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Culver Robert D. Apostles and the Apostolate in the New Testament. Bibliotheca Sacra 134 No 534 AP-Je 1977 131-143. Charismatic Cessationism

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   Apostles  and the  Apostolate in  the New Testament Robert  Duncan  Culver  A number of currents of thought in contemporary church  life invite fresh attention to the precise nature and purpose of the New Testament apostolate. Some Roman Catholics and charismatics are presenting new ideas about revelation. In this age of   lawless- ness, persons in many denominations and sects are raising questions about ecclesiastical authority. Others have misconceptions about the  signs  of an apostle. In addition, there is the  growing  habit of referring to certain foreign missionaries or strong religious leaders as apostles — apparently intended literally rather than metaphor- ically. The word  apostle  is a loan word from Greek by way of Latin.  As with the word  baptize,  another such loan word, the reader of the  Bible  must decide what it means from the way it is used. The  bare elements of the Greek word  απόστολο ς   mean one sent forth. The root meaning of the word, however, does not indicate how,  when, by whom, nor for what purpose he is to be sent. LINGUISTIC  BACKGROUND New Testament use alone is  decisive  for the meaning of an apostle and for the theological significance of the apostolate. This is true of many important theological terms of Scripture but pecu-liarly true of this one. Though the word was already old, and there is a near󰀭equivalent Hebrew word used in the Old Testament and in  Rabbinical literature, the New Testament use is unprecedented. 131  132 / Bìbliotheca Sacra — April-June 1977 BACKGROUND IN GREEK USAGE The word  apostle  (απόστολος)  in the older Greek literature  was a special maritime term or military term. A dispatched fleet  was known collectively as the apostle. The same was true of a military expedition. Such an apostle was utterly impersonal, with- out  responsibility as such; it simply had the quality of being sent away.  In the Greek world,  απόστολος   never became a term for a personal emissary or representative. Thus its later Christian usage  was an innovation to Greek ears or to those familiar with Greek. 1 In  Greek culture, religious messengers were called by other names, some of which are used in the Greek New Testament and are translated by such words as  angel, messenger,  preacher,  etc. Ordinarily in the case of important terms in the New Testament, the  Septuagint shows that those Greek words already had a biblical usage before the New Testament authors employed them.  Righ- teousness,  for example, in the Greek New Testament is  δικαιοσύνη. This word is widely used in the Septuagint and is almost  always the  rendering of   TT2Í and its cognates. So all the Old Testament uses of T7X bear directly on the meaning of the New Testament word. But such is not the case with  apostle.  There is a word in Hebrew  (ΓΓ^Φ) which means about what  apostle  means but it is not  rendered  apostle  by the Septuagint, except for one case, which hardly furnishes a precedent (1 Kings 14:6). The writings of Philo and  Josephus, usually helpful, furnish no aid either. BACKGROUND  IN JEWISH USAGE The  Christian usage, however, does seem to have some con- nection  with a Jewish legal custom and name thereof with roots in the  Old Testament. The Hebrew verb for sending an authorized messenger is ΓΟΦ (2 Chron. 17:7). The simple  passive  participle of this verb is used of authorized messengers. This word m*?tP (1 Kings 14:6), though apparently not attaining technical status in the Old Testament or in postbiblical Judaism (and perhaps earlier  2 ) does seem to attain that status in the form sometimes modified to IV*?tP.  As such, it is a legal term, not a religious term. Insofar as there is a  background for   apostle  in Jewish or Hebrew words and uses it is 1  Theological Dictionary of the New Testament,  ed. Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard  Friedrich, trans, and ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, s.v. απόστολοι,  by Karl Heinrich Rengstorf, 1 (1964): 408. 2 Ibid., p. 414, footnote 56.   