We need to recognize a difference in the situation of the apostles and those of the first century AD, and those of every generation since. It is was their generation, that very special time when Christ was manifested on earth (1 Tim. 3:16; 1 John 1:1; Heb. 1:1-3; 1 Pet. 1:20) that the promise of Joel 2 occurred - the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit.
"28 And it hath come to pass afterwards, I do pour out My Spirit on all flesh, And prophesied have your sons and your daughters, Your old men do dream dreams, Your young men do see visions.
29 And also on the men-servants, and on the maid-servants, In those days I do pour out My Spirit.
30 And I have given wonders in the heavens, and in the earth, Blood and fire, and columns of smoke.
31 The sun is turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, Before the coming of the day of Jehovah, The great and the fearful.
32 And it hath come to pass, Every one who calleth in the name of Jehovah is delivered, For in mount Zion and in Jerusalem there is an escape, As Jehovah hath said, And among the remnants whom Jehovah is calling!" (YLT)
The Holy Spirit was given to the disciples - the twelve - to enable them to preach the word of the gospel of Christ to all of the world (Matt. 24:14; Mark 16:15). It would be given by the laying on of the hands of the apostles to those who were baptized into Christ beginning on the day of Pentecost.
Peter told those standing before the temple on the day of Pentecost that what they were seeing and hearing was that promise prophesied by Joel.
"16 `But this is that which hath been spoken through the prophet Joel:
17 And it shall be in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 and also upon My men-servants, and upon My maid-servants, in those days, I will pour out of My Spirit, and they shall prophesy;
19 and I will give wonders in the heaven above, and signs upon the earth beneath -- blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke,
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the coming of the day of the Lord -- the great and illustrious;
21 and it shall be, every one -- whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, he shall be saved." (YLT)
The gift of the Holy Spirit was given first to the apostles by Christ, and then was given to those baptized (immersed) into Christ by the laying on of the hands of the apostles after they were baptized (Acts 8:15-17; 19:1-6). They had a short time (40 years, the anti-type of the exodus wilderness) before the kingdom, the promised land of the new covenant would be in full effect.
They were all expecting His soon return in their generation (Heb. 9:28). They were patiently enduring (2 Thess. 1:4; Heb. 12:7) the trials and tribulations, waiting for the promise of His return in their lifetime (Matt. 10:23; Matt. 23:36; 24:34).
The apostles had that special gift which allowed them to perform miracles that would convince the people that what they heard was authorized by God, and was sent from God (Mark 16:20; Acts 2:22; Heb. 2:3-4). The miracles verified the teaching of God's messengers. The Holy Spirit also allowed the apostles to discern the heart of Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8:18-23.
Why do we wonder at the power given to the apostles? The signs and miracles gained the attention of the listeners, who then heard the word, and it produced faith in the good hearts (Matt. 13:18-23).
Those gifts of the Holy Spirit were poured out on that generation, and that generation only. It was to aid in the spread of the gospel. They did not have the written word of the gospels, nor of the letters to the churches for several years. They had to have confirmation of the spoken word of the apostles of Christ.
That pouring forth of the Spirit, the laying on of hands died with the death of the apostles, and with those who they authorized (Timothy). Paul told them that the miracles were going to cease (1 Cor. 13:8) when that which was perfect came. That which was complete - the word.
"The Greek word translated “perfect” is teleios. The term does not refer to “perfect” in the sense typically understood by the average modern English reader, i.e., to be sinless. Following this faulty notion, some have concluded that the “perfect” refers to Jesus—since He has been the only perfect person. Other interpretations apply “perfect” to heaven (the only perfect place that will be free of sin and imperfection), or Christian maturity and perfect love (the perfect condition or quality). But, in context, Paul was not contrasting qualities or places. He was contrasting quantities, i.e., those things that were incomplete and partial (miraculous gifts) with that which would be total and complete (the fully revealed Word of God). The inaccuracy of these interpretations is seen further in the Greek definition of teleios. The word refers to totality, that which is whole, brought to its end, finished, and lacking nothing necessary to completeness (Delling, 1972, 8:73; Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, p. 816; Thayer, 1901, p. 618). " Excerpt from Modern-Day Miracles... by Dave Miller, Phd. at ApologeticsPress
So, when the written word was complete.. the New Testament.. there was no more need for the miracles, and the Holy Spirit gifts died with the apostles and those of that generation.
