What makes an apostle of Jesus Christ an apostle? There are 4 qualifications.
The greek word (apostolos; Strong’s G649) means “messenger” or “one who is sent.” We might use the term ambassador or emissary today. Normally, the one sending delegates authority to the one being sent, giving the person sent the authority to speak for and represent the person sending. In the secular world, this person could sign contracts and conduct business on behalf of the one sending him.
The apostles of Jesus Christ were given the authority to explain the teaching of Jesus and proclaim what he taught when he was not present. They have the authority to speak for Jesus.
1:21 “So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us–one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” – Acts 1:21-22
There are 4 qualifications to being an apostle of Jesus Christ.
- An apostle had to be personally commissioned by Jesus.
- An apostle had to be personally taught by Jesus.
- An apostle had to be given a complete and full understanding of Jesus’ teaching by the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised the Spirit of Truth would give them understanding (John 15). Thus all the apostles teach the same message. There is no disagreement among them.
- An apostle had to be confirmed by miraculous signs. Anyone can claim to speak for Jesus, we know that the apostles do in fact have the authority to speak for Jesus because they performed miraculous signs in Jesus name.
Who are the apostles?
The apostles of Jesus Christ are the 12 (Acts 1:12-13; Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3:16-18) plus Paul and James, the brother of the Lord.
- Peter (aka Simon, Simon Peter, Cephas; Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-18)
- Andrew (Peter’s brother; Mat 4:18-22)
- John, the son of Zebedee, James brother (Mark 1:19-20)
- James, the son of Zebedee, John’s brother (Mark 1:19-20)
- Bartholomew (aka Nathaniel)
- Thomas (aka Didymus)
- Matthew (aka Levi), the tax collector (Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:13-17)
- James, the son of Alphaeus (aka James the Less or Younger)
- Simon (the Zealot)
- Thaddaeus (aka Judas, Jude), the son of James (Act 1:13)
- Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ (and is replaced by Matthias)
- Paul (Galatians 1:11-13; Acts 9)
- James, the Lord’s brother (1Co_15:7; Galatians 1:19), though James does not call himself an apostle
Resources on Apostle:
- English Dictionary Definitions of Apostle
- Apostles – Nave’s Topical Bible
- Apostle – Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
- Apostle – American Tract Society Bible Dictionary
- Apostle – Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
- Apostles – Holman Bible Dictionary
- Apostles – Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible
- Apostle – Hastings’ Dictionary of the New Testament
- Apostle – Watson’s Biblical & Theological Dictionary
- Apostle – International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
- Apostle and Apostleship – The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
- Apostle – Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature