When it comes to the followers of Jesus Christ, there are two terms that often get used interchangeably: disciples and apostles. While both groups played a significant role in spreading the teachings of Jesus, there are some key differences between them.
Disciples were individuals who followed Jesus during his lifetime. They were primarily learners or students of his teachings and were often referred to as “students” or “apprentices.” The word “disciple” comes from the Latin word “discipulus,” which means “learner.”
Jesus had many disciples during his ministry, but the most well-known group was comprised of 12 men whom he chose to be his closest companions. These 12 disciples were Simon Peter, Andrew, James, 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), and Simon the Zealot.
Disciples were not just passive listeners; they actively participated in Jesus’ ministry by helping him with tasks such as preaching and healing. They also underwent a period of training under Jesus’ guidance and were expected to spread his message after his death and resurrection.
The term “apostle” is derived from the Greek word “apostolos,” which means “one who is sent out.” Apostles were individuals who had been chosen by Jesus himself to spread his message after his death and resurrection. While all apostles were initially disciples, not all disciples became apostles.
The 12 disciples mentioned above were also appointed as apostles by Jesus. In addition to these 12 apostles, there was another prominent apostle: Paul (formerly known as Saul). Paul was not one of the original 12 disciples but instead became an apostle after he had a vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus.
Unlike disciples, apostles were not just students of Jesus’ teachings; they were also messengers who were sent out to spread his message to all corners of the world. They had a specific mission of establishing and organizing churches, appointing leaders, and transmitting the teachings of Jesus to new generations.
Differences between Disciples and Apostles
While both disciples and apostles played important roles in spreading the teachings of Jesus, there are some key differences between them:
- Disciples were primarily learners or students of Jesus’ teachings, while apostles were messengers who spread his message.
- All apostles were initially disciples, but not all disciples became apostles.
- Disciples actively participated in Jesus’ ministry during his lifetime, while apostles were sent out after his death and resurrection.
- Apostles had a specific mission of establishing and organizing churches, appointing leaders, and transmitting the teachings of Jesus to new generations.
In summary, disciples were individuals who followed Jesus during his lifetime and learned from him directly. Apostles were chosen by Jesus to spread his message after his death and resurrection.
While there is some overlap between these two groups, the main difference is that disciples primarily learned from Jesus while apostles actively spread his message. Both groups played critical roles in spreading the teachings of Christianity throughout the world.