Who are the real Apostles?


In this article I use New Testament passages to argue that Paul redefines the definition of 'Apostle' in his favor. I examine the references of apostle to contrast the views of Yeshuah and the twelve apostles versus those of Paul. In another article I do the same with the New Testament references to liar.

The 77 occurrences of the words apostle and apostles in the New Testament are divided as follows. The Gospels have 8, Acts has 29, the Epistles have 37 and Revelations has 3.

The Gospel references are all found in the first three Gospels. Matthew and Mark each have one reference to The twelve as apostles. In Luke's Gospel 'apostle' is used five times in reference to The twelve and once to "prophets and apostles" as spoken by Yehoshua (Luke 11:49). This final reference may, but not necessarily, leave open the possibility of a broader definition of 'apostle,' defined in part with resulting persecution.

Lu 11:49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and [some] of them they shall slay and persecute:

The previous verse notwithstanding, 'apostle' in the Gospels is associated with twelve specific men chosen by Yehoshua, with Judas replaced by a second Matthew. Acts 1:21-22 specifies that the apostles had witnessed the full ministry of the Messiah. These twelve retain a special place in the future as indicated in Revelation 21:14.

Re 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Luke's book of Acts has the first 22 of 29 references (Acts 1-14:4) referring to The twelve; then Acts 14:14 reads "Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul..."; and finally the last 6 of 7 occurrences are to "apostles and elders." Luke, the author of the book that bears his name and the book of Acts, was a disciple of Paul. In Acts 14:14 Luke announces two new apostles, other than the original Twelve. This announcement is made without an explanation of the authority that expanded the definition of apostleship, although Paul later claims the authority from "Jesus Christ and God the Father." (Some argue that Paul replaced the apostle James who was killed by Herod [Acts 12:1]).

Ga 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;)

Paul's epistles have 32 references to apostle with at least 16 out of the 32 times Paul using the term apostle in reference to himself. He has four apparent references to the original Twelve listed below. In two verses in Galatians he refers to them as "the very chiefest apostles," which is not in the most favorable light. In Galatians 1:17 Paul makes a point that he did not go primarily to the original apostles to learn of Yehoshua. In Galatians 1:9 Paul states that James was also considered an apostle. In another verse, 1 Corinthians 9:5 Paul gives a curious list separating Cephas (Peter) from the "other apostles."

2Co 11:5 For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.

2Co 12:11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.

Ga 1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

Ga 1:19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.

1Co 9:5 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?

Paul's other references to 'apostle' seemingly back Paul's own definitions. First, he alone becomes "the apostle of the Gentiles." Secondly, he defines apostle as one of the "five-fold" ministries to the church. Third, Paul refers to a new set of false apostles.

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

1Co 12:28, 29 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles?

2Co 11:13 For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

It is under these definitions that apostleship becomes quite subjective. Paul was not an apostle to everyone. He did not spend time with Yehoshua during His ministry, yet claimed a special revelation of Yehoshua. What a boast considering the Twelve had spent 3 1/2 years in intimate fellowship with the Messiah! Compare the description of apostle in Acts 1:21-22 specifying that the apostles had witnessed the full ministry of the Messiah. In 2 Corinthians 12:12 Paul defines the signs of an apostle as other than being with the Messiah through his earthly ministry.

Ga 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;)

1Co 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?

1Co 9:2 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.

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

In Ephesians 2:20 Paul seems to claim a foundational place given to The Twelve in Revelation 12:14 cited earlier. Some speculate that Paul laid the foundation of the Catholic and Protestant Churches and indeed the entire New World Order.

1Co 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

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

Leaving Paul's epistles we next come to the book of Hebrews. The author, possibly Apollos, has one reference to Yehoshua as "apostle and high priest." Thus, a new definition for apostle. All together, Paul's writings and Hebrews have 33 out of 37 apostle references found in the Epistles.

Peter's Epistles have 3 references to apostle; two refer to Peter and one to "us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour." 2 Peter 3:2 is an important verse in which Peter apparently refers to The Twelve apostles. Later in the chapter is the only reference to Paul in the New Testament not written by Luke or by Paul himself. In 2 Peter 3:15 Peter refers to Paul as a "beloved brother," not as an apostle.

2Pe 3:2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

The epistle of Jude (Yehudah) has one reference to the apostles of Yehoshua (Jude 1:17). Jude's reference is to words already spoken; it does not seem to refer to apostles to come in the future. Thus, all four of the references in the non-Pauline Epistles seem to point to one or all of The twelve.

Ju 1: 17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;

The final book of the New Testament, Revelation, has the following 3 references: "and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not," "apostles and prophets," and "twelve apostles of the Lamb." What is Yehoshua's definition of apostle? Does it include any other than The Twelve? If the true definition of apostle is limited to The Twelve, then Paul and others claiming this office are self proclaimed apostles and thus liars.

Re 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:

Re 18:20 Rejoice over her, [thou] heaven, and [ye] holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

Re 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

From the Messiah's words above, one lie coming from Paul's mouth could disqualify him as an apostle. However, once the Canon was established, it became anathema to question what was written. Now Paul was spared from the scrutiny that the Messiah commanded. If Yehoshua's definition of apostle coincides with The twelve that he chose with Mattithyahu (Matthew) as Yehudah's (Judah's) replacement (Acts 1:26), then anyone else making the claim of apostle would automatically be a liar. If this is true, a critical search of these men's writings would also show lies being spoken, "...and hast found them liars" (Rev. 2:2).


