For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
Who Is Sufficient?
"Having built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord" (Ephesians 2:20-21). "And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles" (1 Corinthians 12:28). "As a wise master builder I (Paul) have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it" (1 Corinthians 3:10). "And who is sufficient for these things?" (2 Corinthians 2:16).
The Lord has designated apostles to establish His church on the earth, because in the Divine order they are the initiators, the workers in charge of laying the foundation of Jesus Christ.
In the Pauline analogy, the church is represented as a building. Its foundation being Jesus Christ, is laid by the apostles and prophets. Our attention will be focused, for the time being, on the apostles, or "sent out ones". Later on, we shall busy ourselves on the prophets, when we consider the life and practice of the churches.
He first constituted apostles
The principal component of a building is the foundation. Before erecting any other aspect of a building, the matter of the foundation has to be resolved. More over, the success and survival of the superior structure depends on the base that sustains it.
The Lord spoke to us about this in the parable of the man who built his house on the sand and the other man who built his upon a rock. The product of each man's effort was successively tested by rains, winds and overflowing rivers. The result? While one house was built on the sand the other on unmovable rock. We conclude that the important factor is to build on a firm foundation.
We have already seen that the eternal foundation of the church is Christ. Everything that she is proceeds from Him. On the other hand, we have also considered that the work of God has a practical and experiential dimension. Everything that has been consummated in Christ is to have a visible and historical expression, because the church, eternal and heavenly, is to be concretely manifested on earth.
Such expression, however, is not an optional or trivial matter, depending on the initiative of men. There is only one possible way of giving full expression to God's desire and it is chronicled in the pages of the New Testament, in the specific example of the churches founded by the apostles. If we long to walk according to the Lord's heart, we shall undoubtedly seek to return not only to the content, but also to the original principles. In this case, our research will lead us to those that God placed as the initiators. To the men called by Him to lay the foundation of the church: the apostles of Jesus Christ.
If we want to see our Christian experience restored to the original pattern, we cannot bypass this pattern, we cannot bypass this point, because, as it has been said, God's principles never change.
The restoration of the life and practice of the church to its original form, just as it has been designated by God, first requires the specific work of these workers of the Lord.
The church, Paul tells us, is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Nobody else is capable nor commissioned to do this task. They are the stones that are first in the church, according to the order of construction. Upon them and their work, the whole house is to be built.
Nevertheless, from God's perspective, the term "principal", does not have a hierarchical connotation, nor does it imply a chain of command. They are not, in any sense whatsoever, the head of an organization called "church". Certainly, they represent the highest expression of the Divine authority, in a certain way, but that authority is merely functional and spiritual.
What do we mean? Let us remember that the church is a body, and as such, something very different to a human organization. However, the human mind is used to considering authority as a chain of command, where the "maximum authority" is found on the tip of the hierarchical summit of such a chain of command, be it called president, general manager, chief executive officer, commandant, bishop, main pastor, or any other similar name. But in the church of Christ, the matter is completely different, because she was created so that Christ would have the preeminence over all things.
Nobody can constitute himself to be "the visible head" of the church, without fracturing that truth, because the body has, and always will have only one head: Jesus Christ. Nobody but Him has the right to occupy that place of privilege. "The first among you" the Lord said, "will be your servant".
That is why the apostles, who in practice represent the highest spiritual authority, have been placed as the first stones upon the foundation of Jesus Christ and in a certain sense, as the last of all. Their place is a complete paradox that highlights the power of God. They have been sent with the authority of establishing the church of Christ on earth. But to achieve that goal, they cannot count on any other weapons except those provided by the Spirit of God. Their task is to be completely spiritual.
Nothing that is merely human, no capacity, strength, or mere natural authority may be introduced in their task, because they have been commissioned to do a work that does not belong to them at all. It is Another Who is sending them, and along with that He designates to them the way as well as the content of that mission. Nothing is left to their initiative of improvisation.
To better understand their singular position, let us imagine, perhaps, the following scene, purely for explanatory purposes: the Lord gathers His workers and spreads out a wonderful plan before them and says, "and this which you see here, at the bottom, is the foundation. Memorize its shape well, its measurements, and each one of its details, even to the smallest detail, because I am charging you with the mission of going and building these architectural blueprints into a reality. You are not allowed to add anything or to remove anything from what has been shown to you, because it is not your work which you are to establish. However, before you go, you must know that you have neither the strength, nor the capacity to fulfill this task. Consequently, My Spirit will come upon you to remind you of everything you have seen and to enable you to do your task. Each day of your life you have to die to your self, your ego, and surrender yourselves to the life and directives of the Holy Spirit. Only in that way can you be sure of the success of your mission, otherwise you will fail.
