Introduction

The New Apostolic Church is characterized by the Apostle ministry , what is it all about, are the apostles of the New Apostolic Church apostles of Jesus Christ, as they claim of themselves? In this article we want to investigate the question of whether the Apostle ministry of the New Apostolic Church can be justified biblically and we provide information about facts that are of particular importance with regard to the New Apostolic Apostles.

Apostles – Witnesses of the Resurrection!

Jesus says: “You shall now be my witnesses to the end of the earth!” Are the Apostles of the New Apostolic Church witnesses to Jesus Christ?

Anyone who has ever attended a court hearing will not have failed to notice when the presiding judge calls one or more witnesses into the courtroom who can have a decisive influence on the outcome of the hearing. After telling the called witness to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, and untrue allegations will result in punishment, he asks him the question: Witness, what have you seen, what can you report?

So only the witness can be somebody who has seen something. Only those who are eyewitnesses of a particular event can report. If you haven’t seen anything, you can’t report anything, so you can’t be a witness.

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A trial with conviction

Apostles – Witnesses of the Resurrection!

Jesus says: “You shall now be my witnesses to the end of the earth!” Are the Apostles of the New Apostolic Church witnesses to Jesus Christ?

Anyone who has ever attended a court hearing will not have failed to notice when the presiding judge calls one or more witnesses into the courtroom who can have a decisive influence on the outcome of the hearing. After telling the called witness to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, and untrue allegations will result in punishment, he asks him the question: Witness, what have you seen, what can you report?

So only the witness can be somebody who has seen something. Only those who are eyewitnesses of a particular event can report. If you haven’t seen anything, you can’t report anything, so you can’t be a witness.

The thing is clear. Witnesses can only be those who have seen something. Only seeing and experiencing an event makes someone a witness. Now Jesus says to his apostles in Luke 1: “You are now to be my witnesses, starting from Jerusalem, Samaria and to the end of the earth.”

Historical apostles are real Witnesses

After what we have said above, the apostles living at that time could indeed be real witnesses. They could because they saw the life of Jesus, his crucifixion and resurrection, and even his ascension with their own eyes! According to Jesus’ own words, this eyewitness testimony was to reach Jerusalem, then Samaria, and finally to the end of the earth. What is Jesus talking about here? Clearly about the testimony of his work on this earth. Who could testify to this ministry of Jesus? Definitely only those who have seen the work of Jesus with their own eyes. The Apostle John later wrote to the churches in Asia Minor:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.“

1 John 1, 1-3

So Jesus was concerned with the testimony of his work on earth by people who could testify to this work because they had seen it themselves with their own eyes.. This happened through Jesus’ apostles first in Jerusalem, then in Samaria through their oral testimony and later through their written testimony, which finally spread to the end of the earth. The eyewitnesses wrote down what they had experienced with Jesus, what they had seen and heard for themselves. They knew that after their death there would be no more eyewitnesses who could claim to be true witnesses of the events of salvation. So they felt compelled to write down their testimony so that it could be shared forever. As church history shows, their testimony of the ministry of Jesus was actually spread to the end of the earth. Jesus’ words literally came true.

Eye witness plays a crucial role

The eyewitness testimony of the New Testament apostles thus plays a crucial role. It is often claimed that there were other apostles besides the first twelve. That is correct, for example the apostle Paul or Barnabas. Now it is said that these other apostles need not necessarily have seen the Lord. The New Testament would not prove that all apostles were eyewitnesses to Jesus. This is wrong! Perhaps the Lord had Paul write down the following sentence in view of such false claims.

“Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.en.”

1 Cor. 15, 6-8

Further Bible passages, which support the eye-witness-ship as a characteristic for a real apostle of Jesus Christ, will now follow For his own identification as an apostle, Paul especially points out that he had seen the Lord: In order to identify himself as an apostle Paul, Paul particularly points out that he saw the Lord:

“Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord?“

1 Cor. 9, 1

“Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”

1 Cor. 15, 8

“So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.“

Acts 1, 21-22

When it came to filling the gap that Judas had left in the circle of the twelve disciples, the others discussed who would now be eligible It had to be someone who knew the Lord personally and was a witness to his resurrection. Incidentally, the decision was made here by lot and not by election or by determination by a human being, as is the case in the New Apostolic Church, contrary to biblical practice. According to the statutes of the ‘New Apostolic Church International’, the so-called Chief Apostle elected or determined by its predecessor! The apostles are dated Chief Apostle put into office!

