From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

(Redirected from Apostles)
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Apostle (disambiguation).
Part of the series on

History of Christianity
Ecumenical councils
Great Schism

The Trinity
God the Father
Christ the Son
The Holy Spirit

The Bible
Old Testament
New Testament
The Gospels
Ten Commandments
Sermon on the Mount

Christian theology
Salvation · Grace
Christian worship

Christian Church
Orthodox Christianity

Christian denominations
Christian movements
Christian ecumenism

Apostle (in Koine Greek "απόστολος" apostolos [1], someone sent forth/sent out on a mission, an 'emissary') is a technical term used in the New Testament and in Christian literature generally for a special envoy of Jesus Christ. The Twelve Apostles were probably Galilean Jewish men (10 names are Aramaic, 4 names are Greek) chosen from among the disciples, who were "sent forth" by Jesus of Nazareth to preach the Gospel to both Jews and Gentiles across the world.

"He called unto him his disciples, and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles" (Gospel acc. to Luke 6:13).

How far it had any similar use in Judaism in Christ's day is uncertain; but in the 4th century A.D., at any rate, it denoted responsible envoys from the central Jewish authority, especially for the collection of religious funds. In its first and simplest Christian form, the idea is present already in Mark iii. 14 f., where from the general circle of his disciples Jesus "made twelve ('whom he also named apostles,' Luke vi. 13, but doubtful in Mark), that they should be with him, and that he might from time to time send them forth (ἱνα αποστελλη) to preach and to have authority to cast out demons." Later on (vi. 6 ff.), in conection with systematic preaching among the villages of Galilee, Jesus begins actually to "send forth" the twelve, two by two; and on their return from this mission (vi. 30) they are for the first time described as "apostles" or missionary envoys. Matthew (x. 1 ff.) blends the calling of the twelve with their actual sending forth, while Luke (vi. 13) makes Jesus himself call them "apostles" (for Luke's usage cf. xi. 49, "prophets and apostles," where Matthew, xxiii. 34, has "prophets and wise men and scribes"). But it is doubtful whether Jesus ever used the term for the Twelve, in relation to their temporary missions, any more than for the "seventy others" whom he "sent forth" later (Luke x. 1). Even the Fourth Gospel never so describes them. It simply has "a servant is not greater than his lord, neither an apostle (envoy) greater than he that sent him" (xiii. 16); and applies the idea of "mission" alike to Jesus (cf. Heb. iii. 1, "Jesus, the apostle ... of our profession") and to his disciples, generally, as represented by the Twelve (xvii. 18, with 3, 6 ff.). But while ideally all Christ's disciples were "sent" with the Father's Name in charge, there were different degrees in which this applied in practice; and so we find "apostle" used in several senses, once it emerges as a technical term.


In the Apostolic age itself

In the Apostolic age itself, "apostle" often denotes simply an "envoy," commissioned by Jesus Christ to be a primary witness and preacher of the Messianic Kingdom. This wide sense was shown by Lightfoot (in his commentary on Galatians, 1865) to exist in the New Testament, e.g. in 1 Cor. xii. 28 f., Eph. iv. ii, Rom. xvi. 7; and his view has since been emphasized [By analogy, that is; for the wider sense of "apostle" in the Apostolic age need not be identical with a sub-apostolic use of the term (see below, "Paul, the 'Apostle of the Gentiles.'" fin.).] by the discovery of the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (see Didache), with its itinerant order of "apostles," who, together with "prophets" (cf. Eph. ii. 20, iii. 5) and "teachers," constituted a charismatic and seemingly unordained ministry of the Word, in some part of the Church (in Syria?) during the early sub-apostolic age. Paul is our earliest witness, as just cited; also in 1 Cor. xv. 5 ff., where he seems to quote the language of Palestinian tradition, in saying that Christ "appeared to Cephas; then to the Twelve; then... to James; then to the apostles one and all (τοις αποστο&almbda;οις πασιν); and last of all ... to me also." The appearance to "all the Apostles" must refer to the final commission given by the risen Christ to certain assembled disciples (Acts i. 6 ff., cf. Luke xxiv. 33), including not only the Twelve and the Lord's brethren (i. 13 f.), but also some at least of the Seventy. Of this wider circle of witnesses, taken from among personal disciples during Jesus's earthly ministry, we get a further glimpse in the election of one from their number to fill Judas's place among the Twelve (i. 21 ff.), as the primary official witnesses of Messiah and his resurrection. Many of the 120 then present (Acts i. 15), and not only the two set forward for final choice, must have been personal disciples, who by the recent commission had been made "apostles." Among such we may perhaps name Judas Barsabbas and Silas (Acts xv. 22, cf. i. 23), if not also Barnabas (1 Cor. ix. 6) and Andronicus and Junia (Rom. xvi. 7).

