Apostles Today and Sola Scriptura - Part 2

So, how can we both maintain that Scripture is our ultimate authority and yet also believe that there are apostles in the church today. Evidently the answer has to do with our understanding of what an apostle is. If we believe that both are true, then we cannot agree with Grudem that the words of an apostle are the very words of God.

In fact, we can see this in the New Testament itself, where we find mention of about 23 apostles. Yet only a handful of these were involved in the writing of Scripture. In fact, we do not have a record of a single word said by a number of Biblical apostles! If we did suddenly find a genuine letter written by one of the biblical apostles, we would not add it to the New Testament (this would be a denial of both God's preservation of Scripture and of the sufficiency of Scripture). That means we could not consider such a letter to contain the very words of God (or else it would be Scripture). Paul wrote more than two letters to the Corinthians, yet only the two included in our Bibles are the very words of God.

So, this means that Grudem's view of an apostle won't do. What, then, is the alternative?

Rather than apostles who are the equivalent of Scripture, what we find is that apostles are subject to Scripture. Scripture is the authority even over the apostles. This is biblical. Timothy is identified as an apostle (1 Thess 2:6; cf 1 Thess 1:1), yet Paul instructs him to 'hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me' (2 Tim 1:13) and to 'preach the word!' (2 Tim 4:2). Timothy was not supposed to rely on his own words as an apostle - on the contrary, he was to turn to a higher authority - the Scriptures. He was to hold on to the biblical teaching which he had received (he didn't have some innate knowledge of the truth), and he was to preach the word, not his own thoughts.

In this way Timothy is an important model of apostolic ministry. The apostles are subject to the word of God!

More to come ...