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Criticism New Apostolic Church - The Authority and fullness of power of the Chief Apostle Ministry. Powers of attorney of the Chief Apostle ministry!

New Apostolic Church Criticism
Chief Apostle Ministry Authority & Fullness of Power

The Rock Ministry 

In connection with the special position of the Chief Apostle as the head of the apostles, reference is made to the so-called rock ministry of Simon Peter: “The chief apostle ministry is the rock ministry that Jesus entrusted to the apostle Peter for the early church. Linked to this was the power of the keys and the mandate to serve the flock of Christ as the first shepherd.”(23) This justification is still used today. Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber expressed himself as follows: “We’re standing on a rock. I remember that Jesus once said to Peter: ‘You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church …’ (Matthew 16: 8). We, as the church, stand on the rock. As long as we are connected to this rock, we have power. This power enables us to overcome the devil, indeed to subdue all spirits. But if you are no longer standing on the rock, if other powers manage to break this connection, then you immediately lose your strength. Then one is no longer blessed. Then one loses faith and can no longer perceive the love of Christ. That is why it is so important to be founded on this rock, to stay connected to the Chief Apostle, … I would therefore like to put the message in your hearts: Stay on the rock, firmly attached to the ministry given by the Lord! Do not let yourselves be separated from it.” (24)

Stone or rock?

The biblical passage for this claim is: “And I (Jesus) tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” – Matt. 16, 18

We have to translate this text literally to get the real meaning, and we also have to look at the context: “And I also say to you: – You are Peter (petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my – church” – Matt. 16, 18 – interlinear translation

In Greek, the word ‘petros’ means stone or a loose piece of rock and corresponds to the Aramaic word ‘Kephas’. ‘Petra’ means rock and is not a small stone. So Jesus wants to make it clear: Peter is a stone, and on the rock, he wants to build his church. Who or what is the rock? Is this really Peter? This cannot be for several reasons:

First: Paul does not think New Apostolic!

Peter himself does not understand Jesus’ statement in the New Apostolic sense. He himself relates not only the rock (petra), but also the stone (petros) to Jesus: “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious…” (1. Peter 2:4) Paul also relates the illustration of the stone and the rock to Jesus: “… as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Rom. 9:33) See also 1 Cor. 10, 4.

Second: the disciples do not think New Apostolic either!

The other disciples also do not understand Jesus’ statement in the New Apostolic sense. They did not see Jesus’ words to Peter as an assignment of any special office above them. Otherwise, there would have been no question of the greatest among the disciples shortly before Jesus’ death on the cross. See: Matthew 20:20ff and Luke 22:24ff

Third: Jesus Himself is the Foundation

The only foundation on which the church of Christ is built is Jesus himself: “Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, while Jesus Christ Himself is the cornerstone in which the whole structure, joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” – Eph 2:20-21 “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” – 1 Cor. 3, 11 (see also Matthew 21:42). Jesus is the cornerstone, the foundation, the rock on which the church is built.

Fourth: Peter submits!

Peter himself submits (Acts 8:14ff) and has to answer to the other apostles (Acts 11:1ff) and describes himself “only” as a fellow elder (1 Petr 5:1). He describes Jesus himself as the chief shepherd (1. Petr. 5:4). None of this fits into the picture of the first Chief Apostle Peter!

If Peter was to form the foundation of the church, or more precisely, of the congregation, one must ask whether he would have been well suited to do so as a flawed and weak man. Think e.g. E.g. the threefold denial of knowing Jesus (Mk. 14:66ff) or the dishonest behavior in relation to eating together with non-Jews (Gal. 2:11ff). The doctrinal basis of the apostles is before us today in writing as Holy Scripture. The “initial spark” for the emergence of the first Christian communities was given by the apostles at Pentecost. In this respect, Peter plays a role – just think of his Pentecostal sermon and his letters. He inserted his stone (petros) into the building of the Christian community like all the other apostles of the Lord.

Stone Is Not Equal to Rock!

That Jesus equates the stone (petros / Kephas) with the rock (petra) cannot be true. Also not because the word petra is reproduced as rock in the New Testament, which means real rock, more precisely in the figurative sense, Jesus (see: Matt. 27, 52 and 60; Luke 8, 6 and 13; Rev. 6, 15 and 16; Matt. 7, 24 and 25). So what does Jesus mean in Matthew 16:18? To do this, it is helpful to read the preceding verses: “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” – Matt. 16, 13-18

All Disciples Have a ‘Peter Mission’

All the disciples are asked who they believe he is, Peter answers for the them and makes a unique confession for the disciples! The word about the rock (petra) addressed by Jesus to Peter refers not only to Peter, but to the confession of Peter and the other disciples that he is the Christ (Messiah). The rock is Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah of the world! In a broader sense, one could also say that this confession of the disciples and later apostles forms the basis for the building of the church (Eph 2:20).

Jesus is not only speaking to Peter, all the disciples are listening. Not only Peter is addressed. This is evident in the fact that he says; “And I (Jesus) tell you also … “. A special ‘Peter’s mandate’ is also negated by the fact that Jesus not only transfers the so-called key power to Peter but also to the other disciples in another place: “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” – Matt. 18, 18


The theology of the New Apostolic Church in relation to the Chief Apostle ministry as a rock ministry is built on sand. Peter was a stone in the emerging building of the church of Jesus. Like James and John, he was considered a pillar (Gal 2:9) in the early Christian community and had given a significant sermon on evangelism at Pentecost. But Peter neither saw himself as Chief Apostle in the New Apostolic sense nor did the other Apostles. Peter was an apostle like any other apostle of the Lord. He had no superior position among the apostles. Jesus himself is the rock and the foundation on which his church is built. Not a man, but Jesus is the head of his church, his body

The Head of the Apostles

There have been some changes and corrections to the status of the Chief Apostle’s office in recent years. Are these corrections extensive enough to move on the biblical basis for this office?

