Believer’s authority – Part 9

The full, blasphemous conclusions of Hagin’s false doctrine are reached in the fifth chapter of his book “The Believer’s Authority”


Ignoring Hagin’s continued attempt to simply brainwash and/or hypnotize his reader in the beginning of his fifth chapter (by repeating his unfounded proclamations and the perverting of Ephesians that he has done previously in the book) – I would once again point the reader to the blasphemous nature of Hagin’s doctrine:

“All the authority that was given to Christ belongs to us through Him, and we may exercise it. We help Him by carrying out His work upon the earth. And one aspect of His work that the Word of God tells us to do is to conquer the devil! In fact, Christ can’t do His work on the earth without us!

Someone will argue, “Well, He can get along without me, but I need Him.”

No, He can’t get along without you any more than you can get along without Him.” – Kenneth Hagin, “Believer’s Authority” (page 33)

On the following page Hagin tries to tell us that this is what Paul means by his illustrations of the “body of Christ” and “Christ as the head of the church” by partially quoting Ephesians 6:12 out of context.

The problem is Hagin’s overly simplified (borderline idiotic) interpretation of Paul’s use of a metaphor of the Church as being one “body” in Christ. I urge, exhort, and plead with the reader to examine the entirety of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians – if you do so with no desire other than knowing the intent behind his own words you will find nothing but condemnation for Hagin’s perversion of those words.

Side NOTE: I have dealt with Hagin’s tortured understanding of Paul’s illustration in Ephesians HERE a little more in depth than I will in this post…

Following these blasphemous statements and further twisting of Paul’s meaning in Ephesians, on page 35 Hagin wrote this: “In 1952, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me in a vision and talked to me for about an hour and a half about the devil, demons, and demon possession.”

I hope I do not have to point out to the reader that anyone claiming to have had a vision/visitation from the LORD of Glory would not do so in such a cavalier fashion (take for example the men of Scripture who had direct encounters with God: Moses in Exodus, John in Revelation 1:10-20, Isaiah in Isaiah 6:1-7, Paul in Acts 9:3-19, etc.). I also hope the reader does not need to be advised to be highly suspicious that Hagin’s stated topic would be a subject of any vision from God – although that point holds far less weight than the first.

But let us read what Hagin had to say about this alleged “vision from the Lord.”

Side NOTE: this lengthy quote begins immediately following the previous quote… why not share with us what “Jesus” taught him for the “hour and a half” before this? The haphazard (and yet, oddly specific) nature of Hagin’s thoughts should be another indication of his mental imbalance.

“At the end of that vision, an evil spirit that looked like a little monkey or elf ran between Jesus and me and spread something like a smoke screen or dark cloud.

Then this demon began jumping up and down, crying in a shrill voice, “Yakety-yak, yakety-yak, yakety-yak.” I couldn’t see Jesus or understand what He was saying.

(Through this entire experience, Jesus was teaching me something. And if you’ll be attentive, you’ll find the answer here to many things that have troubled you.)

I couldn’t understand why Jesus allowed the demon to make such a racket. I wondered why Jesus didn’t rebuke the demon so I could hear what He was saying. I waited a few moments, but Jesus didn’t take any action against the demon. Jesus was still talking, but I couldn’t understand a word He was saying—and I needed to, because He was giving instructions concerning the devil, demons, and how to exercise authority.

I thought to myself, Doesn’t the Lord know I’m not hearing what He wanted me to? I need to hear that. I’m missing it!

I almost panicked. I became so desperate I cried out, “In the Name of Jesus, you foul spirit, I command you to stop!”

The minute I said that, the little demon hit the floor like a sack of salt, and the black cloud disappeared. The demon lay there trembling, whimpering, and whining like a whipped pup. He wouldn’t look at me. “Not only shut up, but get out of here in Jesus’ Name!” I commanded. He ran off.

