Why We do Not Call Ourselves ‘Apostles’ or ‘Prophets’, and How do We Live by Every Word of God?

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Why We Do Not Call Ourselves ‘Apostles or Prophets and How do We Live by Every Word of God?​

Hi M​___,

Thank you for your question concerning how ‘living by every word’ applies to the ‘functions’ of the body of Christ, which some refer to as ‘offices’ in the church.

Before I answer your question about these different ‘functions’ of the body of Christ, I want to list all the verses you reference, which each state that we are to “live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” and deal with what that really means.

Here are all the verses you reference:

Deu 8:3  And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. 

Mat 4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 

Luk 4:4  And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Now we need to ask the question, “​What does ​’​Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God​’​ mean???

It might help if we begin by demonstrating what it does not mean. For example, here​ are some words which have proceeded out of the mouth of God which are not referring personally to you or to me:

Gen 1:1  In​ the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Neither you nor I “In the beginning… created the heaven and the earth.” ​However, if I am granted the faith to believe those words, then I will live my life accordingly​, and I will fear and obey my very Creator.

Here is another example of words which have proceeded out of the mouth of God which have no personal application to you or me:

Isa 45:5  I am the LORD , and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
Isa 45:6  That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD , and there is none else.
Isa 45:7  I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

I am not “the Lord, and there is none else”. I cannot “make peace and create evil”,​ b​ut if I am granted the faith to believe these words​, then I may also be given to live by the knowledge that “there is [but] one God the Father, of whom are all things, and… [besides this “one God, the Father”] there is [also] one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things…”:

1Co 8:6  But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Here are a couple more examples of how we are to understand what “live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” means:

Moses was sent by Christ to speak to Pharaoh to secure the release of His people from Egypt. He asked Christ who he was so he could tell the people who it was who had sent him. This was the answer Moses was given:

Exo 3:13  And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
Exo 3:14  And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
Exo 3:15  And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

Moses did not go to deliver Israel from Egypt in his own name, and neither you nor I are “the Lord God of our fathers”. Yet if we are given the faith to believe these words,​ then we may also be given the strength to endure the rejection of this world and be faithful to “the Lord God of our fathers” to the end because:

Rom 8:29  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Rom 8:30  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

I must live by all the words which are actually proceeding out of the mouth of God via the writings of the apostle Paul, because:

2Ti 3:16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

I am to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, but I personally do not ‘foreknow’ or ‘predestinate’ or ‘call’ or ‘justify’ or ‘glorify’ anyone (Jas 4:13-17). I have ‘called’ no one into the Lord’s service because:

Joh 6:44  No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw [Greek: ‘drag’] him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Joh 6:45  It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

What does all of this tell us about what it means to “live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”?

I think I have demonstrated that it does not mean that I personally must do every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. I am not “the Head of the body”, even though those words “Head of the body” have “proceeded out of the mouth of God”:

Col 1:18  And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

“He” is referring to Christ, who, by His Father and for His Father’s pleasure, has been given to “have the preeminence… in all things”:

Col 1:19  For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

If I am part of the Lord’s “very elect”, and I am given the faith to believe those words,​ then I will also be given the spiritual strength of Christ to “endure to the end” and hold fast to the crown of life I have been given, but I will never be “preeminent in all things”:

Mat 10:22  And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Rev 2:10  Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
Rev 2:11  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

So, here we are again. These words are proceeding directly out of the mouth of Christ. How do I “live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God?​” How do I work the works of God as those works relate to living by every word that proceeds out of His mouth?

Let’s let the Lord Himself answer that question for us:

Joh 6:28  Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
Joh 6:29  Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. 

‘Living by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’ (Deu 8:3 and Mat 4:4) is to “work the works of God”. The work we must do to “work the works of God [is to] believe on Him whom He has sent”. What does “believe on Him whom He hath sent” mean? Again, we need to let Christ Himself answer that question:

Luk 6:46  And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Luk 6:47  Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
Luk 6:48  He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
Luk 6:49  But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

Christ tells us to teach what He taught and to do what He did and to say what He says:

Mat 5:19  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 5:20  For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Based on these words, if I “do the things which [Christ] says”, and I teach His words and His doctrine which promises us… “He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death”, then I “will be called great in the kingdom of heaven”. On the other hand, if I tell you, ‘The resurrection is past already, it has all already taken place within you, and you have already been through the lake of fire which is the second death, because you must live by every word of God within you, and there will be no outward kingdom of God ruling over the outward kingdoms of this world’, and if I teach you that ‘living by every word means you must know the purifying fire of the second death as well as the purifying fiery trials of being the first to die to your old man…’ If I teach that false doctrine then Christ tells me that I will be “called least in the kingdom of heaven” because I am not “doing and teaching” the things He said, namely:

Rev 2:11  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. 