Your task is to go through the whole world and establish My church. In each city you have to lay the foundation you have seen and work until My church is built up. But at that precise moment, when at last you begin to see the fruit of your labors, you must allow other men to take over the task of building upon the foundation that you have laid in that city. You must be attentive to recognize those men, and when the moment comes, place the responsibility of taking care of My house in each locality into their hands. You must never accede to the temptation of appropriating My house, nor use your greater knowledge and experience to edge yourselves into a position as head of My church. I Myself will be the Head of My church in each town and city. However, the responsibility of the general state of all the churches will fall on you, because you will be the first, and the quality of the whole building will depend on the quality of your work. Go, therefore, with My authority and see, I will be with you until the end of everything".
In our imaginary scene we find that the apostolic commission is specific and flows in well-defined channels. The apostolic ministry, as we have seen, turns out to be absolutely essential. Without the apostles the church would never be edified according to the will of God. Why? Because God has established the apostles as the initiators, which means that the foundation of Christ can only be adequately laid through them.
Paul tells us that, "nobody can establish another foundation than the one that has already been laid, which is Jesus Christ". And to establish that foundation in the life of the church is the specific contribution of the apostles of Christ. Nobody else is capacitated to do such a task. We cannot change that fact. The elders, teachers, and even the prophets have to perform their tasks based on the pioneer work of the apostles. They should never substitute the work of the apostles, because such gifts are born of Christ through the work of the apostles of the Lord.
However, the Lord has overseen that no man nor ministry is to have hegemony in His church. For that reason, an essential characteristic of His apostles is that they "do not have a fixed dwelling". They lay the foundation, then they leave to lay the foundation somewhere else. They never stay in the same place for much time. At the most, they stay only the time that is necessary to fulfill their labor, because their mission is not to erect a church that orbits around their own ministry but one whose center is Christ 1. The characteristic seal of their service is the life which they impart wherever they go; the life that sprouts out of a profoundly intimate and experiential knowledge of the Lord, of His cross and of the power of His resurrection.
Most certainly, apostles are not the result of improvisation. Nor are they the result of a quick course of a few weeks. A calling is required, a specific commission from the Holy Spirit and years, many years, of walking under His discipline and formation. "So then death is working in us, but life in you" (2 Corinthians 4:12).
However, to better understand that affirmation we must consider the original matrix from which the church surged once more.
Establishing a model
How is the foundation of Christ established? Which are its constituting elements? What experience and what practice has to be set in place first, in order to establish a church in a specific location?
To answer these questions, what is perhaps needed is an apostle of Biblical times. However, we do not have any more of those men among us. We can only try to answer from what the Scriptures recorded about the practices, norms of conduct and principles of the New Testament workers. Our basis for such an attempt is found in the very teaching of the apostles, because there is a firm and persistent conviction throughout all their letters that not only their words, but also their principles of conduct constitute the foundation of life for the church:
"And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2;2).
"...will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church" (1 Corinthians 4:17).
"For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us..." (2 Thessalonians 3:7).
"...to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us" (2 Thessalonians 3:9).
"Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" (1 Thessalonians 11:1).
"to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind" (Philippians 3:16).
"Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern" (Philippians 3:17).
"That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us" (2 Timothy 1:14).
"But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long suffering, love, perseverance" ( 2 Timothy 3:10).
These and other similar passages allow us to assume that by following the example that the apostles gave us in establishing the church in the first century, the Holy Spirit has given us a permanent norm for all the times to come. Nothing allows us to think that God has changed His way of working in our days.
According to the New Testament, we must grill ourselves not only with the Word, but also with the apostolic example. The cause of this conviction is found in the fact that they learned from Christ Himself the way to establish the church. They simply sought to be faithful to the original model that they had seen, heard, gazed upon, and handled with the Lord (1 John: 1-4). Certainly, we are referring to the original nucleus comprising the historic matrix of the church: the twelve disciples.
