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Rob Bowman

Does Ephesians teach that the church always needs living apostles on the earth?

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The major prooftext that Mormons (and others) use to prove that apostles and prophets are needed perpetually in the church is Ephesians 4:11-13. These verses read as follows (all biblical quotations are taken from the KJV):

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Are you familiar with the threefold mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

- Proclaim the Gospel

- Perfect the Saints

- Redeem the Dead

We could not accomplish the threefold mission of the Church without modern revelation and the proper Priesthood keys and authority. Living prophets and apostles are indispensible. If they were necessary in ancient times, why would they not be necessary today?

For additional insight, please see the following talk by President Ezra Taft Benson from the May 1986 Ensign.

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Are you familiar with the threefold mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

- Proclaim the Gospel

- Perfect the Saints

- Redeem the Dead

We could not accomplish the threefold mission of the Church without modern revelation and the proper Priesthood keys and authority. Living prophets and apostles are indispensible. If they were necessary in ancient times, why would they not be necessary today?

For additional insight, please see the following talk by President Ezra Taft Benson from the May 1986 Ensign.

And of course the Great One's"How Will It Be When None More Saith 'I Saw'?" But none of this addresses your argument; which, I confess, is beyond my ability to engage. You may be right that that particular argument for the necessity of living prophets and apostles in the Lord's authorized church is not as strong as we like to think.

Yours under the cautious oaks,

Nathair /|\

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Well, let's start by reading Number 12:6

And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a aprophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a bvision, and will speak unto him in a cdream.

Hmmm.... sounds familiar.

And then Jeremiah 7:25

Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even asent unto you all my servants the bprophets, daily rising up early and sending them:

Hmmm.... so the Lord sends prophets quite often.

In an unorthodox manner, Amos 3:7

Surely the Lord God will do nothing, abut he brevealeth his csecret unto his servants the dprophets.

So has the Lord God stopped doing things? If he doesn't have any more prophets, can he do things? I remember you and I having a discussion earlier about it meaning "he wont' do anything till he reveals his secrets to the prophets", but I'm sure you'll agree that the Lord is still doing things in this world.

As he aspake by the mouth of his holy bprophets, which have been since the world began:

Another verse which says the Lord speaks through prophets, which have always existed.

The church must be built upon apostles and prophets.

And alos this verse, 1 Cor. 12:28

Apostles, prophets, and teachers are needed in the church.

So if God acts today at all (Amos 3:7) he will have apostles, prophets, teacher, miracles, helps, governments, and translators (1 Cor 12:28).

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Well, let's start by reading Number 12:6

Hmmm.... sounds familiar.

And then Jeremiah 7:25

Hmmm.... so the Lord sends prophets quite often.

In an unorthodox manner, Amos 3:7

So has the Lord God stopped doing things? If he doesn't have any more prophets, can he do things? I remember you and I having a discussion earlier about it meaning "he wont' do anything till he reveals his secrets to the prophets", but I'm sure you'll agree that the Lord is still doing things in this world.

Another verse which says the Lord speaks through prophets, which have always existed.

The church must be built upon apostles and prophets.

And alos this verse, 1 Cor. 12:28

Apostles, prophets, and teachers are needed in the church.

So if God acts today at all (Amos 3:7) he will have apostles, prophets, teacher, miracles, helps, governments, and translators (1 Cor 12:28).

This would indicate then that God did nothing for the previous 1700 years before Joseph Smith according to your logic since there were no prophets or apostles on the earth at that time. And yet I see His hand moving in many areas of spiritual progression during medievel and later times without a true prophet being on the earth.

Remember when the Israelites lost the ark of the covenant to the Philistines, the Lord didn't need anyone's help retrieving it. He is quite capable of working among men without an assigned representative or official organization.

