An Outline of the NT Teaching on Apostles

An Outline of the NT Teaching on Apostles

The Greek word for Apostle is Apostolos.  This Greek word is used 80 times in New Testament in three main ways.  First it can designate one of the official 12 men who walked with Jesus and were the first witnesses to his resurrection to the world.  Second it can designate a person sent with good news to proclaim.  Third it can designate a gift.  The following outline provides key insights on each meaning of the word:

  1. Designation for the 12 whom walked with Jesus for 3 years (Mt 10:2, Mk 6:30, Lk 6:13)
    1. Named apostles “so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons” (Mk 3:14-15)
      1. Therefore seems a key characteristic of apostle is to preach and exorcise demons.
    2. Jesus gave them ‘power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom fo God and to heal…and they departed …preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.’ (Lk 9:1-2, 6)
      1. A second key characteristic is to preach and heal the sick.
    3. Considered an office by the 12 when choose a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:20)
      1. For office requirement was one with Jesus from beginning of baptism to ascension (Acts 1:22)
      2. Purpose: witness to Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 1:22, 2:14, 37, 4:33)
        1. Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen the Lord?(1Cor 9:1)
    4. Have a teaching function (Acts 8:14, 18, 15:23ff, 16:4)
      1. Church built on the Foundation of the Apostles and the prophets(Eph 2:20, Rev 21:14)
        1. Here the term refers to the 12 but more than that to all those who teach the same thing the 12 taught.
      2. Ability to perform wonders and signs (Acts 2:43, 5:12) and mighty works (2Cor 12:12)
        1. 2Cor 12:12 lists these 3 as the signs of true apostles!
      3. Ordain the deacons (Acts 6:6)
        1. Therefore seems there is a governing part of the work.
      4. Communicate the Spirit to others by laying on of their hands (Acts 8:18)
      5. Work side by side with the elders (Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 22-23, 16:4
  2. Term for someone sent with news (Jn 13:16)
    1. Acts 1:25
    2. Paul and Barnabas considered apostles (Acts 14:14)
      1. Paul had a direct revelation of Jesus (Gal 1:15-17)
    3. To a people without the gospel and establish a church, i.e. paul to the gentiles (Rom 11:13, 1Cor 9:2, 1Tim 2:7)
      1. Preachers work in their city, apostles do same work elsewhere (1Tim 2:7, 2Tim 1:11)
    4. Titus is considered an apostle (2Cor 8:23)
    5. James the Lord’s brother an apostle (Gal 1:19)
    6. Epaphroditus, an apostle from Philippi (Phil 2:25)
    7. Jesus Christ an apostle (Heb 3:1)
  3. A spiritual gift given to the body (1Cor 12:28-29)
    1. Closely related to prophets (Lk 11:49-50)
      1. Jesus lumps them together as people sent to proclaim repentance
      2. Prophetic is still existing along with apostles (Eph 3:5, 4:11)
        1. Along with evangelists, shepherd and teachers (Eph 4:11)
  4. Can be tested. (Rev 2:2, 2Cor 12:12)
    1. Acts 17:11 Bereans tested Paul by cp. with written Word.


The verb simply means to be sent with a message or purpose.


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