7 Ministry

411 What do we understand by the term “ministry”?


In general, the term ‘ministry’ is understood as a function or official position associated with specific tasks and responsibilities. In a further sense, those who hold ministries have been given the authority to lead a community and make corresponding decisions.

412 What is a spiritual ministry?


A spiritual ministry constitutes the authorisation, blessing, and sanctification issued through ordination for service in the church of Christ. A spiritual ministry is exercised in the power of the Holy Spirit.


Authorisation: see explanation of Question 415→ Blessing and sanctification: see Questions 416→ and 417→ Ordination: see Questions 462→ et seq.

413 What is the source of the spiritual ministry?


The spiritual ministry is founded upon the sending of Jesus Christ by God, the Father. Jesus Christ is thus the One sent by God. As such He is authorised, blessed, and sanctified for the redemption of mankind. The Apostles are those who have been sent by Jesus Christ.

The spiritual ministry is always linked to Jesus Christ and the Apostles sent by Him. Ministry and the apostolate therefore belong together: wherever the Apostle ministry is active, the spiritual ministry will also be present.

The term ‘apostolate’ is used primarily in reference to all bearers of the Apostle ministry as a whole (‘apostolate’ = the Apostles of Jesus). The priestly ministries and Deacons work by commission of the ‘apostolate’ and perform duties in pastoral care, preaching, and the dispensation of the sacraments.

414 Were there any references to the spiritual ministry in the Old Testament?


Already in the Old Testament references to the spiritual ministry can be found in the activity of kings, priests, and prophets: the king ruled, the priest mediated the blessing of God, and the prophet proclaimed the will of God. These ministries are references to the spiritual ministry.

Everything that had been established in the ministry of the Old Testament is reflected in Jesus Christ. He is King, Priest, and Prophet all in one.

415 What do we mean by “authorisation” for a spiritual ministry?


A spiritual ministry is conferred by an Apostle by the commission of Jesus Christ. Thereby the recipient of the ministry receives part of the authority of the Apostle. He is to make use of this authority by commission of the Apostle. The recipient of this ministry thereby acts in the name of the Apostle and represents him in the scope defined for that ministry. After all, the Apostle is the one who sends the ministers, and those who are sent are accountable to, and dependent on, their sender.

Examples of activities performed by authorisation:

When the Apostle proclaims the forgiveness of sins, he is acting on the basis of the authority conferred upon him by Jesus Christ (concerning this see Question 424→). It is for this reason that the Apostle proclaims the forgiveness of sins with the words: “I proclaim  unto you the glad tidings: in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of theliving God, your sins are forgiven.”

When the priestly minister proclaims the forgiveness of sins, he acts in the stead of the Apostle. For this reason the priestly ministry proclaims the forgiveness of sins with the words: “In the commission of my sender, the Apostle, I proclaim unto you the glad tidings: in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, your sins are forgiven.”

416 What do we mean by “blessing” for a spiritual ministry?


Through the ordination, the gifts present in the recipient of the ministry are awakened, strengthened, multiplied, and dedicated to the service of the Lord. In addition, additional powers are imparted through the blessing.

417 What do we mean by “sanctification” for a spiritual ministry?


In the ordination, the minister receives a share of the holiness of God—the ministry is holy, but the bearer of the ministry remains a sinful human being. The minister can also perform holy acts by the power of the Holy Spirit and serve God and the congregation.

418 What do we mean when we talk about “ministrations” in the church of Jesus Christ?


Every baptised believer is called upon to serve the Lord in active love for his neighbour and by professing his faith (cf. John 12: 26).

When specific mandates and areas of activity that serve for the benefit of the believers and the proclamation of the gospel are assigned to individual believers in the church of Jesus Christ, we understand these as “ministrations”. Such ministrations are discharged wherever baptised individuals profess their belief in Jesus Christ as their Lord in word and deed.

419 What distinguishes ministrations in the church of Jesus Christ from the spiritual ministry?


Ministrations are distinguished from the spiritual ministry in that they can be discharged without ordination.

