Are There Still Apostles and Prophets Today?


It’s time to start our service. I am so glad you are here with us. I send you all my greetings, and I want to especially greet all our friends at Faith Assembly and the many churches we fellowshipped with for so many years. There are so many who listen here regularly, and we are keeping you in our prayers. I also want to say that I appreciate everyone who reached out after the last message. I know that was quite a topic to go over, and I am glad that so many of you found it helpful.

At this stage, I believe we are nearing the halfway mark with the number of people who have left the churches I once fellowshipped with. A large part of the people who are still there know the truth. They are supporting us in different ways, but for the circumstances they are in, they are just trapped in The Message. It’s not easy for them to make their escape.

And so, we pray for everyone involved.

If this is your first time joining us and you wonder who we are and what we are up to, my name is Charles Paisley. Most of our listeners here, including myself, are formerly members of the cult following William Branham, known as The Message. The Message is a global doomsday cult with millions of members. It started right here in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and spread all over the world. I am a former associate pastor of the second oldest message church in the world, right here in the Jeffersonville area. This is a little mission we operate to offer encouragement to those leaving The Message and also to take a look at the plain reading of scripture as we seek to wash out of our minds what, for most of us, has been a lifetime of indoctrination.

As I say from time to time, please make sure that this is not the only voice you are listening to as you exit The Message. It is so important to look into things for yourself. You have the freedom, the right, and the responsibility to have your own walk with the Lord. You are entitled to look into things and come to your own conclusions without anyone dictating anything to you. If you do that with an honest heart, you have my love and support with whatever conclusions you arrive at. There are godly men and women in the world who have not spent their entire lives in a doomsday cult, and I believe there are things that both you and I could learn from them. It’s good for us to seek out those voices and places when we are ready to do that.

For most of us, there is a period of time from when we first leave where it’s good to just take a break—to rest our souls and our minds and to get grounded before we take the next steps. If you feel to do that, I want you to know there is nothing wrong with that. Take as much time as you need. Paul spent three years on the backside of the desert after he woke up to the truth, and for people who come from a background like ours, that can be the best thing for us to do for a while.

We are all unique individuals, and God has a special grace that meets each one of us where we are. I know, coming from our background, that people like you and I have lived with a level of zeal towards God that few people outside of a religious background like ours can even understand. For us to say we are going to take a little break can be almost unthinkable, but it’s good for us to do that.

The truth is, that’s actually what I did at first. I told the ministers and the deacons that I was going to take a break. I was actually still showing up to church, but I was taking a break from my work. As I was resting, they started to harass me. After they harassed me for a couple of weeks, I stopped showing up. You all know what happened after that. So, take a break if you need one. Even spend a few years on the backside of the desert if that is what you feel is best for you. God will bless you if you are using your time to get things straight in your heart, soul, and mind.

For those of us who spent 30, 40, 50, even 60 and 70 years in the doomsday cult, it’s not easy to overcome the indoctrination. Sometimes, a break is the only way to get there. So, God bless each one of you as you are on that journey.

God bless the ones who are looking for an exit. God bless the ones who are taking a break. God bless the ones who have sought out help and support on their journey. God bless the ones who are on their way back. And God bless all the ones who have moved on. That is my prayer for you all.

Today, we have just a short lesson. Last week was long and heavy, so this week we will try to keep it short and sweet. There is one question I have been asked a lot, and that is what we are going to look at today. We have been working our way through the book of Ephesians over the past several months. This is not really part of the Ephesians series, but it is a question that is very common and related to the scriptures we have been studying recently. I want to make sure we go over it before we resume working our way through these scriptures. I will read Ephesians verse 7 down to verse 16 as our text today. Paul writes:

7 … grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”

9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Ephesians 4 ESV

Let us pray.

Lord God, as we approach the scripture today with a question, we ask you to grant us understanding. Help us to think with a spiritual mind. This we ask, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Question

Well brothers and sisters,

As you remember, last week I started a pause in our examination of the book of Ephesians. We had reached the middle of chapter 4, and that was a good spot for us to stop and consider a few things in relation to the places we come from. That is what I am doing again today. This is not a part of our Ephesians series, but I am looking at a question that would very naturally come to us, based on our background after having gone through our past lessons.

The title of our lesson today is actually a question, and the question is a pretty straightforward one: Are there still apostles and prophets in the world today? I believe that is a reasonable question for us to ask after having gone through these verses.

With that question in mind, what I would suggest to you is that this chapter of scripture does not actually answer that question. That is part of why I have not really dealt with that question very directly as we went through these verses. This chapter of Ephesians does not tell us, one way or the other. If we look at this passage alone and the book of Ephesians alone, I think we could walk away with either option being a possibility. It is possible, in light of this passage, that there are no more apostles and prophets. That is left open as a possibility based on what Paul has written here. But the opposite is also true. It is also left open as a possibility that there are indeed still apostles and prophets.

If I am being perfectly honest with you, the best of my understanding here is that it does not really tell us one way or the other in these passages. The reason that is not answered here is because that is not really what Paul is talking about here.

Let me give you both sides of the coin.

First, let me give you the side that could lead us to believe there may not be any more apostles and prophets. That side would come from us taking a really plain reading of how verses 7 through 11 read. As we read that, Paul is talking about a time in the past, back around the time of the death and resurrection of Jesus. In verse 11, he says that Jesus gave—past tense—back then around the time of his resurrection, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. The whole context of that is past tense, before the book of Ephesians was written. In verses 7 through 11, there is not really any obvious evidence that Paul is talking about future ministers at all.

But as we look at the other side of the coin, as we come down to verses 12 and 13, it is very clear that this work of the ministry is going to go on after that first generation of ministers is gone. Paul does say the work of the ministry will continue even beyond the first generation, and it will continue until the body of Christ is completed. But in saying that, Paul does not make it a necessity for there to be a continuation of all five of these gifts of ministry.

Paul does say the church needs apostles and prophets to help equip the saints for the work of the ministry. But as we think about that, it doesn’t necessarily mean we need new ones. We have the teachings of the original prophets and apostles here in the Bible, and we still have access to the ministry of prophets and apostles in the scripture. We don’t necessarily need them to be alive today to have access to their ministry.

I don’t need a living, breathing apostle standing here with me in order to have access to an apostolic ministry. I have it in the Bible. When we think of it that way, I think we can realize that Paul does not really answer the question in this passage about whether or not all five of these gifts of ministry will continue on. It could be that they do all carry on, or it could be that just some of them carry on. Paul simply does not answer that question here. We are talking about the plain reading, not people reading between the lines, not people seeing what they want to see, but just the plain reading. The plain reading simply does not say one way or the other.

Paul’s topic in these verses is to try and settle the church in a set of teachings, to settle the church in certain doctrines and beliefs so they won’t get divided up, argue, and split up over their beliefs. Paul is helping them understand the source of doctrinal authority they should look to, and that authority is the first generation of Christian ministers.

Paul is setting boundaries about what Christians must believe. This is Paul’s chief aim in saying these things here in the first part of the fourth chapter. We see that as we come down to verse 14. He said all this so that we don’t have to be tossed around with different beliefs and different ideas, but we can know the boundaries and know the things that really matter. We know the authority we can look to for what to believe. That is why he said this. Then Paul files this up under the heading of his ultimate point, which is that we should all get along with each other. This digression made by Paul here in the fourth chapter has been to help put boundaries around what actually matters in terms of doctrines—what we should fight for and what doesn’t matter.

I want you to remember something I have reminded you of several times. Starting at Chapter 4, Paul moved beyond doctrine and went into practice. He started giving us practical guidance about how to conduct ourselves. That is very typical of Paul. The first half of his epistles are doctrine, and the second half is practical application—how we should act in light of the doctrines.

That is exactly what we are looking at in these verses. He is giving us practical things we can use to protect ourselves against divisions over doctrine, revelations, and new ideas. Those things include looking to the first generation of preachers as the authority on what we should believe. It includes realizing that what they gave us was enough to perfectly and completely equip us. If we observe their teachings, it will produce a church of people who love like Jesus loved. Paul is not just giving us theory and doctrine here. He is giving us practice, practical instructions for avoiding the dangers of verse 14.

