Is Paul an Apostle?


I am confused if Paul is an apostle. I read in acts that the 11 choose Mathias to replace Judas so why do we call Paul and Apostle?


I asked a similar question, kinda knew the answer, but wanted expanding thoughts, but here’s my two cents.

¢1 - Matthias was chosen by the 11 Apostles to replace Iscariot to complete the Twelve.
¢2 - Paul was chosen by Jesus NOT to be of the Twelve, but the Apostle to the Gentiles.

The Twelve Apostles had their job, the Apostle Paul had another.

:slight_smile: Hope that helped.


Because he is :slight_smile:

Not one of the 12 but yes he is an Apostle (sent by Christ himself)


Apostle (in Greek apostolos) simply means “one who is sent out” (apostellō) on an errand - an emissary. Part of the confusion is that the different authors of the NT use the word differently from each other: the gospels, for instance, seem use apostolos in a narrow sense, restricting its usage to refer to the Twelve, while St. Paul and the author of Hebrews generally tend to use it in a broad sense - so Paul could apply the title ‘apostle’ to himself and others who are clearly not part of the Twelve (say, Barnabas, Apollos or even Andronicus and Junia) and the author of Hebrews could say that Jesus is “the apostle and high priest of our confession.” Note that in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 Paul even seems to distinguish between “the twelve” and “all the apostles.”


There are several different senses in which the word “apostle” is used, but even in the more restricted sense Paul and often Barnabas are generally included in addition to the Eleven and Matthias.

It may be no more than a coincidence, but it strikes me as interesting that as there were really 13 or 14 Apostles, though we usually speak of twelve, similarly there were really 13 or 14 Israelite tribes though again we usually speak of there having been twelve. In both instances there was an original group of twelve people who are the basis for the traditional division into twelve, but then through different circumstances we ended up with a larger final count. And in fact (though it complicates this pattern I’ve been talking about by reducing the number of tribes to 12 or 13) if we take the book of Revelation’s list of tribes then Dan (the most famously idolatrous tribe) ceases to be counted similar to how Judas Iscariot was part of the original Twelve but in the end is never counted as an Apostle.


Or in ordinary terms (though not perfect terminology, but to get the point), he was a bishop. He was ordained along with Barnabas in Acts 13 1-3.


Not one of the 12 but yes he is an Apostle (sent by Christ himself)


Matt 28:16 Christ commissioned 11

Matthias was elected after the Ascension to replace Judas.

So only 12 Apostles were commissioned by Christ? yes?


Well, Matthias was a close disciple of Christ from the beginning and was a witness to the Resurrection, which is why he was one of the two who were pre-selected, and then the casting of lots was seen as divine approval of his replacing Judas as one of the Twelve. I therefore think that if the other apostles were here they would argue against viewing Matthias as a sort of second-class apostle.

As for Barnabas, his place among these others is much less clear except from Church tradition, including liturgical tradition, treating him as an Apostle. Other important New Testament figures like Luke or John Mark did not get this treatment. Perhaps there is a story behind that which was not recorded in the Bible, or maybe it is just due to his close association with Paul’s early ministry. Really Barnabas seems to have been if anything the early leader of the evangelical effort which Paul later came to be the most prominent part of.


No question with what you are saying about Matthias and Barnabas.:slight_smile:

I’m glad that Luke, in his endeavor to get accurate witness included the believed ‘interview’ with BVM. As a side note didn’t John Mark get “the boot” from Paul?

I was looking specifically as “one who is sent out” (implicitly by Christ) which would be the 11 plus Paul.

Your other accounts are probably more accurate by Tradition and ECF writings. I’ll stick with my 12 including Paul.:smiley:


while St. Paul and the author of Hebrews generally tend to use it in a broad sense - so Paul could apply the title ‘apostle’ to himself and others who are clearly not part of the Twelve (say, Barnabas, Apollos or even Andronicus and Junia)

Do you think Andronicus and Junia were Apostles?

Note that in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 Paul even seems to distinguish between “the twelve” and “all the apostles.”

That is a beautifull paragraph. :thumbsup:


The text could be read in two ways: either as Andronicus and Junia being “prominent among” or being “well known to” the apostles. But even if somehow the former reading is correct IMHO it wouldn’t be inconsistent with Paul’s rather broad usage of the word “apostle.”


