How Many Apostle’s Were There?

Recently I was asked the question, “Are there any more Apostle’s?”  One of the individuals who questioned the issue of modern-day Apostle’s was upset since two Apostle’s are scheduled to speak at the same event that I will be speaking at.

Let’s look at a few things on Apostle’s. Admittedly, this is a highly debatable issue. There were at least 17 Apostles.  The term itself, in simple form means “one sent.”

Our Lord and Savior picked the original 12 Apostles. Take a look at all the Gospels and you’ll find something interesting.  If you find it…shoot me an email.

  • 1-12. Jesus originally picked twelve (see Matt 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11).
  • 13. Matthias was picked over Barsabbas to replace Judas (Acts 1:22-26). Note:  Acts 1:21 says, It is therefore necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us – beginning with the baptism of John, until the day that He was taken up from us–one of these should become a witness with us of His resurrection.”

We’ll come back to the point “ones of these should become a witness with us” since this is where Christians typically point to the criteria for someone being an Apostle.

  • 14.  Paul became an Apostle,  in one sense, by a direction commission from Jesus. (See Acts 9 [Well, this is the time of his conversion.  His Apostleship evolved afterwards])
  • 15.  Barnabas was noted as an Apostle in Acts 14:14.  Go back to Acts 1:23.  You’ll see that he is also called Justus and that he wasn’t selected as an Apostle at that time.
  • 16. James, Jesus’ brother (see Galatians 1:19).  Josephus and other ancient writers provide a lot of information on the mighty things this Apostle accomplished.
  • 17-18.  Andronicus and Junia were Apostles (see Romans 16:7).  We don’t know (as far as I’m aware of) much about these two Apostles.  Perhaps they were disciples who were elevated to Apostleship.
  • 19?  Paul included Apollos as an Apostle in 1 Cor 4:6-9.  Well, that’s what it seems to indicate.
  • 20-21? Paul might have been calling Timothy and Silas Apostles in 1 Thes 1 and 1 Thes 2:6.  I still need to do more research on #19-22.  I’m still not fully convinced Paul is saying they are Apostles.
  • 22?!!  This is the tricky one.  Mary Magdalene. I believe in the non-canonical writing of Thomas (don’t quote me on this one…need to find my notes), Mary is referred to as the “Apostle to the Apostles.”  She even has an order of nuns that follow her.  If memory serves me correctly, they’re an off-shoot Catholicism.  I don’t believe the Roman Catholic church recognizes them, however.

Some use Heb 3:1 as saying Jesus was an Apostle.  I think this is misplaced.

There’s Something About Mary

What about Mary?  Scripture says, ” According to 1 Cor. 1:1 & 9, to be an Apostle you must have seen the Lord, and been called to be one directly by Him. Scripture shows that she was used by Jesus and was around for many of the important events?!? Can we say the same about the other individuals?

Oh By The Way:

Some believe the five-fold ministry validates modern-day Apostles.  That could be a really good and valid point to consider.

Catholics, Greek-Orthodox and others have some Apostles that aren’t listed in the bible.  Just a point to consider and know about….

All-in-all, I can’t give you a definitive answer.  Read, research and ask God for guidance on this issue.  Let me know if you find more information that what I’ve written here.  Thanks.

Yves

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