Peter and Paul were not only effective disciple-makers and movement catalysts, they also functioned mightily in the realm of Holy Spirit revelation and power. Jesus, post-resurrection, told Peter and the disciples to stay in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came to fill them with power. Receiving the Holy Spirit was essential to the birth of the Church and the global advancement of God’s Kingdom.
Paul said Christ was the chief cornerstone of the Church, and the foundations to be built upon were the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20). Interestingly, Jesus is also described as the ultimate apostle (Hebrews 3:1) and prophet (John 4:19). If we are truly made in his image, then we can by his very nature function as the body of Christ in the same way Jesus did. These two faces of Jesus can be utilized for the express purpose of helping the saints become fully mature unto everyone attaining the full measure of Christ (Ephesians 4:11).
Christ is the chief cornerstone of the Church, and the foundations to be built upon are the apostles and prophets.
Though the word apostle does not appear in the Old Testament, we can see multiple examples that demonstrate “apostolic” and “prophetic” aspects of grace. Picture this example looking like a mighty rushing river that has both apostolic and prophetic streams flowing together as one. Here is a brief list of God-ordained relationships that came together symbiotically with each person doing their work, both apostolically and prophetically:
- Moses and Aaron
- David and Samuel, Nathan, sons of Issachar
- Nehemiah and Ezra
- Jesus and John The Baptist
- Paul and Barnabas
Paul was a wise builder who wrote Ephesians 2 and understood how to lay down the Church’s foundation, which many leaders today model their ministries after. It’s impossible to discuss Paul’s life, ministry, and apostolic teachings without acknowledging the influence and impact of his mentor Barnabas. Even though they both functioned apostolically, did you know that Barnabas’s name means “son of a prophet”? Not only was he known as the “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36), but his very name is what motivated the way he lived his life. Paul’s relationship with Barnabas deeply marked him forever. Here are some practical examples to further illustrate this:
- Being full of the Holy Spirit, Barnabas traveled a great distance to find Saul (Paul’s name at the time).
- He “saw” Saul for who he was when no one else wanted anything to do with him, including the church in Jerusalem.
- He intentionally discipled him and helped bring forth his new identity as Paul the apostle.
- Paul’s writings about earnestly seeking the gifts of the Holy Spirit can be traced back to his interactions, training, and discipleship time spent with Barnabas.
- The very essence of prophetic ministry Paul writes about (see I Corinthians 14:3) centers around the very things that identify who Barnabas was as a person and how he functioned.
The dynamic relationship between Paul and Barnabas shows how the apostolic and prophetic can work together to advance God’s Kingdom powerfully.
Based on these observations, it’s not difficult to make the case that the “son of encouragement” or “son of a prophet” significantly helped form and shape Paul’s journey, missional work, and writings. The dynamic relationship between Paul and Barnabas shows how the apostolic and prophetic can work together to advance God’s Kingdom powerfully. Therefore, don’t dismiss the possibility that God wants our 21st century Church to utilize both the prophetic and apostolic streams just as the 1st century Church did.