When reading through the New Testament, it won’t be long before you encounter writings by the Apostle Paul. Though we may be familiar with the term “apostle,” many of us don’t have a clue what the word means. Here are a few insights about apostles:
- In Greek, the term “apostle” literally means “sent one.” This defines the role of an apostle, as one who is sent out to do God’s work.
- There generally are two types of apostles: many are like Paul, who are sent out to bring transformation outside of the existing socio-religious culture (for Paul, the Gentiles). Others are like Peter, who are sent out to bring radical transformation within an existing socio-religious culture (for Peter, the Jews).
- Apostles should never work alone. When Jesus sent out 72 of his followers in Luke 9, he told them to work in pairs. Working with other apostles helps bring balance and synergy to collaboratively accomplish God’s purposes.
- Apostles often work together in community for relatively short periods of time with high intensity. Many apostles are used to developing deep friendships with each other quickly, and learn to say a lot of goodbyes.
- Apostles have a “holy itch” to get outside of the norm and traditions to bring the hope of Jesus to people who have never experienced it. They can relate to Paul’s conviction:
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.’” (Romans 15:18-21)