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Alternate meanings: See Apostle (Mormonism), The Apostle (1997 movie)

The Twelve Apostles (in Greek "απόστολος" apostolos= 'emissary') were probably Jewish men (10 names are Aramaic, 4 names are Greek) chosen from among the disciples, who were "sent forth" , by Jesus 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 of Luke vi. 13.

The twelve apostles

Synoptic Gospels (Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke)

According to the Gospel of Mark (3:16-19) and Gospel of Matthew (10:2-4), the twelve chosen by Jesus near the beginning of his ministry, those whom "also he named Apostles", were:

  1. Simon called Peter (petros,kefa,rock) by Jesus, also known as Simon-Peter, a Bathesda fisherman
  2. Andrew Peter's brother, a Bathesda fisherman, disciple of John the Baptist
  3. James son of Zebedee, called a "Thunder Brother" (Boanerges)
  4. John son of Zebedee, called a "Thunder Brother" (Boanerges)
  5. Philip from Bathesda
  6. Bartholomew (Aramaic "bar-Talemai?" = "son of Talemai" or from Ptolemais, identified with Nathanael)
  7. Matthew a tax collector, sometimes identified with Levi, son of Alphaeus
  8. Thomas also known as Judas Thomas Didymus, Aramaic T'oma' = "twin"
  9. James son of Alphaeus
  10. Simon the Canaanite (called in Luke and Acts "Simon the Zealot")
  11. Judas Iscariot (Greek Skariotes from Latin Sicarius? = Judean Assassin)
  12. Thaddaeus (Jude Thaddaeus, called in some manuscripts of Matthew "Lebbaeus")

The list in the Gospel of Luke (6:13-16) omits Thaddaeus, but includes Judas, son of James; Thaddaeus is also called "Judas the Zealot" in some Old Latin translations of Matthew 10:3.

Gospel of John

The Gospel of 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: Andrew, Judas Iscariot, Peter, Thomas (who is also called Judas), Nathanael, Philip, the sons of Zebedee (James and John), and Judas not Iscariot.

Additional apostles

Judas Iscariot, having betrayed Christ, and having then in guilt committed suicide before Christ's resurrection (in one Gospel account), the apostles were then eleven in number. According to Acts 1:23-26, Peter states "Judas, who became guide to those who arrested Jesus, because he had been numbered among us and he obtained a share in this ministry...For it, it is written in the book of Psalms, "let his lodging place be come desolate, and let there be no dweller in it', and 'his office of oversight let someone else take it.' Between the ascension of Christ, and the day of Pentecost, the remaining apostles selected a twelfth apostle by casting lots. The lot fell upon Matthias, who then became the last of the "Twelve Apostles" in the New Testament.

Some sects of Christianity believe that Mary Magdalene (aka Mary of Bethany) was the "beloved disciple" and therefore was an Apostle if not the First Apostle. This belief has become a very contentious issue in the church with mainstream denominations denying and the eastern churches such as the Syriac church admitting. The more mainstream belief is that the "beloved disciple" was John and that was how the writer (which could be John the Evangelist or John the Apostle himself if they are the same person) referred to him in the Gospel of John.

In his writings, Saul also known as Paul also described himself as an apostle (e.g. Romans 1:1 and other letters); specifically he referred to himself as 'the Apostle to the Gentiles' (Romans 11:13). He also described some of his companions as apostles (Romans 16:7). As the Catholic Encyclopedia states it, "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. Since he claimed to be called in an extraordinary way and not directly by Jesus (while He was alive), Paul was often obligated to defend his self-proclaimed apostolic authority and proclaim that he had seen and was annointed by Jesus while on the road to Damascus (1 Corinthians, 11:1).

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, has been called an apostle.

James the Just, the brother of Jesus, though a "pillar of the Church," and leader of the Jerusalem Church, is not called an apostle in the final canonic versions of the Synoptic Gospels though Paul in Galatians 1:19 implies 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.

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". 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 Today

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 Christ. 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.

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 developped into the New Apostolic Church.

See also

External links

de:Apostel et:Apostel es:Apstol fr:Aptre it:Apostolo nl:Apostel ja:使徒 pl:Apostoł pt:Apstolo ru:Апостол sl:Apostol fi:Apostoli sv:Kristendomen: Apostlarna ko:사도 zh:耶稣十二门徒


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