True and False Apostles
Gal. 1:6-10- I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Nasb)
Rev. 2:1,2- “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this: ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false;”
Paul, in writing to the ‘churches in Galatia’ said this: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that he might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father…” Today this is a fine line between good and evil, not because a line is being drawn in the sand by our Father to distinguish between, but because men are calling “evil, good” and “good, evil.” We are, as the church, being called to come back to a righteous judgment, to discern between good and evil and true and false. John, in writing to the seven churches of Asia, wrote to Ephesus commending them on their works, how they could not tolerate evil men, and to test those who way they are apostles and are not.
What are to do in this day? Are we to sit back and just smile, not just at evil in the world, but evil in the church? Anyone with any sense of discernment and morality, can see what is wrong in the world system. But it takes real discernment and wisdom to tell the things that are different, even though they look similar. This is where it involves true apostles coming together and confronting that which is not biblical and righteous! You may ask, but how can we know the difference between the “true and the false!” Well, that is what I want to look at with this articles. The primary difference between true and false apostles is 1) who will confront when it is obvious that things are wrong, and 2) who is willing to receive correction.
This will probably take more than one article, but I want to use what is the safest way to interpret scripture: That is, to compare scripture with scripture! We will see that false apostles do not do this, they compare “themselves among themselves”, which is not wise. They not only compare themselves, they “measure themselves by themselves! (2 Co. 10:12) To be “false” doesn’t mean that one doesn’t know God, or has not been called with a “true” calling! To be false means to try to “counterfeit” or take a shortcut to that which is true. In fact, how could one be an apostle and not start out right? False apostles have been given over to “iniquity” or lawlessness, that is, that which directly opposes God and is in rebellion to His governmental authority! That brings us to the subject of the “mystery of godliness vs. the mystery of iniquity or lawlessness. I. Tim. 3:15,16 (NKJV)- but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house(hold) of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory. 2. Thess. 2:7- For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. Who is this man of sin, this son of perdition? It is more than just a man, but it is the “spirit of antichrist”, that denies that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. (I. John 4:3) I. John 2:22,23- Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. The spirit of antichrist, or the lawless one, is the one who opposes and exalts himself all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (2 Thess. 2:4) It sounds strangely like Lucifer, who exalted himself above God and kept referring to “I”!
One of the signs of a false apostle is that they will try to draw attention to themselves. True apostles are 1) servants of Christ, and 2) stewards of the mysteries of God. (I. Co. 4:1,2) He went on to say that “it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” True apostles will be willing to suffer for Christ and endure hardships, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. False apostles will look for an ‘easy’ way out, instead of being faithful to the vision, they will give in and begin to compromise their calling with greed, manipulation, and control. Paul also said in I. Co. 4:9- For I think that God has set us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. Because the order of God is “first things first”, false apostles will try to take advantage of the scripture found in I. Cor. 12:28- And God has set these in the church; first apostles, second prophets, third teachers… First just simply means that which is in the beginning, that which is first in function and in order of importance…This does not imply an “hierarchy” which makes apostles more important than prophets or teachers, but only in the order of laying foundation and functioning in first things! With the Corinthians we see that Paul is dealing with many false apostles, as well as those who are questioning his integrity and authority because of the false apostles. We will now take a look at a list of scriptures concerning these very things in the book of 2 Corinthians.
2 Co. 1:21,24- Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee…Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for you joy; for in your faith you are standing firm. (Nasb)
2 Co. 2:17- For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
2 Co. 3:5,6- Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2 Co. 4:1,2,5- Therefore, since we have this ministry (the ministry of the Spirit), as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.
2 Co. 6;1-4- We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We give no offense in anything, that our ministry be not blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God; in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses…
Then, in 2 Corinthians 10, Paul begins to target in on the persons of those who oppose his apostleship: 2 Co. 10:1,2,10,11- Now, I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ–who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you. But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh…”For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” Let such a person consider this, that what are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present.”
We will begin to close this article beginning in 2 Co. 11:4 much as what Paul wrote in Gal. 1:8: “For if he (spirit of antichrist, lawlessness, false apostle) who comes preaches another Jesus, who we have not preached, of if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not yet accepted–you may well put up with it!” (The message says, “you put up with him quite nicely. But if you put up with these big-shot “apostles,” why can’t you put up with simple me? I’m as good as they are. It’s true I don’t have their voice, haven’t mastered that smooth eloquence that impresses you so much. But when I do open my mouth, I at least know what I’m talking about. We haven’t kept anything back. We let you in on everything.”)
2 Co. 11:12-15- But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are ‘false apostles’, deceitful workers, transforming (disguising) themselves into apostles of Christ. An not wonder! For satan himself transforms himself unto an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
Paul finishes up His letter on a positive note in 2 Co. 12:12 and 13:9:
“Truly the signs of an apostle (true apostle) were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.”
“For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete.”
We pray that same thing for you today! 2 Co. 13:14-The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen!