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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(ἀπόστολος , from ἀποστέλλω, to send forth). In Attic Greek the term is used to denote a fleet or naval armament. It occurs only once in the Sept. (1 Kings 14:6), and there, as uniformly in the New Testament, it signifies a person sent by another, a messenger. It has been asserted that the Jews were accustomed to term the collector of the half shekel which every Israelite paid annually to the Temple an apostle; and we have better authority for asserting that they used the word to denote one who carried about encyclical letters from their rulers. OEcumenius states that it is even vet a custom among the Jews to call those who carry about circular letters from their rulers by the name of apostles. To this use of the term Paul has been supposed to refer (Galatians 1:1) when he asserts that he was "an apostle, not of men, neither by men" — an apostle not like those known among the Jews by that name, who derived their authority and received their mission from the chief priests or principal men of their nation. The import of the word is strongly brought out in John 13:16, where it occurs along with its correlate, "The servant is not greater than his Lord, neither he who is sent (ἀπόστολος ) greater than he who sent him."
It is the opinion of Suicer (Thesaurus, art. Ἀπόστολος ) that the appellation "apostle" is in the N.T. employed as a general name for Christian ministers as "sent by God," in a qualified use of that phrase, to preach the word. The word is indeed used in this loose sense by the fathers. Thus we find Archippus, Philemon, Apphia, the seventy disciples (Luke 10:17), termed apostles; and even Mary Magdalene is said γενέσθαι τοῖς ἀποστόλοις ἀπόστολος, to become an apostle to the apostles. No evidence, however, can be brought forward of the term being thus used in the N.T. Andronicus and Junia (Romans 16:7) are indeed said to be ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις, "of note among the apostles;" but these words by no means imply that they were apostles, but only that they were well known and esteemed by the apostles. The συνεργο . . . the fellow- workers of the apostles, are by Chrysostom denominated συναπόστολοι . The argument founded on 1 Corinthians 4:9, compared with 1 Corinthians 4:6, to prove that Apollos is termed an apostle, cannot bear examination. The only instance in which it seems probable that the word, as expressive of an office in the Christian Church, is applied to an individual whose call to that office is not made the subject of special narration, is to be found in Acts 14:4; Acts 14:14, where Barnabas, as well as Paul, is termed an apostle. At the same time, it is by no means absolutely certain that the term apostles, or messengers, does not in this place refer rather to the mission of Paul and Barnabas by the prophets and teachers at Antioch, under the impulse of the Holy Ghost (Acts 13:1-4), than to that direct call to the Christian apostleship which we know Paul received, and which if Barnabas had received, we can scarcely persuade ourselves that no trace of so important an event should have been found in the sacred history but a passing hint, which admits, to say the least, of being plausibly accounted for in another way. ‘ We know that, on the occasion referred to, "the prophets and teachers, when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on Barnabas and Saul, sent them away" (ἀτέλυσαν ); so that, in the sense in which we will immediately find the words occurring, they were ἀπόστολοι — prophets and teachers (Vollhagen, De Apost. Ebr. Greifsw. 1704).
In 2 Corinthians 8:23, we meet with the phrase ἀπόστολοι ἐκκλησιῶν, rendered in our version "the messengers of the churches." Who these were, and why they received this name, is obvious from the context. The churches of Macedonia had made a contribution for the relief of the saints of Judaea, and had not merely requested the apostle "to receive the gift, and take on him the fellowship of ministering to the saints," but at his suggestion had appointed some individuals to accompany him to Jerusalem with their alms. These "apostles or messengers of the churches" were those "who were chosen of the churches to travel with the apostle with this grace [gift], which was administered by him," to the glory of their common Lord (2 Corinthians 8:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8:19). With much the same meaning and reference Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25) is termed ἀπόστολος — a messenger of the Philippian Church — having been employed by them to carry pecuniary assistance to the apostle (Philippians 4:14-18).
The word "apostle" occurs once in the New Testament (Hebrews 3:1) as a descriptive designation of Jesus Christ: ‘" The apostle of our profession," i.e. the apostle whom we profess or acknowledge. The Jews were in the habit of applying the term שָׁלַיחִ, from שָׁלִח, to send, to the person who presided over the synagogue, and directed all its officers and affairs. The Church is represented as "the house or family of God," over which he had placed, during the Jewish economy, Moses as the superintendent-over which he has placed, under the Christian economy, Christ Jesus. The import of the term apostle is divinely commissioned superintendent; and of the whole phrase, "the apostle of our profession," the divinely commissioned superintendent whom WE Christians acknowledge, in contradistinction to the divinely appointed superintendent Moses, whom the Jews acknowledged.
1. The term apostle, however, is generally employed in the New Testament as the descriptive appellation of a comparatively small class of men, to whom Jesus Christ intrusted the organization of his Church and the dissemination of his religion among mankind. At an early period of his ministry "he ordained twelve" of his disciples "that they should be with him." Their names were:
1. Simon Peter (Cephas, Bar-jona);
5. James the Elder;
6. Nathanael (Bartholomew);
7. Thomas (Didymus);
8. Matthew (Levi);
9. Simon Zelotes;
10. Jude (Lebbaeus, Judas, Thaddaeus);
11. James the Less;
12. Judas Iscariot.
(For their names according to Mohammedan traditions, see Thilo, Apocr. 1:152.) "These he named apostles." Some time afterward "he gave to them power against unclean spirits to cast them out, and to heal all manner of disease;" "and he sent them to preach the kingdom of God" (Mark 3:14; Matthew 10:1-5; Mark 6:7; Luke 6:13; Luke 9:1). To them he gave "the keys of the kingdom of God," and constituted them princes over the spiritual Israel, that "people whom God was to take from among the Gentiles, for his name" (Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:18; Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30). Previously to his death he promised to them the Holy Spirit, to fit them to be the founders and governors of the Christian Church (John 14:16-17; John 14:26; John 15:26-27; John 16:7-15). After his resurrection he solemnly confirmed their call, saying, "As the Father hath sent me, so send I you;" and gave them a commission to "preach the gospel to every creature" (John 20:21-23; Matthew 18:18-20). After his ascension he, on the day of Pentecost, communicated to them those supernatural gifts which were necessary to the performance of the high functions he had commissioned them to exercise; and in the exercise of these gifts they, in the Gospel history and in their epistles, with the Apocalypse, gave a complete view of the will of their Master in reference to that new order of things of which he was the author. They "had the mind of Christ." They spoke "the wisdom of God in a mystery." That mystery "God revealed to them by his Spirit," and they spoke it, "not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth." They were "ambassadors for Christ," and besought men, "in Christ's stead, to be reconciled to God." They authoritatively taught the doctrine and the law of their Lord; they organized churches, and required them to "keep the traditions," i.e. the doctrines and ordinances delivered to them" (Acts 2; 1 Corinthians 2:16; 1 Corinthians 2:7; 1 Corinthians 2:10; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 5:20; 1 Corinthians 11:2). Of the twelve originally ordained to the apostleship, one, Judas Iscariot, "fell from it by transgression," and Matthias, "who had companied" with the other apostles "all the time that the Lord Jesus went out and in among them," was by lot substituted in his place (Acts 1:17-26). Saul of. Tarsus, afterward termed Paul, was also miraculously added to the number of these permanent rulers of the Christian society (Acts 9; Acts 20:4; Acts 26:15-18; 1 Timothy 1:12; 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11). (See DISCIPLES) (Twelve).
2. The number twelve was probably fixed upon after the analogy of the twelve tribes of the Israelites (Matthew 19:28; Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. p. 323; comp. Tertull. c. Marcion. 4:415), and was so exact that the apostles are often termed simply "the Twelve" (Matthew 26:14; Matthew 26:47; John 6:67; John 20:24; 1 Corinthians 15:5). Their general commission was to preach the gospel. (See generally Cave, Hist. of the Apostles, Lond. 1677; Spanheim, De apostolatu, in his Dissert. hist. quaternio, Lugd. B. 1679; Buddae Eccles. apost. Jen. 1729; Burmann, Exercit. acad. 2, 104 sq.; Hess, Gesch. u. Schrift. d. Apostel, Tir. 1821; Planck, Gesch. des Christenth. Gott. 1818; Wilhelm, Christi Apostel, Heidelb. 1825; Capelli Histor. apost. illustr. Genev. 1634, Salmur. 1683, Frckf. 1691; Von Einem, Historia Christ. et Apostol. Gott. 1758; Rullmann, De Apostolis, Rint. 1789; Stanley, Sermons on the Apostolic Age, Oxf. 1847, 1852; Renan, Les Apotres, Paris, 1866. ) They were uneducated persons (F. Lami, De eruditione apostolorum, Flor. 1738) taken from common life, mostly Galileans (Matthew 11:25), and many of them had been disciples of John the Baptist (John 1:35 sq.). Some of them appear to have been relatives of Jesus himself. (See BROTHER). Our Lord chose them early in his public career, though some of them had certainly partly attached themselves to him before; but after their call as apostles they appear to have been continuously with him or in his service. They seem to have been all on an equality, both during and after the ministry of Christ on earth; and the prelatical supremacy of Peter, founded by the Romish Church upon Matthew 16:18, is nowhere alluded to in the apostolical period. We find one indeed, Peter, from fervor of personal character, usually prominent among them, and distinguished by having the first place assigned him in founding the Jewish and Gentile churches, (See PETER); but we never find the slightest trace in Scripture of any superiority or primacy being in consequence accorded to him. We also find that he and two others, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, are admitted to the inner privacy of our Lord's acts and sufferings on several occasions (Mark 5:37; Matthew 17:1 sq.; Matthew 26:37); but this is no proof of superiority in rank or office. Early in our Lord's ministry, he sent them out two and two to preach repentance, and perform miracles in his name (Matthew 10; Luke 9). This their mission was of the nature of a solemn call to the children of Israel, to whom it was confined (Matthew 10:5-6).
There is, however, in his charge to the apostles on this occasion not a word of their proclaiming his own mission as the Messiah of the Jewish people; their preaching was at this time strictly of a preparatory kind, resembling that of John the Baptist, the Lord's forerunner. Jesus early informed the apostles respecting the solemn nature, the hardships, and even positive danger of their vocation (Matthew 10:17), but he never imparted to them any esoteric instruction, nor even initiated them into any special mysteries; since the whole tendency of his teaching was practical; but they constantly accompanied him in his tours of preaching and to the festivals (being unhindered by their domestic relations, comp. Matthew 8:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5; see Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 3:30; Schmid, De apostolis uxoratis, Helmst. 1704, Viteb. 1734; comp. Deyling, Observ. 3, 469 sq.; Pfaff, De circumductione soror. mulierum apostolica, Tubing. 1751; Schulthess, Neueste.theol. Nachricht. 