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  • Writer's pictureW. Austin Gardner

Are missionaries the new apostles?

But there is another use of the word apostolos in which sense the Holy Spirit bestows the gift upon His churches today. In a general definition of the word it refers to the missionary who preaches Christ where He is not known, who gathers new converts together, and who organizes them into churches (compare Paul as he writes in Romans 15:20,21, “Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named . . .”).

In this general sense, Andronicus and Junia are called “apostles” (Romans 16:7). In this use of the word the messengers who accompany Titus in II Corinthians 8:23 are called “apostles.” (The word translated “messengers” in the King James version is in the Greek “apostles.”)

In this sense Epaphroditus, in Philippians 2:25, is called an “apostle” (translated in the King James version “messenger”). In this sense the Holy Spirit anoints certain of His disciples today. On the mission fields I have seen preachers of the Gospel who were endowed with the unusual gift of winning converts and founding churches in heathen, idolatrous communities. This is the continuing blessing of the Holy Spirit upon those who “preach the gospel where Christ is not named.” They are first and foremost in the gift of God to the churches and ought to be thus honored and supported.

W A Cristwell, The Holy Spirit in Today’s World

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