FULFILLING OUR STEWARDSHIP
TO DISPENSE THE RICHES OF CHRIST
INTO PEOPLE BY PREACHING THE GOSPEL
The stewardship of the apostle is to dispense, to minister, the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel to the nations (Eph. 3:2, 8). Some may think that only the apostle Paul has received this stewardship because he was the top apostle. Many believers also maintain that there have only been twelve apostles throughout church history. This concept is based upon the erroneous teaching of some of the Brethren teachers which stated that the twelve disciples selected by the Lord Jesus were the only apostles. According to this teaching, Paul replaced Judas as the twelfth apostle, instead of Matthias. They say that Matthias was excluded because he was selected by lots and not by Christ directly as Paul was. This teaching, however, is not according to the entire revelation of the New Testament. Acts 1:26 says that after the lot fell upon Matthias, "he was numbered with the eleven apostles." In the next chapter, the Holy Spirit inspired the writer of Acts to say, "Peter, standing together with the eleven" (2:14). This indicates that Matthias, who was chosen in 1:26, was recognized as one among the twelve apostles.
Furthermore, there are other apostles in addition to the first twelve apostles. Barnabas was an apostle (Acts 14:14). Silas and Timothy also became apostles (1 Thes. 1:1; 2:6). In Revelation 2 the church in Ephesus was commended by the Lord because they discerned the genuine apostles from the false apostles (v. 2). This implies that there were more apostles than the twelve apostles; otherwise, it would have been easy to identify the false apostles.
Apostle is an anglicized Greek word which means one who is sent. Every proper believer is a sent one. There are examples of sent ones in the Old Testament. Isaiah was such a sent one. When he saw the glory of Christ (John 12:38, 41) and heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?" Isaiah said, "Here am I; send me" (Isa. 6:8). Whoever is sent by the Lord is an apostle. A little sister who is willing to be sent by the Lord to preach the gospel to her parents is an apostle, a sent one.
In the Lord’s new way, we have been instructed, encouraged, and charged to go out to preach the gospel. Going out to preach the gospel equals being sent. As you go out to preach the gospel, you must have the realization that you are being sent. You should be able to declare to the Lord, "My going out is Your sending." Because everyone who goes out to preach the gospel is a sent one, the number of apostles is unlimited. To be sent out by the Lord is the intrinsic significance of the word apostle. Each day, if we would answer the Lord’s call by saying, "Here am I, send me," we would be the Lord’s sent ones, His apostles.
The stewardship mentioned in Ephesians 3:2 was given not only to Paul but also to all of the believers. Paul was a person fully consecrated to Christ, only caring for Christ day and night. The saints who have full-time jobs are a little different from Paul in that they must be occupied in making a living. In addition to this, there are various other affairs they have to take care of in regard to their families; otherwise, they could not survive. But even with such responsibilities, at least three hours could be spared during the week for the Lord’s sake. You may tell the Lord, "Lord, I cannot be Your apostle with all of my time because I must earn a living. But I want to give You three hours a week. During these three hours, I would visit sinners with the gospel, feed the new believers, or perfect the saints." If you would do this, you would be an apostle of Christ during those three hours.
(The Divine Dispensing for the Divine Economy, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)