1828, 1:130 sq.), beheld his wonderful acts, listened to his discourses addressed to the multitude (Matthew 5:1 sq.; Matthew 23:1 sq.; Luke 4:13 sq.), or his discussions with learned Jews (Matthew 19:13 sq.; Luke 10:25 sq.); occasionally (especially the favorite Peter, John, and James the elder) followed him in private (Matthew 17:1 sq.), and conversed freely with him, eliciting information (Matthew 15:15 sq.; Matthew 18:1 sq.; Luke 8:9 sq.; Luke 12:41; Luke 17:5; John 9:2 sq.) on religious subjects, sometimes with respect to the sayings of Jesus, sometimes in general (Matthew 13:10 sq.), and were even on one occasion themselves incited to make attempts at the promulgation of the Gospel (Matthew 6:7 sq.; Luke 9:6 sq.), and with this view performed cures (Mark 6:13; Luke 9:6), although in this last they were not always successful (Matthew 17:16). They had, indeed; already acknowledged him (Matthew 16:16; Luke 9:20) as the Messiah (ὁ Ξριστὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ ), endowed with miraculous powers (Luke 9:54), yet they were slow in apprehending the spiritual doctrine and aim of their Master, being impeded by their weak perception and their national prepossessions (Matthew 15:16; Matthew 16:22; Matthew 17:20 sq.; Luke 9:54; John 16:12), insomuch that they had to ask him concerning the obvious import of the plainest parables (Luke 12:41 sq.), and, indeed, they themselves at times confessed their want of faith (Luke 17:5); nor even at the departure of Jesus from the earth, when for two or three years they had been his constant and intimate companions (Matthew 16:21), were they at all mature (Luke 24:21; comp. John 16:12) in the knowledge appropriate to their mission (see Vollborth, De discip. Christiper gradus ad dignitatem et potent. Apostolor. evectis, Gott. 1790; Bagge, De sapientia Christi in electione, institutione et missione Apostolor. Jen. 1754; Ziez, Quomodo notio de Messia in animis Apost. sensim sensimque claris orem acceperit lucem, Lubec. 1793; Liebe, in Augustij N. theol. Blatt. II, 1, 42 sq.; Ernesti, De prceclara Chr. in Apost. instituendis sapientia, Gott. 1834; Neander, Leb. Jes. p. 229 sq.; comp. also Mahn, De via qua Apost. Jesu doctrinam divin. melius perspexerint, Gott. 1809).
Even the inauguration with which they were privileged at the last supper with Jesus under so solemn circumstances (Matthew 26:26 sq.; Mark 14:22 sq.; Luke 22:17 sq.) neither served to awaken their enthusiasm, nor indeed to preserve them from outright faithlessness at the death of their Master (Matthew 16:14 sq.; Luke 24:13 sq., Luke 24:36 sq.; John 20:9; John 20:25 sq.). One who was but a distant follower of Jesus and a number of females charged themselves with the interment of his body, and it was only his incontestable resurrection that gathered together again his scattered disciples. Yet the most of them returned even after this to their previous occupation (John 21:3 sq.), as if in abandonment of him, and it required a fresh command of the Master (Matthew 28:28 sq.) to direct them to their mission, and collect them at Jerusalem (Acts 1:4). Here they awaited in: a pious association the advent of the Holy Spirit (John 20:22), which Jesus had promised them (Acts 1:8) as the Paraclete (John 14:26; John 16:13); and soon after the ascension of their teacher, on the Pentecost established at the founding of the old dispensation, they felt themselves surprised by an extraordinary phenomenon (see Schulthess, De Charismatib. Spir. Sancti, Leipz. 1818; Schulz, Geistesgaben der ersten Christen, Bresl. 1836; Neander, Planting, 1:11 sq.), resulting in an internal influx of the power of that Spirit (Acts 2); and thereupon they immediately began, as soon as the vacancy occasioned by the defection of Judas Iscariot had been filled by the election of Matthias (Acts 1:15 sq.), to publish, as witnesses of the life and resurrection of their Lord, the Gospel in the Holy City with ardor and success (Acts 2:41). Their course was henceforth decided, and over much that had hitherto been dark to them now beamed a clear light (John 2:22; John 12:16; see Henke, in Pott's Sylloge, 1:19 sq.).
