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What Is Apostolic Doctrine? by Eddie L. Hyatt

After the apostasy of Judas, the disciples in the upper room felt it necessary to choose a replacement so that the number would not be diminished by his demise (Acts 1:15-26). The disciples chose Matthias to replace Judas and, according to Acts 1:26, He was numbered with the eleven apostles, thus bringing the number back to twelve. The uniqueness of the Twelve is also borne out by John’s vision of the New Jerusalem that comes down from God out of heaven–a picture of God’s redeemed and triumphant people (Rev. 21). John describes this city in glorious detail and says that the wall of the city has twelve foundations, And on them were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Rev. 21:14).

Distinguishing Characteristics of the Twelve

What seems to distinguish the Twelve from other apostles in the New Testament is that they were a part of that first group of Jesus’ disciples and, therefore, eyewitnesses of His life, death and resurrection. When Peter presented the proposal to fill the vacancy left by Judas’ apostasy, he said that the replacement must be one who had accompanied Jesus from the time of His baptism by John the Baptist and had been, A witness with us of His resurrection (Acts 1:21-22). Succeeding apostles cannot measure up to this criterion.

This indicates that the Twelve were particularly chosen by Jesus to be eyewitnesses of His life, ministry, death and resurrection. They would proclaim, not myths, legends or hearsay, but events they had witnessed first-hand. In this sense, their testimony of Jesus would be foundational for succeeding generations. According to Christian tradition, all of the Twelve, with the possible exception of John, were martyred for their testimony of Jesus. Although he may have escaped martyrdom, John was banished and possibly burned in oil for his testimony. The eyewitness accounts of the Twelve were later written down in the four gospels and in certain epistles. Their apostolic calling, therefore, cannot be repeated except, perhaps, in the case of Paul.

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Category: Church History

About the Author: Eddie L. Hyatt, D.Min. (Regent University), M.Div. and M.A. (Oral Roberts University), serves the body of Christ around the world by teaching with academic excellence and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He has authored several books, including 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity. His passion is to see authentic spiritual awakening transform the Church and impact the world in the Twenty-first century.

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