Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

“Legal Council Pt. 2”

Categories: DOCTRINE, THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH

(This question is in response to “Legal Council”.)

You said, "No congregation has the right to impose their decisions on another local church." But in Acts 15, James, the bishop of Jerusalem (not an apostle) sends a letter of decree to the local congregation that was circumcising Gentile believers. This became binding on that local congregation (and the practice obviously stopped).  Also, you said, "The only difference would be that the council in Acts 15 affected the entire universal church because the apostles were there, and the apostles had authority over all the church."  Where in the Bible does it specifically say that the authority of the apostles ended when they passed on?  Is that just an assumption?

Sincerely,
Make A Decision

Dear Make A Decision,

James wasn’t the only one who sent that letter – he was one of the elders from Jerusalem, but the letter was sent by the apostles and the elders (Acts 15:23).  The apostles were the ones with the authority to lay the decree down for all the churches.  Paul points out that as an apostle, he had that authority and responsibility in 1 Cor 7:17 and 2 Cor 11:28.

It isn’t an assumption that the apostolic authority ended with these first apostles.  In order to be an apostle, a man had to be specifically sent forth by Christ (the word ‘apostle’ means ‘one sent forth’) and have witnessed His resurrection (Acts 1:21-26).  Elders only have the authority to shepherd the local congregation they are at (1 Pet 5:2).  Universal church authority ended with the apostles.