Apostle is derived from the Greek apostolos. It refers to one who is sent to carry out the orders of the sender. In the New Testament, it is used in both common and proper senses.

The Son of God is called our apostle, because he was sent to earth by the Father to purchase salvation for all. He chose twelve of his disciples to be his apostles. After he began preaching, he sent them to the Jewish towns to announce, “The kingdom of heaven is hand.” He also sent seventy-two others ahead into the towns he planned to visit. After his resurrection, he commanded the eleven remaining apostles to go throughout the world to preach the good news and make disciples. For these missions, Jesus’ apostles were given miraculous powers to confirm that the new message was an authentic revelation from God. Hebrews 3:1-2; John 12:44-50; 1 John 4:14; John 3:17; Matthew 10:5-8; Luke 9:1-6; 10:1-20; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:14-20

The twelve original apostles of Jesus were Peter (or Cephas, formerly known as Simon), Andrew (Peter’s brother), James and John (called sons of thunder, sons of Zebedee), Philip (of Bethsaida), Bartholomew (Nathaniel), Thomas (“The Twin”), Matthew (or Levi, the tax collector), James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddeus (or Judas, son of James), Simon (the zealot), and Judas (son of Simon Iscariot).1 Peter, James, and John were the apostles closest to Jesus. John referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” in his narrative. Matthew 10:2-3; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; Mark 5:37; 9:2; 13:3; 14:33

Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus and committed suicide. He was replaced by Matthias, who had been with Jesus and the others from the beginning and had witnessed Jesus’ resurrection. Matthew 26:14, 47-50; 27:3-10; Acts 1:15-26

Saul of Tarsus received a direct appointment from Jesus later and became better known by his Roman name, Paul. He is described as the apostle to the Gentiles for his extensive preaching away from Judea, although others taught Gentiles as well. Paul wrote Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Some think he is also the anonymous writer of Hebrews. Acts 9:1-30; Acts 13:9; 1 Corinthians 15:3-11; Acts 22:6-21; Acts 26:14-18; Romans 11:13; 1 Timothy 2:7

James, brother of John, was executed by Herod. Jesus prophesied Peter’s unnatural demise, which was drawing near when Peter penned his second letter. Paul was aware of his impending execution when he wrote his second letter to Timothy. John lived long enough to pen Revelation while exiled on an island close to the end of the first century. There are various legends concerning the deaths of the apostles, but these are conflicting and largely unreliable. Acts 12:2; John 21:18-19; 2 Peter 1:13-15; 2 Timothy 4:6

Others who were called apostles in a non-technical sense include Barnabas, James (Jesus’ brother), and Epaphroditus. John the Baptist was also an apostle, because he was sent by God. Acts 14:14; Galatians 1:19; Philippians 2:25; John 1:6

With great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. Acts 4:33

1 People were often associated with their hometowns or parents. Some were given nicknames for certain traits. There were several languages and cultures of the New Testament world, including Aramaic (Jews), Greek (Hellenists), and Latin (Romans). These explain why some people have more than one name.

~ SR

Related words: disciple

Ruhmann, Scott. “Word of the Week: Apostle.” 27th Street Church of Christ. Access date: . http://www.churchofbend.com/wow/apostle.htm