Priests – Apostles – and the Church Part 1 of 2


This can be a delicate subject on a couple of fronts.  One is the controversy over who is the twelfth Apostle?  My pastor, his seminary, and many other Bible teachers contends that Matthias is not a legitimate Apostle.  They argue that Peter had no authority to appoint Matthias as the replacement for Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:16-26), and that Paul is actually the twelfth Apostle.   Paul, being appointed directly by Jesus (Acts 9:3-16) then, is the legitimate replacement for Judas Iscariot.  The flaw in that argument is clear when we consider that in Acts 2:1-4 the Holy Spirit as “tongues of fire” came upon all twelve, including Matthias, anointing them (all) to go forth and do the work.

  • NOTE: In this paper upper case “Apostle” represents the Twelve and Paul.  Lower case refers to all/any other apostles the Biblical text may mention.

Additionally, Christ’s own words to the twelve:  “And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” Mat 19:28.  His promise is that in the millennia each of the twelve tribes will have an Apostle appointed over them – one of the twelve over each tribe.  Paul, on the other hand, was not appointed as an Apostle to Israel, but as the Apostle to the Gentile nations: “For I speak to you Gentiles, since I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify my office” Rom 11:13.

To Paul Jesus said, For so has the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set you to be a light of the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation unto the ends of the earth” Ac 13:47.

But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision (the Gentiles) was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision (Israel) was unto Peter; (For he that worked effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles🙂 Gal 2:7-8.

Why Paul?
The twelve Apostles were all Jews living in Galilee.  Paul, on the other hand, was sort of an interloper.  Although a Jew, with extraordinary credentials, he was from Tarsus, a city of Cilicia in the heart of Roman territory, and a natural born Roman citizen.

What is an Apostle? This may be a good place to define the term and magnify our understanding.  All things are not always as them seem.

Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary:Noun: ἀπόστολος (apostolos), GK 693 (S 652), 80x. apostolos broadly refers to a “messenger, delegate,” or “sent one.” In classical Greek, apostolos referred to a person of merit sent as an envoy or on behalf of a master in an administrative role. John uses the term in a similar way, applying it to any messenger without the specific idea of an office with special status (Jn. 13:16) …Luke identifies both Barnabas and Paul as apostles). For Luke, the apostles are God’s messengers or delegates who have unique status among the fledgling churches. Every important decision is made by the apostles, and no independent authority is found outside of this unique group of leaders…apostolos does not refer to the Twelve alone but more generally to an honored group of believers with special status as God’s messengers or envoys (e.g., Paul identifies both Peter and Barnabas as apostles, Gal. 1:18-19; 2,1, 9, 13). Paul’s understanding of apostolos and its distinguishing features are as follows: (a) The call to apostleship is not initiated by the human agent but by God in Jesus Christ alone (Gal. 1:1) and comes about through meeting the risen Lord (1 Cor. 9:1; 15,7; Gal. 1:16). (b) Suffering is a mark of apostleship (1 Cor. 4:9-13; 2 Cor. 4:7-12; 11,23-29). (c) Like the OT prophets, apostles have special insight into the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4:1). (d) Apostolic authority is not the result of inherent quality in the office holder but is a function of the gospel’s own power to convict and communicate truth (Rom. 15:18; 2 Cor. 4:2).  Without doubt, the technical use of apostolos in the NT canon varies between different books and must be treated carefully as one seeks to define this term clearly. It should be stated, however, that the overall thrust of the word in Pauline and Lukan usage is that of an emissary of God, similar to the prophets of the OT, with special authority and status in Christ for the sake of the gospel. (Emphasis added).

Strong’s Dictionary defines an apostle simply as a delegate; specially, an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ (“apostle”) (with miraculous powers); (G652). The word is translated in the King James as: apostle, messenger, he that is sent.

An interesting question arises
:  What is the difference between and apostle and a priest?
The difference is “top down” verses “bottom up.”  Biblically, an apostle (in Biblical terms) represents God and His interests as He reaches “down” to humanity calling them to faith, justification, sanctification, glorification, and eternal life – God has done all the work and provided the required sacrifice through Jesus Christ.  Priests represent humanity, offering “up” sacrifices on our behalf for sin and disobedience in a feeble attempt to appease their gods.  The Levitical priesthood was appointed by God to represent not only the Jews, but all mankind.  The animal sacrifices they offered up were to illustrate the seriousness of sin and the cost a loving God was willing to pay to redeem us – the sacrifice of Himself on the cross of Calvary.

Church age Saints live during the Dispensation of Grace and offer “up” spiritual sacrifices to God – not sacrifices for atonement.  Our sacrifices are those of love, appreciation, thankfulness, joy, and the sort.  They are sacrifices of love. Prayers of appreciation, especially our sanctification, the expiation of our sin by the ultimate sacrifice the blood and life of our propitiator, Jesus Christ.  We praise God not because He demands it, but for all the wonderous things He continually gives from His abundant and never-ending grace – from each glorious sunrise to life eternal and everything in-between.

“…if we want to fulfill the chief purpose for which God created us, we must live to glorify God by enjoying Him forever, so that our joy in God spills over into continual praise of God.” (John Piper) 

Paul teaches us:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” Rom 12:1.“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling fragrance” Eph 5:2.
Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all” Php 2:17.“But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God” Php 4:18.

In the millennial Kingdom there will be a new Temple, and there will be a priesthood in Israel offering up blood sacrifices as continual remembrance of the tremendous price God paid for the redemption of humanity through the body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ. 

A new Temple requires a new order of worship which is described in Eze 44. It includes special ministers. One of these is the prince (Eze 44:3) which is most likely a reference to David or someone in the Davidic line. Also included are the Levites (Eze 44:10-14) and the priests of Zadok (Eze 44:15-19).  Interestingly, only three of the six great annual feasts of Israel will be included in the worship: Passover and Unleavened Bread, are combined as one feast, and the Feast of Tabernacles. The other three, Pentecost, Trumpets and Atonement are left out, presumably because the initiation of God’s new program rendered these feasts obsolete.  Nelson – King James Study Bible, Copywrite 1988 – pg 1258.

Exploring Scripture~because it matters-it really does!

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