How Many Apostles in the New Testament–12 or 25?

How Many Apostles?

How Many Apostles?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many apostles are explicitly mentioned in the pages of the New Testament?

A common misconception pervades many minds these days:  “There were 12 apostles—the twelve who followed Jesus.  Judas dropped out and was replaced by Paul.”  However, as strange as it may seem to some, there are as many as 25 apostles explicitly mentioned in the pages of the New Testament.

How Many Apostles?

Let’s start counting. Yes, there were the twelve chosen by Jesus.  Eleven are named in Acts 1:13, “Peter and John, and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. “  Judas Iscariot, one of the original twelve, the one who betrayed Jesus, is not named in that list. That’s the original twelve.  Then add Matthias who replaced Judas Iscariot to become one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Acts 1:26).    “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:14).  When we include both Judas and Matthias the total is now thirteen.

We know additional apostles besides these men exist because Christ, after His ascension, appointed “some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers .  .  .  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).  Are we there yet?  Have we all attained to the unity of the faith?  Or mature manhood?  Or the fullness of Christ?  Clearly, the apostolic ministry will continue until Christ returns!

An investigation of the Scripture reveals several individuals in addition to the original twelve who are explicitly referred to as apostles.  We might call them “apostles of the throne“, “apostles of the Lamb” or “ascension-gift apostles.”  A complete listing of New Testament apostles follows.

James, the half brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem church—Galatians 1:19

Barnabas–Acts 14:14

Paul–Acts 14:14 and many other references

Apollos– Corinthians 4:6-9

Timothy and Silvanus– I Thessalonians 1:1 and 2:6

Epaphroditus–Philippians 2:25.  While the King James Version translates the word as “messenger”, the Greek word (apostolon) is actually “apostle”.

Two unnamed apostles–Second Corinthians 8:23. A brother of fame among the churches, and a brother tested–“As for our brethren, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ.” Again, the Greek word is “apostoloi” but is translated here as “messengers”.

These nine now make  a total of 22 (13 + 9 = 22).

Andronicus and Junia–Romans 16:7   “Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.”  Were these genuine apostles or were they, as some (Charles Ryrie and others) translate, “well-known to the apostles”? If we count Andronicus and Junia, the total jumps to 24.

How Many Apostles?

Finally, Hebrews 3:1 designates Jesus Christ the “Apostle and High Priest of our profession.” That makes 25 apostles in the New Testament!

For more intriguing insights about apostles, come to Churches and Apostles. This info could make a whale of a difference in the Kingdom of God today.

Comments

  1. kraig desmedt says:

    In my King James Version Bible says in second Corinthians 8:23 that Titus is the apostle, and his name is not unknown, and apostle Paul is the writer on second Corinthians. So I’m assuming your going by a different translation that’s not the KJV, all the more why I will go by the KJV no matter what cause seems to me every other translations have words added or taken away from the Word of God, and if you are going by the KJV then forgive me but you might want to re-look over a few things

    • Dear Brother Kraig,

      Thanks you so much for your words. You have caused me to search deeper and for a moment I wondered if I had missed something. Let’s check it out again. Paul is mentioning 3 fellows–Titus (his partner and fellow worker) and 2 other brothers. Both of the other brethren are messengers (Gr: apostoloi) of the churches. This passage does not say yea or nay about Titus being an apostle.

      Both the KJV and the NASB agree on this.

      23 Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ. KJV

      23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ. NASB

      Please write again. Your comments will be helpful.
      Thank you, Mark

      • Just came across this>
        while I appreciate the distinction made with Titus, “…..Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: ….” as NOT being an apostle ; base on this logic, then Andronicus and Junias are also NOT apostles. That makes the count 23 rather than 25 and since Jesus is above all and in whom we all exist and have our being, no need to put Jesus as an apostle with the others; it makes the count 22 instead.
        Can you elaborate further.

        • Hey wit,
          Thanks for your comments.
          I simply included the people expressly termed apostles in the pages of the NT. At least we both see there were more than 12 apostles!

          • If ‘Paul, Barnabus & Silas (Silvanus)’ made the list of apostles; can we also include ‘Judas surnamed Barsabus’ to the list according to Acts 15:22? Keep up the great work! 🙂

          • Judas called Barsabbas is one of the leading men among the brethren according to Acts 15:22, but he is nowhere called an apostle. In fact, in Acts 15:32 this same Judas is referred to as a prophet. Thanks for our thoughts.

    • Apostles had to be eyewitnesses to the resurrection? As shown when they replaced Judas. 15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples…21 “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”

      • Hi Darryl, I know many teach the “must be eyewitnesses of the resurrection” idea. But think again. Was Apollos an eyewitness? Was young Timothy?

        • Hi Darryl,
          I appreciate you for the noble work of searching Scriptures. And you are absolutely right that Judas was not replaced by Paul. You ask, “Was Timothy an apostle?” When we read 1 Thessalonians 1:1 together with 1 Thessalonians 2:6 we find both Timothy and Silvanus are included as apostles.

          God bless you as we all continue seeking truth in love,
          Mark

        • Both Peter and Paul identified the requirements for being a “true Apostle” (2 Cor. 12:12) of which swing the Risen Christ was required (Acts 1:21-22, 1 Cor. 9:1).

          Now, the question is this: does the word apostle (ἀπόστολος) always refer to those specifically specifically to lead the new church, as Apostles, or does it also refer to men in the general idea of an envoy/delegate, as we are all apostles of Christ in that sense?

          The 13 true Apostles authority directly from Christ, while the other variously named apostles had their authority from the Apostles.

          • Perhaps we have all missed an important point.

            2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

            The concept of “apostles” is not fully explained in the bible, and we really have no business guessing and arguing. If it pertained unto life and godliness, it would have been explained more fully.

            The most important application of this study is to correct bumbling people who think there is something spiritual about twelve leaders of this or that group.

          • Your call for humility is well taken. God bless you.

          • Hi Matthew,
            Thanks for your comment. We need to remember Christ arose. As the ascended Christ and Head of the Church, He appointed some as apostles . . . . (Ephesians 4:11ff). These are generally called the ascension gift apostles and of course, receive their authority directly from Him.

          • Hi Mark,

            You kind of ran around the point I was making in your reply.

            Yes, the men Gifted as Apostles to the church are part of the ascension gifts, which was Dr.instated early in the infancy of the church, namely Acts 2. Those 12, plus Paul, were the foundational gifting to the church as Apostles, taking their authority directly from the Risen Christ (in person , as it were. He called the original 12 such, then Judas was replaced by Matthias according to prophecy to fill his spot among the 11. Paul was later added to that group. Outside of those 13 Apostles, we have no other accounting of being directly ordained by Christ, in person, and meeting the requirements of a true Apostle. This is the difference between Apostle and apostle.

            If we assume that everyone who is called an apostle is one gifted to the church and equal with and counted among the aforementioned 13, then we have women (at least two depending on how one translates the Greek) who have authority over men in the church. This would vitae Paul’s basic prohibition of women’s role in the church, namely they are not to have (usurp) the role of authority (primarily in teaching) over men. As an Apostle has the Authority if Christ backing him, this would mean they are the authority in all church areas (teaching, correction, discipline, etc.) directly Under Christ, our Head.

            Was Barnabas and Apostle, or an apostle who was sent out from Antioch to be a missionary evangelist (another of the “Ascension Gifts”)? If he was merely commissioned to represent the church as an ambassador (or sent out one) then he is actually at the third rung of authority in the church, under Apostle first, then Prophet, and a step above the pastor-teacher (the fourth and lowest rung of authority).

            A careful study of Paul’s letters will show that when he identifies himself, he mentions that he is a called Apostle. Yethe does not use the word Apostle to identify his co-laborers as such. He uses many others, but never Apostle, or even apostle, to identify them. One might ask if this was to keep anyone from misidentifying them as part of that upper tier authority of men gifted to the church.

