We are looking at the scriptural roles that an apostle fulfills – without which the Church will not fulfill her destiny nor complete the Great Commission to “go into all the world and make disciples.” We saw that the apostle is involved in:
1> Taking the Gospel to unreached areas
2> Planting churches upon the foundation of Christ
3> Appointing and training the initial leaders of a church
Let’s continue this brief look into the ministry of an apostle as found in the New Testament that is still applicable today…
4> Dealing with specific problems, false doctrines, or sins. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth about a number of problems that had developed there: disunity, immaturity, pride, immorality, taking other believers to court before secular authorities, questions about celibacy and marriage, disputes about meat offered to idols, improper handling of the Lord’s Supper, misuse of spiritual gifts, and confusion about the resurrection.
Apostles are serious “defenders of the faith” while, at the same time, being very practical as they deal with ‘people issues’ within the church, especially within the leadership of the church. The understand what the Church of Jesus Christ is called to be and what the role of the Church is in the Kingdom and in the world. Thus, when they see behavior and lifestyles that prevent or hinder this understanding from becoming reality they become involved. Apostles are Master Builders and are deeply aware of what the Church that Jesus is building is to look like and they work hard to bring that vision to reality.
5> Promoting unity in the body of Christ. Paul addressed the need for unity on many different levels. In Philippi, he had to deal with contention between two women in the local assembly, Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2). In Corinth, Paul challenged the church’s citywide disunity, brought about when believers lost sight of the centrality of Christ and rallied around dynamic leaders such as himself, Apollos, and Peter.
In addition to dealing with unity issues in local assemblies or the church in a certain city, Paul also performed the apostolic role of networking the church regionally and around the world. “At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings.” (Romans 15:25-27)
At the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, Paul and the other apostles dealt with issues which could have unraveled unity throughout the Church of that day. Other examples are found is Acts 11:27-30, 1 Corinthians 16:14, and 2 Corinthians 8-9.