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1. In order to go deeper into the inherent diverse characteristics of an apostolic and prophetic ministry, first it is important to understand the unity that these two ministerial offices have.  Some of the fundamental aspects of this unity are detailed below.
a. The apostles and prophets have been designated by the Lord to occupy «first and second place» in exercising their authority in the Church (1st Corinthians 12:28).

b. This same ministerial order is reaffirmed by the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 4:11 when it mentions the five ministries.

c. Jesus himself established that the apostolic and prophetic ministries form an «indivisible ministerial unit», because when referring to them they are always mentioned in a conjoined manner.  One of these two mentions is found in Luke 11:49:

“Therefore the wisdom of God also said,
and some of them they will kill and persecute” (emphasis added).

The context in which Jesus said these words alludes to a historic act and the judgment over Jerusalem several years later (see 2nd Chronicles 24:19-22, Mathew 23:34-37).  But what stands out is the use of the term “apostle” because the apostles in the Old Testament, had not been established as a ministerial office yet.  Based on this truth it is possible to observe that Jesus is giving the words that God spoke, a projection into the future, because he attributes the apostolic and prophetic functions to his person and delegates them to those that he would constitute after ascending to heaven.

2.  The five ministries would continue to exercise their functions until Jesus Christ returns for his Church. Taking this undeniable principal into account each one of these ministries possesses unique, particular and irreplaceable characteristics for its office. In regards to apostles and prophets, one of their primary functions is to lay the foundation of Jesus Christ and his doctrine in the Church (see Ephesians 2:20).

The prophets and apostles of old received the irreplaceable commission of writing the divine revelation, which contains the doctrinal foundation of the Church.  What we know today as the Bible condenses the revelation of the foundation which has already been established and that is Jesus Christ.  If this is true that prophets and apostles of old wrote what God revealed to them, the apostles and prophets of today have the ability to impart to the church a fresh revelation of the original truth contained in the doctrine of the apostles.  With this supernatural grace they can give direction and structure the Church.  For this reason the scripture emphasizes that they should be placed as «first and second», which confirms that the apostles and prophets form an «indivisible ministerial unit» destined for the Church so that it may take on its design, identity and Christ edifies the Church because He is the Head, the apostles and prophets are laborers that follow the instructions of the Lord because they are not authorized to work according to their own personal criteria.

3.  Having proved that apostles and prophets are «first and second», a greater spiritual authority to serve the body of Christ has been given to them.  It is necessary to emphasize some of the characteristics that distinguish the apostolic and prophetic authority.

a. Spiritual Paternity:  It is common to call a Christian who leads another person to Christ “spiritual father” but this idea is not only erroneous but it is totally separated from the true spiritual paternity that the Word reveals.  The teaching of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament attributes spiritual paternity to the apostolic and prophetic anointing, because it has the supernatural capacity to conceive spiritual children.  It can be exercised at a personal level, as in the case of Paul with Timothy and Titus (see 1st Timothy 1:2, 18, 2nd Timothy 2:1, Titus 1:4), but it has greater relevance when it is applied to the Church.  Historically, the Body of Christ had many “tutors” that educated it; yet the apostolic and prophetic anointing is the only one that could give true spiritual paternity because it imparts its genetics and essence (see 1st Corinthians 4:14-15, 1st Thessalonians 2:11). 

b. Care and Protection: As a result of the paternal love of the Lord poured out in their hearts, the apostles and prophets developed these qualities giving themselves completely in favor of the Church.  By this action the Body of Christ is fed,  guarded, covered, formed and sent to reach the fullness of its purpose (see 2nd Corinthians 11:28; 12:14-15, Galatians 4:19, 1st Thessalonians 2:7-8).

c. Apostolic Doctrine:   Because of their discernment and understanding of the foundation of the Church, which is Jesus Christ, apostles and prophets establish an essential apostolic doctrine, so that the life of the church may be developed in the truth of God and not in the doctrines of man (see Acts 2:42, 2nd  Thessalonians 2:15, Titus 1:9).

d. Direction and Order: The apostolic and prophetic authority brings adequate direction to the Church according to divine perspective which produces order in every area where it functions.  In this way, the Church represents Jesus Christ before the world and it is transformed into the model of the Kingdom of the Heaven on earth (Acts 2:46-47, 1st Corinthians 11:34; 14:26-40, Titus 1:5).

e. Reaching its Spiritual Authority: The spiritual authority delegated by Jesus Christ to the apostles and prophets, is exercised over the ministers called to function in one of the ministerial gifts, and over local Churches.  The Word provides a demonstrative foundation for reaffirming that the exercise of this spiritual authority is «a double reach» (see Acts 15:36; 20:17, 27-22, Philippians 1:1, 1st Thessalonians 2:10-12).  Understanding that this authority is essentially paternal, the relationship of apostles and prophets with other ministers and local churches is permanent and lasting, which translates into a responsible paternity.

To complete what has been analyzed to this point, it is valid to compare the apostolic and prophetic authority to the figure of an “umbrella”.  When a person uses an umbrella they use it to protect themselves from the inclement weather, because it gives protection. In the same way, the apostolic and prophetic authority can be likened to an umbrella that gives cover, security, stability and at the same time determines the environment in which a person may move with security.

