Are Jesus Apostles and Disciples the Same Thing?

When it comes to Christianity, the terms “apostles” and “disciples” are often used interchangeably. However, there is a significant difference between the two.

The term “apostle” comes from the Greek word “apostolos,” which means “one who is sent out.” In Christianity, apostles were specifically chosen by Jesus himself to spread his teachings and establish churches. The twelve apostles chosen by Jesus were Peter, Andrew, James (son of Zebedee), John, Philip, Bartholomew (also known as Nathanael), Thomas, Matthew (also known as Levi), James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus (also known as Judas, son of James), Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot.

Jesus also appeared to Paul after his resurrection and commissioned him as an apostle to the Gentiles. Therefore, Paul is also considered an apostle in Christianity.

Important Note: After Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus and committed suicide, Matthias was chosen to replace him as one of the twelve apostles (Acts 1:26).

The Role of Apostles in Christianity:

Apostles played a crucial role in establishing early Christian churches. They were responsible for preaching the Gospel and teaching new converts. They also performed miracles and healings as a sign of God’s power working through them.

In addition to spreading the Gospel message verbally, apostles also wrote letters (epistles) to various churches and individuals to provide guidance and instruction on matters pertaining to Christian living. These epistles are now part of the New Testament.

The term “disciple” comes from the Latin word “discipulus,” which means “learner” or “pupil.” In Christianity, disciples were followers of Jesus who learned from him and assisted him in his ministry. The twelve apostles were also disciples of Jesus, but not all of Jesus’ disciples were apostles.

The Role of Disciples in Christianity:

Disciples were responsible for learning from Jesus and carrying out his teachings. They were also witnesses to Jesus’ life and ministry, including his death and resurrection. After Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples continued to spread the Gospel message and establish new churches.

Important Note: The term “disciple” is used more broadly in Christianity than “apostle.” Anyone who follows Jesus and learns from his teachings can be considered a disciple.


In summary, while there is some overlap between the terms “apostle” and “disciple,” they are not the same thing. Apostles were specifically chosen by Jesus to spread his teachings and establish churches, while disciples were followers of Jesus who learned from him and carried out his teachings. Both apostles and disciples played important roles in establishing early Christianity, but their roles were distinct.