Well put. Thanks


I posted on this in the thread:

Basically I said that Matthias was elected by the Apostles to the office of bishop that Judas vacated. He is the first bishop and therefore he is the first in the succession of bishops from the Apostles. Paul is the twelfth Apostle chosen and sent by Christ. The New Testament calls him an Apostle no less than ten times.


Hey bro!
I know we’ve been through this. But I honestly believe you are mixing the core twelve with the other Apostles who are sent by Jesus. There was a reason for the specific number of twelve. I even believe Matthias was an Apostle before he was appointed to the core twelve. The twelve seems to be more like Cardinals.

ezeekl, consider the 70 in Luke 10!



Let’s review how Paul uses the word apostolos first, shall we?

For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.

(1 Thessalonians 2:1-7)


I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger (ymon apostolon) and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill.

(Philippians 2:25-26)


Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, and our brother Sosthenes,
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(1 Corinthians 1:1-3)

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

(1 Corinthians 3:18-4:13)

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

This is my defense to those who would examine me. Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?

(1 Corinthians 9:1-7)


Paul’s apostleship began pretty ordinary, though lastly since Jesus appeared after his visit with everyone else. Yet, the grace he was given, he embraced greatly! He grew in grace, through suffering greatly. He offerred more of himself than was required…therefore his reward was great. Even the last can be greater than the first. Even a simple laity can rebuke or correct the actions of a pope. God shows no partiality.


Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

(1 Corinthians 12:27-31)

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

(1 Corinthians 15:3-11)


Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—and all the brothers who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

(Galatians 1:1-5)

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!)

(Galatians 1:15-20)


Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(2 Corinthians 1:1-2)

But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord. With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel. And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will. We take this course so that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us, for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man. And with them we are sending our brother whom we have often tested and found earnest in many matters, but who is now more earnest than ever because of his great confidence in you. As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches (apostoloi ekklēsiōn), the glory of Christ. So give proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you to these men.

(2 Corinthians 8:16-24 ESV)



I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!

And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

(2 Corinthians 11:1-15)

I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!

(2 Corinthians 12:11-13)


Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Romans 1:1-7)

Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

(Romans 11:13-16)

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to [or “prominent among”] the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.

(Romans 16:7 ESV)


That’s not all of St. Paul’s letters, but you would notice some things here:

(1) It is believed that 1 Thessalonians and Philippians are the earliest of Paul’s letters to be written. Note that in these letters he does not still identify himself as “apostle” in the opening greeting, although in 1 Thessalonians 2:6 he already identifies himself, along with Silvanus and Timothy (cf. 1:1), to be one of the “apostles of Christ.”

(2) In Philippians 2:25-26 Paul uses apostolos to refer to Epaphroditus, “your messenger (ymon apostolon) and minister to my need.” Similarly in 2 Corinthians 8 he identifies Titus’ unnamed companions (“our brothers”) as “messengers of the churches (apostoloi ekklēsiōn), the glory of Christ.”

(3) In 1 Corinthians 4 Paul speaks of “us apostles.” In context (chapters 3-4), he had been talking about himself, Cephas (=Peter) and Apollos.

(4) In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul is at pains to emphasize that he is an apostolos - apparently there were people in Corinth who disputed Paul’s claim to be one. He then apparently gives his working definition of the requirements to be considered an apostolos: having seen (the resurrected?) Jesus and to have founded a church by the preaching of the Gospel, both of which he claims to have satisfied. He then rhetorically asks whether he has a right to take a sister-wife “as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas.” In the next sentence he then refers to “Barnabas and I” - in context we might infer that for Paul, apparently Barnabas is an apostolos too.

(5) In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul distinguishes between “Cephas and the twelve” and “James and all the apostles.” So at least in this case, “the apostles” are not necessarily “the twelve.” Finally he adds: “Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.” We see here the same two criteria as in chapter 9: his having seen the risen Lord and the effectiveness of his ministry.

(6) At the beginning of Galatians Paul specifically says that he was an apostle “not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.” After he claims God called him to preach to gentiles (here he is again at pains to highlight the divine source of his call), he did not meet up with anyone, not even “those who were apostles before me” in Jerusalem. He did go to Jerusalem three years later and met up with two apostoloi: Cephas and “James the Lord’s brother.” In the next chapter he mentions the criteria by which “the pillars” recognized him as an apostle:

[INDENT]Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

(Galatians 2:1-10)

From all of the above texts we can draw out what for Paul qualifies one (such as himself) to be an apostolos of Jesus: (1) to have seen the risen and glorified Christ; (2) to have received from Him a mission to preach the gospel; (3) to have one’s ministry confirmed by its fruitfulness.

(7) In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul compares himself with the man he calls “super-apostles” and “false apostles.” Here he bases his claim to be even more a “minister of Christ” than they are on the far greater sufferings he has undergone in his missionary work. So we see another of what for Paul is a requirement to be/a sign of a genuine apostolos: having toiled and suffered a lot for preaching the message. In the following chapter (12:12) he speaks of “the signs of a true apostle,” which the Corinthians had witnessed in his ministry to them: “signs and wonders and mighty works,” which “were performed among [them] with utmost patience.” He then indulges in a little sarcastic humor while denying that he had been financially dependent on the Corinthians - as these super-apostles apparently were (11:7-15; cf. 2:17): “For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you [financially]? Forgive me this wrong!”[/INDENT]


(8) In Romans Paul presents himself as “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,” declaring that “through [Christ] he have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.” Here we see that Paul’s credentials include both the source and the goal of his apostleship. Finally, at the end of the gospel, he greets certain people, among whom are “Andronicus and Junia” (some manuscripts have Junias - a male name - here, but the early manuscripts, the testimony of the Fathers, and the simple fact that “Junias” wasn’t really a proper name in those days all attest in support of identifying a female Junia here), which Paul says are episēmoi en tois apostolois. The phrase is a little obscure and can be understood either as “outstanding/prominent among the apostles” or “well known to the apostles.” If we follow the former reading, at least these two are for Paul also apostoloi.

So to repeat, when Paul emphasizes that he is an apostle, he almost always takes pains to say that he had fulfilled all these requirements: to have seen the risen Jesus, to have received a task from Him (apostolos = “one sent on an errand”!) to preach the gospel, to have had his preaching confirmed by signs and wonders, to have it marked by success and at the same time hardships and suffering. Evidently Paul’s opponents - the “super-apostles” also claimed to meet the criteria of apostleship, to which Paul responded that whatever criteria one could claim, he himself had them to a higher degree and, in addition, could claim his many sufferings for the gospel - a requirement which probably only he employed. All these elements for Paul make him a legit “apostle.”

That being said, there is a possibility that Paul also used the term in a more generic sense to refer to Christian missionaries who do not meet the above criteria he claims to meet (i.e. having seen the risen Jesus or being sent directly by Him). For instance, Paul’s possible inclusion of Silvanus and Timothy (named in the beginning of the letter) among the “apostles of Christ” in 1 Thessalonians 2. Likewise, “the rest of the apostles” in 1 Corinthians 9 might include missionaries not sent directly by the risen Christ. In the same context, Paul names Barnabas as an apostle with the same rights as himself. While Barnabas belonged to the community at Jerusalem, it is not entirely certain that he was among “all the apostles” to whom the Lord directly appeared. There’s also Andronicus and Junia, if indeed Paul identifies them as “apostles:” they were probably Hellenist Jews and perhaps were not members of the Jerusalem Church during the early period of the appearances of the risen Christ.

In 1 Corinthians 12:28 Paul names “apostles” as the first among those gifted with charisms, whom God has designated for service in the Church. Under this idea, Paul is using the word in a very broad sense here: missionaries designated for this work by the charism God had given them - not necessarily eyewitnesses to the risen Jesus. So it is suggested in conclusion that at first, Paul used “apostle” in a very wide sense: “missionary founders of churches.” Then, when Paul’s ‘apostolicity’ was challenged, he in turn insisted on the more demanding qualifications that made him a true “apostle of Jesus Christ:” namely that he had seen the risen Jesus and was directly sent by Him. So what does this mean? Paul isn’t very consistent on his usage of the term.

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