The Lord knew exactly what was in my mind. I was thinking, Why didn’t He do something about that? Why did He permit it? Jesus looked at me and said, “If you hadn’t done something about that, I couldn’t have.”
That came as a real shock to me—it astounded me. I replied,

“Lord, I know I didn’t hear You right! You said You wouldn’t, didn’t You?”

He replied, “No, if you hadn’t done something about that, I couldn’t have.”

I went through this four times with Him. He was emphatic about it, saying, “No, I didn’t say I would not, I said I could not.”

I said, “Now, dear Lord, I just can’t accept that. I never heard or preached anything like that in my life!”

I told the Lord I didn’t care how many times I saw Him in visions—He would have to prove this to me by at least three Scriptures out of the New Testament (because we’re not living under the Old Covenant, we’re living under the New). Jesus smiled sweetly and said He would give me four.” – Kenneth Hagin, “Believer’s Authority” (page 35-36)

What utter, bald-faced blasphemy!

This story alone is enough to prove Hagin’s ideas have no weight or worth to them. It is also proof-positive of one of four things: Hagin was either certifiably insane, influenced by evil spirits, fully demon-possessed, or an outright charlatan.

However, let us again examine a few underlying assumptions that provide Hagin with his foundation of sand.

1: Hagin demanded that the demon masquerading as Jesus provide him with a number of passages out of the New Testament – and he specified that he would only accept New Testament texts because “we’re not living under the Old Covenant, we’re living under the New.” This is a completely faulty view of the Scriptures. To reject the absolute authority and worth of the Old Testament in teaching and reproof simply because one assumes “we’re not living IN/under” the context of the Old Testament reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of what Scripture is and does. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

2: as I have implied before, IF Hagin had encountered the Risen and Exalted Christ he would be Incapable of his arrogant demand that God Himself provide Scripture to “support” His words for two reasons: A) God would not have said things that so obviously contradict previous revelation in Scripture – and thus would need no twisting of a text to make them believable. And B) Hagin’s arrogance would have evaporated in the Presence of (or been vaporized by the wrath of) the King of Glory.

Thus this tale can be only one of two things: the recounting of a visitation that Hagin had from an “angel of light,” or a fabrication of his own imagination. (2 Corinthians 11:14)

This conclusion is further proven by Hagin’s own words and ideas coming from the mouth of this supposed “Jesus” for the rest of the chapter as he quotes Matthew 28:18, Mark 16:15-18, James 4:7, 1 Peter 5:8, and Ephesians 4:27 out of context and twists their original, plain meaning.

All the reader has to do is read the fifth chapter of Hagin’s book to see the utter insanity of the ideas it contains – when one man’s writings can sound exactly like (as in structure, flow of thought, vocabulary, etc) the words supposedly spoken to him by Jesus, either that man is writing Scripture, or he (or someone else) is putting words in the Lord’s mouth.

As far as I am concerned, this account of Hagin’s encounter with “Jesus” is enough to damn everything he has written so far in this book and whatever he adds to it.

Such drivel is not even worth the energy it takes to read the words that convey it – thus it is here that I conclude my series of posts critically examining Hagin’s book, “The Believer’s Authority.”


Believer’s authority – Part 8

An Introductory NOTE: For those who have not read through previous posts in this series, here are some quick links:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, and “Believer’s Authority Vs Scripture

The book: “The Believer’s Authority” by Kenneth Hagin, Second Edition Twenty-Second Printing 1996

(ISBN 0-89276-406-6)

“Breaking the Power of the Devil” …?

In opening the fourth chapter of his book, Hagin once again quotes one verse from Ephesians (6:12) completely out of context. And then proceeds to make broad assertions following the text as if he is stating the most obvious conclusion of the Scripture…

“The Word of God teaches us that these evil spirits are fallen angels who have been dethroned by the Lord Jesus Christ. Our contact with these demons should be with the knowledge that Jesus defeated them, spoiled them, put them to nought (Col. 2:15). And now that Jesus has dethroned them, we can reign over them!” – Kenneth Hagin, “The Believer’s Authority” (page 27)

Now, as far as his references to Christ’s defeating the rebellious angels, I have very little to say about Hagin’s demonology. What I believe every Christian should cringe at – and what I have argued in previous posts – is the un-Scriptural assumption in Hagin’s words: “And now that Jesus has dethroned them, we can reign over them!”