They did not begin as apostles, but simply as common men that, called by Jesus, who had to abandon everything and follow Him. Thus began their extraordinary adventure, destined to change the whole course of history one day. However, they did not even suspect at that time the high purpose to which they were called, because, (and let us understand this well,) they were ordinary men whose names would have remained forever in anonymity, had they not had their encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Neither did they suspect that God was establishing a norm of life and experience with them that would come to be the basic pattern for the church: the corporate life centered on Christ. Because the twelve disciples were set apart, in the first place, to be with Christ (Mark 3:13-14). Not to perform a ministry, nor a determined service, nor anything like it; but simply to be with Jesus Christ, to know Him and experience His life.
During three years they were doing almost nothing else. Week after week, day after day, hour after hour, they lived to know Christ in the midst of all possible circumstances. That was a profound experience, intense and glorious, because it was God Himself who they could see, touch, and listen to in a way that nobody had ever even dreamt possible.
But not everything was glorious during those years. There were also failures, stress, friction, arguments, fights, and all those things that human nature is capable of when exposed.
And it has to be like that. Time and again they were put to the test, only to discover how incapable, weak and prone to failure each of them was. As it has been said before, their most hidden motives and desires were exposed to glaring light, in stark contrast to the evidence of the manifested Life that kept shining from the Lord. This is how they came to know how egotistical, self-centered, weak and sinful they really were. This is one of the immediate results of life in fellowship with the Lord. Sooner or later what we really are becomes manifested, no matter how much we try to hide it.
Something similar happens to us in marriage. Before we get married, many of us believe we are very spiritual (certainly, this is a very common temptation among the single, for the reason soon to be revealed). Nevertheless, once we begin living with somebody else, difficulties soon begin. Our true character is exposed and brought to light. Suddenly, we do not seem to be so lovable, humble and patient as before.
What has happened to us? Have we become less spiritual? Certainly not. To tell the truth, we never were so spiritual. Our problem was that we did not know it. But, once exposed, everything artificial crumbles down into dust.
To what end? There is only one reason for that, and it has to do precisely with the true nature of the church.
The decisive operation of the cross
We have said that the church was created to contain and express the Divine life. However, a great obstacle is hindering this purpose to be fulfilled in us. Is it sin? No. The mundane world perhaps? No. Satan, then? Not even he. It is something far more subtle and absolutely ignored by a great majority of Christians. I am referring, specifically, to our very own human nature, full of legitimate affections, noble ideals, fears and hopes which are completely useless to God. We are referring to that existence that some have called the self life, the life of self, my ego. More than any other thing, that and only that can frustrate and hinder the high purpose of God.
Before being of any use to God and prepared to experience the church life, the apostles had to be dealt with in this fundamental fact, because everything is finally reduced to one thing alone: either we live by the means of our very own life (in which case "I" am the one who is at the center of everything), or we surrender to live by means of the Divine life (in which case Christ is at the center of everything). No one who has not first gotten rid of his own self life is in a condition to experience Christ as his new life in the context of the Body, the church. The Lord was referring to this when He said: "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 10:23). However, before we continue, it is necessary to make a brief digression to make an important clarification in this regard.
Natural life or natural strength is that part of us which we have by being God's creation. Due to living such a long time under the dominion of sin, it has developed way out of measure. The problem is that it makes us completely incapable of experiencing the life of the Body of Christ.
In principle, it is not a bad thing. It is here by God's creation, since it is made of our capabilities, emotions, affections and natural activity. For that reason, God does not want to destroy it, as He did with our old man on the cross (what's more, in His original plan, that life was designed to be the channel of the Divine life). God's work, in this case, consists rather in amending, pruning and subjugating it, in order to transform it into a docile instrument in His hands.
To attain this, He uses the cross. Before experiencing its subjective operation, we are of little use for God, because the new life in us is still found locked up and limited by our natural strength. Paul calls this natural life, 'the outer man" whereas the Divine life dwelling in our spirit he calls "the inner man" (2 Corinthians 4:16).
In the light of the parable of the grain of wheat it is easy to understand this distinction. The outer man is the shell that encloses the seed; the inner man is the life that remains locked up in it. In order for the life to be able to be liberated and develop, it is necessary for the exterior coating to become broken and disintegrated by the action of the chemical elements that operate underground. When this happens, then the life in the seed finds its way to be expressed and grow; but death had to act first on the shell of the seed.
