Mormonism and church leadership/Ancient apostles

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The office of Apostle within the ancient Church of Jesus Christ

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Question: Was Paul a "real" apostle, with authority over the Church like the original Twelve?

Paul evidently considered his calling an office

Was Paul a "real" apostle, with general authority over the Church like the original Twelve, or was he just some guy with no particular ecclesiastical authority, who was "sent forth" to preach? Paul evidently considered his calling an office. "For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office." (Romans 11:13) When Paul mentioned other apostles, he did not seem to distinguish his office from theirs. "Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?" (1 Corinthians 9:5) "For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles." (2 Corinthians 11:5) The only sense in which he seems to have thought himself less than the other apostles is that he had formerly persecuted the Church. "For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." (1 Corinthians 15:9) And just as the original Twelve apostles were "ordained" as such by Jesus, (John 15:16) Paul claimed, "I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle." (1 Timothy 2:7) Obviously, given the number of authoritative letters he wrote to various local churches, he considered himself to have jurisdiction over a wide area.

The presence of apostles in the New Testament Church beyond the original Twelve and Matthias supports the LDS interpretation

Others called "apostles" in the New Testament include Barnabas (Acts 14 14:{{{4}}}) and James the Lord's brother. (Galatians 1:19) Were they ordained apostles like Paul and the Twelve? The question is not answered in the New Testament, but the presence of apostles in the New Testament Church beyond the original Twelve and Matthias supports the LDS interpretation of Ephesians 4:11-14. Apostles should continue in the Church to, among other things, keep the faithful from being tossed about by every wind of doctrine. And even if the calling of original Twelve was somehow different than that of the other apostles like Paul, all of them seem to have had general jurisdiction over the local churches. Can the authors produce modern apostles with general jurisdiction over local Protestant churches? No wonder there are thousands of Protestant sects.


Question: Were the early apostles married?

In the early Church, it was known that the Apostles were married

In the early Church, it was known that the Apostles were married. Ignatius, who sat at the feet of the Apostle John as he taught for many years, also taught they were married. He said: "For I pray that, being found worthy of God, I may be found at their feet in the kingdom, as at the feet of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; as of Joseph, and Isaiah, and the rest of the prophets; as of Peter, and Paul, and the rest of the apostles, that were married men. For they entered into these marriages not for the sake of appetite, but out of regard for the propagation of mankind. Fathers, “bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord;” (Eph. 6:4 and teach them the holy Scriptures, and also trades, that they may not indulge in idleness." (1:81, chap. 4, Ignatius to the Philadelphians)

Clement of Alexandria wrote “Peter and Philip fathered children, and Philip gave his daughters in marriage. Furthermore, Paul did not hesitate to mention his ‘companion’ in one of his epistles...He says in his epistle, ‘Do I not have the right to take along a sister-wife, as do the other apostles?’ [1 Cor. 9:5] However the other apostles, in harmony with their particular ministry, devoted themselves to preaching without any distraction. Their spouses went with them, not as wives, but as sisters, in order to minister to housewives” (Clement of Alexandria 195 ad, Ante-Nicene Fathers 2:390-391 E)

He also wrote “The man of God eats, drinks, and marries, not as the primary things of life, but as things that are necessary. I even mention marriage...for having become perfect, he has the apostles for examples.” (Clement of Alexandria 195 ad, Ante-Nicene Fathers 2:543 E)

Papias, who travelled the countryside writing down what the Apostles had previously said, wrote "The residence of the Apostle Philip with his daughters in Hierapolis has been mentioned above." (ANF 1:154, Fragments of Papias)

Early Church leaders also spoke out against those who preached against marriage

Early Church leaders also spoke out against those who preached against marriage. In speaking about heretics, Irenaeus says that “They declare also, that marriage and generation are from Satan.” (Ante-Nicene Fathers 1:349, Irenaeus Against Heresies, chap. 24) “those who are called Encratites (self-controlled) preached against marriage, thus setting aside the original creation of God... he declared that marriage was nothing else than corruption and fornication.” (Ante-Nicene Fathers 1:353, Irenaeus Against Heresies, chap. 28)

“The apostles had permission to marry and lead wives about. They also had permission to ‘live by the means of the Gospel.’” (Ante-Nicene Fathers 4:55, Tertullian, 212 AD, W)


Question: Was the Apostle Paul Married?

