The Bible

Bible Usage:


  • Included in Eastons: Yes
  • Included in Hitchcocks: No
  • Included in Naves: Yes
  • Included in Smiths: Yes
  • Included in Websters: Yes
  • Included in Strongs: Yes
  • Included in Thayers: Yes
  • Included in BDB: No

Strongs Concordance:


Easton's Bible Dictionary

A person sent by another; a messenger; envoy. This word is once used as a descriptive designation of Jesus Christ, the Sent of the Father (Hebrews 3:1; John 20:21). It is, however, generally used as designating the body of disciples to whom he intrusted the organization of his church and the dissemination of his gospel, "the twelve," as they are called (Matthew 10:1-5; Mark 3:14; 6:7; Luke 6:13; 9:1). We have four lists of the apostles, one by each of the synoptic evangelists (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14), and one in the Acts (1:13). No two of these lists, however, perfectly coincide.

Our Lord gave them the "keys of the kingdom," and by the gift of his Spirit fitted them to be the founders and governors of his church (John 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26, 27; 16:7-15). To them, as representing his church, he gave the commission to "preach the gospel to every creature" (Matthew 28:18-20). After his ascension he communicated to them, according to his promise, supernatural gifts to qualify them for the discharge of their duties (Acts 2:4; 1 Corinthians 2:16; 2:7, 10, 13; 2 Corinthians 5:20; 1 Corinthians 11:2). Judas Iscariot, one of "the twelve," fell by transgression, and Matthias was substituted in his place (Acts 1:21). Saul of Tarsus was afterwards added to their number (Acts 9:3-20; 20:4; 26:15-18; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11).

Luke has given some account of Peter, John, and the two Jameses (Acts 12:2, 17; 15:13; 21:18), but beyond this we know nothing from authentic history of the rest of the original twelve. After the martyrdom of James the Greater (Acts 12:2), James the Less usually resided at Jerusalem, while Paul, "the apostle of the uncircumcision," usually travelled as a missionary among the Gentiles (Galatians 2:8). It was characteristic of the apostles and necessary (1) that they should have seen the Lord, and been able to testify of him and of his resurrection from personal knowledge (John 15:27; Acts 1:21, 22; 1 Corinthians 9:1; Acts 22:14, 15).

2. They must have been immediately called to that office by Christ (Luke 6:13; Galatians 1:1).

3. It was essential that they should be infallibly inspired, and thus secured against all error and mistake in their public teaching, whether by word or by writing (John 14:26; 16:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:13).

4. Another qualification was the power of working miracles (Mark 16:20; Acts 2:43; 1 Corinthians 12:8-11). The apostles therefore could have had no successors. They are the only authoritative teachers of the Christian doctrines. The office of an apostle ceased with its first holders.

In 2 Corinthians 8:23 and Philippians 2:25 the word "messenger" is the rendering of the same Greek word, elsewhere rendered "apostle."

Naves Topical Index

An appellation of Jesus
Hebrews 3:1

Smith's Bible Dictionary

(one sent forth), in the New Testament originally the official name of those twelve of the disciples whom Jesus chose to send forth first to preach the gospel and to be with him during the course of his ministry on earth. The word also appears to have been used in a non-official sense to designate a much wider circle of Christian messengers and teachers See (2 Corinthians 8:23; Philemon 2:25) It is only of those who were officially designated apostles that we treat in the article. Their names are given in (Matthew 10:2-4) and Christ's charge to them in the rest of the chapter. Their office.

(1) The original qualification of an apostle, as stated by St. Peter on the occasion of electing a successor to the traitor Judas, was that he should have been personally acquainted with the whole ministerial course of our Lord from his baptism by John till the day when he was taken up into heaven. (2) They were chosen by Christ himself (3) They had the power of working miracles. (4) They were inspired. (John 16:13) (5) Their world seems to have been pre-eminently that of founding the churches and upholding them by supernatural power specially bestowed for that purpose. (6) The office ceased, a matter of course, with its first holders-all continuation of it, from the very condition of its existence (cf. (1 Corinthians 9:1)), being impossible. Early history and training .

The apostles were from the lower ranks of life, simple and uneducated; some of them were related to Jesus according to the flesh; some had previously been disciples of John the Baptist. Our Lord chose them early in his public career They seem to have been all on an equality, both during and after the ministry of Christ on earth. Early in our Lord's ministry he sent them out two and two to preach repentance and to perform miracles in his name Matthew 10; Luke 9. They accompanied him in his journey, saw his wonderful works, heard his discourses addressed to the people, and made inquiries of him on religious matters. They recognized him as the Christ of God, (Matthew 16:16; Luke 9:20) and described to him supernatural power (Luke 9:54) but in the recognition of the spiritual teaching and mission of Christ they made very low progress, held back as they were by weakness of apprehension and by national prejudices. Even at the removal of our Lord from the earth they were yet weak in their knowledge, (Luke 24:21; John 16:12) though he had for so long been carefully preparing and instructing them. On the feast of Pentecost, ten days after our Lord's ascension, the Holy Spirit came down on the assembled church, Acts 2; and from that time the apostles became altogether different men, giving witness with power of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus, as he had declared they should. (Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8,22; 2:32; 3:15; 5:32; 13:31) Later labors and history.

