Written Word

Does the Church Have Apostles Today? – Part 2

The Message Revealed

Everything that Jesus taught he entrusted to his apostles. Speaking to them on the night of his betrayal, he said that he would send them the Holy Spirit to equip them for ministry. The Spirit would (1) teach them all things, (2) bring to their mind all he had taught them, and (3) guide them into all the truth. (John 14:26; 16:13) Paul also affirmed the divine source of his message: “I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12)

The revealed message of a crucified and risen Christ proclaimed by the apostles is the foundation upon which the church is built. The church, Paul says, is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus as the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20) Staying with the theme of the church, Paul discusses God’s plan to save both Jews and Gentiles in one body, the church. The church of Christ would be an international community composing the redeemed from both ethnic groups. This truth was not made known until revealed to the apostles. Here is how Paul puts it: “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.” (Ephesians 3:2-5) The unique ministry of the apostles is seen in that through them the will of God is made known. And because of the authority given to the apostles by the Lord, the early believers submitted to their teaching. In listening to the apostles’ teaching, they were listening to the word of God itself. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…” (Acts 2:42)

Signs of an Apostle

Having chosen his apostles, Jesus empowered them and sent them on their first “missionary” journey. “He called the twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” (Matthew 10:1) The purpose of the miracles, signs and wonders was not to provide entertainment, but to serve as credentials for the apostles, to verify that they were indeed speaking the word of God. As their ministry got under way, “[t]he apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people.” (Acts 5:12) And Paul’s special ministry to the Gentiles was accompanied by an outpouring of divine power: “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. (Acts 19:11-12) And when he had to defend his apostolic position Paul appealed to his miracles: “The things that mark an apostle – signs, wonders and miracles – were done among you with great perseverance.” (2 Corinthians 12:12)