- Parent Category: FAQs
- Category: Bible Questions and answers about the Church
- Published on Wednesday, 16 February 2011 22:08
It has been said there are two orders of apostles, one of the Lord’s earthly ministry (Matthew 10; Mark 3.; Luke 9), and another of His heavenly (Ephesians 4:11). Please define the difference, if any?
Of course, Pentecost made a great difference to all believers. They had “life” before, now they had it “more abundantly” (see John io. xo). Before, they had been individual believers united in a common love and fealty to the same Master. Now their relationship both to Him and to one another had become profoundly modified. During the Lord’s ministry, if we except the special mission in Matthew 10, when they received a special enduement of power (v. i), and a unique commission (v. 6), the apostles came little into prominence. It was the Lord who led and worked; they followed and learned of Him. Now they became perpetually “endued with power from on high,” subject to the leading of the Holy Spirit. They were now united to Christ as members of His Body, and for the first time were indwelt by that Spirit. But that the eleven apostles of the Lord’s earthly ministry remained, or ever were, a different apostolic order to Paul, and perhaps two or three others mentioned in the Acts has, I believe, no scriptural authority whatever. We know that the eleven apostles of the original twelve, and Matthias, all passed through Pentecost, and Paul was no doubt Spirit-baptised later at his conversion. Pentecost certainly meant for the twelve a vast accession of apostolic power, so that it is quite permissible to view them as given by the risen Christ. “He gave some apostles,” though they existed before potentially as apostles. They all became partakers of Ephesian standing and blessing. Now, as he had advised them, the sphere of their action was greatly widened, for they were sent “to preach the gospel to every creature.” It seems to me entirely gratuitous and mistaken to assume that Peter and his ten fellow-apostles were not in the will of God in the appointment of Matthias. No hint of this is given in the passage or subsequently. The Lord had given them “Holy Spirit” (John 20:22) to carry them over the interval between His resurrection and Pentecost—the true “giving of the Holy Spirit.” They appointed him on the authority of the Scriptures, after prayerful exercise before God, appealing to Him to dispose the lot, and Matthias is recognised in Acts 2:14 as completing the original member of the apostles. Not only so, but Paul himself did not acknowledge any difference. He recognised the twelve as “those who were apostles before him” (Galatians 1:17), and if he insists on his having received his call and gospel from the Lord Himself, it was only to claim equality with the others, but in no way superiority. Some attach great importance to his word, “My gospel,” but this proves nothing, as he tells us in Galatians 1:6-9, that there was only one true gospel, and in chap. 2. 2, that on his return to Jerusalem he checked the gospel he had been preaching with that of the apostles there, lest he had in any way deviated from the true gospel, which was theirs, before it was his. “In conference,” he is able to affirm, “they added nothing to me,” though they recognised that his special mission was to the Gentiles. So clear is this in this chapter that these mistaken teachers have imagined a theory to account for it that Paul got under Jewish influence at Jerusalem (by that right hand of fellowship given to him by Peter and James and John), and was absolutely switched off his true character of testimony. Certainly this would be strange, considering that in the same context he tells us that he openly withstood his fellow-apostle for Judaising at Antioch. That such a theory should be necessary to uphold their position, is surely enough to demonstrate its unsoundness.