First Apostles

06:10


'God has appointed these in the church: first apostles...' (1 Corinthians 12:28). The Bible clearly states that God has set the apostles first in the church, but what exactly does that mean?

Some have argued that apostles had unquestionable and infallible authority (and so they also argue that there couldn't be any apostles today if we are to uphold the priciple of Sola Scriptura). However, this certainly doesn't follow from the text in question. 1 Corinthians 12:28 goes on to say 'second prophets, third teachers'. This is not a passage that sets up the apostleship in a highly exalted unique position over against the rest of the Church, but rather one that speaks of different positions and different ministries within the Church.

Others, such as D.A. Carson, have argued that this passage is referring to the chronological order in which various ministries and gifts appeared in the history of the Church. But this doesn't stack up either; the verse places 'varieties of tongues' in the last position, yet tongues were given at the founding of the Church on the day of Pentecost, whereas prophets and teachers (the 'second' and 'third') are not mentioned until much later in the book of Acts. So it cannot be a chronological list.

What then does it mean? F.F. Bruce speaks for many prominent commentators when he states that this verse marks out apostles, prophets and teachers 'as exercising, in Paul's estimation, the three most important ministries'. 'First apostles' speaks of the importance of the apostleship, whilst 'second prophets, third teachers' shows that the apostles are not alone in their importance and authority.

As a result, in the Apostolic Church we believe that the Apostle is 'the first office in church government' (Constitution, 1.1.1.1), yet they are not the only office in church government; after all, our Tenet states 'Church government by apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders and deacons.'

As the first office in Church government, the apostleship play an important role. In the words of the catechism, the apostleship 'reveals the mind of God in connection with the government of the Church'. The Apostleship functions in a way that the pastorate doesn't, bringing insight that no one else can. And so the apostleship is necessary for the good governance of the Church. God has set 'first apostles' and so we need 'first apostles'.

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The Tenets of the Apostolic Church


The Unity of the Godhead, and Trinity of the Persons therein.

The utter depravity of human nature, the necessity for repentance and regeneration and the eternal doom of the finally impenitent.

The virgin birth, sinless life, atoning death, triumphant resurrection, ascension, and abiding intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ; His second coming, and millennial reign upon earth.

Justification and Sanctification of the believer through the finished work of Christ.

The Baptism of the Holy Ghost for believers, with signs following.

The nine gifts of the Holy Ghost for the edification, exhortation and comfort of the Church, which is the body of Christ.

The Sacraments of Baptism by immersion and of the Lord's Supper.

The Divine inspiration and authority of the Holy Scriptures.

Church government by apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders and deacons.

The possibility of falling from grace.

The obligatory nature of tithes and offerings.