In Christian theology and ecclesiology, apostles (Greek: ἀπόστολος, translit. apóstolos, lit. 'one who is sent away'), particularly the Twelve Apostles (also known as the Twelve Disciples or simply the Twelve), were the primary disciples of Jesus. During the life and ministry of Jesus in the 1st century AD, the apostles were his closest followers and became the primary teachers of the gospel message of Jesus.
In modern usage, missionaries under Pentecostal movements often refer to themselves as apostles, a practice which stems from the Latin equivalent of apostle, i.e. missio, the source of the English word missionary. For example, Saint Patrick (AD 373–463) was the "Apostle of Ireland", Saint Boniface (680–755) was the "Apostle to the Germans", Saint José de Anchieta (1534–1597) was the "Apostle of Brazil" and Saint Peter of Betancur (1626–1667) was the "Apostle of Guatemala".
While Christian tradition often refers to the apostles as being twelve in number, different gospel writers give different names for the same individual, and apostles mentioned in one gospel are not mentioned in others. The commissioning of the Twelve Apostles during the ministry of Jesus is recorded in the Synoptic Gospels. After his resurrection, Jesus sent eleven of them (minus Judas Iscariot, who by then had died) by the Great Commission to spread his teachings to all nations. This event is commonly called the Dispersion of the Apostles. There is also an Eastern Christian tradition derived from the Gospel of Luke of there having been as many as 70 apostles during the time of Jesus' ministry. In early Christianity, Paul, is often referred to as an apostle, because he was directly taught and commissioned by a vision of Christ[Acts 9:4–5] during his journey to Damascus.
The period of early Christianity during the lifetimes of the apostles is called the Apostolic Age. During the 1st century AD, the apostles established churches throughout the territories of the Roman Empire and, according to tradition, through the Middle East, Africa, and India.
The word "apostle" comes from the Greek word ἀπόστολος (apóstolos), formed from the prefix ἀπό- (apó-, "from") and root στέλλω (stéllō, "I send", "I depart") and originally meaning "messenger, envoy". It has, however, a stronger sense than the word messenger, and is closer to a "delegate". The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament argues that its Christian use translated a Jewish position known in Hebrew as the sheliach (שליח). This ecclesiastical meaning of the word was later translated into Latin as missio, the source of the English "missionary".
Mark 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. The text states that their initial instructions were to heal the sick and drive out demons. 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.
Later in the Gospel narratives the twelve apostles are described as having been commissioned to preach the Gospel to "all the nations", regardless of whether Jew or Gentile. Paul emphasized the important role of the apostles in the church of God when he said that the household of God is "built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone".[Ephesians 2:19–20]
Although not one of the apostles commissioned during the life of Jesus, Paul, a Jew named Saul of Tarsus, claimed a special commission from the risen Jesus and is considered "the apostle of the Gentiles",[Romans 11:13] for his missions to spread the gospel message after his conversion. In his writings, the epistles to Christian churches throughout the Levant, Paul did not restrict the term "apostle" to the Twelve, and often refers to his mentor Barnabas as an apostle. The restricted usage appears in the Revelation to John.
By the 2nd century AD, association with the apostles was esteemed as an evidence of authority. Churches which are believed to have been founded by one of the apostles are known as apostolic sees. Paul's epistles were accepted as scripture, and two of the four canonical 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 apostles. Bishops traced their lines of succession back to individual apostles, who were said to have dispersed from Jerusalem and established churches across great territories. Christian bishops have traditionally claimed authority deriving, by apostolic succession, from the Twelve. Early Church Fathers who came to be associated with apostles, such as Pope Clement I with St. Peter, are referred to as the Apostolic Fathers. The Apostles' Creed, popular in the West, was said to have been composed by the apostles themselves.
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, they are all 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 is not 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 Peter (Simon) and Andrew were disciples of John the Baptist, and started following Jesus as soon as Jesus had been baptized.
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, although 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 Synoptic Gospels go on to describe that much later, after Jesus had later begun his ministry, he noticed, while teaching, a tax collector in his booth. The tax collector, called Matthew in Matthew 9:9, Levi in Mark 2:14 and Luke 5:27, 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 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".
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
So, between the ascension of Christ and the day of Pentecost, the remaining apostles elected a twelfth apostle by casting lots, a traditional Israelite way to determine the will of God (see Proverbs 16:33). The lot fell upon Matthias.
