Background to Ephesians
Vision and Mission
EQUIPPING, EMPOWERING AND CONNECTING GENERATIONS INTO A FULL LIFE IN JESUS CHRIST
APOSTLE. An apostle in the NT is an envoy, an ambassador, or a missionary. In the NT the term “apostle” is applied to one who carries the message of the gospel.
A. Definition and Origin
B. Apostles as Missionaries
C. Jesus’ Disciples as Apostles
D. Paul as Apostle of the Gentiles
E. False Apostles
F. Christ as Apostle
The noun “apostle” (apostolos) is originally an adjective derived from the verb apostellō (“send”), found in the NT with a considerable range of meanings. The basic concept is that of the sending of messengers or envoys; an apostle can also be called angelos (“messenger,” e.g., Luke 7:24; 9:52) or kērux (“herald,” e.g., 1 Tim 2:7, 2 Tim 1:11; cf. Mark 1:45; 2 Cor 5:20). Apostles can be human or divine, sent by human or divine authorities.
Early Christian prophets were both itinerant and settled, though itinerant prophets seem to have been more prevalent in Syria-Palestine and Asia Minor than in the European churches. A group of prophets including Agabus traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch, according to Acts 11:27–30. Later, Agabus traveled from Jerusalem to Caesarea to deliver a prophetic warning to Paul (Acts 21:8–11). Judas and Silas, both prophets (Acts 15:32), carried a letter from the apostles and elders in Jerusalem to the Christian church in Antioch (Acts 15:22–35); they appear to have been specially selected for that mission because of their prophetic status. The prophet John addressed seven different communities in Asia Minor (Rv 2; 3), and it is probable that he was personally acquainted with each community, probably through past visits. On the other hand, many prophets seem to have remain settled in their communities and to have exercised their prophetic gifts only locally (1 Cor 12–14).
The Function of the Prophet. It is sometimes said that prophets are not foretellers but forthtellers.
Pastor. Word literally meaning “shepherd,” used in both the OT and NT in a figurative sense for rulers and leaders. Of the 12 times the word is used in the NT as a metaphor for “leader,” it is translated as “pastor” only in Ephesians 4:11 (KJV, RSV, NIV, TEV, ASV).
The NT imagery comes from an OT and Palestinian background. In the Jewish economy, the shepherd who tended a flock of sheep or goats held a responsible position. Great flocks had to be moved from place to place, and it was necessary that they be guarded from wild animals and robbers. Because of the fundamental role of shepherding in the ancient world, the word “shepherd” became a common term for a ruler.