Christ’s church has enjoyed the work of the Apostles for almost 2000 years now. Who are these men? Does the church still have apostles today? Join Robert as he examines what the Bible says about these important people in the church Christ built.
ROBERT >> Apostles and prophets. The apostles and prophets were a part of that church you read about in the Bible. But what are apostles and prophets? And do we have any apostles and prophets alive on earth today? What does the Bible say? Stay tuned. We’ll be back in just a moment.
SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love. ROBERT >> In recent lessons we’ve been talking about that church, the church you read about in your Bible. Not some new church or just any church or some different church, but the church of Christ you read about in the Bible. That church. And we have already learned that that church was built by Christ as he promised in Matthew 16:18. It is a divine church. It is not some human, man-made organization.
We learned about how and when and where that church began: In the city of Jerusalem, with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit with great power, on that Pentecost just after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, when the gospel was preached and people responded in faith and obedience to that gospel. We learned that it was the saved that made up that church, that when people believing on Christ repented and were baptized for the remission of their sins, God added them to that church. And if we hear that same gospel message of Christ and we respond in that same way today, God will add us to that same church.
We also learned that that church is the body of Christ, that Christ is the head of that church, that the church is his body, his spiritual body, that there is one head and one body or church over which Christ is head and over which he is the savior.
Today we want to talk about some of the various roles and functions that the various members of that body would perform in the church. Now, two of those roles or functions, offices in the body of Christ, are the apostles and prophets. And that’s what we want to focus in on today. Let me encourage you to take your Bibles and look with me in Ephesians 4:11. We learn that Ephesians chapter 4 tells us that the body of Christ is one, that the church is one, and that it consists of many different members, how that Christ gave gifts, in verse 7, to various ones in the church, that we all have a gift to be used in the body of Christ, his church.
And among those gifts, look in verse 11. The Bible says, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
So here we see that these leaders in the church, the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, pastors, teachers, were all given to the church by Christ for a specific reason: To equip the church, to give the church what it needed for the work of ministry, to do the service and the work of the church in order that the church might be built up, that it might be strong, that it might be edified in the Lord. And notice that the apostles and the prophets were a part of these who were to equip the church.
If you back up with me to Ephesians 2:19-20, we’ll notice here where the apostles and prophets are mentioned specifically. It says, “Now,therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ
Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
Yes, the church was built upon, the household of God it’s called here, was built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. This he calls the temple of God. Now, the foundation of the apostles and prophets was simply referring to their work, their work of laying the foundation of Christ upon which the church was built.
For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus, 1 Corinthians 3:11.
The apostles and prophets were a part of the foundation only in the sense that they revealed and they confirmed the gospel of Christ. The New Testament of Jesus Christ was delivered to us by these, the apostles and prophets that we read about in the New Testament.
Let’s see a little closer about how that worked out and how the apostles and the prophets functioned in the New Testament church. Let’s notice first of all that the apostles of that church were witnesses of Christ. I want to take us back to Luke 6:12-16, where Jesus chose these apostles to serve in his church. Here we read a list of all of those who Jesus selected; and there were twelve in all.
Read with me Luke chapter 6 beginning in verse 12.“ Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.”
Now, many of these names may be familiar to many of you. You may be quite familiar with the twelve apostles, as we call them; but I wanted you to notice from this passage that these twelve were chosen out from among all of the other disciples of Jesus Christ. They would serve a specific role and function that the other disciples would not serve. These were the apostles of Christ, those that were sent by Christ on a special mission from Christ. They were chosen by Christ. One reason that they were chosen was because they would be witnesses of Christ. Turn with me if you will to the book of Acts.
After Christ’s death, after his resurrection, and just before ascending into heaven, he said these words to his apostles in Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
And so you see, Jesus Christ chose these to be his witnesses, the eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ. Now, before they could receive this power and they could go forth to witness for Christ, some business had to be taken care of.
We read about that in Acts 1:20-26. You see, Judas Iscariot, one of those twelve, had betrayed Christ. In his unbelief, he had turned on Jesus; and having betrayed Christ and realizing what all he had done, he went out, and he hanged himself. And so someone then had to be appointed to take the place of Judas, this apostle of Christ.