By Carl Kline

     Apostles and Prophets appear in Scripture five times; four of those times are in Paul’s Epistles.

      Ephesians 2:19-20: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with he saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of Apostles and Prophets , Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone.”

      The household of God is built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets. Exactly who are these Apostles and Prophets? Can you name some? We would probably think of such men as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, or some other Old Testament Prophet, and Peter, John, James or others of the Twelve.

      Please notice though, in our list, we quite naturally place the Prophets before the Apostles. The Bible, however, places the Apostles before the Prophets. Does it really matter?

      Ephesians 3:4-5: “Whereby when we read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is NOW revealed unto His holy Apostles and Prophets by the Spirit.”

      Notice that “the Mystery” is NOW revealed to the “Apostles and the Prophets” upon whom is built the household of God. This rules out the Old Testament Prophets who preceded the Apostles. The Prophets in view here are Prophets who received their office AFTER the Apostles. This seems to be expressed in  1 Corinthians 12:28a: “And God hath set some in the church, FIRST Apostles, SECONDARILY Prophets, and THIRDLY teachers.”

      Some might feel that this refers to the order of importance or  rank rather than order of time. Let us look at another verse to see WHEN the offices of Apostles and Prophets for the Church, the Body of Christ came into being.

      Ephesians 4:8 and 11: “Wherefore He saith when He ascended up on high. He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. And He gave some, Apostles; and some Prophets; and some Evangelists; and some Pastors and Teachers.”

      Now, WHEN did the Apostles and Prophets in view here, receive their offices? AFTER the ascension! The first thing He did after His ascension was to “take captivity captive,” and then at some time thereafter, He gave these gifts of Apostles and Prophets.

      Did Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, or others become Prophets BEFORE or AFTER the ascension? It’s BEFORE so they are not the Prophets in view here.

      Did Peter, James, John or others of the Twelve become Apostles BEFORE or AFTER the ascension?  It’s BEFORE so they are not the Apostles in view here either. The gifts of Apostle and Prophet for the Church, the Body of Christ, came AFTER the ascension.

      Did Paul and Barnabas become Apostles BEFORE or AFTER the ascension? See Acts 13:1-4. It’s AFTER. About A.D. 45, the Holy Spirit separated and called Paul and Barnabas to the work (vs. 2). They were sent forth by the Holy Spirit (an Apostle is one who is sent with a message).

      Did Judas and Silas become Prophets BEFORE or AFTER the ascension (Acts 15:32)?  AFTER, no doubt.

      We see then, that there were those who were Prophets and Apostles BEFORE the ascension. We see also that there were  Apostles and Prophets AFTER the ascension.

      Our conclusion is that ONLY the writings of the Apostle Paul qualify as those of an Apostle who became an Apostle AFTER the ascension. That might be a new thought to you, so let’s look at some verses on the claims of the Apostle Paul.

      1 Corinthians 3:10: “According to the grace of God which was given unto me, as a wise master builder. I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.  But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.”

      Paul does not say: They laid the foundation, or We laid the foundation. NO, it is I, Paul who laid it.

      Colossians 1:24-25: “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His Body’s sake, which is the Church: whereof I AM made a minister, according to the Dispensation of God which is given to ME for you, to FULFILL the Word of God.”

      Notice again the I and ME, not they or we. It was Paul alone to whom the truth for the Body of Christ was revealed. It was also FULFILLED (completed) by the writings of Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles. Body truth, from beginning to end was revealed to and through the Apostle Paul.

      Peter, who was God’s spokesman at Pentecost, found some things in Paul’s writings hard to understand.

      2 Peter 3:15-16a: “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his Epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood.”

      If the Peter’s message to Israel at Pentecost was the same as Paul’s message to the Body of Christ, why did he find Paul’s writings hard to understand?

      If the Apostles all had the same teaching, why did they not share in the overseeing of all the churches?

      2 Corinthians 11:28: “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of ALL the churches.”

      The care of ALL the churches was the sole responsibility of Paul. God had Twelve Apostles to minister to the twelve tribes of Israel (Mt. 19:2). He has ONE Apostle for the ONE BODY of Christ.

      At the council meeting in Jerusalem, about A.D. 50, the leaders of the Twelve Apostles gave up any claim to world evangelism when the THREE of them agreed that Paul and Barnabas should go to the nations  (heathen), and they would confine their ministry to the circumcision (Jews) (Gal. 2:9). God has, for this present age, revealed His Word thorough the preaching committed to Paul.

      Titus 12:2-3: “In hope of Eternal life, which God, Who cannot lie, promised before the world began; but hath in due time manifested His Word through preaching which is committed unto ME according to the commandment of God our Savior.

      Not only has God manifested His Word through the preaching of Paul, but He has commanded it to the members of the Church the Body of Christ.