3. Under the eyes of the apostles, and not without personal sacrifice on their part, the original Christian membership at Jerusalem erected themselves into a community within the pale of Judaism, although irrespective of its sacred rites, with which, however, they maintained a connection (Acts 3-7), and the apostolical activity soon disseminated the divine word among the Samaritans likewise (Acts 8:5; Acts cf., 15), where already Jesus had gained some followers (John 4). In the mother Church at Jerusalem their superior dignity and power were, universally acknowledged by the rulers and the people (Acts 5:12 sq.). Even the persecution which arose about Stephen, and put the first check on the spread of the Gospel in Judaea, does not seem to have brought peril to the apostles (Acts 8:1). Here ends, properly speaking (or rather, perhaps, with the general visitation hinted at in Acts 9:32), the first period of the apostles' agency, during which its center is Jerusalem, and the prominent figure is that of Peter. Agreeably to the promise of our Lord to him (Matthew 16:18), which we conceive it impossible to understand otherwise than in a personal sense, he among the twelve foundations (Revelation 21:14), was the stone on whom the Church was first built; and it was his privilege first to open the doors of the kingdom of heaven to Jews (Acts 2:14; Acts 2:42) and to Gentiles (Acts 10:11). The next decisive step was taken by Peter, who, not without misgivings and even disapproval on the part of the primitive body of Christians, had published the Gospel on the sea-coast (Acts 10, 11); and this led to the establishment of a second community in the Syrian metropolis Antioch (Acts 11:21), which kept up a friendly connection with the Church at Jerusalem (Acts 11:22 sq.), and constitutes the center of this second period of the apostolical history.
But all that had hitherto taken place was destined to be cast into the shade by the powerful influence of one individual, a Pharisee, who received the apostolate in a most remarkable manner, namely, Paul. Treated at first with suspicion, he soon acquired influence and consideration in the circle of the apostles by his enthusiasm (Acts 13), but, betaking himself to Antioch, he carried forth thence in every direction the Gospel into distant heathen lands, calling out and employing active associates, and resigning to others (Peter; comp. Galatians 2:7) the conversion of the Jews. His labors form the third apostolical period. From this time Paul is the central character of the apostolical history; even Peter gradually disappears, and it is only after Paul had retired from Asia Minor that John appears there, but even then laboring in a quiet manner. Thus a man who had probably not personally, known Christ, who, at least, was not (originally) designated and consecrated by him to the apostleship, yet accomplished more for Christianity than all the directly-appointed apostles, not only in extent, measuring his activity by the geographical region traversed, but also in intensity, since he especially grasped the comprehensive scope of the Christian remedial system, and sought to harmonize the heavenly doctrine with sound learning. It is not a little remarkable that a Pharisee should thus most successfully comprehend the world-wide spirit of Christianity.
4. Authentic history records nothing concerning the apostles beyond what Luke has afforded respecting Peter, John (Acts 8:14), and the two James's (Acts 12:2; Acts 12:17; Acts 15:13; Acts 21:18). Traditions, derived in part from early times (Euseb. Hist. Ecclesiastes 3, 1), have come down to us concerning nearly all of them (see the Acta Apostolorunm Apocrypha, which have been usually ascribed to one Abdias, in Fabricii Cod. Apocryph. 1, 402 sq.; and Cave's Antiquitates Apostol. ut sup.; also Perionii Vitae Apostolorum, Par. 1551, Fref. 1774; comp. Ludewig, Die Apost. Jes. Quedlinb. 1841; Heringa, De vitis apostolorum, Tielae, 1844), but they must be cautiously resorted to, as they sometimes conflict with one another, and their gradual growth can often be traced. All that can be gathered with certainty respecting the subsequent history of the apostles is that James (q.v.), after the martyrdom of James the greater (Acts 12:2), usually remained at Jerusalem as the acknowledged head of the fraternity (comp. Acts 12:17) and president of the college of the apostles (Acts 15:13; Acts 21:18; Galatians 2:9); while Peter traveled mostly as missionary among the Jews ("apostle of the Circumcision," Galatians 2:8), and John (all three are named "pillars" of the Christian community, Galatians 2:9) eventually strove at Ephesus to extend the kindly practical character of Christianity, which had been endangered by Gnostical tendencies, and to win disciples in this temper. From this period it certainly becomes impossible to determine the sphere of these or the other apostles' activity; but it must ever remain remarkable that precisely touching the evangelical mission of the immediate apostles no more information is extant, and that the memory of the services of most of them survived the very first century only in extremely unreliable stories.
