Author: Ron Graham

Glossary Simplybible

Word Study: Apostle

Word family: Apostle, apostleship, apostolic.


Synonyms: "The twelve" ("the eleven" after Judas's demise and until Matthias was appointed in his place.)


Related ideas: Oversight, leadership, church, spreading the gospel abroad, commission, being called and chosen.


Definitions: An Apostle is one who was specially chosen and sent by Jesus to spread and lead the early church. Apostles included the twelve Galileans and Saul of Tarsus (Paul). They were endowed with special miraculous powers and were authors of most of the New Testament letters.


Greek References: αποστολος (apostolos) 652 (Strong) cf 651. From 649, αποστελλω (apostelloo), sent


Scripture:

  Apostles named

  • Matthew 10:2, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16, Acts 1:13.
      1. Simon Peter (Cephas),
      2. his brother Andrew,
      3. James the son of Zebedee,
      4. his brother John,
      5. Philip (not the evangelist),
      6. Bartholomew,
      7. Matthew the tax collector,
      8. Thomas,
      9. James the son of Alphaeus,
    10. Simon the Zealot or Canaanite,
    11. Judas of James (Lebbaeus Thaddaeus),
    12. Judas Iscariot the betrayer whom the Lord replaced with Matthias.

  Apostles’ work

  • Acts 2:42, "...the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship..."
  • Acts 2:43, 5:12, "...signs and wonders..."
  • Acts 8:18, "...laying on of the apostles’ hands..."
  • Acts 16:4, "...decrees determined by the apostles..."
  • Ephesians 2:20, 4:11-12, "...foundation of the apostles and prophets..."

  Paul’s apostleship

  • Acts 9:15, Romans 1:1 (his calling), "...called to be an apostle..."
  • Romans 1:5 (his purpose), "...received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith..."
  • Romans 11:13, Galatians 2:8 (his mission, "I am an apostle of the Gentiles..."
  • Romans 16:7 (his recognition of others), "...who are outstanding among the apostles..."
  • 1Corinthians 15:9 (his worthiness), "...I am the least of the apostles..."
  • 2Corinthians 11:5 (his knowledge of the gospel), "...not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles..."
  • 2Corinthians 12:12 (his power), "...the signs of an apostle..."

  False apostles

  • 2Corinthians 11:13, "...false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ."
  • Revelation 2:2, "...call themselves apostles and are not, and you found them to be false..."

Comment: The story of Acts is mostly about Peter (one of the twelve apostles), and then about the apostle Paul who was not one of the twelve but said, "I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles." (2Corinthians 11:5). The apostles regarded themselves as being called and "chosen" (elected or picked out) by God (Acts 1:24). We are not called and chosen as apostles, but we are all called and chosen for eternal life. (Revelation 17:14, 2Peter 1:10, 2Thessalonians 2:13-1). We are also sent as messengers for Christ. (Acts 8:4, Luke 10:2).


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