Paul the Apostle in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, appears to give the first historical reference to the twelve apostles:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
In his writings, Paul the Apostle, although not one of the original twelve, described himself as an apostle, one "born out of due time" (e.g., Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 15:8 and other letters). He was called by the resurrected Jesus himself during his Road to Damascus vision and given the name "Paul".[Acts 9:1–9] With Barnabas, he was allotted the role of apostle in the church.[Acts 13:2] He referred to himself as the apostle of the Gentiles.[Rom 11:13]
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 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.
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 originally persecuted Christ's followers.[1 Cor. 15:9] In addition, despite the Little Commission of Matthew 10, the twelve did not limit their mission to solely Jews as Cornelius the Centurion is widely considered the first Gentile convert and he was converted by Peter, and the Great Commission of the Resurrected Jesus is specifically to "all nations".
Of the twelve Apostles to hold the title after Matthias' selection, Christian tradition has generally passed down that all but one were martyred, with John surviving into old age. Only the death of James, son of Zebedee is described in the New Testament.
Matthew 27:5 says that Judas Iscariot threw the silver he received for betraying Jesus down in the Temple, then went and hanged himself. Acts 1:18 says that he purchased a field, then "falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out".
According to the 18th-century historian Edward Gibbon, early Christians (second half of the second century and first half of the third century) believed that only Peter, Paul, and James, son of Zebedee, were martyred. The remainder or even all of the claims of martyred apostles do not rely upon historical or biblical evidence.
The relics of the Apostles are claimed by various Churches, many in Italy.
Each of the four listings of apostles in the New Testament (Mark 3:13–19, Matthew 10:1–4, Luke 6:12–16, and Acts 1:13) indicate that all the apostles were men. The canonical gospels and the book of Acts give varying names of the twelve apostles. The list in the Gospel of Luke differs from Matthew and Mark at two points. It lists "Judas the son of James" instead of "Thaddeus". (For more information, see Jude the Apostle.) Unlike the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John does not offer a formal list of apostles. Although it refers to "the Twelve" (John 6:67–71), the gospel does not present any elaboration of who these twelve actually were, and the author of the Gospel of John does not mention them all by name. There is also no separation of the terms "apostles" and "disciples" in John.
|Gospel of Matthew||Gospel of Mark||Gospel of Luke||Gospel of John||Acts of the Apostles|
|Simon ("who is called Peter")||Simon||Simon||Simon Peter||Peter|
|Andrew ("his [Peter's] brother")||Andrew||Andrew||Andrew||Andrew|
|James ("son of Zebedee")||James||James||one of the "sons of Zebedee"||James|
|John ("his [James's] brother")||John / one of the "Boanerges"||John||one of the "sons of Zebedee"||John|
|Thomas||Thomas||Thomas||Thomas ("also called Didymus")||Thomas|
|Matthew ("the publican")||Matthew||Matthew||not mentioned||Matthew|
|James ("son of Alphaeus")||James||James||not mentioned||James|
|Thaddaeus (or "Lebbaeus"); called "Judas the Zealot" in some translations||Thaddaeus||Judas ("son of James, referred to as brother in some translations")||Jude ("not Iscariot")||Judas son of James (referred to as brother in some translations)|
|Simon ("the Canaanite")||Simon ("the Cananaean")||Simon ("who was called the Zealot")||not mentioned||Simon the Zealot|
|Judas Iscariot||Judas Iscariot||Judas Iscariot||Judas ("son of Simon Iscariot")||(Judas replaced by Matthias)|
|Simon (Peter)||Andrew's Brother||10:2;||3:16;||6:14;||1:35-42;|
|Andrew||Simon Peter's Brother, Disciple of John the Baptist||10:2;||3:18;||1:35-42; 6:14;|
|James||John's Brother, son of Zebedee and Salome, Boanerges, Son of Thunder, nephew of Joseph and Mary, cousin of Jesus||10:2; 20:20; 27:56;||3:17; 15:40; 16:1;||6:14;||19:25;|
|John||James' Brother, son of Zebedee and Salome, Boanerges, Son of Thunder, nephew of Joseph and Mary, cousin of Jesus||10:2; 20:20; 27:56;||3:17; 15:40; 16:1;||6:14;||19:25;|
