As we continue looking at the role that apostles fulfilled in the early Church we come to the last of the six major tasks that stand out clearly…
6> Demonstrating and imparting the supernatural dimension of the Kingdom of God. Even though it is God’s intention for ALL believers to heal the sick, cast out demons, and perform miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit (Mark 16:17-20), apostles in particular are to bear this credential (2 Corinthians 12:12)
It is noted that God did extraordinary miracles through Paul (Acts 19:11), implying the presence of supernatural manifestations greater than “ordinary” miracles. And it is said that “with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of The Lord Jesus.” (Acts 4:33). Not only did the apostles demonstrate the power of God, but they also imparted it in special ays to other believers (see Acts 8:4-20, 10:44-46, 19:1-6; 2 Timothy 1:6-7)
Although the first-century apostles fulfilled these six general functions we have been looking at, the apostolic role was carried out quite uniquely by each of the apostles described in the New Testament.
Peter was particularly gifted at reaching the lost
Paul excelled in teaching and building believers together into a functional expression of the body of Christ
John was an apostle with a prophetic heart. His passion was that God’s people would walk righteously and in love relationships, both with The Lord and with each other
James, the half-brother of Jesus, also was recognized as an apostle (1 Corinthians 15:7), even though his ministry was apparently more pastoral and primarily localized in Jerusalem.
Having an apostolic ministry did not automatically mean the apostle had the right to exercise full authority in all places and situations. It as a ministry based on relationship and not just on calling. Paul told the Corinthians: “Are you not my work in The Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in The Lord” (1 Corinthians 9:1-2).
Paul had been instrumental in bringing the Gospel to Corinth and laying the church’s foundation there. Because of this, he claimed a special relationship with the Corinthians that enabled him to speak to them with a boldness that might not have been appropriate with the churches in Jerusalem or Rome, both of which had been established by others.
Also, it appears that the authority of an apostle waned in certain ways after the local church was firmly established and provided with the oversight of local leaders. Although Paul intervened without apology to resolve major problems not being remedied by the local leadership (as in Corinth), at other times he seemed to assume the role of a father whose parental authority diminished after his son or daughter reached adulthood.
It is crucial to note that Paul’s heart was not to establish a chain of “we are of Paul” churches, but to see each church function under the headship of Christ (see Colossians 1:18, Acts 20:32, 2 Corinthians 11:2-3).