The Stewardship of the Twelve Apostles

You will find a link to order Pastor Snyder’s book Truly the Signs of an Apostle  from which this excerpt is taken under Links.

Custodians of a Special Gift

Picture if you will, a successful entrepreneur in the restaurant business who becomes the founder of a chain of restaurants with a common name. He appoints a board of directors to establish franchises for his restaurant chain. A franchise is an exclusive right to bear the company name and market the food specific to the chain. Each director has the authority to grant franchises to individuals they choose.  Once someone is granted a franchise by a director, the owners of the franchise can operate a branch of the restaurant chain. The franchisee benefits from the owner’s expertise, the quality of the food, and the name recognition of the chain. However, the franchise operator does not own the property or the business. Further, he does not  have authority to grant franchises to others. That power was granted to the directors by the owner and is non-transferable. The franchise owners are doing business through the authority granted them by the board of directors.

The scenario above is analogous to what occurred in the early church. The Twelve were the board of directors of the early church. The Lord Jesus Christ, in fulfillment of His promise to them, sent them a special empowerment of the Holy Spirit recorded in Acts two. This power manifested itself initially in them being able to speak in languages that they had never learned (Acts 2:5-12) and began to be seen in other miraculous events. (Acts 2:43).

Later, we learn that there were others who were not apostles who began to do miraculous deeds in similar fashion to what The Twelve did in Acts two.  How did they receive this power to do signs and wonders or speak in tongues? The answer is that they were given this power by the Lord through the Twelve!

In Acts chapter eight, Philip the evangelist, was sent by God to preach in Samaria. Philip was doing miraculous activities there. A sorcerer by the name of Simon became a professed convert and began to accompany Philip.  The narrative then relates that the Apostles heard about the conversion of the Samaritans under Philip’s ministry and sent two of the Twelve Apostles, Peter and John to assist in the ministry to the Samaritans. (Acts 9:14-17)

“And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,  Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.  But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.” (Acts 9:18-20)

 

Reader, please note that two members of the special group, The Twelve, not Philip, laid their hands upon the Samaritan believers and they received this empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. The villain in this story, Simon, noted that the falling of the Holy Spirit came through the Apostles. Simon then tried to strike a financial deal with Peter and John. Simon was not asking to buy the presence of the Holy Spirit or miraculous abilities through the Holy Spirit.  Simon wanted the ability to bestow this special endowment of the Holy Spirit, a power reserved for the Twelve Apostles, that resulted in the ability to do the miraculous.

Philip had the ability to do miraculous deeds, but he did not have the ability to give the special endowment of the Holy Spirit that resulted in the ability to do the miraculous deeds. It was apparent that only the Apostles could do that! Otherwise Simon would have approached Philip to purchase that power. However, Philip did not possess this power. Philip had the power to do miracles but not the power to impart the ability to do miracles.

When did Philip get this power to do miracles? It is hard to say with certainty. Philip possibly got it at the same time that others did in Acts chapter six. There is no record of miraculous events done by Philip until after there was a laying on of hands by the Apostles. Note that in Acts six, the Apostles laid hands and prayed for, among others, Stephan and Philip. These two subsequently evidenced supernatural power. (Acts 6:5-8; Acts 8:5-7)

Admittedly, when Stephan and Philip received this power is up for debate. What is not debatable is that they did not impart this power. This ability was reserved for The Twelve. This power had been promised by the Lord Jesus Christ to The Twelve. It was bestowed upon The Twelve. The special endowment to The Twelve at Pentecost made them able to do miraculous events themselves and enabled them to give this special endowment of power to others. However, those to whom it was given could not, in turn, give it to others.

This unique ability of transfer was a part of what it meant to be an Apostle. In every case of the manifestation of miraculous events in the New Testament, it is by or in the presence of an Apostle and in conjunction with them praying for and/or touching others. After this contact with The Twelve, the recipients were enabled to do the miraculous deeds recorded in Scripture.

There is an account in Acts chapter four that is said to be another outpouring of the Holy Spirit which was much broader than upon just The Twelve at Pentecost. Sometimes it is argued that events recorded there indicate a broad outpouring of the Holy Spirit to a multitude of people. However, an analysis of the passage indicates that the Apostles were the primary individuals preaching Christ and through whom the witness of the Spirit was given by miraculous events.  (Acts 4:19-33)

The suggestion in this passage is that this event only pertained to The Twelve Apostles. However, it is probably best to say that the passage is ultimately inconclusive on the point. By the time Acts chapter four was written, there were probably several who had been given the bestowment of the Holy Spirit’s power by the  Apostles. Many believers were given the ability to do signs wonders and mighty deeds. However, it is crucial to understand that they received these abilities through the ministry of The Twelve. They alone had the unique ability to impart a special “baptism” of the  Spirit’s presence that was revealed in miraculous occurrences.

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