Merely reading the whole section of Ephesians that Hagin has quoted from (and another text from Jude) will destroy his preposterous conclusion:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” ~ Ephesians 6:10-20

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.” ~ Jude 3-13 (both texts taken from ESV)

Notice the entire context of the passage in Ephesians is a concept of struggle or warfare, NOT “ruling and reigning” – and no, Romans 8:37 cannot be perverted in that direction either. Also, remember the rest of the epistle to the Ephesians – God is the Great Workman, and He will accomplish His will in spite of us, more often than not. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

The passage I have quoted from Jude stands on its own in its rebuke of Hagin – and I would encourage the reader to go and read the epistle in its entirety. Specifically note the section where not even the archangel would take it upon himself to rebuke Satan – Jude is an epistle obviously ignored by people who go around giving “commands” to and/or making “demands” of the devil…

But when it comes to the false doctrine of the believer’s supposed “authority” the Scriptures don’t actually matter to its teachers. As displayed by the following quote from Hagin:

“Originally, God made the earth and the fullness thereof, giving Adam dominion over all the works of His hands. In other words, Adam was the god of this world. Adam committed high treason and sold out to Satan, and Satan, through Adam, became the god of this world. Adam didn’t have the moral right to commit treason, but he had the legal right to do so.” – Kenneth Hagin, “The Believer’s Authority” (page 27)

Notice the complete lack of Scriptural reference for these statements. That is because Scripture does not allow for this false Word of Faith doctrine of Adam having been the “god” of planet earth – but having transferred his “godhood” to Satan in the fall.

Side NOTE: the only text that the promoters of this heresy can point to for the phraseology is 2 Corinthians 4:4 – but the reader will note that the heretics will be ripping it, kicking and screaming, from it’s context and intended meaning… at some point I will address this evil belief of Word-Faithers – but for now, suffice it to say that it is a false doctrine invented in order to exalt man and Satan and degrade God.

The quotation above is yet another instance of disqualifying, heretical borderline-blasphemy that should indicate to a Biblically literate person that they should toss Hagin’s book into the closest fire at hand… but I digress into ranting.

Speaking of ranting, Hagin spends the next three pages (27-29) blowing hot air about his false doctrine that he has spent the last few chapters trying to convince his reader of. In the course of his raving, Hagin makes a lot of assertions about “Christians” and the “Church” that make it sound like he’s talking about either a group he made up in his own mind, or that I’ve never encountered before – and on top of that, he quotes and abuses Matthew 28:18 and Luke 10:19 again. But what he says on page 30 is worth addressing:

“I have found that the most effective way to pray can be when you demand your rights. That’s the way I pray: “I demand my rights!”

Peter at the Gate Beautiful did not pray for the lame man; he demanded that he be healed (Acts 3:6). You’re not demanding of God when you demand your rights; you’re demanding of the devil.

Jesus made this statement in John 14: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do… If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (vv. 13,14). He’s not talking about prayer. The Greek word here is “demand,” not “ask.”

On the other hand, John 16:23,24 is talking about prayer:

“And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” (The Father is mentioned here in connection with prayer, but He isn’t mentioned in the passage from John 14.)” – Kenneth Hagin, “Believer’s Authority” (page 30)

The utter arrogance of these statements is enough to make one vomit on the spot. Not to mention the gall of completely twisting the text of Scripture to say what one wants it to – and the impudent assumption that your audience is too gullible or stupid to catch you in your lie.

A simple search through a concordance or Greek lexicon will prove Hagin an outright liar. The word translated “ask” in BOTH John 14:13-14 & John 16:23-24 is the Greek word “aiteo” (“154” in Strong’s Concordance) and it’s definition is as follows:

AITEO, to ask, is to be distinguished from No. 2. [EROTAO] Aiteo more frequently suggests the attitude of a suppliant, the petition of one who is lesser in position than he to whom the petition is made…” – W. E. Vine, M.A. “An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words – with their Precise Meanings for English Readers” (page 79), Fleming H. Rebellion Company – First Published 1940… 17th impression 1966.