In Mathew 23:37, the words of Jesus to Jerusalem are registered, expressing his desire to protect Israel. To describe it He used the figure of a hen that gathers its chicks under its wings. There is a notable emphasis on his words because he began to scold Jerusalem for killing its prophets and those who were sent (apostles).  This reprehension makes it evident that the Lord wanted to offer this protection through them.  When Israel rejected the prophets and those who had been sent, they were rejecting God, who wanted to cover them, deliver them, preserve them and save them (see Isaiah 30:1; 31:5).

Before Jesus Christ, the people of God were Israel; after his work of redemption, the Church, the redeemed of all lineage, tongue, people and nation make up the people of God.  What transcends the most in what was expressed by Jesus is that he revealed what was in the mind of God from the beginning:

Apostles and prophets are the delegates of God for giving his protection. 

It is for this reason that the Lord continues to send apostles and prophets to cover his Church.  Due to the authority that flows from God, the apostles and prophets are capable of covering with authority and imparting authority.  Being so, the Church, the ministers and ministries that find refuge under this authority, acquire the dimension that the Lord has destined for them and they can implant the Kingdom, because they work under the government designed by God.

4.  The Word of God teaches that the spiritual government over the church is exercised by the five ministries.  The Lord has delegated to each one of them, a specific authority that makes them competent in their function.  That particular authority is what determines the environment in which they can move.

When God designed his government, he determined that a group of people would make up a team.  It is to say that representing the theocratic government is the work of a team.  Some examples in the scripture serve to clarify the idea of God working as a team:


a. Jesus assigned twelve of his disciples by divine direction, so that they would be with Him, and become part of «his team» (see Mark 3:13-15).

b. Jesus sent his disciples to preach the Kingdom of God as a team, «two by two» (see Mark 6:7, Luke 10:1).

c. At crucial moments of his life, Jesus called three of his disciples to be with Him (see Mathew 17:1-2; 26:36-38).

d. After Pentecost, you see the apostles working in teams (see Acts 3:1, 4; 15:1-2.

e. The first apostolic delegation in the Church of Antioch, was made by a team of prophets and teachers, who confirmed and sent Barnabas and Saul as an apostolic team created by the Holy Spirit (see Acts 13:1-3).

f. The Apostle Paul always conducted his ministry with a team, along with Barnabas, Luke, Judas, Silas, Timothy, Titus and others (see Acts 15:30-25, 40; 16:25; 17:14; 18:5; 2nd Corinthians 1:19; 1st Thessalonians 1:1).

g. The Word teaches that the spiritual direction of the local churches is the responsibility of an assembly of elders and not of one person (see Acts 20:17, Titus 1:5, James 5:14, 1st Peter 5:1).
In the cases mentioned above it is evident that the persons who were part of each ministerial team, were assigned by the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  The children of God, demonstrate that they are, when they are indeed the children of God led by the Holy Spirit (see Romans 8:14).  This is a principal that should be applied by any child of God in every area of his life; even much more in the formation of ministerial teams.  When Jesus Christ is respected as the Lord of his Church then this spiritual principal will be fulfilled and anything that comes from human criteria will automatically be rejected.

5. As part of their ministerial labor, apostles and prophets have the «double function» of establishing and spiritually covering the «ministers» called by the Lord and the «Churches» in which they work.  The Word provides a solid foundation by which it is affirmed that apostles and prophets exercise an authority that reaches the minister and the churches:
a. In relation to "the ministers":

* An apostolic-prophetic ministry possesses the authority to confirm and establish the persons –  who the Holy Spirit previously assigned – to their  ministerial functions has previously assigned» (see Acts 20:28).

* It strengthens the ministers in the sound apostolic doctrine, to preserve them from all erroneous doctrine (see Acts 20:26-31, 1st Timothy 1:3-11: 4:16; 6:13-14, 20-21, 2nd Timothy 2:15-18; 4:2-5, Titus 1:9).

* Admonish the elders who are sinning and correct those who deviate from the sound doctrine (see 1st Timothy 5:19-20, Titus 1:7a, 9, 13).

b. In relation to "the churches":

In the task of Paul and the team that he was a part of, you can observe some practical functions of the apostolic and prophetic authority in the local churches:

* To plant and establish churches (see 1st Corinthians 3:6, 10, Ephesians 2:20).

* To build up and establish elders in each local church (see Acts 14:23, Titus 1:5).

* To structure and organize the churches, faithfully teaching the apostolic doctrine, and giving diverse and precise orders that would allow them to grow, and strongly affirm them in the truth (see Acts 16:4-5, 1st Corinthians 4:17; 7:17b; 14:26-33, 40, 2nd John 9-11).

* To confirm and impart spiritual and ministerial gifts (see Romans 1:11-12, 2nd Timothy 1:6).

* To make sure that the churches remain faithful to the true gospel (see Galatians 1:6-8).

* To ensure moral purity in the churches (see 1st  Corinthians 5:1-7).

* To protect the churches form heresy and erroneous doctrine (see Romans 16:17, Ephesians 4:14, Colossians 2:8).

* To correct what is deficient (see Titus 1:5).

* To harshly rebuke the elders who were corrected and still persist in their sin (see Titus 1:13).

* To form Christ in the Saints (see Galatians 4:19).

In summary:
Based on everything analyzed, it is demonstrated that
the spiritual authority of the apostles and prophets is always
exercised towards the ministers and the local churches.


Related topics:
Purpose & command  I  Churches under spiritual authority   I  Spiritual government