Difference between a Disciple and an Apostle?

Difference between a Disciple and an Apostle?

Disciple comes from the Greek word mathetes, which means “learner, pupil, disciple.”  Apostle comes from the Greek word apostolos, which means “a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.”

Apostle Disciple

What is the difference?

The term apostle is used in two different ways in the New Testament.  Normally it’s used to describe a church leadership office in the early church in which the 12 apostles and Paul had inspired authority and the ability to perform miracles (Matt. 16:19; 18:18; 2:42; 6:1ff; Rom. 11:13; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11; 2 Cor. 12:12).  In order to be chosen for this office, one had to have been an eyewitness of all Jesus did from his baptism to his ascension (Acts 1:21-26).  However, it’s also used in a broader sense to refer to Christian missionaries sent forth on mission trips by churches (Acts 14:14; Rom. 16:7; 2 Cor. 8:23; Phil. 2:25).

All apostles were disciples, but not all disciples were apostles, either in the sense that they were in the church office nor in the sense that not all were sent out by churches to do missionary work.

Interestingly, Jesus was also called an apostle in that he was a messenger, one sent by God (Heb. 3:1).

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