Paul may have been widowed or divorced at the time of his writing to the Corinthians, but we can be sure that he was married at one time

Paul's Judaic background would have required it. In his defense before the Jewish crowd outside the Roman barracks of the Antonian tower, Paul states that he was taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers and was zealous in living that law (Acts 22:3). Again, in his defense before the Pharisees and Sadducees, Paul claims that he is a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee (Acts 23:6). To the Galatians, Paul wrote that he was more zealous in fulfilling the requirements of his religion than others of his time (Gal 1:14). The emphasis that the Jews put on marriage as part of their law and tradition would certainly have been used against Paul in view of such statements if he had not been married, [1] especially if, as many scholars have suggested,[2] Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin, one of the qualifications for which was that a man must be married and the father of children.[3]

But was Paul still married at the time of his writing to the Corinthians? The only evidence against it occurs in this same chapter of 1 Corinthinans, where Paul says

I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. 1 Corinthians 7:8

Since Paul is advising the unmarried to continue in this state, even as he, it certainly seems to imply that he was unmarried at the time of his writing. On the other hand, Paul says later in this same letter

Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? 1 Corinthians 9:5.

How would he have the power to lead about a wife on his travels, like the other apostles did, if he was not married or if his wife had died? So this seems to indicate that Paul was married, but that he simply did not take his wife with him in his ministry. If this is the case, then this might be the sense in which he is advising the Corinthian saints to "abide even as" he. Indeed, this is exactly the counsel he gives the married saints in 1 Corinthians 7:29.

But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none

So, based on Corinthians alone, it is hard to say whether Paul was widowed or was still married at the time he wrote his epistle. Fortunately, we have other, non-biblical, writers who had access to knowledge that has now clearly been lost about Paul's marital state during the time of his ministry. Eusebius,[4] the fourth-century Catholic Historian, states confidently that Paul’s yokefellow, whom he addresses in Philippians 4:3 with these words,

And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women who laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow-labourers. (Philippians 4:2–3)

is in fact his wife. The Greek syzyge, the word translated “yokefellow,” is often used to refer to a spouse. Eusebius' conclusion is itself based on a statement from Clement of Alexandria,[5] who was writing sometime prior to 231 A.D. when the traditions about Paul were still very recent.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we should note that Ignatius, writing in the latter half of first century, states

I pray that, being found worthy of God, I may be found ... at the feet of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; as of Joseph, and Isaiah, and the rest of the prophets; as of Peter, and Paul, and the rest of the apostles, that were married men.[6]


Question: Does the Biblical reference by Paul to "apostles and prophets" refer to Church offices?

With regard to Paul's reference in Ephesians 4:11-14, all the categories mentioned there seem to be "offices"

With regard to Paul's reference in Ephesians 4:11-14, all the categories mentioned there seem to be "offices," and, it should be noted, there were New Testament prophets. (See Acts 11:27-28, Acts 13:1, Acts 15:32, Acts 21:10, 1 Corinthians 12:28 and 1 Corinthians 14:29) In fact, in the same letter, Paul wrote, "Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit." (Ephesians 3:4-5) Obviously these were New Testament apostles and prophets. In 1 Corinthians 12:28, Paul wrote, "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." Therefore, it appears that when Paul spoke of "apostles and prophets" he was using some kind of formulaic construction to denote certain people who were part of the New Testament Church.

With that established, one need only look to the reasons Paul gave for God's establishment of these offices in the Church, which include "That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive…." Christianity not fulfilled these conditions, which would result in negating the need for divinely appointed individuals serving as apostles, prophets, etc.


Notes

  1. Mishnah, Aboth 5:21, trans. H. Danby, p. 458. “At five years old (one is fit) for the scripture, at ten years for the Mishnah, at thirteen for (the fulfilling of) the commandments, at fifteen for the Talmud, at eighteen for the bride-chamber, at twenty for pursuing (a calling), at thirty for authority, at forty for discernment, at fifty for counsel, at sixty to be an elder, at seventy for grey hairs, at eighty for special strength. …” See also David Smith, Life and Letters of St. Paul, p. 30f.
  2. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul (Deseret Book, 1983) pp. 23-25.
  3. Sanhedrin 36:2.
  4. Eusebius Pamphilius, Ecclesiasical History Book III, Chap 30, in Nicene and post-Nicene Fathers Series 2, Volume 1 (NPNF2-01: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration in Praise of Constantine), Philip Schaff, ed., (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886) p. 162.
  5. Stromata, Book III, Chap 6, in Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2 (ANF02. Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria), Philip Schaff, ed., (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886) p. 390.
  6. Philadelphians, Chap 4, in Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1 (ANF01. The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus), Philip Schaff, ed., (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886) p. 81.