So, once again, it is painfully obvious that the reader must never assume someone who claims the Greek means anything other than it is translated as is telling the truth unless they can prove their case with legitimate linguistic backing.

But with the typical blithe arrogance he shows throughout the course of his book, Hagin continues by writing: “The Greek actually reads, “Whatever you demand as your rights and privileges ….” You’ve got to learn what your rights are.”

Again, the blasphemous pronouncements of Hagin disqualify him from any position of pastoral or teaching ministry in the Church. And the rest of Hagin’s fourth chapter has no Scriptural support – literally; hequotes no text for the next 2 pages – so I will be ignoring it, as it is not worth the time to even read it.

Believer’s authority – Part 7

Side NOTE: for a refutation of Hagin’s words simply from Scripture – see an earlier post: “the ‘believer’s authority’ vs Scripture”

“The trouble with us is that we’ve preached a “cross” religion, and we need to preach a “throne” religion. By that I mean that people have thought they were supposed to remain at the cross. Some have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, have backed up to the cross, and have stayed there ever since.

We’ve sung “Near the cross, near the cross.” Yes, we need to come by the cross for salvation, but we don’t need to remain there; let’s go on to Pentecost, the Ascension, and the throne!” – Kenneth Hagin, “The Believer’s Authority” (pages 23-24)

These words display not only Hagin’s lack of understanding when it comes to the cross, but his disdain for the cross. His words have no harmony with our Lord’s:

“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me…” ~ Luke 9:23

Also, what is meant by “Some have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, have backed up to the cross, and have stayed there ever since”? Well, Hagin gave us an idea by his very next paragraph:

“The cross is actually a place of defeat, whereas the Resurrection is a place of triumph. When you preach the cross, you’re preaching death, and you leave people in death. We died all right, but we’re raised with Christ. We’re seated with Him. Positionally, that’s where we are right now: We’re seated with Christ in the place of authority in heavenly places.” – Kenneth Hagin, “The Believer’s Authority” (page 24)

Now… to a minuscule extent, some of what Hagin has written here is kind of correct. The believer saved by the grace of God has been covered by the righteousness of Christ – they are justified before God because they are found in Christ… but notice the complete disjointedness of Hagin’s doctrine of the cross from how he understands justification and sanctification. To Hagin, somehow the Christian must “leave” the cross – because it supposedly offers so little – and “move on” to bigger and better things… does that sound like the language of Christ or His apostles?

“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” ~ Matthew 10:38

“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” ~ Galatians 6:14

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV)

Also, notice how once again Hagin has inserted this idea of “authority” into our saved and justified state without any Biblical warrant: “We’re seated with Christ in the place of authority in heavenly places.”

Compare Hagin’s presumptive distortion with the actual text:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” ~ Ephesians 2:4-10 (ESV)

Nowhere in this passage is it suggested that the believer’s status of being “seated with Christ” automatically means they are endowed with the same “authority” given to Christ in the previous chapter (Ephesians 1). However, there is quite a bit of language that speaks to our subservience to Christ and our lack of grounds to make any form of grandiose claims for ourselves.

But Hagin continued with his absurd assertions by trying to convince his audience that people like me are second-rate Christians:

“Many Christians know nothing about the authority of the believer. They really don’t believe we have any authority. They believe they’re barely saved and they must go through life being dominated by the devil while living on Barely-Get-Along Street. They magnify the devil more than they do God.” – Kenneth Hagin, “The Believer’s Authority” (page 24)

I don’t know what kind of professing Christians Hagin hung around – but I’ve certainly never met anyone that fit the caricature above. (And, frankly, based upon later chapters of Hagin’s book – it is HIS position that “magnifies the devil more than God.”)

