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The Apostles of Jesus Christ

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. Matthew 10:2-4

In the New Testament (NT), the term “apostle” occurs seventy-nine times: ten in the Gospels, twenty-eight in Acts, thirty-eight in the epistles, and three times in the book of Revelation. The English term, apostle, is derived from the Greek noun apostolos (apostoloj, from apostellw, to send forth). Its primary use in the NT expresses the idea of dispatch, release, or dismiss, but possesses the element of commission, having the authority of and responsibility to the one who was sending. An apostle is one who is sent on a mission who possesses authority on behalf of the sender and is accountable to him.

The Old Testament Equivalent (saluah)

In the Greek Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament (OT), the noun occurs only one time (I Kings 14:6). Here the Septuagint translators translated the Hebrew saluah, which became somewhat of a technical term in Judaism. A saluah could be one who led the congregation in the synagogue in worship, a representative from the Sanhedrin who was sent on official business, a priest, or one of the prominent figures of the OT who acted in the interest of God. But unlike the apostle of the NT, the OT saluah never operated beyond the community of God.

Christ as Apostle

In Hebrews 3:1, Jesus is called the “the apostle . . . of our confession in contrast to Moses whom Judaism regarded as a saluah. Though Moses spoke for God, Jesus spoke directly from God and spoke with power and authority. As an apostle, Jesus repeatedly claimed to be sent by the Father, and on this authority, send the disciples into the world as the Father had sent him (John 17:18).

The Twelve as Apostles

The Gospels most generally refer to the twelve selected to be with him as “disciples” (maqhth,j). Their primary ministry, initially, was to be with Jesus and to learn from him. But they were also known as “apostles” who were given authority to preach and cast out demons (Mark 3:14-15; 6:30). While Jesus was with them, the term “apostle” was rarely applied to them, but after the death of Christ and the experience of Pentecost, this situation changed.

Jesus called twelve disciples, which reflects the number of the tribes of Israel. An important difference existed: the basis of their leadership was not related to tribal interests, but to personal and spiritual.

They stood at the head of the early Church (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11) in terms of the importance of the spiritual gifts imparted to them and were secondary only to Christ as the foundation of the Church (Eph.2:20; 2 Peter 3:2). Their primary duties were preaching (Acts 1:22), teaching (Acts 2:42; Eph. 3:5), and administration (Acts 4:37; Acts 6:1-6). The supernatural powers which had been evidenced among them at the day of Pentecost and soon after continued among them as evidence of divine authority upon their ministries (Acts 5:12; 2 Cor. 12:12), and the gift of the Holy Spirit was mediated through them (Acts 8:15-17).

Paul as an Apostle

Unlike the original twelve disciples, the Paul was directly appointed by Christ to the apostolic ministry after the Ascension (Gal. 1:1), and was directed to the ministry in the Gentile world (Rom. 1:5; Gal. 1:16; 2:8).

Other Apostles

After Judas betrayed Christ, Matthias was chosen to assume his place, but after the death of these men, no attempt was made to replace them (Acts 12:2). An important qualification (Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor. 15:8-9).

In addition to Matthias, several others appear to be granted some degree of apostleship. The most natural interpretation of 1 Cor. 15:5-8 suggests that Paul was imply that James, the Lord’s brother, was also regarded as an apostle. Barnabas (along with Paul) is regarded as an apostle in Acts 14:4, 14, but perhaps in a restricted sense as one sent out by the church at Antioch and obligated to report upon the completion of his mission (Acts 14:27), though he was not regarded as an apostle at Jerusalem (Acts 9:27; cf. Gal. 2:9). Among the apostles, Andronicus and Junias were noted (Rom. 16:7), as apparently were Silvanus and Timothy (1 Thess. 2:6).

All Believers as Apostles

For the most part, the term “apostle” is used in two ways in the NT. As already seen, it is applied in a narrow sense to the twelve chosen by Christ (1 Cor. 15:7, 9). Paul and other were included in the narrower sense of the word (2 Cor. 11:13; 1 Thess. 2:6).

But the term is also used in it is also applied to all believers who bear witness of Christ (Acts 14:4, 14; 15:2). In contrast, the office of apostle, in the narrow sense, was not intended to be an office that was to continue in the church; nowhere was the church instructed to ordain apostles, but in the broader sense, all believers are apostles because they are sent to the world.

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. Matthew 10:2-4

In the New Testament (NT), the term “apostle” occurs seventy-nine times: ten in the Gospels, twenty-eight in Acts, thirty-eight in the epistles, and three times in the book of Revelation. The English term, apostle, is derived from the Greek noun apostolos (apostoloj, from apostellw, to send forth). Its primary use in the NT expresses the idea of dispatch, release, or dismiss, but possesses the element of commission, having the authority of and responsibility to the one who was sending. An apostle is one who is sent on a mission who possesses authority on behalf of the sender and is accountable to him.

