1. Literally: One sent forth; a messenger. Specifically: One of the twelve disciples of Christ, specially chosen as his companions and witnesses, and sent forth to preach the gospel.
He called unto him his disciples, and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles. --Luke vi. 13.
Note: ☞ The title of apostle is also applied to others, who, though not of the number of the Twelve, yet were equal with them in office and dignity; as, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ.” --1 Cor. i. 1. In --Heb. iii. 1, the name is given to Christ himself, as having been sent from heaven to publish the gospel. In the primitive church, other ministers were called apostles --(Rom. xvi. 7).
2. The missionary who first plants the Christian faith in any part of the world; also, one who initiates any great moral reform, or first advocates any important belief; one who has extraordinary success as a missionary or reformer; as, Dionysius of Corinth is called the apostle of France, John Eliot the apostle to the Indians, Theobald Mathew the apostle of temperance.
3. Civ. & Admiralty Law A brief letter dimissory sent by a court appealed from to the superior court, stating the case, etc.; a paper sent up on appeals in the admiralty courts.
Apostles' creed, a creed of unknown origin, which was formerly ascribed to the apostles. It certainly dates back to the beginning of the sixth century, and some assert that it can be found in the writings of Ambrose in the fourth century.
Apostle spoon Antiq., a spoon of silver, with the handle terminating in the figure of an apostle. One or more were offered by sponsors at baptism as a present to the godchild.
n 1: an ardent early supporter of a cause or reform; "an apostle
2: any important early teacher of Christianity or a Christian
missionary to a people
3: (New Testament) one of the original 12 disciples chosen by
Christ to preach his gospel
a person sent by another; a messenger; envoy. This word is once
used as a descriptive designation of Jesus Christ, the Sent of
the Father (Heb. 3:1; John 20:21). It is, however, generally
used as designating the body of disciples to whom he intrusted
the organization of his church and the dissemination of his
gospel, "the twelve," as they are called (Matt. 10:1-5; Mark
3:14; 6:7; Luke 6:13; 9:1). We have four lists of the apostles,
one by each of the synoptic evangelists (Matt. 10:2-4; Mark
3:16; Luke 6:14), and one in the Acts (1:13). No two of these
lists, however, perfectly coincide.
Our Lord gave them the "keys of the kingdom," and by the gift
of his Spirit fitted them to be the founders and governors of
his church (John 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26, 27; 16:7-15). To them, as
representing his church, he gave the commission to "preach the
gospel to every creature" (Matt. 28:18-20). After his ascension
he communicated to them, according to his promise, supernatural
gifts to qualify them for the discharge of their duties (Acts
2:4; 1 Cor. 2:16; 2:7, 10, 13; 2 Cor. 5:20; 1 Cor. 11:2). Judas
Iscariot, one of "the twelve," fell by transgression, and
Matthias was substituted in his place (Acts 1:21). Saul of
Tarsus was afterwards added to their number (Acts 9:3-20; 20:4;
26:15-18; 1 Tim. 1:12; 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11).
Luke has given some account of Peter, John, and the two
Jameses (Acts 12:2, 17; 15:13; 21:18), but beyond this we know
nothing from authentic history of the rest of the original
twelve. After the martyrdom of James the Greater (Acts 12:2),
James the Less usually resided at Jerusalem, while Paul, "the
apostle of the uncircumcision," usually travelled as a
missionary among the Gentiles (Gal. 2:8). It was characteristic
of the apostles and necessary (1) that they should have seen the
Lord, and been able to testify of him and of his resurrection
from personal knowledge (John 15:27; Acts 1:21, 22; 1 Cor. 9:1;
Acts 22:14, 15). (2.) They must have been immediately called to
that office by Christ (Luke 6:13; Gal. 1:1). (3.) It was
essential that they should be infallibly inspired, and thus
secured against all error and mistake in their public teaching,
whether by word or by writing (John 14:26; 16:13; 1 Thess.
(4.) Another qualification was the power of working miracles
(Mark 16:20; Acts 2:43; 1 Cor. 12:8-11). The apostles therefore
could have had no successors. They are the only authoritative
teachers of the Christian doctrines. The office of an apostle
ceased with its first holders.
In 2 Cor. 8:23 and Phil. 2:25 the word "messenger" is the
rendering of the same Greek word, elsewhere rendered "apostle."