Are There Apostles Today?
COPYRIGHT ©1999 - James M. Frye
All scripture quotations are taken from the Authorized King James Bible. Any deviations are not intentional. All underlines, bold and words within brackets are the author's.
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Are there apostles today? Many would answer that question with a resounding “yes”. They would tell us that there are not only apostles today, but that we should expect that God will, in these latter times, raise up super apostles. We don't, however, want to base our beliefs on what someone may tell us, but on what scripture teaches. What does the Bible have to say on this subject? Are there apostles today? In this article we shall seek to answer this question.
The Apostles Foundational Role
Ephesians 2:19-22 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; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Here we see the church compared to a building. Jesus himself is the chief cornerstone. The apostles and prophets make up the rest of the foundation. This analogy helps us to see the foundational role of the apostles.
When building a building, the first thing that is laid is the foundation. Everything else is then built upon that one foundation. Do we then go back after building a couple of stories and lay the foundation again? No. It is only done once. The foundation is laid one time in the beginning and then never again.
The same is true of the apostles. They served as a foundation for the emerging church. We shouldn’t expect to see another group of apostles later on any more than we would expect someone building a building to lay another foundation on the fourth floor. After all, Jesus Christ, being the chief cornerstone, is a part of this foundation as well. We certainly do not expect there to be another Jesus Christ, do we?
The Witness of an Apostle
Apostles were to bear witness to the fact that Jesus had risen from the dead. In order to do this, they had to have seen him after He was resurrected.
Luke 24:46-48 And [Jesus] said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.
When looking for someone to replace Judas, the one chosen had to be a witness unto the resurrection.
Acts 1:22 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.
Jesus told the apostles:
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
And that is exactly what they did.
Acts 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
Paul the apostle, in defending his apostleship, appealed to the fact that he had seen Jesus after he had risen from the dead.
1 Corinthians 9:1 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?
1 Corinthians 15:7-9 After that, he [JESUS] was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me [PAUL] 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.
This LAST passage is devastating for those who believe that there are apostles today. In order to be an apostle one has to have seen Jesus after he rose from the dead. Paul says that Jesus was seen last of all by him. He is the last one to see Jesus after his resurrection. Since no one since Paul has seen Jesus, no one since Paul can be an apostle. Therefore, there can be no apostles today.
The Choosing of an Apostle
The apostles were hand-picked by Jesus himself.
Luke 6:13 And when it was day, he [JESUS] called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
Not only were the original twelve apostles hand-picked by Jesus, Paul was as well.
Acts 9:3-6 And as he [Paul] journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
After Jesus appeared to him, he said of Paul:
Acts 9:13-15 ...for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
Paul refers to himself as:
Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ...
Paul was an apostle because he had been hand-picked by Jesus Christ. Since Jesus isn't appearing to anyone today (see our last point), no one is being hand-picked, either.
The Signs of an Apostle
Jesus gave the apostles the ability to perform miraculous signs..
Matthew 10:1-2 And when he [JESUS] 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...
2 Corinthians 12:11-12 ...for in nothing am I [PAUL] behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
Paul refers to his ability to perform miracles as "the signs of an apostle".
Mark 16:20 And they [The Apostles] went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
This miracle-working power was given to the apostles to bear witness that they were God's messengers and that they were speaking the very words of God. Many people today operate under the false assumption that all Christians in the early church were working miracles, but that was simply not the case.
Acts 2:43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
Acts 5:12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people...
If every believer had this power, why did Jesus need to give it to the apostles? They would have had it already. There is not one healing performed in the New Testament by anyone other than Jesus, the apostles, or those who were directly chosen by Jesus or the apostles.
Those who claim to be apostles today may claim to have this kind of miracle-working power but there is little (no) evidence of it.
Acts 3:1-2 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mothers womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
Acts 3:6-9 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God:
Compare this to the so-called miracles that we see today. Our would-be apostles supposedly heal people of things like: earaches, back pain, high blood pressure, and other such things that cannot be seen or verified.
This man was lame from his birth. He had never walked. Not only did he have bone problems, he would have had muscle problems as well. Have you ever seen the legs of a person who has been in a wheel chair for a long time? They have no muscles in them. The muscles in their legs would have to be regenerated before they could walk.
In the Bible days, when people wore robes, the change in this man's calves would have been seen immediately. Jesus healed a man with a withered hand. His hand would have been recreated. Again, this would have been obvious to all who were watching. Jesus and the apostles raised the dead. Jesus raised Lazarus after he had been dead for four days. His body was severely decomposed and even stank. These kinds of miracles could not be questioned.
Why don't we see people performing these types of miracles today? Because those who claim to have miracle-working power don't actually have it.
The Bible says this concerning the high priest and other religious leaders of the Jews:
Acts 4:14-16 And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.
It is easy to deny the works of the so-called apostles today. They are often heard about second hand, and the tale seems to grow with the telling. There are researchers, many of them medical doctors, who have tried to verify these so-called miracles. What they find without exception is exaggerations, deception and even outright fraud. They find absolutely no evidence that any true miracles have actually taken place.
Compare that with miracles of the true apostles. Their miracles were performed out in the open for all to see. No one could deny them or speak a word against them.
Don't get me wrong. I believe that God still heals today in answer to our prayers. What I'm saying, however, is that there are no "Apostles" today. There is still "healing" but there are no longer any "healers".
The Bible tells us that there were not only "true" apostles but that there were also "false" apostles. The following passage sends a stern warning of the dire consequences that await those who claim to be apostles but aren't.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Jesus commends the Ephesians for being able to spot these false apostles.
Revelation 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
It's easy to spot false apostles today. Since there are no true apostles today, anyone who claims to be an apostle is a false apostle.
So are there apostles today? In this article, we have seen a number of reasons why there are not. Let's just review them briefly.
1) There are no apostles today because the apostles served as a foundation for the early church only. We should not expect to see apostles today any more than we should expect to see someone laying a building's foundation on the fourth floor.
2) There are no apostles today because they had to have seen Jesus after He rose from the dead. The apostles were to bear witness to the resurrection of Christ. To do this they had to have seen him after he rose from the dead. Paul says that he was the last person to see Jesus. Since no one since Paul has seen Jesus, no one since Paul can be an apostle.
3) There are no apostles today because the apostles were hand-picked by Jesus. Since Jesus isn't appearing to anyone today, He isn't hand-picking anyone either.
4) There are no apostles today because no one today has the miracle-working power of an apostle. Apostles were able to heal any physical condition. No case was too difficult. These healings often involved the miraculous recreation of body parts, and even the resurrection of the dead. No one is manifesting this type of miracle-working power today.
The Bible warns us not to be deceived by false apostles. Since there are no true apostles today, anyone who claims to be an apostle is a false apostle.