The issue of apostolic and prophetic ministry today raises much controversy, particularly when connected to the Messianic remnant in Jerusalem. Why is this so important? Three times the letter to the Ephesians makes reference to the work of “apostles and prophets.”
The first reference deals with laying foundations for the Church “Ecclesia” as the dwelling place of God’s Spirit.
“Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets; Messiah Yeshua Himself being the cornerstone.” – Ephesians 2:20
This is not speaking of a local congregation but of the universal Ecclesia. The pastor focuses on the local congregation, while the apostle tends toward the wider Ecclesia.
The second deals with God’s pre-destined plan for reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles through faith in Yeshua.
“The mystery… is now being revealed to His holy apostles and prophets, through the Spirit, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Messiah Yeshua, through the Gospel…” – Ephesians 3:5-6
The partnership between Israel and the International Ecclesia is central to the kingdom of God, and should be part of any foundation that is laid by apostles and prophets—both then and now.
The third deals with spiritual authority given to the “five-fold” equipping ministries after Yeshua’s ascension into heaven.
“He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, in order to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edification of the body…” – Ephesians 4:11
Spiritual authority is connected to the ascension. Yeshua rose above all powers and principalities. He gave authority to the Ecclesia as His body (1:20-23). He gave that spiritual authority through His name, His spirit and through the five types of “ascension” leadership positions mentioned here (4:7-11).
Since “apostles and prophets” are listed together with “evangelists, pastors and teachers,” it is clear that they must continue to function, and have not ceased to exist.
Parallel with the references above, we may also note the following three, somewhat-startling principles or observations:
- Ecclesia – All of the first century communities of faith saw themselves as having emerged from, and submitted to, apostolic and prophetic covering.
- Israel – All of the first century communities of faith saw themselves connected to and aligned with Biblical Israel and Jerusalem.
- Kingdom – Spiritual authority in the international Ecclesia before Yeshua returns will become government authority in the Millennial kingdom after He returns (Matthew 19:28, Luke 19:17).
These three goals – Ecclesia, Israel & Kingdom – comprise the primary reasons for apostolic and prophetic restoration. It is the very importance of these three that makes the issue so fraught with spiritual warfare. Understanding these goals will help us be better aligned with God’s purposes in our generation.