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Heavenly Visions

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    THE GIFT OF APOSTLES

    J. N. LOUGHBOROUGH.

    BECAUSE Christ chose twelve apostles as his special witnesses, there are denominations that have concluded that there must be just twelve apostles in the complete organization of gospel church. By looking at the New Testament record, we see that others besides the twelve were selected by the Lord as apostles. In Antioch “the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” Acts 13:2, 3. A little later, these two are spoken of as “apostles.” See Acts 14:14. In writing to the Thessalonians, Paul connects the names of Sylvanus and Timotheus with his own. And finally speaks of all as “apostles.” 1 Thessalonians 1:1 to 2:6.HEVI 20.6

    This gives us sixteen apostles at the same time in the church. When writing to the Philippians, Paul speaks of Epaphroditus as a “messenger.” In writing to the Corinthians, he also speaks of Titus as a “messenger.” Philippians 2:25; 2 Corinthians 8:18-23. In the Revised Version the marginal reading for the word “messenger,” in each of these cases, is “apostle.” In Dean Alford’s translation, and in the German, it is “apostle” in the text. That would give us eighteen apostles at the same time, in the early church. Where is the necessity, then, in claiming that we must have just twelve apostles in forming a true church organization?HEVI 21.1

    From the definition of the word “apostle,”-“one especially raised up of the Lord, and sent forth to lead out in some specific message to the world,”-it would be perfectly proper to speak of Martin Luther of Germany, Zwingle of Switzerland, Farel and Faber of France, and William Tyndale of England, as apostles of the great Reformation of the sixteenth century; so also we might call Wesley and Whitefield apostles of the great movement in proclaiming the doctrine of “free grace;” so also we might speak of the men who, in the Lord’s own time, unknown to one another, were led, in different parts of the world, to the special study of the prophecies, and were thrust out by the accompanying power of the Lord to herald to every missionary station on the globe, and to every seaport of the world, the glorious doctrine of the soon coming of Christ. Starting in various countries, about the year 1832, these leaders in the movement were deeply burdened with the importance of their message, and were heavily weighted with their duty to speed it on its way. By the years 1843 and 1844, these waves of light from various quarters had met in a mighty movement that stirred the moral and religious world as it had not been stirred since the days of Martin Luther. But of that movement we shall have more to say at another time. The Review and Herald, May 23, 1899.HEVI 21.2

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