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.
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; Luke 6:13-16) plus Paul and James, the brother of Jesus.
- 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)
- Philip (Mat 10:3; Mark 3:18)
- Bartholomew (aka Nathanael?)
- Thomas (aka Didymus; the Twin)
- 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 (Mat 10:4; Luk 6:15)
- Thaddaeus (aka Judas, Jude), the son of James (Act 1:13)
- Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ (Matt 26:14-16) and is replaced by Matthias (Acts 1:26)
- Paul (aka Saul) (Galatians 1:11-13; Acts 9)
- James, the Lord’s brother (1Cor 15:7; Galatians 1:19), though James does not call himself an apostle
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
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