Today: [2 Peter 3:] The Need for Both Apostle and Prophet. In the concluding chapter of 2 Peter we are commanded to be mindful of the prophets and obedient to the apostles in our midst. Who is your apostle? Who is your prophet? Is it a problem if we do not have these ministries in our lives? Have they been done away with?
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[2Pe 3:1-18 KJV] 1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in [both] which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 [Seeing] then [that] all these things shall be dissolved, what manner [of persons] ought ye to be in [all] holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 15 And account [that] the longsuffering of our Lord [is] salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all [his] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as [they do] also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know [these things] before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and [in] the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him [be] glory both now and for ever. Amen.
In v. 1 of the final chapter of 2 Peter the apostle states his purpose as intending to motivate the believer to remember the words of the prophets and the commandments of the apostles. Here we see the distinction between the ministry of the prophets and the ministry of the apostles. It seems clear as well that the prophets that Peter refers to are inclusive of those prophets such as Agabus and others that were contemporary with the apostles.
In making this assertion, we answer those who insist that there are no legitimate apostles and prophets today. What do they do with Eph. 4:11-12?
[Eph 4:11-12 KJV] 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
When did the saints become perfect therefore negating the need for the apostles and the prophets as well as the remaining three ministries given by Jesus as gifts to the church at the time of His ascension? Paul went on in Ephesians 4:
[Eph 4:13-14 KJV] 13 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: 14 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;
When did the church come into the unity of faith thus signifying these ministries were no longer needed. When did the church become impervious to deception? Is there one scripture that can be brought forward to validate the almost universal belief that the 5-fold ministry of Eph. 4:11 has been substituted now with the merely custodial function of the singular ministry of the pastor? The following verse is often quoted:
[1Co 13:10 KJV] 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
If that verse could even be construed as applying to this subject can anyone point to “that which is perfect” in our midst that so takes the place of the 5-fold ministry that it serves to fulfill the requirements of Eph. 4:12-13? Many insist that the word of God is perfect to which we reply yes the word of God is infallible but does the existence of the bible serve to bring the believer to perfection, to a perfect man, leaving the church in total unity? In fact, the Bible alone can bring the church into disunity over doctrinal disputes, etc.
We need the 5-fold ministry. We need the apostle. We need the prophet in our midst. We also need the evangelist, pastor, and teacher. It is extra-biblical to insist that all the believer needs is a pastor; therefore we may safely consign the other ministries to the dust bin of history. Yet this is the common consensus of the church and so-called full gospel groups such as the Assemblies of God, and the Word of Faith movement are no exception in making the effete assumptions as to the primacy of the ministry of pastor to the exclusion of all others.
One of the deceptions Peter is concerned about is those who contend for various reasons that the coming of Christ is a vain hope. The prevailing viewpoint today is that teaching on the coming of Christ and believing in a parousia to come is the immature perspective of vain believers who are just looking for a way out of this world’s problems. Peter insists that to de-emphasis the parousia is to do so in willing ignorance of the sovereignty of God demonstrated in the deluge that destroyed the world and all humanity save Noah.
We are to bear one thing in mind (v. 8). God doesn’t calculate time as we do. A day with the world is as a 1000 years and a 1000 years is as a day. If you take that literally, then we are now at the beginning of the seventh millennium from creation and the third millennium from the time of Christ. The seventh millennial day would then be the apocalyptic period of God’s millennial sabbath – what many call the time of the 1000 year reign of Christ. What of the third day? Hosea 6:1-3 echoes Peter’s formula for knowing the time of the end:
[Hos 6:1-3 KJV] 1 Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. 2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. 3 Then shall we know, [if] we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter [and] former rain unto the earth.
We are now in the “after two days” season. What is to be our expectation? A raising up of the believer on the condition of following on to know Him. How will He come? He will come as the seasonal rains that ripen crops for harvest. What is that rain? It is understood to be the move of His Spirit in the earth as prophesied by Joel:
[Joe 2:23, 28-29 KJV] 23 Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first [month]. … 28 And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
The Lord then is not slack concerning His promise; thus our expectation is great and our hearts determined to press into all that the prophets commanded. How do we press in? By individual initiative? More than this – remember Peter’s reference to the commands of the apostles? We must then answer the question where are the apostles and what are their commands? This is more than the commands of the apostles 2000 years ago. Contemporary apostles are necessary because they are tasked with establishing us in what Peter called “present truth” (2 Peter 1:12).
Peter then speaks of a time called the day of the Lord when the heavens and the earth would pass away in a great cataclysm by fire. All that we know will one day (v. 11) be dissolved and we will see a new heaven and a new earth. These are things that we are to diligently look into (v. 14) that we may be found in Him in peace, without spot, and blameless. What are the spots? Remember this is more than an individual word; it is a corporate word to the churches. The “spots” are those people that Peter referred to in 2 Peter 2:13 and Jude spoke of in Jude 12. That tells us that the apostolic church doesn’t open its doors wide without any expectation on the people. There are those that are welcome in an apostolic church and those that are excluded, thus implying the apostle is a ministry operating in an authority that doesn’t exist in a pastor’s ministry. Pastors tend to admit all and provide all with their care. God intends that this be so with the moderating influence of the apostle for the purposes of maintaining our testimony.
We are to persevere and be patient Peter maintains coming into agreement with the apostle Paul. It is essential that Peter mentions Paul because there is a known disparity between them that has broken out in time past into outright disagreement. At the same time, Peter seems only to grudgingly acknowledge Paul with the remark that his teachings while at the level of scripture (v. 16) nonetheless cause many to err thereby. How do we take this? We accept the authority of both Peter and Paul while bearing in mind that in the shadow of history Paul stands as a more potent influence on the development of the faith more so than Peter’s.
Peter concludes then with his final words to the church before he fades from history and into legend. We are the remember these things he brings to mind lest we be led away by the error of the wicked and fall from our steadfastness in Christ.
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