We might he even tempted to consider the choice of Jesus as in a great measure a failure, especially since a Judas was among the select; but we must not forget, in the first place, that it was of great importance for Jesus to form as early as possible a narrow circle of disciples, i.e. at a time when there was small opportunity for selection (Matthew 9:37 sq.); in the second place, that, in making the choice, he could only have regard to moral and intellectual constitution, in which respect the apostles chosen probably compared favorably with his other followers; and finally that, even if (as some infer from John 2:25) the ultimate results had been clearly foreseen by him, they did not (especially after the new turn given to the Christian enterprise by Paul) strictly depend upon this act of his, since, in fact, the successful issue of the scheme justified his sagacity as to the instrumentalities by which it was on the whole carried forward. Some writers (Neander, Leb. Jes. p. 223 sq.) have made out quite an argument for the selection of the apostles from their various idiosyncracies and marked traits of character (Gregorii Diss. de temperamentis scriptorum N.T. Lips. 1710; comp. Hase, Leb. Jes. p. 112 sq.), and Jesus himself clearly never intended that they should all have an equal career or mission; the founding of the Church in Palestine and its vicinity was their first and chief work, and their services in other countries, however important in themselves, were of secondary interest to this. See generally, respecting single apostles and their activity (especially in the N.T.), Neander's Planting and Training of the Prim. Ch. (Hamb. 3d ed. 1841, Edinb. 1843); D. F. Bacon, Lives of the Apost. (N. Y. 1846).
5. The characteristic features of this highest office in the Christian Church have been very accurately delineated by M'Lean, in his Apostolic Commission. "It was essential to their office —
(1.) That they should have seen the Lord, and been eye and ear witnesses of what they testified to the world (John 15:27). This is laid down as an essential requisite in the choice of one to succeed Judas (Acts 1:21-22), that he should have been personally acquainted with the whole ministerial course of our Lord, from the baptism of John till the day when He was taken up into heaven. He himself describes them as those that had continued with Him in his temptations. (Luke 22:28). By this close personal intercourse with Him, they were peculiarly fitted to give testimony to the facts of redemption; and we gather, from his own words in John 14:28; John 15:26-27; John 16:13, that an especial bestowal of the Spirit's influence was granted them, by which their memories were quickened, and their power of reproducing that which they had heard from him increased above the ordinary measure of man. Paul is no exception here; for, speaking of those who saw Christ after his resurrection, he adds, ‘ and last of all he was seen of me' (1 Corinthians 15:8). And this he elsewhere mentions as one of his apostolic qualifications: ‘ Am I not an apostle? have I not seen the Lord?' (1 Corinthians 9:1). So that his seeing that Just One and hearing the word of his mouth was necessary to his being ‘ a witness of what he thus saw and heard' (Acts 22:14-15).
(2.) They must have been immediately called and chosen to that office by Christ himself. This was the case with every one of them (Luke 6:13; Galatians 1:1), Matthias not excepted; for, as he had been a chosen disciple of Christ before, so the Lord, by determining the lot, declared his choice, and immediately called him to the office of an apostle (Acts 1:24-26).
(3.) Infallible inspiration was also essentially necessary to that office (John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:10; Galatians 1:11-12). They had not only to explain the true sense and spirit of the Old Testament (Luke 24:27; Acts 26:22-23; Acts 28:23), which were hid from the Jewish doctors, but also to give forth the New Testament revelation to the world. which was to be the unalterable standard of faith and practice in all succeeding generations (1 Peter 1:25; 1 John 4:6). It was therefore absolutely necessary that they should be secured against all error and mistake by unerring inspiration. Accordingly, Christ bestowed on them the Spirit to
‘ teach them all things,' to ‘ bring all things to their remembrance whatsoever he had said to them' (John 14:26), to ‘ guide them into all truth,' and to ‘ show them things to come' (John 16:13). Their word, therefore, must be received, ‘ not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God' (1 Thessalonians 2:13), and as that whereby we are to distinguish ‘ the spirit of truth from the spirit of error" (1 John 4:6).
(4.) Another qualification was the power of working miracles (Mark 16:20; Acts 2:43), such as speaking with divers tongues, curing the lame, etc. (1 Corinthians 12:8-11). These were the credentials of their divine mission. ‘ Truly,' says Paul, ‘ the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds' (2 Corinthians 12:12). Miracles were necessary to confirm their doctrine at its first publication, and to gain credit to it in the world as a revelation from God, and by these ‘ God bare them witness' (Hebrews 2:4).
(5.) To these characteristics may be added the universality of their mission. Their charge was not confined to any particular visible church, like that of ordinary pastors, but, being the oracles of God to men, they had ‘ the care of all the churches' (2 Corinthians 11:28). They had power to settle their faith and order as a model to future ages, to determine all controversies (Acts 16:4), and to exercise the rod of discipline upon all offenders, whether pastors or flock (1 Corinthians 5:3-6; 2 Corinthians 10:8; 2 Corinthians 13:10)."
6. It must be obvious, from this scriptural account of the apostolical office, that the apostles had; in the strict sense of the term, no successors. Their qualifications were supernatural, and their work, once performed, remains in the infallible record of the New Testament, for the advantage of the Church and the world in all future ages. They are the only authoritative teachers of Christian doctrine and law. All official men in Christian churches can legitimately claim no higher place than expounders of the doctrines and administrators of the laws found in their writings. Few things have been more injurious to the cause of Christianity than the assumption on the part of ordinary office-bearers in the Church of the peculiar prerogatives of "the holy apostles of our Lord Jesus." Much that is said of the latter is not at all applicable to the former; and much that admits of being applied can be so, in truth, only in a very secondary and extenuated sense. (See SUCCESSION).
The apostolical office seems to have been pre-eminently that of founding the churches, and upholding them by supernatural power specially bestowed for that purpose. It ceased, as a matter of course, with its first holders; all continuation of it, from the very conditions of its existence (comp. 1 Corinthians 9:1), being impossible. The ἐπίσκοπος or "bishop" of the ancient churches coexisted with, and did not in any sense succeed, the apostles; and when it is claimed for bishops or any church officers that they are their successors, it can be understood only chronologically. and not officially. (See SUCCESSION).
7. In the early ecclesiastical writers we find the term ὁ ἀπόστολος, "the apostle," used as the designation of a portion of the canonical books, consisting chiefly of the Pauline Epistles. "The Psalter" and "the Apostle" are often mentioned together. It is also not uncommon with these writers to call Paul "The Apostle," by way of eminence.
The several apostles are usually represented in mediaeval pictures with special badges or attributes: St. Peter, with the keys; St. Paul, with a sword; St. Andrew, with a cross; St. James the Less, with a fuller's pole; St. John, with a cup and a winged serpent flying out of it; St. Bartholomew, with a knife; St. Philip, with a long staff, whose upper end is formed into a cross; St. Thomas, with a lance; St. Matthew, with a hatchet; St. Matthias, with a battle-axe; St. James the Greater, with a pilgrim's staff and a gourd-bottle; St. Simon, with a saw; and St. Jude, with a club. (See Lardner, Works, 5, 255-6. 361.)
For the history of the individual apostles, see each name (Mant, Biog. of the Apostles, Lond. 1840).
