Question: "What is an apostle?"
Answer: The word apostle means “one who is sent out.” In the New Testament, there are two primary usages of the word apostle. The first is in specifically referring to the twelve foundational apostles of Jesus Christ. The second is in generically referring to other individuals who are sent out to be messengers/ambassadors of Jesus Christ.
The twelve foundational
This specific type of foundational apostle is not present in the church today. The
Beyond the unique twelve foundational apostles of Jesus Christ, there were also apostles in a generic sense. Barnabas is referred to as an “apostle” in Acts 13:2 and 14:4. Andronicus and Junias are possibly identified as apostles in Romans 16:7. The same
What exactly would be the role of an apostle outside that of the twelve foundational apostles? That is not entirely clear. From the definition of the word, the
There are some today who are seeking to restore the position of foundational apostle. This is a dangerous movement (NAR). Frequently, those claiming the office of apostle seek authority equal to, or at least rivaling, the authority of the original twelve foundational apostles. There is absolutely no biblical evidence to support such an understanding of the role of apostle today. This would fit with the New Testament’s warning against false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13).
In a sense, all followers of Jesus Christ are called to be apostles. We are all to be His ambassadors (Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20). We are all to be “ones who are sent out” (Acts 1:8). We are all to be preachers of the good news (Romans 10:15).
"AND HE GAVE SOME, APOSTLES, AND SOME PROPHETS, AND SOME EVANGELIST, AND SOME PASTORS AND TEACHERS"...EPHESIANS 4:11.
Recommended Resource: Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch