Who made the determination "official" that Paul was an apostle?
“Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” Acts 1:21–26
There are different views on who can be an Apostle. During the time of Ephesus, many who never knew or believed in Christ claimed to be Apostles. At the time of Ephesus, the requirements to be an Apostle was widely known, as it was set forth by the Apostles themselves.
One of the requirements is that you had to have seen Christ in the flesh. Many living during the period were opportunists, making the claim that they were Apostles.
The word Apostle in the Greek is ‘Apostolos’ meaning a delegate, an Ambassador of the Gospel, a messenger, he that is sent “with” miraculous powers.
The capacity to perform miracles, is a key attribute to the designation of being an Apostle. An Apostle must be called and sent by Jesus Himself. The first commission of the Apostles is recorded in (Matthew 28:19 and Acts 1:8).
There are actual criteria used that determine who is an Apostle, which has not been amended. These are the same standards that the church at Ephesus used to determine who was lying to them and who was not.
1. You must have seen Jesus in the flesh and was in the company of Jesus and the other Apostles while Jesus was working in His ministry for the 3 1⁄2 years of His ministry (v.21)
2. You had to have been with Jesus “physically“ from the time He was baptized by John the Baptist, until He was taken up into Heaven (Acts 1:9). You also had to haveseen the ascension (v.22)
3. You must have been an eye witness to Christ resurrection (Luke 1:2), which is not to say that you had to be there when the rock rolled away, but that you were in proximity with all the other Apostles at the time.
4. The signs that followed the Apostles commissioned from Jesus involved the working of miracles, in the same manner as the prophets of old who were validated by God with miracles as evidence beyond dispute.
“Confirming the word with signs following” Mark 16:20 “God also bearing them witness both with signs and wonders and diverse miracles” Hebrews 2:4
- Peter heals a lame man (Acts 3:1-10) - Apostles cast out demons (Acts 5:15-16) - Peter with Annanias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-12) - Philip cast out demons (Acts 8:5-8) - Peter raises Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:36-43)
- Angel frees Peter from prison (Acts 12:7-10) - Paul heals a man (Acts 14:8-11) - Paul cast demon out of a girl (Acts 16:16-18) - God performed miracles by Paul (Acts 19:11-12)
- Paul raises Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:9-12)
In these examples we see that Paul and all the other Apostles brought tangible evidence of their calling, appointment, commission and dispatch into service as Apostles. The church at Ephesus used these standards in order to discern who was operating in the Office of an Apostle and who merely claimed the fact.
There are no other biblical writings that say that the criteria for Apostleship has been changed or updated or in any other way modified, to permit the modern day claim that one can be an Apostle today.
At this point in history, we can only be disciples, followers of Christ. We may be sent with spiritual gifts in operation, but that is distinct and separate from being an Apostle of Jesus Christ. A person with spiritual gifts today, does not trump the requirements to be an Apostle, according to scripture.
Paul was not among the original twelve Apostles. Neither was Matthias, who took Judas’ place. Paul was considered an Apostle because he was charged by Jesus Himself on the Road to Damascus. This was a couple of years after Jesus had ascended to Heaven. Acts 9:2-9
Paul was later confirmed by James, John and (Peter, a.k.a. Cephas: John 1:42, 1 Corinthians 3:22, 15:5). Paul was sent by them to Antioch (Acts 15:22-25, 29-31).
Finally, as part of the requirements of having seen Jesus in the flesh, Paul had been a resident of Jerusalem as a child (Acts 22:3) and was also there years later to approve of Stephen’s stoning (Acts 8:1). The presence of Paul’s nephew in Jerusalem after Paul’s conversion (Acts 23:16) suggests that Paul and his family had resided there for some time. Jesus was known to have visited Jerusalem (Mark 11:11; John 2:13; 5:1). Paul would have seen Jesus or heard Him speak during one of Jesus’ several trips there.