So far, then, we gather that the original Palestinian type of apostleship meant simply

  1. personal mission from the risen Christ (cf. I Cor. ix. i), following on
  2. some preliminary intercourse with Jesus in his earthly ministry. It was pre-eminence in the latter qualification that gave the Twelve their special status among apostles (Acts i. 26, ii. 14, vi. 2; in Acts generally they are simply "the apostles"). Conversely, it was Paul's lack in this respect which lay at the root of his difficulties as an apostle.

It is possible, though not certain, that even those Judaizing missionaries at Corinth whom Paul styles "false-apostles" or, ironically, "the superlative apostles" (2 Cor. xi. 5, 13; xii. 11), rested part of their claim to superiority over Paul on (2), possibly even as having done service to Christ when on earth (2 Cor. xi. 18, 23). There is no sign in 2 Cor. that they laid claim to (1). If this be so, they were "Christ's apostles" only indirectly, "through men" (as some had alleged touching Paul, cf. Gal. i. 1), i.e. as sent forth on mission work by certain Jerusalem leaders with letters of introduction (2 Cor. iii. 1; E. von Dobschutz, Problems der apost. Zeitalters, p. 106).

The Twelve

Synoptic Gospels (the Gospel accounts acc. to Matthew, Mark and Luke)

Simon Ushakov's The Last Supper depicts Jesus and his Twelve Apostles
Simon Ushakov's The Last Supper depicts Jesus and his Twelve Apostles

According to the Gospel according to Matthew (10:1–4), the Gospel according to Mark (3:13–19), and the Gospel according to Luke (6:12–16), the Twelve chosen by Jesus near the beginning of his ministry, those whom "also he named Apostles", were:

  1. Simon called Peter (Grk. petros, petra; Aram. kēf; Engl. rock) by Jesus, also known as Simon bar Jonah and Simon bar Jochanan (Aram.) and earlier (Pauline Epistles were written first) Cephas (Aram.) by Paul of Tarsus and Simon Peter, a fisherman from Bethsaida "of Galilee" (Jn 1:44; cf. 12:21)
  2. Andrew brother of Peter, a Bethsaida fisherman and disciple of John the Baptist
  3. James and
  4. John, sons of Zebedee, called by Jesus Boanerges (an Aramaic name explained in Mk 3:17 as "Sons of Thunder")
  5. Philip from Bethsaida "of Galilee" (Jn 1:44, 12:21)
  6. Bartholomew, in Aramaic "bar-Talemai?", "son of Talemai" or from Ptolemais, identified with Nathanael
  7. Matthew the tax collector, sometimes identified with Levi, son of Alphaeus
  8. Thomas, also known as Judas Thomas Didymus, Aramaic T'oma', "twin", Greek Didymous, "twin": believed by some to be the twin brother of Jesus
  9. James son of Alphaeus
  10. Simon the Canaanite, called in Luke and Acts "Simon the Zealot"
  11. Judas Iscariot "the traitor"; name Iscariot may refer to the Judaean towns of Kerioth or to the sicarii, Jewish nationalist insurrectionists; replaced as an apostle in Acts by Matthias
  12. Thaddaeus, but in some manuscripts of Matthew "Lebbaeus" or "Judas the Zealot" and in Luke Judas, son of James

Gospel of John

The Gospel according to John, unlike the Synoptic Gospels, does not offer a list of apostles, nor does the author even state their number. However, the following nine apostles appear in the fourth Gospel account: Andrew, Judas Iscariot, Peter, Thomas (who is also called Judas), Nathanael, Philip, the sons of Zebedee (James and John), and Judas not Iscariot.

