More On Apostles And Prophets

Q. I read your response to one reader regarding apostles and prophets and I wonder where exactly in scripture it indicates that the requirements to be qualified as an apostle include having seen Him (the risen Christ) post resurrection? You also mentioned that with regards to the prophetic, that nothing new should be expected. I believe you said “A good rule of thumb is, “if it’s new, it can’t be true.”

How then do you explain the tradition within the early church of there having been many prophecies with regard to the timing of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD which the church of the first century heeded and as a consequence most of those in the church at Jerusalem left just before its destruction? Then there was the prophet Agabus who is recorded to have prophesied to Paul personally, regarding what would befall him in Jerusalem. I don’t believe that prior to that prophecy by Agabus that there was any scripture outlining the events which befell Paul.

Are you saying that prophetic utterance can’t be true if it isn’t explicitly in the Bible or are you saying that it can’t be true if it contradicts the scriptures?

A. What I said was the first century church established this qualification for Apostles. But I didn’t say it was from the Bible nor did I say it made the office obsolete after all those who had seen the Lord after His resurrection had died. Had that been the case Paul couldn’t have said what he said in Ephesians 4:11.

I also said that all prophecy since the Lord’s time has to conform to what has already been given. The people who successfully fled Jerusalem did so because they heeded a prophecy the Lord gave them (Luke 21:20-21). The prophecies given to Paul were consistent with Scripture in that God said He would bring the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul was His official messenger (Romans 1:5), and when he decided to go to Jerusalem he was exceeding his mandate. The Lord warned him not to do this through Agabus (Acts 21:10-11), but Paul was determined to go. The prophecy was fulfilled and Paul was never free to travel among the Gentiles again.

There is no reason to deny that the gift of prophecy still exists, and the way you described your personal example is consistent with prophecies the Lord gave about about the Church. But if a prophet said the Lord told him there would be no 2nd coming, for example, we would know not to believe him because it contradicts scripture. So it’s not that all prophecies have to be explicitly contained in Scripture, it’s that they all have to be consistent with it.

Over the years I’ve come to believe the 2 witnesses rule is a good one and whenever I receive a prophecy I always pray for independent confirmation before acting. This helps me avoid going off in all directions whenever I am given “a word form the Lord”.

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