Scripturally speaking, we know that apostleship was one of the most important offices in the early Church:

28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues [1 Cor 12:28 ESV]

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, [Ephesians 4:11-12 ESV]

19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, [Ephesians 2:19-20 ESV]

11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. [2 Cor 12:11-12 ESV]

However, the term "missionary" is not strictly speaking a Biblical term (as far as I'm aware), and it typically denotes someone who is sent somewhere (usually an unevangelized area) to carry out some specific service(s) related to the expansion of God's kingdom. However, the concept of apostle is also sometimes more loosely understood as "sent one", which to my ears sounds pretty much the same as a missionary, so the distinction between the two terms becomes a bit blurry.

What is the difference between an apostle (as understood by the early Church, and as recorded in Scripture) and a missionary according to Pentecostal & Charismatic Christianity?

Related: What is the difference between an Apostle and an Evangelist according to Charismatic Christianity?

  • 1
    Lots of different opinions about this. You really need to pick a particular denomination I think.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 14, 2021 at 21:45
  • @curiousdannii - what about Protestantism?
    – user50422
    Dec 14, 2021 at 21:47
  • Some Protestants use "Apostle" as a title in their churches, some don't. So even that wouldn't be specific enough.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 14, 2021 at 21:53
  • @curiousdannii - what about Charismatics? There is a similar question asking their perspective actually.
    – user50422
    Dec 14, 2021 at 21:55
  • 1
    I think it's more common in Pentecostalism than Charismatics.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 14, 2021 at 22:05

1 Answer 1


I think it is best to frame the answer along the lines of the Apostolic-Prophetic Movement, a Pentecostal movement pioneered in part by missionary then professor of Church Growth at Fuller C. Peter Wagner then founder of several church networks adopting Fivefold ministry view in which the offices of the Apostles and the Prophets are restored for today (unlike in other churches where there are no more offices for Apostles and Prophets today, just Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers).

It is important to notice key differences between the older Pentecostal movement and what Wagner himself named New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), which specifically calls "for the restoration of the lost offices of church governance, namely the offices of prophet and apostle." The differences are summarized by a Christianity FAQ web article Pentecostal vs New Apostolic Reformation: What's the Difference?.

Background resources about Fivefold Ministry

(to be continued)

  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator My answer plan:1) find good scholarly or official sources from various Pentecostal/charismatic branded churches on different ways they conceive what today's and early church Apostle IS (curiousdannii is right that there are lots of different opinion); 2) given NAR view being dominant these days I'll focus my efforts there and compare to classic Pentecostal probably represented by Assembly of God network; 3) then write up summary comparing the role/gift/office of "Apostle" understood via 3 views (non-P, Classic P, NAR) with the uncontroversial gift of Evangelist. Dec 24, 2021 at 16:08
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator This AG position paper on Apostles and Prophets is very helpful for the classic view. Dec 24, 2021 at 16:35

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