October 13, 2021

Homilies on Holiness and the Saints - The Apostles (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

The Apostles
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Among the saints are the Apostles of Jesus Christ. These are the twelve disciples of Christ, whom Christ called to the Apostolic office, who after Pentecost ran throughout the world and founded the local Churches. The Apostles include the Apostle Paul, who did not know Christ while He was alive, but knew Him by the Holy Spirit and that is why He is also an Apostle and in fact a Foremost one, together with the Apostle Peter.

The word apostle comes from the verb "send" and denotes one who is sent by someone to fulfill a mission.

Christ is the first and foremost Apostle. The Apostle Paul writes in his epistle to the Hebrews: "Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus" (Heb. 3:1). Christ is called an Apostle because He was sent, by His own will and by His Father, to incarnate, to preach to men, to suffer, to be crucified and resurrected, and thus to become a cause of salvation and redemption.

In this sense the disciples of Christ were called to the apostolic office, lived with Christ for three years, saw, heard, were informed about the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, some of them even ascended Mount Tabor and saw the mysteries of the Kingdom of God itself, all but Judas saw the risen Christ, received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, and then were sent out into the world to preach the gospel throughout creation.

The Apostle Paul also saw the risen Christ and this gave him the certainty of his calling and mission, which is why he wrote in his epistles: "Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God" (1 Cor. 1:1). The same was written by the Apostle Peter in his catholic epistles: "Peter the Apostle of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:1).

The apostolic work as well as the prophetic one is a difficult task, because the Apostle must renounce everything and follow Christ. And as Christ was led to the Cross, so the Apostle is led to martyrdom, sacrifice and offering. That is why, except for the Apostle John, all the other Apostles ended their lives as martyrs.

The Church is called apostolic because it is based on the foundation of the Holy Apostles, their teaching and their life. And when the Apostles disappeared, their successors, called Apostolic Fathers, continued their work, such as Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna. And after them the Fathers of the Church continued their work. Thus, the successors of the Holy Apostles are the Bishops, who are the prelates of the local Churches and the prelates of the Eucharist.

As there are false prophets, so there are false apostles. Those who have the mind of Christ can discern the true Apostles from false apostles. The elements that distinguish them are the true knowledge of God, the sacrifice and offering for the people, the Orthodox teaching.

We should pray that God will raise up true Apostles, so that we may be on the straight path to salvation, but at the same time we should pray that God will give us the strength to obey these genuine servants of God.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.