The apostles have also been known as the twelve saints: St. Andrew, St. Bartholomew, St. James the Greater, St. James the Lessor, St. John, St. Jude Judas Iscariot, St. Matthias, St. Matthew, St. Peter, St. Philip, St. Simon and St. Thomas.


When Jesus selected an inner circle of disciples for continuous training by personal intercourse, his choice of "twelve" had direct reference to the tribes of Israel (Matt. xix. 28; Luke xxii. 30). This gave them a symbolic or representative character as a closed body (cf. Rev. xxi. 14), marking them off as the primary religious authority (cf. Acts ii. 42, "the apostles' teaching") among the "disciples" or "brethren," when these began to assume the form of a community or church. The relationship which other "apostles" had enjoyed with the Master had been uncertain; they had been his recognized intimates, and that as a body. Naturally, then, they took the lead, collectively--in form at least, though really the initiative lay with one or two of their own number, Peter in particular. The process of practical differentiation from their fellow apostles was furthered by the concentration of the Twelve, or at least of its most marked representatives, in Jerusalem, for a considerable period (Acts viii. 1, cf. xii. 1 ff.; an early tradition specifies twelve years). Other apostles soon went forth on their mission to "the cities of Israel" (cf. Acts ix. 31), and so exercised but little influence on the central policy of the Church. Hence their shadowy existence in the New Testament, though the actual wording of Matt. x. 5-42, read in the light of the Didache, may help us to conceive their work in its main features.

"Pillar" Apostles.

But in fact differentiation between apostles existed among the Twelve also. There were "pillars," like Peter and John (and his brother James until his death), who really determined matters of grave moment, as in the conference with Paul in Gal. ii. 9--a conference which laid the basis of the latter's status as an apostle even in the eyes of Jewish Christians. Such pre-eminence was but the sequel of personal distinctions visible even in the preparatory days of discipleship, and it warns us against viewing the primitive facts touching apostles in the official light of later times.

Consciousness of such personal pre-eminence has left its marks on the lists of the Twelve in the New Testament. Thus

  1. Peter, James, John, Andrew, always appear as the first four, though the order varies, Mark representing relative prominence during Christ's ministry, and Acts actual influence in the Apostolic Church (cf. Luke viii. 51, ix. 28).
  2. The others also stand in groups of four, the first name in each being constant, while the order of the rest varies.

The same lesson emerges when we note that one such apostolic "pillar" stood outside the Twelve altogether, viz. James, the Lord's brother (Gal. ii. 9, cf. i. 19); and further, that "the Lord's brethren" seem to have ranked above "apostles" generally, being named between them and Peter in 1 Cor. ix. 5. That is, they too were apostles with the addition of a certain personal distinction.

Paul, the "Apostle of the Gentiles."

So far apostles are only of the Palestinian type, taken from among actual hearers of the Messiah and with a mission primarily to Jews--apostles "of the circumcision" (Gal. ii. 7-9). Now, however, emerges a new apostleship, that to the Gentiles; and with the change of mission goes also some change in the type of missionary or apostle. Of this type Paul was the first, and he remained its primary, and in some senses its only, example. Though he could claim, on occasion, to satisfy the old test of having seen the risen Lord (1 Cor. ix. 1, cf. xv. 8), he himself laid stress not on this, but on the revelation within his own soul of Jesus as God's Son, and of the Gospel latent therein (Gal. i. 16). This was his divine call as "apostle of the Gentiles" (Rom. xi. 13); here lay both his qualification and his credentials, once the fruits of the divine inworking were manifest in the success of his missionary work (Gal. ii. 8 f.; 1 Cor. xi. 1 f.; 2 Cor. in. 2 f., xii. 12). But this new criterion of apostleship was capable of wider application, one dispensing altogether with vision of the risen Lord--which could not even in Paul's case be proved so fully as in the case of the original apostles--but appealing to the "signs of an apostle" (1 Cor. ix. 2; 2 Cor. xii. 12), the tokens of spiritual gift visible in work done, and particularly in the planting of the Gospel in fresh fields (2 Cor. x. 14-18). It may be in this wide charismatic sense that Paul uses the term in 1 Cor. xii. 28 f., Eph. ii. 20, iii. 5, iv. 11, and especially in Rom. xvi. 7, "men of mark among the apostles" (cf. 2 Cor. xi. 13, "pseudo-apostles" masquerading as "apostles of Christ," and perhaps 1 Thess. ii, 6, of himself and Silas). That he used it in senses differing with the context is proved by 1 Cor. xv. 9, where he styles himself "the least of apostles," although in other connexions he claims the very highest rank, co-ordinate even with the Twelve as a body (Gal. ii. 7 ff.), in virtue of his distinctive Gospel.

