The household of God, says Paul, is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:20), and, as E. A. Litton has observed, a foundation does not repeat itself. It is, indeed, evident from the New Testament that the apostolate is an essential ministry; but it is clear also that the apostolate is not and cannot be a ministerial succession. Let us examine this question somewhat more fully, for it is one which looms prominently in discussions concerning intercommunion and reunion at the present time.

The apostolate is essential because it is the foundation of the Christian Church, not only in the temporal sense that the Apostles were the first to carry the Gospel to Jew and Gentile but in particular because to them was entrusted and through them was communicated that fundamental knowledge of the truth whereby the Church of Christ is constituted. To them the Lord himself promised that the Holy Spirit would teach them all things and bring to their remembrance all that he had said to them, and would guide them into all the truth (John 14:26; 16:13). This promise was given to certain individuals, 11 in number (Judas Iscariot having left to put his traitorous plan into effect, John 13:30), who were in the unique position of having received intimate instruction from the mouth of him in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3), but who, not only because of the fallibility of human memory but also because of the imperfection of their comprehension, were in need of the special grace of the pentecostal Spirit so that they might infallibly recollect and then impart and interpret to the world the saving truth which they had learned at Jesus’ feet and of which Christ himself, in his person and work, ...

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