There is no doubt that the apostles played a key role in the early church - and as mentioned earlier, there are some challenges with a strong focus on apostles - cf. Acts 8:14-17.
In a way, this disturbs the idea of the priesthood of all believers. If all believers are "priests" - 1 Peter 2:9-10 - the idea of "apostolic succession" seems like a threat.
Let us do a thought-experiment and test the following statement:
"Only apostles minister the Holy Spirit in a way that makes believers able to receive."We have no problems with accepting that there is a variety of gifts and ministries. Therefore it should not be a problem that Peter and John came from Jerusalem to Samaria for the people to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
The problem arises when the apostle decides who will continue his ministry. It allows for human error, and it can make us more concerned about the human sanction than about a constant and complete dependence on the Holy Spirit.
It becomes even more dramatic when there are some who claim that it was only the early church that had apostles and that they ministered the Holy Spirit to the church until the church-order was established. When the church was established, the church would continue to do what the Holy Spirit taught the early church. Therefore, it was the church that started education, hospitals etc. There was nothing wrong in the Church doing this by using human skills, but the doctrine that the apostles and gifts disappeared with the early church still characterizes parts of the universal church - and that is a heresy.
Paul was clear that he was an apostle even though he was not one of the twelve. There is not doubt that he ministered the Holy Spirit to people - cf. Acts 19:6. Thus, there is biblical evidence to say that the "Apostle-ministry" at least lasted longer than the first twelve. I am convinced that there are many apostles in God's church today. And - there is also no doubt in my heart that ordinary laypeople can minister the gift of The Holy Spirit to others, if their measure of faith permits them.
'Manna' for today:
The Holy Spirit works through ordinary people!