Chief Apostle
The Chief Apostle is the highest minister
Minister of religion
In Christian churches, a minister is someone who is authorized by a church or religious organization to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community...

 in the New Apostolic Church
New Apostolic Church
The New Apostolic Church is a chiliastic church, converted to Protestantism as a free church from the Catholic Apostolic Church. The church has existed since 1879 in Germany and since 1897 in the Netherlands...

, and has existed since 1896.


The term "Chief Apostle" was first used officially to describe Jesus Christ in the New Covenant Scriptures, Book of Hebrews, Chapter 3, verse 1, where he is also called the High Priest. As far as the controversies regarding which of the remaining 11, then 12 and then more apostles after that which includes then Saul, later called Paul, Scripture itself does not say. It may very well have been that they continued to follow the Messiah as their head. Indeed that is what the Bible itself promotes.

The following are other views on chief apostles and the religions that therefore must flow out of those beliefs. One system in common use today is used by Messsianic apostles who believe James "the Just" was Chief Apostle, in Jerusalem, following Jesus (they use the Hebrew form of his name, Y'shua, in various spellings) return to his Father in Heaven. A similar system is used by Catholic churches worldwide, varying from Roman Catholics, to Anglican Catholics, to Coptic, Russian etc. Each with a differing view on whom is, or was, a Chief Apostle originally, and sometimes, even now.

A similar view introduced by minister Friedrich Krebs and can be compared to the one Apostle Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

 had 2,000 years ago amongst the original Apostles (He is seen as the first Chief Apostle in the early church). Before Krebs introduced it, the title was already used in the Catholic Apostolic Church
Catholic Apostolic Church
The Catholic Apostolic Church was a religious movement which originated in England around 1831 and later spread to Germany and the United States. While often referred to as Irvingism, it was neither actually founded nor anticipated by Edward Irving. The Catholic Apostolic Church was organised in...

, however with a completely different meaning (as the German word "Stamm" means "tribe" and was used to describe the working areas (=tribes) of the apostles).

Former Chief Apostles:
Name Birth-Death Birthplace Place of Death Working Period
Friedrich Krebs  1832 - 1905 Elend (Harz) (Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

Braunschweig , is a city of 247,400 people, located in the federal-state of Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located north of the Harz mountains at the farthest navigable point of the Oker river, which connects to the North Sea via the rivers Aller and Weser....

1895 - 1905
Hermann Niehaus  1848 - 1932 Steinhagen (Germany) Quelle (Germany) 1905 - 1930
Johann Gottfried Bischoff  1871 - 1960 Unter-Mossau (Germany) Karlsruhe
The City of Karlsruhe is a city in the southwest of Germany, in the state of Baden-Württemberg, located near the French-German border.Karlsruhe was founded in 1715 as Karlsruhe Palace, when Germany was a series of principalities and city states...

1930 - 1960
Walter Schmidt
Walter Schmidt (minister)
Walter Schmidt was the fourth Chief Apostle of the New Apostolic Church.- Life :...

1891 - 1981 Neuemühle (Germany) Dortmund
Dortmund is a city in Germany. It is located in the Bundesland of North Rhine-Westphalia, in the Ruhr area. Its population of 585,045 makes it the 7th largest city in Germany and the 34th largest in the European Union....

1960 - 1975
Ernst Streckeisen  1905 - 1978 St. Gallen (Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality...

 (South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

1975 - 1978
Hans Urwyler
Hans Urwyler
Hans Urwyler was the sixth Chief Apostle of the New Apostolic Church.- Life :...

1925 - 1994 Spiegel (Switzerland) Bern (Switzerland) 1978 - 1988
Richard Fehr
Richard Fehr
Richard Fehr was the seventh Chief Apostle of the New Apostolic Church from 22 May 1988 to 15 May 2005.-Life:...

1938 - Flaach
Flaach is a municipality in the district of Andelfingen in the canton of Zürich in Switzerland.-History:Flaach is first mentioned in 1044 as Flacha, though the only surviving copy of the document dates from 1347.-Geography:...

1988 - 2005
Wilhelm Leber
Wilhelm Leber
Wilhelm Leber is a German mathematician and minister in the New Apostolic Church.-Life:Wilhelm Leber was born in Herford in Westphalia. In 1975 he earned his doctorate in mathematics at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main with a dissertation entitled Konvergenzbegriffe für...

1947 - Herford
Herford is a town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, located in the lowlands between the hill chains of the Wiehen Hills and the Teutoburg Forest. It is the capital of the district of Herford.- Geographic location :...

2005 -


The function of the Chief Apostle is to lead the New Apostolic Church. On questions about the faith
Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing, or a belief that is not based on proof. In religion, faith is a belief in a transcendent reality, a religious teacher, a set of teachings or a Supreme Being. Generally speaking, it is offered as a means by which the truth of the proposition,...

 of New Apostolic Church members, he has the highest authority. Together with the district apostles he determines the policy
A policy is typically described as a principle or rule to guide decisions and achieve rational outcome. The term is not normally used to denote what is actually done, this is normally referred to as either procedure or protocol...

 of the church.

The Chief Apostle can ordain new apostles or retire them.

One of the most interesting Chief Apostles was J.G. Bischoff: at Christmas in 1950 he declared his "Botschaft" ("message"). This teaching announced that he would not die before Jesus Christ's return, during which the chosen people will be taken into His kingdom (the First Resurrection
Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

). In 1954 this teaching became official dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

. Those ministers, especially the apostles, who did not preach this message lost their positions and were excommunicated
Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

 from the New Apostolic Church. The most important "victim" of this policy was Peter Kuhlen, the ordained successor to J.G. Bischoff. When Chief Apostle Bischoff died in 1960, his dogma about Christ's return had not been fulfilled.

The various communities and congregations which evolved out of these conflicts in different countries (Australia, Europe, South-Africa) gathered in 1956 to form the United Apostolic Church
United Apostolic Church
The member churches of the United Apostolic Church are independent communities in the tradition of the catholic-apostolic revival movement which started at the beginning of the 19th century in England and Scotland....

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