Are there apostles and prophets today?
According to certain false doctrine, the foundation of apostles and prophets had already been laid once for all during the apostolic period and the same foundation cannot be laid time and again. Please note that Paul wrote to the saints in Ephesus that they were built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets who were indeed responsible for preaching the gospel to them, and for their further spiritual growth. Paul in the same Epistle to the Ephesians says that Christ gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Eph.4: 10-12). The same Paul writes to the Corinthians, God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues (I Cor.12: 28).
Paul had a vision of the body of Christ, which consisted of all these ministers. Today, some false teachers present a truncated body of Christ i.e. a body sans apostles and prophets, and says that the signs and wonders were mainly confined to the apostolic age. Please note that the people of God are built on the same foundation of apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ being the Chief Corner Stone. However, the offices of these two kinds of ministers i.e. apostles and prophets are occupied by those members of the body of Christ who live today. An office can never be kept vacant. For instance, different people are occupying the office of the President or the Prime Minister of a nation during different periods. In our midst, there are indeed apostles and prophets whom you may not recognize. The same Holy Spirit appoints appropriate persons to these ministries.
According to these teachers, the qualification for an apostle was his knowing the Lord after the flesh as per 2 Cor.5: 16. If knowing the Lord according to the flesh was the only qualification of an apostle, what about the apostles who knew Him in the Spirit after His ascension into the heaven? Let these false teachers read the church history to know about the apostles raised by God during different periods. If they try to argue that writing of the Epistles was also a qualification of an apostle, then what about other apostles like Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Simon the Zealot who had not written a single epistle?
Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote many epistles to the churches, which existed in those days, considering the peculiar problems faced by them, and not out of his experience of knowing the Lord after the flesh. However, the four gospels were written by the other 4 apostles as inspired by the Holy Spirit, giving an account of what they had seen and heard as eyewitnesses to the earthly life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Except those 4 gospels, nobody else after them or even Paul did write any further gospel. These days, no apostle is supposed to write another gospel. However, the apostles and prophets who are the foundation of the body of Christ are inspired by the same Holy Spirit to counsel and warn the churches of God today. If the present day ministers of God or the people of God had listened to them, the churches would not have found themselves in such a despicable situation as it is today. Their counsels and warnings cannot be termed as the present Word or any new revelation.
These days, we hardly recognize the apostles appointed by God in the first place, the prophets in the second place and the teachers in the third place. It is a pity that we recognize only the evangelists, the pastors and the ministries of healing and miracles, which are assigned a place just below the three kinds of ministers. We have changed the order of preference set by the Holy Spirit arbitrarily today.
The Body of Christ was founded on the apostles and prophets, the day the Church was born on the day of Pentecost. It could not be founded after the birth of the Church.
The day the Church was born, it was founded on the apostles and prophets. It was the only foundation, Jesus Christ being the Chief Corner Stone. At the time of laying the foundation, the Founder of the Church, the Holy Spirit, laid the foundation on the apostles and prophets. Nobody can name those apostles and prophets whom God in mind at the time of laying the foundation of the Church? Yes, of course, we know the apostles like Paul, Peter, James, Mark, Luke, John, Mathew, etc. Can we know the mind of the Divine Builder Who had planned the foundation and construction of the Church, the Body of Christ? The apostles are always the apostles. The prophets are always the prophets. They are not only the apostles and prophets who entered glory but also also the living apostles and prophets who exist today; they also include the apostles and prophets who will take birth in this world.
The apostles and prophets of today have not received any other new revelation from God. They see the Body of Christ through their spiritual eyes in the Pauline epistles. AND THEY CARRY ON THE SAME MINISTRIES/OFFCES OF APOSTLES AND PROPHETS TODAY, CONFIRMING AND INTERPRETING THE EPISTLES OF PAUL, PETER, etc.
The Scripture writing was not the only qualification for an apostle. The apostles and prophets have to deal with the plethora of false doctrines, and the doctrines of other innumerable religions. The apostles have to preach the gospel in the places not reached by the gospel and to establish the churches.
Paul, while writing to the Corinthians, did not say that the Church was founded on himself, or the apostles who lived along with him. He mentioned that God hath set apostles, in the first place, in the Body of Christ. The same Body of Christ still continues to function with the same foundation of the apostles and prophets. The Holy Spirit has not named any particular apostle or apostles in the epistles.
Another point raised by these teachers is that the Church, the Body of Christ was founded on the Old Testament prophets and the apostles of the Lord Who had been with the Lord physically. The Holy Spirit taught to me a parable of building a house in this regard. This parable is given below:
I am building my house by laying a foundation. I have to dig my land for laying the foundation. I cannot dig the foundation already laid by somebody else. Similarly, the house under the Old Covenant was built by God with the foundation of Law. Moses was faithful in his house as a servant. But, another house was built by God with Christ as a Son over His own house; whose house are we......(Heb.3:3-6). God did not demolish the earlier house for building this new house. God, the Builder, laid a new foundation for this House on the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the Chief Corner Stone. Though the Old Testament prophets had the wonderful revelation of Christ and His Body, they did not handle the Word of Life. But we, the House of God under the New Testament do handle the Word of Life.
When I counted the number of apostles (for instance) in the N. T. it was considerably more than 12 or 13! I discovered at least Three orders of apostles.
First Order: Jesus Christ;
Second Order: Those handpicked, personally taught and trained disciples (numbering 12 plus 70);
Third Order: Those disciples who were given by God to the Church. Obviously Second Order and Third Order overlapped for a time until all of the handpicked apostles had died, but Third Order Apostles will continue in the Church as long as the Church continues in the earth. Today they are called "missionaries" in many denominations, but if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, etc.... However, what we want to see is the demonstration of apostolic and prophetic power fully restored in these days.
And of prophets in the N.T., there is considerable evidence, not the least of which is the reference to the prophets in the church at Antioch (Acts 131-2) who fasted, prayed, and laid hands on Barnabas and Saul to send them out by the Holy Spirit. Modern prophets are called troublemakers in assemblies where they attempt to exercise their gifts and calling. But pastors, elders, presbyters, bishops, deacons, and other gifted ministers, will need to eventually submit to the prophet's message for edification.
It is time that those who are called of God as Apostles and Prophets to get real and get honest before God. They need to comprehend the biblical world view which seeks to know the Truth regardless as to its effect on their previously held perceptions of "truth". So much is outright error, and truth mixed with error. So little is pure Truth. Let the Prophets speak Truth, and let the Apostles receive it. Now is the time!