Peter Wagner: What is an Apostle

My working definition is as follows: An apostle is a Christian leader gifted, taught, commissioned and sent by God with the authority to establish the foundational government of the church within an assigned sphere of ministry by hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches and by setting things in order accordingly, for the expansion of the kingdom of God. The most common kind of an apostle is one who has been assigned by God to oversee a number of churches. They form apostolic networks and are frequently called “vertical apostles.”

My personal apostolic role is different. It has more to do with convening certain groups of leaders such as educators, prophets, deliverance ministers and other apostles. I, then, function as a “horizontal apostle.”

The chief distinguishing characteristic of an apostle is God- given authority. Paul says to the Corinthians that he is not ashamed to boast of the authority that God has given him (see 2 Cor. 10. However, he goes on to point out that God has only authorized him to use his apostolic authority in certain spheres, one of which includes the Corinthians (see 2 Cor. 10:13). Unfortunately, some immature apostles suppose that they are apostles to the whole church, rather than recognizing the limitations of their spheres. They need to follow Paul’s example when he says to the Corinthians, “If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you” (1 Cor. 9:2).