Notice again, though, the underlying presuppositions in Hagin’s statements. 1) he thinks that those who don’t “believe in authority” are “dominated by the devil.” 2) and he believes that Christians who don’t utilize his imagined super-power are “barely saved” – or at least act like they are…

But this is something of a random tangent, Hagin returned to his main thrust when he wrote: “The elevation of Christ’s people with Him into the heavenlies clearly points to the fact that we are to sit with Him, sharing not only His throne but also His authority. That authority belongs to us!” (Page 24)

Once again, I would point out the blasphemous equation of the believer with Christ Himself. Nowhere do the authors of Holy Writ make this kind of connection to Paul’s illustration of how and why our justification is possible and/or happens. Hagin’s assertions are nothing but the normal, FALLEN human ambition to have control of one’s own life.

Granting once again that Hagin does make a few statements about “being balanced” on pages 25 and 26 that could help us hope that Hagin is not intending to BE quite as blasphemous as he sounds – we must still conclude that Hagin’s ideas thus far in his book are Biblically untenable and full of heresy.


Divorce + Remarriage = Adultery / Sexual Immorality

A few weeks ago I wrote a post where I quoted Matthew 5:27-32 and Matthew 19:3-9.

Recently I heard someone mention that they had been told by someone that ‘Jesus’ words were meant for His culture and/or context’ or some such idea – basically amounting to “we don’t have to take Christ’s commands about divorce seriously in our day.”

I would ask the reader to examine those passages in context and ask themselves if Jesus’ words leave room for a restriction of the command to a certain time or culture?

Let’s approach it from a slightly different angle – in Matthew 5:32 Jesus says the person who marries a divorced person commits adultery. So what does God say about adultery?

“And you shall not commit adultery.” ~ Deuteronomy 5:18

“For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” ~ Ephesians 5:5

“But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler – not even to eat with such a one… Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 5:11 & 6:9-10 (ESV)

Seems adultery is a pretty bad thing! And if you read the whole context of Matthew 5:32 – it seems to me that, if this command of God is not universally applicable, then NOTHING Christ said in His sermon on the mount (or in any of the gospel accounts, for that matter) is applicable to anyone today. That would include the things Jesus said about men repenting and being forgiven and/or born again – thus removing the hope of salvation from all of dead and evil mankind…

Something to think about, I would say, before blithely tossing God’s words out the window.


An Additional Thought on the Office of Apostle

As I further considered the texts given in my last post, I realized that Acts 1:15-22 was the strongest Scriptural support/documentation of what an apostle is and what the criteria is for becoming one.

Specifically in verses 21-22 of chapter one in the book of “the Acts of the Apostles” – Peter provides the following criteria for their choosing of someone to replace Judas:

“So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” ~ Acts 1:21-22 (ESV)

Here we see where the tradition I mentioned in my last post comes from; the very pages of Holy Writ itself.

This criteria given by Peter – namely that the newly appointed apostle must be chosen from among those who were disciples of Jesus since His baptism until His Ascension.

This alone – aside from any of my reasoning in my earlier post – is enough to come to the conclusion that the office of apostle no longer exists today.


The Office of Apostle

Thanks (I think/believe) to a lot of uneducated, fanciful interpretational methods that were produced by proto-Pentecostal movements there is a lot of confusion about the office of apostle among a majority of professing Christians in our day.

And even within the more orthodox strains of the “charismatic” movement I have heard some odd explanations of how we should view the office today.

Little “a” apostles vs Capital “A” Apostles(?)

One thing I’ve heard from an individual who is more orthodox than those within the “New Apostolic Reformation” (a movement full of self-appointed “apostles” and self-proclaimed “prophets”), is that we should have a concept of two different “kinds” of apostles – the more authoritative, ancient Apostles and the less authoritative, modern apostles, if you will.

But does Scripture give warrant or precedent to this idea?

Well, one of the few epistles that mention anything generic about “apostles” in a teaching context is 1 Corinthians:

“Now, you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you still a more excellent way…” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 (ESV)

NOTE: I encourage the reader to visit the entire context of this passage – and especially to read the following chapter, as Paul has told us it contains instruction on a “more excellent” way of living in the light of God’s mighty work on our behalf.

