“But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.” Acts 14:4 (KJV)
Paul and Barnabas came to Iconium and many people, both Jews and Greeks, gave heed unto their words. However, there were some unbelieving Jews who stirred up the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas and against those who believed through their words. The problem grew to the point that the whole city was split into two. The Bible says a part stood with the Jews (unbelieving ones), while the other part held with those the Bible called the apostles.
My curiosity is about those referred to as the apostles! Verse 14 of Acts chapter four revealed that those referred to, as apostles were Barnabas and Paul! It is amazing to know that they were called apostles again in that same chapter. The Bible says:
“Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,” Acts 14:14 (KJV)
I could not imagine that making a name could be this simple. These brothers were called prophets and teachers, just in chapter 13 of the Book of Acts of the Apostles and here in chapter 14, the Bible referred to them as ‘the apostles’.
Who or what made them apostles? Where and when were they ordained as apostles? Who ordained them as apostles? These were some of the questions that formed in my mind. I wondered how they came about that ‘title’.
I noticed that between Acts chapter 13 and 14, Barnabas and Paul proved that they were sent, going by the cities they had visited and the impact of their labours on the lives of the people! The commitment they showed and the passion with which they preached the gospel of the kingdom, pointed to the fact that they were sent.
I see here that apostleship or any ministerial office does not become mine by ceremonial ordination but by the confirmation of my labours. I could see that it was the Bible that called these men apostles; it was not a title they gave to themselves, it was a name they earned!
If I must be a correct servant of God, then I should let my labour prove my calling. What I do should give me a name and not a title. I should not be identified by the title with which I am called but by what I am called to do!
The confusion today is that people crave for ordination just for recognition. But the men of old simply laboured to prove their calling and through it, got, first, the recognition of God and, then, of men. Theirs was an apostleship – (name) that came to them as a result of the saturating effect of their labours on men’s lives and not as titles that come as entitlements to a position.
Why should I spend (waste) money to be ordained as a Bishop, when my labour is the path to a better name? The name ‘Baptist’ was more like a surname to John, the son of Zacharias, all because of his effective labour at baptising men. No one ordained him as a Baptist; his work revealed him as a Baptist. My work, if done the way God wants me to do it and with correct passion and focus, will earn me more than what titles that men seek, by paying heavily to be ordained, could earn them.
The Word of God has a way of placing a name on a life, when such a life is lived correctly either positively or negatively. Jesus, without doubt, is the Saviour of the whole world, not because He was ordained as one, but because His life, work and labour proved Him so! I can be the person God ordained me to be without any contention, if I live, work and labour as one.
Men should be discouraged from buying titles; rather they should be encouraged to labour to earn titles as names! Until it becomes a name by which men call me by themselves, then it means that I do not worth it. Until it becomes the way to identify me, then it means that I do not carry the grace for it.
Judas excelled in his work and he earned the name Iscariot. Iscariot ought to be a title but it became his actual surname and was used as a name whenever Judas is referred to. The Bible says:
“Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them.” Luke 22:3,4 (KJV)
It is interesting to note that his ‘real’ surname was Simon but it changed to Iscariot because of his life, work and labour. The Bible says:
“He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.” John 6:71 (KJV)
If Judas excelled in evil things and through it earned a title-name, it means that if I also excel in good and great things, I will earn a title-name that would be there long when I am gone!
I do not need to include such name as part of my name in order to make it known or make it indelible. It would be written upon the sand of history (in such an indelible manner) that no one would be able to erase it, if I labour effectively and according to my calling.
Judas was among the twelve but I do not think that anyone remembers him as an apostle again. Though there was a title given to him, yet he earned a name that subsumed the title. The name ‘Iscariot’ subsumed the title ‘apostle’! I can infer that there are many titles in a man’s life, nevertheless, only the name a man earns that shall prevail!
It does not matter what my calling might be, the truth is that I will tell men what to call me in the process of time, just by how I live, work and labour.
(Segun Ariyo, Ibadan. 7th August, 2015. 3:06 a.m.)