A Dishonest Question

I like honest, sincere questions, but a few decades ago there was an older, well-educated man in one of my classes who would ask dishonest questions. These questions were designed to show me up and prompt an intellectual jousting match after which he would, presumably, be seen as the victor. His questions were prompted more out of envy and arrogance than honest inquiry.

The Apostle Paul addressed a question concerning the resurrection by someone much like that man in my class. This question is recorded in I Corinthians 15:35 – “But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?”  Before Paul answers in subsequent verses, he addresses this “hypothetical” cross-examiner with one word – “Fool” (vs 36). In the Greek this word means “mindless, ignorant and/or egotistical.” It is a term for someone that really has not investigated or thought out matters but asks challenging questions as though he has done so. He is not a seeker of truth; he asks as a self-absorbed egotist trying to parade his superiority or justify his unbelief.

What kind of questioner are you, Friend? This Easter season as Christians celebrate the reality of the resurrection, let me encourage you to be an honest seeker. The One Who substituted Himself for you on the cross broke the chains of death to prove that His death accomplished all that was necessary for you to have eternal life. Got questions? Let’s put on the coffee and talk or visit us on Good Friday at 12 Noon or Easter morning at 11 am.

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The Arrogant Patriarch

The Arrogant Patriarch

Over the years I have met a generic person. I know this sounds a bit strange and the term “generic” may be a bit confusing, so let me explain. A generic person is not one person, but a kind of composite of people who share characteristics or traits. So this person is a composite of certain traits in people. These people are not all the same. They are different in many ways but they do share commonalities.

This person is ageless. One would think that this person would typically be “old” simply because we expect some of these traits from older people. Surprisingly, though, the people that have fit this generic description are not confined to the older generation. They are often younger people. Perhaps that is why they have caught my attention so readily. They have not been what most folks would typically consider “old.” I have witnessed these traits in people as young as 15. Most of them, however, have been between 17 and 55, the majority in their 30’s and 40’s.

This person is also genderless. I have witnessed these traits in both men and women.    I will concede, however, that most of the ones who have evidenced these traits have been men. But please understand that I refer to this person with masculine pronouns more for convenience sake than to imply that these traits are only witnessed in men. Hence I have called this person the “the arrogant patriarch”.

The traits of the arrogant patriarch are as follows:

A confidence in his own intelligence: I do not mean to imply that he is intelligent. He may be very intelligent. But what defines him is his belief in his intelligence. Sometimes he is neither intelligent nor educated but still believes he is intelligent. Along with this comes a certainty about his views and opinions being correct.

I have encountered this phenomenon in a man with a PhD from Harvard and a man that was illiterate. The PhD, a professed born again Christian, questioned the biblical account of Creation and other accounts and justified abortion to the 9th month gestation. The illiterate man insisted to me that the Bible was full of errors. When I challenged him to show me one, he left the room. Then his wife whispered to me that he could not read. But that did not stop him or the PhD from rendering an absolute opinion. These folks tend to have an opinion about most topics. He is so certain and confident about his viewpoint because he believes in his own intelligence.

The student /teacher dynamic: This trait is more felt than easily defined. But the subtle idea conveyed by him is that he is the teacher (or should be) and you are the student. He may not actually say that he is the teacher and you are the student. He is not necessarily abrasive. He just acts like he is (or should be) the teacher. It is connected with his belief in his intelligence. Some folks will readily accept him as the teacher simply because they are swayed by his manner. He believes he should be in charge and acts like it. This in part leads to the next characteristic of the arrogant patriarch.

The tendency toward conflict with others: Conflict comes with others because he tends to act upon his belief in his own intelligence. He believes that his viewpoint is the correct one and his decisions are the best. Therefore, it is only natural that others should do what he suggests or do things as he would do them. Any other way is deficient. When conflict with others arises because of this, it is not his fault. Other people are just too sensitive, or are jealous or threatened by his superior giftedness.  The problem always resides in others. It could not be in him.

The inability to follow: This guy is often perpetually unemployed or he is in business for himself. The reason for either circumstance is that he just cannot work for someone else. If he has a job, he is often in conflict with his superiors or disdainful of them. In a church situation, he is someone that has difficulty recognizing the leadership authority of a pastor (Hebrews 13:7, 17). Typically, he embraces the plurality of elders viewpoint in church governance, not because he believes it is biblical, but because it fits his personality. Complete equality in authority means less infringement on his independency. The truth is he is no more in deference to a plurality of leadership than he is to one leader.

 

One such man with whom there had been persistent issues in a local church was asked if he could follow the pastor’s leadership. His reply was, “A man is not a pastor because he says he is. He is a pastor if he is pastoral.” And who determines if he is pastoral? The patriarch. He was saying that if the pastor met his expectations, (the only correct criteria), then he would recognize his leadership. The problem is that all pastors have flaws and given enough time, the patriarch will find them. It is his justification for ignoring the counsel of a shepherd and following his own judgment. In his mind, he does not need pastoral leadership.