This point of view was not widely shared even in circles appreciative of his actual work. To most he seemed but a fruitful worker within lines determined by "the twelve apostles of the Lamb" as a body (Rev. xxi. 14). So we read of "the plant (Church) which the twelve apostles of the Beloved shall plant" (Ascension of Isaiah, iv. 3); "those who preached the Gospel to us (especially Gentiles)... unto whom He gave authority over the Gospel, being twelve for a witness to the tribes" (Barn. viii. 3, of. v. 9); and the going forth of the Twelve, after twelve years, beyond Palestine "into the world," to give it a chance to hear (Preaching of Peter, in Clem. Alex. Strom. vi. 5.43; 6.48). Later on, however, his own claim told on the Church's mind, when his epistles were read in church as a collection styled simply "the Apostle."

As the primary medium of the Gentile Gospel (Gal. i. 16, cf. i. 8, ii. 2) Paul had no peers as an "apostle of the Gentiles" (Rom. xi. 13, cf. XV. 15-20, and see 1 Cor. xv. 8, "last of all to me"), unless it were Barnabas who shares with him the title "apostle" in Acts xiv. 4, l4--possibly with reference to the special "work" on which they had recently been "sent forth by the Spirit" (xiii. 2, 4). Yet such as shared the spiritual gift (charisma) of missionary power in sufficient degree, were in fact apostles of Christ in the Spirit (1 Cor. xii. 28, II). Such a secondary type of apostolate--answering to "apostolic missionaries" of later times (cf. the use of ἱεραποστολος in this sense by the Orthodox Eastern Church to-day)--would help to account for the apostolic claims of the missionaries censured in Rev. ii. 2, as also for the "apostles" of the second generation implied in the Didache.

In the sub-apostolic age, however, the class of "missionaries" enjoying a charisma such as was conceived to convey apostolic commission through the Spirit, soon became distinguished from "apostles" (cf. Hennas, Sim. ix. 15.4, "the apostles and teachers of the message of the Son of God," so 25.2; in 17.1 the apostles are reckoned as twelve), as the title became more and more confined by usage to the original apostles, particularly the Twelve as a body (e.g. Ascension of Isaiah and the Preaching of Peter), or to them and Paul (e.g. in Clement and Ignatius), and as reverence for these latter grew in connexion with their story in the Gospels and in Acts. [The tendency is already visible in the Lucan writings. An anologous process is seen in the use of "disciple," applicable in the apostolic age to Christians at large, but in the course of the sub-apostolic age restricted to personal "disciples of the Lord" or to martyrs (Papias in Eus. iii. 39, cf. Ignatius, Ad Eph. i. 2).] Thus Eusebius describes as "evangelists" (cf. Philip the Evangelist in Acts xxi. 8, also Eph. iv. 11, 2 Tim. iv. 5) those who "occupied the first rank in the succession to the Apostles" in missionary work (Hist. Eccl. iii. 37, cf. v. 10). Yet the wider sense of "apostle" did not at once die out even in the third and fourth generations. It lingered on as applied to the Seventy [In the Edessene legend of Abgar, in Eus. i. 12, we read that "Judas, who is also Thomas, sent Thaddaeus as apostle--one of the Seventy," where simply an authoritative envoy of Jesus seems intended. For traces of the wider sense of "apostle" in Gnostic, Marcionite and Montanist circles, see Monnier (as below).]--by Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement and Origen--and even to Clement of Rome, by Clem. Alex. (? as a "fellow-worker" of Paul, Phil. iv. 3); while the adjective "apostolic" was applied to men like Polycarp (in his contemporary Acts of Martyrdom) and the Phrygian, Alexander, martyred at Lyons in A.D. 177 (Eus. v. 1), who was "not without share of apostolic charisma."

