Recovering the Fellowship of the Apostles and New Testament Eldership Part 1

The Apostolate or fellowship of the Apostles was the foundation of the early Church’s governmental unity and is still the key to the success of the Church’s global mission in the 21st century.

In Matthew 16 Jesus declared that He would build His Church, His Holy Nation, and that He would build it in such a way that the very gates of hell (the governments of cities and nations) would not be able to resist the Church’s march in history. What is Jesus talking about? How can this happen? What is the key to the Church’s functional and structural unity and the success of its apostolic mission in the earth?

In this lesson we will see that Jesus Himself established what the New Testament writers call “the fellowship of the apostles” or “the apostolate”. In the transition that took place from the Jewish age to the Messianic age, the Lord took the Kingdom of Heaven from the High Priests and rulers of Israel (the Sanhedrin), and He gave it to the Apostles, the fellowship of apostles or the apostolate (governmental body or council) that Jesus Himself had established. Together these Apostles extended the Kingdom and planted Christ’s Church throughout the Roman Empire. At the Lord’s direction they also ordained elders, who were the ruling pastors or shepherds of the allotments or congregations of the Church, who together with the apostles governed the Lord’s House.

It is foolish to talk about an apostolic reformation in the 21st century without recovering the governmental unity established by Jesus in the first century.

RECOVERING THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE APOSTLES (THE APOSTOLATE ) AND NEW TESTAMENT ELDERSHIP is in fact Lesson 6 of AD250 The Non-Negotiables of Apostolic Christianity, one of the most important and controversial courses in the Ern Baxter School of the Apostles Doctrine, Church History and Theology. Because ATS is an apostolic mission. All of our courses and degree programs are offered free of charge to anyone who desires to equip himself to serve Christ and His Kingdom. This is made possible through the generous mission support of partnering churches and individuals who passionately long to see a new generation of fivefold ministers and Kingdom leaders raised up around the globe. To enroll click on Current Courses.


If we are going to see an apostolic reformation in the 21st century, Christ’s ministers and church leaders must recover the Apostles’ revelation of Church Government, the fellowship of the Apostles and New Testament Eldership .

1. Just as there is an apostolic revelation or key about Christ’s Kingdom and Church, there is also an apostolic revelation or key concerning the Church’s governmental order or structure.

2. There is a valid apostolic structure, a Divine architecture, and a structure of victory that will unify and enable the Church to succeed in its mission and ultimately triumph over the gates of hell!

In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

Jesus is boldly declaring that the distinguishing mark of His Church is victory over the gates of hell!

One prominent Church leader observing the present situation in the church and the world declared, “It seems to me that the gates of hell are prevailing against the Lord’s Church!”

Because of the present sub normality in the Church there are major social problems and cultural conflicts throughout the world (racism, homosexuality, pornography, world hunger and starvation, ethnic wars and genocide) were the gates of hell indeed appear to be prevailing. There are major geographic areas and people groups still not evangelized, let alone brought under the discipline or rule of the kingdom of heaven.

Several years ago Dr. Robert Shuler, Pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in Southern California asked Paul Yongi Cho, “Why is it that when you travel and are away from your pulpit, the people continue to attend and the work of your church continues to go forward. But in my church, if I am not in the pulpit my attendance falls off?”
Dr. Cho answered candidly, “because my church is really the Lord’s Church and the Crystal Cathedral is your church.”
To his credit, Dr. Shuler then said to Dr. Cho, “well, what do I have to do to make my church, His Church?”

Let’s be honest. Not everything that calls itself ‘church’ is a valid part of Christ’s Church. Many today appear to be building their own churches instead of His Church!

Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, “I will build my Church and I will build it in such a way the gates of hell, the powers of the kingdom of darkness will not be able to prevail or withstand the march of my mighty spiritual army.” (My paraphrase)

There is a structure of victory, a divine architecture if you will, that will unify and enable the Church to succeed in its mission and fulfill its God-given destiny!

3. It’s found in Matthew 16:19:

“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shave have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

A. Jesus was speaking to the Apostle Peter as the representative leader of the Apostolate, the fellowship of the Apostles.