|Philip||from Bethsaida "of Galilee"||10:3;||3:18;||6:14;||1:44; 12:21;|
|Matthew Levi||Son of Alphaeus, Step-Brother of Jesus, James the Less, Jude, and Simon, Step-Son of Mary||10:3; 27:56;||2:14; 3:16,18; 6:3; 15:40,47;||5:27; 6:14-15; 24:18;||1:13; 4:36;|
|Thomas||Didymus or "the twin"||10:3;||3:18;||6:15;|
|James the Less||Jesus' Half-Brother, Brother of Thaddaeus and Simon, Step-Brother of Matthew, Step-Son of Alphaeus||10:3; 27:56;||2:14; 3:16,18; 6:3; 15:40,47;||5:27; 6:14-15; 24:18;||1:13; 4:36;||1:1;|
|Thaddaeus Lebbaeus Judas Juda Jude||Jesus' Half-Brother, Brother of James and Simon, Step-Brother of Matthew, Step-Son of Alphaeus||10:3; 13:55;||3:18; 6:3;||6:16;||1:1;|
|Simon Zelotes||Jesus' Half-Brother, Brother of James and Thaddaeus, Step-Brother of Matthew, Step-Son of Alphaeus||10:4; 13:55;||3:18; 6:3;||6:15;|
|Judas Iscariot||the Traitor||10:4;||3:19;||6:16;|
|Matthias||Disciple of John the Baptist, replacement for Judas Iscariot||1:35-42;||1:20-26;|
|Person called apostle||Where in Scripture||Notes|
|Andronicus and Junia||Rom 16:7||Paul states that Andronicus and Junia were "of note among the apostles." This has been traditionally interpreted in one of two ways:
If the first view is correct then Paul may be referring to a female apostle - the Greek name (Iounian) is in the accusative and could be either Junia (a woman) or Junias (a man). Later manuscripts add accents to make it unambiguously Junias, however while "Junia" was a common name, "Junias" was not, and both options are favoured by different Bible translations.
In the second view, it is believed that Paul is simply making mention of the outstanding character of these two people which was acknowledged by the apostles.
Historically it has been virtually impossible to tell which of the two views were correct. The second view, in recent years, has been defended from a scholarly perspective by Daniel Wallace and Michael Burer.
|Silas||1 Thes. 1:1, 2:6||Referred to as one 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||1 Thes. 1:1, 2:6||Timothy is referred to as an apostle 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||1 Cor. 4:9||Included among "us apostles" along with Paul and Cephas (Peter). (see also: 4:6, 3:22, and 3:4–6)|
In Luke (10:38–42), Mary, sister of Lazarus, is contrasted with her sister Martha, who was "cumbered about many things" while Jesus was their guest, while Mary had chosen "the better part," that of listening to the master's discourse. John names her as the "one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair" (11:2). In Luke, an unidentified "sinner" in the house of a Pharisee anoints Jesus' feet. In Medieval Catholic folklore, Mary, the sister of Lazarus, was seen as the same as Mary Magdalene.
Luke refers to a number of people accompanying Jesus and the twelve. From among them he names three women: "Mary, called Magdalene, ... and Joanna the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources" (Luke 8:2-3). Mary Magdalene and Joanna are among the women who went to prepare Jesus' body in Luke's account of the resurrection, and who later told the apostles and other disciples about the empty tomb and words of the "two men in dazzling clothes". Mary Magdalene is the most well-known of the disciples outside of the Twelve. More is written in the gospels about her than the other female followers. There is also a large body of lore and literature covering her.
Other gospel writers differ as to which women witness the crucifixion and witness to the resurrection. Mark includes Mary, the mother of James and Salome (not to be confused with Salomé the daughter of Herodias) at the crucifixion and Salome at the tomb. John includes Mary the wife of Clopas at the crucifixion.
The "seventy disciples" or "seventy-two disciples" (known in the Eastern Christian traditions as the "Seventy Apostles") were early emissaries of Jesus mentioned in the Gospel of Luke 10:1–24. According to Luke, the only gospel in which they appear, Jesus appointed them and sent them out in pairs on a specific mission which is detailed in the text.
In Western Christianity, they are usually referred to as disciples, whereas in Eastern Christianity they are usually referred to as Apostles. Using the original Greek words, both titles are descriptive, as an apostle is one sent on a mission (the Greek uses the verb form: apesteilen) whereas a disciple is a student, but the two traditions differ on the scope of the words apostle and disciple.
