The word Apostle is taken from the common Greek word Apostolos, which literally means “one sent forth.” In the New Testament and in other classical Greek literature, Apostolos has the simple meaning of “one sent as representative of another,” the representative deriving his authority and power from the one sending him.
The word apostolos was used by the Greeks and the Romans to describe special envoys sent out to establish the dominion of the empire. These envoys were sent to certain territories and charged to subdue, conquer, convert, instruct, train and establish the new subjects in the culture of their empire.
When the different authors of the New Testament used the word Apostle referring to the leaders of the Church, they were not only describing them as special envoys sent by Christ, but as culture changers.
The Romans sent apostles of change throughout their empire, they conquered and ruled Britain from AD 43 until AD 410 and brought their, roads, cities, technology culture and civilisation. Following their departure, not all aspects of their culture and civilisation was retained by the native Britons. Military roads that were no longer needed fell into decline in favour of trade routes, personal hygiene declined along with things like central heating! After nearly 400 years of rule they only managed to partially influence our culture.
The same principals apply in Christianity; the early Apostles were commissioned to change the limited old covenant culture and build New Covenant culture on the old foundations. Following Pentecost the early apostles established the ‘Age of the Holy Spirit’ ending old covenant temple worship and introducing the new covenant where the Holy Spirit resides in the temple of our hearts. The Apostle Paul extended salvation to the gentiles, and replaced old covenant legalism with the New Covenant culture of Grace.
Jesus abolished temple worship on the cross and rebuilt the temple in our hearts however we still struggle to let go of the old ways by building the most elaborate church buildings, mistakenly thinking that Gods presence is stronger there than in our own hearts. We cling on to ‘thin places’ when all the time the fullness of the Holy Spirit flows out of our innermost beings.
Ironically after all these years the Church is still held back by old covenant culture. We still speak the language of the Old Covenant and sing Old Covenant songs that are no longer relevant to the Holy Spirit filled believer. Our language betrays what we really believe; we say Holy Spirit come when all the time he never left. For many of us our faith is still based on feelings, we say “I feel dry and distant from the Holy Spirit” when the scriptures teach us that he does not leave us or forsake us and we are sealed until the day of redemption. When we have faith in the word of God, our feelings and emotions will flow from Gods truth instead of what life throws at us.
Change is a slow process but two thousand years later, our Apostles must continue building on the foundations of their predecessors, busting us out from the limitations of the Old Covenant culture and seeing us fully liberated into the New Covenant, changing our old language and cultural traditions for something infinitely better.
My prayer is that in the next few years, church culture will take a giant leap forward. That Western Christians will become more confident in their God and his promises. Join me and pray that we will begin to move more in the spiritual gifts and that Gods power will flow from a stronger faith.
To change your culture some more, check out ‘Myths Busted’