Friday, February 17, 2012
Apostles vs. Disciples
I just realized a wonderful truth to share with you all. Did the gospel writers personally know Jesus? Here’s the acid test – do we call them an Apostle? If so, then the answer is YES! It’s just that easy. There are only 12, ONLY.
The 12th became the Apostle Paul, who met Jesus personally on the road to Damascus, and was called by the Lord Himself to be an Apostle. Paul spent a great deal of time and energy convincing the folks of his day of this fact, just read the opening lines of any of his epistles.
Apostle Matthew? YES.
Apostle Mark? NO. He wrote what the Apostle Peter preached.
Apostle Luke? NO. But he interviewed eye-witnesses.
Apostle John? YES.
Now I know there are those “churches” who run around calling anyone and everyone an apostle. But they are not using the word correctly. The title goes to the 12 that Jesus personally CHOSE and then SENT to disciple the world, and no one else.
So what is the difference between a disciple and an Apostle? Well, for one thing, there is that capital letter I just put on the word “Apostle”. "Apostle" is a proper title, given by Jesus, not man. "Disciple" is an adjective; however, we’ve come to use the word as a noun. Sort of like when we say American, that’s usually a description of people, but then it can also be used to describe automobiles, flags, cuisine, etc. The word “disciple” describes someone who is learning from a particular teacher. In this case, we are talking about disciples of Jesus.
It can be confusing because some folks call “the 12” disciples – and they were; but there were thousands of folks who literally followed (traveled with) Jesus as learner-disciples when He was teaching and traveling from city to city. And anyone, from any era, can be a disciple of Jesus by studying the Bible and “following Him” by the way they live their lives. Therefore, I am a disciple, but can never become one of the 12 Apostles, no matter how much studying I do!
I know using the title “Apostle” might not look like very convincing evidence. But actually the early church fathers would have been extremely particular to not banter this title about carelessly. They no doubt held meetings just to discuss the use of this word! So when early documents use the word “Apostle”, we can be reasonably certain, that individual KNEW Jesus.
The mere fact that only 2 of the 4 gospel writers have this title should show you that there is something "special" about those two. Personally, I feel that this is more "internal evidence" of the Bible's truthfulness. If mere men were putting the Bible together, all the writers would have held this important title.