You know them, in the Greek of the New Testament they are Simeon/Petros, Andreas, Iakōbos, Ioannes, Philippos Bartholomaíos, Thomas/Didymos, Matthaios, Iakōbos, Thaddaios, Simon o Zelotos, Ioudas Iskarion, Paulos. We know them as Simon/Peter, Andrew (brother of Simon/Peter) James (son of Zebedee), John (son of Zebedee), Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus (also called Jude), Simon (the Zealot), and Paul.
The first 11 were disciples of Christ, Paul on the other hand was never a disciple. The word disciple simply means "a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher" So a disciple is one who follows. The 11 were no longer disciples after Jesus sent them out:
5 These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. (Matthew 10:5-8)
Once He sent them out on this mission they became apostles. apostle comes from the Greek word apostolos which means an envoy, ambassador, or messenger commissioned to carry out the instructions of the commissioning agent. If you notice these are small a apostles, a capital A Apostle is a bit different. In the Bible there are only two qualifications to become an Apostle; the man had to have been a witness to the risen lord (Acts 1:22, Acts 10:38-41, 1 Corinthians 9:1, 1 Corinthians 15:7-9) and the man had to be appointed as an Apostle by Christ (Matthew 10:1-7, Mark 3:14, Acts 1:24-26, Galatians 1:1)
All 12 Apostles got their commission directly from Jesus, the eleven received their commission in Matthew 28:16-20, and Paul received his on the road to Damascus. So biblically, a disciple is one who follows Jesus, an apostle is one who is sent out by Jesus, and an Apostle is one who witnessed the risen Christ and was then chosen by Him. And since they received their authority from Jesus, to disobey an Apostle was to disobey God
11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12)
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord (Ephesians 2:19-21)
Jesus gave the Apostles vast and wonderful tools to gather His sheep to Him. They were given the power to speak in other languages, heal diseases, and cast out evil spirits (Matthew 10:8, Luke 9:1-2, Acts 2:1-6) They were given prophetic visions (Acts 11:1-17, Acts 16:9-10, 2 Corinthians 12:1-10) and they governed the church (Ephesians 2:20)
So how does this work for the NAR? That's where Heavenly Tourism comes in to play - both Mike Bickle and Rick Joyner have claimed to visit heaven, Bickle claims to have had a personal audience with God. Bickle told Bob Jones
"Paul was anxious to talk to the end-times apostles and prophets more than the end-times apostles and prophets would have been to talk to Paul. He (Paul) said because what they would do would do far more to the glory of God and the Saints in the New Testament would wait in line to greet the apostles from this generation." (source)
John the Revelator saw Jesus and "fell at his feet like a dead man" and had to be ordered to write what he saw in Revelation. Isaiah in the presence of God said "Woe is me, I am undone!" Paul, at the damascus Road, was struck blind for 3 days. Mike Bickle carries on like it was all great fun, and laughs as he recounts his visits.
Think of all the people who claim they were commissioned by God to speak for God yet their extrabiblical words conflict with the words of the Lord: Mike Bickle, Rick Joyner, Joyce Meyers, C. Peter Wagner, Benny Hinn, Mr. Pope, Joseph Smith....
13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
Sorry guys, but the office of Apostle is closed. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:8 that he was the last Apostle appointed, no others would follow. When the Apostle John died at the end of the first century the Apostolic age ended. Closed.
Now we have people calling themselves Apostles - They have their own TV network (GOD TV) and are regularly featured speakers on Trinity Broadcasting Network. They own Charizma Media an NAR publishing empire and it's flagship magazine Charisma. The self proclaimed apostles of the New Apostolic Reformation.
In the New Apostolic Reformation, apostles are seen as the highest of all spiritual leaders, being specially empowered by God. True maturity and unity, per the New Apostolic Reformation, is only found in those who submit to the leadership of their apostles. According to this teaching, as the church unifies behind the apostles, these leaders will develop greater and greater supernatural powers. Eventually, this will include the ability to perform mass healings and suspend the laws of physics. These signs are meant to encourage a massive wave of converts to Christianity. These apostles are also destined to be recipients of a great wealth transfer (in the end times), which will enable the church to establish God’s kingdom on earth. (Source)Supernatural powers, suspending the laws of physics, signs meant to encourage a massive wave of converts - signs and wonders, spiritual hocus pocus to draw people into their church. I wonder what Jesus would say about that. Then again we don't have to wonder:
"An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah." And He left them and went away. (Matthew 16:4)
But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet (Matthew 12:39)
8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10)