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The Difference Between A Disciple And Apostle

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Luke 6:13-17 (NKJV) 13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: 14 Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; 15 Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; 16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor. 17 And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases,

When you read this portion of the scripture in the book of Luke 6:13–17, you will understand that there is a difference between a disciple and an apostle. Can you state that difference?

Who is a Disciple?

A disciple is the one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrine of another: Such as Christianity. A disciple is also defined as one who has been baptized and is willing to take upon themself the name of the Savior and decides to follow him. A disciple strives to become like their master by keeping His commandments in mortality, much like an apprentice seeks to become like their master.

Webster’s definition of a disciple is a pupil or follower of any teacher or school. A true disciple is not just a student or a learner, but a follower who applies what he has learned (2 Timothy 2:2). Thus is, a true disciple will ask, “what would Jesus do.”

Jesus himself defined a disciple in John 8:31–32, “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

First, you must be a believer. You have accepted Jesus as Lord, and he became the Savior of your life. Then, abide in his word or keep his commandments; this is when you become his true disciple. A disciple is a born-again person who keeps or is a doer of the word of God unwavering. He is a follower after Christ unstoppably.

Who is an Apostle?

The English word apostle comes from the Greek word “Apostolos” which means one who is sent off.

An apostle is a person deputed to execute some important business, but appropriately, a disciple of Christ commissioned to preach the gospel.

An apostle refers not only to one who is sent with a message to announce but also divinely appointed representative with an official status who is provided with the credentials of his office (1 Corinthians 12:28).

Apostle can refer to all believers in the broadest sense of the Great Commission mandate because every believer is sent into the world as a witness for Christ. (1 Peter 2:9–10, 1 Peter 3:15, Ephesians 6:20, Acts 1:8).

We have four kinds of apostles in the bible. First, Jesus himself (Hebrews 3:1) was sent by his Father from heaven to come and save humanity (John 3:17). There will be no other apostle like him. Second the apostle of the lamb, whose qualifications were in Acts 1:21–22. There are no other apostles like these ones. Third are the foundational apostles; these are the ones that laid the church’s foundation (Ephesians 2:19–21). This group includes the apostle of the lamb and others, including Paul, Barnabas, and the apostles in the early church (Acts14:14, Romans 16:7). There are no more Apostles like the ones who laid the church’s foundation. 

For the apostles that we have today, these do not lay any church foundation. Instead, the foundation has already been laid. They are only building on an established foundation (1 Corinthians 3:10–15).

The Difference Between a Disciple and an Apostle

First of all, the first condition to become a disciple or an apostle is to become a believer. Now every apostle at first was a disciple. Second, he must remain a disciple forever according to Jesus’s definition of a disciple in John 8:31–32. A disciple is made to be a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19), while an apostle has already become a fisherman (Mark 1:17). A disciple is a vessel in the making, while an apostle is a vessel in use (Jeremiah 18:2–6 & 2 Timothy 2:20–21). A disciple is an apostle in the process, while an apostle is a disciple in the commission and on the field. A disciple is under the feet of tutor and teachers (Acts 22:3), while an apostle is a tutor and teacher in the field (Matthew 28:19–20). A disciple is a child while an apostle is a son, according to Galatians 4:1–4. A disciple is still studying, while an apostle has been approved (2 Timothy 2:15). A disciple is waiting to be commissioned while an apostle is a commissioned disciple (Acts 13:1–4). A disciple is any of the followers of Jesus Christ, including an apostle. A disciple is striving to become like his master while an apostle is approved to the level of his master (Matthew 10:25–25). A disciple is seeking the will of God for his life, while an apostle is in the will of God for his life (Luke 12:47). A disciple is in class to be taught stewardship while an apostle is a faithful steward (Colossians 1:25; 1 Corinthians 9:17; 1 Corinthians 4:1–2). 

A disciple is still being guarded by his teachers, and an apostle is displayed openly even unto death.  “For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and men (1 Corinthians 4:9).

A disciple is still in the congregation while an apostle is with the congregation but not in the congregation. Therefore, an apostle is set apart for a particular cause. Have been separated for God’s work (John 17:17,19; Luke 6:13, 17, 20; Acts 13:2–4).

Keep in mind that in a general sense, even a disciple is a send-out one, as already discussed above. The definition of an apostle that we can differentiate from a disciple is that an apostle does not only refer to someone sent out with a message to announce, but to the one who is divinely appointed to represent with an official status. Therefore, an apostle is provided with the credentials of his office.

” And He Himself gave some to be apostles, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, (Ephesians 4:11–14).

 “And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, …… “(1 Corinthians 12:28).

The scriptures below can give you some wisdom on the credentials of an apostle.

“I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.”

(2 Corinthians 12:12).

“Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless, I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 9:1–2).

The definition of a disciple is the one Jesus stated in John 8:31–32 

“So, Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him if you abide in My word [hold fast to my teaching, and live in accordance with them], you are truly my disciple. And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free, (John 8:31–32, Amp.)

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By Gilbert Magomere Ayieko
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