Though the passage (quoted above) in 1 Corinthians contains mention of “apostles” within the larger context of God’s gifts to His children to build up and strengthen the church – see also Ephesians 4:11-13 – there is no clear instruction given here by Paul on what an apostle actually IS.

What IS an Apostle?

From the accounts in Acts and the authoritative nature of Paul’s instructions and commands in his epistles, one of the obvious things that the apostles were was leaders and/or authority figures in the primitive Church. They led the early followers of Jesus in belief and conduct.

But in the earlier portions of Ephesians we are given something a little closer to actual teaching on what an apostle serves as:

“…So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord…” ~ Ephesians 2:19-21 (ESV) … (see also Revelation 21:14)

In Ephesians Paul informs us that the apostles (along with the prophets of the Old Testament) serve as a “foundation” for the Church of God, but in what way do they serve this purpose, especially for Christians today?

I would argue that it is by the writing of Holy Scripture that the apostles and prophets – subservient to Christ as the all important “cornerstone” – serve to build the Church (or Temple, if you will) of God throughout the ages. I would argue this based upon the temporal, “one time” language that is used in reference to the purpose of the apostles in Holy Scripture – you only build the foundation of a building once. Also, as far as I can tell, most references to true “apostles” in Scripture and the ancient church fathers usually put in the qualifier of “the twelve.”

None of these texts so far, however, give us any specific teaching on how to identify an “apostle” – so what is it that makes someone an apostle?

The Criteria of an Apostle

I would suggest to the reader that there is one primary, time honored “criterion” for how we Biblically identify an apostle of Jesus Christ: an apostle is a man commissioned to preach the gospel by Christ Himself.

We see this exemplified in Acts 1:15-22, and the beginning of Galatians where Paul’s writing is undergirded by an explanation and outlining of his call and experience in becoming “the apostle to the Gentiles” by the commission of the risen Christ Himself… there is also a short reference to this by Paul in1 Corinthians 15:8-9. Also, throughout the Gospels and the book of Acts, there is no reference to “apostles” outside the twelve disciples who specifically participated in Jesus’ earthly ministry.

However, even if there are a few generic references to those who hold the office of apostle in the Church throughout the New Testament, this does not demand that the traditional criterion above is faulty – and thus require we assume some form of the office exists today. Why? Because, although 1 Corinthians 15:6-7 does not exactly say when Jesus appeared to the groups specified, this type of evidence for “apostles” outside the twelve and Paul still falls under the category of the office only being given to individuals who interacted directly with the risen Christ (and I think it is significant to note that except for Paul, all of these individuals interacted “physically” – I.e. Not in a vision – with Him in the presence of others who did likewise).

Another traditional criterion of true, orthodox and ancient Christianity is that the apostles had authority and power by the Holy Spirit to write Scripture (as I have said above, I would also argue this tradition from the text itself). What they said and wrote was authoritative as coming from God – just like the prophets of the Old Testament. (2 Peter 1:19-21)

Side NOTE: it can even be argued that every book of the New Testament is of Apostolic origin – the authors of Mark, Luke, Acts, and Hebrews all having clear connections to one of the apostles of Scripture.

That having been said – and no clear Scriptural evidence of any distinctive “levels” or “types” to the office taken into consideration – if one subscribed to the idea that we do have apostles today (or prophets, for that matter), consistently they would have to add that “apostle’s” writings or speeches to the Bible!

The last few paragraphs are a bit of a rabbit trail, but the ideas put forth within them have existed (been debated or discussed) since the days of the primitive Church, and no one among these modern day groups of “charismatics” seems to care that God’s people throughout history have had something to say about topics we discuss today!

As far as I can see from Scripture, anyone who claims to be an “apostle” (or prophet, as far as I’m concerned) today is either a lying charlatan – like those in the New Apostolic Reformation(NAR); or they have not actually thought about what Scripture says about the office – and thus no one should be listening to them anyway, as that person is obviously a simpleton and shouldn’t have authority over anyone.

