The Name and Office of an Apostle
Galatians 1:1
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

The word ἀπόστολος in the first instance is an adjective signifying "despatched" or "sent forth." Applied to a person, it denotes more than ἄγγελος. The "apostle" is not only the messenger, but the delegate of the person who sends him. He is entrusted with a mission, has powers conferred upon him .... With the later Jews, the word was in common use. It was the title borne by those who were despatched from the mother city by the rulers of the race on any foreign mission, especially such as were charged with collecting the tribute paid to the temple service. After the destruction of Jerusalem, the "apostles" formed a sort of council about the Jewish patriarch, assisting him in his deliberations at home, and executing his orders abroad. Thus in designating His immediate dud most favoured disciples "apostles," our Lord was not introducing a new term, but adopting one, which from its current usage would suggest to His hearers the idea of a highly responsible mission. At the first institution of the office, the apostles were twelve in number, but in the New Testament there is no hint that the number was intended to be limited to twelve — any more than there is that the number of deacons was intended to remain seven. The Twelve were primarily the Apostles of the Circumcision, the representatives of the twelve tribes. The extension of the Church to the Gentiles might be accompanied by an extension of the apostolate As a matter of fact, we do not find the term apostle restricted to the Twelve with only the exception of St. Paul. St. Paul himself seems in one passage to distinguish between "the Twelve" and "all the apostles," as if the latter were the more comprehensive term (1 Corinthians 15:5, 7). It appears both there and in other places (Galatians 1:19; 1 Corinthians 9:5) that James the Lord's brother is styled an apostle. On the most natural interpretation of another passage (Romans 16:7), Andronicus and Junias, two Christians otherwise unknown to us, are called distinguished members of the apostolate, language which indirectly implies a very considerable extension of the term. In 1 Thessalonians 2:6, again, where in reference to his visit to Thessalonica, he speaks of the disinterested labours of himself and his colleagues, adding, "though we might have been burdensome to you, being apostles of Christ," it is probable that under this term he includes Sylvanus, who had laboured with him in Thessalonica, and whose name appears in the superscription of the letter. The apostleship of Barnabas, at any rate, is beyond question. St. Luke records his consecration to the office as taking place at the same time with, and in the same manner as, St. Paul's (Acts 13:2, 3). In his account of their missionary labours again, he names them together as "apostles," even mentioning Barnabas first (Acts 14:4, 14). St. Paul himself also in two different Epistles holds similar language (Galatians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 9:5). If, therefore, St. Paul has held a larger place than Barnabas, in the gratitude and veneration of the Church of all ages, this is due not to any superiority of rank or office, but to the ascendency of his personal gifts, a more intense energy and self-devotion, wider and deeper sympathies, a firmer intellectual grasp, a larger measure of the Spirit of Christ. It may be added also, that only by such an extension of the office could any footing be found for the pretensions of the false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13; Revelation 2:2). Had the number been definitely restricted, the claims of these interlopers would have been self-condemned. But if the term is so extended, can we determine the limit to its extension? This will depend on the answer given to such questions as these: — What was the nature of the call? What were the necessary qualifications for the office? What were the duties attached to it? The facts gathered from the New Testament are insufficient to supply a decisive answer to these questions; but they enable us to draw roughly the line by which the apostolate was bounded.

1. The rank of an apostle. The first order in the Church (1 Corinthians 12:28, 29; Ephesians 4:11).

2. Tests of apostleship.

(1) Having seen Christ after His resurrection (Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8, 21, 22). This knowledge was supplied to St. Paul miraculously.

(2) Possessing the powers of an apostle (1 Corinthians 9:1, 2; 2 Corinthians 12:1, 2). These "signs" our modern conceptions would lead us to separate into two classes. The one of these includes moral and spiritual gifts — patience, self-denial, effective preaching; the other comprises such powers as we call supernatural.

(Bishop Lightfoot.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

WEB: Paul, an apostle (not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead),

The Inscription
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