Friday, December 7, 2012

Apostles in Chronicles

Some passages illustrate word usage very nicely. The Septuagint version of the end of 2 Chronicles has one such passage:
And after those things Sennacherib, king of the Assyrians, sent (ἀπέστειλεν) his servants against Jerusalem, and he himself and all his army was attacking Lachish, and he sent (ἀπέστειλεν) to Hezekiah, king of Judah, and all of Judea which was in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 32:9).
Sennacherib sent emissaries to Jerusalem with full authority to take action on his behalf. They were there to negotiate terms of Hezekiah's surrender to the Assyrians. Whatever terms they agreed to would be effective and accepted by Sennacherib. This passage thus provides a nice illustration of the use of the Greek verb ἀποστέλλω in the sense of to send an ambassador.

This is the sense used in the New Testament of ἀπόστολος (apostle) as an ambassador. In the New Testament and even today an apostle of Jesus Christ is a personal ambassador of Jesus Christ with the power and authority to say and do what Jesus would say or do in the same circumstance and to have those pronouncements binding in heaven and earth.

Chronicles uses the term as a generic term and in this case for a hostile force. Sennacherib's ambassadors argued that all other nations had succumbed to overwhelming Assyrian superiority and that Hezekiah should just succumb to the obvious and irresistible flow of events. As it turned out, Hezekiah was true to his people and did not surrender to the world's demands even though almost all other nations had. Hezekiah was faithful. A hundred years later the Neo-Assyrian empire would be only a memory. Sic transit gloria mundi.