Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Jesus Our Apostle
This is just a short post today to bring (hopefully!) some clarity to the confusing appellation the writer of Hebrews 3:1 gives to Jesus, namely that of Apostle.
Weren't there only 12 apostles? Why is Jesus being called here "Apostle"?
F.F. Bruce, in his landmark Hebrews commentary, indicates that an "apostle" is "God's representative among human beings".1 The Greek word used here for "apostle" is "Apostolon" (Ἀπόστολον). The same word is also used in Philippians 2:25, to apply to Epaphroditus. It is translated there as "messenger". It helps me to consider the connotation of "envoy".
So, in that sense, Jesus, as God's "Last Word" to humankind, is the Ultimate Messenger of the gospel of God. And, therefore, He is our divine Apostle. "For he is not only, as has been emphasized already, the one in whom God has revealed himself finally and completely, but also the perfect embodiment of humanity's obedient response to God."1
Don't mistake this title as diminishing Jesus to the role of a mere earthly apostle.
Here, in the first few verses of Hebrews 3, Moses is contrasted with Jesus, who is both Apostle and High Priest. Moses was certainly an apostle/prophet to the Hebrews, even though his brother, Aaron, was the progenitor of the Levitical, priestly line. Though Aaron was given the title of first high priest of Israel, it was Moses who God invested with the role of Israel's true advocate before Father God. Moses represented for the Christian Jews the "old order, old economy". Jesus represented and represents the new. In a similar way as Moses was (although Moses was a vastly inferior "type" of Christ), as our high priest Jesus is our one, true Advocate with Father.
There is a huge church in our metropolitan area called The Church of the Apostles. I always wondered why the founder chose that name. In a way, like our Head, Jesus, who is our Apostle, we are all "apostles" in a very general, yet important sense of the word.
We are God's representatives among human beings, as we live out our Christian lives.
What an awesome, fearsome, amazing opportunity! As Beth Moore puts it in her "Entrusted" study:
"One of the most grown-up realities we will ever accept is that we are His wonders with the greatest potential impact on the lost, the cynical, and the hopeless. We - - former liars, cheaters, idolaters, adulterers, mockers, haters, backstabbers, abusers, murderers, atheists, and narcissists - - are placed by God right in the eyeshot of unbelievers who can refuse to look up but can't help looking out."
Oh dear God....may we walk worthy! May we walk....resplendent! In Jesus' name, amen.
1 Bruce, F. F. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1990. Kindle edition.