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“We have not followed cunningly devised fables.”
2 Peter 1:16
The apostles were the men separated by God to be the infallible recorders of the gospel, and he confirmed their heavenly authority to deliver his message by the supernatural gifts of the Holy Ghost.
The gospel of Christ is not a mere invention of men, but the revelation of God given to men through the divinely chosen apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, men who were “eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
It was the purpose and responsibility of the apostles to preach Christ unto men, and make him known as God’s Messiah. The apostles were to make known the mystery of Christ’s incarnation and obedience. They were responsible to declare his power as God our Savior.
Those divinely appointed apostles were sent forth into the world in the name of King Jesus, under his royal authority, to press upon fallen sinners the claims of his sovereign Lordship, calling upon sinners to bow down and worship him, believing the gospel.
Being ordained of God as the apostles of Christ, these men were identified by special privileges; and their authority was confirmed by supernatural signs. Our Lord chose twelve apostles, and only twelve, to make known to his church the full revelation of God. Before the early church would receive a man as an apostle of Christ, he had to meet three qualifications.
1. He had to be a man who had seen Christ in the flesh.
2. He had to be a man who received the gospel directly from Christ himself.
3. He had to be a man who had seen Christ in the flesh after his resurrection.
And there was another mark of an apostle, identifying him as God’s infallible penman. — He had to be a man who possessed and was able to communicate to others the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Peter tells us in our text that he, James, and John had even greater privileges than these. They were eye-witnesses of Christ’s transfiguration. They saw his glory! They heard the voice of God from heaven, proclaiming Christ to be the Son of God. They saw Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets, as it were, standing by Christ, pointing to him as the fulfilment of their words.
No Apostles Today
But this special, supernatural revelation of God was complete in one generation; and the gifts confirming that revelation ceased with that generation. — The perfect Word of God has come, and the temporary gifts of the Holy Spirit have ceased (1 Corinthians 13:9-10).
When John, the last apostle, died, so died the apostolic gifts, for only apostles could communicate those gifts. Philip had the gifts of the Spirit; but he could not give those gifts to anyone else, because only an apostle had that power (Acts 8:14-17).