            Note that I am not saying there are not men who are called “apostle”, only that I do not believe that there are more then 13 men called as Apostle, the gifting to the church of men with the most authority within the church who were the foundation upon which we have our doctrines, who themselves are built upon our chief cornerstone, Christ.

            Matthew

    • Mary Magdalena gets some attention in the pages of the New Testament. However, she is never considered to be an apostle. I list only those explicitly mentioned as apostles.

      Thanks for your question.

  2. Simple and clear. At this point in my walk with Christ, I believe the surest sign of a humble and useful intellect in Christ is the living communication of truth, as opposed to an autopsy of Scripture. Refreshing article. Glad to have found this. – Jp

  3. Hi, I desire to subscribe for this blog to take latest updates, thus
    where can i do it please assist.

    • Hi Mona,
      Thanks for your inquiry. At the top of the blog there is a sign up form. It’s right under “Receive Goodies in your inbox. . . ” Just enter your first name and then your email, then click on the red GO button.

      Do it soon because the article will be changed shortly.
      Mark

  4. I came across your article as I have been studying what is an Apostle lately. Two thoughts I have. Is being an apostle “fathering” according to scripture? I’ve often heard that being an apostle and fathering are inter-changeable. I am not sure that being an apostle according to definition is fathering but what about in the way apostles are presented? Is the nature of an apostle what we refer to as fathering? Then the 2nd thought is if an apostle is about fathering then can woman be apostles also? I am Interested to hear your thoughts. I would guess woman not being apostles is the ideal because a of what Paul said “A woman should not have authority over a man” and being a father expresses authority. Anyhow I do not want to look too deep or come to such an early conclusion just trying to sort out my thoughts! Thanks for your reply.

    • Hi Erik,
      Yes, the idea of “fathering” can help us understand the nature of apostolic calling, but an apostle is more than that. Some veteran apostle’s comments that are published on this site will offer further insight.

      It looks like you have a keen mind and searching heart. God bless you, Erik.

  5. goodday.I’m just curious in the teaching of my ptr that says we are an apostolic believer.founded in apostles teaching .therefore we should follow them because the Lord Jesus appointed peter in matt. 16:15-19.also when it comes to baptism.(acts 2:38) and not matt.28:18..I just want to be guided and know the truth. Thank you.

    • Hello lolit,

      Sorry for the late reply. I’m still learning how to use WordPress. I admit I’m unclear about your question. Please write again and let me know what you’re asking. God Bless you, Mark.

  6. when were the first people baptized in the name of the Father, Son and holy ghost?

  7. Hi B Mark Anderson. I find your article to be intriguing. However, I have one question for you. Are there any apostles living among us today?

    • Hi Corey,

      I’m sorry that I failed to answer your question “Are there any apostles alive today?” Yes, some have even endorsed my book Local Churches Global Apostles: How Churches Related to Apostles in the NT Era and Why It Matters Now. I recently returned from Mexico where a noted apostle named Jairo Carbojal works.

  8. Hi B Mark Anderson. It’s me again. I apologize for the question. I’ll just read your article on Modern Day Apostles, Do They Exist Today…
    Thanks

  9. How about the 72? Just a thought?

    Luke 9:1-2,6,10, 10:1,17,10, NIV – (1) When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them POWER AND AUTHORITY to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, (2) and he sent them out [Greek = “apostled them”] to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. … (6) So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere. … (10) When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. … (10:1) After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others [72 OTHER “WHATS”?] and sent them [Greek = “apostled them”] two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. … (17) The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” … (19) I have given you AUTHORITY to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power [thus they were given power] of the enemy; nothing will harm you.

    The 72 were “apostled” just like the 12, and they were given power and authority just like the twelve.

    • HI David,
      Thanks for the note. You seem to be a really good Bible student.
      The word “apostle” is used in the NT in a couple of different ways. It’s true the root of the word means to be “sent out.” In that sense we are all apostles.

