Why do so many believe today in the traditional churches that there are no longer need for the apostles and prophets? The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 4:11: God has placed some apostles and some prophets , evangelists and some pastors and teachers for the working of the ministry.
ESV - 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers.
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First it is instructive to note that the office of apostle ceased with the apostolic age and there can never be a living apostle today and neither was there one after the apostolic church age which ended in the 1st Century AD. Tradition holds it that John was the last apostle when he wrote the last Book Revelation. Some skeptics have asked why Paul mentions the apostles among the church ministry offices in Ephesians 4:11. In answering this question we need to remember that at the time of Paul’s ministry; most of the apostles were still alive and active in ministry which cut across the Jerusalem and Gentile church divisions. Some such as James brother of John were martyred by Herod and other cruel Roman emperors (Acts 12:1-2) but a few lived on and wrote the Scriptures we have today. Paul was therefore justified in ranking the apostolic office above and alongside the other church ministry offices but we do not have the authority or scriptural basis for instituting the apostolic office today. An apostle was an eye witness of Christ’s ministry and his resurrection. Mathias who replaced Judas was certainly an eyewitness of Christ and was therefore qualified to hold the office (Acts 1:1-21). There is no record of any further apostolic appointment in Scripture except for Paul who was not among the original twelve apostles but was later called by Christ into the apostolic ministry in person (Acts 9:1-28). Paul headed the Gentile ministry see while Peter, John and James (the brother of the Lord) were in charge of the Jerusalem see. Now lets examine the million dollar question. Do we have apostles and prophets in the church today? Certainly as regards prophets, yes! It all depends on the understanding of the role of New Testament prophecy. The principal purpose of the prophetic ministry in the last days concerns the proclamation of God’s Word and declaring the consequences of rejecting the atoning grace of Christ. Every believer has a prophetic mandate to witness to the finished works of Christ at Calvary and about his soon return to judge the living and the dead. The second purpose of prophecy is to communicate the will of the Holy Spirit in the church. There is evidence in the New Testament church that the Spirit often spoke, giving direction in ministry work. After intense prayer and fasting the Holy Ghost gave instructions most probably through a person with prophetic gifting or through one of the apostles (Acts 13:2). The Holy Spirit also warned the church the Agabus about imminent danger of persecution that awaited Paul in Jerusalem as well as concerning the coming drought in Judea (Acts 11:28). Paul expounds on the prophetic ministry of the church in his first letter to the Corinthians. He teaches about the distribution of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:10 “…to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits…” the same gift is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians 14:4 “…but he that prophesieth edifieth the church…”. Paul teaches that the Holy Spirit endows the believers with divers gifts all of which should be used for the edification of the church. The Geneva Bible notes stay of prophesying that “Which may further men in the study of godliness” The idea of prophetic ministry concerning itself about the unknown or unrevealed truth is often misleading. Do we have living apostles? Certainly none at all. Those who claim to be apostles today can actually pass for Bishops or overseers but the title has been loosely applied to senior positions in church ministry circles, resulting in much confusion. None of the men who lay claim to the title of apostle have seen the Lord in person let alone witnessing his suffering.
I believe some claim that there are no more apostles out of confusion as to what an apostle is. Apostolos simply means "a messenger, an envoy, a delegate, one commissioned by another to represent him". (Rom 10:14-15) In a general sense, then, every Christian is to be an apostle (II Cor 5:16-20), for we have been accepted Christ's commission to share the good news that God reconciles us to Him through Christ. It gets more complicated when discussing the specific 'gift' of Apostle: Jesus' twelve main disciples were the first Apostles (Mark 6:7-13). Judus proved false and had to later be replaced Acts 1:15-26). It is important to note that Matthias was chosen not just to be an apostle, but to be a fellow witness of the Resurrection and the physical life of Christ on earth. (II Peter 1: 12-21) The disciples here were choosing from among the other disciples of Christ to *specifically replace Judas' apostolic ministry* (Acts 1:25), not to set up standards for all future apostles (otherwise Paul would never have qualified). These were the first Apostles of Christ, and they are one of the foundation layers of the early church. (Rev 21:24) Paul, instead of Matthias, is often considered the twelfth apostle or at least considered a primary Apostle along with the twelve. Paul did not personally witness the Resurrection or the physical life of Christ, so his ministry would have been different than that of the twelve. He did, however, personally hear the voice of Christ (Acts 9:1-9), and credits his learning of the gospel not to any man but to the revelation of Christ (Gal 1:11-24). In the same way, the gospel for all men is not by earthly religion or human devising, but rather directly from the grace of God revealed in Christ. (II Peter 1:16, II Tim 1:8-11) We receive the gospel and walk in it by faith, not sight or action (Acts 13:26-52, II Cor 5:7). As for personally witnessing Christ, Christ considers it a greater thing to believe without having seen Him (John 20:24-29). There were other apostles in the Bible besides the twelve/Paul. (Luke 10:1-20, Rom 16:7, Acts 11:19-21) The prerequisite to be an apostle was not that he must have personally learned from Jesus, but that he taught the same gospel as Jesus (II Cor 11:1-15, II Tim 1:6-14) Apostles are foremost disciples of Christ. They do not have to be direct disciples of Christ, such as learning from Him in person, but they do have to have learned His teaching and in turn spread it. (This is much like the Jewish system of rabbi->student->student