Proof Texts for Apostolic Authority
Those who feel uncomfortable with apostolic authority would do well to reexamine four clear biblical proof texts.
The first is Ephesians 4:11: “And [Jesus] Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.” It is curious that many Christian leaders who are comfortable with the offices of evangelist and pastor and teacher imagine that the two others mentioned in the same sentence, apostles and prophets, should be relegated to bygone days.
The second is Ephesians 2:20: “[The household of God is] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.” Some would argue that these apostles and prophets completed their task of laying the foundation of the Church in the first century or two. Such is a form of cessationism.
The third is 1 Corinthians 12:28: “And 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.” Most of those who contend that apostles and prophets are not for today would not want to go on to say that other gifts such as teachers, miracles, healings, helps, administrations, and tongues are not for today either. It seems a bit inconsistent.
However, the clearest Scripture related to the duration of the offices of apostle and prophet comes right after the list of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in Ephesians 4:11. The Bible goes on to say that the purpose of these five offices is to equip “the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph. 4:12). How long will they be needed? “Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). Unless someone believes that we have actually reached that point, it is difficult to suppose that we no longer need the ministry of apostles and prophets.