 "And whatever house you enter, stay there, and take your leave from there. 5 "And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them."  6 And departing, they began going about among the villages, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere.


We will document that a requirement of an apostle was the power of miracles. And although no one has the power of miracles beyond the apostolic age, there is a great lesson for us in these instructions from the Lord. “Take nothing for your journey.”


In whatever God has called us to do in service, He will provide the means. Also, there will be those who do not receive us - leave them to the Lord.


Like all of us, the apostle was to focus all his efforts on the glory of God and the Son of God. Though the apostle had the highest authority, were first in the church, had the power of miracles, their ministries were solely for the glorification of Christ.


In his letters to the church in Corinth Paul is constantly wringing all self-promotion out of his ministry that men may glory only in Christ, whom God has made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.


Though the apostles wielded great power in matters of discipline and other problems that the church was facing, they always humbly proclaimed Jesus as the one teacher and head of all. They promoted unity and the spiritual growth of all in the church. They really exemplify what true leaders should look like.


2CO 1:24

Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.


Apostles were officers of the Lord far more than of the church. All leaders should keep that in mind.


The importance of these great men in their leadership, exhortation, and teaching is clearly shown in the church’s struggles in the generations that followed them. Schism and division soon plagued the church as men with authority went astray from simple and sound doctrine.


The gift of apostle.


Apostle was a unique gift, because it seems that in order to receive this gift, one had to meet certain qualifications beyond that of being a believer. This is unique because any other gift was sovereignly bestowed upon the believer.


An apostle had to see Jesus after His resurrection (ACT 1:22), and they had the power to perform miracles (2CO 12:12; HEB 2:3-4).


We’ll start with the power of miracles first, and for reasons that will become clear, then tackle ACT 1:22.


2CO 12:12

The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.


HEB 2:2-4

For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.


While the word apostle is not used, it seems very likely that the ones who first heard, God bearing witness with them were the apostles who had the power of signs, wonders, and various miracles by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.


Peter raised Tabitha from the dead, ACT 9:40.


ACT 9:42

And it became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.


ACT 1:21-26

"It is therefore necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us —  22 beginning with the baptism of John, until the day that He was taken up from us —  one of these should become a witness with us of His resurrection." 23 And they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. 24 And they prayed, and said, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen 25 to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place." 26 And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.


We do not hear of Matthias again, but that doesn’t prove that he didn’t become an apostle. No one knows.