Posts Tagged ‘apostles’


Judas and the Choice of Matthias: A Review

   Posted by: Rob Bowman    in Mormonism, New Testament

Zwiep, Arie W. Judas and the Choice of Matthias: A Study on Context and Concern of Acts 1:15-26. WUNT 2/187. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2004.


There have been very few books or even articles published that focus completely on Acts 1:15-26, the passage that narrates the choice of Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot following his betrayal and death. This is a crucial passage, however, for those who claim that the New Testament apostles understood their office as one that was to be perpetuated continuously from one generation to another. As I have explained in previous posts here, there are serious problems with the claim that Matthias’s appointment as apostle establishes a precedent for such an understanding of the office.

I have just finished working through Arie W. Zwiep’s academic monograph, Judas and the Choice of Matthias: A Study on Context and Concern of Acts 1:15-26. Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,

On December 22, the FAIR Blog—part of the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research, a pro-Mormonism web site—offered a response to my series of posts here on Mormonism and apostles. The author of the blog, identified as Keller, summarizes my argument as follows:

Bowman’s posts so far have argued that contemporary Mormon practice deviates from what he finds in early Christianity: 1) Ordination to a priesthood office wasn’t always done by the laying on of hands by one holding the authority to do so and 2) The office of apostle in the sense of being a spokesman for the Lord was not meant to continue as such. Such deviations, he contends, make it impossible for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to make unique truth claims about exclusively having priesthood authority.

Keller’s first point in his summary of my view is a bit off, confusing at least some of his readers. Thus, a Mormon named Lance Starr comments, “I haven’t read Bowman’s arguments but isn’t he undermining [his] own evangelical position by arguing for any ordinations at all?” Evangelicals have somewhat varying views on the subject of ordination, but the point I had made was that the New Testament never associates a human ordination ceremony or rite (involving the laying on of hands) with a man becoming an apostle of Jesus Christ. Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , ,

When Mormons attempt to show from the New Testament that the church cannot function without a continuing office of living apostles on the earth, they invariably cite Matthias as precedent. Matthias is the man whom Christ chose to replace Judas Iscariot after he had abandoned his apostolic office, betrayed Christ to the authorities, and then committed suicide (Acts 1:15-26).

The main difficulty with this argument is that nothing in the passage indicates that Matthias’s appointment was precedent for anything. Indeed, everything about the passage argues against it serving as precedent. The passage presents an unusual and in some ways unique event. Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , ,

Those who have been reading this blog lately know that I am very interested in the question of whether the office of apostle is supposed to be a continuing office in the church—a claim that is central to the religion of the Latter-day Saints, or Mormons. So I was interested in a paper given at ETS last week arguing for the continuation of the office of apostle. Frank Chan, a professor at Nyack College, does not accept the LDS claim that apostles in the sense of revelational spokesmen for Jesus Christ are supposed to be living and leading the church today. According to Chan, both traditional Christians and Mormons are mistaken in defining an apostle in this sense. Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,

The case against the LDS claim that other apostles had ordained Paul to be an apostle is actually quite simple. (1) Both Acts and Paul predicate Paul’s apostolic ministry to the Gentiles on Christ’s appearance to Paul (Acts 9, 22, 26; 1 Cor. 9:1; Gal. 1:15-16). (2) Paul’s description of his meetings with apostles following his conversion (Gal. 1-2) proves that the other apostles never ordained him. (3) Paul states explicitly that his apostleship was neither directly nor indirectly conferred on him by mortals (Gal. 1:1). I shall elaborate on these points in this post, giving special attention to the arguments of LDS scholar Richard Lloyd Anderson, who tries in his book Understanding Paul to show that Paul was subject to the direction of the Jerusalem apostles and ordained under their authority. Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , ,

Other than the original twelve apostles and Matthias, who replaced Judas Iscariot, the New Testament identifies several other men as apostles, among them Barnabas, Paul, James and Jude the Lord’s brothers, and (probably) Silas (also called Silvanus). However, of these additional apostles beyond the Twelve, only in the case of Paul do we have any description or account of how he came to be an apostle. The appointment of Paul to be an apostle, then, turns out to be an important test case in determining whether apostles subsequent to the Twelve came into that office through a ritual of ordination performed by the apostles.

The standard LDS doctrine of apostles requires Mormons to assume that the apostles must have ordained Paul to his apostolic office. For example, Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,


Were the Twelve Apostles Ordained by Other Apostles?

   Posted by: Rob Bowman    in Mormonism

A key component of the LDS Church’s religion is its claim to have an institutional office of apostle that Jesus Christ restored through Joseph Smith. The office is perpetuated from one generation to the next by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles “ordaining” new apostles from time to time, so that there will always be twelve apostles (at least).

I have already shown that the New Testament does not use the word “ordain” in reference to a religious rite or ceremony in which men confer a church office on someone else. The King James Version uses the word “ordain” in its older English sense of appointing, setting forth, or ordering. Of course, as I pointed out, the Bible might speak of ordination rites without using the words “ordain” or “ordination” in that sense. The question is whether it ever does so in reference to the conferring of the office of apostle.

We can focus the question more specifically by asking whether the New Testament ever indicates, explicitly or implicitly, that an apostle received his apostolic office through an act of investiture performed by other apostles. In short, as best we can tell from the New Testament, were any of the apostles ever ordained by other apostles? Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: ,


This is the first in a series of posts examining the LDS doctrine that God has restored the office of apostle in modern times. I will begin by examining the question of whether, or in what sense, the New Testament apostles were “ordained.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,