Yes, I would agree that there are no more living apostles. Like you, I would point to at least 3 qualifications for apostles, which are most difficult to satisfy today:
- Eye-witness of the resurrection
- Journeyed with Christ and the other apostles from the baptism of John until Jesus ascended
- Personally selected by Jesus
These qualifications can be gathered from the appointing of all the apostles (Luke 6:12-16; Acts 1:15-26; 9:1-22; I Corinthians 15:8-9
). You can read more about the topic here:
And, you can read read some discussion that I have had with others, who maintained the existence of present-day apostles:
There are a few other discussions on our forums, but these represent some of the more profitable ones.
Yes, traditionally, John was the longest surviving apostle, penning the epistles of Revelation
and I-III John
in the late first century. Semantically, I have never considered John to be a "prophet", only because "prophets" are generally broke out as a separate work or "category" of work from apostles in the New Testament, and I have never found the words to be used interchangeably as synonyms. Although the gifts related to inspiration and revelation would have overlapped, I think they specifically had very different works, responsibilities, and limits of authority.
For example, here are a few passages that seem to make a distinction:
- Luke 11:49 - "Therefore the wisdom of God also said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,'"
- I Corinthians 12:28-29 - "And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?"
- Ephesians 2:19-20 - "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone"
- Ephesians 4:11-12 - "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ"
Just as teachers are different from apostles, so are apostles and prophets also different.
The primary difference, as I understand it, was that the apostles were ambassadors for Christ (II Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 6:20
). They carried His authority to command, direct, and judge that was somehow elevated beyond that of "ordinary" revealers of God's mind, the prophets (Acts 2:42; 13:6-12; I Corinthians 5:3-5
). Not only could apostles work amazing miracles (II Corinthians 12:12; Acts 2:43; 5:12
), the apostles also bore the unique gift to impart the ability perform miracles, through the laying on of the apostles' hands (Acts 8:12-20; II Timothy 1:6; Romans 1:11
Could John have been considered a prophet? I think so, just as he could have also been considered a teacher; however, he was much more than that too. And, I would not want to confuse anyone, accidentally misleading them to think the terms were synonymous. A minor point? Yes, certainly we are "tithing mint, anise, and cumin"
here, but it's good to do this too, if we "don't leave the other undone"
I look forward to your feedback.
May God help us to have a sincere love of the truth,