Apostle

2 Corinthians 8:23; Philippians 2:25; John 13:16; John 17:18; Hebrews 3:1; Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13; Acts 1; Matthew 10:5-15; Luke 24; John 20; Ephesians 4:8-11; Ephesians 3; Acts 1:22; Revelation 21:14; James 1:1; Revelation 21:12; Acts 15; Acts 6; 2 Peter 3:15-16; Acts 1:21-22; 1 Corinthians 9:1; Revelation 2:2; Ephesians 4:12-13  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
The Greek word; ἁπόστολος signifies “a messenger,” “one sent,” and is used in this sense for any messenger (2 Cor. 8:2323Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be inquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ. (2 Corinthians 8:23); Phil. 2:2525Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labor, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. (Philippians 2:25)); and as “one sent” (John 13:1616Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. (John 13:16)). It is also used in a much higher and more emphatic sense, implying a divine commission in the one sent, first of the Lord Himself and then of the twelve disciples whom He chose to be with Him during the time of His ministry here. The Lord in His prayer in John 17:1818As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. (John 17:18) said, “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” He was the Sent One, and in Hebrews 3:11Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; (Hebrews 3:1) it is written “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Jesus.”1 They were to consider this One who had been faithful, and who was superior to Moses, to the Aaronic priests, and to angels, and was in the glory. The ordering of a dispensation depended on the apostolic office as divinely appointed.
Apostles, The Twelve. The Lord appointed these “that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out demons,” and also to carry out the various commissions given by Christ on earth. It will be seen by the lists that follow that Lebbaeus, Thaddaeus and Judas are the same person; and that Simon the Canaanite (Cananæan) and Simon Zelotes are the same; Peter is also called Simon; and Matthew is called Levi.
1. Peter and 1. Peter. 1. Simon. 1. Peter
2. Andrew. 3. James. 2. Andrew. 3. James.
3. James and 4. John. 3. James. 4. John.
4. John. 2. Andrew. 4. John. 2. Andrew.
5. Philip and 5. Philip. 5. Philip. 5. Philip.
6. Bartholomew. 6. Bartholomew. 6. Bartholomew 7. Thomas.
7. Thomas and 8. Matthew. 8. Matthew. 6. Bartholomew.
8. Matthew. 7. Thomas. 7. Thomas. 8. Matthew.
9. James and 9. James. 9. James. 9. James.
10. Lebbaeus. 10. Thaddaeus. 11. Simon Zelotes. 11. Simon Zelotes.
11. Simon the Cananaean 11. Simon C. 10. Judas. 10. Judas.
12. Judas Iscariot. 12. Judas Iscariot. 12. Judas Iscariot.
Peter is always named first; he with James and John was with the Lord on the mount of transfiguration and also with the Lord at other times, though no one apostle had authority over the others: they were all brethren and the Lord was their Master. Judas Iscariot is always named last. In Matthew the word “and” divides the twelve into pairs, perhaps corresponding to their being sent out two and two to preach. Bartholomew and Simon Zelotes are not mentioned after their appointment except in Acts 1.
When the Lord sent the twelve out to preach He bade them take nothing with them, for the workman was worthy of his food: and on their return they confessed that they had lacked nothing. Their mission was with authority as the sent ones of the Lord; sicknesses were healed and demons cast out; and if any city refused to receive them it should be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment than for that city (Matt. 10:5-155These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. 9Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, 10Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. 11And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. 12And when ye come into an house, salute it. 13And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. 15Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. (Matthew 10:5‑15)).
They received a new mission from the Lord as risen (see Luke 24; John 20). And before the ascension the apostles were bidden to tarry at Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. This was bestowed at the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. They are also viewed first among the gifts with which the church was endowed by the Head of the body when He ascended up on high (Eph. 4:8-118Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (Ephesians 4:8‑11)). These gifts were for “the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” The mystery hitherto hid in God was now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, namely, that the Gentiles should be joint heirs, and a joint body, and partakers of His promise in Christ Jesus (Eph. 3). Paul was the special vessel to make known this grace. His apostleship occupies a peculiar place, he having been called by the Lord from heaven, and being charged with the gospel of the glory. See PAUL.
On the death of Judas Iscariot, Matthias, an early disciple, was chosen in his place, for there must be (irrespective of Paul, who, as we have seen, held a unique place) twelve apostles as witnesses of His resurrection (Acts 1:2222Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. (Acts 1:22); Rev. 21:1414And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Revelation 21:14)); as there must still be twelve tribes of Israel (James 1:11James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. (James 1:1); Rev. 21:1212And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: (Revelation 21:12)). At the conference of the church in Jerusalem respecting the Gentiles “the apostles” took a prominent part, with the elders, Acts 15. How many apostles remained at Jerusalem is not recorded: we do not read of “the twelve” after Acts 6. Tradition gives the various places where they labored, which may be found under each of their names. Scripture is silent on the subject, in order that the new order of things committed to Paul might become prominent, as the older things connected with Judaism vanished away (compare 2 Peter 3:15-1615And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:15‑16)).