“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia”
an apostle of Jesus Christ
Before I married my wife Joyce, I wrote her a letter using the same style as that of a New Testament writer. I first signed my name and then proceeded with the letter. It went something like this, “Grant, a disciple of Jesus Christ, to Joyce who is in Detroit, Grace be unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” For some reason that letter did not go over very well!! She wanted a mushy letter.
Usually a writer of Scripture gives his name and then his credentials. By what authority does Peter have the right to write these Christians in Asia Minor (Turkey)? He claims to be an “apostle” of Jesus Christ. He does not claim to be “the” apostle. There were 12 apostles at the beginning and more came later.
“Apostle” was the official name of those Jesus chose to found His church. A qualification of an apostle is that he must have seen the resurrected Lord (Acts 1:22).
The Greek word “apostle” comes from two words meaning 1) “from” and 2) “to send.” So an apostle means to send someone from another. It came to mean to send someone with credentials to carry out a mission.
The English word “apostle” is from the old English word “postel” from which we have employed the word “postal” as in postal service. A postal servant is one that delivers the mail. The function of an apostle is to deliver the message of the New Testament.
The word “apostle” was used hundreds of years before the New Testament. The earliest reference to “apostle” is in the area of nautical terminology. It was used 300 years before Christ for ships that were ready to be sent out bearing a cargo or else on an expedition. It was used for a naval squadron or expedition before they put out to sea. The term “apostle” was used in the sense of an order for dispatching of a vessel.
Two hundred years before Christ it was used of a person who was sent bearing a letter, like an early “Western Union boy.” It was also used originally for a king who sent an ambassador to represent him to another country. He was a “sent one.”
This is the highest office in the church (I Cor. 12:28). An apostle was personally chosen by Christ. He had the ability to perform miracles and thereby demonstrate authority as an apostle. His jurisdiction of power was beyond any other gift in the New Testament.
There is no apostle today. The office of the apostle disappeared with the closing of the writing of Scripture (the canon). The apostle had the power to execute miracles to demonstrate his authority over the church. We do have the function of the apostle today. That person is a missionary. However, the office of the apostle does not exist because the canon of Scripture is closed. God has completed writing his revelation. Therefore, there is no need for an apostle.
The mention of his apostleship is the statement of his authority to write a book of the Bible as I Peter.
God wants us to carry the message of the gospel to the world.
The “sent one” today is the missionary. Everyone is a missionary. Just as all believers are priests so all Christians are “sent ones” (Acts 1:8; II Cor. 5:18-20). Every person who has accepted Christ is an ambassador of Christ.
Every heart without Christ is a mission field; every heart with Christ is a missionary.
If we have ever been gripped by an overpowering sense of personal indebtedness to Christ, we cannot rest until we share him with the world. If we have encountered the living Lord, we cannot but share him with others.
Interest in the world-crusade of Christianity stands in direct ratio to the vitality of our personal faith. Our personal missionary impetus depends on our fellowship with Christ. It is a sad reflection on the spiritual climate of the Western world that we do not reflect the reality of Christ with urgency and joy.
If we are going to gird ourselves with the missionary task, our deepest need is not more information or better technique, it is a deeper sense of the unsearchable riches of Christ.
Suppose you were a bio chemist and found the cure for cancer. Could you hide that remedy? It is against all ethics of humanity to do so. Yet this is precisely what we do when we do not share Christ.
God gives us a message and sends us on a mission. If we have an important message we do not send any Tom, Dick or Harry to carry it. We would be afraid that they would deflect from their destination or that they would tarry too long somewhere along the way. They would get there with the message but it would be too late. Or, they might alter the message and garble it in such a way as to distort the idea we wanted to convey.
God has called us to be ambassadors for Christ (II Cor. 5:20). An ambassador is a representative or replica of the Savior. We are a small-scale model of Christ. We come in “Christ’s stead.” We stand in his shoes. He is not here. He is busy interceding for Christians in heaven. We must represent him here. We may not be a good representative here but we are the best that he has here. We do not have to be brilliant. All God expects us to do is to make ourselves available. He wants us to put ourselves at His disposal.