Apostles and the Apostolate in the New Testament / 133 the  ΓΡ^Φ. This word and usage appears sometimes, with modifica- tions  from Aramaic, in the Rabbinical literature. The Rabbis said of a rr*W the one sent by a man is as the man  himself,  i.e., the sent person is a minister plenipotentiary for the one who sent him. 3 The  idea has deep roots in the Old Testament. When David's ser- vants said to  Abigail,   David sent ( n*?tP) us to thee to take thee to  wife,  she prostrated herself to them and in every respect treated them  as if they were David himself (1 Sam. 25:40󰀭41). Later when David sent (n*?tt0 his servants to commiserate  Hanun,  king of  Ammon, and those servants were insulted and shamefully treated  by that hapless king, David went to war with Ammon, showing that  such an insult to the persons of the messengers was an insult to  the king himself and his country. The apostolate and Jesus'  words to His apostles come immediately to mind: He that re󰀭ceiveth you receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that  sent Me (Matt. 10:40). This office is frequently mentioned by name for official repre-sentatives of various groups, communities, and official bodies of Judaism in the early centuries of the Christian era and earlier.  Authorities furnish many examples. 4  Apparently Saul of Tarsus  was functioning as a ΓΓ^Φ for the Jewish authorities at Jerusalem  when he met Christ on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1󰀭2). It  is this word and its Jewish precedents, not the Greek use of απόστολο  ç, which furnishes the true source — insofar as a source may be sought — for Jesus' innovation of the apostolate. Further support for this assertion is seen in the fact that the Aramaic trans-lation of the Bible (the Syriac Peshitta) uses this very word  ΓΓ^Φ to  translate  απόστολος   in the New Testament and for he that is sent (John 13:16). In  all Jewish use the central idea is official delegatedness. The ΓΓ^ΐΡ  is not a preacher, as such, or missionary, or herald (though these may be true of him). His capacity is that of one empowered  by a sending party or group to act with full authority for the sender. Hence  prophets of the Old Testament were not, as such, DTP^W. Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and Ezekiel are sometimes called  DTT^tP, however, because they performed actions ordinarily reserved for God  alone (e.g., causing water to  flow  out of a rock, causing rain, raising the dead,  etc.). 5 3 Talmud, Berakoth, 5. 4  Theological Dictionary of the New Testament,  s.v.  απόστολοι,    1 (1964): 420󰀭24. 5 Ibid., p. 419.  134  /  Bibliotheca  Sacra  —  April󰀭June  1977 NEW   TESTAMENT  OCCURRENCE  OF  Apostle  Apostle  appears seventy󰀭nine times in the New Testament times in Luke's writings; thirty󰀭four times in Paul's; only once each  in Matthew, Mark, and John (though not in the usual sense in  John 13:16), Hebrews, 1 Peter, and Jude; twice in 2 Peter; and three  times in Revelation. Over eighty󰀭six percent of the occurrences are in the writings of Paul and of his companion, Luke. In  all these occurrences the word  always  designates a man sent with plenipotentiary authority. This is clarified in the only three  texts where in the Authorized Version the word is translated rather   than transliterated: he that is sent (John 13:16), mes-sengers of the churches (2 Cor. 8:23); your messenger (Phil. 2:25). The apostle may be commissioned by Christ — and this is the  normal sense — or he may be a person commissioned by a congregation, in which case he is the church's apostle, not as such Christ's apostle (2 Cor. 8:23; Phil. 2:25). THE  APOSTOLATE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT THE  ORIGIN  OF  JESUS'  APOSTOLATE OF TWELVE The  first  known followers of Jesus came from John's disciples, as seen in the  first  chapter of John. Several of the followers known as the  twelve  apostles were with Him during His  first  year of ministry (largely in obscurity) in Judea, but they must have spent time in Galilee too, for there is no reason to believe they were yet instructed to leave their customary occupations. Early, however, in His  second year of ministry, mainly in Galilee, He called them to  give  up their ordinary employments and be with Him constantly.  And probably not many   weeks  afterwards, He promoted them to the  third and final stage of nearness to Himself, by ordaining them to  be apostles. 6  (See Mark   3:13󰀭19;  Matthew 10:1; Luke  9:1󰀭10; cf.  6:13󰀭16,  esp. v. 13). The  initiative in becoming a disciple came partly from the men  who became disciples — and there were multitudes of them. There were other Jewish teachers who had disciples  (µαθατής, learner, follower ). The initiative for becoming Jesus' apostle, however, came entirely from the Master Himself: He called unto Him  His disciples; and of them He chose twelve, whom also He named  apostles (Luke 6:13; cf. John 15:16). 6 James Stalker,  The Life of   Christ,  29th ed. (New  York:  Fleming H. RevellCo., 1949), p. 77.
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