Section 8: The Church
Week 3: The Government of the Church
Day 2: Apostles Filled a Unique Role in the History of the Church
The word “apostle” simply means messenger. At times the Bible uses the word in a very broad sense to apply to anyone who has a message. More often, the term is applied to a specific group of people in the Church with unique power and authority.[i]
Does the office of Apostle continue today? No. We can see why that is the case when we look at the qualifications of an Apostle. When the Apostles were deciding on a replacement for Judas, Peter emphasized the necessity that the person be a witness to Christ’s resurrection (Acts 1:22-23). In defending his apostolic qualifications, Paul similarly points to the fact that Jesus appeared to him after the resurrection (1 Cor. 9:1). Paul later says that Jesus appeared to all the apostles (1 Cor. 15:7-9).
When we put those passages together, we realize, as Wayne Grudem explains, “Unless someone had seen Jesus after the resurrection with his own eyes, he could not be an apostle.”[ii] No one today meets that requirement.
That shouldn’t be a surprise to us. As we saw in our discussion of the miraculous gifts, the Apostles filled a special role. They were instrumental in building the foundation of the Church. (Eph. 2:19-20). Now that the foundation has been laid, however, the apostolic role has passed away.[iii] As a result, we don’t see anything corresponding to the Apostles’ ministry today.
Read Acts 1, 1 Cor. 9:1, 1 Cor. 15:1-9
How would you describe the qualifications of an Apostle? Do you think anyone can meet those qualifications today? What implications does that have for the Church?
[i] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Doctrine, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House (1994), 906.
[ii] Ibid., 907.
[iii]Richard B. Gaffin, Jr, “A Cessationist View” in Are Miraculous Gifts for Today: 4 Views, ed. Stanley N. Gundry and Wayne A Grudem, Grand Rapids: Zondervan (1996), 43.