There are numerous scriptural (biblical) references regarding the restoration of Israel to it's final glory but unfortunately they don't indicate that it will take place in the manner proposed by Joseph Smith. Mark 12:1-9 especially is indicative of this, paying special attention to verse 6. The final sending of the Son to Israel and his subsequent rejection was a "game changer". Having the foundation laid by the original apostles, the writings of the scriptures, and the incorporation of the gentiles into the family of Israel; the church became reliant upon the Spirit to guide those who truly seek out Christ and His salvation until the times of the gentiles are fulfilled.

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The major prooftext that Mormons (and others) use to prove that apostles and prophets are needed perpetually in the church is Ephesians 4:11-13. These verses read as follows (all biblical quotations are taken from the KJV): . . .

Your posts keep getting ever longer and more unwieldy to reply to, and not really suitable a discussion forum such as this one. This post requires a 20 page essay to reply to, and nobody wants to spend that much time replying to a single post or thread. If you are serious about engaging Mormons in debate, I suggest you reduce your posts to manageable sizes so people will have the inclination to reply to them. I will here take the time to only reply to the opening sentence of your post quoted above:

Your error starts right here. Ephesians 4:11-13 is not "The major prooftext that Mormons use to prove that apostles and prophets are needed perpetually in the church". It is one among many, and it is the cumulation of them that builds a strong case for that belief. The "major proof text," if there is one, is (1) the fact that after the death of Christ the Twelve Apostles became the governing council of the Church, and whenever a serious problem arose in the early church, such as the question of the circumcision of the Gentiles for example, it was taken before that council to be resolved (in spite of the great difficulties of travel and communication that it entailed in those days). And (2) on the death of one of the Apostles (e.g. Judas), someone was appointed to succeed him. These are the strongest indications that that institution was meant to be perpetuated.

In the days of the Apostles the Church had a head, an earthly governing council that relied on revelation and the spirit of prophecy to address the Church's needs and resolve theological or any other kind of problems, and that was the Twelve Apostles. After the death of the Apostles, that head was gone, and the rest of the Church, not having a head to guide it, went in all kinds of directions and not having a standard to follow, witnessed by the fact that a diversity of doctrines, practices, and procedures developed in different parts of the Christian world which later led to controversies about how to resolve them. In the forth and fifth centuries eventually the bishop of Rome emerged as the titular head of the Church for political reasons, because Rome was the capital city of the Roman Empire, and Constantine had made it his business to become the chief patron of the Church at that time. But it was not so in the beginning. The bishops had local jurisdiction over local provinces. No single bishop had jurisdiction over the entire Church. But the fact that the Church needed an earthly head is demonstrated by the fact that when the real ones had gone (the Twelve Apostles), something else had to emerge to take its place. Ephesians 4:11-13 is one among many "proof texts," but in reality is the combination of all of them that builds a strong case for the belief in the perpetuation of the Twelve Apostles in the Church.

With regard to the rest your post, I don't frankly have the time right now to write a 20 page essay refuting every single one of the points you have raised. I may do so one at a time as time goes by. But the above response is sufficient to refute most of your arguments.

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For now, I plan to ignore posts that do not engage the exegetical arguments concerning the meaning of the texts in Ephesians. I was challenged on this forum to address these texts, because supposedly they prove that the church always needs living apostles. I have argued exegetically that these texts do not teach this idea. Any responses that ignore the exegetical issues (say, by appealing to other texts, or by explaining the rationale for modern-day apostles, or by appealing to modern revelation, etc., etc.) have no bearing on the subject of this thread.

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zerinus,

Please see the opening posts in two recent threads started by a couple of your fellow Mormons, maklelan and nackhadlow. Then ask yourself whether you might be guilty of a double standard.

Your posts keep getting ever longer and more unwieldy to reply to, and not really suitable a discussion forum such as this one. This post requires a 20 page essay to reply to, and nobody wants to spend that much time replying to a single post or thread. If you are serious about engaging Mormons in debate, I suggest you reduce your posts to manageable sizes so people will have the inclination to reply to them.... With regard to the rest your post, I don't frankly have the time right now to write a 20 page essay refuting every single one of the points you have raised. I may do so one at a time as time goes by. But the above response is sufficient to refute most of your arguments.

