The Concept of Apostleship in the Undisputed Epistles of Paul as it Relates to Paul’s Self-Concept and Leadership Paradigm
Mark E. Hardgrove
Within the field of ecclesiastical leadership throughout denominational and nondenominational organizations, the issue of apostolic leadership has become a hotly debated subject. There are groups within organizations who are arguing for the recognition of the title and position of apostle, and there are parachurch groups that are recognizing the position of apostle and issuing credentials to their membership, giving their members the ostensible right to refer to themselves as apostles. The literature review reveals that there is a need for serious research within Scripture to understand how the position of apostle was understood within the early church. Only then will one be in a position to state with any clarity on the subject what the implications are for the contemporary church. This study employs the sociorhetorical interpretation approach of Robbins (1996a, 1996b) in a qualitative study of the undisputed epistles of Paul (i.e., 1 Thess, Gal, 1 Cor, 2 Cor, Rom, Phil, and Philem) to explore how Paul's self-concept as an apostle shaped his leadership paradigm. By identifying key texts within these epistles and applying the inner texture analysis of the sociorhetorical approach, repetitive and progressive textures in theses texts are analyzed for exegetical significance as they relate to Paul's self-concept as an apostle and the related leadership implications.
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