What is an apostle?

by | Feb 20, 2020 | 02 Library, What is

What makes an apostle of Jesus Christ an apostle? There are 4 qualifications.

The Greek word apostle 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 sender. In the secular world, this person could sign contracts and conduct business on behalf of the one sending him.

The apostles of Jesus Christ have the authority to speak for Jesus. They were given the authority to explain the teaching of Jesus and proclaim what he taught when he was not present.

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.

  1. An apostle had to be personally commissioned by Jesus.
  2. An apostle had to be personally taught by Jesus.
  3. An apostle had to be given a complete and full understanding of Jesus’ teaching by the Holy Spirit. 
  4. An apostle had to be confirmed by miraculous signs. Anyone can claim to speak for Jesus. We know the apostles 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; Luke 6:13-16) plus Paul and James, the brother of Jesus.

  1. Peter (aka Simon, Simon Peter, Cephas; Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-18)
  2. Andrew (Peter’s brother; Mat 4:18-22)
  3. John, the son of Zebedee, James’s brother (Mark 1:19-20)
  4. James, the son of Zebedee, John’s brother (Mark 1:19-20)
  5. Philip (Mat 10:3; Mark 3:18)
  6. Bartholomew (aka Nathanael)
  7. Thomas (aka Didymus; the Twin)
  8. Matthew (aka Levi), the tax collector (Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:13-17)
  9. James, the son of Alphaeus (aka James the Less)
  10. Simon, the Zealot (Mat 10:4; Luk 6:15)
  11. Thaddaeus (aka Judas the son of James) (Act 1:13)
  12. Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ (Matt 26:14-16) and is replaced by Matthias (Acts 1:26)

Also:

  1. Paul (aka Saul) (Galatians 1:11-13; Acts 9)
  2. James, the Lord’s brother (1Cor 15:7; Galatians 1:19), though James does not call himself an apostle.

The four lists of the Twelve follow certain patterns. Each list can be divided into the same 4 groups. Each group begins with the same apostle, but the order within the group varies.

  • Group 1: Simon Peter, Andrew, James & John, the sons of Zebedee
  • Group 2: Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew
  • Group 3: James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas Iscariot

Use of the word apostle in the New Testament

ἀπόστολος apostolos; Strong’s G652; from the verb G649; a messenger, one sent on a mission, an apostle: – apostle (19), apostles (52), apostles’ (5), messenger (1), messengers (1), is sent (1)

apostle (19v) – Rom 1:1; Rom 11:13; 1Co 1:1; 1Co 9:1; 1Co 9:2; 1Co 15:9; 2Co 1:1; 2Co 12:12; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:1; Col 1:1; 1Ti 1:1; 1Ti 2:7; 2Ti 1:1; 2Ti 1:11; Tit 1:1; Heb 3:1; 1Pe 1:1; 2Pe 1:1

apostles (57v) – Mat 10:2; Mar 6:30; Luk 6:13; Luk 9:10; Luk 11:49; Luk 17:5; Luk 22:14; Luk 24:10; Act 1:2; Act 1:26; Act 2:37; Act 2:42; Act 2:43; Act 4:33; Act 4:35; Act 4:36; Act 4:37; Act 5:2; Act 5:12; Act 5:18; Act 5:29; Act 5:40; Act 6:6; Act 8:1; Act 8:14; Act 8:18; Act 9:27; Act 11:1; Act 14:4; Act 14:14; Act 15:2; Act 15:4; Act 15:6; Act 15:22; Act 15:23; Act 16:4; Rom 16:7; 1Co 4:9; 1Co 9:5; 1Co 12:28; 1Co 12:29; 1Co 15:7; 1Co 15:9; 2Co 11:5; 2Co 11:13; 2Co 12:11; Gal 1:17; Gal 1:19; Eph 2:20; Eph 3:5; Eph 4:11; 1Th 2:6; 2Pe 3:2; Jud 1:17; Rev 2:2; Rev 18:20; Rev 21:14

