26. What's the difference? As the apostolic role becomes increasingly utilized and referenced in the EMC, House Church, Simple Church, Organic Church etc., there are a number of questions that are emerging in my own mind about this indispensable gift in the body of Christ.
One of these questions has to do with apostolic authority. All would agree that the Apostle Paul is in his own league when it comes to being an apostle. This is true for several reasons.
1. His EXPERIENCE of the Risen Lord appeared to him on the Damascus road and personally commissioned him and sent (apostled) him to the Gentiles.
2. His PROXIMITY to the founding events of the gospel makes his situation especially unique. His social and historical location in reference to the death and resurrection of Jesus, along with is relationships to the other 12 apostles point to a unique access to the Jesus tradition and the original historical witnesses.
3. His SIGNS of an apostle are spoken of as one of the identifying characteristics of his apostleship. No matter where you land on the spectrum when it comes to the miraculous giftings of the Spirit, Paul certainly occupies a unique position in this spectrum as it relates to the relationship between signs and apostleship.
4. His PNEUMATIC participation in forming the texts which later became canonized by the Christian community. This is a wholly different discussion, but for us it will do to say that Paul’s role in producing texts which later became a part of the canon make his apostolic role all the more complexly distant from our own.
These distinctions, while not exhaustive, should be kept in the background when referencing Paul as a paradigm for the apostolic today. While the tasks and roles of the contemporary apostolic do overlap with Paul's apostolic role, Paul nonetheless occupies a unique place, a penthouse suite per se, when it comes to being apostolic. Some more discussion needs to be had on this topic. I will see what I can come up with on this. Any suggestions out there?