Many of us use the words “Apostle” & “Disciple” in a synonymous manner. From a home-group setting, prayer group, church circle, and even from the pulpit, it seems as though Jesus had one group called both the “12 disciples” & “12 apostles”. However when we look at the language used in the Gospels to describe these words, there is a clear distinction between the two.
In Luke Chapter 6:12-17 we see a clear distinction between the disciples, the apostles, and the crowd that followed Jesus.
The Crowd: Watched, observed, partook of the blessing that came as an overflow of following Jesus.
The Disciples: First and most importantly, Jesus called the disciples unto himself (Luke 6:13). Practically, they were students that educated themselves by using the life of Jesus as the main textbook. They would follow, observe, annotate, and be used in the Mission of Jesus the Christ.
The Apostles: Were chosen from the disciples, inferring that they had met the qualifications of a disciple. The office of an apostle was that of a messenger, or one sent out with specific orders.
In the church today, we see these three types of personas filling our pues. Outside the walls of the sanctuary, we also have these types of personas, both saved and unsaved.
- We have those who just get by, who partake of God’s Common Grace without making an effort to advance in the knowledge of the Giver of Grace. The people who surround us in our jobs, at school, and even our families partake of the blessings given to us, by Jesus, to His glory. Jesus said in Matthew 5:45 ”that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
- We also have those, who are like the disciples, who study the life of Jesus. They are educated in the Word of God, and have a clear understanding of who God is, and what His word is about. However Jesus put some guidelines on the word “Disciple”: 1. Luke 14:26 ”If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 2. Luke 14:27 ”And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 3. Luke 14:33 ”So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” But the most important aspect of being a Disciple, is responding to the call of Jesus in Luke 6:13. It is what separates a human from having the knowledge of Jesus, and actually having been with Him, under Him, abiding in Him.
- 2 Timothy 1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,”. Ephesians 4:11 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,”. As defined in the greek, an Apostle is someone with a message, to clearly communicate the masters orders. Jesus is the master, he calls apostles out of a group of disciples, with a message that saves souls and reconciles people to God.
I just felt like I needed some clarity regarding these things. Like I always say to my youth group, “I’m preaching to myself”. I love the investing that God does in our lives to prepare us for seasons that are always out of our reach. He keeps preparing, He keeps investing, for a journey that could not lived out to the fullest without His provision nor His guidance.
Thanks for reading, Hope you were blessed!
Disciples: 1) a learner, pupil, disciple
Apostles: apostolos 1) a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.
Luke 6:13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:
“A disciple was a learner, a student, but in the first century a student did not simply study a subject; he followed a teacher. There is an element of personal attachment in ‘disciple’ that is lacking in ‘student.’” (Morris)