Rev 20:4  And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Rev 20:5  But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
Rev 20:6  Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

If I teach you that ‘living by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’ (Mat 4:4) can be stretched to mean that you, and all men, must live out both the first and second death and experience being raised up in both the first and the second resurrection then I am doing exactly what Hymeneaus and Philetus did and taught, and I am twisting and rending the Words that have proceeded out of the mouth of God into something that it does not say, and I am nullifying the promises given to those who are the Lord’s elect and who are promised that they will “not be hurt of the second death” (Rev 2:10-11 and Rev 20:6)

“The second death… is the lake of fire”:

Rev 20:14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 

The promise given to the Lord’s elect is that they, not just anyone, but only they “shall not be hurt of the second death/ lake of fire… on such the second death/lake of fire has no power”.

But here is what Hymeneaus and Philetus were teaching,​ and it is still being taught by some until this very day:

2Ti 2:16  But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
2Ti 2:17  And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenæus and Philetus;
2Ti 2:18  Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

For decades I have been unable to understand how anyone could possibly teach “that the resurrection is past already”, but now I understand clearly how that is done. It is done by twisting Deu 8:3 and Mat 4:4 and Luk 4:4 and rending the meaning of “living by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” into making every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God personally applicable to oneself within, without regard to the previous verse which reads:

2Ti 2:15  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 

If every word applies to every person, then why would we be told to “rightly divide the word of Truth”?

Obviously those who are granted to partake of the “blessed and holy first resurrection” (Rev 20:6), to which Christ refers as “the resurrection to life” (Joh 5:28-29), will not be called “ye cursed, [and] cast into hell (Greek:​ Gehenna) fire prepared for the devil and his angels”:

Joh 5:28  Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
Joh 5:29  And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life [a thousand years prior to all others, Rev 20:4-6]; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation [Greek:​ ‘judgment’, to take place after the thousand year reign of the Lord’s elect, Rev 20:1-6].

Mat 25:41  Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
Mat 25:42  For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
Mat 25:43  I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Mat 25:44  Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
Mat 25:45  Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
Mat 25:46  And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. 

If we “rightly divide the word of Truth” then we will teach the things Christ taught. Only then will we “work the works of God”. Christ’s doctrine is that those in the resurrection to life will be raised up to life and rulership with Him in His kingdom, whereas all others will be raised to judgment.

I have gone over all of these verses which show that we are to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” for the purpose of answering your question about how the functions of the body of Christ are to be understood in light of the statement that we are to “live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Deu 8:3,​ Mat 4:4,​ Luk 4:4).

Here are the verses you quoted in asking that question:

1Co 12:27  Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
1Co 12:28  And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
1Co 12:29  Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
1Co 12:30  Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
1Co 12:31  But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

You quote these verses​, and then you ask:

As you say here, these titles are “the case in Babylon”, and the reason why the titles “Apostle” and “Prophet” are given by ministers to themselves in Babylon is because those in Babylon have no use for these words of our Lord:

Mat 20:25  But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
Mat 20:26  But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
Mat 20:27  And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
Mat 20:28  Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. 

No minister with the attitude and spirit of Christ expressed in these words is going to insist on being addressed as ‘Reverend’, which means, “to be feared”. Neither will he insist on being called an Apostle nor a Prophet.

Now let’s look at the meaning of these two words, and how they are used in scripture.

G652
ἀπόστολος
apostolos
ap-os’-tol-os
From G649; a delegate; specifically an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ (“apostle”), (with miraculous powers): – apostle, messenger, he that is sent.
Total KJV occurrences: 81

Who has been given “miraculous powers”, and who is a true “delegate” of Christ today? The answer is the very meaning of this word which is “he that is sent”.

This Greek word, apostolos‘,​ appears 81 times in the New Testament. Of those 81 entries it appears in the plural, ‘apostles’, 53 times, and in the singular, ‘apostle’, 19 times. It is used in the possessive form, ‘apostle’s’ five times.

But that leaves four more entries,​ and these entries will demonstrate that any and all who are sent by the Lord into His service are both ‘apostles’ and ‘prophets’. The first of these three entries is the first word translated as “sent” in:

Joh 13:16  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent [Greek:​ ‘apostolos‘] greater than he that sent him.

The word ‘apostle’ simply means “to be sent”.

Here is the next verse where this word is translated as “messenger”:

Php 2:25  Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger [Greek:​ ‘apostolos’], and he that ministered to my wants.

A “messenger” is, of course,​ ‘one who is sent’ to deliver a message.

Here is our third and final entry for this Greek word, apostolos:

2Co 8:23  Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be inquired of, they are the messengers [Greek:​ ‘apostolos‘] of the churches, and the glory of Christ.

Titus is called a “fellowhelper”, and the other brothers traveling with Paul and Titus, are called “apostolos“… “messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ”.