True Apostles Only Jews?

There is one other point that is easily overlooked. All of the New Testament apostles were of Jewish descent! This is a historical fact, but not yet proof that only Jews or those belonging to the people of Israel can be apostles. But the apostle Paul uses precisely this fact to legitimize himself as an apostle. The false apostles who existed in the early history of Christian communities also used this argument to justify themselves as true apostles. Why, if it didn’t matter? We can read about this in the Scriptures in the following text:

“Are they Hebrews (the flas apostles)? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.”

2nd Cor. 11, 22

In Corinth there were false apostles who, in order to legitimize themselves as apostles, specifically pointed out that they were Jews or Israelites. From this it is clear that Jewish descent was a special characteristic of an apostle at that time. Paul defends himself here and also cites this characteristic for himself. In this context, however, we must also pay attention to the verse in Rom. 2, 29. However, this is about circumcision and externals, which are not enough to make a person a Jew. Rather, the inner attitude and the essence must be right.

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The 12 apostles of Jesus

The apostles of the New Testament

A compilation of the following Bible texts:

”And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the

Mt. 10, 1-4

Simon Peter
Andreas
James
John
Philip
Bartholomew

Thomas
Matthew
James
Lebbäus / Thaddäus
Simon the Kananae
Judas Iscariot

Additional apostles

We are told of other apostles in the Holy Scriptures. For example from Matthias (Acts 1:26f), from Barnabas (Acts 14:14), and from Paul, of course, he also saw the Lord (Rom 1:1f)! Also James , the brother of the Lord is called an apostle (Gal. 1, 19). At Andronicus and Junias unfortunately, the matter is not quite as clear as with the other people. The wording of the Bible text can be read in different ways. For this reason we quote from several different translations:

Romans 16:7:
Revised Elberfelder 1985:

“Greet Andronicus and Junias, my friends and fellow prisoners, who are famous apostles and have been before me in Christ.”

Luther 1912:

“Greet Andronicus and Junias, my friends and fellow prisoners, who are famous apostles and have been before me in Christ.”

Schlachter 1951:

“Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives and fellow prisoners, who were respected among the apostles and were in Christ before me.”

Luther 1984:

“Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives and fellow prisoners, who are famous among the apostles and who were in Christ before me.”

The Greek text does not allow a decision whether the name is Junias or (female) Junia. In the old church and until the 13th century it was understood as a woman’s name (cf. the couple Aquila and Priska in verse 3).

Elberfelder 1905:

“Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives and my fellow prisoners, who are distinguished among the apostles {O. respected by the apostles} who were also in Christ before me.”

Interlinear translation:

“Greet Andronicus and Junias, my fellow tribesmen and fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles who were also in Christ before me!”

With Andronicus and Junias one is with regard to Rom. 16:7 therefore different opinions. Firstly, they are very respected among the apostles, but not apostles themselves, or secondly, they are distinguished and popular among the apostles as apostles.

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The twelve apostles of the Lamb

The twelve apostles of the Lamb

Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

Rev. 21, 14

Some believe that the Lord Himself here limited the number of apostles to twelve. We cannot agree with this, because the Bible itself names other apostles (Paul, Barnabas, etc.). However, if the first twelve apostles, more precisely, the apostles of Jesus Christ are meant here (Mt.10:2-3), they have a special meaning because they are referred to here as the apostles of the Lamb. So there is a demarcation to other apostles! What position do the other apostles have among the apostles, if special reference is made here to the twelve apostles of the Lamb? The New Apostolic Church has well over three hundred apostles! How many foundation stones would the heavenly Jerusalem have if the apostles of the New Apostolic Church were real apostles of Jesus Christ? You can only live a foundation stone once, at the beginning of the construction of a building. If we stick to this picture, it means that new cornerstones are constantly being added in the New Apostolic Church.

