In the historical development of Christianity, the apostleship is next to the life, teaching, miracles, sacrificial atonement, and victorious resurrection of Jesus the Christ more than any others. This is the complement of the ministry among men of our Lord, and is essential to complete that which He “began to do and to teach”. Jesus instituted the apostolic office with great care, and buttressed it with His own personal choice and education of the men to fill it on the one side, and with the special endowment of the Holy Spirit on the other.
This office is the sole means of bringing the incarnate life and the death of the Son of God into contact with individual minds and hearts from the day of His ascension to the remotest ages, even to the end of time. From Jesus these men “received grace and apostleship for the obedience of faith among all nations for His name.” Romans 1:5; 16:26 The Apostles were/are the specially endowed ambassadors of Christ who were given the “ministry of reconciliation”. 2 Corinthians 5:18, 20 To them was given the plenary authority to transact business in this world for the King in the Heavens, in the inauguration of His kingdom on earth and the establishment of it, so that it might be an everlasting kingdom, break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms, and by peaceful conquest work its way to universal dominion!!
From its origin, the apostolic office was and is extraordinary, of the highest rank and dignity, and was the office designated to establish all other appointments of Christ’s kingdom on this earth. A clear conception of it lies at the foundation of a correct understanding of the Gospel, the church, and its polity!! As is usual, without question, these men Met certain qualifications none else could meet.
The word “apostle” means one who is sent, a missionary. It was used in referring to Christ, of those sent by Christ, and of those sent by the church. Hebrews 3:1; Matthew 10:2; Acts 4:14; Philippians 1:25 Limited to the apostolic Office, there were fifteen men given this appellation. They were appointed by Christ, Himself, with absolute power to govern His church; to lead by the keys given them with authority to admit or exclude; they were also guided by His perpetual inspiration, so that ALL their moral and religious teachings was absolutely and infallibly true; there are NO apostles living, needed, or directing His church, today!! The apostolic office represented the ONLY monarchial office in the Churches of Christ and no parallel can be found!! Their authority is the exact counterpoise to that democratic tendency which runs rampant in the Church, today!! They had no successors!!
The apostles were the witnesses!! In order to be a witness, one must have personal knowledge of the things concerning which they bore testimony. They must have seen, heard, handled, been instructed and commissioned by Christ; particularly, they must have seen Him after He was known to be dead, that they might be witnesses of His resurrection. Acts 1 and 2 They had to be so fully supervised and controlled by the Holy Spirit so NO mistake in “handing down the word of truth” could ever be found. Every utterance, teaching, remembrance, expression of truth into which they were guided by the Spirit demanded signs, wonders, and mighty deeds to approve their message!! John 14:26;16:13; 2 Corinthians 12:12 The assumption of apostolic authority is the germ of the most dangerous ecclesiasticism possible and the most intolerant tyranny ever to afflict the church of the living God, in the past and today!!