7 Ministry

441 What were the other important tasks of the Apostles?


An important task of the Apostles was to proclaim that Jesus Christ had been active among them, had died, and had resurrected from the dead (cf. Acts 13: 26-41; 17: 1-4). They fought against heresies that sought to deny these things (cf. 1 Corinthians 15: 3-8; 1 John 4: 1-6).

442 What expectation comprised the central point of apostolic proclamation already at that time?


The Apostles expected the return of Christ during their lifetimes and prepared the believers for it (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4: 14-18). This shows that it lies in the nature of the Apostle ministry to proclaim the return of Christ and to prepare the congregations for this event.

443 What was the first ministry to come out of the Apostle ministry?


The Apostles began to fulfil their commission and preach the gospel on Pentecost. Soon after, they discovered that they needed helpers, and so seven men were chosen for this task. The Apostles prayed and laid their hands upon these men and so blessed them in preparation for their service. These seven men are described as the first Deacons.

“[These men were] set before the Apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.” Acts 6: 6

444 What follows from these actions of the Apostles?


From these actions it follows that the laying on of hands and prayer of Apostles is necessary for ordinations.

445 Did other ministries proceed from the Apostle ministry?


Yes. The Apostles and other believers established new congregations, and new ministers were needed to provide them with pastoral care. For this the Apostles ordained congregational leaders who were designated as “Bishops” or “Elders”. Prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers were also active in the beginnings of the Christian congregations (cf. Ephesians 4: 11).

446 How were the congregations cared for after the death of the early Apostles?


After the death of the early Apostles, various ministrations with differing duties and designations began to develop. Through them the members of the congregations were given pastoral care.


Ministrations: see Questions 418→ et seq.

447 Did the Apostle ministry cease to exist after the death of the early Apostles?


The Apostle ministry continued to exist despite the fact that the Apostles died. This ministry has been instituted by Jesus Christ for His church. Even during the time when there were no bearers of this ministry on earth, the ministry established by Him was still present.

The Apostles are to be witnesses of Christ until the end of the age (cf. Matthew 28: 19-20). In order to fulfil this comprehensive task in view of His return, Jesus Christ also sends Apostles today.

“End of the world”: The Greek original text of Matthew 28: 20 uses the term aeon, which can refer to an era, a long period of time, or also “end of the world”. There is a similar reference to the “end of the earth” in Acts 1: 8, but this is meant in geographical terms.

448 How long did this interruption in the activity of Apostles last?


According to extra-biblical sources, John was the last of the early Christian Apostles to die, and he did so near the end of the first century. The activity of the Apostles was thus interrupted until the renewed occupation of the Apostle ministry in the nineteenth century.


Renewed occupation of the Apostle ministry: see Questions 400→603→

449 Why was the activity of the Apostles interrupted?


This interruption in the activity of the Apostles has its source in the will of God. For human beings this remains a mystery.

Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit remained active even in the time without Apostles, and assured the preservation and development of the gospel.

450 When was the Apostle ministry occupied again?


The Apostle ministry was once again personally occupied in accordance with God’s will when the time for the final gathering and preparation of the bridal congregation for the return of Christ had come: as of the year 1832 the Apostle ministry was once again occupied.

Apostles are thus active at the start of the church of Christ and in the time before the return of Christ in order to prepare the bridal congregation.


Bridal congregation: see Questions 562→ et seq.

The term ‘personal occupation’ of the Apostle ministry is intended to express that there are bearers of the Apostle ministry. They have been called to this ministry and exercise it in the mind and Spirit of Jesus Christ.

451 Is there any difference in spiritual authority between the Apostle ministry at the beginning and the Apostle ministry at the end of God’s work of redemption?


No. There is no difference in commission or activity because they have been given the same spiritual authority. The Apostle ministry was only established once by Jesus Christ for His church.