The authority attaching to apostles was essentially spiritual in character and in the conditions of its exercise. Anything like autocracy among his followers was alien to Jesus's own teaching (Matt, xxiii. 6-11). All Christians were "brethren," and the basis of pre-eminence among them was relative ability for service. But the personal relation of the original Palestinian apostles to Jesus himself as Master gave them a unique fitness as authorized witnesses, from which flowed naturally, by sheer spiritual influence, such special forms of authority as they came gradually to exercise in the early Church. "There is no trace in Scripture of a formal commission of authority for government from Christ Himself" (Hort, Chr. Eccl. p. 84) given to apostles, save as representing the brethren in their collective action. Even the "resolutions" (δογματα) of the Jerusalem conference were not set forth by the apostles present simply in their own name, nor as ipso facto binding on the conscience of the Antiochene Church. They expressed "a claim to deference rather than a right to be obeyed" (Hort, op. cit. 81-85). Such was the kind of authority attaching to apostles, whether collectively or individually. It was not a fixed notion, but varied in quantity and quality with the growing maturity of converts. This is how Paul, from whom we gather most on the point, conceives the matter. The exercise of his spiritual authority is not absolute, lest he "lord it over their faith"; consent of conscience or of "faith" is ever requisite (2 Cor. i. 24; cf. Rom. xiv. 23). But the principle was elastic in application, and would take more patriarchal forms in Palestine than in the Greek world. The case was essentially the same as on the various mission-fields to-day, where the position of the "missionary" is at first one of great spiritual initiative and authority, limited only by his own sense of the fitness of things, in the light of local usages. So the notion of formal or constitutional authority attaching to the apostolate, in its various senses, is an anachronism for the apostolic age. The tendency, however, was for their authority to be conceived more and more on formal lines, and, particularly after their deaths, as absolute.

The authority attaching to apostles as writers, which led gradually to the formation of a New Testament Canon--"the Apostles" side by side with "the Books" of the Old Testament (so 2 Clement xiv., c. A.D. 120-140)--is a subject by itself (see Bible).

This change of conception helped to further the notion of a certain devolution of apostolic powers to successors constituted by act of ordination. The earliest idea of an apostolical succession meant simply the re-emergence in others of the apostolic spirit of missionary enthusiasm. "The first rank in the succession of the apostles" consisted of men eminent as disciples of theirs, and so fitted to continue their labours (Euseb. iii. 37); and even under Commodus (A.D. 180-193) there were "evangelists of the word" possessed of "inspired zeal to emulate apostles" (v. 10). Such were perhaps the "apostles" of the Didache. Of the notion of apostolic succession in ministerial grace conferred by ordination, there is little or no trace before Irenaeus. The famous passage in Clement of Rome (xliv. 2) refers simply to the succession of one set of men to another in an office of apostolic institution. The grace that makes Polycarp "an apostolic and prophetic teacher" (Mart. Polyc. 16) is peculiar to him personally. But Irenaeus holds, apparently on a priori grounds, that "elders" who stand in orderly succession to the apostolic founders of the true tradition in the churches, have, "along with the succession of oversight," also an "assured gift of (insight into) truth" by the Father's good pleasure ("cum episcopatus successione charisma veritatis certum secundum placitum Patris acceperunt"), in contrast to heretics who wilfully stand outside this approved line of transmission (adv. Haer. iv. 26. 2). So far, indeed, the succession is not limited to the monarchical episcopate as distinct from the presbyteral order to which it belonged (cf. "presbyterii ordo, principalis consessio" in the same context, and see iii. 14. 2), though the bishops of apostolic churches, as capable of being traced individually (iii. 3. 1), are specially appealed to as witnesses (cf. iv. 33. 8, v. 19. 2)--as earlier by Hegesippus (Euseb. iv. 22). Nor is there mention of sacerdotal grace attaching to the succession in apostolic truth. [The above is substantially the view taken by J. B. Lightfoot in his essay on "The Christian Ministry" (Comm. on Philippians, 6th ed., pp. 239, 252 f.), and by T. M. Lindsay, The Church and the Ministry (1902), pp. 224-228, 278 ff. Even C. Gore, The Church and the Ministry (1889), pp. 119 ff., while inferring a sacerdotal element in Irenaeus's conception of the episcopate, says: "But it is mainly as preserving the catholic traditions that Irenaeus regards the apostolic succession" (p. 120).] But once the idea of supernatural grace going along with office as such (of which we have already a trace in the Ignatian bishop, though without the notion of actual apostolic succession) arose in connexion with successio ab apostolis, the full development of the doctrine was but a matter of time. [See Lightfoot's essay for Cyprian's contribution, as also for that of the Clementines, which fix on the twofold position of James at Jerusalem, as apostle and bishop, as bearing on apostolic succession in the episcopate.]

