Paul was speaking as an apostle, and all the apostles were chosen by divine appointment. As Jesus said in John 15:14-17, they were now his friends, for they did what he commanded.
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that
ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain:
that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it
you. These things I command you, that ye love one another.”
There are some groups that still believe in the continuation of the Office of Apostles, but not within the groups you have singled out. Catholicism has a foundational belief in “Apostolic Succession”, but Protestantism either questions this belief or outrightly denies it. Yet, the Latter Day Saints (often viewed as Protestant but with no belief in the Christian Trinity) teach that it applies to them only. A brief quote from this Catholic source might identify some of the issues involved:
“The notion of Apostolic Succession presents the office of the Church
(hierarchical ministry) as the authority which succeeds the office of
the apostles. It is constituted through sacramental admission into
ecclesiastical office by means of the visible sign of the laying on of
hands… the primary pre-requisite for the legitimacy of the
office-holder as administrator of (most of) the sacraments… The
Protestant questioning of such a chain of succession as bearer of the
most priestly functions in the Church, or the express denial of it,
was felt to be an attack on the hierarchical structure of the Church."1
Sacerdotal systems depend on the notion of apostolic succession, yet we also see the Episcopal church (which is trinitarian) with priests, and other apparently orthodox groups, having a hierarchical system too. All have rituals of the laying on of hands for bishops, elders and so forth. I don’t think your question looks for a delving-into of the differences and similarities between all those groups, but I mention this at the start to show that the issue is complicated. Even outside of sacerdotal, hierarchical groups, there is “the laying on of hands” at ceremonies of appointment to indicate agreement that such-and-such a person has been called to whatever role in the church he is now deemed as qualified, to begin. I say ‘he’, but once I was in a bus sitting besides a lady who had just started out as minister in the local Church of Scotland, and I asked her why she had taken on that role. “Because God called me to it,” was her simple reply. That did not satisfy me because it isn’t as simple as that – she would have spent years at theological college then, having satisfied her examiners, would have been ceremoniously appointed to be a minister of that denomination with the laying on of hands, but none of that constitutes evidence of God’s calling! Indeed, it is only men who should be appointed as ministers of the gospel.
Jesus spoke of “fruit that remains”, being granted what they pray for in his name, and showing love, as visible signs of his appointment. Even so, given the biblical teaching of the priesthood of all believers, and the Protestant view that the office of apostle died out with the last apostle’s death, we are left with the biblical statements about the laying on of hands on men appointed to teach and lead, in the Church. Such appointments would bear evidence of Jesus’ approval, as above.
When the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, he was charged to “war a good warfare, holding faith, and a good conscience” (1 Tim. 1:18-20), unlike some other men in the Church: throughout the centuries we have seen their likes, shipwrecking faith, leaving a trail of spiritual devastation in their wake. Paul handed them over to Satan, to learn not to blaspheme, but this is obviously not happening much these days, given the men in various church groups who do not bear good fruit, who do not pray in accordance with God’s will, and who do not show the love of Christ.
In Paul’s second epistle to Timothy, he again exhorted him to “stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands” (1:6). “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” and spoke also of the gift of the Holy Spirit that had been committed to him. Timothy was to pass on sound teaching “to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2:2). Prior to that, after the Holy Spirit empowered all the Christians at Pentecost, “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). No wonder Jude said Christians “should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (vs 3).
The groups you ask about largely avoid sacerdotalism, fewer others avoid hierarchical systems, and very few seem to deal with teachers who stray from the apostles’ doctrine, which runs into the matter of experience. It would naturally follow that false claims to be appointed as a ‘minister of the gospel’ would result in a falling away from the truth of the gospel, and eventual shipwrecking of faith and truth. As this is what we see in many Protestant groups, the evidence Jesus said of those whom he has chosen (albeit not apostles, but teachers in his Church) is singularly lacking. False teachings have crept in, a corrupted gospel message is proclaimed in many places, and the sheep are often wandering around, seeking sounder teaching, or more satisfying experiences for those who are either spiritually shallow or spiritually dead.
Protestants should not expect “to be gathered by the ministry” of their leaders, but by the Holy Spirit. The gathered church has nothing to do with denomination, but the calling of the Holy Spirit, who also calls men to minister and teach. Such men are evident by adhering to the biblical gospel message, the apostles’ teaching, and being much in prayer, showing love to the congregation. Those individuals who are saved by grace will, as they mature in faith, be able to identify such godly men. They won’t set up a following after them, but value the sound preaching and teaching of the word of God, and appreciate the example of their faithful lives.
There remains a special word of warning for evangelicalism. This was highlighted in an article in Evangelical Times, April 2020, dealing with concern that some evangelical groups appear to be showing cult-like tendencies with some leaders. Pseudo-Christian cults do claim that they are the only organisation God recognises and blesses today, using fear of expulsion to prevent any challenging of the leaders. While that is not the claim of evangelical groups, some are appearing to claim that there might be no salvation outside of their group, or that you cannot be in God’s will if you leave them. In that regard the article states:
“I think of ‘the Churches of God’ (the ‘Needed Truth’ group) – a
splinter group from the Plymouth Brethren. It teaches clearly that
unless you belong to one of their churches, you cannot be a member of
the ‘House of God’ or be counted faithful by God. The charismatic
Restoration Movement of the 1970s and 80s taught that unless you were
‘covered’ by one of their apostles, you could not be in the will of
God. And yes, I have been told by members of various evangelical
churches that apart from their own church, there is nowhere in the
U.K. where they can truly hear God’s Word preached. To my mind, yes,
that is cult-like.” 2
In conclusion, the apostle Paul warned of ‘false brethren’ trying to bring Christians into bondage, though Christ had set them free. Paul said he and the leaders had not given them any ground, “that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Galatians 2:4-5). Those false brethren were not “walking uprightly according to the truth of the gospel” (vs. 14). That is how they are identified as not having been called by God; the biblical gospel is the touch-stone. Do these claimed ministers / teachers remain utterly true to the gospel proclaimed by the apostles, and do their lives show godliness, prayerfulness and love for the brethren? Those who have been saved by God’s gospel of grace should be able to detect the genuine from the frauds, but many just seem to want to sit in congregations and be spoon-fed by whoever claims to be an authentic minister of the gospel. I have known several authentic ministers of the gospel in several denominations during my 40 years as a Christian but I will not name them as they would be horrified at that. They prefer to be over-looked, that Christ might receive all the attention.
1 Karl Rahner, Encyclopedia of Theology, p36 (Burns & Oates 1981)
2 Article first published in the Church Bulletin of Grace Baptist Church, Stockport, abridged for ET. The full unabridged version of the ET article is available from the ET website: http://www.evangelical-times.org