Question: Were the twelve Apostles infallible in their teachings?
Answer: Every book of the New Testament was written by one of the twelve Apostles, except for Revelation, which was written by our Lord. We should accept the New Testament writings, as originally given by the twelve Apostles, as being so supervised of the Lord as to be free from any error, though the various translations we have are more or less imperfect. In harmony with Jesus’ promise in Matthew 16: 19, the Apostle Peter was given “the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” He used the first key, the right, the authority, on the day of Pentecost, when he unlocked the door of entrance into the Body of Christ as New Creatures, as prospective members of the kingdom of heaven class, the “little flock” (Luke 12: 32), to Jews and Jewish proselytes (Acts 2). He used the second key to open the door of entrance into the kingdom of God’s dear Son to the Gentiles, when he was sent to Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, to explain to him the conditions of relationship to Christ in the kingdom and to initiate him that he might receive the holy spirit (Acts 10).
With its false teachings on apostolic succession, the papacy has greatly misapplied and misused Jesus’ statement in Matthew 16: 19, claiming that the popes, as Peter’s successors, “seated in the chair of St. Peter,” have as a special prerogative the right to infallibly “bind” and “loose.” However, they conveniently overlook or usually forget to call attention to the fact that this promise regarding binding and loosing applied not only to the Apostle Peter, but also to all of the other Apostles: “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18: 18).
Thus we are fully justified in believing that the Apostles were so guided by the Lord, through His holy spirit, that all of their public utterances were of Divine inspiration for the admonition of the Church, and no less infallible than the utterances of the Prophets of the preceding dispensation – “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost [Spirit]” (2 Peter 1: 21).
Our Lord’s promise in Matthew 18: 18 did not mean that He would yield His Headship and prerogative and become obedient to the dictates of the Apostles, but that they would be so kept, so guided by the holy spirit, that their decisions in the Church respecting what things should be considered obligatory and what things should be considered optional would be proper decisions; so that the Church in general might know that the matters were fixed and settled – the conclusions arrived at being the Lord’s as well as the Apostles’ decision. It is because of our belief in our Lord’s promise in this connection that we hold to the exact presentation of the Apostles as representing the Divine will, and allow no testimony by subsequent followers of our Lord to have the same weight or influence. Respecting the Apostles alone we have the assurance that their writings are inspired by God and infallible, and that whatever they forbade or allowed was under heavenly guidance and sanction.
Though the Apostles were infallible in their teachings, they were not infallible in their conduct. They still had imperfect human bodies to contend with (1 John 1: 8), though their conduct was undoubtedly exemplary.