1.  The “keys” themselves speak of the revelation of the secrets and mysteries of Christ, His Kingdom and His Church! (See Matthew 13:11)

But there is much more.

a. The giving or entrusting of the keys to Peter and his fellow Apostles symbolizes the Apostles’ stewardship of the mysteries of Christ and His Kingdom!

b. Further the granting or entrusting of the keys of Kingdom also symbolizes the authority of Christ’s Apostles’ as special envoys or governmental representatives sent by the Lord to governments and nations to offer them God’s covenant of peace and establish His saving rule in the earth. (Matthew 28:19-20, Romans 1: 5)

c. Finally, the granting or entrusting of the keys of Kingdom also symbolizes the authority of Christ’s Apostles’ as spiritual architects, master builders and overseers or governmental rulers of Christ’s Church, the House of David.
2.  When Jesus says to Peter, “I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,” He is making a strategic reference to Isaiah 22:15-23.

a. The “steward” of the house of David was Shebna. He was in “charge of the royal household “.

He had the “oversight” or “rule” of David’s house.

Verse 19 prophecies Shebna was to be removed from his “office” or “bishopric “.

b. He was to be replaced by Eliakim (read verses 20 and 21) who was to be clothed with Shebna’s “vestments” outward symbols of his office and be given “authority” over Jerusalem and Judah, the royal house of David.

c. Now look at verse 22 (read).

The symbol of Eliakim’s stewardship and the authority of his office would be the “key “of David’s royal house.

d. According to Rev. 3:7 God the Father has given the Key of David to the David’s Lord, Jesus the Christ.

“He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens…”

The God the Father gives the key of David’s Kingdom to His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, who in turn gives the keys of David’s Kingdom to His Apostles.

e. In Matthew 16:19, Jesus declares He is going to give the keys to Peter and to the Apostles.

Jesus knew this prophetic passage in Isaiah 22!

It is no accident that Jesus says to Peter, “I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.”

As already mentioned above, the keys of the Kingdom represent not only the Apostles’ stewardship of the revelation of Christ and His Kingdom, but also their governmental authority as His representatives and their spiritual oversight or government as Bishops over Christ’s Church, the restored House of David.

2. Jesus makes another strategic reference or inference to Isaiah 22 in Matthew 21:33-46.

a. Jesus tells the parable of the vineyard and the vine-growers.

(The vine is an important Old Testament symbol for Israel. In John’s Gospel Jesus declares “I am the vine and you are the branches,” declaring Himself and His Apostles to be the Israel of God.)

b. In Christ’s parable the vine-growers represent the Chief Priests and elders of Israel.

They were the appointed stewards of the Old Covenant Law, representatives of the kingdom of heaven and the rulers or overseers of Israel under the Old Covenant.

They sat in Moses seat and governed Israel, the fallen tabernacle or house of David.

c. But they refused to give the owner his produce at harvest time.

God is looking for fruit, justice or righteous judgment not only in the Holy Nation but also through it in the whole earth, not just leaves or mere outward profession and talk.

d. Finally, they kill the Son of the owner of the vineyard.

e. Now look at verses 43, 45, and 46.

Just as the rule or oversight of David’s house was taken from Shebna and given to Eliakim, so the governmental authority of the fallen House of David, the Kingdom of heaven, was to be taken from the religious leaders, the rulers of Israel and be given to the Apostles.

As Stewards of the Mysteries of Christ, His Governmental Envoys and Overseers or Bishops of the restored House of David, they would be responsible to gather and teach the sons of Zion to do everything the King had commanded, and also to structure and order Church life, thus bringing forth the fruit of the Kingdom!

3. Look at Matthew 19:28, another strategic reference to Isaiah 22.

a. When will the Apostles sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel?

b. According to Jesus, this will take place when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory!

c. We have seen in our previous study that this was fulfilled in the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. According to Peter and Paul, after His resurrection, Jesus ascended and sat down on the throne of David at the right hand of God in heaven. Today, He is already seated on the throne of His glory and ruling in the midst of His enemies.

Do not postpone this until the Second Coming of Christ.
The regeneration was an objective event in history.