The cross operates on the natural man in an identical way. Through the cross, God breaks our natural life, to bring it to the place where it is willingly subjected to the government of the Holy Spirit, thus transforming it into a useful instrument in His hands. Before this happens we are full of thoughts, feelings, initiatives, affections and personal opinions. Afterwards, we simply do not dare to move on our own account.
But, what does the work of the cross actually consist of? Well, the cross is essentially the formative discipline of the Holy Spirit. In that discipline, the Holy Spirit leads us through painful and difficult circumstances so that we learn not to do anything on our own account or, to put it bluntly, by our own natural "horsepower".
Progressively, (each time in a deeper way) the Holy Spirit keeps peeling away "the onion of" our natural self-centered life of the flesh. What He is seeking is to bring us to the point that we finally acknowledge the uselessness of our personal efforts, the vanity of our own affections, thoughts and initiatives, until we completely abandon ourselves to Him, to His life, to His living in us and to His personal directives.
The painful circumstances that He ordains to attain that end can be external or internal, accordingly, as is required by those aspects that He progressively desires to touch. This may be a personal illness of ours or of one dear to us (some illnesses are allowed by God), or a great financial difficulty, the lack of understanding from others, us being rejected by those whose opinion we esteem, the difficult character of some people we have to deal with, or perhaps periods of much inward darkness, confusion and suffering, during which times we feel as if His grace had abandoned us. However, through all these experiences He seeks to bring us to a place of abundance, blessing and abundant fruit in our service (the apostle Paul describes this glorious fact in 2 Corinthians 3:7-12).
However, the work of the cross is only fulfilled with our voluntary consent. The differences we observe among believers are precisely balanced upon this point. Some hold on to their natural life and are not willing to yield an inch to the Divine discipline. These children of God are not prepared to pay the price. Others, on the contrary, accept that the hand of God lays hold of their life and deprives them of everything that is useless in His eyes. They do not desire to keep anything that is useless in His eyes. They do not desire to keep anything for their self. They understand that to gain Christ it is necessary to lose everything first, even that which in the eyes of others is good, useful and valuable (Philippians 3:7-8), because they want to follow Him in the most excellent way. These are the ones that follow the Lamb wherever He wants to go (revelation 14:4), for whom is the promise of the Lord Jesus: "where I will be, there my servant will also be". To the eyes of men such people may seem weird, strange and despised, but to God, they are a special treasure.
In that sense, during their years with Jesus, the apostles were successively and progressively brought to experience confusion, failure and loss, in order they would learn to discard their natural, egocentric and individualistic life and, in its place, to abandon themselves to the life of Christ to be expressed in them.
Little by little, through profound experiences, they were stripped of all their independence and self confidence. And, at the same time, the basic form of life. Thus, Christ Himself was little by little becoming the center and practical reality of their being.
Finally, after the devastating moment of the cross and the glory of that resurrection morning, those men were at last prepared to be converted into apostles of Jesus Christ. From their past, little remained, except, perhaps, their own name, everything else had been swept away by the cross and the resurrection.
The birth of the church
Then it happened. A strong wind filled the house where they were praying together. It was the Holy Spirit descending on them, imparting the very life that they had learned to follow while they were with Christ. That life that had come to be the reason of their whole existence was again among them now, even more intimate and real that ever before. But even more, a tremendous sensation of authority enveloped them, because the kingdom of God and the authority of Christ had come down to earth.
In that same instant, by the power of the life that now was inside them, they were united together with all their brethren present there to form the body of Christ on earth. And, as the church was born, their apostolic office was also born. With that, the Holy Spirit established a permanent norm that day; the church is born together with the apostles.
History tells us that in that same day 3,000 people were added to the church and, a little later, 5,000 more. Astonishing! Yes, and also terribly complicated. Almost 8,000 people brought to Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit in a completely unexpected way. What would they do with all those people? Send them back to their homes with a few words of blessing? (Many had come from remote regions of the Roman Empire). Or was there something more?
But those men had been prepared for that moment, although, probably they were not aware of it up to that moment. That is why, led by the Holy Spirit, they did something completely unexpected and extraordinary: they told all those people to begin living the same kind of experience they had previously lived with Christ. Jesus Himself had taught them to do it when He called them to be with him. Consequently, when the moment came, they simply decided to live with all the new believers in the same kind of vital experience that Christ had lived with them (this was probably the beginning of what later would be called "the doctrine of the apostles"). An experience of 18 hours per day during the 7 days of the week, week after week.
