Missionaries, Prophets or Apostles?
The words mission, missions and missionary are not in the bible. The word missionary itself is of Roman Catholic origin. The word mission originates from the 1590’s of the Jesuits. The concept of Mission is derived from the Latin (the Roman Language) missio, which comes from mittere, meaning the act of sending. A missionary is one sent to proslytize and propagate the doctrine of their belief system of whatever denomination they’re from. Eventually, because some don’t like where this is going, they will say that, well the disciples were sent by Jesus to preach and make disciples. Yes, that is correct, however Jesus didn’t use the word missionary, he used the Greek word apostello, which Jerome in his Latin Vulgate version of the bible translated it into mittere, which is where they get the word missio or mission from, meaning to send. Not a good translation. Why? To begin with, the Textus Receptus is the inspired word of God not Jerome’s Latin Vulgate version of the bible. The Latin Vulgate is just a translation of the Textus Receptus and that is all it is, a translation, just like the LXX is a translation of the OT Hebrew into the Greek language. Apostello is the verb form of the noun apostolos, which is the word apostle. Jerome didn’t translate apostolos into an equivalent Latin word, instead, he left it the same, which was wise of him. Why didn’t Jerome translate the noun apostolos into missionarius if he translated apostello into mittere/missio? Missionarius is a Latin word and yet Jerome didn’t use this word. Why? Because, just like baptizo and daimon, there was no Latin word that was equivalent to apostolos. If there is no Latin word equivalent to the Greek noun apostolos, then why did Jerome translate the verb form apostello into the Latin mittere? It just doesn’t make any sense.
What is an apostle? An apostolos is one that is sent by an authorized superior to do a specific task. It is specifically applied to the twelve apostles of Christ. In a broader sense applied to other eminent Christian teachers, of Barnabas, of Timothy, of Silvanus, etc…
Lk 6:13 – And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles (apostolos);
Mt 10:5 – These twelve (apostles) Jesus sent forth (apostello), and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not (this was their task):
Mt 10:16 – Behold, I send you forth (apostello) as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
John 13:16 – Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent (apostolos) greater than he that sent him.
Lk 11:49 – Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send (apostello) them prophets and apostles (apostolos), and some (some is not in the text) of them they shall slay and persecute (we know that all the prophets and all the apostles were persecuted and martyred):
While apostolos occurs only once in the Septuagint (I Kings 14:6), regarding the prophet Ahijah, the verbs apostello and exapostello appear more than 500 times. These words regularly translate the Hebrew shalach, meaning to send with stress on the authority of the messenger. This authorization never concerns a position or an office but a certain limited task. So, to those out there that label themselves as missionaries, are you calling yourselves apostles and prophets? Are there any apostles and prophets in our day and time? What does scripture say?
II Co 12:12 – Truly the signs of an apostle (apostolos) were wrought among you in all patience (hupomone – endurance), in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
The rabbis used shaluach in reference to the prophets who in a unique way had proven themselves to be messengers/aggelos/angels of God by performing signs and wonders (Moses, Elijah, Elisha, etc.). They had accomplished such feats which were otherwise restricted to God. Therefore, they were considered to be His authorized messengers in a unique way. The shaluach of God not only had to speak in the name of the LORD, but he had to act on God’s behalf. This provides an interesting background for understanding Paul’s words about the signs of an apostle (II Co 12:12; Acts 4:30; 14:3; 19:11).
Rom 15:18 – For I (the apostle Paul speaking) will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,
19 – Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
Acts 15:12 – Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
John Gill says, in signs and wonders, and mighty deeds; meaning preternatural (or beyond nature) and miraculous performances such as raising the dead, healing the sick, cleansing lepers, casting out devils, speaking with divers tongues, and the like, which were confirming evidences of apostleship. So, wonders and powers, or mighty deeds, are mentioned together by the Jews, as the same things. So you missionaries/apostles/prophets out there, have you raised the dead, healed the sick, cast out devils, and spoken in tongues? That has to be a tough one to answer. Let’s continue.
Eph 4:11 – And he gave some (men – used to express certainty – indeed, truly), apostles; and some (not in the text), prophets; and some (not in the text), evangelists; and some (not in the text), pastors and teachers;
I Co 12:28 – And God hath set some (men) in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
29 – Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
30 – Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
We know what the answer is, it is no to all of them. If you’re an apostle, a missionary and prophet, then who sent you and with who’s authority?
Rom 1:1 – Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle (apostolos), separated unto the gospel of God,
I Co 1:1 – Paul, called to be an apostle (apostolos) of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
Gal 1:1 – Paul, an apostle (apostolos), (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
I Tim 1:1 – Paul, an apostle (apostolos) of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;
So, you missionaries/apostles out there, are you called by Jesus Christ to be an apostle? Was it by his commandment? Was it through the will of God?
Eph 2:19 – Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 – And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.
We, the members of the body of Christ are built or edified upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. If there are more apostles (missionaries) and prophets then the foundation is still being laid down.