From the Greek apostolos, meaning one who is sent and enjoys the authority of the agent who instructs him. There was already a Jewish functionary, called a shaliach, who was trusted with the authority of his employer when taking messages. Thus, in the NT the apostles bear witness to the message of Jesus and continue his work.
The twelve disciples in the gospels are called ‘apostles’ by Luke (6:13; 22:14; Acts 1:2) and apparently by Paul (1 Cor. 15:7) and only once each by Matt. 10:2 and Mark 6:30); though the names vary slightly, the list is always of twelve, signifying that they are the leaders of an elect race, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. The betrayal of Jesus by Judas created a vacancy in the number, and Matthias was elected to fill it. Subsequent deaths did not create vacancies, for in Luke's view apostles are unique. Yet the office was soon expanded to embrace Paul (unless it is Luke who was responsible for restricting a broader title to the twelve disciples), who claims the title on the basis of his vision of the Risen Christ (1 Cor. 15:8) and his commissioning to go to the Gentiles. A kind of second rank of apostles apparently included Barnabas (Acts 14:14) and Junia (Rom. 16:7—the latter name is feminine) and cf. 2 Pet. 3:2. The names of the Twelve are: Simon Peter, James and John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew (Nathanael?), Matthew (Levi?), Thomas, James the Less, Thaddaeus (Judas the son of James?), Simon the Cananean or Zealot; and Judas Iscariot—afterwards succeeded by Matthias.

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  • Apostle — A*pos tle, n. [OE. apostle, apostel, postle, AS. apostol, L. apostolus, fr. Gr. ? messenger, one sent forth or away, fr. ? to send off or away; ? from + ? to send; akin to G. stellen to set, E. stall: cf. F. ap[^o]tre, Of. apostre, apostle,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • APOSTLE — (Gr. messenger ), in early Christian usage, term applied to the disciples of jesus whom he had sent out to preach his message, and occasionally also applied to other missionaries of the early period. Outside the New Testament the noun ἁπόστολος… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • apostle — (n.) O.E. apostol messenger, especially the 12 witnesses sent forth by Jesus to preach his Gospel, from L.L. apostolus, from Gk. apostolos messenger, person sent forth, from apostellein send away, send forth, from apo from (see APO (Cf. apo )) +… …   Etymology dictionary

  • apostle — ► NOUN 1) (Apostle) each of the twelve chief disciples of Jesus Christ. 2) an enthusiastic and pioneering supporter of an idea or cause. ORIGIN Greek apostolos messenger …   English terms dictionary

  • apostle — [ə päs′əl] n. [ME < OE apostol < LL(Ec) apostolus < Gr apostolos, person sent forth < apostellein < apo , from + stellein, to send: see STILL1] 1. a person sent out on a special mission 2. [usually A ] any of the twelve disciples… …   English World dictionary

  • apostle — index disciple, partisan Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • apostle — [n] preacher; supporter advocate, champion, companion, converter, evangelist, follower, herald, messenger, missionary, pioneer, propagandist, proponent, proselytizer, witness; concepts 359,361 …   New thesaurus

  • Apostle — An apostle is a messenger and ambassador.Apostle and apostles may also refer to:In religion: * The Twelve Apostles, 12 of Jesus disciples chosen by him and given the Great Commission * The Seventy Disciples, referred to as Seventy Apostles by the …   Wikipedia

  • apostle — apostlehood, apostleship, n. /euh pos euhl/, n. 1. any of the early followers of Jesus who carried the Christian message into the world. 2. (sometimes cap.) any of the original 12 disciples called by Jesus to preach the gospel: Simon Peter, the… …   Universalium

  • Apostle —    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 (Heb. 3:1; John 20:21). It is, however, generally used as designating the body of disciples to whom he… …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

  • apostle — a|pos|tle [əˈpɔsəl US əˈpa: ] n [Date: 900 1000; : Late Latin; Origin: apostolus, from Greek, bringer of messages, apostle , from apostellein to send away , from apo ( APOCALYPSE) + stellein to send ] 1.) one of the 12 people chosen by Jesus… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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