By Larry Ray Hafley
From Nigeria: “Are Christians ambassadors of Christ today:”
What is an ambassador? Hodge says, “An ambassador is at once a messenger and a representative. He does not speak in his own name. He does not act on his own authority. What he communicates is not his own opinions or demands, but simply what he has been told or commissioned to say. His message derives no part of its importance or trustworthiness from him. At the same time he is more than a mere messenger. He represents his sovereign. He speaks with authority, as accredited to him in the name of his master” (Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 146).
Macknight says, “Christ was God’s chief ambassador and the apostles being commissioned by Christ were his substitutes (ambassadors–LRH). The same obedience, therefore, was due to them in matters of religion, as to Christ himself.” Paul identified himself as “an ambassador” of the gospel (Eph. 6:20). The apostles were, as Macknight correctly comments, the ambassadors of Christ. There are none like unto them today. Why is this so? First, to hear an apostle of the Lord is to hear the word of the Lord (Lk. 10:16; 1 Cor. 14:37; 1 Thess. 2:13). Second, to speak contrary to the apostles is to be accursed, cut off (Gal. 1:8, 9; Cf. Acts 3:22, 23). One who will not hear the apostles is simply “not of God” (1 Jn. 4:6). Can anyone say the same about his teaching today as to its source?
The apostles were special messengers and ministers. They were guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:13). They were the ones who preached the gospel with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven (Acts 2:4; 1 Pet. 1:12). The apostles were clothed with power from on high. They were Christ’s witnesses (Lk. 24:46-49; Acts 1:8; 10:39-42). In a very real sense, the apostles were in a class by themselves as witnesses or ambassadors of Christ (Jn. 15:26, 27; Acts 1:21, 22). The apostles were “ministers of the new testament” (2 Cor. 3:6). Paul speaks of “this ministry,” or “our gospel” (2 Cor. 4:1, 3). It was theirs in that it had been committed unto them. Therefore, Paul could say, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5) It seems impossible to apply such language unto one other than an apostle. As the glorious Old Testament law was given, the countenance of Moses shone. So, God shined in the hearts of the apostles to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).
After describing the apostolic function as being in Christ’s stead (2 Cor. 5:20), Paul says, “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain” (2 Cor. 6:1). Note the separation of Paul and the workers with God from the Corinthians. The Corinthians had received the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1, 2). This is equivalent to the grace of God (2 Cor. 6:1). As the gospel was committed to the apostles, they were ministers, witnesses, ambassadors. For one to be what they were, the gospel the grace of God, must be similarly committed. Will any say that he speaks with the voice, the authority, of an apostle? If not, then he is not the same as they were. In short, he is not an ambassador as they were.
Truth Magazine XX: 49, p. 770
December 9, 1976