The apostles were men, as in members of the human race, but in other ways they were different from other disciples of Jesus Christ. Luke recorded that Jesus “called His disciples to Him; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles” (Luke 6:12-16). About three years later He commissioned them to preach the saving news of Christ in all the earth (Matt 28:18-20). Sometime later, the Lord chose Saul or Paul to be an apostle as well, like “one born out of due time” he would write (1 Cor 15:8). Well, Jesus empowered these apostles with “the Promise of the Father…the Holy Spirit,” to fulfill that commission (Acts 1:4-8). Did the apostles speak, face to face, to every person on earth? No, but they brought the gospel to strategic locations throughout the world and taught others to carry it to the far reaches of the globe.
Acts the second chapter records the apostles receiving “the Promise of the Father,” (i.e., the baptism of the Holy Spirit). “Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).
The antecedent of the pronouns “they…them” is the word “apostles” used in chapter one verse twenty-six. The apostles were the ones who, on Pentecost, were “speaking…the wonderful works of God” in the languages of all that were present that day to hear the first preaching of the gospel (cf. 2:5-13).
The apostles were empowered and inspired by the Holy Spirit to reveal all truth to man. Read these statements made by Jesus specifically to them: “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth…” (John 14:15-17). “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27). “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth…” (John 16:12-13). Again, the antecedent of the underscored pronouns is the twelve apostles minus Judas (cf. Jn 13:23).
Today, the Holy Spirit works with the hearts of men through the writings of the apostles and prophets, in the New Testament. He is not revealing new truth to mankind through other sources. “New” apostles are not needed!
The reason the apostles of Jesus Christ are so important, is that we can look to them for “all truth,” “all things that pertain to life and godliness,” “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (John 16:13; 2 Pet 1:3; Jude 3).
Paul tells us that the “members of the household of God,” (i.e., the church) are “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph 2:19-20). We must take heed how we build on that foundation. For that foundation will not support the doctrines and traditions of men (Matt 7:21; 15:8-9). So, we are to look to the Lord Jesus and His (chosen) apostles for our rule and guide of faith, and living, and the true worship of living God. — Boyd Jennings