Consider the use of the Greek Aorist tense as it governs the list of ministries in Ephesians 4:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 12:28-31. Dr. J. Edwin Orr of Belfast, Ireland referred to the Aorist tense as “Punctiliar;” – that is, it enters into time as a punctuation mark by God. It is complete in itself, rounded off, but has continuing consequences.
It gains understanding when we contrast the use of “chronos;” – expansion time under God; and ‘kairos” – a pinpoint event in time in the context of the expanse-time of chronos. Chronology comes from chronos,which sheds light on this usage. Kairos is like the “crisis” of judgment.
The flood of Noah is a Kairos event, taking place in 2347 B.C. The context fits chronology well. God’s deliverance of Israel from Pharaoh under Moses at the Red Sea is another example. The Abrahamic Covenant in 1896 B.C., the Temple of Solomon which began in 986 B.C. and the Cross in 30 A.D. are 3 of the great Kairos events in all history. See the continuing consequences from each of these. Upon these 3 hang full understanding of eschatology and theology.
But back to our two texts that head up these two lists, each starting with the Apostle.Jesus gave (Aorist) them in Ephesians; God set (Aorist) them in 1 Corinthians. From God’s vantage point, both apostles and all ministries that follow in both lists are to continue operative in the church as long as the church functions. If these ministries, including that of apostles cease to function, it is not the fault of God. Rather the church like Israel has turned from God and seriously needs revival. She has lost her “unction to function” as Bob Mumford phrases it.
24 apostles are mentioned in the Greek New Testament – the original 12 plus 12 others. The original 12 are unique, but the function of the other 12 are just as important. As a matter fact the Apostle Paul, who is not one of the original, compared himself to Peter, James and John as pillars in the Jerusalem church. Whether true or not was not a dispute with Paul -–he merely stated that the grace of God in him on behalf of the Gentile churches exceeded that of these 3!
Roland Alan was an Anglican missionary from England who labored in both Africa and China. He is noted especially for two books: “Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours;” and “The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church.” He prophesied in 1867 that l00 years from that time a movement would arise in the church, with many lay leaders leading many cell groups in local churches, that would revolutionize our modern day concept of the church. Consider Pastor Dr. David Yonggi Cho of Seoul, South Korea, and this time frame.
Roland Alan’s first book is not too complimentary to the church as it functioned in his time.
Dr. Peter Wagner has written 3 books recently on the subject of the apostle and the importance of his function in the last day’s church. He differentiates correctly between the function of different apostles. James of Jerusalem in Acts 15, the half brother of our Lord after the flesh, and Timothy of Ephesus, functioned as apostolic pastors over two city churches. The apostle Paul was a pioneer always on the cutting edge. He did not found local churches, but city churches with many local churches. He did this in 14 cities, each city strategic in its location. But as soon as one was functioning, he immediately ordained elders to look after the many local churches in that city, and then pressed on to the regions beyond.
There are men like Pastor Kelley Varner and Dr. Peter Wagner, Apostolic Scribes who write, send out videos and tapes, speak at conferences – for the sake of a wider part of the whole body of Christ.
Consider this evaluation in the context of the Greek Word Studies on Church (ecclesia), Presbyter, elder, pastor, overseer, teacher, evangelist, deacons, and prophet. Note that the Spirit inspired Paul to write that the church is founded upon the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone.
Our goal: to establish 14 city churches across Canada and in the Pacific Northwest, with a functioning eldership or presbytery sitting in the gate of each city – composed of the 5-fold ministry.
It is the Apostles and Prophets who lead in this, under the direction of the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul was so successful in this, that when he and his apostolic team entered a city, they were announced by -–“They that have turned the world upside down have come hither also!” The Word the Lord gave them to preach – He confirmed with mighty signs and wonders and miracles.
The eldership they established in each city composed of the 5-fold ministries, functioned in a 3-fold manner. It primarily ministered (latreia and leitourgia) to the Lord (Acts 13:1-3); it next settled crucial problems (Acts 15); thirdly, it ordained elders to the ministry in a presbytery sense (it did not minister to every member in a congregation as is often done today. – Apostles went 2x2 to local congregation houses by house to establish or confirm local members in a congregation by imparting unto them the ability to function in the gifts of the Spirit, Romans 1:9-12. This did not take place in a Presbytery manner.)