We saw in verses 3 and 4 that he listed essential beliefs we all need to share: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one Spirit, one God and Father of all. Those things are non-negotiable. He then expands on that as he starts talking about the gifts of ministry. He goes on to say the first generation of ministers perfectly equipped the saints for ministry. It is important for us to realize that Paul is truly trying to set the bounds around what is important for us to believe as Christians. He is describing the bounds around that, with the final point being we don’t need to look anywhere else for anything else. The first generation of ministers sent out by Jesus Christ—they are the standard. They are the authority we need to look to. They are the only authority we need to look to.

Because that is Paul’s main line of reasoning here, he is not really addressing the ongoing ministers and preachers who will come after. His aim here is to establish the authority of the first generation of ministers, not future generations.

There is just not a direct answer in this passage as to which gifts of ministry will continue into the future—not in the plain reading of it.

Other Scriptures

As we come to realize that this passage does not really answer our question about whether or not there will be more apostles or prophets, it means we have to look elsewhere in scripture for that answer. Obviously, there are still going to be preachers and ministers continuing on after the first generation.

The work of the ministry continues, so in some fashion or another, those gifts of ministry must continue on.

Where could we go to find some scriptures to tell us which of these gifts of ministry will carry on?

One place we could go is the book of Titus. If we read the book of Titus, we would find that Paul gives Titus detailed instructions on how to ordain new pastors and new teachers in the churches. From reading the book of Titus, we cannot help but walk away realizing that pastors and teachers are going to carry on. There is a very clear explanation in scripture for how new teachers and new pastors can be ordained. That is very black and white and very clear.

We could also go into the book of 1st Timothy and find a similar thought concerning evangelists. The work of evangelism will go on, and there is further commission for evangelists to go forward.

So with evangelists, pastors, and teachers, it is very clear-cut. There is a very plain explanation of how those ministries will carry on.

However, what we will not find, anywhere in the New Testament, are similar instructions regarding apostles and prophets. There is no plain framework or explanation given for appointing new apostles and new prophets. In fact, it seems they are in a special category from the other three. We notice that back in chapter 2 of Ephesians, Paul linked them in a special and unique way to the foundation. Some argue that apostles and prophets are uniquely foundational gifts of ministry. You can look into that for yourself, but there is a case that some preachers make that they may be unique foundation-laying gifts of ministry only.

I understand those explanations, but none of the verses they cite seem to me to plainly say that apostles and prophets are uniquely foundational and that foundation-laying is their only role. There are verses that clearly say they are foundational, but they don’t say they are only and strictly foundational, which, to me, seems to leave open the possibility that those roles could continue on in some fashion.

The Bible simply does not plainly say whether or not there will be more apostles and prophets after the first generation. There is no scripture in the book that plainly says that, as best I know.

When the Bible does not give us a clear explanation of something, we have to fall back on our own reasoning and deduction. We have to use the wisdom God gives us and arrive at our own understanding of things.

Not the Same Kind of Apostles and Prophets

If we take what we do know the Bible says about the apostles and prophets, there is one thing we can say for sure: if there are future apostles and prophets beyond those of the first generation, we can be sure they are not going to be quite the same. They are not going to be of the same caliber or authority.

We cannot help but come to that understanding by the plain reading of scripture. The ministers of that first generation were uniquely given the mission to write the scripture, to perfectly equip the saints for the work of the ministry, and to lay a unique foundation. This means there are not going to come others who are like them.

The first generation of ministers had a unique, one-time job. Even if there were more apostles and prophets to come after, they would not have the same unique authority to equip the saints in the way that the first generation of apostles and prophets had.

The first generation is always going to be superior to all others who come after.

Whatever we do with it, we can say there will never be a restoration of apostles and prophets who are like the first generation. Never. There is no way to make that idea fit with Paul’s point here.

If there are new apostles and new prophets coming who are going to have the authority to enhance or expand or further equip the saints beyond what the first generation did, then that means the first generation of ministers did not perfectly equip the saints. It means the first generation of ministers left some loose ends that need to be tied up. But if that were true, Paul would not have written verse 12, and Paul would not have written verse 14. The fact he says the first generation did a perfect job in verse 12 and that we no longer need to be concerned with winds of new doctrines lets us know we have no need to expect some future generation of apostles and prophets or ministers to show up and tie up loose ends because there are no loose ends.

