5 Difference Between Apostle And Disciple

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Who Is a Disciple?

Disciple is a Greek word used to describe a student or an individual who is learning from another in a mentor-like relationship. A disciple may be an apprentice under someone, but their main goal as a disciple is to learn as much as possible from their teacher or mentor.

The primary Disciples of Christ were only 12 in number. The twelve were men who walked and talked with Jesus during his earthly ministry. When Jesus Christ initially called his disciples to him (Matthew 4:19; Luke 5:27; John 1:43), he called them into a discipleship relationship. He was teaching them his ways and helping to instruct them in what God expected of them.

The twelve disciples or simply ‘’the Twelve’’ were Jesus Christ’s 12 closest followers. They were Jews, uneducated commoners and simple men of faith who gave up everything to be followers of Christ. Jesus spent at least three years training these men to be leaders. Jesus’ plan was to ultimately have the disciples take over and carry on the work he had started. Each of them eventually became the pioneering leaders in the movement which became Christianity and helped spread the gospel throughout the world.

The names of Jesus disciples are:

  • Peter (also known as Simon)
  • Andrew (Peter’s brother)
  • James (son of Zebedee)
  • John (James’ brother)
  • Philip
  • Bartholomew or Nathanael
  • Thomas,
  • Matthew or Levi (the tax collector)
  • James (son of Alphaeus)
  • Jude(also known as Thaddeus)
  • Simon (the  Cananaean or Zealot)
  • Judas Iscariot

In actuality, Jesus had many disciples that weren’t part of the 12. We know this to be true because after sending out the 11 disciples, Jesus then chose and sent out 72 others (Luke 10:1 NLT).

What You Need To Know About Disciple

  • Disciple is a Greek word used to describe a student or an individual who is learning from another in a mentor-like relationship.
  • The disciples were only 12 in number. The twelve were men who walked and talked with Jesus during his earthly ministry.
  • The disciples were chosen by Jesus himself among those who had been with him and followed or accompanied him for quite some time.
  • The term disciple is used more widely than apostle.

Who Is an Apostle?

The word apostle in Greek literally means ‘’one who is sent’’ and can refer to an emissary or anyone sent on a mission. The word signifies an authorized representation to the point of having equivalent authority as the one who did the sending.

The apostles in the New Testament were disciples who were understood to be specifically sent out by Jesus to extend his mission throughout the world. They were masters who were acting to oversee the advance of the mission of the church and to guarantee the authenticity and foundational teachings and purpose of that mission. The apostles include the original 12 disciples and others such as Mathias, Barnabas, Apollos, Timothy, Silas, Epaphroditus etc. In the modern usage, missionaries under Pentecostal movements often refer to themselves as apostles.  

The period of early Christianity during the lifetimes of the apostle is generally referred to as the Apostolic Age. During the 1st Centaury AD, the apostles established churches throughout the territories of the Roman Empire and according to tradition, through the Middle East, Africa and India.  

What You Need To Know About Apostle

  • The word apostle in Greek literally means ‘’one who is sent’’ and can refer to an emissary or anyone sent on a mission. An Apostle is given the authority of the one who sent him.
  • The apostles include the original 12 disciples and others such as Mathias, Barnabas, Apollos, Timothy, Silas, Epaphroditus etc.
  • The qualification for being an apostle included having been with Christ during his ministry, having personally witnessed Jesus after his resurrection and having been empowered by the Holy Spirit to perform miracles or signs.

Conclusion

A simple definition is that a disciple is a student who learns from a teacher. An apostle is a disciple who is sent to deliver the teaching to others. The 11 faithful disciples were both disciples and apostles. Mathias and Paul, were chosen and sent by the risen Jesus, so they too were both disciples and apostles.

Therefore, all of Jesus’ apostles were disciples; but not all of Jesus disciples were apostles. It must also be noted that Jesus’ apostles were more than just those sent by a teacher. They had spent time with Jesus and were given the power to perform signs and wonders which would authenticate their apostleship.

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