2Chronicles 3:3: These are Solomon’s measurements for building the house of God: the length, in cubits of the old standard, was sixty cubits, and the breadth twenty cubits.
Nothing gets built without a foundation. The church is built on the foundation of apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:19-20), with Jesus as the cornerstone.
Among the ministry gifts, gifts of Christ, the apostles and prophets are the highest representation of him. Paul said God set some in the church, the first apostles, secondly prophets (1Corithians 12:28). These two represents Christ in special ways.
The apostles have the capacity to break new grounds, while the prophets have the capacity to strengthen the believers in amazing ways. What the rest of the five-fold ministries, teachers, pastors and evangelist can do is work with the materials is they get from the apostles and prophets and channel them it through the prism of their individual gifts for effectiveness.
The arrangement also shows the need for apostles to work with prophets. In the ministry of Paul, at a time he worked with Silas who was a prophet (Acts 15:32).
While he likes to go where none has ever gone before, that is Paul, Silas comes in handy in bringing the people up to speed with what the will of God is in their lives, how God is feeling, helping them with their connection with God, to strengthen it. While Paul was the custodian of the new truth that concerns how God sees the gentiles, Silas helps them to see God better.
They (Apostle and prophet) perform foundational roles in the work that God is doing on the earth. The fact that Jesus completes the threesome in the foundation on which the church is laid, reflects on the special relationship that Jesus has with these two. Therefore the apostles and prophet are not really known by their label, but by their calling and intimacy with God (consistency and strength), and the kind of work God entrusted them with.
The apostles serve to birth new things, new truths, new movements, on the earth, while the prophets serve to brings people up to God, in that vein, intercessory prayer is a strong point of the prophets (I did not say all intercessors are prophets, but all prophets are intercessors) while the apostles are strong in divine truth.
Lest we confuse the teacher with the apostle, note the teacher’s focus is to help people into basic truths, while the apostle seems to have the capacity to move the people on their journey to the “promised land.” The apostle is movement focused, the teacher is maintenance focused.
Moses was an apostle, he moved the children of Israel from one place to the other. Just as Moses was an example of the apostle, Ezra was no apostle, he was a teacher. His focus was to remind the people of the basic truth. So the main difference so to speak between the apostles, apart from the peculiar signs and wonders that marks the apostles apart, while the teacher help the people to move into new understanding.
The Apostle helps to move people into new realities, and the teacher will have to work on helping the people understand those new realities. (While the evangelist brings people into the sheepfold, and communicates God’s passion, the pastor, engages with the children of God as sheep, communicating God’s compassion).
What starts as foundation does not stop at the foundation. Though it is the first steps, afterwards there are things to get on to; it is glory to glory, faith to faith, and line upon line. After we have the foundation we have the building blocks that have to be laid one upon the other. Everything has to line up with the foundation; hence, the importance of real life apostles and prophets to Christians, as living qualities of Christ, which help with the foundation of truth and relationship with God.
There is generational block upon generational block. In that sense, the first century Christians and especially the words they wrote for us as the New Testament have defined the foundation on which we build upon.
But after sometimes, the gain of the first century church was lost and the church universal fell into apostasy, losing a touch with God’s word and his Spirit, but they achieved the certain things, like the canonisation of the scriptures, the establishment of certain creed especially having to do with the deity of Jesus, and the threesome-ness of the Godhead, and anyone who deviates from that is regarded as being aberrant, as an heretic, which is good.
Those standards were still preserved even with the idolatry that came into the church with the veneration of the dead, contradicting the scriptures, but who cares about the scriptures, people lost their taste for truth as the leaders fed them with something else.
The church decided to be in the stead of God and the leader became his unquestionable representatives. Even with scandals after scandals rocking the Catholic Church, because of its association with the governments of the day, with religion becoming a necessity of state, it still maintains many falsehoods within its rank.
Christianity ceased to be a way to connect to God, but a way to get into the good book of the Pope (who is regarded as equal to God). Maybe I am oversimplifying things but the bottom-line is, you dare not wrong the pope, not in his edicts or you could have your head off your neck. That was far from what Paul laid his life down for.
Because of the apostasy of the church, the spiritual building construction of the house of God (church) suffered a setback, not unlike what happened in the time of Zerubbabel. After laying the foundation of the temple, he had to stop for many years before construction started again (Ezra 3-5, Haggai 1:2-8, Zechariah 4:6-10).
Led by Martin Luther and others, in the 1500s (at the end of about 1000 years of stop to the progress of the building of the house of God, church, with regression the order of the day), the covered-up foundation, covered up by centuries of untruths that has been perpetuated in the church, was unveiled. He restored the ruins of many generations (Isaiah 58:12).
He found were it was written: the just shall live by faith (Galatians 3:11), by focusing on the work of Jesus on the cross and not association with any human structure in form of a church or association.
He said that personal connection with God is possible, and that is the foundation which Paul says none other can be laid which is Jesus (1Corinthians 3:11), so Martin Luther found the ancient landmark of the foundation of the church. In his time, the leadership of the church had moved things away from the simplicity of devotion to Christ (2Corinthians 11:3), to ritual and religions and paganism, and coldness of affection to God.
Martin Luther said restore (Isaiah 42:22) and the building of the house of God resumed in earnest and in some ways we are still recovering the truth laid down in the first century, as we focus on the epistles.
In a way that first century house was demolished, like the temple build by Solomon was destroyed and the prophetic word came that the glory of the latter house shall be greater than the former as Zerubbabel started the work of restoration.
This foundation of the latter house was laid by Martin Luther. However this house being build is not from a different plan, just as the temple build by Zerubbabel though not splattered with so much gold like that of Solomon, followed the same plan. So Martin Luther did not get a truth from reading fiction or thinking up something. As a seeker of truth, he got it from the pages of scriptures, from the words of Paul.
Now, five centuries after with millions of people as Christians and many have died as Christians, with the flame of the gospel going throughout the whole world, we have the building of the house going on well.
Peter described individual Christians as lively stones, living stones (1Peter 2:5); Paul said we are being built into a habitation for God in the spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22). There is a move of God towards building His house, the church, with one generation of Christians expected to enter into higher dimensions of truth and the purpose of God for it higher than the previous just as block laid upon block in a building project; though each block might be the same in size, the latter block are on a higher height than the former because it is laid on the former.
There are apostles and prophets, real life special representatives of Christ, whose positions foundational for the church.
There is the foundation of the first century church on which we are building on now, the church takes it shape from the pages of the bible, the old testament which the referred to and the new testament which they wrote. They define the church as it should be, as the foundation defines the building.
The successive generations since the Martin Luther reformation build on the foundation of the previous generation, and the unveiling of the purposes of God for the earth and the church enfolds.