According to the apostles, Peter and Paul, Jesus was ‘begotten again’ or ‘made alive’ in hell, the citadel of Satan, and became the ‘first-born’ from among the dead ones and the head of a new creation. God is presently bringing many sons to glory!

The Apostle Paul proclaimed, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together _ with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:5)

And elsewhere Paul writes, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.”

While there remains a final consummation and the future hope of the resurrection of the body, the regeneration is an objective historical event that took place in Christ’s death and resurrection.

When you and I, moved by the power of the Holy Spirit, repent and obey the Gospel by getting ourselves baptized into Christ’s death and raised up into His resurrection, we subjectively or experientially enter into “the regeneration!”

We are born again and become true sons of God and members of His household (which is also the restored House of David, Zion, the Israel of God)!

d. It is also worth observing that in the ancient or historic churches, when a bishop is consecrated to his office or apostleship, he is enthroned.

While I am not interested in restoring the concept of Monarchial Bishops, it is worth noting that Christ’s Church has understood for centuries that Matthew 19:28 is a present reality!

e. Turn to Psalm 122: 5 (read.)

David is prophesying about Messiah’s day and the governmental order of Zion.

In verse 1 David says, “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go to the house of the Lord.”

Remember that at the time David wrote these words, Solomon’s Temple had not yet been built. 

But God had promised David that the Messiah would build God a house and that house would also be David’s house.

Read verses 2, 3, 4.

By the Spirit of prophecy David sees the House of the Lord as the New Jerusalem “built” or “compacted together” by covenant relationships, the Heavenly City to which “the tribes of the Lord” (the Israel of God) “go up” or ascend in rank and order (on the Lord’s Day) to celebrate and praise the name of Lord.

Note that this heavenly Jerusalem, the mother of the sons of Zion, has apostolic government or rule. David sees “thrones set for judgment, the apostolic and pastoral thrones of the House of David.”

David’s vision and the promise of God is what Jesus is referring to in Matthew 19:28 as He prophesies to Peter and the other Apostles, “you shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Tragically, the modern Church does not really understand the Christ’s Kingdom, His Church or its governmental order.

Yes, the Church is a spiritual family and needs spiritual fatherhood.

And true Apostles are indeed spiritual fathers (along with pastors and elders) over the allotments of Israel.

But the Lord’s Church is also Zion, the House of David ; it is a Heavenly City, the Bride of Christ and the Mother of the Holy Nation, and it has apostolic government. Real Apostles are not only spiritual fathers; they are also overseers or rulers of the redeemed House of David.

True apostles are princes in Israel.

Please, I am not talking about authoritarianism or lording over God’s people.

Today too many are attempting to judge or govern the Lord’s Church, who are not fit to govern (Not just Apostles, but also Pastors or Elders).

Jesus sternly warns against this in Matthew 20:25.

Just a little while after He prophesies to Peter and the eleven about sitting on thrones and judging the twelve tribes, the disciples begin to compete with each other for the chief seats (thrones)!

The mother of James and John comes to Jesus along with her sons and asks Jesus to command that in His kingdom (which remember began with His ascension and enthronement on David’s throne at God’s right hand in Heaven) that one of her sons be allowed to sit on his right hand and the other on his left! Obviously, her sons had been thinking about what Jesus had promised in chapter 19.

They were ambitious for position and probably had enlisted their mother’s help in interceding with Jesus on their behalf.

Please notice, Jesus did not say to them that they should not desire to sit on thrones or the office of a bishop or to govern His Church!

Instead, He says, “You do not know what you are asking (the difficulty, hardship, struggle, heartache and responsibility), are you able to drink the cup which I am about to drink?”

In other words, “are you qualified?” “Are you able to do this?”

The old hymn says, “‘Are you able,’ said the Master, ‘to be crucified with me?’ ‘Yea, the conquering heroes answered, to the death we follow thee.’”

The chorus says, “Lord, we are able, our spirits are thine, remold and make us, like thee divine!”

Jesus says to these Apostles, “Are you able to drink the cup I am about to drink?”

Then Jesus tells them, “to sit on my right and my left, is not mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

Thrones have been prepared upon which Christ’s servants are to sit and from which they are to govern His House!