8. Further works on the history of the apostles, besides the patristic ones by Dorotheus of Tyre (tr. in Hanmer's Eusebius, Lond. 1663), Jerome (in append. of his Opera, 2:945), Hippolytus (of doubtful genuineness, given with others in Fabricii Cod. Apocr. N.T. 2, 388, 744, 757; 3, 599), Nicetas (Lat. in Bibl. Max. Patr. 27:384; Gr. and Lat. by Combefis, Auct. Noviss. p. 327), and others (see J. A. Fabricius, Bibliotheca Eccles. append.), are the following: G. Fabricius, Hist. J. C. itemque apostol. etc. (Lips. 1566, 1581, 8vo); Cave, Lives of the Apostles (Lond. 1677, 1678, 1684, 1686, fol., and often since; new ed. by Cary, Oxf. 1840, 8vo; a standard work on the subject, above referred to); Hoffmann, Geschichtskalender d. Apostel (Prem. 1699, 8vo); Grunenberg, De Apostolis (Rost 1704, 1705); Reading, Hist. of our Lord, with Lives of the Apostles (Lond. 1716, 8vo); Anonymous, Hist. of the Apostles in Scripture (Lond. 1725, 8vo); Sandin, Hist. Apostolica (Petav. 1731, 8vo; an attempt to fortify the Acts by external accounts); G. Erasmus, Peregrinationes apostolor. (Regiom. 1702); Tillemont, L'Histoire Ecclesiastique, 1 and 2; Fleetwood, Life of Christ, s. f.; Lardner, Works, 6; Jacobi, Gesch. d. Apostel (Gotha, 1818, 8vo); Rosenmü ller, Die Apostel, nach ihrem Leben u. Wirken (Lpz. 1821, 8vo); Wilhelmi, Christi Apostel u. erste Bekenner (Heidelb. 1825, 8vo); Kitto, Daily Bible Illustrations, eve. ser. 4; Greens wood, Lives of the Apostles (3d ed. Bost. 1846, 12mo); also the works enumerated under ACTS (OF THE APOSTLES). Of a more special character are the following among others: Ribov, De apostolatu Judaico, spec. Pauli (Gott. 1745); Heineccius, De habitu et insignib. apostolor. sacerdotalibus (Lips. 1702); Pflicke, De apostolor. et prophetar. in N.T. eminentia et discrimine (Lips. 1785); Rhodomann, De sapientia Chr. in electione apostolor. (Jen. 1752); C. W. F. Walch, De illuminatione apostolor. successiva (Gott. 1758); Michaelis, De aptitudine et sinceritate apostolor. (Hal. 1760); Jesse, Learning and Inspiration of the Apostles (Lond. 1798); Goldhorn, De institutione apostolor. precepta recte agendi a Jesu scepenumero repetenda (Lips. 1817); Tittmann, De discrimine discipline Christi et apostolorum (Lips. 1805); Hergang, De apostolor. sensu psychojogico (Budissae, 1841); Milman, Character and Conduct of the Apostles (Bampton Lect. Oxf. 1827); Whately, Lect. on the character of the Apostles (2d ed. Lond. 1853); Messner, Lehre der Apostel (Lpz. 1856). Monographs on various points relating to the apostolate have also been written in Latin by Moebius (Lips. 1660), Dannhauer (Argent. 1664), Kahler (Rint. 1700), Cyprian (Lips. 1717), Fischer (ib. 1720), Fromm (Ged. 1720), Neubauer (Hal. 1729), Beck (Viteb. 1735), Roser (Argent. 1743), Michaelis (Hal. 1749), Kocher (Jen. 1751), Stosch (Guelf. 1751), Rathlef (Harmon. 1752), C. W. F. Walch (Jen. 1754), J. E. J. Walch (ib. 1753,1755), J. G. Walch (ib. 1774), Pries (Rost. 1757), Schulze (Freft. 1758), Taddel (Rost. 1760), Stemler (Lips. 1767), Crusius (ib. 1769), Widmann (Jen. 1775), Wilcke (ib. 1676), Wichmann (ib. 1779), Schlegel (Lips. 1782), Ran (Erlang. 1788), Miller (Gott. 1789), Pisanski (Regiom. 1790), Heumann (Dissert. 1:120-155), Gude (Nov. misc. Lips. 3, 563 sq.), Christiansen (Traj. 1803), Bohme (Hal. 1826), etc.; in German by Gabler (Theol. Journ. 13:94 sq.), Grulich (Ann. d. Theol.), Ruhmer (in Schuderoff's Jahrb. 3, 3, 257-283),Vogel (Aufsatze, 2:4), and many others, especially in contributions to theological journals. (See APOSTOLIC AGE).
These files are public domain.
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Apostle'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/a/apostle.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.