|Some apostles - 1930s style!|
Authority always has a source. A judge gets his authority from the Crown and the law. His authority is not his own, but an authority which he holds on behalf of the Crown. Parents, on the other hand, have authority due to who they are: parents. Theirs is not a delegated authority, but belongs inherently to them. And they can even delegate a measure of that authority to the babysitter.
So what sort of authority does an apostle have? Is it a derived authority (like the judge) or an inherent authority (like the parents)? It has to be a derived authority; for the apostle is not Head of the Church, Christ is. As the only Head of the Church, Christ is the source of all authority in His Church. Christ is 'the Apostle' (Heb. 3:1) and it is He who expresses His apostleship through the men He has called. As Pastor W.A.C. Rowe put it, apostleship 'is the Apostle-Christ in action through human channels' (One Lord, One Faith, p.247). Each apostle shares in 'part' of the ministry of apostleship contained in full only in Christ Jesus (see Acts 1:17, 25). And that means that each apostle derives his authority only from Christ, the Apostle and Head of the Church. The authority does not come from the man himself, nor does it come from the title (nor is it delegated by the church), but comes from (and belongs to) Christ. But, that still leaves the question of how do apostles get this authority that comes from Christ?