If we really understood and truly believed in God’s sovereignty it would eliminate carnal comparisons and soulish competition!

It would also keep us from promising ministries and offices and positions, which are not ours to give.

In verse 24, Matthew tells us the other “ten became indignant with the two brothers.” They had their own ideas and dreams and ambitions!

Now look at verses 25-28 (read).

Their selfish ambitions, their carnal jealousy and envy, and their competing and quarreling with each other concerning which one of them was actually the greatest apostle or ruler in His Kingdom compelled Jesus to give one of His most powerful teachings, regarding servant leadership and true greatness!

There is governmental order or structure in the Lord’s House! 

Apostles are not only spiritual fathers in the family of God, they are also rulers over Zion, the Israel of God.

They sit on thrones and judge or govern the Lord’s house in the restored Kingdom of David.

But they must be qualified and chosen by the Lord Himself. The thrones in His Kingdom are reserved for His servants, who are humble and who love not their own lives.

They must be able to drink His cup of suffering and fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for His body!

They must deny their flesh, take up their own cross and be able to lay down their lives for His Kingdom, for one another, and for His Church.

They must honor, prefer and serve one another.

They must not be like the rulers of the Gentiles, who lord it over those they govern.

Instead, they must be like the good shepherd, who lovingly laid down His life for the sheep! They must love the Lord and His people even unto death.

4. Now turn to Acts chapter 1 starting with verse 15.

a. Look at verse 17, “He (speaking of Judas) was counted among us,” that is counted as part of Jesus’ “apostolic company,” the “fellowship of the apostles” that Jesus Himself had formed during His ministry.

Peter continues, “and received his portion in this ministry” or apostolate.

Notice Peter talks about many parts or portions, but a single ministry!

Christ chose the twelve to be part of His own apostolic ministry, a plurality of apostles but only one ministry or apostolate!

Each of the twelve had his part.
Peter had his part. James had his part. John, Matthew, Bartholomew, Thomas, even Judas!

In the beginning there were twelve parts, but only one ministry or apostleship, the ministry of Christ.

b. In verse 20 Peter quotes from Psalm 109:8, as David prophesies the betrayal of his promised Son by Judas. “His office let another man take.”

Literally the word is “bishopric”, which is the office of an overseer or bishop.

Apostles have offices. Please note that they are Bishops.

Yes, they are fathers. But they are also Bishops, charged not only with the Stewardship of the mysteries of Christ’s Kingdom and extending His saving rule to the nations, but also with the oversight or government of His House, the House of David!

Of course I am laboring the point. But the modern church and especially the new apostolic movement within that church must understand that the Lord Himself has established governmental offices in His Church!

Until valid governmental offices are duly recognized and proper pastoral care and true governmental oversight are restored to the allotments of believers in cities, regions, and nations throughout the earth, we will not have Church.

That is we will not have Christ’s Church properly structured, ordered, and governed!

Apostles are Bishops.  I am not talking about Monarchial Bishops such as developed in the middle ages. Nor am I talking about lordship over the faith of God’s heritage. I am talking about true pastoral care and oversight or governmental responsibility for the House of God.

Not all Bishops are Apostles; but all true Apostles, who give their lives to lay or restore authentic apostolic foundations and to raise up or reform Christ’s Church in the earth are also Overseers or Bishops. And all true Pastors or Shepherds, Ruling Elders (the spiritual fathers of the various allotments of believers in cities throughout the earth) are also Bishops.

In the New Testament the titles Shepherd, Elder and Bishop were always used interchangeably (See Acts 20, Philippians 1:1, I Timothy 3:1ff and Titus 1:5, 6, and I Peter 5:1-3.).

Jesus Himself is the Great Shepherd (Ruler); He is also the Elder and Bishop of His Church.  In like manner Apostles are Shepherds (Rulers), Elders, and Bishops. The spiritual heads or rulers of the allotments of the Lord’s Church in a locality or city are also Shepherds (Pastors), Elders and Bishops.

The principle difference in the bishopric or office of an Apostle and that of the ruling pastor of a local church is not that one is a Bishop and the other is merely a Pastor or Elder. The difference is to be found in the measure of their rule or sphere of responsibility.

