Ecclesia is regional. A council of apostles and a company of prophets are the foundational leaders of a kingdom assignment. They are not the only representatives of the King, but they initiate and originate.
Paul says both apostles and prophets function at the foundational level. They both operate as blueprint leaders.
Oddly, some still assume the “prophets” of Ephesians 2:20 are the prophets of the OT and the “prophets” of the NT are substandard to apostles. Without a shred of logic, hint of direction, lingering scent of suggestion, this premise sweeps the entire foundation clear of modern prophetic influence.
Apostles see themselves as top dogs in this scenario with everyone else following their strategic lead. While I would never question the motivation of those that reach this conclusion, I am certain the role of apostles has no “top dog” assertion in its job description or assignment.
Do apostles have authority? Yes. Do prophets have authority? Yes. Do apostles have power? Yes. Do prophets have power? Yes. Do apostles tell prophets what to do? No. Do prophets tell apostles what to do? No.
How does the foundation become both apostolic and prophetic without conflict? It becomes foundational when both leaders operate from the blueprints. The assignment of the apostle and prophet do not conflict. Ever. No way. No time. Even when one challenges the other about the strategy of the King, the end result is not about a confusion of assignment. Assignment is always consistent because assignment comes from the King.
Conflict always comes at the point of strategy. Agreement is necessary to assignment and alignment. No one aligns with a person. They align with an assignment. They become a shareholder in the assignment and function in the role of their calling. When a disagreement arises, the blueprint is helpful only to the extent that it reveals the ultimate. It does not reveal how to produce the ultimate.
Strategy comes from God. Disagreement at the point of strategy comes between leaders. Usually, the disagreement is this simple: one of the leaders demands that his part of the strategy dominate all other leaders. Disagreement is nearly always an overreach of the role of the leaders.
The relationship between apostle and prophet defines the roles and responsibilities. Ultimately, both are accountable to the King. Both are accountable to one another for the roles and responsibilities of the relationships the King creates and defines. They are not accountable ultimately to one another.
Prophets and Apostles
Are apostles the top dog leaders? Yes and no. “First, apostles. Second, prophets.” These words have meaning. But, none of the meanings of functions or assignments includes the idea of “top dog”. We can see that Paul has elevated authority and responsibility for the Ecclesiae. He does not have elevated authority everywhere or with everyone.
We do not see a list of prophets at the Jerusalem Council meetings. “Elders and apostles” speaks of other leaders who gathered with apostles. We should understand that elders include prophets as well as other fivefold leaders. This leads us to assume prophets are secondary leaders that answer to top dog apostles in some ways.
Not all apostles function this way. The glaring examples of Pharoah apostles sometimes shine so brightly people jump to conclusions. Some men rape women, but all men are not rapists. The authentic apostles are not shining their lights to blind the eyes of the unwary as Pharaohs do. So, do not jump to hasty generalizations that all apostles are the same.
Prophets and apostles have distinct roles. They both prophesy, but they do not prophesy the same. They both represent, but they do not represent in the same way. They both lead, but they do not lead in the same ways. They complement one another, but they do not diminish one another. It is not necessary to diminish prophets to dominate them. The prophetic process corrects prophets.
The prophetic process corrects apostles. Following the process brings both into a higher order. Some prophets love to shout “thus saith God” in a way that presumes nothing else can be said or added. That is a misunderstanding of role and function. As clearly and purely as the best prophet can prophesy, he is not a party to the whole revelation.
Some apostles love to shout “I am the sent one” in a way that presumes no other has been sent. That is a misunderstanding of role and function. As clearly and purely as the best apostle can apostle, he is not a party to the whole assignment. We can all be honest enough to recognize that leaders gravitate toward being an apostle because of the perception that apostles are top dogs. We do err.
One fits into the other. A strategy is pieced together. How to build what the blueprint demands is the point of discussion. The point of the assignment is the completed building, not whose name will appear on the cornerstone. Neither changes the blueprint. Both contribute to the strategic process of building.
Application and Implementation
Nothing shocks us about revelation more than the process of its fulfillment. The process never plays out as we envision it. We see clearly. We speak intensely. We feel an urgency. We envision without the full perspective. What God promises happens in a way we find shocking to our human sensibilities. We would never have done it that way. What God promises happens in God’s timing in a way we find shocking to our human sensibilities. We would have never done it that way.
The point of conflict comes when the application and implementation call for strategy. The strategy combines how to with when to. Then, strategy adds who to. At this point, something more than blueprints is needed. Both apostles and prophets contribute to this aspect of strategy.
Prophets voicing dreams of cataclysmic events without application or implementation often distract from the assignments of apostles. They bellow the revelation without context. They condition people to assume that nothing needs to be done with these revelations. All we need do is celebrate the prophet for hearing and seeing. How boring is that? Celebrating the fact that a prophet can do his job? Then, ignoring the prophetic revelation as if it has no bearing upon producing what God wants? Duh.
Apostles voice plans with the finished product in mind. They tend to hammer individuals into the process with a Pharoah mentality. That is, they tend to be utilitarian. People become objects utilized to produce purpose. If the person can produce, great. If not, find someone else. This often ignores a strategy in which all God is doing in what, when, and who comes together in God’s way and timing. Just “get r done” ain’t healthy.
Apostles tend to make decisions without solving problems. Edicts issued should produce appropriate responses. They seldom do when apostles exempt themselves from the problem-solving. The truth is that whoever solves the problems is really leading. The truth is that apostles and prophets working together as problem-solving leaders finish assignments. When they bark orders and use the Name to barter a position of ascendancy, they do not finish assignments.
So, apostles tend to see what is in the land. Prophets tend to see what in the hearts. Prophets anticipate accurately and reveal hidden things. Apostles set order for placement and position leaders for assignments in response to the blueprints. Apostles see a set of challenges to completion. Obstacles to be overcome. They see making decisions as the way through. Prophets look at the same blueprints and see a different set of challenges. They see problems but seldom have the solutions to those problems.
Apostles tend to think giving directions and barking orders is enough. Prophets tend to think obstacles remain but have little solutions to offer. Both shrug about the problem-solving unless and until they work in tandem.
Clay Nash prophesied that we have a new weapon for a new Era. “De-briefing.” Perhaps he received a key to the way forward that will change the paradigm of leadership function.
When apostles and prophets do more than decree and reveal when they debrief and act like leaders when they solve problems instead of barking orders and predicting outcomes – well, they start leading at the foundational level.