God’s / The Lord’s work of redemption: see explanation of Question 386→

452 What ministerial levels and ministries are there in the New Apostolic Church?


In the New Apostolic Church there are three ministerial levels with differing spiritual powers, namely the Apostle ministry, priestly ministry, and diaconal ministry:

  • The Apostle ministry includes the Chief Apostle, the District Apostles, and the Apostles.
  • The priestly ministry includes Bishops, District Elders, District Evangelists, Shepherds, Evangelists, and Priests.
  • The diaconal ministry includes Deacons and Sub-deacons.


Authorisation / authority: see Questions 412415 and the explanation of Question 415

453 What are the duties of the apostolate?


Jesus Christ gave the Apostles the commission “to loose and to bind” (Matthew 18: 18), in other words, to pronounce something as permissible or forbidden. Thereby the doctrine is established and order is created in the congregations.

In accordance with the example of Jesus, the Apostles are servants (cf. John 13: 15). They are not lords over the faith of the congregations, but rather fellow workers for their joy (cf. 2 Corinthians 1: 24), and are to be examples to the congregation in following Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 11: 1).

454 From where does the authority of the Apostle ministry derive?


The authority of the Apostle ministry derives from the calling of the Apostles by Jesus Christ and from the powers which the Lord laid into this ministry. The significance of the ministry can be seen in Jesus’ intercessory prayer: “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world, and for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth” (John 17:18-19).

455 What is the objective of the activity of the Apostles?


The activity of the Apostles is aimed at building up the Lord’s work of redemption and leading it to its completion. This includes dispensing the sacraments in the manner desired by Jesus Christ. The Apostles see to it that the gospel is preached in unadulterated fashion and that the congregations have a divinely pleasing order.

Beyond that, the Apostles are to prepare the bridal congregation for the return of the Lord by preaching the gospel, proclaiming the forgiveness of sins, baptising with water and the Holy Spirit, and celebrating Holy Communion.


The Lord’s work of redemption: see explanation of Question 386→

456 Has the Apostle ministry been given for the whole church of Christ?


Yes, the Apostle ministry has been given for the whole church of Christ. It has been given the commission to offer salvation in Jesus Christ to all people. Apostle Paul describes his commission as follows: “For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth’” (Acts 13: 47).

Salvation is only possible through the Son of God. The Apostles impart salvation through word and sacrament until the return of Christ.

457 What is the foundation of the Chief Apostle ministry?


The foundation of the Chief Apostle ministry is the commission that Jesus gave when He instituted the office of Peter. Jesus said the following to Simon Peter: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16: 18, 19).

The “office of Peter” is the fundamental office that Jesus Christ assigned to Apostle Peter. The Petrine office incorporates the care of those who belong to the church, just as Jesus asked Peter to do: “Feed My lambs [...] Tend My sheep”. The “authority of the keys” is also part of the office of Peter (concerning this, see Questions 458→).

458 Why is the Chief Apostle ministry also called the “ministry of the rock”?


Jesus described Apostle Simon as the “rock” upon which He would build His church. Thereby the Son of God created an indissoluble relationship between the ministry of Peter—the ministry of the rock—and the church of Christ. Today the “ministry of the rock” is discharged by the Chief Apostle.

“Peter” is the modern form of the Greek word petros, which means “rock”. The rock is an image of strength, changelessness, and steadfastness, which the Lord Jesus also used in the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Matthew 7: 24-25).

459 What are the duties of the Chief Apostle?


The Chief Apostle maintains the unity among the Apostles. He strengthens the Apostles (cf. Luke 22: 32), and “tends” the flock of Christ (cf. John 21: 15-17). He ensures that the gospel is proclaimed in unadulterated fashion. Through the Holy Spirit, he opens up new insights and interconnections in the doctrine of the Church and is responsible for its uniform spread. Beyond that, he establishes the order within the Church.

All of these duties comprise the “authority of the keys” of the Chief Apostle ministry.

The Chief Apostle ordains the Apostles. Together with them, he leads the Church.

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one.”   John 17: 20, 21

“And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”  Matthew 16: 19

460 What are the duties of the District Apostle?


In addition to the tasks incumbent on each Apostle, the District Apostle ministry is responsible for providing pastoral care and caring for the congregations within a defined working area (“District Apostle district”). It is also his responsibility to equip the ministers spiritually.