The Old Testament Equivalent (saluah)

In the Greek Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament (OT), the noun occurs only one time (I Kings 14:6). Here the Septuagint translators translated the Hebrew saluah, which became somewhat of a technical term in Judaism. A saluah could be one who led the congregation in the synagogue in worship, a representative from the Sanhedrin who was sent on official business, a priest, or one of the prominent figures of the OT who acted in the interest of God. But unlike the apostle of the NT, the OT saluah never operated beyond the community of God.

Christ as Apostle

In Hebrews 3:1, Jesus is called the “the apostle . . . of our confession in contrast to Moses whom Judaism regarded as a saluah. Though Moses spoke for God, Jesus spoke directly from God and spoke with power and authority. As an apostle, Jesus repeatedly claimed to be sent by the Father, and on this authority, send the disciples into the world as the Father had sent him (John 17:18).

The Twelve as Apostles

The Gospels most generally refer to the twelve selected to be with him as “disciples” (maqhth,j). Their primary ministry, initially, was to be with Jesus and to learn from him. But they were also known as “apostles” who were given authority to preach and cast out demons (Mark 3:14-15; 6:30). While Jesus was with them, the term “apostle” was rarely applied to them, but after the death of Christ and the experience of Pentecost, this situation changed.

Jesus called twelve disciples, which reflects the number of the tribes of Israel. An important difference existed: the basis of their leadership was not related to tribal interests, but to personal and spiritual.

They stood at the head of the early Church (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11) in terms of the importance of the spiritual gifts imparted to them and were secondary only to Christ as the foundation of the Church (Eph.2:20; 2 Peter 3:2). Their primary duties were preaching (Acts 1:22), teaching (Acts 2:42; Eph. 3:5), and administration (Acts 4:37; Acts 6:1-6). The supernatural powers which had been evidenced among them at the day of Pentecost and soon after continued among them as evidence of divine authority upon their ministries (Acts 5:12; 2 Cor. 12:12), and the gift of the Holy Spirit was mediated through them (Acts 8:15-17).

Paul as an Apostle

Unlike the original twelve disciples, the Paul was directly appointed by Christ to the apostolic ministry after the Ascension (Gal. 1:1), and was directed to the ministry in the Gentile world (Rom. 1:5; Gal. 1:16; 2:8).

Other Apostles

After Judas betrayed Christ, Matthias was chosen to assume his place, but after the death of these men, no attempt was made to replace them (Acts 12:2). An important qualification (Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor. 15:8-9).

In addition to Matthias, several others appear to be granted some degree of apostleship. The most natural interpretation of 1 Cor. 15:5-8 suggests that Paul was imply that James, the Lord’s brother, was also regarded as an apostle. Barnabas (along with Paul) is regarded as an apostle in Acts 14:4, 14, but perhaps in a restricted sense as one sent out by the church at Antioch and obligated to report upon the completion of his mission (Acts 14:27), though he was not regarded as an apostle at Jerusalem (Acts 9:27; cf. Gal. 2:9). Among the apostles, Andronicus and Junias were noted (Rom. 16:7), as apparently were Silvanus and Timothy (1 Thess. 2:6).

All Believers as Apostles

For the most part, the term “apostle” is used in two ways in the NT. As already seen, it is applied in a narrow sense to the twelve chosen by Christ (1 Cor. 15:7, 9). Paul and other were included in the narrower sense of the word (2 Cor. 11:13; 1 Thess. 2:6).

But the term is also used in it is also applied to all believers who bear witness of Christ (Acts 14:4, 14; 15:2). In contrast, the office of apostle, in the narrow sense, was not intended to be an office that was to continue in the church; nowhere was the church instructed to ordain apostles, but in the broader sense, all believers are apostles because they are sent to the world.

Written by Dr. Stephen FlickNumber of posts: 206
Stephen Flick heads Christian Heritage Fellowship, a national organization dedicated to reclaiming America’s Christian Heritage and celebrating the life-changing influence of the Gospel around the world. Concerned with the cultural decay of America, Dr. Flick has sought to provide answers to fellow Christians (and unbelievers) concerning the questions and objections to Christianity often posed by secularists and the irreligious. Dr. Flick is a writer and speaker and has authored numerous articles and books on America’s Christian heritage. He earned his Ph.D. from Drew University in history and Christian theology and has taught at the graduate level as full professor. He has been a licensed minster for nearly forty years and resides in East Tennessee with his wife, Beth. They have two grown, married children and five grandchildren.
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