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zerinus,

Please see the opening posts in two recent threads started by a couple of your fellow Mormons, maklelan and nackhadlow. Then ask yourself whether you might be guilty of a double standard.

Neither of them fellows are people whom I take very seriously on this board to be honest.

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The most we can conclude from this text is that the ministry gifts of apostle and prophet were to continue in the church until their role in

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The major prooftext that Mormons (and others) use to prove that apostles and prophets are needed perpetually in the church is Ephesians 4:11-13. These verses read as follows (all biblical quotations are taken from the KJV):

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Neither of them fellows are people whom I take very seriously on this board to be honest.

You should. They are more knowledgeable than most of us.

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Neither of them fellows are people whom I take very seriously on this board to be honest.

That's ok. None of us take you seriously.

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Great post, Rob. While I think your interpretation of Eph. 2:20 is plausible, it requires certain assumptions. You speak of a "foundation" being something in the past or temporary. It seems like you are saying the "foundation" is the teaching, witness, and/or revelation of the original apostles and prophets. However, Eph. 2:20 is a genitive of material, meaning the foundation that consists of the apostles and prophets or made up of the apostles and prophets (like a table of wood). The role of these apostles and prophets is defined in Eph. 3:5: they receive the mysteries and revelations of God. I strongly recommend Raymond Brown, "The Pre-Christian Semitic Concept of 'Mystery'," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 20:4 (1958), which links the OT concept of prophets being ushered into the divine council (e.g. Amos 3:7) with the NT concept of apostles and prophets being ushered into the divine mysteries.

The question in my view becomes:

Is it the office of apostles and prophets that is the foundation or the message of the originals? If the latter, then your view makes complete sense. If the former, then it seems to me that the roles are still necessary today. The difference is that the text says the apostles and prophets themselves make up the foundation. The latter one seems a bit ad hoc.

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And of course the Great One's"How Will It Be When None More Saith 'I Saw'?" But none of this addresses your argument; which, I confess, is beyond my ability to engage. You may be right that that particular argument for the necessity of living prophets and apostles in the Lord's authorized church is not as strong as we like to think.

Yours under the cautious oaks,

Nathair /|\

Hey thanks for prooviding that link. :P;)

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That's ok. None of us take you seriously.

Those that matter do! :P

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Does Ephesians teach that the church always needs living apostles on the earth?

The answer is yes. Thank you for asking.

Your attempt to explain away the plain meaning of the passage in question is an entertaing one; but all it really proves is that "religious research" is, in certain quarters, merely a euphemism for "polemical advocacy."

Regards,

Pahoran

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In Ephesians 4:11-13, the action or state cannot be that expressed by the verb

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In verse 12 there are three phrases that express an action: (12a)

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zerinus,

Paul explicitly says that it is by the saints doing the work of the ministry that the church is edified. The five kinds of ministry people equip the saints; the saints do the work of the ministry; and the work of the ministry builds up the church. One does not need all five kinds of ministry people living today for the church to continue being built up.

I don't have a problem with any of the translations you quoted.

That is obviously an illogical way if interpreting those verses. The

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WalkerW,

Thank you the compliment and for the serious and thoughtful response.

Construing "the foundation of the apostles and prophets" in Ephesians 2:20 as a genitive of material is a plausible and contextually meaningful view; I think it's probably the best way of construing the genitive. I don't think this exegesis is incompatible with mine, however. The "holy temple" is composed of Christ Jesus as the "cornerstone," the apostles and prophets as the "foundation," and other believers evidently as stones in the edifice of the building. Christ is in heaven, but this doesn't prevent him from continuing to be the cornerstone. The apostles and prophets have passed away and (in my understanding) are with Christ awaiting the coming resurrection, but they have served their role as the foundation. That role is not merely or exclusively their teaching, witness, and revelation, but historically their role as, for the most part, the very first believers in Christ following his death and resurrection. It is both/and, not either/or, with regard to these facets of their role as the foundation. In any case, they are the foundation of the church because they were those early believers through whom Christ made known his resurrection and the truths on which the church's existence depends. Thus, I see no problem in affirming that the apostles and prophets themselves, and not merely their teaching, is the foundation of the church. Likewise, Christ himself, not merely his sacrificial death and resurrection to immortality, is the cornerstone of the church, but of course he is that cornerstone because he did those things for us.