To drive this point home, I would encourage the reader to examine Paul’s arguments against the “super-apostles” in Corinth that had apparently begun to accuse Paul of “walking according to the flesh” (2 Corinthians 10-12)… particularly in chapter 11 Paul contrasts his own actions against those of these “super-apostles” using incredibly thick and biting sarcasm.

One of the points Paul makes about himself is his lack of demanding resources from the Corinthians in order to show himself trustworthy to them… I have never heard or seen any indication of a practitioner/leader of the NAR ever discouraging people from giving their money to them – in fact they do the opposite, they have entire doctrines about why and how Christians should be wealthy/prosperous (just look up “great transfer of wealth” in relation to this movement).

For the reader who might be involved in the NAR, I would encourage you to think hard on the following words of Paul before you follow/listen to anyone who claims to be an apostle…

“And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not surprising if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds…” ~ 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 (ESV)


Who is the “Thief” in John 10:10?

Now most people who have heard anyone quote/paraphrase the first half of the verse – “the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.” – know that most of those people they’ve heard quote it are intending the listener to understand the “thief” to be Satan.

The problem with this assumption is that nowhere in the text does Jesus mention “the devil.” Granted, the devil can fall into the category of “thief” that Jesus has created in this parable – but I believe we do harm to the text and misunderstand Jesus when we automatically interpret “the devil” in the place of “the thief.”

Side NOTE: I am fairly certain that Scripture nowhere attributes the title of “thief” directly to Satan…

So, who does Jesus have in mind?

Well, first off, if he has anyone in particular in mind, it seems to be any number of those within the decades before His Incarnation (and even within His own lifetime) who had risen up and called themselves the Messiah – trying to amass followers and liberate Israel from the Romans. (John 10:8)

Along with that, however, I do not think it would be too much of a stretch to think that Jesus also meant the Sadducees and Pharisees to fall under this category as well – although they may actually be closer to the “hired hand.” (John 10:12-13)

However, all of this is in keeping with the mistake of those who misquote John 10:10 in reference to the devil – it is missing Christ’s entire point in using this parabolic illustration.

The thrust and purpose of Jesus’ words is obviously HIMSELF. How HE is the door to life, how He is the Good Shepherd, and He is a faithful and mighty master. The thief and the hired hands only serve as a juxtaposing contrast to the goodness, faithfulness, and power of the Good Shepherd. (John 10)

To focus on the contrasting “images” instead of the subject of the parable (I.e. Christ) is an insult to our Lord – not to mention bad hermeneutics.

All of that said – it is true that held within this glorious example of the goodness, faithfulness, and intentional power to save of Jesus, there is an undercurrent of an assumption about the wariness we should have about false teachers and deceiving “leaders.” (2 Peter 2, Jude, Matthew 7:15-23, etc.)

So, is there a group that can fall into these contrasted to Christ categories today?

Well, yes, I believe it would be appropriate to put Kenneth Hagin, Jeff Taylor, Kenneth & Gloria Copeland, Benny Hinn, Todd White, Bill Johnson, Joyce Meyer, Paula White, Creflo Dollar, Paul & Jan Crouch, Oral Roberts, Rick Joyner, Joel Osteen, Joseph Prince, and all other leaders and “pastors” of the Word of Faith movement and New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) into the category of “the thief” who comes “only to steal, kill, and destroy.” And I believe men like Rick Warren, Robert Jeffress, Carl Lentz, and Brian Houston fall under the category of “hired hands” – not necessarily apostate wolves in sheep’s clothing, but certainly squishy and spineless on the Gospel.

Beware of such men and women, yes; and do not be ignorant of the devil’s devices and rebellious influence in the world, yes… but do not let those things twist your remembrance or reading of the Scriptures.

Christ is the Good Shepherd, and His sheep hear and follow His voice – because He is Able and Mighty and Faithful to save!