God reintroduced the office and role of the prophet in the late 1970’s and throughout the 1980’s. Then in the early 1990’s He began to reintroduce the role and function of the apostle to the church. As always, there were a few forerunners or pioneers who paved the way. They were known to function in these ministry offices long before the Church, in general, began to note and recognize the work of these five-fold ministers of the Gospel. However, in spite of these major moves of the Holy Spirit, many branches of the Church today still have yet to recognize the ministry of the apostles and prophets.
It is encouraging to note that among the churches who have recognized the role of the apostle and the need to establish and maintain a relationship with an apostolic person – that there is an increase in the apostolic anointing on both the leadership and the people of those churches. God is certainly preparing us for a major “sending out” of the apostolic ones. A tremendous harvest of souls is soon to be experienced.
Also, we are beginning to see the prophets and the apostles work together in apostolic-prophetic teams. This is an exciting and recent advancement of these ministries and will be very beneficial to the Church as they receive the combined ministry of an apostle and prophet working together. This is soon to be noted as basic to sustaining health in the local church.
Since apostles and prophets are foundational to the Church, it is important to understand how these offices work together. There are some similarities in the two offices and there are a number of differences.
The similarities in the two offices of apostle and prophet include:
- Both apostles and prophets teach and preach the Word of God
It is important to note that “teaching” is what we do when we open God’s Word and bring revelation of His Heart to the saints. We teach God’s people the Word of God.
“Preaching” is what we do when we are opening God’s Word to the unsaved in the process of evangelizing them with the goal of seeing souls won for the Kingdom. (see: Romans 10:14-15)
Often today, in the Church, we use these two words in an incorrect way. We use them to describe a “style” of communicating God’s Word. If we go ‘line-by-line’ in a soft voice then we are teaching. If we are excited and share stories as we communicate His Word then we are preaching. This is an incorrect, non-biblical understanding.
Jesus, of course, is noted to have done both – to teach and to preach.
Both apostles and prophets must be able to teach as well as preach God’s Word. They share the responsibility of declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the unsaved (preach) as well as providing sound doctrine to the Church (teach).
- Both apostles and prophets impart spiritual gifts
Each of these ministries has the ability to impart spiritual gifts to believers. Apostles will impart gifts by criteria, need, and revelation; prophets will impart gifts by revelation. Both are simply recognizing the callings and giftings that the Holy Spirit has already placed upon the individual.
Acts 13:1a, 2-3 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
At times they will work together to do this – this is called a presbytery.
- Both apostles and prophets lay spiritual foundations
The ministry of the apostles and prophets laid the foundation for the Church. No present day apostles and prophets will author scriptures, but they are responsible to make sure that the foundation of Christ stands sure. The foundations include such things as basic doctrine, His purpose for that local assembly, the general call and mission of the Church, and the plans of God in the present day – known as establishing “present day truth”. They are also responsible to correct any wrong foundations that have been laid in the past. As well, they are to repair any cracks in the foundations – where teachings have gone slightly off-base or the local Church has not kept up with the current revelations of the Lord Jesus to His Church.
2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”
And God’s solid foundation for His Church will stand firm as the apostle and prophet work together to lay foundations as well as correct and adjust foundations in each local church.
- Apostles and prophets establish believers and churches in the faith
Apostles and prophets have the ability to bring the people back to the purity of the faith. They have the responsibility to promote growth and stability in the Church.
The Focus of Apostles:
The focus and thrust of apostles is reflective of the role of the heart in the human body. The heart is the central location from where blood is pumped to the rest of the body. It is said to house the innermost feelings and emotions. Apostles endeavor to reveal to the Church the heart of God. They have a love for God and strive to make others aware of the love of God towards them.
Apostles strive to see the Church advance in the Kingdom of God. Their ministry releases life to the Body. In the same manner that the heart pumps blood throughout the body, they will make sure believers walk in newness of life by their continual ministering in the Church. Though apostles have a zeal for order and structure in the Church it must be balanced by love.
Apostles will know how to express the innermost heart of God and bring people into a father-child relationship with the Lord. At its core, the apostolic office wants to see men and women be conformed to the likeness and image of Christ. The heart of God from the beginning was to have sons and daughters. The apostolic ministry is given to see this fulfilled.
The Focus of Prophets:
Apostolic individuals long to see the heart of God fulfilled in having sons and daughters. Prophets work to see the sons and daughters fulfill the plan, purpose, and will of God. Prophetic individuals operate the same as the mind in the human body. Prophets have the responsibility to communicate the mind and thoughts of God. They will have insights into what God is saying and doing.
The words of a prophet will mobilize people to action after the father-son relationship is established through the ministry of the apostles. Prophetic individuals will know how to articulate the Word of the Lord and inspire others to follow His commands. God created man for His glory and to fulfill His purpose. The prophetic ministry is given to see this fulfilled in the earth.
We have seen, then, that apostles and prophets have some areas of ministry that they hold jointly. Each ministry also has some aspects of ministry that are their unique domain and responsibility. However, it is evident that they do have a joint ministry to the Church as they work together as a team. The apostolic and prophetic anointings work together as a check and balance to one another. In the human body, the heart brings substance to what is received in the mind, while the mind filters the emotions of the heart. Apostolic ministry balances the prophetic ministry by bringing stability and order to what God is saying. Conversely, prophetic ministry balances apostolic ministry by giving direction to what is received through the apostolic ministry.
They work together so that the Church will have the heart and mind of Christ in all situations. The apostolic anointing and the prophetic anointing work together to ensure the Body of Christ remains strong and healthy.