The Gospel of Matthew is anonymous: the author is not named within the text, and the superscription "according to Matthew" was added some time in the 2nd century. The tradition that the author was Matthew the Apostle begins with Papias of Hierapolis (c. AD 100–140), an early bishop and Apostolic Father, who is cited by the Church historian Eusebius (AD 260–340), as follows: "Matthew collected the oracles [logia: sayings of or about Jesus] in the Hebrew language [Hebraïdi dialektōi], and each one interpreted [hērmēneusen—perhaps 'translated'] them as best he could."[Notes 1]
Although the Gospel of John is anonymous, Christian tradition historically has attributed it to John the Apostle, son of Zebedee and one of Jesus' Twelve Apostles. The gospel is so closely related in style and content to the three surviving Johannine epistles that commentators treat the four books, along with the Book of Revelation, as a single corpus of Johannine literature, albeit not necessarily written by the same author.[Notes 2]
The Gospel of Mark was written anonymously. Early Christian tradition, first attested by Papias of Hierapolis, ascribes it to John Mark, a companion and interpreter of the apostle Peter. Hence its author is often called Mark, even though most modern scholars are doubtful of the Markan tradition and instead regard the author as unknown. It was probably written c. AD 66–70, during Nero's persecution of the Christians in Rome or the Jewish revolt, as suggested by internal references to war in Judea and to persecution. The author used a variety of pre-existing sources, such as conflict stories (Mark 2:1–3:6), apocalyptic discourse (4:1–35), and collections of sayings (although not the Gospel of Thomas and probably not the Q source).
According to Church tradition, Luke the Evangelist, the companion of Paul, is believed to have authored the Gospel of Luke, though anonymously written and lacking an author's name; but while this view is still occasionally put forward the scholarly consensus emphasises the many contradictions between Acts and the authentic Pauline letters. The most probable date for its composition is around 80–110 AD, and there is evidence that it was still being revised well into the 2nd century.
27. In the time of Tertullian and Clemens of Alexandria the glory of martyrdom was confined to St. Peter, St. Paul and St. James. It was gradually bestowed on the rest of the apostles by the more recent Greeks, who prudently selected for the theatre of their preaching and sufferings some remote country beyond the limits of the Roman empire. See Mosheim, p. 81. and Tillemont, Memoires Ecclesiastiques, tom. i. part 3.
(Candida Moss marshals the historical evidence to prove that "we simply don't know how any of the apostles died, much less whether they were martyred.")6Citing Moss, Candida (5 March 2013). The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom. HarperCollins. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-06-210454-0.
Acts of the Apostles (Ancient Greek: Πράξεις τῶν Ἀποστόλων, Práxeis tôn Apostólōn; Latin: Actūs Apostolōrum), often referred to simply as Acts, or formally the Book of Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; it tells of the founding of the Christian church and the spread of its message to the Roman Empire.Acts and the Gospel of Luke make up a two-part work, Luke–Acts, by the same anonymous author, usually dated to around 80–90 AD. The first part, the Gospel of Luke, tells how God fulfilled his plan for the world's salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the promised Messiah. Acts continues the story of Christianity in the 1st century, beginning with Jesus's ascension to Heaven. The early chapters, set in Jerusalem, describe the Day of Pentecost (the coming of the Holy Spirit) and the growth of the church in Jerusalem. Initially, the Jews are receptive to the Christian message, but soon they turn against the followers of Jesus. Rejected by the Jews, under the guidance of the Apostle Peter the message is taken to the Gentiles. The later chapters tell of Paul's conversion, his mission in Asia Minor and the Aegean, and finally his imprisonment in Rome, where, as the book ends, he awaits trial.
Luke–Acts is an attempt to answer a theological problem, namely how the Messiah of the Jews came to have an overwhelmingly non-Jewish church; the answer it provides, and its central theme, is that the message of Christ was sent to the Gentiles because the Jews rejected it. Luke–Acts can be also seen as a defense of (or "apology" for) the Jesus movement addressed to the Jews: the bulk of the speeches and sermons in Acts are addressed to Jewish audiences, with the Romans serving as external arbiters on disputes concerning Jewish customs and law. On the one hand, Luke portrays the Christians as a sect of the Jews, and therefore entitled to legal protection as a recognised religion; on the other, Luke seems unclear as to the future God intends for Jews and Christians, celebrating the Jewishness of Jesus and his immediate followers while also stressing how the Jews had rejected God's promised Messiah.Apostle (Latter Day Saints)
In the Latter Day Saint movement, an apostle is a "special witness of the name of Jesus Christ who is sent to teach the principles of salvation to others." In many Latter Day Saint churches, an apostle is a priesthood office of high authority within the church hierarchy. In many churches, apostles may be members of the Quorum of the Twelve and First Presidency of the church. In most Latter Day Saint churches, modern-day apostles are considered to have the same status and authority as the Biblical apostles.
In the Latter Day Saint tradition, apostles and prophets are believed to be the foundation of the church, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. The "Articles of Faith", written by Joseph Smith, mentions apostles:
"We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth."Apostles' Creed
The Apostles' Creed (Latin: Symbolum Apostolorum or Symbolum Apostolicum), sometimes titled the Apostolic Creed or the Symbol of the Apostles, is an early statement of Christian belief—a creed or "symbol". It is widely used by a number of Christian denominations for both liturgical and catechetical purposes, most visibly by liturgical Churches of Western tradition, including the Catholic Church, Lutheranism and Anglicanism. It is also used by Presbyterians, Moravians, Methodists and Congregationalists.