becomes rabbi->student, actually, which passed on the teachings/schools of thought of a given rabbi). Apostles are those who are sent out into the world to preach the gospel, plant churches, and contribute to the health and leadership of the worldwide church. In modern terms, we would call them missionaries and church planters. They also seem to have the job sometimes of distributing money from the church to the needy (Acts 4:34-35), such as a modern missionary might collect funds to take over to the church in Uganda. Apostleship is among the spiritual gifts (Eph 4:11-12, I Cor 12:1-11), the spirit is not restricted from giving it out. The evangelist shares the good news where he is, the apostle has a specific mission into the world to preach or lay ground for others. Prophet: The greek word for prophet is prophétés, it is a combination of pró (before) and phēmí (make clear, asserting one idea over another). Prophecy is what is 'clarified beforehand'.Those with the gift of prophecy are those who reveal the mind of God by speaking beforehand, such as predicting the future or speaking to warn, exhort, or to declare/reveal sin. These prophecies do not "add" to scripture, and if they contradict, prove false, or teach another gospel then they are false prophecies. This gift will not end until we see Christ face to face (I Cor 13:8-13). More on the spiritual gift of prophecy: http://ebible.com/answers/9372?ori=167400
An apostle is someone who has lived with Jesus, saw all the signs & miracles Jesus performed, saw him die on the cross and saw Him in the resurrected form and saw His ascension. This is whom the Bible calls an apostle-Acts 1:21-22. Another evidence from Luke 6:13. He chose 12 of His disciples to be His apostles. Concluding it, not everyone could become an apostle. With this in mind, we can see that there are no apostles for the Church now, but we have the Bible which was composed by the apostles, which is equivalent to having apostles. We need to divide the period before completion of Bible and after the completion of Bible. The Church of the 1st century needed prophets simply because they did not have a Bible. So they, through direct revelation through prophets and through the gift of prophecy, exposed the truths of the New Testament. But we, have it in our hands and there is no need of prophecy or prophets.
I'm writing this from my phone so it will be short. The foundation of the church rests upon the writing of the prophets (Old Testament) and the writings of the apostles (New Testament) with Jesus as the cornerstone. The reason that prophets and apostles don't exist anymore is because their purpose was fulfilled. The foundation has been established. There is no need to re-establish it again. If one prophecies, that does not make one a prophet. It makes that person someone who has the spiritual gift of prophecy. If someone is an apostolic elder of the church, it doesn't make them an apostle. They have authoritative oversight of the church in the same way apostles oversaw the church in the beginning of the church age. Now the foundation has been laid, the preachers and teachers build upon it to establish God's houses.
The question you ask is excellent, and, as the other answers show, has drawn a lot of concern. First: WHAT DOES THE SCRIPTURE SAY? And specifically, WHAT DOES THE SCRIPTURE SAY CLEARLY ON THIS SPECIFIC QUESTION? So many brothers and sisters argue about questions like this--with opinions based on either Scriptures that do not plainly teach about the actual matter at hand, or else based on their own reasoning. In order to achieve the unity that the Holy Spirit is calling the church to, we must learn to stick to the Scriptures. So: the question we are asking is: WHAT DOES GOD SAY ABOUT THE CONTINUITY OF THE OFFICE OF APOSTLE AND PROPHET? The answer is: 1. The Bible never makes a statement clearly saying something like, "after the apostolic age, the gift of apostle and prophet will cease" 2. The Bible never makes a statement clearly saying, "The gift of apostle and prophet are only needed until the canon (books which are certainly the Word of God) is complete." 3. The Bible does say, in 1 Cor 13, that tongues, prophecy, and knowledge shall continue until "that which is perfect is come". 4. The Bible does not say that anyone who is an apostle or a prophet, and speaks under the influence of the Holy Spirit, is adding to the Scriptures. Why are people so uncomfortable with this issue? (this helps answer your question) I believe it is partially because the leaders of the Roman Catholic church claim that they, being in the office of Peter, can make statements that are authoritative and binding. In reaction to that, many Christians who take exception to the many rules and doctrines that Catholicism have added to the Scriptures, take the approach of saying that the gift of apostle and prophet ceased after the "apostolic age". It really comes down to: 1. The fear that, if you say that God could still have apostles and prophets, that we don't have a firm foundation of "the faith once delivered to the saints"--namely, the Scriptures, the 66 books that we call the Bible. 2. The spiritual garbage that often accompanies those who claim to be apostles and prophets. Examples would be the leaders of the "New Apostolic Reformation"; false "charismatic" teachers like Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland; the ever-increasing pile of unbiblical pronouncements by Catholics; the never-ending stream of cult leaders; etc. As is usually the case in these arguments, both sides are going beyond Scripture. 1. The fact is, that the faith is and was once delivered to the saints. There were prophets like Agabus and the daughters of Philip, whose prophecies are not part of the Scripture. There are writings of the Apostles, such as Pauls letter to the church at Laodicea, which did not make it in as Scripture. So, to say that these gifts continue is NOT to say that the "canon" is not closed. 2. The fact is, that all prophecies are to be judged, 1 Cor 14. And judged against the Word of God. I don't care if the person is a pope or a leader of some new group, or somebody who thinks the Holy Spirit is speaking to them in a home group...it has to be ruthlessly measured against the Scripture. The gifts continue. But the canon is fixed. All the doctrine and practice of the church is laid down. Let us go forth in the power of the Spirit, being used of the Spirit, speaking as He gives us utterance...AND AT THE SAME TIME departing neither to the right or to the left regarding what has been written, and judging everything by that. God bless you!