 

The tendency to pontificate about one or select Biblical topics: Often this person “goes to seed” on some area of theology or biblical interpretation. Often he becomes an expert on some biblical topic such as prophecy, family living, evangelism, election, living by grace or the nature of the church. It really does not matter what the topic might be, for he has mastered it. He is an expert and people who do not agree are ignorant or willfully rebellious against what he knows to be the truth. He outguns those who are ignorant of or not as studied in areas where he is a specialist. He rarely will deal with someone as studied as he. This, of course, confirms his belief in his opinions and ultimately his superior understanding.

A desire to limit exposure of his family or comrades to only his views: This trait appears virtuous as certainly all family heads, leaders and loyal friends should desire to protect those close to them from error. But this goes further than that. For when a family member, friend or loved one begins to be swayed by opinions other than the patriarch’s, he will often begin to resent the intruder’s influence. He will take steps to withdraw his family or friends from opinions he deems to conflict with his leadership. He will pull his child out of a class, require his family to sit only with him, or withdraw his family and go to another church. Sometimes no church is good enough because, to him, they are all in error or bound by unbiblical traditions. So he may form his own “church” where he is the pastor and where people can get the truth. If he stays in a church, he stays on the perimeter of involvement so as to retain control of information. This person will often home school / home church his family so as to “protect” them. But it really is not about protection of his family. He is protecting his patriarchal position.

A condescending attitude toward the opposite sex: If a man, he treats his wife or women in general not just as the weaker vessel but as the lesser vessel. If a woman, she tends to regard men as generally stupid and needy and takes a condescending attitude toward them. A man tends to think of most women as inferior beings by design and regards his role not just as protector but as director. Whether a man or a woman, this person tends to want to control the partner either by force of will or manipulation – all of this because of a basic belief in his superiority and of the partner’s inferiority. This is not to say that the patriarch does not love or care for the individual. He very well may love them. He is still manipulative and controlling.

These are seven common characteristics of this generic person that I have referred to as the arrogant patriarch. If you are one of them I am sure that you will not have kindly thoughts toward this writer. If you are not one of them, beware. You could easily become such.

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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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The Fulfillment to the Twelve Apostles

From Pastor Frank Snyder’s Book: Truly the Signs of an Apostle. Ordering information is available under links.

Promise Made / Promise Kept

 Many years ago, a co-worker in a factory told me that he had tape recorded a prayer meeting in his church. He asserted that when he played the recording later there was the sound of a rushing mighty wind on the recording of his church prayer meeting! This happened, he claimed, despite the fact that the participants heard no sound at the time the meeting was actually going on. He maintained that it was a replay of what happened at Pentecost in Acts chapter two. I asked him if there were slivers of fire in this meeting that rested on people, but he replied that there were not. He was convinced that a re-enactment of Pentecost had taken place in his  church  prayer  meeting. I was convinced he needed to buy a new tape recorder!

The conclusion of this writer is that the events recorded in Acts chapter two concerning  the special anointing of the Holy Spirit is a one-time event in history. In its details, it was never repeated in the New Testament and it has never been repeated in the almost 2000 years since it happened in Jerusalem. The event itself had two physical characteristics:

           There was an audible sound of wind like a tornado or at least a strong gale force wind.

           There was a visible manifestation of fire in the form of slivers of flame.

These peculiarities were never repeated in Scripture. They were a one-time manifestation indicating the unique nature of what was happening. It is apparent that the events of Acts two are the culmination of the promise that the Savior made to The Twelve recorded in chapter one of Acts and elsewhere.

                                        The Recipients of the Promise of Pentecost

It is sometimes maintained that the recipients of this special power included both men and women and that the power came upon all that were present in fulfillment of prophecy. Indeed, Peter did relate that what was then occurring was, in some sense, a fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel 2:28-29.

However, it is evident that Peter’s citing of this prophecy in Joel was not an absolute fulfillment of the prophecy. There were aspects of Joel’s prophecy that did not happen at Pentecost. Honest evaluation of the events cited in verses 19-20 — wonders…blood…fire…smoke…darkened sun…blood red moon… — were not occurring in conjunction with the outpouring of the Spirit of God in Acts two. Peter’s citation of this passage in Joel was used to assert that what was occurring before the eyes of the Jews at Jerusalem paralleled the prophecy in Joel, but did not literally fulfill that prophecy!

Plus, the reader will note in what follows that it was not all sons and daughters upon whom the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, but only to The Twelve! The biblical evidence confirms this analysis and verifies that only the Twelve Apostles actually received this promise on that day.

