In the New Testament we see how Jesus gave authority to his Apostles to preach the gospel. We also see how they had authority to:
*]Create and appoint people to positions in the church hierarchy (Acts 6:1-6; Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5)
*]Make decisions regarding faith and practice binding all of the faithful (Acts 15:20-30)
*]Give commands (not suggestions) regarding morals and doctrine, and discipline erring Christians (Matthew 18:15-18; 1 Corinthians 5:5, 7:17, 11:3-16; 2 Cor 6:7-8; Ephesians 6:1-9; Philippians :2-3; Colossians 2:16, 3:18-23-4; 2 Thess 3:6,10,14; 1 Tim 1:3-4, 2:9-12, 4:11, 5:7-22, Titus 1:13, 3:10-11; Hebrews 10:25; 1 Peter 2:11-18; 2 John 10-11)
Now, the Apostles have been dead for 2,000 years. Whatever happened to their authority? Did they pass it on to someone, or did it die with them?
Many Christians will answer, “The Bible is our authority. They left their teachings in their writings which were collected in the New Testament.” To be sure, they did leave us the New Testament. However, is it enough? Consider this:
*]The New Testament is not written like a catechism. It is not a detailed explanation of the faith, with sections where you can look under ‘B’ for Baptism or ‘M’ for Mary.
*]The books of the New Testament were written to people who had already been taught the faith orally. While some are lengthy expositions of Christian teaching (Romans, Hebrews) most of the epistles were written mainly to correct errors in morals (1 Corinthians) or doctrine (ex: Galatians, James). Philemon was basically to an individual Christian regarding that person’s escaped slave; Philippians was largely a ‘thank you’ note to that church for their support of Paul; and Paul’s Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus) were instructions on church administration.
*]2 Peter 3:16 says that the “unlearned and unstable” distort the Scriptures to their own destruction. However, even for the educated and well-adjusted, interpretation of Scripture is no easy matter. Five intelligent people can read a passage from the Bible and come up with 5 different interpretations. How is one to know which meaning is the one the sacred writer intended, and which is an innovation?