Ephesians 3:5 says nothing to indicate that more mysteries and revelations will continue to be delivered to the church via future generations of apostles and prophets. The text speaks of a specific mystery as having been revealed through those foundational ministry persons. If we knew that Christ had revelations to deliver to us today, we would know that such persons are needed on the earth today; but the text itself does not establish that need.

Thanks again.

Great post, Rob. While I think your interpretation of Eph. 2:20 is plausible, it requires certain assumptions. You speak of a "foundation" being something in the past or temporary. It seems like you are saying the "foundation" is the teaching, witness, and/or revelation of the original apostles and prophets. However, Eph. 2:20 is a genitive of material, meaning the foundation that consists of the apostles and prophets or made up of the apostles and prophets (like a table of wood). The role of these apostles and prophets is defined in Eph. 3:5: they receive the mysteries and revelations of God. I strongly recommend Raymond Brown, "The Pre-Christian Semitic Concept of 'Mystery'," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 20:4 (1958), which links the OT concept of prophets being ushered into the divine council (e.g. Amos 3:7) with the NT concept of apostles and prophets being ushered into the divine mysteries.

The question in my view becomes:

Is it the office of apostles and prophets that is the foundation or the message of the originals? If the latter, then your view makes complete sense. If the former, then it seems to me that the roles are still necessary today. The difference is that the text says the apostles and prophets themselves make up the foundation. The latter one seems a bit ad hoc.

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Vance,

You wrote:

Why would he need to continually give those offices after he already gave them? Even if you presume that he was not talking about offices, which he clearly was, but rather individuals, what is to preclude Him from giving again?... Yeah, so the organizational structure of the church with apostles, etc, was completed. Set in stone if you will. And with its disappearance, what? Christ is precluded from restoring it?

This is the wrong question. Mormons routinely cite these verses to prove that we need apostles and prophets today. I have explained why these verses prove no such thing. Asking what is to preclude Christ from giving such persons to the church again misses the point.

You wrote:

Actually the conjuction "and" at the beginning of vs.11 doesn't require the gifts that follow to have been given "after he ascended to heaven". It should be obvious that the apostles were called prior to His ascension, and that He organized His church with apostles, etc, PRIOR to His ascension.

I think it is rather obvious that the gift given AFTER His ascension was the Holy Ghost (see vs.3). This is supported by other verses as well.

So the context isn't what you have tried to construct.

Verse 8 uses the plural term "gifts," not the singular "gift." "The measure of Christ's gift" in verse 7 refers to the gift Christ gives each person ("to each one of us grace was given"), which varies from person to person (see the very similar language Paul uses in Romans 12:6). As I have explained elsewhere, although Christ called men to be his apostles prior to his death and resurrection, they didn't begin functioning as apostles in the full sense until after his ascension. Therefore, I think my exegesis of Ephesians 4:7-11 holds up rather well.

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Vance,

It won't help your case to argue that the clause beginning with "until" in verse 13 connects to all three of the phrases in verse 12. Even if that is so, it doesn't mean that the ministries of all five types mentioned in verse 11 must have living representatives on the earth for the church to function or grow.

You asked:

So the church that has a foundation can continue to stand when the foundation is ripped out from under it?

No. But no one can do that (cf. Matt. 16:18). The foundation of the apostles and prophets has been laid, and the church continues to grow and be built up on that foundation.

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It is important to understand, then, that the apostles and prophets remain the foundation of the Christian church. That function never ends, even though the apostles and prophets themselves died. We do not need apostles and prophets living on the earth today for the church to rest on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Indeed, as I have explained, Paul

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