The apostles' teaching was the norm for educating the saints. Acts 2:42
Signs and wonders verified the message of the apostles, God bearing witness that they were the ones who had received the leadership from the hands of their Master. Acts 2:43
Contributions were given to the apostles for disbursement. Acts 4:33-37
To lie to an apostle could be fatal. Acts 5:1-11.
The original deacons had to be approved by the apostles. Acts 6:1-6
Oversight for the spreading of the Gospel was committed to the apostles. Acts 8:14
It was through the laying on of the hands of an apostle that the Holy Spirit was given to new believers, after initial outpourings from Heaven in an area, or on a people. Acts 8:14-15
Because they were first in authority, they were also first in what other way?
They were first to suffer for Jesus Christ. They were imprisoned and beaten. Acts 5:18-40. Like Jesus with whose Spirit they were now filled, they were bold in their faith, not flinching when courage was needed to get the Message out. They were not merely lords over their flock, but great examples to the sheep, as was Jesus.
What some may see as cowardice in Acts 8:1 is probably a note of their finest hour. As one apostle-to-e was spreading his hatred of the believers in a terrorism that shook the city of Jerusalem, the apostles chose to stay put while all else fled for their lives. How they all remembered the night they too had been the ones running for safety, that awful event of the arrest of their Master. They would never do that again. Let Saul do what he will, we remain in the Holy City.
Should apostles be viewed as "first" or "last" in the church?
A fascinating question, the answer to which is "yes."
Paul makes a case for the "last-ness" of being an apostle in I Corinthians 4. Here again is the standard to which we must compare all those today claiming to be apostles, in any sense:
Paul says that it is his opinion that God has placed apostles last in the human order. Men condemned to death. A spectacle to the world, including the angelic world! Fools. Weak. Dishonored. Hungry. Thirsty. Poorly clothed. Beaten. Homeless. Working with our own hands. Reviled. Persecuted. Defamed. The filth of the world. The scum of the earth.
Any takers for this job? Know anyone like this today, who is called an apostle?
All of this is from earth's point of view, even from the church's viewpoint. But as is always the case with God and men, their view of reality is opposite. For in fact, according to the statement he makes just a few chapters later, God has appointed apostles to be first in the church!
"The last shall be first" is always the way with our Lord. He that humbles himself shall be exalted.
I do not jump here to the conclusion that therefore there must be apostles like the twelve in every generation. The fact has been recorded that apostles were indeed chosen first. We all know who they were. We have their history. We have their teachings, and those teachings are the primary source of authority to this day.
The apostles are already first in the church, without the election of any new men bearing this title.
If apostles were to continue in every generation, would it not have been clear to us in each generation exactly who they are? But no such clarity exists. Those who wish to restore the office today need to be asked, has the church truly been seriously out of order since the day John died, in every nation where Christ has been named? Seems like a stretch to me, and a desire for power on behalf of at least many of these men - and women.
Those who wish for apostles to reign today will have to go a lot farther than I Corinthians 12:28, the statement about apostles being "first."