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When Giants Walked the Earth (The Real Apostolic Succession)
Welcome to another Thursday UNFILTERED substack article, the only substack newsletter that just saw a picture of Iceland, which is all green, and Greenland, which is full of ice. This explains why it has trust issues.
But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.
~ 1 Corinthians 15:10, NLT
On August 4th, I woke up thinking about apostolic succession according to the New Testament.
Historically, “apostolic succession” is the method by which some Christian churches claim that their origins were derived from the original twelve apostles in a continuous succession. The Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, etc. all have a tradition of apostolic succession. Each denomination traces their roots back to the original Twelve.
The New Testament story does contain a concept of apostolic succession. But it’s nothing like what’s claimed in these denominations.
Last month, I wrote about how God raises up Christian workers, and I followed it up with a free eBook that explains what the apostolic ministry is and does.
(If you didn’t see those articles, check your email folders or the blog where every article I’ve written can be accessed.)
Here’s what apostolic succession looks like according to the New Testament:
The first apostle – Jesus. Hebrews calls Him an apostle (explained in Episode #103 of The Insurgence Podcast). Among other things, Jesus was “sent” by His Father to raise up the first kingdom community on earth (made up of twelve men and about seven women). The word “apostle” means “one who is sent.” Jesus passed the baton on to the Twelve.
The first generation of apostolic workers after Jesus – The Twelve (Peter, John, James, Andrew, Nathanael, etc.). After the Twelve were sent by Jesus, they raised up the kingdom community in Jerusalem. The Twelve passed the baton on to Stephen, Barnabas, and Silas.
The second generation of apostolic workers – Stephen (his life cut short), Barnabas, Silas. Barnabas had in a hand in laying the foundation for the kingdom community in Antioch of Syria. Both Barnabas and Silas (at different times) partnered together and raised up kingdom communities in South Galatia and Greece. Barnabas passed the baton on to Paul of Tarsus.
The third generation of apostolic workers – Paul, a unique apostle who was “untimely born” (1 Corinthians 15:8, ESV). Paul raised up kingdom communities in South Galatia, Greece, Asia Minor, Rome, and possibly Spain. Paul trained workers in Ephesus and passed the baton on to them.
The fourth generation of apostlic workers – Timothy, Titus, Aristarchus, Secundus, Sopater, Gaius, Tychicus, Trophimus, Epaphras. These men, trained and sent by Paul, preached the gospel of the kingdom and raised up kingdom communities all throughout the Gentile world, then passed the baton on to every apostolic worker after them.
All of the people I’ve mentioned above were giants who once walked the earth. Today, the earth is in desperate need of a new breed of Christian workers who are firebrands on the planet, making the world take note and watching hell retreat.
Workers who are willing to experience the life of the body of Christ as simple believers rather than having a lust to be “leaders.”
Workers who are humble enough to be trained by an older worker who has a rich heritage, who knows the Lord deeply, who has experienced the self-emptying work of the cross, who has been through blood up to the horse’s bridle, and who knows by experience what it takes to raise up the house of God.
That brings us to the next generation.
The fifth generation of apostolic workers – All who have come after the fourth generation, perhaps including some of you who are reading this now or in the future. If so, go back to the previous articles, especially “The Way God Raises Up Workers” on the blog. I wrote those articles for you and for all of God’s people who are interested in the restoration of first things. (If you sense God’s call or you are currently involved in ministry, you may want to join us for the next Insurgence Experience (IXP) Mastermind. Just apply.)
Until next Thursday,
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