1 Corinthians 12:28, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”
Some in the Church world believe that the office of the Apostles no longer exists, but according to Greek vocabulary in the verse above that is not truth.
We will look at only one word in this verse … “set” … to prove the validity of the Apostles’ continual operation by order of God … it uses the aorist tense and the middle voice.
So, let’s be on the same page to know what the aorist tense and the middle voice are in Greek vocabulary to get a grip (if you will) on what God is saying and doing in the scripture above.
The Aorist Tense: it is used for simple, undefined action that does not have any temporal significance. In other words, it refers only to the reality of an event or action, not to the time when it took place. This verb has a start point but no end mentioned, which makes the action of the verb “set” indefinite.
In this verse, God is the subject — He has “set” (i.e., placed) some apostles, etc.… in His Church without any indication of a scheduled end date — except for the rapture, of course, but only God knows the day and the hour.
The Middle Voice: it represents God (the subject of the verb) whose actions concerns Himself. You see, it concerns God to provide His Church with leaders according to His heart to warn, preach and teach in all wisdom so that they may present His people perfect in Christ Jesus. This function of ministry will continue until the day of the rapture….
Here’s where we see God’s purpose for continued order in His Church realized and obeyed through the leadership He “set” to naturally care for, rule and watch over — “…for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:12-13).
Let us remember one thing — God is the Doer of the action to “set” some apostles, etc.… in His Church — He will continue to “set” leaders until the fullness of time is come. For on that day, there will be no more need for leadership because He will come back to make up His jewels whom He gave His life for — the apple of His eye — His peculiar people whom He purified unto Himself — both the dead in Christ, and those alive who remain faithful “…shall be caught up together” … “in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
What a wonderful thing to know, believe, embrace, hope, and treasure in our hearts and minds!
Okay, now for the contrary part….
Another certainty exists in the Church world — false apostles….
Consider what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
Here is the love of God warning us to beware of (and not to follow after) false apostles, false leaders, and false speakers alike. They are identified throughout scripture.
Consider these four (of many) identifiers:
- (Deuteronomy 13:1-3) If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
- (Isaiah 56:10-11) His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.
- (Jeremiah 23:21-22) I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.
- (2 Peter 2:1-3) But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
We have four scriptural witnesses (above) to warn us to beware of false prophets, false leaders, and false speakers — and not to follow them under any circumstances.
The following are the four scriptures above in bulleted form which we must not follow after nor bid godspeed:
- those who will seduce people to go after other gods they/we have never known;
- follow after blind leaders:
o they are ignorant of God’s word,
o they are as dumb dogs that cannot bark,
o they love sleeping (i.e., they are not sober, not vigilant),
o they love to slumber (i.e., they love to be insensible, stupor, or spiritually drowsy),
o they are greedy dogs which can never have enough,
o they are shepherds who cannot understand (i.e., they cannot consider or discern any threats against the welfare of the people),
o they look to their own way (as hirelings whose concern is only to be paid for their leadership service with absolutely no concern for the welfare of God’s people),
o they seek the world’s riches but not the true treasures of wisdom and knowledge which are hid in the Lord Jesus Christ;
- they are not sent by God, yet they ran,
o God had not spoken to them, yet they prophesy,
o they refuse to stand in His counsel,
o but they stand in the doctrines, traditions, and commandments of men,
o they refuse to turn the people from their evil ways … from the evils they commit time after time;
- they privily bring in (i.e., they secretly or craftily, along side of) bring in:
o damnable heresies (i.e., diversity of opinions and aims),
o they deny the Lord Who bought them (i.e., purchased them with His own blood),
o they will bring swift destruction to themselves (and all their followers),
o many shall follow (i.e., imitate, obey, yield to) their pernicious ways (i.e., their ruin and destructive ways),
o and the truth shall be evil spoken of (i.e., reviled, railed at),
o and through covetousness (i.e., avarice, fraudulency, extortion, and the greedy desire to have more),
o with feigned words (i.e., with artificial or fictitious (false)) words,
o they make merchandise of the people (i.e., as peddlers, or as traveling salesmen),
o their judgment (i.e., punishment for their “crime”) lingereth not,
o and their damnation slumbereth not.
Here you have it, folks … these identifiers are actually the tip of the iceberg. Nevertheless, they expose characteristics with pertinent credence to very critical information to take fast hold of …and… to steer clear of all false leaders and speakers … our very lives are at stake — we are commanded to give the more earnest heed to the things (or, the truth) we have heard. Let us not allow truth to slip through our fingers … it can/will effect our eternal state.
Let us also seek the Lord for His wisdom to identify false leaders and false speakers so that we may escape their deadly poisonous offers to go after other gods we do not know or have ever known.
Finally, let us obey those whom God has “set” to have the rule over us …and submit ourselves: for they watch for our souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for us. (Hebrews 13:17).
He/She who hath an ear to hear, let them hear.