So while there were indeed 12 original apostles, signifying the foundation of the church of Christ, Paul, James, the brother of Christ, and Barnabas, are all also called apostles, as well as anyone who was helping Paul to spread the gospel.

Now let’s examine how the holy spirit defines a ‘prophet’, and just exactly what it means to ” prophesy”:

1Co 14:3  But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
1Co 14:4  He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
1Co 14:5  I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

There is no denying that there are teachers who are not as gifted at comforting the Lord’s flock as​ some​ others who are gifted at doing that. But there is not a single ‘apostle’ or ‘prophet’ who does not teach those to whom they are sent. A ‘teacher’ edifies his students, and a prophet teaches those whom he edifies and comforts.

So while no one person is gifted with all the gifts in the verses you reference:

1Co 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
1Co 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
1Co 12:29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
1Co 12:30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

Yet there is very much overlapping of these various functions within the body of Christ. While no one person has all these functions to himself, yet every member of the body of Christ has been sent out into this world as sheep among wolves, to witness to the Truth of the Word of God. In that sense we are all teaching others if we are faithful to Christ and His Words and His ways.

The ‘miracles’ we perform are “greater works than [Christ Himself]” performed while on this earth in a body of flesh and bone, inasmuch as the ‘miracles’ we perform are spiritual, whereas all of His miracles were physical. He is still here on this earth in a body of flesh and bone in the form of “His body which is the church”:

Joh 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

Eph 5:30  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

Col 1:24  Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:

Our function as the body of Christ is to fulfill all the services mentioned in 1Co 12:27-30 and to do so without “exercising dominion over… the Lord’s flock”:

Mat 20:25  But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
Mat 20:26  But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 

1Pe 5:3  Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

That is why we do not give each other high-sounding titles which were​ never meant to be used as they are in the churches of Babylon. We are sent by the Lord (‘apostolos‘), and we do indeed speak to men​ to edification, exhortation, and comfort (prophets), but we need not stroke each other’s egos with such titles, which are really nothing more than descriptions of the various functions within the body of Christ.

I exhort you as one of the Lord’s ‘prophets’ to read the study in the essential reading section of the website entitled The Head of Christ Is God. It will help you to see that we are one and all being betrothed to our Head, Christ, as our husband and as our head. As His bride we are expected to bring forth much fruit and to show mercy to all who are not in that “blessed and holy first resurrection” (Rev 20:6).

That blessing will put all the ranks and titles which the ministers of Babylon bestow on each other into their proper inconsequential perspective.

Here is how the spiritually healthy body of Christ functions in service to itself, and to all whom​ the spirit drags to Himself. Notice especially verses 15-16:

Eph 4:11  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Eph 4:12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Eph 4:13  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Eph 4:14  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Eph 4:15  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Eph 4:16  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Notice that in all the functions mentioned in verse 11, there is no mention of “leaders, elders, or bishops”, simply because there are so many ways to describe the functions within the body of Christ.

I hope this helps you to understand why neither ​we, nor any of the apostles of Christ, insisted on being addressed as a person of higher rank among other members of His body.

Indeed, Paul did defend his apostleship and​ the fact he was sent by Christ.​

Act 9:15  But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

He did this only when “false apostles” were altogether denying his apostleship as we learn in 2nd Corinthians:

2Co 11:1  WOULD to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.
2Co 11:2  For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
2Co 11:3  But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
2Co 11:4  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
2Co 11:5  For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.
2Co 11:6  But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.
2Co 11:7  Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?
2Co 11:8  I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.
2Co 11:9  And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.
2Co 11:10  As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.
2Co 11:11  Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.
2Co 11:12  But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.
2Co 11:13  For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
2Co 11:14  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
2Co 11:15  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Notice he also had earlier referred to himself as ‘one born out of season… the least of he apostles’:

1Co 15:7  After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
1Co 15:8  And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
1Co 15:9  For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
1Co 15:10  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
1Co 15:11  Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

In closing I will use some of Paul’s words here. ‘Whether it were​ by an apostle, a prophet, a leader or an elder, so we preach and so you believed’, not because we have any authority over anyone, but because we have demonstrated the power of God via the Truths of His Words, and have be given to “persuade” you to see Christ, both in us and in His Words:

Joh 10:4  And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

Heb 13:17 Be persuaded by your leaders, and be deferring to them, for they are vigilant for the sake of your souls, as having to render an account, that they may be doing this with joy, and not with groaning, for this is disadvantageous for you. (CLV)

That is the extent of the influence any minister has over the Lord’s flock. For that reason, we have no need or Biblical basis for assigning positions of power to each other.

I hope this serves to explain why we do not call each other ‘apostle’ or ‘prophet’.

Your brother and “fellow servant” (Now, that is a Biblical function), Mike

Col 4:7  All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord: [No ‘rank’ nor ‘title’ for “a beloved brother… Tychicus. Just a “fellowservant”.]

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