The Apostles' Creed is Trinitarian in structure with sections affirming belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son and the Holy Spirit. The Apostles' Creed was based on Christian theological understanding of the Canonical gospels, the letters of the New Testament and to a lesser extent the Old Testament. Its basis appears to be the old Roman Creed known also as the Old Roman Symbol.
Because of the early origin of its original form, it does not address some Christological issues defined in the Nicene and other Christian Creeds. It thus says nothing explicitly about the divinity of either Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Nor does it address many other theological questions which became objects of dispute centuries later.
The earliest known mention of the expression "Apostles' Creed" occurs in a letter of AD 390 from a synod in Milan and may have been associated with the belief, widely accepted in the 4th century, that, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, each of the Twelve Apostles contributed an article to the twelve articles of the creed.Apostolic succession
Apostolic succession is the method whereby the ministry of the Christian Church is held to be derived from the apostles by a continuous succession, which has usually been associated with a claim that the succession is through a series of bishops. This series was seen originally as that of the bishops of a particular see founded by one or more of the apostles. According to historian Justo L. González, apostolic succession is generally understood today as meaning a series of bishops, regardless of see, each consecrated by other bishops, themselves consecrated similarly in a succession going back to the apostles. According to the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, "apostolic succession" means more than a mere transmission of powers. It is succession in a Church which witnesses to the apostolic faith, in communion with the other Churches, witnesses of the same apostolic faith. The "see (cathedra) plays an important role in inserting the bishop into the heart of ecclesial apostolicity", but, once ordained, the bishop becomes in his Church the guarantor of apostolicity and becomes a successor of the apostles.Those who hold for the importance of apostolic succession via episcopal laying on of hands appeal to the New Testament, which, they say, implies a personal apostolic succession (from Paul to Timothy and Titus, for example). They appeal as well to other documents of the early Church, especially the Epistle of Clement. In this context, Clement explicitly states that the apostles appointed bishops as successors and directed that these bishops should in turn appoint their own successors; given this, such leaders of the Church were not to be removed without cause and not in this way. Further, proponents of the necessity of the personal apostolic succession of bishops within the Church point to the universal practice of the undivided early Church (up to AD 431), before being divided into the Church of the East, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. Christians of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Old Catholic, Anglican, Moravian, and Scandinavian Lutheran traditions maintain that "a bishop cannot have regular or valid orders unless he has been consecrated in this apostolic succession." Each of these groups does not necessarily consider consecration of the other groups as valid.However, some Protestants deny the need for this type of continuity, and the historical claims involved have been severely questioned by them; Eric G. Jay comments that the account given of the emergence of the episcopate in chapter III of the encyclical Lumen Gentium (1964) "is very sketchy, and many ambiguities in the early history of the Christian ministry are passed over".Cambridge Apostles
The Cambridge Apostles is an intellectual society at the University of Cambridge founded in 1820 by George Tomlinson, a Cambridge student who went on to become the first Bishop of Gibraltar.The origin of the Apostles' nickname dates from the number, twelve, of their founders. Membership consists largely of undergraduates, though there have been graduate student members, and members who already hold university and college posts. The society traditionally drew most of its members from Christ's, St John's, Jesus, Trinity and King's Colleges.Commissioning of the Twelve Apostles
The commissioning of the Twelve Apostles is an episode in the ministry of Jesus that appears in all three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew 10:1–4, Mark 3:13–19 and Luke 6:12–16. It relates the initial selection of the Twelve Apostles among the disciples of Jesus.According to Luke:
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
In the Gospel of Matthew, this episode takes place shortly before the miracle of the man with a withered hand. In the Gospel of Mark and Gospel of Luke it appears shortly after that miracle.This commissioning of the apostles takes place before the crucifixion of Jesus, while the Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20 takes place after his resurrection.Didache
The Didache (; Greek: Διδαχή,, translit. translit. Didakhé, lit., lit. 'Teaching'), also known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, is a brief anonymous early Christian treatise, dated by most modern scholars to the first century. The first line of this treatise is "The teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles (or Nations) by the twelve apostles".