Now back to the matter of the fellowship of the Apostles and the Apostolate.

We are still in Acts 1 and the crucial matter of finding someone to take Judas’ place in the fellowship of the Apostles, the Apostolate, and to fill his bishopric or office.

c. Look at verses 21 and 22 (read).

Remember Peter is talking here about the twelve original Apostles whom Jesus chose to be with Him, to be eyewitnesses of His resurrection and His ascension.

Let me point out here that there are two distinct kinds of apostles seen in the Scriptures.

First, there are the “Apostles of the Lamb,” the original twelve, less Judas and plus Matthias, that Jesus chose to be eyewitnesses of His resurrection. Their testimony would be essential or foundational to the Church’s faith because God’s promise to David and the fathers of Israel to seat David’s Son on David’s throne would be fulfilled by Jesus’ resurrection, ascension, and enthronement at the right hand of God in heaven.

Jesus chose these twelve in the beginning of His ministry because twelve is the number of Israel and of the government of God. Jesus was prophetically signifying that His Church would be the true Israel, the Kingdom of Priests and Holy Nation promised by the prophets. The choice of Matthias to replace Judas demonstrates that the Apostles clearly understood the importance of the number twelve. The eyewitness testimony of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb would be the foundation of spiritual house The Messiah would build for God and for David; they would be the foundation stones of Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the wife of the Lamb, the mother of the sons of God. (See Revelation 21: 10-14.)

Peter declares in Acts 1:21 and 22 that in addition to having been chosen, these Apostles of the Lamb had to have been with Jesus from the very beginning of his ministry until his ascension.

That which qualified them for their part in the apostolate is that they had been the eyewitnesses of His ministry and resurrection; these are the ones to whom the Messiah initially entrusted the keys of His Kingdom!

But the New Testament also speaks of Ascension-gift Apostles. After His resurrection and ascension, the Lord called Barnabas, Paul and a number of others as Apostles. Like the Apostles of the Lamb before them, they were also entrusted with the keys of the kingdom and charged with the stewardship revelation of the mysteries of Christ (See I Corinthians 4:1ff; Ephesians 3:2-10; II Timothy 1: 13-14; 2:2ff). Then He commissioned and sent them to cities and nations throughout the Roman Empire as His ambassadors, special envoys of His heavenly Kingdom to proclaim God’s decree and bring the nations to the obedience of the faith. In fellowship with the Apostles of the Lamb and part of Christ’s Apostolate, Ascension-gift Apostles worked with Apostles of the Lamb to gather the believing remnant of Israel and the first fruits of the nations throughout the Empire and form them into One Holy Apostolic Church, the Holy Nation, the New Israel . (See Ephesians 4:8-13.)

Unlike the Apostles of the Lamb, Ascension–gift Apostles do not know Christ after the flesh. Nor is it necessary for them to have been with Jesus “from the beginning of His ministry until His resurrection and ascension.” They are not called to be eyewitnesses of His resurrection but ambassadors of His heavenly administration to cities and nations throughout the earth to establish and oversee His House.

In addition to having been called and commissioned by the Lord, that which qualifies Ascension-gift Apostles for their part in Christ’s “apostolate” is that like the Apostles of the Lamb they also have been entrusted by the Lord with the apostolic keys, the revelation of the mysteries of Christ, His Kingdom and His Church. (See Galatians 1:11-17; Ephesians 3:2-7.)

One of the main reasons many believers and denominations mistakenly believe that apostles have ceased is that they do not understand that there are two different kinds of apostles in the New Testament Apostolate. Assuming that apostles are chosen specifically to be eyewitnesses of the resurrection they believe that when the last of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb fell asleep then apostles ceased.

But while giving special recognition to the twelve as having been with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry until His ascension declaring them to be eyewitnesses of His resurrection, the New Testament also speaks at length of the ministry of numerous other apostles called and commissioned after Christ’s ascension and enthronement at the right hand of God.

And the Apostle Paul, who clearly did not meet the general qualifications for Judas’ replacement spelled out by Peter in Acts 1:21, declared to the saints at Ephesus that having ascended to heaven Christ will continue to give apostles, along with other gifts, “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:8-13)

According to Paul, Christ will not cease to give apostles to men and nations until the Church has grown up into the head and fills all things.

