PART 7 APOSTLES - Are They Still Among Us?

PART 7 APOSTLES - Are They Still Among Us

CHAPTER 8

There Are More Scriptural Reasons

Are you ready to look at more scripture sections?

     I am so thankful that I have had an opportunity to undertake this study. Whatever is being presented to you is new to me. Before I began this study, I had no clear view on this topic. Whether I will have a clearer view on this topic, when the study has concluded, remains to be seen.

     And remember, what we are attempting to answer is, are apostles still among us? This format of using a table of scriptural content, questions, and responses to them are designed to provide an alternative approach to looking at the functions and qualifications of an apostle.

     What we are trying to answer in this approach as I have already mentioned is one of two things. First, if it can be proved that there are new apostles other than the original 12, Matthias, and Paul, then we could conclude that this office still is operational today. Second, if we can prove that there were no new apostles after the original 12, Matthias, and Paul, then we could conclude that the office of apostle has ceased. 

 

When the canon of scripture was completed, is this when the office of apostle ceased?

They Continued Stedfastly in the Apostles' Doctrine

Suggested Reading: Acts 2:42-47

On the day of Pentecost about 3000 people believed in Christ as their Messiah/Savior.

     What did they do after they were saved?

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

     The scriptures state that they continued steadfastly (attended constantly; continued eagerly) in the apostle’s doctrine (teaching) and fellowship along with the breaking of bread and prayers. The apostles would convey to the new believers the new truths about this new life in Christ as made known to them by revelation of the Spirit. The Spirit would also remind the apostles of everything that Jesus had said to them while he was with them.

     When verbal revelation became written revelation that was compiled and enjoined with the Old Testament scriptures forming the completed Canon of scripture did the office of apostle cease?

 

 There Are No Apostles In The Church Today.

 

 

  There Are Apostles In The Church Today.

 

●The office of apostle ceased once the canon of scripture was completed due to the nature of their duties, one of which was to convey to the early church the new revelations of the new truths about the new life in Christ. Once these truths were written down, the use of this office in this regard was no longer needed.

 

 

●The office gift of apostle did not cease once the canon of scripture was completed, because the duties of this office weren’t just to convey verbal revelation.

 

●They were also commissioned to form churches. Acts 15:22-23, 35-36

 

●By the evidence of one of their qualifications, which was in the performing of miracles, unbelievers who witnessed them would be in a state of awe. This would allow the apostles to preach the gospel in an atmosphere that was ripe for the harvest of souls. 2 Corinthians 12:12

 

Could the word apostles mean something else in a broader sense?

Thou Hast Tried Them Which Say They Are Apostles

Suggested Reading: Revelation 2:1-2

The apostle John was writing to the seven churches which were located in Asia Minor. While there were more Christian churches than seven these were the ones that the Spirit guided him to write to. It appeared that John was caught up in a vision, seeing someone like unto the Son of man, who told him to write down things that are and things that would be. 

2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

     John apparently was initially conveying revelatory information to the angel (a person who represented the church) of the church at Ephesus. John told this person that one like the Son of man knows about their works (manner of life; behavior), their labour (their persistent and painful struggles to maintain their Christian profession53), and their patience (endurance of suffering and persecution). He was also mindful of their intolerance (opposition) to those, who had bad moral and spiritual qualities. And in regard to those who professed to be apostles how they have thoroughly examined their claims and found them to be imposters.

 

 There Are No Apostles In The Church Today.

 

 

  There Are Apostles In The Church Today.

 

●The word “apostles” is used in the broader sense of people sent to be traveling Christian teachers54This word does not refer to the office of apostle.

 

●The word “apostles” refers to those who claimed they were an apostle in the same sense as the twelve, Matthias, or Paul. They were examined however and found to be imposters.

 

●If it was clearly known by the church at Ephesus that there were no other apostles than the twelve, Matthias, or Paul, then there would have been no need to examine these people. A declaration could have been made stating that these are the only apostles.

 

     The more we study this topic the more interesting it gets. No wonder there are such differences of opinion on it.

Can the ascribing of the words “as the apostles of Christ” to a group of believers mean that they were not apostles?

As The Apostles Of Christ

Suggested Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 5-7; 2:2, 4-6

Paul was addressing the Thessalonian believers in regard to the time when he, being accompanied by Silas and Timothy, preached the gospel unto them not in word only, but also in power.