Apostles Today

In the Catholic and Orthodox churches, bishops are seen as the successors to the Apostles. See Apostolic succession

Many Charismatic churches consider apostleship to be a gift of the Holy Spirit still given today (based on 1 Corinthians 12:28). The gift is associated with church leadership or church planting.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("LDS Church"; see also Mormon) believes that the authority of the original twelve apostles is a distinguishing characteristic of the true church established by Jesus. For this reason, it ordains Apostles as members of its Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, second in authority to the church's First Presidency which is led by the senior Apostle similar to Peter leading the twelve disciples.

The New Apostolic Church believes also in the currently existing of modern day apostles. They believe in the return of the apostles in the 1830s in England by prophecies. Started as an renewal movement in the Anglican Church, it soon went into the Catholic Apostolic Church which afterwards developed into the New Apostolic Church and others like the United Apostolic Church.

Specific apostles

Judas Iscariot

Judas having betrayed Christ and then in guilt committed suicide before Christ's resurrection (in one Gospel account), the apostles then numbered eleven. According to Acts 1:16–20, Peter states, "Judas, who was guide to those who took Jesus… For he was numbered with us, and received his portion in this ministry… For it is written in the book of Psalms, 'Let his habitation be made desolate, Let no one dwell therein,' and, 'Let another take his office.'" Between the ascension of Christ and the day of Pentecost, the remaining apostles elected a twelfth apostle by casting lots, a traditional Jewish way to determine the Will of God. The lot fell upon Matthias, who then became the last of the Twelve Apostles in the New Testament.

Beloved Disciple

The mainstream belief is that the "beloved disciple" was John and that this was how the writer – who could be John the Evangelist or John the Apostle himself, if they are the same person – referred to him in the Gospel according to John.

Some maintain that the "beloved disciple" was Mary Magdalene. This assertion contradicts John 19:25-27, which reads "Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. Tradition furthermore asserts that John the Evangelist and the Apostle are the same man, and he took care of Mary while living in Ephesus.


In his writings, Saul, later known as Paul, though not one of the Twelve, described himself as an apostle, one "born out of time" (e.g. Romans 1:1 and other letters), claimed he was appointed by the resurrected Jesus himself during his Road to Damascus vision; specifically he referred to himself as the Apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13). He also described some of his companions as apostles (Barnabas, Silas, Apollos, Andronicus and Junia) and even some of his opponents as super-apostles (2nd Corinthians 11:5 and 12:11). As the Catholic Encyclopedia states: "It is at once evident that in a Christian sense, everyone who had received a mission from God, or Christ, to man could be called 'Apostle'"; thus extending the original sense beyond the original Twelve. Since Paul claimed to have received the Gospel through a revelation of Jesus Christ (cf. Gal 1:12; Acts 9:3-19, 26-27) after the latter's death and resurrection, (rather than before like the Twelve) , he was often obliged to defend his apostolic authority and proclaim that he had seen and was anointed by Jesus while on the road to Damascus; but James, Peter and John in Jerusalem accepted his apostleship to the Gentiles (specifically those not circumcised) as of equal authority as Peter's to the Jews (specifically those circumcised) according to Paul in Galatians 2:7-9.