The text, parts of which constitute the oldest extant written catechism, has three main sections dealing with Christian ethics, rituals such as baptism and Eucharist, and Church organization. The opening chapters describe the virtuous Way of Life and the wicked Way of Death. The Lord's Prayer is included in full. Baptism is by immersion, or by affusion if immersion is not practical. Fasting is ordered for Wednesdays and Fridays. Two primitive Eucharistic prayers are given. Church organization was at an early stage of development. Itinerant apostles and prophets are important, serving as "chief priests" and possibly celebrating the Eucharist. Meanwhile, local bishops and deacons also have authority and seem to be taking the place of the itinerant ministry. The Didache is considered the first example of the genre of Church Orders. The Didache reveals how Jewish Christians saw themselves and how they adapted their practice for Gentile Christians. The Didache is similar in several ways to the Gospel of Matthew, perhaps because both texts originated in similar communities. The opening chapters, which also appear in other early Christian texts, are likely derived from an earlier Jewish source.The Didache is considered part of the group of second-generation Christian writings known as the Apostolic Fathers. The work was considered by some Church Fathers to be a part of the New Testament, while being rejected by others as spurious or non-canonical, In the end, it was not accepted into the New Testament canon. However, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church "broader canon" includes the Didascalia, a work which draws on the Didache.
Lost for centuries, a Greek manuscript of the Didache was rediscovered in 1873 by Philotheos Bryennios, Metropolitan of Nicomedia, in the Codex Hierosolymitanus. A Latin version of the first five chapters was discovered in 1900 by J. Schlecht.Great Commission
In Christianity, the Great Commission is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples to spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. The most famous version of the Great Commission is in Matthew 28:16–20, where on a mountain in Galilee Jesus calls on his followers to make disciples of and baptize all nations in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The Great Commission is similar to the episodes of the commissioning of the Twelve Apostles found in the other Synoptic Gospels, though with significant differences. Luke also has Jesus dispatching disciples during his ministry, sending them to all the nations and giving them power over demons, including the Seventy disciples. The dispersion of the Apostles in the traditional ending of Mark is thought to be a 2nd-century summary based on Matthew and Luke.
It has become a tenet in Christian theology emphasizing ministry, missionary work, evangelism, and baptism. The apostles are said to have dispersed from Jerusalem and founded the apostolic sees. Preterists believe that the Great Commission and other Bible prophecies were fulfilled in the 1st century while futurists believe Bible prophecy is yet to be fulfilled at the Second Coming.
Some researchers of the historical Jesus see the Great Commission as reflecting not Jesus' words but rather the Christian community in which each gospel was written. (See Sayings of Jesus.) Some scholars, such as John Dominic Crossan, assert that Jesus did commission the apostles during his lifetime, as reported in the Gospels. Others, however, see even these lesser commissions as representing Christian invention rather than history.James, son of Zebedee
James, son of Zebedee (Hebrew: יַעֲקֹב, Yaʿqob; Greek: Ἰάκωβος; Coptic: ⲓⲁⲕⲱⲃⲟⲥ; died 44 AD) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, traditionally considered the first apostle to be martyred.Last Supper
The Last Supper is the final meal that, in the Gospel accounts, Jesus shared with his Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper is commemorated by Christians especially on Maundy Thursday. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "Holy Communion" or "The Lord's Supper".The First Epistle to the Corinthians contains the earliest known mention of the Last Supper. The four canonical Gospels all state that the Last Supper took place towards the end of the week, after Jesus's triumphal entry into Jerusalem and that Jesus and his Apostles shared a meal shortly before Jesus was crucified at the end of that week. During the meal Jesus predicts his betrayal by one of the Apostles present, and foretells that before the next morning, Peter will deny knowing him.The three Synoptic Gospels and the First Epistle to the Corinthians include the account of the institution of the Eucharist in which Jesus takes bread, breaks it and gives it to the Apostles, saying "This is my body given to you" (though the apostles are not explicitly mentioned in the account in First Corinthians). The Gospel of John does not include this episode, but tells of Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles, giving the new commandment "to love one another as I have loved you", and has a detailed farewell discourse by Jesus, calling the Apostles who follow his teachings "friends and not servants", as he prepares them for his departure.Scholars have looked to the Last Supper as the source of early Christian Eucharist traditions. Others see the account of the Last Supper as derived from 1st-century eucharistic practice as described by Paul in the mid-50s.Luke the Evangelist
Luke the Evangelist (Latin: Lūcās, Ancient Greek: Λουκᾶς, Loukâs, Hebrew: לוקאס, Lūqās, Aramaic: לוקא, Lūqā') is one of the Four Evangelists—the four traditionally ascribed authors of the canonical Gospels. The Early Church Fathers ascribed to him authorship of both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, which would mean Luke contributed over a quarter of the text of the New Testament, more than any other author. Prominent figures in early Christianity such as Jerome and Eusebius later reaffirmed his authorship, although a lack of conclusive evidence as to the identity of the author of the works has led to discussion in scholarly circles, both secular and religious.
