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Dictionary of Bible Themes – 7707 apostles, designation of
7707 apostles, designation of

7707 apostles, designation of

An apostle is one who is “sent” by Jesus Christ. The word is used to refer especially to the inner circle of Christ’s twelve disciples, but is also used specifically to refer to Paul, who was commissioned as an apostle by the risen Christ. The term is also applied more loosely to certain other leading Christians in the NT period.

Jesus Christ as an apostle

Heb 3:1 This is the only place where the word “apostle” is used of Jesus Christ, though many passages refer to him as “sent”; Jn 20:21 Jesus Christ, as God’s “sent one”, sets the standard and pattern for all who are likewise “sent” (i.e., for all apostolic ministry). See also Mt 10:40; Mk 9:37; Jn 5:23-24; Jn 12:44-45

The twelve apostles called by Jesus Christ

Their appointment Mk 3:13-19 pp Mt 10:1-4 pp Lk 6:12-16

Their number Jn 6:70 “the Twelve” is frequently used to designate these specially chosen disciples. The number twelve evokes the twelve tribes of Israel. See also Mt 19:28; Mt 20:17; Mk 11:11; Lk 8:1; Ac 6:2; 1Co 15:5; Rev 21:14

Their commissioning by the risen Christ Mt 28:18-20

The replacement for Judas See also Ac 1:15-26 The symbolic number (twelve) is thus preserved.

The qualifications for being an apostle Ac 1:21-22

Paul as an apostle

His self-designation Gal 1:1 See also Ro 1:1; 1Co 1:1; 1Ti 2:7

His commissioning by Jesus Christ Ac 26:12-18 Although not one of the Twelve, Paul saw the risen Christ and was directly commissioned by him, sent especially to the Gentiles; 1Co 15:3-10; Gal 2:8

Paul’s apostleship and the church 1Co 9:1-2 In Paul’s case the sense of title or office and the ministry and function virtually coincide. He is an apostle both because he has seen and been commissioned by the risen Christ and because he functioned as an apostle by founding churches.

Other apostles

Barnabas Here “apostles” may refer to their ministry as missionary evangelists or to their role as “sent” by the church at Antioch: Ac 14:4,14

James, the Lord’s brother 1Co 15:7 The most natural meaning of the words is that James is an apostle. This interpretation is confirmed by other references to James; Gal 1:19; Gal 2:9

Andronicus and Junias Ro 16:7

Silas 1Th 2:6

“Apostles” of the churches 2Co 8:23 “representatives” is the translation here for “apostles”; Php 2:25 “messenger” is the translation here for “apostle”

False apostles

2Co 11:5 Paul ironically refers to his opponents as “super-apostles”; 2Co 11:13; 2Co 12:11; Rev 2:2

See also

2057Christ, obedience
2327Christ as servant
2339Christ, example of
5109Paul, apostle
5114Peter, apostle
7160servants of the Lord
7621disciples, calling
7631Twelve, calling of

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