“And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:20–22).
Here, all believers are likened to stones being placed, one by one, into a beautiful spiritual temple in which God dwells. The foundation stones of this house, however, are a special group of believers—the apostles and prophets. These are among the special gifts of Christ “unto men” (Ephesians 4:8,11).
To be an apostle, one had to have been among the regular group of disciples during Jesus’ earthly ministry and/or been a special witness of the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:21–25; I Corinthians 9:1). The prophets were men chosen in addition to the apostles, to provide each church with the necessary divinely inspired information and guidance, until the New Testament became available.
Certain of these apostles and prophets were used of God to inscripturate the New Testament itself. Paul alluded to this process in Ephesians 3:5: “Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”
Once the foundation was laid, however, with the New Testament completed, there would be no further ministry for apostles and prophets. One does not continue to build a foundation while the house is being built. Prophecies would cease (I Corinthians 13:8) and the apostolic period would end with the apostle John and the Book of Revelation.
But the foundational ministry of these great men of the past, especially the New Testament Scriptures, will continue to guide every generation of Christians. HMM