(1 Corinthians 4:8-13)
In this section we see Paul talking about the roles of the apostles.
To be an apostle is to be greatly blessed by the Lord for it is an important work that the apostles did and do. But as we see in this scripture the work of the apostles is sometimes a hard and thankless task. They are at the vanguard of the Christian Faith and it is the apostles who lead the charge in the spreading of the word and the teaching of the new converts to Christianity.
The apostles suffer much to fulfill their mission to the Lord and they are much maligned. Aside from the opposition they get from their obvious visibility to the opponents of Christ, they also have the worries and concerns of ensuring the young Christians do not fall back into old ways as they have barely escaped the ways of the world.
What is Apostleship?
There are many different ideas about just what makes an apostle, so first and foremost we should dispel some of the myths and look at what it means to be an apostle.
Firstly, to be an apostle is not something a person takes upon themself.
Apostleship is one of the five gifts of ministry given to the church when Jesus ascended after his death and resurrection, as shown in Ephesians 4:11-12.
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, – (Ephesians 4:11-12)
So an apostle is not something a person can take on themselves, it must be given by God for them to become and do the work of Apostleship.
And we see this in the case of the first twelve apostles of the lord, and also in the case of Paul and Barnabus who were appointed as apostles by the lord.
Simply put what an apostle is and what it means to be an apostle is to be one who is sent out.
The first apostles were sent out by the Lord to spread the word of the gospel and to bring people to God. They began this work before the Lord had even died as He sent them out on various occasions to teach and preach and prepare for His coming into the various towns He was to visit.
Then we see when Paul and Barnabas were selected specifically by the Lord to do the work of apostles, for they did not make this decision themselves but were selected specifically by the Lord to do the work of apostles. Note how this took place in the following scriptures while these two men were in the church at Antioch.
2 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.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. – (Acts 13:2-3)
It was through a direct instruction in prophecy from the Holy Spirit that Barnabas and Paul were selected and sent out as apostles. And we see they were subsequently named as apostles as they did their ministry.
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, – (Acts 14:14)
The Apostles Challenge
The challenge of being an apostle is seen in the words of Paul in this section of 1 Corinthians 4. Theirs is not the easy road but is a difficult walk because of their responsibility for the church and ensuring the integrity of the truth of the doctrine that will enable Christians to walk the straight and narrow path.
9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. – (1 Corinthians 4:9-13)
The apostles gave up all things of this world for the sake of serving Jesus Christ. They did not seek or covet the things of this world because they recognized there was a better place and a greater reward on offer from the lord.
We too need to learn the lessons of the apostles whether we aspire to be an apostle or not. We need to put all things of this life into a distant second place behind our desire to serve the lord and to seek the truth of Jesus Christ. As Jesus said with respect to getting our priorities right, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – (Matthew 6:33)
So learn the lessons of the apostles who stand as an example of the faith that we all need to aspire to. Seek the kingdom of God first and above all things as they did and stand firm in your faith as you walk towards the kingdom of God.
(Photo sourced from freeimages.com provided by Renato Trizolio)
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