As we have already seen, the Lord Jesus commanded the Twelve to go to Jerusalem to wait for the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit whom He would send. The Bible indicates that the only recipients of flaming tongues of fire indicating the fulfillment of the Spirit’s coming was to The Twelve! What is the evidence of that? Read on!

Only The Twelve

In the first two chapters of the Book of Acts we find the following basic breakdown of chapter one:

Acts 1:1-11:  Final instructions and the ascension of  the Lord Jesus into heaven

Acts 1:12-14: The gathering of the 120 disciples, including the Twelve, in the upper room

Acts 1:15-29:  The choosing of a replacement for  Judas.

However, there is an apparent passing of time between the last verse of chapter one and the first verse of chapter two. The setting is no longer an upper room with 120 disciples. The subsequent verses in Acts chapter two reveal that the promised baptism of the Spirit came upon The Twelve and not the 120 of Acts 1:12-14.

This fact is revealed in the text of Scripture. In Acts chapter one and verse twenty-six, it states: “And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”  (Acts 1:26)

The text begins in chapter two, verse one, still speaking of the now completed band of Apostles: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they  (the Twelve including Matthias, referred to in Acts 1:26) were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, andit sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-3)

Were the 120 people spoken of in Acts 1:15 included in this promised endowment of power or was this limited to the Twelve? Subsequent verses in the second chapter of Acts bear out that only The Twelve received this empowerment.

People from all over the world were in Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover and heard the Apostles speak in their own languages. A stir was created when those upon whom the tongues of fire had settled began to speak in other tongues (languages). (Acts 2:5-8)

Then Peter stood up with the eleven other Apostles and began to address the crowd of amazed and doubting onlookers who were questioning the sobriety of the apostles.

“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:  For these (the eleven) are not drunken, as ye suppose …” (Acts 2: 14-15a)

 

Peter then dispels their assertion that they were drunk and quotes an Old Testament prophecy about the manifestation of the Spirit. He then witnesses about the Lord Jesus Christ, after which the Jewish folks who were gathered there, reacted (verse 37). The crowd addressed its remarks to the Apostles who were with Peter.

 

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2: 37)

 

Those who believed then attached themselves to The Twelve and stayed with them.

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” (Acts 2: 42-43)

The implication is clear that The Twelve and not the 120 were the recipients of the special, empowering presence of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost! This happened in completion of the promise made to them by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Promise Made! Promise Kept!

(c) 2011 by Frank Snyder, Truly the Signs of an Apostle

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The Pledge to the Twelve Apostles

Continued Excerpts from the book Truly the Signs of an Apostle (available Amazon.com)

It is important to remember in any discussion of the Twelve Apostles that they were a unique group.The Twelve are a singular corps of disciples with a defined role, not only when the Lord chose them, but also in a special promise that He made to them.

Luke points out that the Lord Jesus gave instructions to his Apostles “whom he had chosen” referring to The Twelve. Acts 1:1-8 makes this clear. Luke asserts and records that Jesus met privately with His Apostles. He commanded them to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father. The promise referred to  was the  empowering  presence of  the Holy Spirit (Acts 2: 4-5,8.) This promise of the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit to The Twelve is repeated elsewhere in the Scripture. (See Luke 24:49, John 14:15-18, 25-26)

There were three basic reasons that the Lord tells His Twelve that He was sending the Holy Spirit.

Reason #1: The Holy Spirit Would Be Jesus’ Comforting Presence

We will look at John 14:15-18 first.

There are two Greek words commonly translated “another” in the New Testament. One means another of a different kind, the other means another of the same kind. The Greek word for “another” in this passage (verse 16)  is the word that means another of the same kind, meaning of the same kind as the Lord Jesus.

Bear in mind that Jesus has just told them that He was going away. But He would see to it that His Father would send another of the same kind as He to be with them. This Comforter is further identified as a Presence whose character is truth and Who would be “in” them in a way that, at the time of that writing, they were not currently experiencing.

Apparently, this powerful presence was at that time “with” them but not “in” them. The Lord Jesus may even have been referring to Himself as currently dwelling with them and would be in them in the Person of the Spirit! So the promised Holy Spirit, the Comforter, would be a replacement for Jesus after His departure. This idea is reinforced in Jesus’ statement in verse 18 where he says, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”

Reason #2: The Holy Spirit Would Be Jesus’ Conduit of Truth

In addition to being a comforting presence to them, this Comforter, identified as the Holy Spirit, would instruct The Twelve and bring to their recollection everything that the Savior had said to them when He taught them during His earthly ministry. The fact that this promise is specifically to the Twelve Apostles is obvious in that only those who had been taught by Jesus on this earth could be reminded of what they had previously been taught! Those closest to Him during His earthly teaching ministry were these Twelve. Their limited memories were insufficient to recall all that the Lord had taught them. Therefore, the Lord promises a “Comforter” who will be with them in His stead and bring what He taught them to their remembrance. Note John 14:25-26.

