Apostles and Prophets Teaming Together
Apostles and prophets are the foundational ministries of the church (Eph 2:20). While the foundation of the universal church was laid by Jesus, and established by his twelve apostles of the Lamb, each generation of the church age must have the foundation re-laid and confirmed in order to remain on the rock that is Christ (1 Cor 3:11).
Likewise, each new church that is birthed or planted must have the foundation laid upon the same foundation. If the foundations are not laid, missing as little as only one generation, the building will be off base and will not be founded upon Christ. Jesus said “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (verse). If the gates of hell seem to be prevailing against a church, it could be because Jesus is not the builder. It is guaranteed that if the foundation and building is done by Jesus through his ministers (we are all called to be ministers of the gospel) influenced by and directed by the Gift ministries which He gave to the church, following His blueprint or pattern, then the church that is built will overcome any obstacle and crush the works of satan.
When apostles and prophets work together as teams either in conjunction, in concert or in relay, the church is not only stronger, but other ministries find their place to operate and further equip the saints. Where apostles and prophets work together the prophets prophesy with apostolic strategy and function with apostolic patience. When they work together, apostles work with prophetic vision and heavenly insight. When prophets prophesy and there is not apostolic influence, often the timing of the word is miscalculated or the application of the word is misapplied. When apostles build without prophetic insight they often can wear out the people doing the work of the kingdom, and can also make the work more about the building and forget to monitor the relationship of the workers with the master builder, the Lord.
Apostles are called master builders (1 Cor 3:10) from the word architekton, from which we get our English word architect. I often use Isa 28:17 as an example of how apostles and prophets work together.
Isa 28:17a Also I will make justice the measuring line, And righteousness the plummet;
The apostolic ministry is interested in building and reaching out, Paul said he desired “to preach the gospel in the regions beyond …” (2 Cor 10:16). As the master builder under the Lord the apostle can get too involved in the work and over extend the people. Like the line that is drawn out for the walls of the building, the apostle wants to reach out and build out.
The prophet is interested in connecting with the Lord and keeping the people connected to the word of the Lord. An apostle will have a personal relationship with the Lord which deeply encourages him and instructs him on the plans of the Lord for His people and church. However, the prophet will check and correct the relationship with the Lord that the people have, and even the relationship held by the apostle. Peter the apostle had a special relationship with the Lord, however, he sometimes got off track in that relationship, often though the apostle John, who was also a prophet, was there to help Peter refocus on the relationship with the Lord.
Like the plumb line which hangs down and has the weight on the base can check to see that the building is aligning up with heaven. The apostolic checks the horizontal building and the prophetic ministry checks the vertical building.
If the apostle is allowed to work separate from the prophet, he is likely to build out and overextend the reach and not the height. If the prophet is allowed to build without the apostolic influence, he is likely to build up to reach heaven, but not go out. Both need to work together in order to build out and up checking both the outreach and the up reach of what is being built.
Prophets are sent to bring a word and apostles are sent to complete a task. Apostles can mobilize the people to the work that the prophets declare needs completion. When a prophet brings a word his job (as a prophet) may be fulfilled. It is up to the apostle to consider the word and, if needed, to respond or mobilize a response to a message of the prophet.
When a prophet brings the word, (or when any prophesy is given through the gift of prophecy) the word must be judged. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses a matter shall be established” Deut 19:15. One place where the judging or discerning of a prophetic word can be misunderstood is by how it is judged and by whom. Paul wrote that a prophetic word should be judged by other prophets.
1 Cor 14:29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.
As I we have already seen the word translated “other” in this verse is from the Greek word allos meaning of the same kind. When the prophetic word is limited to being judged by those with limited or no prophetic intuition I have seen true word from God rejected out of fear, misunderstanding, and ignorance.
When the apostle judges a word, it may go beyond simply the source of the word and the accuracy of the word and on to application of the word. This may simply call for a response to the message given or it may mean actual mobilization in order to accomplish the word.
When it came to new doctrines or new applications of doctrines it was apostles that the Lord sent to break the new ground. Even then the new actions were brought before the council or gathering of the apostles and elders to consider and judge the accuracy and application of such new doctrines or understanding of what the Lord had instituted through the apostle.
One case in which this is seen is the record for Peter and Cornelius the centurion in Acts chapter 10. Cornelius feared God (Jehovah) prayed to him and gave generously to the needy. In these days’ gentiles who connected themselves to Jewish synagogues were called “God Fearers”. Cornelius had a visitation of an angel who told him to send for Peter who was in Joppa (hiding form authorities at the time). Shortly before the messengers from Cornelius showed up at Simon’s home where Peter was staying, Peter had a vision which culminated in the message from the Lord “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” Then “While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.’” 