420 Are ministrations also exercised without ordination in the New Apostolic Church?


Yes, ministrations are discharged without ordination in the New Apostolic Church. For example, these include church commissions for the religious education of children and young people and musical participation in the divine services.

421 Which ministry was instituted by Jesus Christ?


Jesus Christ only gave His church one ministry directly, namely the Apostle ministry. He authorised, blessed, and sanctified the Apostles and equipped them with the Holy Spirit: “‘As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20: 21-23). He entrusted the dispensation of the sacraments to the Apostles. In this manner His sacrifice becomes accessible to human beings (cf. Matthew 28: 19-20).

The authority of the Apostles to “dispense the sacraments” refers to the fact that the Apostles have been commissioned by Jesus Christ to dispense the sacraments. Even if not all sacraments are dispensed by Apostles themselves, the sacraments nevertheless exist in relationship to the Apostle ministry (concerning this see also Question 424→).

422 When did the activity of the Apostle ministry begin in the church?


The activity of the Apostle ministry began on Pentecost. The ministry itself had already been given by Jesus Christ to His Apostles beforehand, however.

“Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and cast out demons.”  Mark 3: 14-16

423 What does the word 'Apostle' mean?


The word ‘Apostle’ means “ambassador” and derives from the Greek word apóstolos. The Apostles are ambassadors of Jesus. Jesus Christ directly linked His sending with their sending: “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20: 21).

424 What commission did Jesus Christ give to the Apostles?


Apostles have been sent by Jesus Christ in order to grant human beings access to the sacrifice brought by Him and the salvation resulting from it.

After His resurrection Jesus gave the Apostles authority to proclaim forgiveness of sins. By His commission they are also to dispense the sacraments, proclaim the gospel, and prepare the believers for His return.

425 By what authority do the bearers of the Apostle ministry act?


The Apostles are ambassadors of Jesus Christ. They act in His name. He gave the Apostles the authority to fulfil the tasks arising from His ministries, namely King, Priest, and Prophet. They are to exercise the rule of Christ, dispense divine blessing, and proclaim the gospel of Christ.

The authority conferred upon the Apostle ministry comes exclusively from Jesus Christ. The Apostle ministry exists in a relationship of complete dependency on Him.

426 What designations are there in the New Testament for the Apostle ministry?


The Apostle ministry is described as “the ministry of the new covenant”, “the ministry of the Spirit”, “the ministry of righteousness”, “the ministry of reconciliation”, and “the ministry of the word”.

427 What is meant by the term “the ministry of the new covenant”?


This designation is derived from 2 Corinthians 3: 6 and serves to make a distinction from the old covenant, when the Mosaic Law—which was restricted to the people of Israel—was in effect. The most important thing in the new covenant is the message of God’s grace, the gospel, which is proclaimed by all those who bear the Apostle ministry. Beyond that, the ministry of the new covenant is active among all nations.

428 What is meant by the term “the ministry of the Spirit”?


The “ministry of the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3: 8) is the ministry that gives the Spirit. Through the dispensation of the gift of the Holy Spirit, those baptised with water receive childhood in God and the prerequisite for becoming a firstling.

The image of the ‘firstlings’ is derived from the “firstfruits” of Revelation 14: 4. This term designates those whom Jesus Christ takes unto Himself at His return. They are identical with the “bridal congregation” (see Questions 562→ et seq.).

429 What is meant by the term “the ministry of righteousness”?


The Apostle ministry teaches that all human beings are sinners in need of the grace of God. Belief in Jesus Christ and acceptance of His sacrifice lead to the righteousness valid before God. Thus the Apostle ministry is the ministry that leads to righteousness (cf. 2 Corinthians 3: 9).

430 What is meant by the term “the ministry of reconciliation”?


The Apostle ministry has been given the task of proclaiming the “word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5: 18-19), and thus admonishes repentance and allows believers to share in the sacrifice of Christ in the forgiveness of sins and the celebration of Holy Communion. This “reconciliation” has the ultimate aim of restoring the untroubled relationship between mankind and God, and between human beings themselves.

431 hat is meant by the term “the ministry of the word”?


