Does God Send New Apostles And Prophets Today?
After New Testament revelation was completed, men rose up claiming to be new apostles and prophets. Until this very hour such claims are made. Does God send new apostles and prophets with new prophecies, new knowledge, and new revelations today?
1 Corinthians 12-14 is a unit discussing the use of miraculous gifts by the brethren at Corinth. All such gifts were God’s means of revealing and confirming the truth of the gospel of Christ. This message was not given instantly, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, but rather it was revealed little by little, line by line, part by part, until it was completed over a period of time.
In chapter 12 Paul listed many miraculous gifts given in the first century as necessary for the process of divine revelation including prophecy, tongues (speaking foreign languages without study), and knowledge. The latter three are mentioned again in chapter 13 as representing the entire list introduced in chapter 12.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Notice that verse 9 refers to the gifts of knowledge and prophecy, two of the three miraculous gifts mentioned in verse 8, again as representative of all such gifts.
All the gifts were to end “when that which is perfect is come.” “That which is perfect” is the completion of something which was “in part,” something being revealed part by part. The Holy Spirit guided Paul to explain that when the full revelation would be completed, the process of revealing truth part by part would cease. When did those miraculous gifts finish their purpose and end? The process of divine revelation was completed by the end of the first century.
We have the complete revelation in the New Testament today. No one today has the miraculous power to prophesy. No one today has the miraculous gift to preach in foreign languages without study. No one today receives miraculous revelations of knowledge which can be added to “that which is perfect” or complete.
The false prophets of today will try to escape the teaching of 1 Corinthians 13 by claiming “that which is perfect” refers to the second coming of Christ. According to them, the miraculous gifts continue until the end of time. That explanation violates what the chapter teaches about something that was being revealed little by little and part by part until its completion. Christ will not come part by part until he comes in fullness. His second coming will not be a process but will be instantaneous “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump” (1 Cor. 15:52; Jn. 5:28-29). We will see Jesus on the last great day as promised in 1 John 3:2, but the second coming of Christ is not the topic of discussion in 1 Corinthians 12-14. The topic is the purpose, use, and duration of miraculous gifts.
Divine revelation was given part by part until it came in fullness. 1 Corinthians 13:11-12 gives three illustrations regarding the issue of the duration of the gifts. There are things which are temporary and partial, and there are things which are mature and complete. (1) This is illustrated by the childhood state and manhood state. (2) It is illustrated again by the partial image seen in burnished brass mirrors and the full image seen face to face. (3) It is illustrated again by partial knowledge (“now I know in part”) and full or complete knowledge (knowing fully as I am known fully).
The age of miraculous gifts was the age of partial and incomplete revelation, thus partial and incomplete knowledge. That temporary state would end when God completed the revelation. When the revelation would be complete, the process of revealing would cease or end.
The saints in the early days of the first century received miraculous gifts because the purpose of these gifts was to reveal and confirm the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth—the truth of the complete gospel of Christ. The completed New Testament was not put into their hands at the first proclamation of the gospel in Acts 2, but the process of revealing the complete gospel through apostles and prophets began on that Pentecost day. By the end of the first century, the process of revealing the complete gospel was finished—“that which is perfect” had been fully revealed. The miraculous gifts ended because their purpose was fulfilled. The gospel is no longer a message in the process of being revealed, but rather it is “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).
No new prophecies, knowledge, or books can be added to the New Testament today by so-called modern prophets! If a so-called modern prophet will attempt to add even one line or one word of pretended modern revelation, he will face the terrible wrath of Almighty God: “God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18). God commended the church at Ephesus in the closing days of the first century for exposing false claims of new and additional revelation: “thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars” (Rev. 2:2). There are no true apostles and prophets today.
The New Testament is the complete revelation of the gospel of Christ. It is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth that will save our souls. We hold the complete New Testament revelation in our hands today because “that which is perfect” has come.