Though I am no longer a Pastor (not in charge of any church) I am still an ordained clergyman within the Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU) but hold no office within the JBU so the views I express in my writings are not necessarily the views of the JBU!
The latest spiritual fad in some Christian circles seems to be being declared an Apostle or Prophet(ess). This fad merits examination.
The term Apostle(s) (Gk. apostolos/apostoloi) had 2 senses.
1. Broad sense –
‘apostle = messenger’ (Phil. 2:25; 2 Cor. 8.23; Jn. 13:16)
All believers could qualify here so the pride-filled status-hooked edge is nullified.
2. Narrow sense –
Those who qualified in 2 ways. First way, they were long-standing disciples of Jesus & ‘witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection’, meaning they saw the resurrected Jesus (Acts 1.22, 25; 1 Cor. 9.1; 1 Cor. 15:7-9). In the second and related way, they were specially and specifically commissioned as apostles by Jesus NOT SELF-STYLED OR MAN-DESIGNATED (Mt. 10:1-7; Acts 1:2-3; cf. 4:33; Acts 9:5-6; 26:15-17)
The biblical term ‘prophet(s) too had a broad and a narrow sense.
1. Broad sense – one who speaks on the basis of some external, possibly spiritual, influence
(Jeremiah 2:8; Titus 1:12 re Epimenides, Lk. 22:64)
2. Narrow sense – one who, prompted by God, through spontaneous revelation tells forth God’s truth boldly or foretells what God shows. (Lk. 1:67; John 11:51; Acts 19:6).
Apostles and Prophets in the narrow sense were uniquely foundational, pioneering to the origin and development of the early Church (Eph. 2:20; 1 Cor. 3:10-11; 12:28.) Implied in ‘first’ in the expression “first apostles”, 1 Cor. 12:28, is temporal or historical time priority not so much rank or hierarchy.
Apostles and Prophets in the narrow sense are not renewable ministries for today otherwise Paul’s time sequence of ministry offices in 1 Cor. 12:28 is messed up.
Genuine miracles, as confirming signs, were associated almost exclusively with the pioneering apostles (Heb. 2:3-4; 2 Cor. 12:11-12).
Biblically successful ministry today does not require ‘modern apostles and prophets’ because this is contrary to the history of the Church through the post-Apostolic era and is nowhere suggested in Scripture.
Jesus said most categorically “I will build my Church…” (Mt. 16:18) so it is extreme arrogance and a species of blasphemy to think/suggest that God needs modern ‘apostles and prophets’ to make his Church successful today.
Modern ‘Apostles and Prophets’ do not have the legitimate biblical authority to do or say anything beyond the boundaries of Scripture hence the biblical standards of authenticity must be applied to their utterances.
Re prophecy (as foretelling) the test is still 100% accuracy every time or the prophet(ess) is misrepresenting God with his/her lies (Deut. 18:21-22)!!
The modern Church needs to be more biblically discerning of all representatives of Christ and be less feelings/experience-based in its operations…IN THIS REGARD THE CLOSED CANON OF SCRIPTURE IS THE YARDSTICK.
THOSE WHO WOULD BRING NEW (EXTRA-BIBLICAL) REVELATIONS TO THE CHURCH MUST BE TOLD AS WELL THAT BOTH THE CANON AND THE GODHEAD ARE CLOSED.
Rev. Clinton Chisholm, Academic Dean, Caribbean Graduate School of Theology