If in the Statutes of the New Apostolic Church International (NACI) in 1990 it was said that the Chief Apostle was the visible head of the Church of Christ and Jesus the invisible head: “Jesus Christ is the invisible head of God’s reestablished work of redemption; the Chief Apostle is the visible head of the Church on earth. He is supreme in all matters and occupies the first place in the circle of apostles.” (25)

We know today that the Church of Christ can only have one head: “Jesus Christ is the head of the church. The chief apostle is the head of all apostles; he leads the Church together with the apostles. “(26)

Lack of Biblical Evidence!

It is interesting that we do not find anything like that in Scripture specifically in the New Testament. There is no graduation of the individual Apostle offices into Chief Apostle, Chief Apostle Helper, District Apostle, District Apostle Helper, and Apostle. Such a hierarchy is alien to the Bible; these are inventions of the New Apostolic Church. Rather, it becomes clear that a ‘humility principle’ is urged by Jesus in a collegial circle of disciples: “A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” – Lk. 22, 24-27

If Jesus calls himself the one who serves, how much less can a Chief Apostle who wants to lead and serve rise above others and call himself the head of the apostles. Jesus Christ is the head of the congregation and thus also of all officials and duties: “And he (Jesus, author’s note) is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. – Col 1,18

The Chief Apostle is the Highest Authority

The Chief Apostle, although he has no theological training, is the highest authority in all questions of doctrine and faith! I.e. He has the authority to interpret and interpret the Holy Scriptures: “The chief apostle is the head of the apostles. As the supreme spiritual authority, he leads the New Apostolic Church in all religious matters.” (27)

Biblical teaching gives us a different picture. Thus, the question arose in the young Jewish-Christian community whether Gentiles who had converted to Jesus would also have to comply with all Jewish legal requirements, e.g. circumcision. It was not Peter (supposedly the first to receive the rock office) who summarily and decisively raised his voice, but James: “After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. … Therefore I judge that no burdens should be laid on those from among the Gentiles who turn to God.” – Acts 15, 13-19

The Biblical Trio

Rather, it was probably a “team of three” which at the time of the New Testament enjoyed special respect among the apostles among the Jewish Christians, namely James, Peter, and John: “and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.” – Gal. 2, 9

Paul even dared to publicly reprimand Peter when he obviously did not yet have the knowledge and strength to make no distinction between Jewish and Gentile Christians: “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” – Gal. 2, 11-14

When looking at the biblical accounts, Peter cannot speak of a sole supreme spiritual authority. If the Chief Apostle of the New Apostolic Church wishes to appeal to Peter in his office, he should step down from the circle of the other apostles. Then he would come a little closer to his biblical example!

Scripture Interpretation / Teaching Authority

One question arises when looking at the New Testament accounts. Does the believer need an excellent teacher in doctrinal questions, does he need someone to explain the Bible to him? According to the New Apostolic view, the power to interpret Holy Scripture lies with the Chief Apostle and the Apostles. Only these are able to understand the Holy Scriptures correctly:

The ‘Official Property’

“Who is able and called to interpret the Bible? … the chief apostle and the apostles have received for their task the ministerial ability that comes from the Holy Spirit. With these gifts, they are enabled to understand God’s intentions, to communicate them to the believers.” (28)

The New Apostolic Church owes us the answer to the question, why only the Chief Apostle and the Apostles do what is necessary ‘Official property’ should have received, and where this process is modeled in the Holy Scriptures. The apostle John writes something else to the believers: „But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.“ – John 2, 24

The Holy Spirit is God’s Representative

The anointing means the giving of the Holy Spirit! Not the Chief Apostle, but the Holy Spirit is the representative of Christ on earth: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14, 26 (NLB)

In the basic text, there is the term παρακλητος = Parakletos, which in the Vulgate is rendered as advocatus. This term was also used in the legal field and meant lawyer or representative. As in many other Bible translations, it can also be translated as a helper, advocate, counselor, or assistance. It is undisputed in Christian denominations that the parakletos does not mean a human being, but the Holy Spirit.

We see Jesus did not intend to send or appoint a human representative. He sent us the Holy Spirit to guide us into the truth. In the New Apostolic Church every believer is supposed to receive the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands by an apostle. Therefore, the question arises, why is a Chief Apostle or an Apostle necessary as supreme Shepherd and interpreter of the Holy Scriptures?

Would you like to read more about the New Apostolic Chief Apostle ministry?
Read about the succession and transfer of the Chief Apostle ministry >>

© Lutz Jusko



24) Neuapostolische Kirche, Unsere Familie, Ausgabe 13/2009, Bericht vom Gottesdienst, Kampala/Uganda, 29.3.2009, S. 9,

25) Neuapostolische Kirche International, Statuten der Neuapostolische Kirche International, Präambel, Zürich Schweiz, 1990

26) Neuapostolische Kirche International, Leitbild Dienen und Führen in der Neuapostolischen Kirche, Verlag Friedrich Bischoff GmbH, Zürich, 2001, S. 8

27) Neuapostolische Kirche International (Hg.), Fragen und Antworten über den neuapostolischen Glauben – Änderungsmitteilung 2005; Zürich / Frankfurt a. M. 2005

28) Neuapostolische Kirche International, Fragen und Antworten über den neuapostolischen Glauben – Frage 5, Zürich, 1990, S. 11

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