What transpired the following day in Caesarea was for the first-time gentiles received the holy spirit and the new birth. Jesus had told the disciples that He had other sheep besides the children of Israel and had also told them “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8. Yet to this point they had limited the preaching of the gospel primarily to areas where the Tora was taught. Peter seemed to be more concerned with the Jewish customs which made it un-lawful for him to enter into a gentile’s home. (Act 10:28). But because of the direction of the Holy Spirit and the undeniable coordination of events by the Lord, Peter broke new ground by taking the gospel to the gentiles for the first time. Who then received the Holy Spirit, and they for the first time received it without the laying on of hands since the first out-pouring on Pentecost with tongues of fire.
34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.
35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.
36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ — He is Lord of all —
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.
45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.
46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. …
Because of the revolutionary nature of this occurrence apostles and leaders in Jerusalem were gathered to consider the events and the effects, as well as how it appeared to contradict their understanding of the Tora. They concluded that the events and results were the activity and the will of the Lord and summed up their findings.
Acts 11:17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”
18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”
This is also an example of how the Lord has called apostles to set things in order in the church (1 Cor 11:34; Titus 1:5). This often includes discovery of the things which are out of order so correction may be interjected. There is a difference between the anointing of the ministry and the gift itself. I have seen that the anointing which is present with a true apostle will often reveal things that are out of order without any apparent effort by the apostle. However, it requires the ministry of the apostle to put things back in order. The anointing goes with the person. At times, just the presence of an apostle can be like tossing a rock in a pond. There will be ripples, or even waves, that go out simply from the presence of the anointing. However, as Jesus said “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward.” (Matt 10:41), and so it is with other ministries. While the presence of an apostle may reveal things that need to be brought into order, the ministry needs to be received as an apostle in order to receive the rewards, which in this case would be to set thing into order As a team, receiving the prophet in his ministry may also reveal things which are out of order, and the apostolic ministry may be received in order to bring the order into the church. If it were more generally understood that the apostolic and prophetic and prophetic ministries can bring light to what is not in order, and direction to how to bring things into order, there would be much more of what the church accomplishes built upon the proper foundation, and less frustration with what is built by man and must be removed at a later time by the Lord.
The prophet will often be called upon to identify the apostolic and at times even prepare the way for this ministry. In the 1990s prophets were prophesying about the apostles which the Lord was going to raise up, yet in the 2000’s when there were apostles being raised up, the prophets seemed to be ignoring the apostles that had come.
I found myself at a roundtable once during this period. I was with an apostle friend of mine who was well known and respected as an apostle in his country. We were sitting in a meeting listening to some well-known and respected prophets talk about things the Lord was accomplishing, and would accomplish. After the meeting I was curious what my friend thought and found humor in the response he gave me, which was, “it seems like this same thing I have seen in other places, the prophets are talking about the apostles to come, while the apostles to come are sitting in the audience”.
I must admit that this was not a singular instance. In fact, John the Baptist set the pattern as the more senior minister, a prophet, who proclaimed the apostle to come, and yet was not intimidated when He arrived. In fact, John was not in the least intimidated by Jesus’ increasing ministry and sent his own disciples to Jesus on several occasions, (Mt 11:2; Lk 7:19; Jn 1:36, 37). John seemed to be quite comfortable in seeing his word come to pass in the ascension of Jesus into ministry.
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30
Barnabas, as an elder in Christian ministry to Saul, went to him as a prophet and apostle in training and brought him to Antioch where Saul could increase and the Kingdom could increase because of this. I myself was instructed by an apostolic mentor that I would be called upon to step out of an apostolic anointing into the prophetic in order to lift up a more junior (in time) apostle into his ministry and calling. In doing this, he said humility would be required, but also in accomplishing this, an entire region was improved and blessed by the apostolic ministry which was lifted up.
Something that must be understood is the difference between the young or immature and the false. Often those who are younger in calling and function are mistaken for false or self-promoting, especially by those whose hearts are not pure.
“To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.” Titus 1:15
You can see this type of behavior in the story of David’s calling and ascendancy to the kingship in Israel. When David was young and attempted to step out of his previous vocation as shepherd, his motives were disputed by those who were in a position to assist and advise him.
1 Sam 17:20 So David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, and took the things and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the camp as the army was going out to the fight and shouting for The battle.
21 For Israel and the Philistines had drawn up in battle array, army against army.
22 And David left his supplies in the hand of the supply keeper, ran to The army, and came and greeted his brothers.
23 Then as he talked with them, there was the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, coming up from the armies of The Philistines; and he spoke according to The same words. So David heard them.
