How Many Apostles?

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Here is the question: Where there more Apostles than just the Twelve plus Paul?

An Apostle in the Church becomes the proxy of the Lord Jesus Christ. He acts with the full authority of the Lord (The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, eds. Lothar Coenen, Erich Beyreuther and Hans Bietenhard, English ed. Colin Brown, 1975 ed., s.v. "Apostle," by C. Brown, 1:126-137).

The Bible gives qualifications for Apostles.  These qualifications come from those applied by the 11 original Apostles as they sought to find a replacement for Judas:

  1. A new Apostle had to have traveled with Jesus from His baptism to His ascension (Acts 1:21-22a).
  2. A new Apostle had to be a witness of our Lord's Resurrection (Acts 1:22b).
  3. A new Apostle had to be male (Acts 1:23).

Furthermore, Apostleship was a gift given to establish the church.  Notice the figure of the universal church as a building in Ephesians 2:19-22.  In that figure, the Apostles are the foundation.  It would be hard to believe that after two thousand years the foundation of the church is still being built.  In fact the teaching of the passage is that our Lord is the Cornerstone, the Apostles and Prophets are the foundation, and all the other members of the Church make up the building which is being built on the foundation.   For me that settles the question.  There are no Apostles today and we should not identify any to include in our local church structure.   There are two other ideas that some use to support present day Apostles.

  1. The Apostle Paul:  Paul could not be numbered among the Twelve, but he was a witness of the Resurrection (1 Corinthians 9:1b; 15:8) and claimed authority direct from Christ (1 Corinthians 11:23-26; 15:1-5). The Apostle Peter agreed that Paul had this authority (2 Peter 2 Peter 3:2, 15-16).
  2. Other Apostles:

So, we could say that we have apostles today.  But it would be better to call them missionaries or domestic workers so that they would not be confused with the Twelve Apostles and the Apostle Paul.  There are no Apostles today.

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HOME 2004, Ken Bowles -- September 30, 2010, Edition

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