The eldership in the gate, or the Presbytery, also commissioned established ministries such as prophets and teachers into apostolic ministry (Acts 13:1-3).
Paul as an apostle did not establish local congregations per se. – He founded city churches composed of many local congregations. Deacons in the beginning were not for local congregations – 7 deacons served the entire church of Jerusalem, probably consisting of 100’s of local congregations meeting in the home, each served by but one elder. Plurality of eldership was in the city church in the beginning – not in the local congregation.
To punctuate Paul’s vision, the word study on the word “church” (ecclesia) throws light of confirmation on it. 114 times the word appears in the Greek New Testament: once it is found in Acts 7, and refers to Israel as the church in the wilderness.
14 times it refers to a local church in the home, such as the church in the home of Aquila and Priscilla, or Philemon. 15 times it points to the universal “called out ones” of all time from Abraham right up to those who will yet be saved prior to the return of our Lord Jesus.
But 81 times it refers to the city church, each one composed of many local churches. As a family is to a local church; so is a local church to the city church! In Revelation 2 & 3 alone the Lord Jesus mentions the city church 14 times!
The Holy Spirit puts priority and emphasis upon what is important to God in such a way as this. He plays pianissimo for the local church, but fortissimo for the city church! The first 3 groups together number but 33/114. But the City Church is 2 ½ times the other 3 groups combined! Men like John Dawson, Dr. Peter Wagner and many others are making this same priority emphasis as the Holy Spirit. It is apostles and prophets in teamwork that will bring it to restoration in this decade. It will be more than restoration – it will be Reformation!
The New Testament teaching is radical. Jesus’ teaching was radical. The ministry of the apostle Paul was radical. Our 20th century church outlook and practice has not been radical. It is not turning the world upside down. Could it be that we have forgotten that Jesus said I will build my church (thru apostles and prophets on a city basis) and then the gates – the counsels of hell – will not prevail against it?
The above tentative evaluation is based on an every word analysis of every reference to apostle in the Greek New Testament, taking into consideration the other Greek Word Studies mentioned above.
JAW -- 1-12-01
THE APOSTOLIC CITY CHURCH & MESSIANIC JEWISH VISION
Initially, the first city church in Jerusalem was entirely Jewish. Gentiles were in two categories in this relationship. They could convert to Judaism, or they could be a “Ger haTzedek” – a righteous stranger in the gate. In the beginning the early believers with the non-Jewish converts and non-Jewish believers met regularly in the synagogue on Sabbath. Very soon they met additionally on Saturday night for a Jewish believers' meeting. It was at such a meeting as this when Paul preached into Sunday morning, that Eutychus fell out of a window, and Paul restored him to life.
For the first decades of the church, the only textbook was the Tenach, the Old Testament. Then the Jewish apostles in the next decades wrote the New Testament as a key to understand their Bible in the light of the New Covenant ushered in by Jesus the Messiah and Son of God. The New Testament is in the Old contained – the Old is by the New explained.
Then with the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD and the Bar Kochba revolt in 135 AD, the Jewish non-believers excised believers in Yeshua (Jesus) from the Synagogue. By 325 AD Constantine thru the Council of Nicaea stripped the church of its Jewish Roots and leaders, and replaced them with somewhat pagan substitutes. Syncretism was on its way
Soon Messianic Judaism disappeared from the scene. But in the 19th and 20th Century it began to reappear. Just as Jesus as His custom was attended synagogue on Sabbath, and just as early Jewish believers remained Torah observant, -- so present Messianic Jewish believers seek to restore such congregations, and welcome non-Jewish believers to seek out their Jewish Roots with them.
They are in each, part of the church of that city. They are as it were a bridge between the church and the Jewish Roots from which we all as believers have sprung. Many local church congregations have found great blessing in observing the Bible feast of Leviticus 23 – Passover, Pentecost (Shavuot) and Tabernacles (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Succoth. It is a blessing to look at Purim and Hanukkah also.
If each city church founded and grounded upon apostles and prophets has among its local churches a number of Messianic Jewish Congregations – they can add color, richness and blessing to the fullness of God’s tapestry. J.A.W.