Apostles Equip the Church with Doctrine and Revelation:
God restored the office of apostle (traveling elder and traveling deacon) to the Church in 1948, so this issue is very important to the Church.
- The apostles' doctrine--the church is to abide continually in this doctrine:
- Acts 2:42-43 "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles."
- The apostles receive the revelation and equip the Body with it:
- Matthew 16:17 "And Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father which is in heaven."
- To understand the apostles' doctrine, even when the apostles are right there teaching it to us, we need the Holy Spirit of revelation.
- Ephesians 1:17 "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:"
- Things hidden in ages past are now being revealed to the apostles and prophets:
- Ephesians 3:5 "Which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;"
- There will always be those who cause divisions. These were people bringing in doctrines that were not the apostles' doctrine. It might be noted that the word, heresy, means "dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims" in the original Greek:
- Romans 16:17 "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
- The apostles declare to the churches those things that have been revealed to them:
- 1 John 1:3-5 "That which we have seen and heard declare we to you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we to you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."
- The apostles are not infallible and that they correct each other. They are in submission to each other and each apostle is under the government of all the other apostles:
- Galatians 2:11-15 "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,"
- One of the functions of the apostles is to make it so the believers are not blown around by winds of doctrine. The apostles are united in ministry and in doctrine. None of them teaches a variant doctrine, and they discipline themselves:
- Ephesians 4:14 "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;"
- The apostles delivered the decrees. They traveled and delivered the revelation and established it in the local churches:
- Acts 16:4-5 "And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily."
- The apostles determine doctrine and how they make sure that everyone is teaching the same doctrine once it has been revealed. It also shows that a single apostle ought not consider himself able to establish doctrine on his own. Note how the spiritual gifts in apostles gave the final answer. Then, the doctrine was entrusted to faithful men and carried to the local elders who must be apt to teach--the must be able to cause the people to understand the doctrine. This is the pattern as it stands today:
- Acts 15:1-31 "And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy to all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said to them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did to us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken to me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known to God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write to them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting to the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation."
- The apostles equip the church with revelation of the doctrine and the meaning of the Scripture:
- Ephesians 1:8-9 "Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known to us [the apostles] the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:"
- The revelation is given to the apostles by supernatural means, but the local church at Corinth was unable to accept it because of their spiritual immaturity. No one was able to understand these parts of Scripture until they were revealed to the apostles.
- 1 Corinthians 2:6-3:2 "Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able."
- Paul speaks of his gospel, and we can be sure from other Scripture that Paul's gospel was the same as the gospel of all the other apostles:
- Romans 2:16 "In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my [Paul's] gospel."
- Romans 16:25 "Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,"
- The revelation of the meaning of Scripture is not given to one person. If it is revelation, it is given to all the apostles. Private interpretation is certainly not God's method by which revelation is given to a local elder or deacon or member of the church. They must have had theologians in that day just like they have them today:
- 1 Peter 1:16-21 "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son [hwee-os], in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
- Revelation is given a little at a time. Many times, God has tried to move through people over the centuries, and they went so and so far, then claimed to have it all. Often, what they had was truth mixed with speculation. By their stubborn attitude, they forced God to find someone else who was not so puffed up in their thinking:
- Isaiah 28:9-10 "Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:"
- The doctrine is not given by man but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Only God can reveal the interpretation of Scripture:
- Galatians 1:11-12 "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."
- Sometimes, the apostles would give advice which was not revelation as in 1 Corinthians 7:6-9, and sometimes, the apostles would teach the revelation:
- 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 "And to the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife."
- The book of Revelation is an example of a something that God revealed to the apostle through a vision alone. Note that the revelation was given to an apostle.
- Paul had to go and confirm that the revelation he had been given was correct. This is still the pattern today:
- Galatians 1:15-18 "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days."
- Galatians 2:1 "Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also."
- Paul assigned Timothy to work in Ephesus to guard against corrupt doctrine:
- 1 Timothy 1:3-4 "As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do."
- Paul taught the people to withdraw themselves from anyone who teaches a doctrine other than the apostles' doctrine.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:6 "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us."
Last updated: Sep, 2011
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