If the miracles have ceased, and I believe most will agree that they have, then so has the pouring forth of the Spirit. And, as the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit has ceased, then so has the authorization of the apostles as earthly representatives of Christ.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is not an automatic result of baptism. It was only given by the laying on of the hands of the apostles, or their selected presbyters such as Timothy. Paul told Timothy to lay hands suddenly on no man (1 Tim. 5:22), meaning Timothy was to use some discernment before giving that gift of the Spirit. It was not given to just everyone.
Excerpt from Adam Clarke's commentary on John 20:23:
" Dr. Lightfoot supposes that the power of life and death, and the power of delivering over to Satan, which was granted to the apostles, is here referred to. This was a power which the primitive apostles exclusively possessed." Source: here
Today, as we are baptized into Christ it is the Holy Spirit that is doing the work to add us to the body of Christ. We are not doing the work - God is.
1 Cor. 12:13,
" For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." (KJV)
We obey the command, we meet the terms, and the Holy Spirit brings us into the kingdom of heaven and into the body of Christ.
Further excerpt from Dave Miller's article above:
"The word “Spirit” is in the instrumental case in Greek, indicating personal agency. The personal agent in the passage who did the baptizing is the Holy Spirit. His baptizing resulted in the placement of the individuals into the one body of Christ. The verb is aorist, showing that Paul was referring to a once-for-all act in the past. Wuest explained: “It is not the baptism with the Spirit or of the Spirit, in the sense that the Holy Spirit is the element which is applied to us. It is the baptism by the Spirit. This baptism does not bring the Spirit to us in the sense that God places the Spirit upon or in us. Rather, this baptism brings the believer into vital union with Jesus Christ” (1943b, p. 86, emp. added)."
Today, the Spirit adds us to the body of Christ when we are immersed (baptized) into Christ. As we study the word, and grow in knowledge of the Lord (YHWH) and of His Son, we grow in the faith and unity of the Spirit of the word. His Spirit will dwell in us through the word (John 15:1-4; Eph 3:16-17; Col. 3:15-16).
All who are baptized (immersed) into Christ are His ambassadors, and His priests (2 Cor. 5:20; 1 Pet. 2:9). It is the fruit of our lips and our prayers that are our sacrifices to Him (Heb. 13:15). We preach the word as we are able to all we come in contact with.
But, it is God (YHWH) alone who forgives. Christ is our High Priest (Heb. 2:17; 3:1; 4:14-15; 5:5, 10; 6:20; 7:26; 8:1; 9:11; 10:21) We do not have any other priest but Christ who intercedes for us (1 Tim 2:5). No one stands between us and our High Priest. We have a direct line to the Father.
We do not need any man to act as priest between us and Christ! Indeed, the very idea of establishing an earthly priesthood is to deny the sufficiency of Christ's office as our High Priest.
Added Material regarding the apostles forgiving or retaining sins:
Christ breathed the Holy Spirit upon the apostles (john 20:23) in order to authenticate the teaching of the gospel. Peter proclaimed the gospel in Acts 2:38,
"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..." (KJV)
The act of baptizing was the remitting or retaining of sins. If the people repented and answered the call of the gospel preached by the apostles, then their sins were remitted... forgiven. Thus the power to forgive or retain sins was the call of the gospel of Christ.
Even though we do not have the need of the gifts of the Holy Spirit today to authenticate the word of God, the gospel call is still the method and procedure God chose to be preached to the world. Therefore, all who answer that call of belief, repentance, and are then immersed (baptized) into Christ have the remission of sins. If we do not answer that call we then retain our sins. The method remains the same.
Part VIII - Confirmation from Acts 2; Part IX - The First Century Preppers; and Part X - And Then Shall The End Come of my posts It's Not The End of The World provides many more evidences from the scriptures that those first century AD Christians knew Christ was coming back in their lifetime. They are available atShreddingTheVeil.