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Are Jesus Disciples and Apostles the Same?

Are Jesus and Disciples the Same

The terms “disciples” and “apostles” refer to the followers of Jesus Christ, but they are used in slightly different contexts within the Christian tradition, and understanding the distinction can provide deeper insight into the New Testament narrative.


The word “disciple” comes from the Greek word “mathētēs,” meaning “learner” or “follower.” In the context of the New Testament, disciples refer to those who follow Jesus, learning from His teachings and way of life. This term is not exclusively used for the twelve closest followers of Jesus but can refer to a broader group of followers, including both men and women. An example from the Bible highlighting the term “disciple” is found in Matthew 28:19:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”


The term “apostle” comes from the Greek word “apostolos,” meaning “one who is sent away” or “messenger.” This term is more specifically used to refer to the Twelve Apostles whom Jesus chose to be His closest followers and to whom He gave the special mission of spreading His teachings after His death and resurrection. An example that includes the mention of apostles is in Acts 1:2-3:

“Until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”

Relevant Examples

An example that shows the distinction is found in the choosing of the Twelve Apostles, as narrated in Luke 6:13:

“And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles.”
This passage indicates that while all apostles are disciples, not all disciples are apostles. The apostles are specifically chosen from the broader group of disciples for a unique mission.

Three Main Takeaways:

  1. Distinction in Terms: “Disciples” refers broadly to all followers of Jesus who learn from His teachings, whereas “apostles” refers more specifically to the Twelve chosen by Jesus to spread His gospel.
  2. Unique Roles of Apostles: The apostles were given a special commission to be the primary witnesses to Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, laying the foundations of the early Church.
  3. Inclusive Term of Disciple: The term “disciple” encompasses a wider array of Jesus’ followers, highlighting the inclusive nature of Jesus’ call to follow Him, which extends to all people across time.

Understanding the nuanced differences between these terms enriches the comprehension of the New Testament and the early Christian community’s structure and mission.


  • Greg Gaines

    Father / Grandfather / Minister / Missionary / Deacon / Elder / Author / Digital Missionary / Foster Parents / Welcome to our Family https://jesusleadershiptraining.com/about-us/

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