John 1: 1-14 describes the Son of God as the “Word” (Logos). All things were created by this “Word”.

The Apostle ministry shares in the “word” because the Lord (Logos) has also given this ministry the commission to teach. It is also in this sense that Acts 6: 4 is to be understood: “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”


Logos: see Question 101→

432 How else are the Apostles described?


The Apostles are also described as

  • “Ambassadors for Christ”—The statement: “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf [...]” (2 Corinthians 5: 20) expresses that Jesus Christ works through the Apostles in His church.
  • “Stewards of the mysteries of God”: a “steward” (1 Corinthians 4: 1) is responsible for the “house”, namely the congregation. Here the Apostles see to it that the proclamation of the word occurs in a manner corresponding to the gospel and that the sacraments are dispensed in the mind of Jesus Christ. The Apostles ordain ministers and establish order in the congregation.

433 What is another important characteristic of the Apostle ministry?


Another important characteristic of the Apostle ministry is to prepare the believers for the return of Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 11: 2).

434 Who sent the Apostles?

Jesus Christ Himself sent the Apostles. He chose twelve men from among His disciples and appointed them to be Apostles (cf. Mark 3: 13-19). It was to them that the following words of Jesus applied:

  • “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (Matthew 10: 40).
  • “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 19-20).

435 What were the names of the first twelve Apostles?


The names of the first twelve Apostles were: Simon who was called Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James the son of Alpheus, Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus, Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot (cf. Matthew 10: 2-4). These Apostles are called the “twelve” even after the betrayal of Judas Iscariot.

436 Were there any other Apostles besides these during the beginnings of the church?


Yes. In addition to the twelve, the New Testament also mentions Matthias (cf. Acts 1: 15-26), Barnabas (cf. Acts 13: 1-4; 14: 4, 14), Paul (cf. 1 Corinthians 9: 1-16; 2 Corinthians 11), and James the brother of the Lord (cf. Galatians 1: 19; 2: 9). Silvanus and Timothy are also described as Apostles (1 Thessalonians 1: 1; 2: 7), as are Andronicus and Junia (cf. Romans 16: 7).

It is of note here that only in the case of Matthias was it necessary to have been an eyewitness of Jesus’ activity in order to be called as an Apostle (Acts 1: 21-22).

437 Was any of the Apostles given a special position?


Yes, in the presence of the other Apostles, Jesus Christ conferred special authority on Simon Peter: Simon was designated as the “rock” (Peter) and was given the authority of the keys. Beyond that, the Lord entrusted His “lambs and sheep”—in other words, the church—to his care (cf. John 21: 15-17). The Lord also directed the following words to him: “Simon, Simon! Indeed Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22: 31, 32).


Authority of the keys, ministry of the rock: see explanation and Questions 457→ and 458→

“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”  Matthew 16: 18

438 How did this special position of Apostle Peter manifest itself after the ascension of the Lord?


After the ascension of the Lord the special position of Apostle Peter showed itself in the fact that

  • Judas Iscariot was replaced within the circle of the Apostles at his initiative (cf. Acts 1: 15-26),
  • it was he who delivered the sermon on Pentecost (cf. Acts 2: 14),
  • the Lord revealed to him that salvation in Christ is also intended for the Gentiles (cf. Acts 10).

439 What New Testament text describes the activity of the Apostles in the greatest detail?


Luke describes the activity of the Apostles in greatest detail in the book of Acts. For example, in Acts 11: 1-18 and 15: 1-29, we read of councils under the leadership of Apostles in which, among other things, it was decided that believing Gentiles would also be permitted to belong to the church of Christ. Together the Apostles thus made decisions that had far-reaching implications for the Christian church.

440 According to the New Testament, who dispensed the gift of the Holy Spirit?


From Acts 8: 15-18 it follows that the dispensation of the gift of the Holy Spirit is bound to the Apostle ministry: Philip preached in Samaria and baptised the believers with water. The Apostles heard about this and thus sent Peter and John there. These two men “prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”

This is underlined in Acts 19: 6: “And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them.”