Later in John chapter 16:12-15, the Lord Jesus tells them that this Holy Spirit that they would later encounter would be a continuing conduit of truth from Him.

A primary purpose of this apostolic anointing by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was to initiate a continuing ministry of interaction between the Savior and The Twelve through the Spirit. In addition to being a comforting presence to The Twelve, the Comforter would remind them what the Lord Jesus had already taught and would continue to teach through Him.

Reason #3: The Holy Spirit Would Enable an Empowered Witness to The World

The Lord Jesus Christ promised The Twelve that they would receive a special anointing of power from Him. The Father had promised that a special demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power would be manifested in their lives. Jesus pledged that He would implement this promise. (Luke 24:49)

In the context of Luke 24:33ff, it is clear that the Savior is speaking primarily to His specially chosen Twelve. Two disciples were met by the Lord on a lonely road. The resurrected Lord  revealed Himself to them and they reported, in turn, to a gathering of the eleven Apostles (verse 33) and “those who were with them.” We are not told who these others were. The primary relevance of the passage in this discussion is that the Apostles as the designated group were there. Thomas, apparently, was the only one missing on this particular occasion (John 20:24). The command is clear. The Lord Jesus instructs His Apostles to go to Jerusalem and wait there for the power that was going to be given them.

So it is obvious that the Lord Jesus made a promise to the Apostles that they were to go to Jerusalem and wait there for the Holy Spirit to “come upon them”. After this event, they would be empowered to be special witnesses unto the Lord Jesus Christ and His resurrection.

This special endowment of power through, by and of the Holy Spirit is referred to in various ways in the Scripture. Sometimes it is referred to as the Holy Spirit “falling upon” someone as it is used in Acts 8:16. Sometimes it is called the “baptism” or “immersion” into the Holy Spirit  as in Acts 11:16.

The language and context used in the above passages make it clear that the Apostles were to go to Jerusalem where they would experience a unique empowerment by the Spirit of God.

This promise made to The Twelve is not about the indwelling regeneration of the Holy Spirit that comes when anyone believes (being born again). Nor is this the filling of the Spirit that is supposed to be true of every believer resulting in spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-25). This was a promise made to the Apostles, in particular, to equip them for their upcoming ministry to the world. Was this promise ever kept to them? Absolutely!

(c) 2011 by Frank I. Snyder in Truly the Signs of an Apostle

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The Preeminence of the Twelve Apostles

A Continuation of Excerpts from the Book “Truly the Signs of An Apostle”

This special group lost one of the original members whose name most of us are familiar with — Judas Iscariot.  That reduced The Twelve to eleven. Yet a replacement was chosen to maintain this designated group – “The Twelve”.

In Acts 1:15-26 we see the selection process that replaced Judas and reaffirmed the special designation of these Twelve. Peter explains that Judas’ replacement needed to meet certain criteria. The disciple selected needed to have been a personal witness of the earthly life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. He should have been with the Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry along with the other eleven Apostles from the time Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist until His resurrection.

So, it is pretty clear that The Twelve were distinctive from generic apostles and had a novel relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. This was demonstrated in the initial selection by the Lord Jesus  and affirmed later in the selection of a replacement for Judas.

The Twelve Elevated

 These Twelve have a level of importance in the Scripture that is often underestimated.  For example, it is evident that Jesus Christ endowed these men with special abilities. He also gave them special authority and promised that The Twelve are going to rule over the tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28, Luke 22:30)

It is obvious that the Twelve Apostles had special significance to the Lord and were given special honor. These men were especially chosen by the Lord Jesus for a special role in the foundation of the church. (Ephesians 2:20) As such, they should be highly regarded.

However,  a word of caution is in order at this point. Though these men should be highly respected, nowhere in Scripture do we see anyone ever praying to them, venerating them or directing petitions to them. We do not witness, either before or after they died, any sort of deference to them that might even remotely be considered worship. That kind of adoration is reserved for Deity alone. God is the only One Who is to be prayed to, petitioned, meditated upon or adored.

The believers in the early church, including the Twelve Apostles, were sinners saved by the grace of God, just like any other believer who places their faith and trust in Christ today. The apostles, whether generic or special, had a profound sense of their own unworthiness.  In fact, when folks tried to direct worship toward them, their reaction was intense against such behavior. (Acts 14:14-15)

They certainly deserve our respect as the caretakers of the early church and as those endowed with a special commission from the Savior! Next we shall discuss the special promise they received from the Lord Jesus Christ.

(c) 2011, Frank I. Snyder, “Truly the Signs of An Apostle”

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