Churches are satisfied with false apostle

The Bible tells us about people who are involved with false apostles in the churches. Here the following is noticeable, they do not notice the misstake and live quite well with these false apostles. We also encounter both of these again and again in our conversations with New Apostolic people. They are happy with their apostles and do not want anything to change. Let’s take a look at what the scriptures say about it:

“For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles.“

2nd Cor. 11, 4-5

“For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face.“

2nd Cor. 11, 20

The apostle Paul took a stand here against the false apostles who were up to no good in Corinth.

False apostles also in Ephesus and Corinth

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.”

2nd Cor. 11, 13

“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;”

Rev. 2, 2

It seems to be the case that wherever there are or were true apostles, there are also false apostles! But does this easily allow the reverse conclusion that wherever false apostles are to be found, true apostles can also be found?

Some members of the New Apostolic Church acknowledge that a few of their apostles may be false apostles. This is how they try to explain how extreme injustice or inhumanity and wrongdoing can occur. Doctrines that are not in accordance with New Apostolic doctrine, but are proclaimed by apostles of the New Apostolic Church, also allegedly point to such false apostles As a rule, however, such apostles do not remain in ministry and dignity for very long. Especially in the past, when apostles were retired early for the reasons mentioned above or were even excommunicated, such apostles were called false apostles!

But does this mean that there are also true, genuine apostles of Jesus Christ in the New Apostolic Church? We believe that we have already shown above that the apostles of the New Apostolic Church cannot be apostles of Jesus Christ. In order to be able to assess this even more clearly, however, we can apply another standard. We can put their teaching in the light of the Holy Scriptures and check whether they teach what should be taught from a biblical point of view! Or does the teaching of the New Apostolic Apostles minitry even contradict biblical teaching? Please read the other texts on this website.

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Livelihood & Money

The livelihood of the apostles

We would like to mention this point only briefly and not go into it more intensively, because we are not primarily concerned with human errors, which can occur wherever people are active. Rather, we are concerned with the spiritual teachings and influences. But we can read and recognize a lot from the fruits. Not the natural fruits – to stay with this picture – are the proof of the falsity of the teaching. But false teaching does not produce good fruit. Rather, rotten fruit is a symptom. They are not the cause!

Please judge for yourself on the basis of the Holy Scriptures and compare the apostles of the New Apostolic Church with those of the New Testament. It is no secret that the so-called Chief Apostle receives several hundred thousand euros a year as a salary and the apostles also earn tens of thousands of euros a year. In the meantime, many thousands of members of the New Apostolic Church clean the church buildings free of charge, provide the flower arrangements and do the gardening on the church premises. Not to mention the many evenings and weekends in which the same members volunteer as lay preachers and deacons and sacrifice themselves physically and temporally for their community.

What the scriptures say

„Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way.“

2 Cor 11:7-9

“Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.”

Phil. 4, 15

„Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.“

Phil. 4 ,17

Paul preached the gospel to the Corinthians for free and was not a burden to anyone there. He received his means of subsistence from the brothers in Macedonia. We further learn that Paul made his living, at least temporarily, from his work as a tentmaker:

„and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.“

Acts 18, 3

Jesus sends out his twelve apostles and commands them:

„Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.“

Matt. 10, 9-10

Are there still apostles today?

From what we have said so far, the impression may have been given that there are no “messengers of God” today. Because this means the Greek word “apostle” = messenger. That impression would be wrong. We know very well that the Bible speaks of other apostles who were not among the first twelve apostles. At all times God has called ambassadors to an apostolic service to lead and build up his church.

If we stated on this page that there are no “Apostles of Jesus Christ” any more, our claim relates solely to this unique apostle ministry. Because this office was an indispensable requirement, such as B. the eyewitness to the resurrection of Jesus and consequently expired with the death of the eyewitnesses. In the following the different groups of apostles as shown in the Holy Scriptures are listed.