Thus the church of Christ began, starting with that group of men whose only credentials were that they had continually lived with Jesus during the last three years.
The apostles gathered those new believers and they transferred everything they had seen, heard, gazed upon, experienced and learned with Jesus Christ; and, undoubtedly, those new disciples got to know Him just as the apostles did before: a real Lord, intimate and present in the midst of them.
However, if we continue the narrative in Acts, we find that to fulfill their task they did not construct a costly building in which to gather the disciples, nor did they elaborate a refined program of Bible teaching, nor were they concerned to develop a complicated and efficient ecclesiastical organization (perhaps, nobody thought about such things in those glorious days). At that moment, they simply followed the same methodology of the Lord. They adapted the new converts to a simple way of life, informal, extraordinarily practical and flexible, making use of the same elements that the Lord had used during His ministry: a sufficiently ample place to gather a large quantity of people (no better place than the temple's courtyard) and the homes of the believers (Acts 5:42).
The apostles did not busy themselves in becoming the hierarchical heads of any kind of complex movement or organization, because they had an infinitely superior task in their hands. Their only occupation during the years that followed was to transmit the same way of life that they had known and learned with the Lord Jesus Christ to the emerging church. Preaching and teaching Jesus Christ, the book of Acts tells us, was the main activity of those men sent by God to lay the foundation of His church. Obviously, that foundation is Christ Himself. And His mission was to take His brethren to know and express the life of Christ just as they had first learned from the Lord Himself. That is why they came to constitute the foundation of the church, because by His life and ministry the Holy Spirit imparts the more profound and essential knowledge of Christ to all His children.
But God placed a rule on them: that once their task was done, they had to leave, in order to permit the churches to grow and develop under the exclusive directive of Christ as Head, through the Holy Spirit. That is why they must wait and allow others to take charge to continue building upon the foundation already laid, because the building of the church is not the exclusive work of any man in particular, but is rather the corporate result of the coordinated activity of many gifts, in the mutual ministry of all the saints.
Here, at this precise point, the most conclusive proof of their apostolic office can be found: the capacity of the churches founded by them to survive and develop under the Lord's guidance. If they have done their task well, the work will stand, because Christ would have come to be the very center of that work. But if they do it wrong, their work will certainly fall, lacking the proper foundation.
This is, in a certain way, the impossible mission that the Lord gave to His apostles, to lay the foundation of His church, and hope, against all hope that their work would remain when they left and could not be around to protect it. That is why Paul questions his works in his second letter to the Corinthians: "And for these things, who is sufficient?"
Undoubtedly, nobody, except those that have learned to divest themselves of any self-confidence and to fully trust in Him Who has the power to subjugate all things under His rule. These are they who have abandoned any hope in their own resources, acknowledging their own incompetence to do such a task, those that depend exclusively of the Spirit of God to fulfill their mission. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God" (2 Corinthians 3:5).
The unchangeable foundation
Once the foundation of Christ was laid in each rising church, the apostles would normally go to another place to do the same thing again. However, they could trust that the Holy Spirit would keep and strengthen these freshly sprouting churches, thus continuing His edifying work.
Certainly, they would return now and then, to confirm the brethren, complete what was lacking in their faith, correct what was deficient and to give orientation to the elders in each place. However, their authority in the churches already established would never replace the other gifts given by the Lord to continue equipping the saints. If the foundation had been properly laid, the church would know how to find all the direction and necessary sustenance in Christ to continue growing.
Nevertheless, the foundation of the apostles could not be altered nor changed, and the churches, if they wanted to remain before the Lord, had to remain faithful to the apostles and their work, because only in that way, the original matrix of life given by the Lord would be preserved.
In spite of that, the sad reality is that at some point in its history, the church lost its link with the apostolic foundation and drifted away from the simple way of original life and experience centered exclusively on Jesus Christ. Slowly, worldly complexities and organizational structures sneaked into the church and mutated it completely. The foundation of Christ was replaced by an efficient and complex ecclesiastical organization, structured in the image and likeness of the Roman Empire.