The writer of the Hebrews (3:1) refers to Jesus as the "apostle and high priest of our professed faith" and of rank greater than Moses.


In Acts 14:14, Barnabas, the man who introduced Paul to the circle of disciples and the desposyni at Jerusalem, is referred to as an apostle.

James the Just

Brother or relative of Jesus (see James the Just for details), described by Paul as: "James, Cephas, and John, who were reputed to be pillars" (Gal 2:9 NIV) and described in Acts as leader of the Jerusalem Church, is not called an apostle in the Gospels, though Paul in Galatians 1:19 states that he is one and according to Orthodox Christian Tradition he is the first of the Seventy of Luke 10:1-20. Many believe that the Seventy were also called apostles. The Greek text doesn't use the noun form apostolos but uses the verb form apostello which means to send away and in combination with the rest of the text strongly implies that they are apostles.

Twelve Disciples/Apostles of Christ in the Book of Mormon

Documents accepted as scripture by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (and breakaway Mormon groups) claim that shortly after his resurrection, Jesus visited a group of people living in the Americas, and chose twelve apostles ("disciples" in the text) to support his church in that region. Their names, according to the third book of Nephi, chapter 9 verse 14, were Nephi, Timothy, Jonas, Mathoni, Mathonihah, Kumen, Kumenonhi, Jeremiah, Shemnon, Jonas, Zedekiah, and Isaiah. According to the book, nine of the twelve died of old age, with three (an unidentified subset of the twelve, called the Three Nephites) remained on the Earth, as was John, without tasting death, to await the Second Coming of Jesus.


Additionally, in Romans 16:7 Paul states that Andronicus and Junia were "of note among the apostles", indicating that he considered these two as well to be apostles. As suggested by context, Andronicus and Junia were man and wife and Paul is identifying a female apostle. This is cited as an example of gender neutrality in the early church. (See Crossan, J. D. and Reed, J. L., In Search of Paul, HarperSanFrancisco, 2004, pp 115-116, ISBN 006-051457-4.)

Later Christianizing apostles

A number of successful pioneering missionaries are known as Apostles. In this sense, in the traditional list below, the apostle first brought Christianity (or Arianism in the case of Ulfilas and the Goths) to a land. Or it may apply to the truly influential Christianizer, such as Patrick's mission to Ireland, where a few struggling Christian communities did already exist. The reader will soon think of more of the culture heroes.

Some Eastern Orthodox saints are given the title specific to the Eastern rites "equal-to-the-apostles", see isapostolos Kosmas Aitolos. The myrrh-bearing women, who went to anoint Christ's body and first learned of his resurrection, are sometimes called the "apostles to the apostles" because they were sent by Jesus to tell the apostles of his resurrection.

Apostles in Fiction

In Dogma, Chris Rock plays a 13th Apostle named Rufus.

See also


In England the modern treatment of the subject dates from J. B. Lightfoot's dissertation in his Commentary on Galatians, to which Dr F. J. A. Hort's The Christian Ecclesia added elements of value; see also:

  • T. M. Lindsay, The Church and the Ministry, and articles in Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible and the Ency. Biblica
  • A. Harnack, Die Lehre der Apostel, pp. 93 ff., and Dogmengeschichte (3rd ed.), i. 153 ff.
  • E. Haupt, Zum Verstandnis d. Apostolats in NT. (Halle, 1896)

and especially

  • H. Monnier, La Notion de l'apostolat, des origines à Irénée (Paris, 1903).

The later legends and their sources are examined by T. Schermann, Propheten- und Apostellegenden (Leipzig, 1907).

External links

Apostles of Jesus Christ
Simon Peter | Andrew | James | John | Philip | Bartholomew | Matthew | Thomas
James son of Alphaeus | Simon the Zealot | Thaddaeus | Judas Iscariot
Personal tools