In this article I use New Testament passages to argue that Paul redefines the definition of 'Apostle' in his favor. I examine the references of apostle to contrast the views of Yeshuah and the twelve apostles versus those of Paul. In another article I do the same with the New Testament references to liar.

The 77 occurrences of the words apostle and apostles in the New Testament are divided as follows. The Gospels have 8, Acts has 29, the Epistles have 37 and Revelations has 3.

The Gospel references are all found in the first three Gospels. Matthew and Mark each have one reference to The twelve as apostles. In Luke's Gospel 'apostle' is used five times in reference to The twelve and once to "prophets and apostles" as spoken by Yehoshua (Luke 11:49). This final reference may, but not necessarily, leave open the possibility of a broader definition of 'apostle,' defined in part with resulting persecution.

Lu 11:49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and [some] of them they shall slay and persecute:

The previous verse notwithstanding, 'apostle' in the Gospels is associated with twelve specific men chosen by Yehoshua, with Judas replaced by a second Matthew. Acts 1:21-22 specifies that the apostles had witnessed the full ministry of the Messiah. These twelve retain a special place in the future as indicated in Revelation 21:14.

Re 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Luke's book of Acts has the first 22 of 29 references (Acts 1-14:4) referring to The twelve; then Acts 14:14 reads "Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul..."; and finally the last 6 of 7 occurrences are to "apostles and elders." Luke, the author of the book that bears his name and the book of Acts, was a disciple of Paul. In Acts 14:14 Luke announces two new apostles, other than the original Twelve. This announcement is made without an explanation of the authority that expanded the definition of apostleship, although Paul later claims the authority from "Jesus Christ and God the Father." (Some argue that Paul replaced the apostle James who was killed by Herod [Acts 12:1]).

Ga 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;)

Paul's epistles have 32 references to apostle with at least 16 out of the 32 times Paul using the term apostle in reference to himself. He has four apparent references to the original Twelve listed below. In two verses in Galatians he refers to them as "the very chiefest apostles," which is not in the most favorable light. In Galatians 1:17 Paul makes a point that he did not go primarily to the original apostles to learn of Yehoshua. In Galatians 1:9 Paul states that James was also considered an apostle. In another verse, 1 Corinthians 9:5 Paul gives a curious list separating Cephas (Peter) from the "other apostles."

2Co 11:5 For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.

2Co 12:11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.

Ga 1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

Ga 1:19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.

1Co 9:5 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?

Paul's other references to 'apostle' seemingly back Paul's own definitions. First, he alone becomes "the apostle of the Gentiles." Secondly, he defines apostle as one of the "five-fold" ministries to the church. Third, Paul refers to a new set of false apostles.

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

1Co 12:28, 29 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles?

2Co 11:13 For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

It is under these definitions that apostleship becomes quite subjective. Paul was not an apostle to everyone. He did not spend time with Yehoshua during His ministry, yet claimed a special revelation of Yehoshua. What a boast considering the Twelve had spent 3 1/2 years in intimate fellowship with the Messiah! Compare the description of apostle in Acts 1:21-22 specifying that the apostles had witnessed the full ministry of the Messiah. In 2 Corinthians 12:12 Paul defines the signs of an apostle as other than being with the Messiah through his earthly ministry.

Ga 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;)

1Co 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?

1Co 9:2 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.

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

In Ephesians 2:20 Paul seems to claim a foundational place given to The Twelve in Revelation 12:14 cited earlier. Some speculate that Paul laid the foundation of the Catholic and Protestant Churches and indeed the entire New World Order.

1Co 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

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

Leaving Paul's epistles we next come to the book of Hebrews. The author, possibly Apollos, has one reference to Yehoshua as "apostle and high priest." Thus, a new definition for apostle. All together, Paul's writings and Hebrews have 33 out of 37 apostle references found in the Epistles.

Peter's Epistles have 3 references to apostle; two refer to Peter and one to "us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour." 2 Peter 3:2 is an important verse in which Peter apparently refers to The Twelve apostles. Later in the chapter is the only reference to Paul in the New Testament not written by Luke or by Paul himself. In 2 Peter 3:15 Peter refers to Paul as a "beloved brother," not as an apostle.

2Pe 3:2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

The epistle of Jude (Yehudah) has one reference to the apostles of Yehoshua (Jude 1:17). Jude's reference is to words already spoken; it does not seem to refer to apostles to come in the future. Thus, all four of the references in the non-Pauline Epistles seem to point to one or all of The twelve.

Ju 1: 17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;

The final book of the New Testament, Revelation, has the following 3 references: "and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not," "apostles and prophets," and "twelve apostles of the Lamb." What is Yehoshua's definition of apostle? Does it include any other than The Twelve? If the true definition of apostle is limited to The Twelve, then Paul and others claiming this office are self proclaimed apostles and thus liars.

Re 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:

Re 18:20 Rejoice over her, [thou] heaven, and [ye] holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

Re 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

From the Messiah's words above, one lie coming from Paul's mouth could disqualify him as an apostle. However, once the Canon was established, it became anathema to question what was written. Now Paul was spared from the scrutiny that the Messiah commanded. If Yehoshua's definition of apostle coincides with The twelve that he chose with Mattithyahu (Matthew) as Yehudah's (Judah's) replacement (Acts 1:26), then anyone else making the claim of apostle would automatically be a liar. If this is true, a critical search of these men's writings would also show lies being spoken, "...and hast found them liars" (Rev. 2:2).

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