x18.........Disciple to apostles--and back again!
30 ¶ And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. 31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. 32 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. 33 And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him. 34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. 35 And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: 36 Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. 37 He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? (Mark 6:30-37)
One of the biggest problems we have in our churches today is the fact that we continue to follow the tradition that says that the ministry gifts are "titles" that people attain--(for a lifetime!)--rather than functions that people do--gifts.
The result of this is that we look at the Bible, and we see the things that the apostles--and the prophets and teachers did, and we feel as if those things they did were only for them to do. Rather than taking them as examples for us to follow--and following the clear urging in the word of God for us to do the same works (preach the Gospel to every living creature--John 17--etc.) as the people in the Bible did.
The people in the Bible are our example--
11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (1Corinthians 10:11)
Paul said to follow his example (of course we know he was an apostle!)...
17 ¶ Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (Phil 3:17)
So it is very important for us not to view the people in the Bible through the eyes of "saint worship" but rather as our examples. And so we must view the gifts of ministry as gifts that are given "unto every one of us" (Ephesians 4)--We need to view ministry as something that we do--rather than as a job title or an occupation or the name of a person in the Bible.
The Bible literally asks this question of apostles---how can people be saved unless there are apostles--unless people are "sent"--
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent?..... (Romans 10:13-15)
The word "sent" above is the root word of apostle---an apostle is "someone who is sent" However in our English translation of the Bible we have to this day kept the tradition of keeping most of the names of people who do ministry in Greek. The word is translated everywhere else as "send or sent"--But when this word (Greek "apostello") refers to a "person who is sent"--the translators chose to use the word "apostle". This leaves us with a confusion about what an aposlte is, and what an apostle does. To put it simply, all Christians are called to apostlship (this is the free release--to be "set at liberty"--to freely serve God--we were all created to serve God--but when we meet Jesus with faith, He relases us to serve God with our inborn gifts). But in the Bible, the central method of operation, was to work in small groups and minister out to the world. The people in these groups were called apostles---there were 12, but there were also groups of 70 and 2 by 2 and the 7---and Paul always worked with others in a group--the Bible names at least a dozen people whom he worked together with in the ministry of reaching the Gentiles with the Gospel.
When we study ministry words it becomes very clear that these ministry activities were "things that people did" rather than "titles for people to bear". I would say that every one of us was lead to Jesus by a person who did an apostolic work--someone who came to us in the world, followed Christs' free release to serve, and brought us the message of the Good News of salvation--they were a messenger of the Gospel. Most of us had more than one person witness to us--probably many people sowed the seed of the word inside of us over the years. God put together a group of people who brought you into His kingdom. You got saved by apostles--and didn't know it!
The case in point we are studying here is in the book of Mark.
30 ¶ And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.
The first reference is to "apostles"---well we see clearly that they were just returning to Jesus from ministry activity--they had done things--they had taught--etc. They were returning from a place He had "sent" them--thus they are referred to as "apostles"
but look down a few verses..
34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. 35 And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed:
By the end of the day, Jesus began to "teach" them. Now, He was teaching all the people--but in verse 35 we see that His "disciples" came to Him, and they begin to make requests of Him. These were obviously the same people who were first referred to as "apostles", but now they are being taught by Jesus so they are called disciples.
How can we be sure of this? Let's look at the same miracle of the 5 loaves and 2 fishes in the book of John..
5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? 10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. (John 6: 5-11)
In John--the names of apostles are referred to --yet they are called disciples also--compare Mark 6:37 to John 6:7...
37 He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? (Mark 6:37)
verse 7: Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. (John 6:7)
Philip, one of the twelve "apostles" is speaking here--yet Mark refers to him as a "disciple"--and in fact so does John. As we see below, the conversation continues with another "apostle"--
verse 8: One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him,
The simple fact is that when a person was being "taught" by Jesus--the Bible calls them a "disciple". When they are "sent" into the world to do the will of God (to preach the Gospel--lay hands on the sick--cast out devils) they are referred to as "apostles".
Throughout the Gospels, the followers of Jesus go back and forth between being "apostles" and "disciples". If we were to translate these words into English we would understand much better. When a person was being taught they were a disciple (a student)--when they were sent into the world to do the will of God they are referred to as an apostle (a messenger).
So it is very plain that these are not "titles" of ministry, but rather functions that people did--activities--anointings. "The gift of the anointing" "the gift of Christ"
7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. (Ephesians 4:7)
We ought to look carefully at our church tradition, and compare ourselves to the church in the Bible. What percentage of time do we spend on teaching, and what percentage of time do we spend in apostleship?