Apostleship Criteria

We’re back home from our vacation and the coffee couldn’t be better. On the flight home last night I got to thinking about the requirements to be an apostle. Jesus chose the first twelve apostles who became known as the “Twelve” throughout the New Testament. One of the apostles, Judas Iscariot, died and for some reason the others felt compelled to replace him. What were the qualifications to join this exclusive group?

 imageThere were many “disciples” or followers of Jesus in the New Testament but do you know what certified one as an apostle? The Twelve were uneducated, Aramaic-speaking Jews hand-picked by Jesus and were given great powers (to heal, to forgive sins, to resurrect the dead, etc.). When Judas died, how did the eleven apostles choose a replacement and why was a replacement required at all?

In the beginning of the book of Acts, Peter is clearly the leader of the Twelve even though he had denied that he knew Jesus when the authorities questioned him. Peter was also the first apostle chosen by Jesus (Luke 5:1-11). And, you guessed it, when it came time to choose Judas’ replacement, Peter knew exactly what the requirements were (Acts 1:15-22). Peter was the man! I will summarize from Peter’s speech:

First, an apostle must be a “man” who had been with Jesus from the time of his baptism to his ascension. Second, there must be twelve and only twelve apostles (as Peter quotes from Psalm 109:8). So, after prayer and casting lots, a way of determining the will of God, Matthias was the big winner never to be mentioned again in the New Testament.

But wait! The original apostles didn’t meet the requirements from Peter’s speech because Jesus was baptized (Luke 3:21) and didn’t choose his twelve apostles until later (Luke 5:10). They did not witness Jesus’ baptism. Well, I could be wrong, though. Maybe Luke forgot to mention it but more than likely, Peter just wasn’t thinking when he came up with that rule.

Last note. Paul proclaimed himself an apostle. I guess he didn’t have a copy of the bylaws as stated in Peter’s speech (Acts 1:15-22). In Paul’s mind, apostles were called by God – and he named at least seven apostles in his authentic letters. Oh, and one of those apostles, Junia, was a woman.

Who am I to criticize the Scriptures? I don’t. I’m just an fanatical reader of the good book and the more I read it, the more I am bewildered. So, read your Bibles! Another cup anyone?

Categories God

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