The Expository Files


What happened to the Apostles, Prophets and .... Demons?

1 Corinthians 13 ~ Zechariah 13

It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Jude 3

Wow! What do the Apostles and demons have in common? Answer... They are both manifestations of miraculous activity within God's creation. They have also both ceased to operate in a miraculous way. How did this happen? Let's see.

Today as the overall knowledge of Bible related things has declined, I have noticed a rise in an almost mystical religion among those professing Christianity. As my involvement on the internet increased, I have become alarmed as I have realized how many folks are still floating around claiming to be prophets and prophetesses. Folks regularly claim to be "led" here or there. It is quite common for someone to just explain away some Bible precept on the basis of "God given" feelings.

One of the net effects of this rise is a mystically distorted version of "Christianity." Many well intentioned people have been floundering as they grasp at straws for often contradictory so called "truths."

It doesn't have to be this way. If fact God has gone to a great deal of trouble to give us something better.

He gave us the word of God.

He also told us to GROW UP!

Long ago priests, prophets and eventually Jesus' apostles had the task of revealing the word of God. It was a time that was fraught with testing to see if it was true... This testing was often difficult. "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." I Peter 1:21

This was during the infancy of the world and during the infancy of the church. Both the OT prophets and the Apostles described a better time when all could rely on something final, tested and completed. Paul describes this process thusly; "When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things." I Corinthians 13:11

Jesus promised the Apostles that, "The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." John 14:26

Jesus later followed that promise up and added to it, "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear {them} now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come." John 16:12-13

Compare this to the words of Jesus' brother, the prophet Jude, "I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints." Jude 3

So... it was delivered in a complete way during the first century. Notice that not only is this a "once for all" thing, but Peter makes a promise that we would all have access to it even after he was dead!

"I consider it right, as long as I am in this {earthly} dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my {earthly} dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.

And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind." II Peter 1:13-15

From the forgoing reading, let's craft a summary statement ...

The role of the Apostles and prophets was to take "all the truth" and to deliver "once for all time." While alive, they would continue to "remind" or "stir up" ... But their final task (and Peter's specific promise) was to be sure that after they were dead we would still have what they had delivered. We call the fulfillment of this promise "the Bible."

The church is no longer in it's infancy!

Jesus is at the right hand of God leading His church through this word. So, does the Bible speak of an end to the miraculous revelations when the Word was completed in it's delivery? Actually, yes it does. It speaks directly.

The Corinthian church was a very worldly church coming out of paganism and struggling to shed the baggage of their background. Some of them had the miraculous gifts of prophecy, tongue speaking, interpretation (translation) and the like. Likely because of their background, for them the possession of these spiritual gifts became a badge of aristocracy within the church.

Paul pretty much chews them out over their attitude.

"All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not {workers of} miracles, are they?

All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way." I Corinthians 12:29-31

Paul then uses the occasion to point out that the end of miracles, prophets etc. was already taking place. Let's follow this discussion in it's context.

I Corinthians 13

1. If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2. If I have {the gift of} prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
3. And if I give all my possessions to feed {the poor,} and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
4. Love is patient, love is kind {and} is not jealous; love does not brag {and} is not arrogant,
5. does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong {suffered,}
6. does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
7. bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

After dealing with the attitude of chapter 12; now, notice the end of the "time of the prophets," various gifts etc. . . .

8. Love never fails; but if {there are gifts of} prophecy, they will be done away; if {there are} tongues, they will cease; if {there is} knowledge, it will be done away.

Note... these are all dealing the partial revelation. Jesus promised a full one....

9. For we know in part and we prophesy in part;

Paul is describing the implications of Jesus' promise! What happens when they have it all?

10. but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

Note the language used above about the church's infancy.

11. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
12. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

Note the change in tense... it was already taking place as Paul wrote I Corinthians.... I.E. the church is growing up and the revelation of God is being completed! I Corinthians (this letter) is a part of that "perfect."

13. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The main reaction of the modern day so-called tongue speakers and so-called prophets is to confuse the term perfect and very piously note that only Jesus is perfect. Jesus' brother James would correct them on this. James wrote. . .

"But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the {law} of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does." James 1:25

Note that Jesus' own brother ascribes this "perfect" to the law of God!

This perfect law was once for all delivered first to fleshly men (Apostles, prophets, etc) but it was written down so that it would be remembered. Since it is completed, no longer in parts, the partial deliverers (Apostles and prophets) are no more needed. Paul has given us his part, so has Peter, James, and Jude. These all come together to complete the whole.

I Corinthians 13:10 But when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

Many are familiar with this New Testament passage.

Almost none are familiar with the fact that it had to happen.

What do I mean ... "Had to happen?"

Jesus made a promise that "Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Luke 24:44

The prophets had prophesied that with the coming of Jesus both prophecy and demonism would end! For Jesus to be the Messiah... prophecy had to end!

Zechariah 13

1. "In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity.

Note the phrase "In that day." In the Old Testament that is generally a heads up that you are speaking of Messiah, or the church etc. This is no exception. The fountain for sin must be the blood of the Lord Jesus....

2. "It will come about in that day," declares the LORD of hosts, "that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they will no longer be remembered; and I will also remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land.

Note that when the miraculous means of dealing with demon possession was taken away or ended so did the problem. Various aspects of scripture deal with Jesus reining in Satan.

Satan is still a vicious killer...

However, Satan's agents can no longer forcibly take over.

Note that "prophets" also occur in the I Corinthians 13 list already introduced. They are to cease to be active when the "perfect," mature or completed revelation is completed.

3. "And if anyone still prophesies, then his father and mother who gave birth to him will say to him, 'You shall not live, for you have spoken falsely in the name of the LORD'; and his father and mother who gave birth to him will pierce him through when he prophesies.

According to the prophet Zechariah .... What is anyone after the time of the New Testament claiming to be a prophet, tongue speaker etc. ?

Ouch! A Liar!

But... how do we know this is really dealing with Jesus' time?

6. "And one will say to him, 'What are these wounds between your arms?' Then he will say, '{Those} with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.'
7. "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, And against the man, My Associate," Declares the LORD of hosts. "Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; And I will turn My hand against the little ones.

This is the passage Jesus quoted for Himself ...

Jesus applied this passage to all the Apostles on the night He was betrayed. In other words, according to Jesus, this is also the prophecy of the desertion of all His apostles and Peter's denial. (See Matthew 26:31)

One final thought. Note the warning of the Apostle Peter as he prepared for his own death and wrote saying goodbye to the church . . .

"But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves." II Peter 2:1

Did you notice that while the danger to the Old Testament people was false prophets... the real danger to the Christians of the New Testament will be false teachers. Why? Because among folks familiar with what the Bible teaches... everyone who claims to be a prophet will be known to be false. False teachers will be more difficult.

Joseph Smith was only a threat to the ignorant. That Jeffries fellow that is currently in trouble over polygamy is no threat to those familiar with Bible teaching. All prophets today are immediately known for what they are....

Anyone claiming to be a prophet of God today . . . Is actually stabbing Christ Jesus in the back!

Or perhaps we should say . . . Driving another nail into His cross...


By Jerry Blount
From Expository Files 15.10; October 2008