Respectfully, I disagree with those here who say the office of the apostle and prophet were only for the establishment of the church. One thing I can agree with some here who take that stance is that we must let scripture guide our beliefs. Here are my reasons for disagreeing with you: 1. Nowhere in scripture does it say these offices will end before the return of Christ. 2. Paul wrote this epistle to the Ephesians many years after the Church had its beginnings. The Bible tells us why and for how long the ministry gifts were given to the Church. EPHESIANS 4:12,13 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 [spiritually mature] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. These verses tell us three reasons ministry gifts were given to the Church: For the perfecting of the saints. For the work of the ministry. For the edifying of the Body of Christ. Actually, the Greek indicates that the meaning is "perfecting of the saints so the saints can do the work of the ministry, resulting in the edification of the Body of Christ." How long will ministry gifts be in the Church? Ephesians 4:13 says, "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect [spiritually mature] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." Don't let the words "perfecting" and "perfect" in verses 12 and 13 throw you. We will never be perfect or perfected in the flesh. As long as we are in these mortal bodies, we will not reach perfection in the sense that most people think of perfection. Actually, the word "perfect" here means mature or full manhood. The Bible is talking about spiritual maturity. The Church will always need ministry gifts — those called to the offices of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher — because as a body of believers, we are always in the process of growing toward the full stature of Christ. No scripture refutes that truth. You have to go out of your way to explain away the office of the apostle and the prophet.
Speculation and current standards in one's own denomination do not define anything, nor do the opinions of men. Let's let scripture speak for itself and be no more and no less than what it actually does say. I hear people say miracles have passed away too. Well, you're too late, I've seen too many. They say healing passed away, again, sorry, I have been healed from much, as have others I know. Lemons have not passed away just because there are none in your house. Blessings.
The authority and office of apostles and prophets are one thing; the spiritual gifts of apostleship and prophecy are another thing. Prophetic authority meant that the word of God received by the prophets was as authoritative as if it were coming directly from Christ or the Father, not just from the Holy Spirit and subject to modification. Interpreting literally, the original apostles had full authority in their office to forgive sins and bind and loosen, in addition to prophetic authority: John 20:23."Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. Matthew 18:18 "Verily I say unto you, What soever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." We don't seem to see church leaders today claiming to be able to forgive sins, or to be able to bind or loosen penalties for sin or for contradicting apostolic authority. One exception may be the Catholic and Orthodox denominations which claim to have inherited full apostolic authority from the original apostles. Without the apostleship gift, (from the Holy Spirit) it is doubtful any church could be established and survive. It is a distinctive apostolic function. Without the prophetic gift from the Holy Spirit, only a handful of believers would be able to endure the oppression and persecution from determined demonic opposition. The prophet is shown the way out of difficulties and into the truth (in the absence of an apostle).
My simple answer is YES, the ministries of God by the Holy Spirit to lay a foundation which is Christ in us... are very much alive. Not popular, but very much alive. Nobody wants to surrender their life to God, thus the modern day church or religion and not Christ. Although we hear teachings about Christ they never really bring it home to where the Christian is supposed to be living a LIFE IN CHRIST... Literally... The life in Christ is the foundation we (apostles) preach... So yes we do exist... And I will end on this note: As stated earlier 1 Cor. 12 /Eph. 4 "...and the whole word of God..." If God says it I believe it. To those unbelievers for whatever reasons they may have, I'm sure someday they will give account if not sooner... Because honestly, they are not only robbing themselves but others from the rich spiritual blessing of God... JESUS IS LORD! Let God be true and every man a liar... LUIS
In Acts 3:21, Peter is speaking about how a restoration or restitution of all things will come to earth before the second coming. Quoting verse 21 (speaking about Jesus), "Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began...." This is saying before the second coming, Christ's church will be brought back. Restored. Not reformed or an interpretation like you see with so many different denominations, but actually restored as it once was. As established with Apostles and Prophets (Christ himself being the chief cornerstone). That would entail that Apostles and Prophets will be called again just as they were.
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