“One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.” Matthew 5:1-2 NLT
“Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness. Here are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (also called Peter), then Andrew (Peter’s brother), James (son of Zebedee), John (James’s brother), Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew (the tax collector), James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the zealot ), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).” Matthew 10:1-4 NLT
Before we jump into the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7), let’s take a look at two key words in these verses: disciples and apostles. We see Jesus call these followers disciples in chapter 5, then both in chapter 10.
Maybe you (like me) wondered “are they disciples or apostles? Do they mean the same thing? If not, what is the difference?”
Although the words disciple and apostle are sometimes used interchangeably, they mean different things. A disciple is a follower or student of someone. An apostle is someone who is sent out with a message or mission.
Jesus’ disciples were a group of followers who listened and learned from him. When Jesus chose twelve of his disciples to accompany him and later sent them on mission’s to preach/teach about Him, they became apostles.
As I was preparing this blog, our Sunday Bible Class leader gave a fabulous comparison with biblical references I’d like to share with you:
- “Disciple & Apostle – not synonymous (both – Matt 10:1-2; Luke 6:13)
- Disciple – Learner, pupil
- Apostle – emissary, representative, one sent with the authority of the sender
Qualifications of an Apostle:
- Chosen & sent by Jesus (Mark 3:14)
- Witness to the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:21-22; Acts 10:41-42)
- Confirmed by the signs [miracles] of an Apostle (2 Corinthians 12:12)
The Apostles, being sent by Christ, spoke with the authority of Christ; when they wrote, they wrote with the authority of Christ. That’s the highest authority there is.”
Courtesy of Mr. John Adams, Blog: www.written4u.com
(Biblical references listed after my closing prayer.)
(Side note: Don’t you love it when you are studying something and the Lord drops the same information in your lap in another place or from another person, like He did here? That always lets me know I’m on the right track with what Jesus is teaching us through this blog!)
In Matthew 5:1-2 we see Jesus call his disciples to teach them. He was preparing them for their calling.
In Matthew 10:1-4 we see Jesus give twelve of his followers authority and a mission, which as Mr. Adams tells us, “is the highest authority there is.” At that point Jesus refers to them as apostles when He identifies them by name.
The same process happens for us when we agree to follow Jesus. First we immediately become His disciples. It’s our responsibility to learn as much as possible about Jesus from:
- Joining and regularly attending a Bible believing/teaching church.
- Participating in a small group class or study that teaches the Bible.
- Reading our Bibles (try just 20 minutes a day and not only will you learn, but that’s how God speaks to us!).
- Having other believers as friends and mentors.
Once we become trained (although I find myself learning something new all the time and I love that!), Jesus makes us an apostle and sends us out to teach others about Him. How each of us does that, is based on how God has gifted us, or called us to teach about Him.
Now don’t get nervous because when Jesus calls us, He equips us.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT
I hope that clears up the difference between these two very important roles and helps all of us understand the critical role each of us play in sharing the story of Jesus Christ with others.
Father God, thank you for giving us this valuable pause in our lesson so we gain a better understanding of our own role for the Kingdom. I ask for a special blessing to be poured out on Mr. John Adams as he teaches and leads our class every week and mirrors what it looks like to be an Apostle for You. Father, I ask that each person reading (and writing!) this blog takes a hard look at their own role and evaluates where improvements can be made, so we can all accomplish our goal for you, Lord. I ask this in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.
“At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles. Here are their names:” Luke 6:13 NLT (see list of names in our verse from Matthew 10:1-4 in “Thy Word” section)
“Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach,” Mark 3:14 NLT
““So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus— from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.”” Acts of the Apostles 1:21-22 NLT
Then God allowed him to appear “not to the general public, but to us whom God had chosen in advance to be his witnesses. We were those who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead.” Acts of the Apostles 10:41-42 NLT
“When I was with you, I certainly gave you proof that I am an apostle. For I patiently did many signs and wonders and miracles among you.” 2 Corinthians 12:12 NLT