The Difference Between Apostles and Prophets

The best book I have read on Apostles was written by Dr. Larry Caldwell entitled ‘Sent Out.’

In his book, Dr. Caldwell, in a scholarly fashion, connects the ministry of Apostles with those who advance the gospel into frontier regions where Christ is not yet named! Missionaries planting churches among unreached peoples have the most legitimate claim to the title Apostle – more than any other ministry expression that lays claim to this title!

In contrasting them to Prophets – Apostles are like Abraham. They venture out under the stars on a cloudless night, peer up into the heavens and dream of the multitude of individuals in the unreached people group in which they are laboring, being included as Abraham’s children.

Prophets on the other hand venture outside on cloudless nights, peer up into the heavens and imagine all Abraham’s children gainfully employed and actively engaged in the growth and extension of Christ’s kingdom throughout the earth!

As mentioned in my previous blog post, the Prophets’ main ministry in the Old Testament was to bring God’s people back to a place of obedience to fulfill God’s purpose for them as being God’s chosen people. The whole nation, as we discover in Chapter 2 of the Kairos Course, was called to be a nation of Priests – representing God to the nations and the nations to God!

Ezekiel 37 tells the story of the valley full of dry bones. “Can these bones live?” God asked the prophet. Ezekiel’s faith was stretched so he tossed the question back to God by saying, “You alone know.” God told him to prophesy to the bones. As he did, something quite spectacular and unmistakably miraculous began to happen. The bones began to come together. As the prophetic ministry continued, so did the spectacle of the transformation of a valley of dry lifeless bones into a vast, mighty, living army.

The mobilizing ministry expressed through different mediums such as seminars, courses and programs are prophetic ministries. I have seen this happen over and over again. Life from God being breathed into God’s people and transformation taking place. They begin to understand God’s global purpose, catch His vision both for the world and for the Church. They begin to understand their significance as laborers together with God. They catch the importance of working together with other expressions of the Body of Christ and make a decision to work for the advance of the world Christian movement with a special focus on unreached peoples!

Today’s Apostles, to a large degree, have been recognized, validated and are respected for what they do for God’s global purpose. Call them Apostles, church planters or missionaries, their role and function, at least, in planting viable, reproducing churches among unreached people groups, has been firmly established. Not so the role and function of the Prophet/Mobilizer!

I am not saying that the mobilizing function is the only function of the New Testament Prophet but I am suggesting it is the most significant!

Completing the ‘unfinished task’ would be greatly accelerated, in my view, if the mobilizing expression of the prophetic ministry was recognized, encouraged and those gifted with this ministry affirmed!