6  Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

     He goes on to say that the words that were spoken by them were not flattering (insincere, having a desire to use them for their own end) and neither were they a pretext for covetousness (the desire to possess something one does not have55). Furthermore, they did not seek the glory (the love of applause; the love of fame) of men and neither were they burdensome (in anything that weighs others down; e.g. in authority, in finances, etc.) as the apostles of Christ.

 

 There Are No Apostles In The Church Today.

 

 

  There Are Apostles In The Church Today.

 

●In referring to the group “as the apostles of Christ”, what is meant is that Paul, Silas, and Timothy were emissaries or missionaries of Christ. There is no scriptural evidence that Silas and Timothy were apostles.

●In the same sense, the words “as the apostles of Christ” does not mean they were apostles. What is being said is that in their motives and examples they were evidenced “as the apostles of Christ”.

 

What does it mean that God has set forth the apostles last, as it were appointed to death?

God Hath Set Forth Us The Apostles Last, As It Were Appointed To Death

Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 4:3-13

Apparently there were those in the Corinthian church that were judging Paul.

2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

     Paul responded to them by saying, if you want to think of me, then think of me as one of  the servants of Christ, as a steward, who provides instruction, guidance, counsel, etc., as may be requisite to build up the church of Christ. It is expected if one is a steward that they be found trustworthy and reliable, faithful in their personal life, home, and ministry of the word. If you are going to judge me, then judge me according to these standards.

3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.

4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

     Paul continued on and said, it is not important that I be judged or examined of you concerning my qualities, which are based on your own personal prejudices and preferences; the result of such is my condemnation. For I am not conscious of any lack of integrity and faithfulness in my ministry, therefore I judge myself according to an examination that is carried out by God.

6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

     Then Paul decides to disclose to them the reason for their harshness toward him. He says the reason why you treat me like this is because you are proud of one person and despise another. You tear down certain preachers in order to build up those, who you like, according to your preferences and prejudices. But remember, whatever gift anyone has it is because they have received it from God. Therefore, you shouldn’t be approving others based on the gifts God has given them. These gifts should be used for the edification of the church and not as a means for divisiveness.

9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

      Then Paul makes this statement, that God has set forth the apostles last, as it were appointed to death.

      Was he saying that when the very last one died, this office would no longer continue?

 

There Are No Apostles In The Church Today.

 

 

  There Are Apostles In The Church Today.

 

●Paul was saying that when the last apostle died this office gift would no longer continue. This is because once the verbal revelation they received from the Holy Spirit was conveyed to the early church and written down there was no longer any need for them.

 

●The verb “hath set forth” in the Koine Greek is described as being in the Aorist tense meaning that they do not continue56. The tense refers to the action of the verb. The Aorist signifies action as occurring at a point in time.

 

9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

●When Paul said that God has set the apostles last as it were appointed to death this can be taken as an analogy to the Roman spectacles, where in the morning men were brought to the theatres to fight with wild beasts; and to them was allowed armor to defend themselves and smite the beasts that assailed them; but in the meridian or noon-day spectacles the gladiators were brought forth naked, and without anything to defend themselves from the sword of the assailant; …so that these men might well be called epithanatious, men appointed for death57.

●The words “hath set forth the apostles last” doesn’t mean that Paul was stating that he was the last of the apostles; instead he was stating as to how they were viewed by others as that of being of the most wretched criminals.

 

 

Did Paul confirm that he was last of the apostles, when he said that last of all Christ was seen of him?

And Last Of All He Was Seen Of Me Also

Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

Paul was disclosing those people who witnessed Christ in his glorified body during the 40 day period that he remained on the earth following his resurrection. He was seen of the apostle Cephas, who was of the 12, of above 500 brethren, of James, and then by all of the apostles.

8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

     He then concludes by saying that last of all he was seen of him also, as of an untimely birth or abortion.

 

There Are No Apostles In The Church Today.

 

 

  There Are Apostles In The Church Today.

 

●As an eyewitness of Christ’s resurrection by means of a vision, Paul referred to himself in relation to the other apostles as “last of all”58. Another word he would be the last apostle to have seen the risen Christ, because there would be no apostles that would come after him. 

 

●Most commentators indicate that the words “last of all” are not referring to Paul seeing the risen Christ last as in accordance with the others who had already seen him. Rather they say that these words are to be interpreted in relation to the words “as of one born out of due time” which emphasizes his condition at the time of his call. As compared with the disciples who had known and followed Him from the first, and whom he had been persecuting-he was no better than an unperfected fetus among living men59.