      Then there is the use of the word to mean a specific calling in ministry. Check 1 Cor 12:27,28, 29 and Ephesians 4:11 and 12. I am using the term “apostle” not in the general sense, but in the restricted sense that refers to the ministry office of apostle.

      God bless you,
      Mark

  10. Matthew says:

    An apostle is one who is sent out. It is also the term used if ambassadors, as they are sent out from and by the king (president, etc.). As such, all who are in Christ are, in fact, apostles, because we are all sent out by Christvto be his witnesses.

    Paul, however, distinguishes between those gited to the church with apostleship, those who are called aposltes because they are sent out by the church, and a true Apostle. The listing of Apostles in Acts 1 are this if the true Apostle classification. Mathias was added to that list as a mandate/fulfilment of prophecy. Paul was also added to that list by Christ himself, yet is normally keot separate from the remaining 12 post-Judas. Thus, there were 12 Apostles, as Christ identified them before his death, burial and resurrection, and there are 13 that are considered “true Apostles” after Christ Ascension.

    The gift if apostleship given to the church in Eph. 4 may simply mean the 12 from Acts and Paul. Their authority was pivitol in the founding of the early church. As to the other apostles (with a lower case a) were those that were commissioned and sent out as representatives of the church. As to James the Son of Joseph and half-brither of Jesus, while he was counted as part of the post-Ascension 12, there is debate as to whether he is rightly part of the “true Apostle” crowd.

  11. L. Mills says:

    Hmm. No mention of the fact that Junia is a woman’s name, therefore we had at least one female apostle? Tsk, tsk. Good job otherwise though.

  12. I have a question. So there were 12 Apostles plus Paul as I would define capital A apostles. In Revelation 21 it speaks of the 12 foundations and on them were the 12 names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb. So … who is it excluding? Being Paul came later would he not be included in this?
    Thank you so much.

    • Hi Donna, thanks for your question. Generally, we distinguish between the 12 apostles of the Lamb and the Ascension-gift apostles. Ascension apostles are those Jesus chooses as ascended Head and Lord over the church. These include Paul, Timothy, Barnabas and all apostles throughout the history of the church. Please refer to Ephesians 4:7 and following.
      Is this helpful?

  13. Andrew Hash says:

    I agree with Matthew. Keep in mind that the disciples of Christ were His appointed apostles. While Judas was a disciple, I do not believe he was an apostle. Matthias took Judas’ place as apostle since he committed suicide after selling Jesus out.

  14. We personally know over 90 people who confess to an apostolic call from the Lord Jesus. Many of these people were rejected by the denominational church, because the denominational church system doesn’t often believe in modern-day Apostles. The usual Sunday morning service is so organized, there is no room for the Holy Spirit to speak spontaneously, resulting in unheard utterance from someone who may in fact be an ordained-by-Jesus Apostle. But, that said, we believe in Eph 4:11-16—-that Jesus truly will build His church and probably use this 5-fold ministry along the way, which includes Apostles. He will accomplish His plan—not self-styled false Apostles, of which there are many, but Jesus Himself, speaking through humble people.

  15. We’d like to go on record for saying when we studied the scriptures to uncover Apostles, our list numbered 28. We included 3 (that weren’t on Brother Mark’s list) because they were sent —Strong’s #649 Apostello): Tychicus (II Tim 4:12); Erastus (Acts 19:22) and one Judas Barsabas (Acts 15:22 and 27, who appears to be a different person from the Judas of the original 12). We believe in Eph 4:11-16 and look to the fulfillment of this prophecy.

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  1. […] How do we find a definition of what is an apostle? The Scriptures are the only way. With the emergence of modern day apostles there’s a lot of confusion in some peoples minds. Some well-meaning Christians don’t recognize any apostles except the twelve originals in the Bible. However, there may be as many as 25 apostles mentioned in the Bible. […]

  2. […] are specifically designated as apostles in the New Testament? To many it comes as a surprise that 25 individuals are mentioned as apostles in the pages of the New Testament! Imagine—twenty five apostles! This eye-opener paves the way […]

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