The New Testament mentions Luke briefly a few times, and the Pauline Epistle to the Colossians refers to him as a physician (from Greek for 'one who heals'); thus he is thought to have been both a physician and a disciple of Paul. Since the early years of the faith, Christians have regarded him as a saint. He is believed to have been a martyr, reportedly having been hanged from an olive tree, though some believe otherwise.The Roman Catholic Church and other major denominations venerate him as Saint Luke the Evangelist and as a patron saint of artists, physicians, bachelors, surgeons, students and butchers; his feast day takes place on 18 October.Mary Magdalene
Saint Mary Magdalene, sometimes called simply the Magdalene, was a Jewish woman who, according to the four canonical gospels, traveled with Jesus as one of his followers and was a witness to his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. She is mentioned by name twelve times in the canonical gospels, more than most of the apostles. Mary's epithet Magdalene most likely means that she came from the town of Magdala, a fishing town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The Gospel of Luke 8:2–3 lists Mary as one of the women who traveled with Jesus and helped support his ministry "out of their resources", indicating that she was probably relatively wealthy. The same passage also states that seven demons had been driven out of her, a statement which is repeated in the longer ending of Mark. In all four canonical gospels, she is a witness to the crucifixion of Jesus and, in the Synoptic Gospels, she is also present at his burial. All four gospels identify her, either alone or as a member of a larger group of women, as the first witness to the empty tomb, and the first to testify to Jesus's resurrection. For these reasons, she is known in many Christian traditions as the "apostle to the apostles". Mary is a central figure in later apocryphal Gnostic Christian writings, including the Dialogue of the Savior, the Pistis Sophia, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Mary. These texts, which scholars do not regard as containing accurate historical information, portray her as Jesus's closest disciple and the only one who truly understood his teachings. In the Gnostic gospels, Mary Magdalene's closeness to Jesus results in tension with the other disciples, particularly Simon Peter.
During the Middle Ages, Mary Magdalene was conflated in western tradition with Mary of Bethany and the unnamed "sinful woman" who anoints Jesus's feet in Luke 7:36–50, resulting in a widespread but inaccurate belief that she was a repentant prostitute or promiscuous woman. Elaborate medieval legends from western Europe tell exaggerated tales of Mary Magdalene's wealth and beauty, as well as her alleged journey to southern France. The identification of Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and the unnamed "sinful woman" was a major controversy in the years leading up to the Reformation and some Protestant leaders rejected it. During the Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Church used Mary Magdalene as a symbol of penance.
In 1969, the identification of Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and the "sinful woman" was removed from the General Roman Calendar, but the view of her as a former prostitute has persisted in popular culture. Mary Magdalene is considered to be a saint by the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches—with a feast day of July 22. Other Protestant churches honor her as a heroine of the faith. The Eastern Orthodox churches also commemorate her on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, the Orthodox equivalent of one of the Western Three Marys traditions. Speculations that Mary Magdalene was Jesus's wife or that she had a sexual relationship with him are regarded by most historians as highly dubious.Philip the Apostle
Philip the Apostle (Greek: Φίλιππος; Coptic: ⲫⲓⲗⲓⲡⲡⲟⲥ, Philippos) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Later Christian traditions describe Philip as the apostle who preached in Greece, Syria, and Phrygia.
In the Roman Rite, the feast day of Philip, along with that of James the Less, was traditionally observed on 1 May, the anniversary of the dedication of the church dedicated to them in Rome (now called the Church of the Twelve Apostles). The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates Philip's feast day on 14 November. One of the Gnostic codices discovered in the Nag Hammadi library in 1945 bears Philip's name in its title, on the bottom line.Quorum of the Twelve
In the Latter Day Saint movement, the Quorum of the Twelve (also known as the Council of the Twelve, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Council of the Twelve Apostles, or the Twelve) is one of the governing bodies or (quorums) of the church hierarchy organized by the movement's founder Joseph Smith, and patterned after the twelve apostles of Christ (see Mark 3). Members are considered to be apostles, with a special calling to be evangelistic ambassadors to the world.
