Eleven—Plus One, plus one

Eleven—Plus One, plus one

The rise of Pentecostalism in the 20th century caused much discussion about apostleship. One old brother, during a discussion on modern day apostles, expressed in no uncertain terms: “There will be no apostles in this congregation while I’m alive.” Of course, no one was saying there should be. Sadly, and as is often the way, he killed study on the subject ‘dead!’ When Judas went the way of all flesh, the apostles saw in scripture the solution to the numerical shortfall in their leadership team. Peter quotes from Psalm 69:25 and 109:8 respectively: “For,” Peter said, “it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and ‘May another take his place of leadership’” (Acts 1:20). Thus, Matthias became the new 12th apostle (Acts 1:26).

It has been suggested by more than one Bible teacher that the Eleven acted presumptuously by instituting Matthias. They believe Paul to be the rightful replacement of Judas. Interesting thought. Various churches claim to have modern day apostles. Their claim of Biblical authority is beyond the pages of scripture. The qualifications are clear: Acts 1:21-22— “…men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us—beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” Some groups may not claim the title of ‘apostle’ but they claim their unique ability to pass on miraculous gifts. They are wrong to do so. The miraculous gifts were only passed on by the laying on of the apostles’ hands (Acts 8:17-19). That ability ended with the death of John, the last apostle to die. However, the term apostle was not only limited to the Eleven (plus Matthias, plus Paul). It was used descriptively of Jesus (Heb.3:1), and in a generic sense of Barnabas (Acts 14:14) and James, the brother of Jesus (Gal.1:19). I appreciate that it is not helpful for Christians to go around calling themselves apostles today in any sense. The term is loaded with misuse. But to teach that it is restricted to the above 13, is wittingly, or unwittingly, misrepresenting scripture.



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