Jesus placed first, apostles, and second, prophets, in His church to establish and maintain the foundation upon which the whole church can grow up into maturity and be empowered to see “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Apostles and prophets are tasked with the same goal and must be working together to accomplish their ultimate purpose.
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22 ESV
Apostles and Prophets Today
There is much to be said about the subject of apostles and prophets today, and about teachers, pastors, and evangelists and the crucial roles they are meant to play in the body of Christ as well. None of the fivefold ministries were meant to be isolated, working alone, or banished into history. All five ministry offices were given by Christ “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-14). I think it’s safe to say we haven’t reached that point yet.
More importantly, all five ministries are meant to be working together as a team, as active parts of the living body of Christ today, so that the whole body functions as it should and continues to be built up together. Without apostles and prophets, the Church tends to focus only on rescuing the lost and ministering to those in need while waiting for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven—waiting to experience the full reality of being a dwelling place for God.
Lately, I’ve been contemplating the roles of apostles and prophets and the cooperation necessary between them. There is a side of me that digs into Scripture along with other books and resources to find answers. But, I don’t believe we should be satisfied with knowledge and logical answers. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:3 that it is “by faith we understand…” It is not until we receive revelation through the spirit by faith that we can turn knowledge into understanding. So, while this is in no way comprehensive, I thought I would share some of the things I’ve come to understand on this subject.
Different Aspects of the Same Mission
Both apostles and prophets are required for a proper foundation in the Church because they each focus on and fulfill different aspects of the same mission.
Apostles focus more on the establishing of “as it is in heaven” on the earth, while prophets focus more on the activity between heaven and earth required to establish “as it is in heaven” on the earth. Perhaps you could say that the most important thing for an apostle is the throne of God, while the most important thing for a prophet is the presence of God.
Apostles are placed first in the body of Christ because something must be built. Prophets are placed second because what is built will need to be functioning in spirit and in truth as it is being built and adjusted to the current flow of heaven’s supply and strategy. Without the apostle, the prophet would continue focusing on the current flow of heaven without seeing enough of the final blueprint implemented now. Without the prophet, the apostle will continue to focus on building now without flowing with the supply and strategy of heaven necessary to remain strong and stay on track.
Apostles are like builders, while prophets are more like designers. The apostle tends to stay focused on heaven’s supplied blueprints for building, while the prophet tends to stay focused on the active supply of resources and activity from heaven for building. Apostles tend to focus on the written plans for the final product, while prophets tend to focus on the thoughts and desires of God in the process of establishing the final product.
Different Aspects of the Same Foundation
Both apostles and prophets bring foundation to the Church, but they accomplish it in different ways.
Apostles are like the blocks in the foundation, while prophets are like the mortar and concrete poured into the foundation. Apostles bring something defined, shaped, and fitting together, while prophets flow in and fill the gaps and crevices, binding it all together into a solid wall—a strong foundation. Apostles form the structure required, while prophets shape it into the heavenly image. When apostles aren’t working with prophets, it’s as if they are just stacking blocks to build upon. When prophets aren’t working with apostles, it’s as if they are just pouring concrete slabs.
When apostles refuse to receive prophets into their proper place, they tend to create their own supply and strategy from what they have in themselves, ultimately to find that they are building a house that’s not a home to anyone but themselves. When prophets refuse to give apostles their proper place, they tend to build a landing strip for heaven without the structure that others need in order to live and dwell there.
When apostles think they know better than prophets, they tend to force the prophet’s revelation to fit into the systematic mold of what they already think or they discard it completely. When prophets think they know better than apostles, they tend to want to replace the apostle’s mold or break it completely.
Adequate and Right, Together
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV
None of this is to say that apostles can’t hear from heaven and prophets can’t build. It’s to say that each part must be working properly and doing its part, being joined and held together, working and functioning together.
Neither apostles nor prophets are adequate or right in and of themselves—they are both adequate and right, together.
Jeremy Caris is the founder and president of Caris Ministries. Since he is called as a prophet and gifted as a teacher, much of his focus involves equipping believers to hear, know, and follow God in their own daily experience. He teaches the foundational truth of the Word with simple clarity, while revealing deep things of the spirit in practical ways. He has the unique ability to demystify the supernatural side of real relationship with a living God and make it an embraceable and accessible reality for all believers. Jeremy has been married to his best friend, Mandy Caris, for twenty years, and is the proud father of two boys.