The various apostles
  1. The Apostle of the Father (Hebrews 3:1): This is the Lord Jesus. The father always has only one (a shepherd, high priest, way …).
  2. Apostle of Jesus Christ: These are the twelve. They form the basis for the church (Eph. 2:20). Although Paul as an apostle was not one of the first twelve apostles, the apostles of the Lamb (Rev. 21:23), he was nevertheless an apostle of Jesus Christ because he fulfilled the requirements for this Apostle ministry, as we have seen from the Scriptures.
  3. Apostles of the Holy Spirit: These are sent out by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:4). One of these apostles was Barnabas (Acts 14:4), another Silvanus (1. Thes. 2:6).
  4. Apostles of the church: (2. Cor. 8:23, Phil. 2:25).
  5. False apostles: who say they are apostles and are not (Rev. 2, 2; 2. Cor. 11, 13).
Apostle of Jesus Christ

This page was about the apostles of Jesus Christ (group 2). The New Apostolic Church claims that its “apostles” belong exclusively to this special group. Yes, that God has reestablished the “Apostle ministry of Jesus Christ” in their midst in order to complete the “work of redemption of Jesus Christ” which is supposedly not yet completed. The New Apostolic Church cannot rely on God’s Word anywhere, because the redemptive work of Jesus Christ is completed according to the testimony of Scripture through Jesus’ atoning death on the cross. His resurrection and ascension to heaven and the subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost are God’s confirmation of this accomplished work of redemption. The main task of the apostles of Jesus Christ was to testify to this perfect work of salvation of Jesus, which they saw with their own eyes (1 John 1:1-4).

We have to see that God used the apostles of Jesus Christ for this very special and unique mission. According to the counsel of God, their testimony about the completed work of redemption of Jesus had to be recorded in word and script for all time (Col. 1:25). This written word of God is and remains the basis and foundation of the testimony of the completed work of redemption of Jesus Christ for now and for all eternity (1 Cor. 3:10; Eph. 2:20). A foundation can only be laid at the beginning of a structure. Who would want to lay the foundation again shortly before it was completed? After the ministry of eyewitnesses was completed, God then called further apostles to build on the ground already laid (see groups 3 and 4).

Apostle of the Holy Spirit

These apostles, sent by the Holy Spirit, had no other message than the first twelve. Nor did they mean that they had any new revelations beyond the written word of the twelve apostles. Paul: “Not beyond what is written.” (1 Cor. 4:6). Nor were they of the opinion that they were sent to preach God’s “contemporary word” because the word of the first twelve was no longer “contemporary”. Such a presumptuous thought would not have occurred to them even in a dream. No, the opposite is the case: they only passed on what they had heard and received from the twelve apostles (Hebrews 2:3), namely that one would be saved through faith in Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul had no other message either. When the Philippian jailer asked him what he should do to be saved, Paul replied: Believe in the apostles? No! Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you and your house will be saved (Acts 16, 31). This message was the message of the twelve that they had received from Jesus himself. It hasn’t changed until today. The apostle John warns: Anyone who goes on and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God; (2 John 9-10). At all times and in all continents God sent men whom he commissioned with this joyful message of the gospel in order to lead people to a saving faith in Jesus. He sent people to plant, guide, strengthen, and build churches in a spiritual temple in the Lord.

Apostles of the church

If we remember that the Greek word “apostle” literally has the same meaning as the Latin word “missionary” – both terms mean “messenger” – then we have no difficulties to assume that also today among us there are men sent by God, whom we could call also “apostles” in the sense of messenger of God. Most of them use the Latin word “missionary” to refer to themselves because they do not want to and cannot place themselves on the same level as the apostles of Jesus Christ, the eyewitnesses of the resurrection of Jesus.

Undoubtedly, throughout the entire history of the church, there have been and still are people who are sent by the Lord for special tasks and services and who work for the Lord. Let’s just think of men like Martin Luther, Hudson Taylor, Watchman Nee, Karl Studd, or CH Spurgeon, to name a few. In this sense, then, there has never really been a time without apostles. Consequently, the calling of “new apostles” as well as a “New Apostolic Church” in this sense was unnecessary and in the sense of Apostle of Jesus Christ not possible at all.

Conclusion

The New Apostolic Church has a completely wrong and unbiblical view, not only about the redemptive work of Jesus Christ himself but also about the Apostle ministry in particular. We must reject this erroneous view as heresy because of the scriptures. The “apostles” of the New Apostolic Church, therefore, belong to the apostles of group 5, the false apostles, of whom God’s Word says that they say they are apostles and are not (Rev. 2:2; and 2 Cor. 11:13).

© Anselm Schönfeld, Lutz Jusko


Sources:
All quotations from the Bible are taken from the translation English Standard Version