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Bible Dictionaries

People's Dictionary of the Bible


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Apostle. The official title, implying messenger, of the twelve disciples whom our Lord chose, "that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach." These twelve were arranged in three groups, Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, with James and John, the two sons of Zebedee; then Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, and Matthew; and, lastly, James, the son of Alpheus, Lebbeus (called Thaddeus, Judas, and Jude), Simon Zelotes or the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot. Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; comp. Acts 1:13. While Matthew narrates the sending forth of the apostles to preach, Mark and Luke describe the choice of them; and this choice, it appears, was made upon a mountain, not improbably that well-known horned hill of Hattin where also the notable sermon on the mount was probably delivered. Some time after their appointment the apostles were sent forth to preach and perform miracles, a special charge being given them. Matthew 10:1; Matthew 10:5-42; Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:1-6. They generally, however, accompanied their Master, witnessed his mighty works, heard the explanation of his parables, ana were the selected company at the institution of the last supper. One, however, Judas, betrayed him; and when Jesus was seized they all forsook him. Matthew 26:47-58. One or two had courage to attend his examination, John 18:15-16, and one was present at his execution. John 19:26. But, so far as appears, they took no part in the Lord's burial, and could hardly be persuaded that he was risen. After his resurrection, the eleven, the traitor having hung himself, had frequent interviews with him, and witnessed his ascension. Luke 24:50-51. According to their Master's command, they continued at Jerusalem, waiting for the promised gift of the Holy Ghost. One was appointed to fill the place of Judas, The Scripture account is as follows: "His bishopric let another take. Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of bis resurrection." Matthias was chosen by lot to fill the place of Judas. Acts 1:20-26. After the day of Pentecost the apostles were no longer fearful and temporizing; they preached boldly in the name of Jesus. They took the lead, as the acknowledged heads of the movement, verses 12, 13, devoted themselves to ministerial labor, Acts 6:2-4, exercised peculiar powers, 8:14-18, and had primary authority in the church. Acts 9:27; Acts 15:2; 1 Corinthians 9:1; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 2 Corinthians 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Galatians 1:17; Galatians 2:8-9. Two centres and two departments of apostolic working are described in the Acts of the Apostles; from Jerusalem among the Jews by Peter, from Antioch by Paul among the Gentiles. For Paul was extraordinarily appointed to the apostleship by Christ, Galatians 1:1; and others seem to nave been added, as Barnabas, Acts 14:14; and according to the belief of some writers many more. Scripture says but little of the personal history of most of the apostles; but what is known of each will be found under their respective names. The title is once given to our Lord. Hebrews 3:1.

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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Apostle'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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