As a casual reader of the Bible, you may have come across the terms “apostles” and “disciples” and wondered if they were interchangeable. While both refer to followers of Jesus Christ, there is a significant difference between the two. Apostles were specifically chosen by Jesus to carry out his teachings and continue his ministry, while disciples were any person who followed Jesus and his teachings.
The twelve apostles were initially handpicked by Jesus, who chose them to spread his message and build his church after his crucifixion. These twelve men were a diverse group, including fishermen, a tax collector, and a revolutionary. They were given authority to heal, to cast out demons, and to baptize, and were actively involved in spreading the good news of Jesus’ resurrection. Judas Iscariot was among the twelve, but betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, leading to his suicide.
In contrast, the term “disciple” has a broader meaning and can refer to any person who follows Jesus and his teachings. Disciples were not necessarily chosen by Jesus himself but were those who chose to follow him out of faith. They were encouraged to spread the gospel and work towards living a life according to God’s will. Though the distinction between apostles and disciples is clear, both share a common goal of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ and his teachings.
Characteristics of Biblical Apostles
One of the most important distinctions to make when studying the Bible is the difference between apostles and disciples. While the terms are often used interchangeably, they do have distinct characteristics. In this article, we’ll explore the unique characteristics of biblical apostles and how they differ from disciples.
- An Apostle Is Chosen By Jesus: The first characteristic of a biblical apostle is that they are chosen directly by Jesus. In Matthew 10:1-4, we see that Jesus handpicked the twelve apostles, calling them by name. This means that apostles are not self-appointed or chosen by other people, but are specifically chosen by Jesus Himself.
- An Apostle Is Commissioned For A Specific Purpose: Another key characteristic of biblical apostles is that they are commissioned by Jesus for a specific purpose. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus gives the Great Commission to His apostles, telling them to “go and make disciples of all nations.” This commission was specific to the apostles and was not given to all of Jesus’ followers.
- An Apostle Has The Power To Perform Miracles: The third characteristic of a biblical apostle is that they have the power to perform miracles. In Acts 5:12-16, we see that the apostles were able to heal the sick and perform other miraculous signs and wonders. This power was given to them by Jesus and was used to confirm their message and authority.
In addition to these three key characteristics, there are other traits that are often associated with biblical apostles. These may include:
- Apostles are chosen from among Jesus’ closest followers
- Apostles are given authority to preach and teach the gospel
- Apostles are willing to suffer and even die for their faith
Understanding the unique characteristics of biblical apostles is essential for understanding the role they played in the early church. While there may be similarities between apostles and disciples, it’s important to recognize that apostles have a distinct role and calling.
Characteristics of Biblical Disciples
One of the major figures in Christianity is Jesus Christ. As a religious leader, He devoted His time to teaching and guiding His followers, who were referred to as disciples. These disciples had some key characteristics that set them apart from other Christians, including:
- Willingness to Learn: Disciples, by definition, were students of their master and were eager to learn from Him. They were willing to accept His teachings, even if it went against their preconceived ideas or beliefs. This willingness to learn and grow is a fundamental characteristic of a Biblical disciple.
- Commitment: Disciples were fully committed to their master and His teachings. They were willing to follow Him, even when faced with persecution or danger. Their commitment extended beyond just following Jesus – they were also committed to spreading His message to others.
- Sacrifice: Biblical disciples were willing to sacrifice their time, resources, and personal comforts for the sake of following their master. They were not interested in wealth or comfort – their focus was on living a life of service and devotion to their Lord.
These characteristics were not unique to the original disciples of Jesus. Christians today are also called to be disciples, and these same qualities are just as important today as they were in the early days of Christianity.
In addition to these personal characteristics, Biblical disciples also had a clear mission. They were called to spread the message of Jesus Christ to the world, and they took this mission seriously. To achieve this, they used a variety of methods, including:
|Preaching||Disciples were called to proclaim the message of Christ to others. This often involved standing up in public places and boldly declaring the truth of the Gospel.|
|Healing||Jesus and His disciples were known for their ability to heal the sick and perform miracles. This was a powerful way to demonstrate the truth of their message.|
|Teaching||Disciples spent a lot of time teaching and instructing new believers. This included explaining the Scriptures and helping others grow in their understanding of the faith.|
Together, these characteristics and methods form the core of what it means to be a Biblical disciple. As Christians, we are called to emulate the example of the early disciples by learning from and following Jesus, committing ourselves to His message, and sharing that message with others.
Importance of Apostles in Christianity
Christianity would not be the same without the apostles. They were hand-picked by Jesus Christ himself and played an essential role in establishing the early Christian Church. Though often used interchangeably, there is a significant difference between apostles and disciples. Disciples were the followers of Jesus who were willing to learn his teachings and observe his way of life. Apostles, on the other hand, were chosen by Jesus and sent on a mission to spread the Gospel and establish the Church.
- Authority: The apostles were given authority by Jesus to teach, heal, and perform miracles. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus explicitly gave them the Great Commission, ordering them to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
- Foundational leaders: The apostles laid the foundation for what would become the modern Christian Church. They were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ teachings, death, and resurrection and were able to teach others about him. The apostles’ writings in the New Testament are still the primary source of Christian doctrine today.
- Continuation of Jesus’ work: Jesus established the Church through the apostles and gave them the Holy Spirit to guide and empower them. This power enabled them to perform miracles, heal the sick, and spread the Gospel throughout the world.
The apostles were not perfect, but they were humble and faithful servants of Christ. They endured persecution, imprisonment, and even death, but their unwavering commitment to the Gospel laid the groundwork for Christianity for generations to come.
In short, the importance of the apostles in Christianity cannot be overstated. They were instrumental in establishing and spreading the Christian faith, and their teachings and writings continue to guide believers today.
|Simon Peter||Keys to the Kingdom|
|James, son of Zebedee||Scallop Shell|
|Philip||Basket of Bread|
|James, son of Alphaeus||Clover|
|Thaddaeus||Crossed Baton and Axe|
|Simon the Zealot||Saw|
|Judas Iscariot||Bag of Silver|
The symbols or icons associated with each apostle represent either the way they died or their unique ministry and message. These symbols have been used by the Church throughout history in artwork and iconography.
Importance of Disciples in Christianity
Discipleship is a crucial aspect of Christianity. It is not just about studying the principles and doctrines of the faith, but also about living it out in daily life. The term “disciple” is derived from the Greek word “mathetes,” which means student or follower. Jesus Christ had twelve disciples, who were commissioned by him to spread the gospel message to various parts of the world.
- Disciples were the first witnesses of the resurrection – The disciples were the first ones to witness the resurrected Christ. This experience was significant as it gave them the confidence to testify to others about the resurrection and the message of salvation.
- Discipleship involves modeling and mentoring – Through discipleship, new believers can learn from the older and established ones in the faith. This is why Jesus spent a considerable amount of time teaching and mentoring his disciples.
- Discipleship fosters growth and spiritual maturity – Discipleship is a lifelong process of growth and transformation. It is about becoming more like Christ through obedience and dependence on Him. The disciples’ walk with Jesus transformed them from being uneducated fishermen to powerful and influential leaders of the church.
Discipleship is an essential aspect of Christianity, as it is through disciples that the faith is passed down from generation to generation. It is about investing in the lives of others and modeling the love of Christ to the world. Christ’s final command to his disciples was to make disciples of all nations. This shows the importance of discipleship in Christianity.
Jesus set an example of how discipleship should be done, and we can follow His example by investing in the lives of others, sharing the gospel message and modeling the love of Christ to those around us. We are commissioned to be disciples and to make disciples, and this is crucial for continued growth and maturity in the faith.
|Benefits of Discipleship||References|
|Growth and spiritual maturity||Matthew 28:19-20|
|Modeling and Mentoring||John 13:15, 1 Corinthians 11:1|
|Fellowship and accountability||Hebrews 10:24-25|
Discipleship is not just a church program but a way of life. As Christians, it is our calling to make disciples, and this involves investing in others and modeling the love of Christ. Through discipleship, we can create a ripple effect that can transform lives and communities. Let us, therefore, heed Christ’s call to make disciples of all nations.
Apostolic Succession in Christianity
One of the distinctive features of Christianity is the concept of apostolic succession, which refers to the unbroken line of bishops and clergy who have been ordained in a direct line of succession from the apostles of Jesus Christ. This concept is especially important in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and some other liturgical Christian traditions.
The idea of apostolic succession derives from the belief that the apostles of Jesus Christ were given authority and power by God to establish and lead the Christian Church. This authority was then passed down from the apostles to their successors through the laying on of hands in ordination. Through this process, the authority of the apostles was believed to have been transmitted from generation to generation to the present day.
Proponents of apostolic succession argue that it serves as a guarantee of the continuity and authenticity of the teachings and practices of the Christian Church. Critics, on the other hand, point out that the idea of apostolic succession can be used to justify claims of spiritual and political authority that are not necessarily supported by the Bible or historical evidence.
Key Beliefs and Practices of Apostolic Succession
- Apostolic succession is based on the belief that the apostles of Jesus Christ were given authority and power by God to establish and lead the Christian Church, and that this authority has been passed down from generation to generation through the laying on of hands in ordination.
- Proponents of apostolic succession argue that it serves as a guarantee of the continuity and authenticity of the teachings and practices of the Christian Church.
- Critics of apostolic succession argue that the idea can be used to justify claims of spiritual and political authority that are not necessarily supported by the Bible or historical evidence.
Arguments For and Against Apostolic Succession
One of the main arguments in favor of apostolic succession is that it provides a direct link to the apostles and thus to Jesus Christ himself. This, in turn, gives the Church a sense of continuity and authenticity.
Another argument is that apostolic succession provides a clear and hierarchical structure to the Church, with ordained leaders who are believed to have a special connection to God and the power to forgive sins, administer sacraments, and govern the Church.
Opponents of apostolic succession argue that the concept is not supported by the Bible or historical evidence, and that it is simply a way for certain groups to justify their own claims to authority.
They also point out that the emphasis on hierarchy and institutional authority can distract from the true message of Christianity, which is one of love, compassion, and service.
Apostolic Succession in the Roman Catholic Church
The Roman Catholic Church places great emphasis on the concept of apostolic succession, and believes that the authority of the apostles has been passed down through the bishops of the Church.
The Pope, as the Bishop of Rome, is believed to be the successor of St. Peter, who was the first Bishop of Rome and the leader of the apostles. This gives the Pope a unique authority and power within the Church.
|Beliefs||The Roman Catholic Church places great emphasis on the concept of apostolic succession, and believes that the authority of the apostles has been passed down through the bishops of the Church.|
|Authority of the Pope||The Pope, as the Bishop of Rome, is believed to be the successor of St. Peter, who was the first Bishop of Rome and the leader of the apostles. This gives the Pope a unique authority and power within the Church.|
However, the idea of apostolic succession has also been a source of controversy and division within the Roman Catholic Church, with some scholars arguing that the concept has been used to justify abuses of power and authority.
In conclusion, apostolic succession is a fundamental concept in Christianity, especially in liturgical traditions like the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican Churches. While this concept has been a source of controversy and debate, it continues to shape the beliefs and practices of millions of Christians around the world.
Biblical References to Apostles
As we dive deeper into understanding the difference between apostles and disciples, it’s essential to look at the biblical references to apostles. The term “apostle” appears a total of 79 times in the New Testament. It was first used in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to describe the twelve men whom Jesus called to be His closest followers. These twelve men went on to become His apostles and play a vital role in spreading the message of the Gospel.
- Matthew 10:2-4 – This passage lists the names of the twelve apostles, along with a brief description of each of them.
- Acts 1:13 – After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the eleven remaining apostles gathered together with other disciples in a room and prayed.
- Acts 2:42 – In this verse, we learn that the apostles were devoted to the teaching of God’s Word, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayer.
Additionally, the apostle Paul is mentioned by name 167 times in the New Testament and wrote over half of the books in the New Testament. He referred to himself as an apostle, even though he wasn’t one of the original twelve. In Acts 14:14, Paul is called an apostle specifically, and in 1 Corinthians 15:9-10, he admits that he doesn’t deserve the title of apostle but has received it by God’s grace.
It’s important to note that not every person who is referred to as an apostle in the New Testament held the same authority or status as the original twelve or Paul. For example, James, the brother of Jesus, is referred to as an apostle in Galatians 1:19, but he was not one of the original twelve and did not play the same role in the early church as the others did.
|Apostle||Meaning of Name|
|Peter||“Rock” or “Stone”|
|John||“God is gracious”|
|Philip||“Lover of horses”|
|Bartholomew||“Son of Tolmai”|
In summary, understanding the biblical references to apostles is essential in grasping the difference between apostles and disciples. The twelve original apostles were chosen by Jesus Himself and played a crucial role in spreading the message of salvation. While Paul was not one of the original twelve, he referred to himself as an apostle and wrote much of the New Testament. Not every person referred to as an apostle in the New Testament held the same authority or status as the original twelve or Paul.
Biblical References to Disciples
The terms “disciple” and “apostle” are often used interchangeably, but they actually have distinct meanings in the Bible. A disciple is a follower of Jesus, while an apostle is a person sent out to be a messenger or ambassador for Jesus. In this article, we’ll focus on the biblical references to disciples specifically.
Throughout the New Testament, there are numerous references to Jesus’ disciples. Here are seven of the most significant:
- The Twelve: Jesus chose twelve men to be his closest disciples, who would go on to become the apostles. They were Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus (also called Judas son of James), Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot (who would betray Jesus). (Matt. 10:2-4)
- The Seventy: In addition to the Twelve, Jesus also sent out seventy other disciples to preach and heal in the towns and villages he planned to visit. (Luke 10:1)
- Mary Magdalene: Mary Magdalene was one of Jesus’ most devoted female disciples. She was present at his crucifixion and burial, and was the first person to witness his resurrection. (Matt. 27:56, 28:1)
- Joseph of Arimathea: Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy man who became a disciple of Jesus after his death. He offered his own tomb to be used for Jesus’ burial. (Matt. 27:57-60)
- Nicodemus: Nicodemus was a member of the Jewish ruling council who became a secret disciple of Jesus. He met with Jesus at night to ask him questions, and later helped Joseph of Arimathea prepare Jesus’ body for burial. (John 3:1-21, 19:38-42)
- Simon the Cyrene: Simon was a man from Cyrene who was pressed into service to carry Jesus’ cross on the way to his crucifixion. Although he was not a disciple, his role in this pivotal moment of Jesus’ life has been remembered throughout history. (Mark 15:21)
- The Women: Several women were among Jesus’ most loyal disciples throughout his ministry. They included Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and many others who supported Jesus and his teachings. (Luke 8:1-3)
These examples illustrate the diversity of people who became disciples of Jesus. They included men and women from all walks of life, and their faith and commitment to Jesus changed the course of history forever.
It’s important to remember that while the concept of discipleship has its roots in Biblical times, it is still relevant today. Anyone can choose to follow Jesus and become his disciple, regardless of their background or circumstances.
The biblical references to disciples paint a powerful picture of what it means to follow Jesus. By studying the lives of these men and women, we can gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a disciple and how we can apply that to our own lives.
|The Twelve||Matt. 10:2-4|
|The Seventy||Luke 10:1|
|Mary Magdalene||Matt. 27:56, 28:1|
|Joseph of Arimathea||Matt. 27:57-60|
|Nicodemus||John 3:1-21, 19:38-42|
|Simon the Cyrene||Mark 15:21|
|The Women||Luke 8:1-3|
By examining these references, we can see that discipleship is not limited to a certain type of person. Rather, it is a calling that is open to all who choose to accept it.
What is the difference of apostles and disciples?
1. What are apostles? Apostles are individuals who are considered to have been chosen by Jesus himself to continue his mission on earth. They were also commissioned to spread the gospel to all nations.
2. Who are disciples? Disciples are people who follow the teachings of Jesus and try to live their lives according to those teachings. They are not necessarily chosen by Jesus himself, but rather decide to follow him.
3. Is there a difference in their roles? Yes, apostles were given a specific mission to fulfill in spreading the gospel to all nations, while disciples are more focused on living out their faith in their daily lives.
4. How many apostles were there? There were originally 12 apostles, but after Judas Iscariot’s betrayal, Matthias was chosen as the 12th apostle.
5. Can someone be both a disciple and an apostle? Yes, it is possible for someone to be a disciple and also be commissioned by Jesus to spread the gospel. For example, Paul was not one of the original 12 apostles but was commissioned by Jesus to spread the gospel to the Gentiles.
Thanks for taking the time to learn about the difference between apostles and disciples. While they may have different roles and backgrounds, they both share the same mission of living out and spreading the teachings of Jesus. If you have any more questions or would like to continue learning about the Christian faith, please visit us again.