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Morrish Bible Dictionary


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The Greek word ἀπόστολοςsignifies 'a messenger,' 'one sent,' and is used in this sense for any messenger in 2 Corinthians 8:23; Philippians 2:25; and as 'one sent' in John 13:16 . It is also used in a much higher and more emphatic sense, implying a divine commission in the one sent, first of the Lord Himself and then of the twelve disciples whom He chose to be with Him during the time of His ministry here. The Lord in His prayer in John 17:18 said, "As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world." He was the Sent One, and in Hebrews 3:1 it is written "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Jesus."* They were to consider this One who had been faithful, and who was superior to Moses, to the Aaronic priests, and to angels, and was in the glory. The ordering of a dispensation depended on the apostolic office as divinely appointed.

* The word 'Christ' is omitted by the Editors.

APOSTLES,THE TWELVE. The Lord appointed these "that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out demons," and also to carry out the various commissions given by Christ on earth. It will be seen by the lists that follow that Lebbaeus, Thaddaeus and Judas are the same person; and that Simon the Canaanite (Cananaean) and Simon Zelotes are the same; Peter is also called Simon; and Matthew is calledLevi.

Matthew 10:2-4 . Mark 3:16-19 . Luke 6:14-16 . Acts 1:18 .

1 Peter and 1 Peter. 1 Simon. 1 Peter.

2 Andrew. 3 James. 2 Andrew. 3 James.

3 James and 4 John. 3 James. 4 John.

4 John. 2 Andrew. 4 John. 2 Andrew.

5 Philip and 5 Philip. 5 Philip. 5 Philip.

6 Bartholomew. 6 Bartholomew. 6 Bartholomew. 7 Thomas.

7 Thomas and 8 Matthew. 8 Matthew. 6 Bartholomew.

8 Matthew. 7 Thomas. 7 Thomas. 8 Matthew.

9 James and 9 James. 9 James. 9 James.

10 Lebbaeus. 10 Thaddaeus. 11 Simon Zelotes. 11 Simon Z.

11 Simon the Cana- 11 Simon C. 10 Judas. 10 Judas.

naean and 12 Judas 1. 12 Judas I.

12 Judas Iscariot.

Peter is always named first; he with James and John was with the Lord on the mount of transfiguration and also with the Lord at other times, though no one apostle had authority over the others: they were all brethren and the Lord was their Master. Judas Iscariot is always named last. In Matthew the word 'and' divides the twelve into pairs, perhaps corresponding to their being sent out two and two to preach. Bartholomew and Simon Zelotes are not mentioned after their appointment except in Acts1.

When the Lord sent the twelve out to preach He bade them take nothing with them, for the workman was worthy of his food: and on their return they confessed that they had lacked nothing. Their mission was with authority as the sent ones of the Lord; sicknesses were healed and demons cast out; and if any city refused to receive them it should be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgement than for that city. Matthew 10:5-15 .

They received a new mission from the Lord as risen : see Luke 24; John 20 . And before the ascension the apostles were bidden to tarry at Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. This was bestowed at the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. They are also viewed first among the gifts with which the church was endowed by the Head of the body when He ascended up on high. Ephesians 4:8-11 . These gifts were for "the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." The mystery hitherto hid in God was now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, namely, that the Gentiles should be joint heirs, and a joint body, and partakers of His promise in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 3 . Paul was the special vessel to make known this grace. His apostleship occupies a peculiar place, he having been called by the Lord from heaven, and being charged with the gospel of the glory. See PAUL.

On the death of Judas Iscariot, Matthias, an early disciple, was chosen in his place, for there must be (irrespective of Paul, who, as we have seen, held a unique place) twelve apostles as witnesses of His resurrection, Acts 1:22; Revelation 21:14 as there must still be twelve tribes of Israel. James 1:1; Revelation 21:12 . At the conference of the church in Jerusalem respecting the Gentiles 'the apostles' took a prominent part, with the elders. Acts 15 . How many apostles remained at Jerusalem is not recorded: we do not read of 'the twelve' after Acts 6 . Tradition gives the various places where they laboured, which may be found under each of their names. Scripture is silent on the subject, in order that the new order of things committed to Paul might become prominent, as the older things connected with Judaism vanished away: cf. 2 Peter 3:15,16 .

There were no successors to the apostles: to be apostles they must have 'seen the Lord.' Acts 1:21,22; 1 Corinthians 9:1; Revelation 2:2 . The foundation of the church was laid, and apostolic work being complete the apostles passed away, there remain however, in the goodness of God, such gifts as are needed "till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." Ephesians 4:12,13 .

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Apostle'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. 1897.

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