First of all the mother-church at Jerusalem grew up under their hands, Acts 3-7, and their superior dignity and power were universally acknowledged by the rulers and the people. (Acts 5:12) ff. Their first mission out of Jerusalem was to Samaria (Acts 8:5-25) where the Lord himself had, during his ministry, sown the seed of the gospel. Here ends the first period of the apostles' agency, during which its centre is Jerusalem and the prominent figure is that of St. Peter. The centre of the second period of the apostolic agency is Antioch, where a church soon was built up, consisting of Jews and Gentiles; and the central figure of this and of the subsequent period is St. Paul. The third apostolic period is marked by the almost entire disappearance of the twelve from the sacred narrative and the exclusive agency of St. Paul, the great apostle of the Gentiles. Of the missionary work of the rest of the twelve we know absolutely nothing from the sacred narrative.

Webster's 1828 Dictionary

APOS'TLE, noun [Latin apostalus; Gr. to send away, to sent.]

A person deputed to execute some important business; but appropriately, a disciple of Christ commissioned to preach the gospel. Twelve persons were selected by Christ for this purpose; and Judas, one of the number, proving an apostate, his place was supplied by Matthias. Acts 1:2.

The title of apostle is applied to Christ himself, Hebrews 3:1. In the primitive ages of the church, other ministers were called apostles, Romans 16:7; as were persons sent to carry alms from one church to another, Philippians 2:1. This title was also given to persons who first planted the Christian faith. Thus Dionysius of Corinth is called the apostle of France; and the Jesuit Missionaries are called apostles.

Among the Jews, the title was given to officers who were sent into distant provinces, as visitors or commissioners, to see the laws observed.

Apostle, in the Greek liturgy, is a book contained the epistles of St. Paul, printed in the order in which they are to be read in churches, through the year.

Naves Topical Index

A title distinguishing the twelve disciples, whom Jesus selected to be intimately associated with himself
Luke 6:13

Names of
Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:13-16; Acts 1:13; Acts 1:26

Selection of
Matthew 4:18-22; Matthew 9:9-10; Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:13-16; John 1:43

Commission of
John 40:10; Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 3:14-15; Mark 6:7-11; Mark 16:15; Luke 9:1-5; Luke 22:28-30; John 20:23; John 21:15-19; John 44:1; Acts 10:42

Matthew 11:25; Acts 4:13

Miraculous power given to
Matthew 10:1; Mark 3:15; Mark 6:7; Mark 16:17; Luke 9:1-2; Luke 10:9; Luke 10:17; Acts 2:4; Acts 2:43; Acts 5:12-16; 1 Corinthians 14:18; 2 Corinthians 12:12

Authority of

General references
Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:18; Matthew 19:28
Apostles, Commission of

Inspiration of
Matthew 10:27; Matthew 16:17-19; Luke 24:45; Acts 1:2; Acts 13:9

Duties of

General references
Luke 24:48; John 15:27; Acts 1:8; Acts 1:21-22; Acts 2:32; Acts 3:15; Acts 4:33; Acts 5:32; Acts 10:39-41; Acts 13:31; 2 Peter 1:16; 2 Peter 1:18; 1 John 1:1-3
Apostles, Commission of; Minister, A Sacred Teacher

Moral state of, before Pentecost
Matthew 17:17; Matthew 18:3; Matthew 20:20-22; Luke 9:54-55

Slow to receive Jesus, as Messiah
Matthew 14:33

Forsake Jesus
Mark 14:50

Fail to comprehend the nature and mission of Jesus, and the nature of the kingdom He came to establish
Matthew 8:25-27; Matthew 15:23; Matthew 16:8-12; Matthew 16:21-22; Matthew 19:25; Mark 4:13; Mark 6:51-52; Mark 8:17-18; Mark 9:9-10; Mark 9:31-32; Mark 10:13-14; Luke 9:44-45; Luke 18:34; Luke 24:19; Luke 24:21; John 4:32-33; John 10:6; John 11:12-13; John 12:16; John 13:6-8; John 14:5-9; John 14:22; John 16:6; John 16:17-18; John 16:32; John 20:9; John 21:12; Acts 1:6
Barnabas; Matthias; Minister, A Sacred Teacher; Paul


General references
2 Corinthians 11:13; Revelation 2:2
Teachers, False

Webster's 1828 Dictionary

APOSTLE-SHIP, noun The office or dignity of an apostle.