In the beginning, the churches depended exclusively on Christ to exist in each city. Then, as Christianity grew and became strong, able and intelligent men, with a great intellectual preparation and void of any personal experience of the cross and of the Lord as their own life, wormed their way into the churches. These men due to their charming personality and scholastic qualifications, soon became notable as leaders among the brethren, and began to occupy the places of religious prominence. Using their ample human qualifications, they guilt and gave shape to a vast religious system, systematizing even to tiniest details.
However, those new builders forgot the most important fact, the very thing they should never have overlooked: to build upon the simplicity of the true foundation laid by the apostles of Jesus Christ. Perhaps they did not know the Lord sufficiently, and, therefore, they were unable to build with the adequate materials. Their work was only wood, hay and stubble. The result, however, was devastating, and even in our days the church has not recovered from its consequences.
Something that was not Christ had been introduced in the experience of the believers. At the beginning it was subtle and insignificant, but gradually, it was to invade the entire life of the church. Something demolishing. The natural man (the human "I", the ego, the carnal and egocentric self) had crept into the church, with all its good ideas, projects, abilities, and totally useless to God. God's purpose ended up being forgotten and replaced by merely human ambitions and objectives (it is sad to verify how during the last 18 centuries, the church has practically not known anything about the eternal Divine purpose revealed in the pages of the New Testament).
However, all those goals were in principle good and even commendable, as well as their immediate results. Notwithstanding, they were less than Christ. Finally, they ended up destroying God's work. Why? Because at some point of this tragic history what happened with Israel in its past, happened to the church; the glory of the Lord abandoned the temple.
This will always happen when what is merely human usurps the place of Christ in the experience of the church. The complexity, the organization, the systematization and the preestablished structures substitute the life and the church dies. Given the opportunity and enough time (a few centuries) to do its evil task, what emerges will be something so completely different to Christ, so abysmally deformed, that we will even ask ourselves, how could the Divine life ever have once lived in it. On the outside, it seems stronger than ever; but its strength is merely human, carnal, never in subjection to the cross of Christ, and therefore, not sustained by the Holy Spirit. It does not matter how important and imposing it may appear in the eyes of men; in God's eyes it would have lost all its value. His judgment on her is definitive: "You have a name that you live, but you are dead". This is the consequence of abandoning the apostolic foundation.
Consequently, since such a foundation results to be so determinative and essential for the church of the Lord, it is absolutely essential for us to return to it, if our desire is to come to see the restoration of the living testimony of Christ on earth.
This, consequently, brings us to the original matrix and to the men that establish it. "Today's Christianity - observed a Christian writer- has deviated very far from what the primitive church was. A restoration is necessary. Undoubtedly, the first thing that needs to be restored in the church is the first thing the Lord gave His church: apostles. And so it is that without a full restoration of this office, any other analysis, all other hopes, all other dreams and plans of again seeing the church as she should be, lack any sense at all". (2)
1. It is possible to distinguish, perhaps, two "models" of apostolic work in the New Testament. The first is found in the example of Jerusalem, where the church grew and remained with the twelve during approximately five or six years. Afterwards, after the first persecution, that model terminated because only the apostles stayed in Jerusalem, while the believers were scattered everywhere. Those brethren constituted the nucleus of new churches in all the surrounding regions. The second example is in Antioch, from there the apostles sent by the Holy Spirit, traveled as itinerant workers establishing churches, which after a while they would abandon to continue doing the work beyond these. In this book it is assumed that both examples bequeath us a basic principle of the apostolic action which is to say, they teach us that the task of these workers of the Lord is to establish the foundation of Christ in each church and then, after a time, to abandon them to the exclusive direction of the Lord, their Head. However, this does not mean that the apostles did not have a place in the already established churches, which is derived from the same nature of their function. Certainly they would return from time to time to correct what had become deficient, complete what was lacking, and establish elders (Titus 1:5). Their task was to watch over the work and the churches in general (2 Corinthians 11:28), while in each church this supervision and spiritual support as more mature and experienced workers, and it was specially directed to the elders. In this way, if the churches desired to remain on the foundation of Christ, they would recognize and accept their spiritual help and supervision. However, such acknowledgment had to be effected under the principle of mutuality and reciprocity, and not as a kind of hierarchical subordination (Revelation 2:2b).
2. Revolution: the History of the Primitive Church, Gene Edwards.