24 And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid.
25 So the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel; and it shall be that the man who kills him the king will enrich with great riches, will give him his daughter, and give his father’s house exemption from taxes in Israel.”
26 Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
27 And the people answered him in this manner, saying, “So shall it be done for the man who kills him.”
28 Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”
29 And David said, “What have I done now? Is there not a cause?”
While his brothers were in the initial position to help David, they chose not to but rather disparaged his intentions. Saul did give David the opportunity and initially helped to raise David up and prepare him for his rightful role as king, however, in time Saul became jealous of David and became the biggest threat to his success. It was Jonathan, Saul’s son who really responded to David in such a way as to help him and protect him and advise him so he could become everything the Lord had called him to be.
It is a principle in scripture “The older shall serve the younger.” (Rom 9:12), and “Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant.” (Luke 22:26 THE MESSAGE). This is to help raise up the next generation of leaders and is opposite of the way worldly leaders use power.
Jesus got them together to settle things down.
“You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads.
43 It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant.
44 Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. Mark 10:42-44 (from THE MESSAGE)
There are other ways in which apostles and prophets complement one another and build up the church. Both apostles and prophets lay foundations and are builders. Apostles are master builders, architekton. It is more than simply the architect, but in addition like the chief constructor.
1 Cor 3:10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid The foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.
An example of architekton is found in the old testament in the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament. God specifically called Bezalel to oversee and direct the building of the tabernacle of God – the first prototype dwelling place of God on earth and a type of the building the Lord now dwells in made up of His church.
Ex 35:30 And Moses said to the children of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of The tribe of Judah;
31 and He has filled him with The Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship,
32 to design (architekton) artistic works (architekton), to work in gold and silver and bronze,
33 in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of artistic workmanship.
As a type and shadow of the New Testament apostle filled with the Spirit of God, wisdom, understanding, knowledge and all manner of workmanship – Bezalel was a master builder. Jesus himself is not only our greatest example of a master builder, His job as a carpenter was really that of a master craftsman or chief contractor.
Is this not the carpenter, (tekton) the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us? Mark 6:3a
I find it interesting that even in the prototype seen with Bezalel wisdom is a trait that is highlighted as well as coordination with knowledge and understanding.
In 1 Corinthians 12:8 the apostle Paul wrote that the Spirit gave the gift of “word of wisdom and word of knowledge” through the Spirit. While these manifestations (1 Cor 12:7) of the gift of Holy Spirit are given to believers, not only to those with gift ministries, the apostle generally will have a long suit in wisdom, just as the prophet generally will have a long suit in word of knowledge. Jesus himself connected wisdom with the gift of apostle.
Luke 11:49 Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’
When we see Jesus reiterate this same information he replaces apostle with “wise men”.
Matt 23:34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,
I believe when he mentions scribes, he is referring to the ministry of teacher.
Figuratively we can see the long suits of these ministries put to use in building the house of God
Prov 24:3 Through wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established;
4 By knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches.
Apostles and prophets are the foundational ministries of the New Testament Church. As they work together all other ministries are called, established and commissioned. Apostles and prophets working together not only can uncover those things which are not working according to God’s plan, those things which are out of God’s order, but they can be put back into order. Apostles who work with prophets will see an increase in their prophetic vision. Prophets who work with apostles will see their patience extended and their governmental mantle expand. Pastors, teachers and evangelists who are in relationship with apostles and prophets will see their ministries established upon lasting foundations, increasing upward in relationship with the Lord, and outward in relationship to the ever-expanding Kingdom.
 Who were the God-fearers? These were Gentiles who were attracted tot the monotheism and ethical standards of Judaism but had not yet or were unwilling to become proselytes, becoming Jews. According to Lighting the word. A New Look Acts – Dr. C Peter Wagner Regal books copyright 1995 by C Peter Wagner “Understandably, many Gentiles would be attracted to the monotheism and the high epical standards of the Jews, but were not prepared to take the radical step of becoming proselytes and making a total break with their Gentile Roots. Recognizing this, the Jews of the day had created a special place for them in their synagogue committees has god-fearers. They had a recognized affiliation with the synagogue, they worship the god of the Jews, and they agreed to adhere to the Jewish law to the best of their abilities, observing the Sabbath and the dietary laws as strictly as they thought they could. When they went to the synagogue meetings, however, the god-fearers had to congregate in a separate designated place. They could not enter the worship area of the synagogue itself because they were still Gentiles, and as such were regarded by Jews as unclean. … ‘no Orthodox Jew would ever enter the home of a gentile, even a god-fearer, or invite such into his home.’”
© Lloyd C. Phillips, Director
The Fellow Laborers’ International Network (FLInt Net)
P.O. Box 113 Missoula, MT 59806