A Ralph Johnson


SONG: “Peter, Andrew, James and John, - fishermen of Capernaum

Thomas and St. Matthew too, Philip and Bartholomew,

James the less and Jude the brave,

Simon the zealot and Judas the knave...

Twelve disciples here in all,

Answering the Master's call"


-Matthias took the place of Judas, who hanged himself.

-Paul was the special apostle to the Gentiles. (Gal. 2:8, 9; Rom. 11:13)


I.    THE TWELVE (Matt. 10:2-4; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13)


Matthew 10:1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:


Acts 1: 13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.


Comparison between these two accounts indicates that Thaddaeus (Lebbaeus) was also known as “Judas the brother of James




A.        Luke includes Matthias as being one of the Twelve Apostles.

Ac. 1:17-26  Luke says he was “numbered with the eleven.”  Many years after his selection, Luke presents it as an action take to comply with divine instructions, being determined by God in response to their prayers. No hint of doubt is indicated.  Even the words, “numbered with” are the same used concerning Judas's original selection to fill the office. (v. 17, 20)


Ac. 2:1-4  Matthias was included with the eleven in “receiving power after the Holy Spirit came” in order to become a “witness of the resurrection.”  (1:8, 2-5)


Ac. 2:14  Peter stood up “With the eleven.”  This included Matthias. In verses 37, 42, these are called “Apostles


Ac. 6:2, 6  (cf. “we” in v. 3, 4) Matthias is included in the action of “the twelve” and included among “the apostles.”  (Note: Paul was not converted until Acts 9)


B.  Paul was never included among “The Twelve.”


Thus, passages such as Rev. 21:14 would not have reference to him.  These do not limit the number of apostles but only a specific group spoken of as “the twelve.”  Paul was not among those to whom Jesus said, “YE shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes...” (Mt. 19:28)  Paul was commissioned to the Gentiles. (Rom. 11:13; Gal. 2:7-9)


  1. Paul made no claim to be included as one of “The Twelve.” 


Paul says in 1Co. 15:5-9 that Jesus appeared “unto the Twelve” before he appeared unto him.  Since Judas had already hanged himself (Mt. 27:3-5; 28:16) and Paul was not yet converted, the twelfth was Matthias.


  1. No hint of doubt concerning Matthias's apostleship among the twelve is ever indicated. 


The misconception that there could be no others just because the Apostles to the Jews were limited to twelve is shown to be in error by the fact that even others besides Paul were called “Apostles.”  Barnabas was classed as an apostle along with Paul. (Ac. 14:4, 14) cf. 1Co. 9:1-6, 11, 12; Gal. 2:8, 9).  James the Lord's brother is also called an Apostle.  (Gal. 1:19;  cf. 1Co. 15:7; Gal. 2:7-9). (Cf. Gal. 1:18, 19 with Ac. 9:27, 28).


      The force of this is especially strong in view of the fact that in exposing false Apostles, no one ever argued that only the twelve could be Apostles.  If this were true it would be one of the first and most effective points in exposing false Apostles.  Rather, the first qualification they required was evidence that the person had seen Jesus after his resurrection (1Co. 9:1; Ac. 1:22; 4:33).  The second was whether he could do the “signs of an Apostle” (Rev. 2:2; 2Co. 12:12; Ac. 8:17, 18; 19:6; Rom. 1:11; 1Tim. 1:6).                 




Paul was not one of the twelve who were to sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel  (see II-B and C above)


Paul had seen the Lord after the resurrection, required to be an apostle (Acts 1:22)

Acts 9:3-6; 22:6-8; 26:15-16; 1Cor 9:1; 15:8


Paul was called to be an apostle by Jesus Christ

1Cor. 1:1


Paul was appointed by Jesus Christ

2Timothy 1:11; Gal. 1:1


Paul had done “the signs of an apostle

2Cor 12:12


Paul was called an “apostle” by Luke


Acts 14:14 But when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of it, they rent their garments, and sprang forth among the multitude, crying out


Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles


Rom 11:13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:


2Tim 1: 11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.


Gal 2:7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.


Paul’s apostleship was no less valid than that of the twelve


Galatians 2:6 But from those who were reputed to be somewhat (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth not man's person)-- they, I say, who were of repute imparted nothing to me:


1 Corinthians 9:1 Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? 2 If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. 3 Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, 4 Have we not power to eat and to drink? 5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?


2 Corinthians 11:5 For I reckon that I am not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.


2 Corinthians 12:11 I am become foolish: ye compelled me; for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing was I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I am nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, by signs and wonders and mighty works.