6. Finally in this critically important passage about the fellowship of the Apostles and the Apostolate in Acts 1, look at verses 23-26.

Peter speaks once again of “this ministry” and “this apostleship.” (Note: both of these phrases are singular expressions, “this” not “these”.)

Twelve apostles were chosen to be with Jesus, but there was only one “ministry” and “apostleship."(Note: The Greek word translated here “apostleship” carries the idea of “apostolate” and has been so understood by the ancients.) It was Christ’s ministry and apostolate into which they had called and in which they had each been given a part. The Apostolate was one!

Matthias was “numbered with the eleven apostles” as part of the fellowship of the Apostles and the Apostolate!

7.  Today, some proudly boast, “We are all apostles.”

But this is utter foolishness and makes nonsense of Christ’s intention and the Scriptures of the New Testament.  While the Lord’s Church is called to be Apostolic Church and has been given an apostolic mission to possess the cities and nations of the earth, the Apostle Paul declares that not all believers are apostles (I Corinthians 12:29); we are certainly not all are Shepherds, Elders or Bishops.

When the Lord’s Church finally comes under, freely and voluntarily (Psalm 110:3), the proper oversight of Holy Spirit anointed and appointed Apostles (and Elders, as we shall see in Part II), who themselves are in proper relationship to one another in the fellowship of the Apostles, as part of one Apostolate, then and only then will the Church be truly Apostolic.

One of the great tragedies today is that many sincere, but misinformed, ministers are overreaching their God-given measure of grace (Romans 12:3-8; II Corinthians 10:13-18; Ephesians 3:2) and running about here and there without truly being sent by the Lord.

5. Years after the events surrounding the choosing of Matthias to fill Judas’ place in the Apostolate, the Apostle Paul declares to the saints that Zion, the House of God and David that Jesus proclaimed to the twelve at Caesarea Philippi He would build, has been built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. (Ephesians 2:20)

6. Finally, the New Testament closes as the Apostle John sees a revelation of the New Jerusalem, Christ’s Church, coming down from God out of Heaven.

This new heavenly City of David, the wife of the Lamb and Mother of the sons of God, has twelve foundations and upon these foundations twelve names are written, the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb! (Revelation 21:14)

B. The point of all of this is that in the early Church, the Church of the Apostles, Apostles and Elders (Pastors or Bishops) governed!

1. Just as He had promised, after His resurrection and during the forty days before His ascension, Jesus gave the keys of the Kingdom to Peter and the other Apostles (Acts 1:3 and Luke 24:44-49). Later, Ascension-gift Apostles joined these Apostles of the Lamb. 

The Apostles went everywhere preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, baptizing all who believed and teaching them to do everything Christ had commanded them. The Apostles were making disciples of the nations and teaching the sons of the Kingdom how to behave in the House of God. (I Timothy 3:14-15)

2. Faithfully, they used the apostolic keys that their risen and ascended Lord had entrusted to them and opened the doors of Christ’s Kingdom (the restored Kingdom of David), and as a result the Christ’s Church (Zion, the House of David) sprang up throughout the Roman Empire.

3. The Apostles also laid hands upon and ordained Elders (the spiritual fathers or pastoral heads of the local congregations or allotments of believers) in every city throughout the Roman Empire. Together the Apostles (as part of the fellowship of the Apostles or the Apostolate) and Elders that they ordained governed the New Israel of God, the Holy Nation, the Kingdom of Priests, as Overseers of David’s Restored House and Bishops of Christ’s one Apostolic Church throughout the Roman world. (See Acts 14:23; Acts 15:6, 22, 23 and Acts 16:4, note the word “decrees” in 16: 4; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:5, 7)

4. Thus just as Jesus prophesied in Matthew 21:43 and particularly in Luke 20:16, “He will give the vineyard to others,” Apostles (the fellowship of the Apostles or the Apostolate) and Elders replaced the Chief Priests and Elders as the rulers of Israel (the Sanhedrin or Senate of Israel) and as the builders and overseers of Zion, the House of God and David. (See Acts 15:1ff through 16:4.)

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