To be “spiritually equipped” for a ministry means to receive the ministerial capacity and blessing of God in order to exercise the authority contained in the ministry for diaconal or priestly service in the mind and spirit of one’s sender. The task of spiritually equipping the ministers also includes instructing the ministers and strengthening them for their duties.

461 Who is it that calls a minister to a spiritual ministry?


The designation for a spiritual ministry is not based upon human will but upon the divine will. It is the task of the Apostle to recognise God’s will and act in accordance with it.

462 What is meant by the term 'ordination'?


We understand ‘ordination’ to be the investiture of a spiritual ministry. It is not a sacrament, but an act of blessing.


Sacrament: see Question 472→ et seq. Acts of blessing: see Questions 660→ et seq.

463 How is the ordination performed?


The ordination is performed by the Apostle in the name of the triune God through laying on of hands and prayer. The minister can only discharge his tasks in close unity with the Apostle ministry.

464 What transpires during the ordination?


During the ordination the blessing of God is imparted. The individual who has been called to ministry receives sanctification for this ministry. The corresponding ministerial authority is issued by the Apostle ministry, be it for the work of a diaconal ministry, priestly ministry, or Apostle. The minister receives the commission to discharge his ministry within a defined scope.


Sanctification: see Question 417→

465 What duties are assumed at ordination?


The minister to be ordained gives a vow before the Apostle in which he promises to remain faithful to God and follow Christ in obedience of faith.

466 How should a spiritual ministry be discharged?


Those who bear a spiritual ministry must live up to certain requirements in their conduct and spiritual competency. This includes familiarity with the doctrine, firmness in faith, awareness of his commission, carrying capacity, confidentiality, honesty, willingness to sacrifice, and humbleness. In all things the minister should take direction from the example of Jesus.

The minister must put into practice that which has been entrusted to him in the blessing and sanctification of his ordination in order that the gifts he has received may unfold to the benefit of the congregation.

Those who have been called to a spiritual ministry are aware that they are servants and instruments in the hand of God.

467 When does the ministerial commission end?


As a rule, the commission to discharge a ministry ends upon retirement, however, the ministers’ ministry itself remains intact. In the event of a resignation or dismissal from ministry, he loses his ministry.

468 What is the duty of all ministers?


Every minister has the duty to proclaim the gospel of Christ and to stand up for it. He provides pastoral care for the members assigned to him and promotes their faith. As a minister, he also shares in their personal concerns and helps them through the burdens of daily life.


Pastoral care: see Questions 688→ et seq.

469 What are the duties of the priestly ministers?


The priestly ministers have been given the commission and authority to dispense Holy Baptism with water, proclaim forgiveness of sins, and consecrate and dispense Holy Communion. Their tasks also include conducting divine services and funerals, performing acts of blessing, and providing pastoral care to the members of the congregation.


Holy Baptism with water: see Questions 404→481→ et seq. Forgiveness of sins: see Questions 507→629→644→ et seq.

Holy Communion: see Question 494→ et seq. Acts of blessing: see Question 660→ et seq. Funeral: see Question 685→ et seq.

470 What is the task of the Deacons?


Deacons help in many ways in the congregation. It is also the task of the Deacons to support the Priests in the pastoral care of the congregation. Deacons can also help along in proclaiming the word in the divine services.

471 What is an appointment?


An appointment is the assignment of a firmly defined task. The appointment can be limited in terms of duration and location.

In association with a spiritual ministry, the term “appointment” is understood as the assignment to the task of congregational rector, district rector, District Apostle Helper, or Chief Apostle Helper. Such an appointment is not to be equated with an ordination. It is not bound to the duration of one’s ministerial activity, but can end before this activity ends. At the latest, it comes to an end when the minister retires.

In order to fulfil the various tasks within the congregations and districts, special mandates are issued to both brothers and sisters, independent of a spiritual ministry.