Note: This article is the publication of a series of papers and essays that I have done in my Bible College education. I am sharing this series as a way to not only share some of the education that I’ve been through, but also because I think that they have the potential to generate good discussion or be a valuable study resource to others. Please feel free to share your thoughts…
Apostles are the foundation of our church. Just as Jesus told Peter in Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (NIV). I will first discuss Peter as an apostle, and then I will talk about what Peter has done in his role of apostle. I will then discuss how modern apostles are viewed today in the church, and finally discuss what activities an apostle would do in the modern church.
Peter was “the most prominent of the 12 apostles in the Gospels and an outstanding leader in the early days of the Christian Church” (Tenney 640). Peter was called as an apostle by God when Jesus was sending out the 12 in Matthew 10: “These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter)…” (NIV, Matthew 10:2). Peter also knew that he was separated to the calling of apostle as noted in 1 Peter 1:1 where he wrote, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,” and in 2 Peter 1:1 where he also wrote, “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ…” (NIV). Others also recognized Peter’s calling as an apostle. Paul writes in Galatians 2:8, “For God who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews…” (NIV).
Peter had a very active and productive life as an apostle. The Zondervan Pictorial Dictionary lists out the major recorded events of Peter after the ascension of Jesus:
- He acted as a leader among the other apostles, making suggestions for the formation of the early church, such as making a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:15:26)
- He addressed the Jews and all who lived in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, leading 3,000 to the Lord (Acts 2:14-40)
- He performed the miracle of healing a crippled beggar (Acts 3:1-4)
- He was used to expose sin, as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira when holding back money that was to be going to the church (Acts 5:1-12)
- He represented and spoke for the other apostles when on trial before the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:27-41)
There were also many other miracles that were performed, and other teaching and preaching that Peter was involved with throughout the book of Acts (Tenney 672). There are also two Epistles that are credited to him, and the Gospel of Mark is said to be “containing, substantially, the Story of Jesus as told by Peter” (Halley 457). It is clear that Peter was responsible for laying much of the foundation of the early church, and since much is known about his ministry, he provides a good example for the apostle of the modern church.
The modern day perspective on apostles is mixed, depending on what the source of the perspective is. Movies such as the 1997 movie The Apostle starring Robert Duvall tells the story of a very flawed, but faithful charismatic southern preacher. The PluggedIn movie review of this film points out a couple of perspectives that show a bit that may be relevant to the view of the modern apostle. “For supporters, it is a cautionary tale–a modern, no holds barred, big-screen parallel to the life of David complete with its own Bathsheba and Uriah. To detractors, it’s more like watching a replay of the tabloid-ready church scandals of the 1980s” (Waliszewski). From a different view, modern apostles such as Jack Hayford are highly respected church leaders. It is the leaders like Jack Hayford, often referred to as “the pastor’s pastor,” that bring about the positive images of what a modern apostle should be.
To define what activities the apostle should do in the modern church, we will take a closer look at Jack Hayford’s ministries. Although this list of ministries may look different for other apostles, Jack Hayford’s ministry involvement looks like this:
- Founding Pastor of The Church On The Way in Van Nuys, CA
- Living Way Ministries – dedicated to strengthening the Church of Jesus Christ
- Living Way Radio – half-hour weekday world-wide radio program
- Spirit Formed Television – teaching the Word of God
- The Living Way Bookstore – selling the 45 books he has authored
- The Jack W. Hayford School of Pastoral Nurture and The Online School of Pastoral Nurture – ministry resources and support for pastors and leaders
- King’s College and Seminary – equipping people for church and community leadership
- The Hayford Bible Institute – offering systematic biblical, theological, and Christian-life instruction
The Mission Statement of Jack Hayford Ministries sums all of this up by stating, “To proclaim the life and truth in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to grow Bible-centered and Holy Spirit-filled disciples through the development of resources from the ministry of Pastor Jack Hayford by their distribution through every possible means and media” (Unknown).
One thing that is clear is that the primary objective of a true apostle, whether Biblical or modern is to be a leader in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even though they were done in completely different ways, the two apostles discussed here were about the same mission. The major difference between them is the tools that they have available to them to help them accomplish their mission. I thank the Lord for sending forth men like these to help lay the foundation for my faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Halley, Henry. Halley’s Bible Handbook: An Abbreviated Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1927, 1965.
Tenney, Merrill C. Zondervan’s Pictorial Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1967.
Unknwon, Author. JackHayford.com: Building Leaders… Touching the World. 2003. Online. JackHayford.com. Internet. 12 December 2003. Available: http://www.jackhayford.com.
Waliszewski, Bob. Movie Reviews: The Apostle. 2003. Online. PluggedIn Online. Internet. 12 December 2003. Available: http://www.pluggedinonline.com.