Apostle? Prophet? Prophetess? No

Apostle? Prophet? Prophetess? No

 

I made the following statement on Facebook: “If the pastor of your church goes by Apostle, Prophet, Prophetess, or something similar, run far and run fast. The Biblical Offices of Apostle and Prophet closed when John the Apostle and Elder passed away on Patmos. There has not been another since him. Neither shall there ever be one again.” Following that statement, I was asked, what Scripture I am basing that on. Not to put too fine a point on it, I am basing that on the same passages upon which I base Cessationism, and a few others. Let’s start with the the easiest of these three to deal with and move from there.

Can a “prophetess” be the pastor of a church? Surprisingly, I have been invited to churches where the “pastor” is prophetess so and so. Never mind the question of whether or not there are prophets and prophetesses today, the short answer to the question is no. (1 Timothy 2:12-14, 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9) Taking only the qualifications we find in the Bible, a “prophetess cannot be the pastor of a church.

Are there Apostles and Prophets today?
I would like to share with you the answer from one of my favorite websites, gotquestions.org

“The movement to restore the offices of apostle and prophet bases the claim that apostles and prophets are to be a part of the church on Ephesians 4:11-12. These verses say, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”

During the first century of the church, there was an office of apostle and there was a spiritual gift of apostle. The office or position of apostle was held by the 12 disciples of Jesus plus Matthias, who took Judas’ place, and Paul. Those who held the office or position of apostle were chosen specifically by Christ (Mark 3:16-19). The replacement for Judas is seen in Acts 1:20-26. Note in this passage that Judas’ position was called an office. It should also be noted that Paul was chosen by Christ (1 Corinthians 15:8-9; Galatians 1:1; 2:6-9). These men were given the task of setting up the foundation of the church. It should be understood that it was for the universal church that these men were a part of the foundation (Ephesians 2:20). The foundation of the church (universal church) was laid in the first century. This is why the office of apostle is no longer functioning.

There was also a spiritual gift of apostle (this is not to be confused with the office—they are separate). Among those who had the spiritual gift were James (1 Corinthians 15:7; Galatians 1:19), Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14; 1 Corinthians 9:6), Andronicus and Junias (Romans 16:7), possibly Silas and Timothy (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:7), and Apollos (1 Corinthians 4:6, 9). This latter group had the gift of apostleship but not the apostolic “office” conferred upon the Twelve and Paul. Those who had the gift of apostle, then, were those who carried the gospel message with God’s authority. The word “apostle” means “one sent as an authoritative delegate.” This was true of those who held the office of Apostle (like Paul) and those who had the spiritual gift (like Apollos). Though there are men like this today, men who are sent by God to spread the gospel, it is best NOT to refer to them as apostles because of the confusion this causes since many are not aware of the two different uses of the term apostle.

The gift of prophet was a temporary gift given by the Christ for the laying of the foundation of the universal church. Prophets also were foundational to the universal church (Ephesians 2:20). The prophet proclaimed a message from the Lord for the believers of the first century. These believers did not have the advantage we have of having a complete Bible. The last book of the New Testament (Revelation) was not completed until late in the first century. So the Lord provided gifted men called prophets who proclaimed messages from God to the people until the canon of Scripture was complete.

It should be noted that the current teaching of the restoration of prophet and the office of apostle is far from what Scripture describes of the men who held the gift of prophet and the office of apostle. Those who teach the restoration of the office teach that the men who claim to be apostles and prophets should never be spoken against, should never be questioned, because the person who speaks against them is speaking against God. Yet, the Apostle Paul commended the people of Berea for checking what he said against the Word of God to make sure he spoke the truth (Acts 17:10-11). The Apostle Paul also stated to those in Galatia that if anyone, including himself, should teach another Gospel, that person should be “accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9). In everything, Paul kept pointing people to the Bible as the final authority. The men who claim to be apostles and prophets today make themselves the final authority, something Paul and the Twelve never did.

It should also be noted that Scripture refers to these men in the past tense. 2 Peter 3:2 and also Jude 3-4, state that the people should not stray from the message the apostles gave (past tense). Hebrews 2:3-4 also speaks in the past tense of the those who performed (in the past) signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

Did the Ante-Nicene Fathers recognize any Apostles or Prophets?

As far as I have been able to tell, no they did not. The closest we come are the men who are called the Apostolic Fathers, so titled because they were taught directly by the Twelve. On a side note, if there were ever any “apostolic succession” it would be through these men and since we do not see that in any of their writings, that idea must also be deemed false.

In post apostolic church history, we see the church being governed by the local bishop and his fellow elders. We do not see the moniker of Apostle. In fact, the last person in the Bible to be given the title of Apostle was Paul but since John was the last to die we say he was the final apostle.

Did the magisterial reformers recognize the offices of apostle and prophet?

No. I have extensively read Luther, Calvin, Knox and I am endeavoring to read Zwingli and I cannot find a contemporary “apostle” or “prophet” referenced in their writings.

What about the Church Councils? Surely they recognized the offices of Apostle and Prophet? Again, the answer is no. Jerusalem, Nicea I, Nicea II, Ephesus, Chalcedon, Constantinople I, II, or even III, none of them mention (to the best of my knowledge and research) ever mention someone holding the office of a Prophet or an Apostle.

I must, then, conclude that these offices are closed. I do not find any evidence to the contrary prior to the Azusa Street incident. Absent evidence from the Bible, the Church Councils, the Church Fathers or Ecclesiastical History I do not buy the idea of Apostles and Prophets today.

 

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