 

When will the office gifts and gifts of the Spirit cease?

Till We All Come In The Unity Of The Faith

Suggested Reading: Ephesians 4:13-16

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11-13) 

Following Jesus death, resurrection, and ascension the day of Pentecost would arrive when the Holy Spirit would not only indwell the disciples, but would begin to impart office gifts and gifts of the Spirit. The office gifts are those of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher. Not everyone is called to an office gift. Collectively these office gifts are provided: for the perfecting (mending, repair, or correcting all that is deficient) of the saints; for the work of the ministry (the work of Christian service); for the edifying (to cause to grow strong) of the body of Christ so that every member might become mature or fully grown.

     On the other hand the gifts of the Spirit are divine empowerments or extraordinary powers. It is believed that God gives each member of the body of Christ at least one gift as shall manifest the work and nature of the Spirit’s operation on the mind60 which gives each person some proof of the Spirit’s presence in order to promote harmony in the church.

     Some believe that what is being said here is that both the office gifts and gifts of the Spirit will cease when the entire church comes together in the unity (state of oneness relating to vitality or intensity) of the faith, and in the knowledge (precise and correct knowledge;experiencing the presence) of the Son of God; so that each member becomes mature or full grown thus becoming holy like Christ?

 

 There Are No Apostles In The Church Today.

 

 

  There Are Apostles In The Church Today.

 

●The word “Till”, is an adverb of time61, indicating that there will be a time when some of the office gifts (apostles and prophets) and some of the gifts of the Spirit will cease. This will occur when there is “unity in the faith”. These words “the faith” means completed revelation, when all of God’s communication to humanity would have been revealed62. This occurred when God’s truths were unveiled orally to the apostles and prophets and then written down to form along with the Old Testament the completed canon of scripture. 

●The word “Till’ in the Koine Greek is a subordinating temporal Greek conjunction (i.e. as far as, until, unto). The function of the conjunction is in contrasting two ideas. This conjunction “Till” or "until" is specifying the time up to which this ministry and impartation of gifts are to last63. Therefore the office gifts and gifts of the Spirit will continue until the entire church comes together in the unity of the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God; so that each member becomes mature or full grown thus becoming holy like Christ?

 

     Well there you have it. We have looked at the functions of the office gifts (e.g. apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors) along with scriptural sections which are used by many churches to support their view as to whether there were any new apostles in the church other than the original 12, Matthias, and Paul.

     So what do you think? Does the office of apostle and for that matter prophet continue to be operational in the church today? Could some of their functions cause unbelievers to become aware of God’s working and thus soften the soil for more conversions to the faith?

     I have left you with some parting words.

 

Is There Evidence of the Apostolic Office Continuing?

In my earlier years in ministry I didn’t have the knowledge base and time to do a study like this. Since I got saved, almost 40 years have gone by. I am currently retired after having taught high school math for 30 years. I now have the time to pursue my passion of studying various biblical topics and allowing you the reader to decide as to what to believe.

     I have enjoyed this endeavor immensely. As I said earlier I didn’t have an opinion on this topic before I undertook it. There appears to be legitimate arguments on both sides.

     No matter what conclusion you or I come to at least we are aware as to the “why” behind either view.

     My hope for you is that whenever you hear teachings on any biblical topic that you won’t just take it for granted. I understand that you might not have the time or resources to do an extensive study like this one, but you can probably obtain further information that you need on any biblical topic by means of tapes, books, CD’s, etc. And make sure that before you undertake any study that you ask God the Father for insight and guidance by means of the Holy Spirit.

     May you know not only know the “why” behind what you believe, but when you are engaged in a dialogue concerning it you can discuss it with confidence and humility.  

GOD BLESS!

Endnotes

53UBS.

54UBS.

55UBS.

56APOSTLES AND PROPHETS TODAY, 24 Dec. 2014 ˂www.letusreason.org>

57Adam Clarke.

58Dave Miller, Ph. D. Are There Modern Day Apostles? 27 Dec. 2014 ˂http://apologeticspress.org/>

59Vincent.

60Barnes.

61Dave Miller, Ph. D. Are There Modern Day Apostles? 27 Dec. 2014 ˂http://apologeticspress.org/>

62Dave Miller, Ph. D. Are There Modern Day Apostles? 27 Dec. 2014 ˂http://apologeticspress.org/>

63Vincent.

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Synopsis
More scriptural reasons as to why there might or might not be apostles still among us.
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