Let’s recap; We’re still talking about the power gifts, people who believe the power gifts are no longer with us are called cessationists, we went over what cessationism is and isn’t. Today, we will be talking about who wielded these power gifts.
The Apostles and Prophets
What or Who is an Apostle? Apostle – a “sent” one, an envoy, ambassador, emissary, agent, or messenger commissioned to carry out the instructions of the commissioning Principal.
More than the act of sending, this word includes the idea of the authorization of the messenger. Thus, the Septuagint uses the apostello word-group to denote the authorization of an individual to fulfill a particular function, with emphasis on the one who sends, not on the one who is sent.
So, the word is used in general terms to describe one who is sent but our focus here is its use in the sense of one specially called to be an official, authoritative, personal witness or representative of Christ. It is in this sense that I will use the term throughout, to refer to one of a few men who were personally commissioned and gifted by the Lord Jesus Christ to serve in this role/office.
Who were the Apostles identified in Scripture?
The Apostles identified in Scripture would be the original Twelve (with Mathias as Judas’ replacement), including Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles.
In Mark 3 he called the 12:
13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach. 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (Emphasis Added)
In Acts 1, with God’s approval, the 11 appoint Matthias as Judas’ replacement:
21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us–one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (Emphasis Added)
Jesus appears to Saul in Acts 9, but I prefer Paul’s succinct recollection in 1 Corinthians 15:
8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (Emphasis Added)
What are the biblical requirements?
What are the biblical qualifications for the office of Apostleship?
- You had to be personally called/confirmed by the Lord himself. See already cited scriptures; Mark 3: 13-19, Acts 1:21-26, Acts 9 and 1 Corinthians 15:8-9.
- You had to have been with Jesus from the early days of his earthly ministry (Acts 1:21-22). The exception to this was Paul, as “one abnormally born” (1 Corinthians 15:8-9). And in his case, he had the other Apostles formally recognize him as one of them in giving him “the right hand of fellowship” (see Galatians 2:8-9). Peter later affirmed his teaching as scripture (2 Peter 3:16).
- Lastly, you had to be able to perform signs and wonders. This possession and demonstration of this special, God-given ability was aptly called the “signs” or “marks” of a true Apostle:
I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles. – 2 Corinthians 12:12 (Emphasis Added)
Is the office or gift one of those that one may aspire to or was it limited to a few?
No. This office or gift was exclusive and limited. As already stated above, there is a set of criteria that are now impossible for anyone after the early Church to meet, to qualify him for the office.
In addition, the one time when Judas’ spot was to be filled (something that was even prophetically anticipated in scripture) the remaining 11 Apostles had to prayerfully select his replacement with one out of two men who fit the stringent criteria recorded in Acts 1. The only other addition to this set of believers was Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles.