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Greek icon of the Twelve Apostles (in the front row are Matthew, Peter, James and John).

In Christianity, the Apostles (Ancient Greek: ἀπόστολος apostolos, one sent forth as a messenger)[1] were missionaries among the leaders in the Early Church and, in the Epistle to the Hebrews,[3:1] Jesus Christ himself.[2] The term was also used, especially by the Gospel of Luke, for "the Twelve," Jesus' inner circle of disciples (students).[2] They were, according to the Acts of the Apostles and Christian tradition, disciples whom Jesus of Nazareth had chosen, named, and trained in order to send them on a specific mission: the establishment of the Christian Church by evangelism and the spreading of the "good news", after being sent the Holy Spirit as "helper" (Paraclete) in this task at Pentecost.[Acts 1-2]

Traditionally, the Twelve Apostles include Peter (whom some denominations consider the "Prince of the Apostles");[3] Andrew, James the Greater, James the Less, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, Thaddeus, Simon, and Judas Iscariot. Judas had been one of the Twelve, but he betrayed Jesus and killed himself.[4] With Judas gone, Matthias became one of the Twelve.[Ac 1:15-26] In the Synoptic Gospels, Mark names the Twelve, Matthew follows Mark, and Luke substitutes Jude for Mark's Thaddeus. John refers to the Twelve without naming them all, adds the name Nathanael, and uses the term "beloved disciple" (presumably for John). Jesus' inner circle of twelve disciples probably corresponds to the twelve tribes of Israel.[Matthew 19:28][Luke 22:28-30] In the Synoptics, Jesus selects Peter, James, and John to witness his divine Transfiguration and to be with him when he prays at Gethsemane. In Mark, the Twelve are obtuse, failing to understand the importance of Jesus' miracles and parables.[5] The book of Acts recounts the deeds of the apostles in the years after Jesus' crucifixion.

Saint Paul claimed the role of Apostle to the Gentiles and, assuming Peter's role, became Apostle to the Jews (see also Circumcision controversy in early Christianity, Incident at Antioch, and Primacy of Simon Peter). He claimed a special commission from the risen Jesus, separate from the Great Commission given to the Twelve. Paul's mentor Barnabas is also termed an apostle. Paul did not restrict the term apostle to the Twelve, either because he didn't know it or resisted it.[2] This restricted usage appears in Revelation.[2][6] In modern usage, major missionaries are sometimes termed apostles, as in Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland.[2]

The period of Early Christianity during the lifetimes of the apostles is called the Apostolic Age.[7] In the second century, association with the apostles was esteemed as evidence of authority and orthodoxy. Paul's epistles were accepted as scripture (see Development of the New Testament canon), and three of the four gospels were associated with apostles, as were other New Testament works. Various Christian texts, such as the Didache and the Apostolic Constitutions, were attributed to the Twelve Apostles. Bishops traced their lines of succession back to individual apostles, who were said to have established churches across great territories. Christian bishops have traditionally claimed authority deriving, by apostolic succession, from the Twelve.[2] Early church fathers came to be associated with apostles, such as Pope Clement I with Peter the Apostle (see apostolic fathers). The Apostles' Creed, popular in the West, was said to have been composed by the apostles themselves.

Temmenhausen Nikolauskirche innen 2

Gallery of the Apostles, Temmenhausen Nikolauskirche


The word "apostle" has two meanings, the broader meaning of a messenger and the narrow meaning of an early apostle directly linked to Jesus Christ. The more general meaning of the word is translated into Latin as 'missio', and from this word we get 'missionary.'

The word apostle comes from the Greek word ἀπόστολος (apostolos). According to the Bauer lexicon, Walter Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon of the NT: "…Judaism had an office known as apostle (שליח)". See also Proselytes. The Friberg Greek Lexicon gives a broad definition as one who is sent on a mission, a commissioned representative of a congregation, a messenger for God, a person who has the special task of founding and establishing churches. The UBS Greek Dictionary also describes an apostle broadly as a messenger. The Louw-Nida Lexicon gives a very narrow definition of a special messenger, generally restricted to the immediate followers of Jesus, or extended to some others like Paul or other early Christians active in proclaiming the gospel.


The Apostles are portrayed in the New Testament as having been Galilean Jews. The names of the majority of them are Hebrew names, although some had Greek names.[8] That the Twelve Apostles were all Jews is supported in several ways. Jesus’ statements that his mission is directed only to those of the house of Israel,[Mt 10:1-6] [15:22-24] [Lk 22:30] imply that the Twelve Apostles and others closest to Jesus were all Jews, as does the fact that only after the death of Jesus did the apostles agree with Paul that the teaching of the gospel could be extended to uncircumcised Gentiles,[Acts 15:1-31] [10:1-11:18] [Gal 2:7-9] see also Circumcision controversy in early Christianity. For Christians who view the Hebrew prophets as speaking of Jesus and Christianity, support for the Jewishness of the Apostles is found, on the one hand, in the prophetic assertions that it was the Jews whom God had chosen to bring all the nations (the "Gentiles") to faith in him,[9] and that, on the other hand, Jesus appointed the Twelve Apostles kingship[10] and told them that they will sit on thrones,[11] administering,[12] the affairs of the twelve tribes of Israel.[Lk 22:29-30] Even the "supernumerary Apostle", the "Apostle to the Gentiles", Saul of Tarsus, who said that Jesus revealed himself to him only after his ascension and appointed him to his mission,[Acts 9:1-19] [Gal 1:11-12] was a Jew by birth and always proud of it,[1:14] although since his conversion to Jesus he adopted the Roman surname Paulus as his first name, rendered in English as Paul.[Acts 13:9]

The Gospel of Mark[Mk 6:7-13] states that Jesus initially sent out these twelve in pairs,[cf. Mt. 10:5-42] [Lk 9:1-6] to towns in Galilee. Literal readings of the text state that their initial instructions were to heal the sick and drive out demons, and in the Gospel of Matthew to raise the dead, but some scholars read this more metaphorically as instructions to heal the spiritually sick and thus to drive away wicked behaviour. They are also instructed to "take nothing for their journey, except a staff only: no bread, no wallet, no money in their purse, but to wear sandals, and not put on two tunics", and that if any town rejects them they ought to shake the dust off their feet as they leave, a gesture which some scholars think was meant as a contemptuous threat (Miller 26). Their carrying of just a staff (Matthew and Luke say not even a staff) is sometimes given as the reason for the use by Christian Bishops of a staff of office, in those denominations that believe they maintain an apostolic succession.

There is also evidence that follows those marked Apostle. Paul made his case to the Corinthian Church that he was an apostle by the evidence of God's (Jesus Christ's) power working through him. Paul states clearly, "Truly the signs of an apostle were worked among you in all patience, in signs and wonders and mighty works."[2 Co. 12:12]

Later in the Gospel narratives the Twelve Apostles are described as having been commissioned to preach the Gospel to "all the nations,"[Mt 28:19] [Mk 13:10][16:15] regardless of whether Jew or Gentile.[13]

The Twelve Apostles[]

Synoptic Gospels[]

The four Gospels give varying names of the twelve (see also the Gospel according to the Hebrews). According to the list occurring in each of the three Synoptic Gospels, [Mk 3:13-19] [Mt 10:1-4] [Lk 6:12-16] the Twelve chosen by Jesus near the beginning of his ministry, those "whom he also named apostles", were, according to the Gospels of Mark and Matthew:

  1. Peter: Renamed by Jesus to Peter (meaning rock), his original name was Simon bar Jonah;[Mk 3:16] was a fisherman from the Bethsaida "of Galilee"[Jn 1:44], cf. Jn 12:21. Also known as Simon bar Jochanan (Aram.), Cephas (Aram.), and Simon Peter.
  2. Andrew: The brother of Simon/Peter, a Bethsaida fisherman, and a former disciple of John the Baptist.
  3. James, son of Zebedee: The brother of John.
  4. John: The brother of James. Jesus named both of them Bo-aner'ges, which means "sons of thunder'.'"[Mk 3:17]
  5. Philip: From the Bethsaida of Galilee[Jn 1:44] [12:21]
  6. Bartholomew, son of Talemai; usually identified with Nathanael, who is mentioned in Jn 1:45-51.[14]
  7. Matthew: The tax collector. The similarity between Mt 9:9-10, Mk 2:14-15 and Lu 5:27-29 may indicate that Matthew was also known as Levi.
  8. Thomas: Judas Thomas Didymus - Aramaic T'oma' = twin, and Greek Didymos = twin. Doubting Thomas.
  9. James, son of Alphaeus: Generally identified with "James the Less", and also identified by Roman Catholics with "James the Just".[15]
  10. Thaddeus: In some manuscripts of Matthew, the name "Lebbaeus" occurs in this place. Thaddeus is traditionally identified with Jude; see below.
  11. Simon the Zealot: Some have identified him with Simeon of Jerusalem.[16]
  12. Judas Iscariot: The disciple who later betrayed Jesus.[Mk 3:19] The name Iscariot may refer to the Judaean towns of Kerioth or to the sicarii (Jewish nationalist insurrectionists), or to Issachar. Also referred to as "Judas, the son of Simon."[Jn 6:71] [13:26] He was replaced by Matthias as an apostle shortly after Jesus' resurrection.

The list in the Gospel of Luke differs from Matthew and Mark at two points:

  • It lists "Judas, son of James" instead of "Thaddeus." In order to harmonize the accounts, some traditions have said that Luke's "Judas, son of James" refers to the same person as Mark and Matthew's "Thaddeus," though it is not clear whether this has a good basis. (For more information see Jude the Apostle).
  • In the Authorized Version of the Bible Luke 6:16 refers to the first Judas (not Judas Iscariot) as the brother of James, not the son of James.
  • The wording in Luke may be translated "Simon the Cananean" instead of "Simon the Zealot". These are generally thought to be the same person. (See Simon the Zealot).

Gospel of John[]

The Gospel of John, unlike the Synoptic Gospels, does not offer a formal list of apostles, though it refers to "the Twelve" in a single scene John 6:67-71. However, the gospel does not present any elaboration, what "the Twelve" actually was, making the scene at the end of the chapter 6 appear suspiciously disjointed with the rest of the narrative. There is also no separation of "apostles" and "disciples" in the gospel. All in all, only the following disciples are mentioned:

  • Peter
  • Andrew (identified as Peter's brother)
  • the sons of Zebedee (presumably meaning John and James, though they are not named)
  • Philip
  • Nathanael
  • Thomas (also called Didymus[11:16] [20:24] [21:2]
  • Judas Iscariot
  • Judas (not Iscariot)[14:22](probably Thaddeus/Jude)

Of these, only Nathanael is not in the lists in the other gospels. He has traditionally been identified with Bartholomew, though this identification is disputed. (See Bartholomew the Apostle).

Apart from Bartholomew, the three not mentioned at all in John's gospel are James son of Alphaeus, Matthew, and Simon the Canaanite/Zealot.

Calling by Jesus[]

See also: Calling of the four disciples, Calling of Levi, Choosing of the Twelve Apostles
File:Duccio - Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew.JPG

Duccio's Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew

The three Synoptic Gospels record the circumstances in which some of the disciples were recruited, Matthew only describing the recruitment of Simon, Andrew, James, and John. All three Synoptic Gospels state that these four were recruited fairly soon after Jesus returned from being tempted by the devil.

Despite Jesus only briefly requesting that they join him, the two are described as immediately consenting, and abandoning their nets to do so. Traditionally the immediacy of their consent was viewed as an example of divine power, although this statement isn't made in the text itself. The alternative and much more ordinary solution is that Jesus was simply friends with the individuals beforehand, as implied by the Gospel of John, which states that Andrew and an unnamed other had been a disciple of John the Baptist, and started following Jesus as soon as Jesus had been baptized. It is eminently plausible for Jesus, as a carpenter,[Mk 6:3] to have been employed to build and repair fishing vessels, thus having many opportunities to interact with and befriend such fishermen.

Albright and Mann extrapolate from Simon's and Andrew's abandonment of their nets, that Matthew is emphasizing the importance of renunciation by converting to Christianity, since fishing was profitable, though required large start-up costs, and abandoning everything would have been an important sacrifice. Regardless, Simon and Andrew's abandonment of what were effectively their most important worldly possessions was taken as a model by later Christian ascetics.

Matthew describes Jesus meeting James and John, also fishermen and brothers, very shortly after recruiting Simon and Andrew. Matthew and Mark identify James and John as sons of Zebedee. Luke adds to Matthew and Mark that James and John worked as a team with Simon and Andrew. Matthew states that at the time of the encounter, James and John were repairing their nets, but readily joined Jesus without hesitation. This parallels the accounts of Mark and Luke, but Matthew implies that the men have also abandoned their father (since he is present in the ship they abandon behind them), and Carter feels this should be interpreted to mean that Matthew's view of Jesus is one of a figure rejecting the traditional patriarchal structure of society, where the father had command over his children; most scholars, however, just interpret it to mean that Matthew intended these two to be seen as even more devoted than the other pair.

The synoptics go on to describe that much later, after Jesus had later begun his ministry, Jesus noticed, while teaching, a tax collector in his booth. The tax collector, Levi according to some Gospels, Matthew according to others, is asked by Jesus to become one of his disciples. Matthew/Levi is stated to have accepted and then invited Jesus for a meal with his friends. Tax collectors were seen as villains in Jewish society, and the Pharisees are described by the synoptics as asking Jesus why he is having a meal with such disreputable people. The reply Jesus gives to this is now well known: it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.[Mk 2:17]

De zielenvisserij - Fishing for souls (Adriaen Pietersz

Adriaen van de Venne's Fishers of Men. Oil on panel (1614)

Election of Matthias to Judas's share in their ministry[]

After Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ and then in guilt committed suicide before Christ's resurrection (in one Gospel account), the apostles numbered eleven. When Jesus had been taken up from them, in preparation for the coming of the Holy Spirit that he had promised them, Peter advised the brethren:

"Judas, who was guide to those who took Jesus... For he was numbered with us, and received his portion in this ministry... For it is written in the book of Psalms, 'Let his habitation be made desolate, Let no one dwell therein', and, 'Let another take his office'... So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us, must become with us a witness to his resurrection"
Acts 1:15-26

So, between the ascension of Christ and the day of Pentecost, the remaining apostles elected a twelfth apostle by casting lots, a traditional Jewish way to determine the Will of God. The lot fell upon Matthias.

This is one of several verses used by the Catholic Church in support of its teaching of Apostolic Succession, and by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in support of the Great Apostasy.

First Epistle to the Corinthians[]

Paul of Tarsus, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, appears to give the first historical reference to the Twelve Apostles:

"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born"
1Corinthians 15:3-8

The text has some unresolved issues. Paul does not refer to "the Twelve" anywhere else in his writings, nor did he ever limit the usage of the word "Apostle" to the Twelve disciples who by definition were the ones appointed as Apostles. Also, by the time Jesus resurrected, the number of Apostles in the Markan tradition should have been down to eleven, since Judas Iscariot was not among them any more. Furthermore, the text seems to have two redundant lists: the first starting with Cephas (Peter) and the second starting with James.

The Apostle to the Gentiles: Paul of Tarsus[]


Paul, the "Apostle of the Gentiles", writing a letter

In his writings, Paul, though not one of the original twelve, described himself as an apostle, one "born out of time" (e.g., Romans 1:1 and other letters). However, he was not called or appointed 'apostle' by the resurrected Jesus himself during his Road to Damascus vision.[Acts 9:1-9] Rather, with Barnabas, he was allotted this role in the church.[Acts 13:2] He referred to himself as the Apostle to the Gentiles.[Rom 11:13] [Gal 2:8] He also described some of his companions as being called of the Lord as apostles (Barnabas, Silas, Apollos, Andronicus and Junia). As the Catholic Encyclopedia states, "It is at once evident that in a Christian sense, everyone who had received a mission from God, or Christ, to man could be called 'Apostle'"; thus extending the original sense beyond the twelve. Since Paul claimed to have received the gospel through a revelation of Jesus Christ[17] after the latter's death and resurrection (rather than before like the twelve), he was often obliged to defend his apostolic authority (1 Cor. 9:1 "Am I not an apostle?") and proclaim that he had seen and was anointed by Jesus while on the road to Damascus; but James, Peter and John in Jerusalem accepted his calling to the apostleship from the Lord to the Gentiles (specifically those not circumcised) as of equal authority as Peter's to the Jews (specifically those circumcised) according to Paul.[Gal 2:7-9] "James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars … agreed that we [Paul and Barnabas] should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews."[Gal 2:9] Paul, despite his divine calling as an apostle, considered himself perhaps inferior to the other Apostles because he had persecuted Christ's followers.[1 Cor. 15:9]

Other New Testament usages of the term "apostle"[]


The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews[3:1] refers to Jesus as the "apostle and high priest of our professed faith" and of rank greater than that of Moses.


In Acts 14:14, Barnabas is referred to as an apostle.

Andronicus and Junia[]

In Rom 16:7 Paul states that Andronicus and Junia were "of note among the apostles," that is, distinguished apostles.[18] Apparently, Paul is referring a female apostle.[19][20] Unhappy with reference to a female apostle, editors and translators have often changed the name to "Junias," the masculine version of Junia, as in the Revised Standard Version.[20] While "Junia" was a common name, "Junias" was not.[20] This alteration is part of a pattern by which later editors changed Paul's epistles to make them less favorable toward women in positions of authority.[20]

See also Women in Christianity.


Silas is referred to as an apostle in 1 Thes. 1:1 and 2:6 along with Timothy and Paul. He also performs the functioning of an apostle as Paul's companion in Paul's second missionary journey in Acts 15:40ff.


Timothy is referred to as an apostle in 1 Thes. 1:1 and 2:6 along with Silas and Paul. However, in 2 Cor. 1:1 he is only called a "brother" when Paul refers to himself as "an apostle of Christ". Timothy performs many of the functions of an apostle in the commissioning of Paul in 1st and 2nd Timothy, though in those epistles Paul refers to him as his "son" in the faith.


Apollos is included as "us apostles" in 1 Cor. 4:9 (see 4:6, 3:22, and 3:4-6) along with Paul and Cephas (Peter).

Later Christianizing apostles[]

Roman Catholic tradition[]

A number of successful pioneering missionaries are known as Apostles. In this sense, in the traditional list below, the apostle either first brought Christianity to a land or a people, or spread the faith in places where a few struggling Christian communities did already exist.

  • Apostle to the Abyssinians: Saint Frumentius
  • Apostle to the Caucasian Albania: Saint Yelisey
  • Apostle of the Alleghanies: Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin, 1770–1840
  • Apostle of Andalusia: Juan de Avila, 1500–1569
  • Apostle of the Ardennes: Saint Hubertus, 656–727
  • Apostle to the Armenians: Saint Gregory the Illuminator, 256–331
  • Apostle to Berkshire: Thomas Russell
  • Apostle to Brazil: José de Anchieta, 1533–1597
  • Apostle to Carantania: Saint Vergilius of Salzburg, Bishop, (745–84)
  • Apostle to the English: Saint Augustine of Canterbury, died 604
  • Apostle of the Eucharist: Saint Peter Julian Eymard
  • Apostle to the Franks: Saint Remigius, c. 437–533
  • Apostle to the Frisians: Saint Willibrord, 657–738
  • Apostle of Gaul: Saint Irenaeus, 130–200
  • Apostle of Gaul: Saint Denis (3rd century)
  • Apostle of Gaul: Saint Martin of Tours, 338–401
  • Apostle to the Gauls: Saint Saturninus, died c. 257
  • Apostle to the Georgians: Saint Nino, 320s
  • Apostle to the Gentiles: Saint Paul
  • Apostle to the Germans: Saint Boniface, 680–755
  • Apostle of Holstein: Saint Vicelinus, 1086-1154
  • Apostle to Hungary: Saint Anastasius, 954–1044
  • Apostle to India: Saint Thomas
  • Apostle to India: Saint Francis Xavier; 1506–1552
  • Apostle to the "Indians" (Amerindians): John Eliot, 1604–1690
  • Apostle to the Indies (West): Bartolomé de las Casas, 1474–1566
  • Apostle to the Indies (East): Saint Francis Xavier, 1506–1552
  • Apostle to Ireland: Saint Patrick, 373–463
  • Apostle to the Iroquois, Francois Piquet, 1708–1781
  • Apostle of Mercy: Saint Faustina Kowalska, 1905–1938
  • Apostle to Noricum: Saint Severinus
  • Apostle to the North: Saint Ansgar, 801–864
  • Apostle to the Parthians: Saint Thomas
  • Apostle of the Permians: Saint Stephen of Perm, 1340–1396
  • Apostle of Peru: Alonzo de Barcena, 1528–1598
  • Apostle to the Picts: Saint Ninian, fifth century
  • Apostle to the Polish: Saint Adalbert
  • Apostle to the Pomeranians: Saint Otto, 1060–1139
  • Apostle to the Scots: Saint Columba, 521–597
  • Apostle to the Slavs: Saint Cyril, c 820–869
  • Apostle to the Slavs: Saint Methodius
  • Apostle of Spains: Saint James the Greater (d. 44)
  • Apostle of the Wends: Saint Evermode, d.1178

Analogous use for non-Catholic missionaries:

  • Apostle to the Americas: Saint Innocent, 1797–1879
  • Apostle to the Cherokees: Cephas Washburn
  • Apostle to China: Hudson Taylor
  • Apostle to the Goths: Bishop Ulfilas (Arian)

"Equal to the Apostles" according to Eastern Orthodox tradition[]

Some Eastern Orthodox saints are given the title isapostolos ("equal-to-the-apostles"), e.g., Saint Cosmas. Beginning with Saint Constantine, this was also a frequent titles of Byzantine Emperors.

The myrrh-bearing women, especially Mary Magdalene, who went to anoint Christ's body and first learned of his resurrection, are sometimes called the "apostles to the apostles" because they were sent by Jesus to tell the apostles of his resurrection.

The Emperor Constantine the Great, sometimes considered founder of the Byzantine Empire, formally recognized Christianity in the Roman Empire in the Edict of Milan in 313 (see also Constantine I and Christianity). According to Philip Schaff's History of the Christian Church: "Soon after his death, Eusebius set him above the greatest princes of all times; from the fifth century he began to be recognized in the East as a saint; and the Greek and Russian church to this day celebrates his memory under the extravagant title of "Isapostolos", the "Equal of the apostles". The Latin church, on the contrary, has never placed him among the saints, but has been content with naming him "the Great," in remembrance of his services to the cause of Christianity and civilization. Comp the Acta Sact. ad 21 Maii, p. 13 sq. Niebuhr remarks: "When certain oriental writers call Constantine 'equal to the Apostles', they do not know what they are saying; and to speak of him as a 'saint' is a profanation of the word".

In the Russian Orthodox Church also Prince Vladimir I of Kiev and Princess Olga of Kiev are revered as equal-to-apostles.

Apostles today[]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("LDS Church"; see also Mormon) believes that the authority of the original twelve apostles is a distinguishing characteristic of the true church established by Jesus both in antiquity and modern times. Members today believe that this authority was lost from the earth following the deaths of Christ's original apostles, and that it was later restored through the laying on of hands of Peter, James, and John to the prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. during the spring and summer of 1829. The Church believes that this authority has been passed on in apostolic succession until today, where it resides with fifteen current apostles. Current apostles in the LDS Church include Thomas S. Monson, Henry B. Eyring, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Boyd K. Packer, L. Tom Perry, Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks, M. Russell Ballard, Richard G. Scott, Robert D. Hales, Jeffery R. Holland, David A. Bednar, Quentin L. Cook, D. Todd Christofferson, and Neil L. Andersen. Apostles are members of either the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are the two highest governing bodies of the LDS Church.

The Community of Christ, another church within the Latter Day Saint movement, also has apostles, forming the Council of Twelve Apostles, who preside over the missionary efforts of the Church. The members of the First Presidency are also usually apostles. The current president of the church, Stephen M. Veazey, was the president of the Council of Twelve just prior to becoming president of the church. According to church law, the Council of Twelve Apostles, under specific circumstances, is equal in authority to the First Presidency.

In the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican churches, bishops are seen as the successors to the Apostles. See Apostolic succession.

Many Charismatic churches consider apostleship to be a gift of the Holy Spirit still given today (based on 1 Cor. 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11).

The New Apostolic Church believes also in the current existence of modern day apostles. They believe in the return of the apostles in the 1830s in England by prophecies. From among the renewal movements in the 1800s see: Catholic Apostolic Church; from which the New Apostolic Church split off. Other examples include the United Apostolic Church.

Since the 1990s there has also been a move among mainstream Pentecostal churches to accept and understand that there are apostles in today's Church. Sometimes this is referred to as The Restoration of Apostles

Further reading[]

  • Navarre RSV Holy Bible. Four Courts Press, Dublin, Ireland, 1999.
  • Albright, W.F. and C.S. Mann. "Matthew." The Anchor Bible Series. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1971.
  • Pope Benedict XVI, "The Apostles",[21] published 2007, in the US: ISBN 978-1-59276-405-1; different edition published in the UK under the title: "Christ and His Church – Seeing the face of Jesus in the Church of the Apostles", ISBN 978-1-86082-441-8.
  • Carson, D.A. "The Limits of Functional Equivalence in Bible Translation - and other Limits Too." The Challenge of Bible Translation: Communicating God's Word to the World. edited by Glen G Scorgie, Mark L. Strauss, Steven M. Voth.
  • Carter, Warren. "Matthew 4:18-22 and Matthean Discipleship: An Audience-Oriented Perspective." Catholic Bible Quarterly. Vol. 59. No. 1. 1997.
  • Clarke, Howard W. The Gospel of Matthew and its Readers: A Historical Introduction to the First Gospel. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.
  • "Fishers of Men." A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature. David Lyle Jeffrey, general editor. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1992.
  • France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
  • Manek, Jindrich. "Fishers of Men." Novum Testamentum. 1958 pg. 138
  • Schweizer, Eduard. The Good News According to Matthew. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975
  • Wuellner, Wilhelm H. The Meaning of "Fishers of Men". Westminster Press, 1967.
  • The Lost Gospel - The Book of Q. by Burton L Mack

See also[]


  1. Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. p. 371.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "Apostle." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005.
  3. "Peter, St." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005.
  4. In Matthew 27:5, Judas hangs himself. In Acts 1:18, Judas falls and bursts open, not unequivocally a suicide. "Judas Iscariot." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005.
  5. Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. "Mark" pp. 285-296.
  6. Revelation 21:14.
  7. "Apostolic Age." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005.
  8. As was not uncommon for Jews at the time, some of them had two names, one Hebrew/Aramaic and the other Greek. Hence the lists of Jesus' Twelve Apostles contains 14 names not 12; the 4 Greek names are Andrew, Philip, Thaddaeus and Lebbaeus. Reference: John P. Meier's A Marginal Jew.
  9. At least by their "shining" example, see e.g., "The Lord says:... I will also give you for a light to the nations, that you may be my salvation to the end of the earth";[Isa 49:6] "For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" [Isa 2:2-4] [Mic 4:1-3].
  10. βασιλειαν[Lk 22:29] without article, hence "kingship", "sovereignty"; contrary to the occurrence in Lu 22:30 with the article, thus there meaning "kingdom".
  11. θρονων [Lk 22:30] the symbol of sovereignty, not a tribunal (βημα, as e.g. in Mt 27:19.
  12. κρινοντες[Lk 22:30] "judging" not in the sense of passing judgement and sentencing, but in the sense of upholding order ("Justice of the Peace"), usually on behalf of the absent king, like the Judges (κριται) in pre-monarchic times (e.g., in the title of The Book of Judges , Isaiah 1:26, Greek edition).
  13. cf. also Acts 15:1-31, Galatians 2:7-9, Acts 1:4-8, Acts 10:1-11:18.
  14. Green, Joel B; Scot McKnight, I. Howard Marshall (1992). Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. The IVP Bible Dictionary Series. InterVarsity Press. pp. 180. ISBN 0830817778. 
  15. Catholic Encyclopedia: The Brethern of the Lord: "His [James the brother of the Lord] identity with James the Less[Mk 15:40] and the Apostle James, the son of Alpheus,[Mt 10:3] [Mk 3:18] although contested by many Protestant critics, may also be considered as certain."
  16. Catholic Encyclopedia.
  17. cf. Gal 1:12; Acts 9:3-19, 9:26-27, 22:6-21, 26:12-23
  18. May, Herbert G. and Bruce M. Metzger. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. 1977.
  19. Crossan, J. D. and Reed, J. L., In Search of Paul, Harper San Francisco (2004), pp. 115-116. ISBN 0-06-051457-4.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 Ehrman, Bart. Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford University Press, USA. 2006. ISBN 0-19-530013-0.
  21. This is the title on the dust jacket, whereas on the title page the full title is given as "The Origins of the Church – The Apostles and Their Co-Workers".

External links[]

Commissioning of the Twelve
Life of Jesus: Ministry Events
Preceded by
New Wine into Old Wineskins
  New Testament 
Followed by
in the
Sermon on the Mount/Plain

Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Boyd K. Packer | L. Tom Perry | Russell M. Nelson | Dallin H. Oaks | M. Russell Ballard | Richard G. Scott | Robert D. Hales | Jeffrey R. Holland | David A. Bednar | Quentin L. Cook | D. Todd Christofferson | Neil L. Andersen