21 – Question 2

Let’s start by reading Matthew 10:1-4, “And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.  Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.”  This is the first mention of the word ‘apostles’ in the Bible.  We see that the Lord Jesus chose twelve men to be apostles.  While there were many disciples, there were only twelve apostles.  These men were given special power to do miraculous things.

After the Lord’s death, resurrection and ascension back to Heaven, the remaining apostles realized from the scriptures that Judas, who had hung himself, needed to be replaced.  Let’s read Acts 1:16-26, “Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.  Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”

Notice one qualification that was mentioned in verses 21-22, “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us.”  The one to replace Judas had to have been with the others during the time of the earthly ministry of the Lord and could be a witness of His resurrection.

In Acts 12:1-2, we read that King Herod had the Apostle James killed.  However, we do not read that anyone was chosen to replace him.  The church began with twelve apostles, but since the beginning of the church in Acts chapter 2, we do not read of any apostle being replaced upon their deaths.  So, we can rightly see that the office of Apostle ended with the passing of the twelve apostles…except for one exception: the Apostle Paul.

Let’s read 1 Corinthians 15:3-10 where Paul speaks of his apostleship.  It says, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.  For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

Paul was so humble about his office.  He considered himself like a baby born prematurely, small and undeveloped; not worthy to be compared with the other apostles.  But, he realized the grace and purpose of God and accepted this position of Apostle.  He would insist upon his apostleship in 1 Corinthians 9:1 where he says, “Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?”  He would declare the authority for his apostleship in Galatians 1:1 where he says, “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead).”  Notice how that Paul mentions having seen the Lord as a qualification for being an Apostle.  Although we have no record of Paul ever seeing the Lord during his time of earthly ministry, Paul saw the Lord on the road to Damascus as he was traveling to find true disciples of the Lord to imprison them.  Read that incredible account in Acts, chapter 9.

The office of Apostle has served its purpose and is no longer given to men today.  Ephesians 2:19-20 says, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.”  The apostles, along with the New Testament prophets laid the foundation for the church, of which we are built upon, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.  With the foundation laid, there is no need to lay another foundation on top of it, so there is no need for apostles and prophets today as gifts to the church.

The word ‘apostle’ literally means ‘messenger or sent one.’  In this respect, Barnabas is a man in scripture that is referred to as an apostle in Acts 14:14.  However he never exhibited the power and authority of the twelve or the Apostle Paul.  In one sense, we, as believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, are all sent with a message, but let’s not try to take a title, whatever it may be.  That only tends to draw attention to ourselves.  As true messengers of the Lord, we want all attention to go to Him.