Rembrandt, Jesus and his Disciples (1633)
Part 1 of this series, “A Failed Experiment,” provides the necessary background and explains my purpose in critiquing the late Nabeel Qureshi’s views on healing.
A key argument in Nabeel Qureshi’s vlogs about healing is that not only did Jesus heal people but so did his disciples. The argument can be stated formally as follows:
Premise 1: Jesus’ disciples were able to perform healing miracles.
Premise 2: We are Jesus’ disciples.
Conclusion: We are able to perform healing miracles.
In vlog #32 Nabeel made this argument explicit. However, I think he also acknowledged a glitch in the argument when he affirmed that we are also Jesus’ disciples but then added, “in a certain way.” The problem is that the argument equivocates in its use of the term disciples.
Apostles and Prophets
The first generation of the Christian movement had special leaders whom Paul called apostles and prophets (1 Cor. 12:28-29; Eph. 2:20; 3:5; 4:11). As I stated in Part 2, the apostles were a foundational group of Christian leaders who functioned as witnesses to the risen Christ in the first generation of the church. All four Gospels report Jesus speaking to the apostles about their coming role as witnesses giving testimony to him (Matt. 10:18; Mark 6:11; 13:9; Luke 9:5; 21:13; 24:44-49; John 15:25-26; 19:35; 21:24). This understanding of the apostles as special, authoritative witnesses to Jesus is a significant theme in Acts (1:8, 21-26; 2:11, 32; 3:15; 4:33; 5:31-32; 10:39-42; 13:30-31; 22:14-15; 23:11; 26:16) and appears in various epistles (1 Cor. 9:1; 15:5-8, 15; 2 Thess. 1:10; 2 Tim. 1:8; 1 Peter 5:1; 1 John 1:2; 4:14). The apostolic witness functioned in conjunction to the prior, prophetic witness of the Scriptures, our Old Testament, to the coming Messiah (Acts 2:30-32; 3:18; 10:43, cf. 10:39-42; Rom. 3:21; Heb. 7:17).
Note that the apostles were not limited to twelve men, although the twelve were the core group of apostles. In addition to the twelve, the NT identifies as apostles Barnabas (Acts 14:14; 1 Cor. 9:5-6; cf. Gal. 2:8-9), Paul (Acts 14:14; Rom. 1:1; etc.), James the Lord’s brother (1 Cor. 15:7; Gal. 1:19; 2:9; cf. James 1:1), and possibly Andronicus and Junias/Junia (Rom. 16:7). Thus, the total number of apostles of Christ seems to have been no less than fifteen and possibly seventeen (that we know by name). In the upper room after Jesus’ ascension and before Pentecost, Judas’s replacement was chosen from a pool of up to 120 persons present at the time, and Paul refers to a group of some 500 individuals who were witnesses of the risen Christ, any of whom potentially could have been given apostolic commissions (1 Cor. 15:6).
In addition to the apostles, other individuals whom Luke and Paul called prophets (Acts 11:27; 13:1; 15:32; 21:10; 1 Cor. 14:29, 32, 37) were associates of the apostles and were also inspired to deliver special messages from Christ.
In part 2, I made the generalization that the New Testament gives accounts of healings performed by Jesus, apostles, and prophets, but not of healings performed by other individuals. There are two persons in the Book of Acts that might be considered exceptions: Stephen and Ananias. Let’s look at both of these men.