The word ‘apostle’ was used by Jesus to describe the 12 men He chose and then trained. When they were ready, He sent them out as apostles. Today – there are many who are called to be apostles but they are not willing to be trained and so often launch their ministry ahead of God’s schedule for them and thus do much that is in the flesh – wounding many in the Name of Jesus. It is imperative that those whom He calls, like the original 12 (Mark 3), wait until they are trained, ready, recognized, and sent before beginning their apostolic ministry (Matthew 28).
The background of the word ‘apostolos’ or one who is sent goes back to the days of Alexander the Great and the founding and expansion of the Greek Empire. He was, according to some history books, the first one to begin using this word. History tells us that Alexander the Great – King of Macedonia, 350 years before Christ – would send messengers with a team on behalf of his kingdom or empire to accomplish a specific mission; this was his most popular method used to conquer other nations.
The commander of this special force (the team) was called an “apostle;” the king would give him the power and authority to establish the Greek empire wherever he was sent. This was called an apostolic mission, and the soldiers were referred to as the apostolic team. This team would arrive at the appointed place, fight with the enemy, destroy it, and finally establish a base of operation to govern the nation in the name of Alexander the Great. The word “apostle” describes the leader of a special group of individuals who were sent with the authority and specific purpose of conquering a territory for the king and establish his kingdom.
This is strictly a military term. This elite force was composed of a small group of individuals who were well trained and equipped for war; they were the first to take over a small portion of the enemy’s territory; the first to lead the way and establish the kingdom of Alexander the Great.
Today – nothing has changed. Apostles are still called to lead a team and establish a beachhead in enemy territory where a local church is eventually established. However, what has changed since the days when this was a military term is that many are not equipped or trained for what they are genuinely called to do. Those called to be apostles need to be mentored by others who are already ministering as apostles – true apostles. And, they need to be trained and equipped before being released to minister. When released, they must be sent out by someone who, like Alexander the Great, has the authority to send them – and they are sent from a local church … the existing outpost of the Kingdom in enemy territory responsible for moving deeper into the darkness with the light.