A.     Barnabus


Acts 14:3 Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. 4 But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.


Acts 14:14 But when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of it, they rent their garments, and sprang forth among the multitude, crying out


This suggests that Barnabas was an “apostle” in the same sense as Paul.


No mention is made of Barnabus having seen Jesus after the resurrection but he lived at Jerusalem and had opportunity to be among those who did (1Cor. 15:6). 


B.     James, the Lord’s brother


Acts 9:27 Barnabas took Paul to see the “apostles.” In Gal. 1:19 Paul tells us that these were Peter, and “James, the Lord’s brother.” 


It seems James was not one of the original “twelve” since John 7:5, after the twelve had been  chosen, says his brothers did not believe in him.  So, the question is, when did James become an apostle?  He does not appear to be a replacement for James the brother of John since that “James” was not killed until Acts 12:2 after James the Lord’s brother was an apostle, yet he seems to be an apostle in the same sense as Peter (Acts 9:27).  It is possible that he replaced James the brother of John after his death and Luke, writing after he became one, speaks of him as an apostle. 


Some think this is James the Less, a relative of Jesus (Mat 27:56). According to this view, “the Lord’s brother” is not speaking of Jesus’ brother, as identified in Matt. 13:55 and Mark 15:40.  James the Less is identified as James the son of Zebedee (Mat 4:21)


We do know that he had seen the Lord after the resurrection (1Cor 15:7) and that statement, contrasted with “then to all the apostles” suggests that he was an apostle.


C.     Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy


By connecting 1Thes 1:1 with 2:6 some have thought that Paul calls Silas and Timothy apostles.  Evidence is lacking that they actually held the office of an apostle of Christ.  “Apostle” merely means a person is “sent with a message


We have no evidence that Jesus ever appeared to Timothy or Silas.  Timothy was converted years later.


D.  Epaphroditus


Philip 2:25 speaks of Epaphroditus as “your messenger” (apostolos).  Again, evidence is lacking that he was an “apostle of Christ” in an official sense.


D.    Andronicus and Junias?


Rom 16:7 says that Andronicus and Junias were “of note among the apostles.”  This cannot be shown to mean they were apostles.


V. Apostles of Christ were limited to those authorized in Scripture.


1.      As Jesus was the chief cornerstone, apostles and prophets on earth shared in the foundation of the church.


Ephesians 2:20  20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;


2.      Apostles of Christ had to be called and appointed by Christ


Acts 1:2   2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:


Acts 22:10  10 And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.


1 Corinthians 1:1  Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,


2 Timothy 1:11   11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.


Galatians 1:1  Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)


3.      Apostles of Christ did special signs


2 Corinthians 12:12   12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.


Acts 19:11   11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:


Acts 2:43  43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.


Acts 5:12   12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.


4.      Apostles of Christ received their commissions openly and directly from God


Acts 2 the Holy spirit was miraculously poured out from God upon the twelve.


Acts 1:26 - 2:4   26 And they gave lots for them; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place.  2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  3 And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:7  7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying, Behold, are not all these that speak Galilaeans?

Acts 2:14   14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and spake forth unto them,


Acts 9 Paul was personally commissioned in a vision by Jesus.


There are no examples or directions for Apostles of Christ being appointed by men.


5.      Apostles received revelation of God directly from the Holy Spirit


John 14:26   26 But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.


John 16:13   13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come.


1 Corinthians 2:10  10 But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.


Ephesians 3:5   5 which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;


2 Peter 1:19-21   19 And we have the word of prophecy made more sure; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts:  20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation.  21 For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit.


2 Peter 3:1-2  This is now, beloved, the second epistle that I write unto you; and in both of them I stir up your sincere mind by putting you in remembrance;  2 that ye should remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandments of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles:


1 Corinthians 14:37  37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.


1 John 4:6  6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he who is not of God heareth us not. By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.


6.      Apostles of Christ had authority to lay on hands to give miraculous spiritual gifts to others.


Acts 8:14-20   14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:  16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)  17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. 18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,  19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.  20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.


Acts 19:5-6   5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.


2 Timothy 1:6  6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.


Romans 1:11   11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;


7.      Apostles of Christ had to have seen Christ after the resurrection


Acts 1:3   3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion


Acts 1:22  ...must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.


1 Corinthians 9:1  Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?


8.      Paul was the last to have Christ appear to him to appoint him as apostle


1 Corinthians 15:7-8   7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.  8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time


VI.   Beware of false "apostles" 


2 Corinthians 11:13-15  13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.


Revelation 2:2  2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:


We have no record of Apostles of Christ continuing after the death of John.