The idea of the 'apostles' as themselves the foundation of the church, or of the new Jerusalem, appears already in Eph. 2.20 and Rev. 21.14. More striking is the fact that a clear emphasis of the early chapters of Acts is the role of the apostles as ensuring continuity between what Jesus had taught and the expanding mission of the movement reinvigorated afresh at Pentecost. The implication of the opening words is that Acts is a continuation of 'all that Jesus began to do and teach' as recorded in 'the first part of his work', the Gospel of Luke (Acts 1.1). The instruction given to the apostles (1.2), the implication continues, had just the same continuity in view.41 Hence, when the traitor Judas is replaced by a new twelfth apostle, the criterion for his election is that he should have been one of their number throughout the ministry of Jesus, 'beginning from the baptism of John' (1.2122). Hence also the emphasis in 2.42, where the first mark of the new post-Pentecost community is its continuation in and firm attachment to 'the teaching of the apostles'.
Such an emphasis might be regarded as a late perspective, when, arguably, continuity questions would have become (more) important. But there are indications that such continuity was seen as important from the first. These indications focus on the importance of Peter, James, and John to which our texts testify. They were evidently reckoned as the first men among the leaders of the initial Jerusalem community (Acts 1.13) — Peter certainly (1.15; 2.14; 5.1-10, 15, 29),
40. 'Now the twelve disciples [were] sitting all together at [the same time], and remembering what the Savior had said to each one of them, whether secretly or openly, they were setting it down in books' (Apoc. Jas. 2.1 Cameron).
41. More than any other Evangelist, Luke emphasizes the role of the disciples as 'apostles' (Luke 6.13; 9.10; 17.5; 22.14; 24.10).
with John as his faithful shadow (3.1-11; 4.13, 19; 8.14), and James by implication (12.2). Fortunately for any concerned at such over-dependence on Acts, Paul's testimony confirms that a Jerusalem triumvirate (with James the brother of Jesus replacing James the executed brother of John) were generally accounted 'pillars' (Gal. 2.9). The imagery clearly implies that already, within twenty years of the beginnings of the new movement, these three were seen as strong supports on which the new community (temple?) was being built.42 This correlates well with the remembrance of the Jesus tradition that Peter and the brothers Zebedee had been closest to Jesus43 and thus were accounted principal witnesses to and custodians of Jesus' heritage.
Paul's concept of apostleship is somewhat different from Luke's. But it coheres to the extent that Paul regarded his apostolic role to consist particularly in founding churches (Rom. 15.20; 1 Cor. 3.10; 9.1-2). And, as we have seen, a fundamental part of that role was to pass on foundation tradition (above §8.1b).
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