messengers – 2Co 8:23; messenger – Php 2:25

Mentions in Scripture

Simon Peter: Mat 4:18; Mat 8:14; Mat 10:2; Mat 14:28; Mat 14:29; Mat 15:15; Mat 16:16; Mat 16:18; Mat 16:22; Mat 16:23; Mat 17:1; Mat 17:4; Mat 17:24; Mat 18:21; Mat 19:27; Mat 26:33; Mat 26:35; Mat 26:37; Mat 26:40; Mat 26:58; Mat 26:69; Mat 26:73; Mat 26:75; Mar 3:16; Mar 5:37; Mar 8:29; Mar 8:32; Mar 8:33; Mar 9:2; Mar 9:5; Mar 10:28; Mar 11:21; Mar 13:3; Mar 14:29; Mar 14:33; Mar 14:37; Mar 14:54; Mar 14:66; Mar 14:67; Mar 14:70; Mar 14:72; Mar 16:7; Luk 5:8; Luk 6:14; Luk 8:45; Luk 8:51; Luk 9:20; Luk 9:28; Luk 9:32; Luk 9:33; Luk 12:41; Luk 18:28; Luk 22:8; Luk 22:33; Luk 22:34; Luk 22:54; Luk 22:55; Luk 22:58; Luk 22:60; Luk 22:61; Luk 24:12; Joh 1:40; Joh 1:42; Joh 1:44; Joh 6:8; Joh 6:68; Joh 13:6; Joh 13:8; Joh 13:9; Joh 13:24; Joh 13:36; Joh 13:37; Joh 18:10; Joh 18:11; Joh 18:15; Joh 18:16; Joh 18:17; Joh 18:18; Joh 18:25; Joh 18:26; Joh 18:27; Joh 20:2; Joh 20:3; Joh 20:4; Joh 20:6; Joh 21:2; Joh 21:3; Joh 21:7; Joh 21:11; Joh 21:15; Joh 21:17; Joh 21:20; Joh 21:21; Act 1:13; Act 1:15; Act 2:14; Act 2:37; Act 2:38; Act 3:1; Act 3:3; Act 3:4; Act 3:6; Act 3:11; Act 3:12; Act 4:8; Act 4:13; Act 4:19; Act 5:3; Act 5:8; Act 5:9; Act 5:15; Act 5:29; Act 8:14; Act 8:20; Act 9:32; Act 9:34; Act 9:38; Act 9:39; Act 9:40; Act 10:5; Act 10:9; Act 10:13; Act 10:14; Act 10:17; Act 10:18; Act 10:19; Act 10:21; Act 10:25; Act 10:26; Act 10:32; Act 10:34; Act 10:44; Act 10:45; Act 10:46; Act 11:2; Act 11:4; Act 11:7; Act 11:13; Act 12:3; Act 12:5; Act 12:6; Act 12:7; Act 12:11; Act 12:14; Act 12:16; Act 12:18; Act 15:7; Gal 2:7; Gal 2:8; 1Pe 1:1; 2Pe 1:1.

Andrew: Mat 4:18; Mat 10:2; Mar 1:16; Mar 1:29; Mar 3:18; Mar 13:3; Luk 6:14; Joh 1:40; Joh 1:44; Joh 6:8; Joh 12:22; Act 1:13.

James & John, the sons of Zebedee: Mat 4:21; Mat 10:2; Mat 17:1; Mat 27:56; Mar 1:19; Mar 1:29; Mar 3:17; Mar 5:37; Mar 9:2; Mar 10:35; Mar 10:41; Mar 13:3; Mar 14:33; Luk 5:10; Luk 6:14; Luk 6:16; Luk 8:51; Luk 9:28; Luk 9:54; Act 1:13; Act 12:2.

Philip: Mat 10:3; Mat 14:3; Mar 3:18; Mar 6:17; Luk 3:1; Luk 6:14; Joh 1:43; Joh 1:44; Joh 1:45; Joh 1:46; Joh 1:48; Joh 6:5; Joh 6:7; Joh 12:21; Joh 12:22; Joh 14:8; Joh 14:9; Act 1:13; Act 6:5; Act 8:5; Act 8:6; Act 8:12; Act 8:13; Act 8:26; Act 8:29; Act 8:30; Act 8:31; Act 8:34; Act 8:35; Act 8:38; Act 8:39; Act 8:40; Act 21:8.

Bartholomew: Mat 10:3; Mar 3:18; Luk 6:14; Act 1:13. aka Nathanael: Joh 1:45; Joh 1:46; Joh 1:47; Joh 1:48; Joh 1:49; Joh 21:2.

Thomas: Mat 10:3; Mar 3:18; Luk 6:15; Joh 11:16; Joh 14:5; Joh 20:24; Joh 20:26; Joh 20:27; Joh 20:28; Joh 21:2; Act 1:13.

Matthew: Mat 9:9; Mat 10:3; Mar 3:18; Luk 6:15; Act 1:13.

James son of Alphaeus: Mat 10:3; Mar 3:18; Luk 6:15; Act 1:13.

Thaddaeus: Mat 10:3; Mar 3:18; aka Judas, son of James: Luke 6:16; Joh 14:22; Act 1:13;

Simon the Zealot: Mat 10:4; Mar 3:18; Luk 6:15; Act 1:13.

Judas Iscariot: Mat 10:4; Mat 26:14; Mat 26:25; Mat 26:47; Mat 27:3; Mar 3:19; Mar 14:10; Mar 14:43; Luk 6:16; Luk 22:3; Luk 22:47; Luk 22:48; Joh 6:71; Joh 12:4; Joh 13:2; Joh 13:26; Joh 13:29; Joh 18:2; Joh 18:3; Joh 18:5; Act 1:13; Act 1:16; Act 1:25; Act 9:11.

Resources on Apostle:

English Dictionary Definitions of Apostle

Nave’s Topical Bible: Apostles – Nave’s Topical Bible

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary: Apostle

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary: Apostle

Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Apostle

Holman Bible Dictionary: Apostles

Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible: Apostles

Hastings’ Dictionary of the New Testament: Apostle

Watson’s Biblical & Theological Dictionary: Apostle

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Apostle

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia: Apostle and Apostleship

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature: Apostle

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