If you go into the book of Revelation and use symbols and types or read between the lines to say there are loose ends, then you are wrong. You are raising up your interpretation of symbols and parables over the plain reading of scripture, and there is no way you can be right. If you are interpreting symbols in a way that contradicts the plain reading of the Bible, then you are interpreting the symbols wrong. You may not know the right way to interpret them, but you can be sure something that contradicts the plain reading of the Bible is certainly wrong. There are times we may not know quite exactly what is right, but we sure know what is wrong.

There is nothing wrong with that. So, my point here is this: if we arrive at the conclusion that there are still apostles and prophets around today, we have to also conclude that they are not of the same caliber and authority as the first generation. They are still lesser than the first generation, and that has a lot of implications.

What if Verse 11 is Talking About All Ministers, and Not Just the First Generation?

Now, there is one more thing I want to think about with you. For this, we have to go back to our previous way of thinking and consider verse 11 the way we did before. Let’s think about verse 11 not just as referring to ministers of the first generation but as referring to ministers all the way to the end. Let’s consider that verse 11 is talking about ongoing apostles and ongoing prophets, not just the first generation.

Let me read it again, and I want to point something out for you to consider. Let me read verses 11 and 12:

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.

If verse 11 is talking about ministers of all generations and not just the first generation of ministers, then it means we need to be equipped by pastors, apostles, prophets, and so forth today. The ministers of today need to be equipped by those from yesterday, and those from yesterday needed to be equipped by the people two days ago. We have to keep tracing that back, generation after generation, all the way back to the first generation. Each generation needs to equip the next generation.

If verse 11 is talking about all generations, then verse 12 forces us to have an unbroken chain of preachers back to the early church. This is not very hard to see. Let me read it to you again:

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.

This would put the requirement for a minister being equipped into the hands of the preexisting ministers.

If verse 11 is about all ministers in all ages, then for you to be equipped for ministry, you would have to get it from the other living ministers of your day. They could only equip you properly if they had an unbroken line back to the early church.

It means the people who are apostles and prophets and so forth today needed to be equipped by the apostles and prophets before them, and those needed to be equipped by the apostles and prophets before them, and so on.

You need a chain of these, going all the way back to the early church. That is the only way this verse works if you take it to mean that verse 11 refers to ministers of all ages.

Let that sink in and then think about it a little more. If verse 11 applies to ministers of all ages, then we need an unbroken line of succession back to the start of the church.

This is a big problem for the places we come from because they don’t have that. In fact, the whole branch of Christianity we come from does not have that. The Pentecostal branch of Christianity has no way to trace their line of succession back more than about 150 years.

Pentecostal churches don’t have a line of succession back to the early church. Neither do Baptist churches, Presbyterian churches, or many others we could mention.

To get to a place with an unbroken line of succession back to the first apostles and prophets, you have to go to one of the mainline denominations. We are talking about the Catholics, Orthodox, Episcopalians, or the Coptic Church. That is where you have to go to get an unbroken line of succession.

And those churches truly have that. They can trace who equipped whom all the way back to the start of the church.

Guess what? Those churches believe verse 11 is talking about all preachers in all ages, just like we used to think. They believe all five of these ministries continue through all generations and still have apostles and so forth. The pope claims to be an apostle and can demonstrate an unbroken line of connection back to the apostles Peter and Paul and the church in Rome that we read about in the Bible.

The Protestants, during the Reformation, threw that belief away. That is called apostolic succession. The reformers got rid of that belief. They read these passages in Ephesians and said, “No, this is not saying we must be equipped by living apostles and living prophets.” Instead, they said these verses tell us we need to be equipped by the first generation—in other words, we can be equipped from the Bible directly. We don’t need to be equipped by living apostles and prophets; we can be equipped by the first generation directly.

That is a very important argument for how the Protestants were able to break away from that old system.

But if we backtrack on that and begin to say once again that verse 11 is talking about ministers of all ages, then the true end of that means you need to go be a Catholic again. You need to go back to a church with an unbroken line of succession back to the early church.

This is a symptom of a very bad problem we had in the places we come from. They have a very shallow interpretation and understanding of scriptures. They don’t think about the full implications of what they say and do. If it sounds good, they jump on it without thinking it through. They think they have these really deep understandings and hidden revelations that are special, but really, it’s all very shallow. It creates problems that are very obvious to people who have spent time studying the Bible, are aware of church history, and are interested not in something that sounds good but in something that actually fits with the reality of the church and the last 2000 years of church history.

If this verse means each generation of preachers needs to be equipped by the generation that came before, then that is enough to throw away the message. The message and that entire branch of Christianity were not equipped in an unbroken line back to the original church.

The Message interpretation of Ephesians 4:11 actually undermines their entire system if they were to really think through what that means in light of verse 12.

If you are under the impression that the message does have an unbroken line back to the early church, then you have been tricked.

That is simply not true. William Branham was ordained by the Imperial Wizard of the KKK, Roy Davis. Roy Davis was ordained by no one; he was just a thief and crook.

A thief, crook, and sex pervert ordained William Branham. Raymond Jackson was ordained as an apostle by William Branham.

And that is it. You can’t get back any further than that in the places I come from.

That is a long way away from the first generation of the church.

So, that is some food for thought.

Wrapping Up

As I end this lesson, let me come back to our question: Are there still apostles and prophets today? To the best of my understanding, I see no reason that there cannot be. The Bible does not clearly say one way or the other. We do see other apostles and prophets mentioned after Paul wrote the book of Ephesians. The Bible talks about them, which leads me to believe that if there were apostles and prophets in the second generation of the church, then they could continue to the present.

However, whatever the case, they are not going to be like the very first ones. There is a difference. The church still needs people to take the gospel to new lands and new peoples and to found new Christian communities, much like apostles did in scripture. Today, we tend to call these people missionaries—people who are sent on a mission, similar to apostles. They are not writing new books of the Bible or carrying the same mission as the first apostles in that respect. They are not set up as a rank of high authority superior to everyone else in the church. But they are establishing new Christian communities and taking the gospel to new places, and I believe there is still a place for that. If we want to call such people apostles, I see nothing wrong with that.

I also believe God still speaks to people and can do so prophetically. However, these prophets are not going to be giving new scriptures, controlling your lives, or replacing the Holy Spirit. They might give warnings, like telling you a flood is coming and advising you to get to high ground. They could have unique insights from God about situations and circumstances, speaking into situations to help people with a godly voice.

Yet, these apostles and prophets will not be of the same caliber as the first generation. The first generation had a unique, one-time mission, which conferred unique, one-time special authority.

Word of Warning

The very last thing I want to say is that I am personally a little scared of groups and people who make much use of the titles apostle or prophet. Almost all places that make a big deal out of these titles are cults or borderline cults. If you find yourself in a place where people are addressed as “Apostle So-and-So” or “Prophet So-and-So,” you need to get out of there. That is probably a cult.

If you are in a place where preachers have taken over the role of the Holy Spirit and are leading and guiding everyone’s life, you probably need to get out of there. That is probably a cult.

If you are in a place where preachers tell you that you have to accept them and what they are preaching, even if you can’t see it in the plain reading of the Bible, and they say you can’t make it without them, then you need to get out of there. That is probably a cult.

God does not call preachers with that kind of authority anymore. The first generation perfectly equipped us, and we can go directly to the source. We don’t need a middleman to read the Bible or handle our relationship with God. Those who act that way are false preachers who raise themselves up improperly.

Good preachers will help you. They can teach the Bible and help you understand more clearly. They can encourage you and bring things to your attention that need improvement. But they will never put themselves into the role of the Holy Spirit in your life. They will never claim to be your savior or lift themselves to the same authority as the first generation of ministers, except when teaching you what the first generation of preachers taught.

Any good preacher, whoever he is, will preach to you out of the Bible and what the first generation of preachers taught. You can learn a lot from a good preacher. It’s beneficial to find a Christian community you can be part of and a minister who will teach the Bible. I believe you can find preachers who are better than me out there. I encourage you not to listen to just one single voice and to know that you are empowered by the Holy Ghost, who is your teacher. You are empowered to open the Bible and read it for yourself without a middleman.


Let me close here in prayer.


Lord God, I thank you for being so kind to us, your people. When we were blinded by a spirit of delusion and trapped in a doomsday cult where our leaders had us on a hamster wheel chasing something that did not really exist, you had mercy on us. You made a way for us to escape. You showed us our Savior, and you show us he is enough to save us. Being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath—not through understanding mysteries, not through keeping long lists of rules, not by being part of a special group. But being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath. Let that truth be a balm of healing and a consolation of peace to all my brothers and sisters in Christ. This I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.