The Twelve were designated to be a body of "traveling councillors" with jurisdiction outside areas where the church was formally organized (areas of the world outside of Zion or its outlying Stakes). The Twelve were designated as being equal in authority to the First Presidency, the Seventy, the standing Presiding High Council, and the High Councils of the various stakes.After the death of Joseph Smith in 1844, permanent schisms formed in the movement, resulting in the formation of various churches, many of which retained some version of the Quorum of the Twelve.Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (LDS Church)
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (also known as the Quorum of the Twelve, the Council of the Twelve Apostles, or simply the Twelve) is one of the governing bodies in the church hierarchy. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are apostles, with the calling to be prophets, seers, and revelators, evangelical ambassadors, and special witnesses of Jesus Christ.
The quorum was first organized in 1835 and designated as a body of "traveling councilors" with jurisdiction outside areas where the church was formally organized, equal in authority to the First Presidency, the Seventy, the standing Presiding High Council, and the high councils of the various stakes. The jurisdiction of the Twelve was originally limited to areas of the world outside Zion or its stakes. After the apostles returned from their missions to England, Joseph Smith altered the responsibilities of the quorum: it was given charge of the affairs of the church, under direction of the First Presidency.Saint Matthias
Matthias (Koine Greek: Μαθθίας, Maththías Greek pronunciation: [maθˈθi.as], from Hebrew מַתִּתְיָהוּ Mattiṯyā́hū; Coptic: ⲙⲁⲑⲓⲁⲥ; died c. 80 AD) was, according to the Acts of the Apostles (written c. AD 80–90), the apostle chosen to replace Judas Iscariot following Judas' betrayal of Jesus and his (Judas') subsequent death. His calling as an apostle is unique, in that his appointment was not made personally by Jesus, who had already ascended into heaven, and it was also made before the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the early Church.Saint Peter
Saint Peter (Syriac: ܫܸܡܥܘܿܢ ܟܹ݁ܐܦ݂ܵܐ, Šemʿōn Kēp̄ā; Hebrew: שמעון בר יונה Šimʿōn bar Yōnāh; Greek: Πέτρος, translit. Petros; Coptic: ⲡⲉⲧⲣⲟⲥ, translit. Petros; Latin: Petrus; r. AD 30; died between AD 64 and 68), also known as Simon Peter, Simeon, Simon (, pronunciation ), or Cephas, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, and the first leader of the early Church.
According to Christian tradition, Peter was crucified in Rome under Emperor Nero. He is traditionally counted as the first Bishop of Rome—or pope—and also by Eastern Christian tradition as the first Patriarch of Antioch. The ancient Christian churches all venerate Peter as a major saint and as the founder of the Church of Antioch and the Roman Church, but differ in their attitudes regarding the authority of his present-day successors (the primacy of the Bishop of Rome). According to Catholic teaching, in Matthew 16:18 Jesus promised Peter a special position in the Church.
Two general epistles in the New Testament are ascribed to Peter, but modern scholars generally reject the Petrine authorship of both. The Gospel of Mark was traditionally thought to show the influence of Peter's preaching and eyewitness memories. Several other books bearing his name—the Acts of Peter, Gospel of Peter, Preaching of Peter, Apocalypse of Peter, and Judgment of Peter—are considered by Christian denominations as apocryphal, and are thus not included in their Bible canons.Saint Timothy
Timothy (Greek: Τιμόθεος; Timótheos, meaning "honouring God" or "honoured by God") was an early Christian evangelist and the first Christian bishop of Ephesus, who tradition relates died around the year AD 97.
Timothy was from the Lycaonian city of Lystra in Asia Minor, born of a Jewish mother who had become a Christian believer, and a Greek father. The Apostle Paul met him during his second missionary journey and he became Paul’s companion and co-worker along with Silas. The New Testament indicates that Timothy traveled with Paul the Apostle, who was also his mentor. Paul entrusted him with important assignments. He is addressed as the recipient of the First and Second Epistles to Timothy.Seventy disciples
The seventy disciples or seventy-two disciples (known in the Eastern Christian traditions as the Seventy[-two] Apostles) were early emissaries of Jesus mentioned in the Gospel of Luke. According to Luke, the only gospel in which they appear, Jesus appointed them and sent them out in pairs on a specific mission which is detailed in the text.
In Western Christianity, they are usually referred to as disciples, whereas in Eastern Christianity they are usually referred to as Apostles. Using the original Greek words, both titles are descriptive, as an apostle is one sent on a mission (the Greek uses the verb form: apesteilen) whereas a disciple is a student, but the two traditions differ on the scope of the words apostle and disciple. Although apostles and disciples exist in many extant churches and denominations, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only current one to use Seventy as a title for a priesthood office.
Traditional ecclesiastical jurisidictions in Christianity (and denominational claimants)
(five ancient sees
ordered by the
Council of Ephesus
Twelve Apostles of Jesus
New Testament people