In the last month or so the subject of modern apostles has arisen. In one conversation a friend of mine equated today’s missionaries as those who function as apostles. As he understood it an apostle is someone who brings the gospel into uncharted territory. The second time this subject arose was following a phone conversation a friend of mine had with a woman who actually claimed apostolic status for herself. While these two approaches are different both have the same assumption: apostles exists today.
I contend that this is not so. While missionaries do something similar to apostles functionally there is a major difference. It seems to me that “apostles” were people directly commissioned by the risen Christ. Even the title “apostle” means something like one sent. It is the title of a royal emissary. This would mean that the King himself (Jesus) would need to be the direct sender. I cannot think of an single apostle in the early church that lacked this distinctive and those that are not explicitly said to have seen the risen Christ can be assumed to have done so.
One friend of mine expressed concern that this is essentially the same line of thinking as that of cessationist. In other words, I am arguing the apostles ceased because that era has come to an end. This ignores the premise of my argument. I am not saying any such thing. Rather, I am saying that by nature an apostle is commissioned by Christ and since Christ has ascended this commissioning is no longer possible.
What do you think? Do you agree or do you think there is sufficient reason for considering some people to be modern day apostles?