Why do Protestants call them the "12 Disciples"?

I was at a halloween party put on by a christian organization at my school and a few of my Newman Center friends came as Jesus and the 12 apostles. Anyway I was talking with a good friend of mine who’s not Catholic (I think she’s non denominational, or was then) and I told her that “It’s the 12 apostles”, and she replied “Oh you mean the 12 Disciples”. Is there are reason for the difference in terms? Why would some protestants call them “disciples” rather than “apostles”? is there a difference in the terms

I think in scripture they are referred to at first the 12 disciples and that is probably what she is going by. Remember that the term Apostle implies a succession which is broken or not recognized by Protestants. So they use disciples instead of Apostles which in probably their view, the 12 were the first followers of Jesus and there is not anything more than that. Of course, we as Catholics know that there were more disciples than the 12 and Jesus specifically choose these 12 out of the group of disciples following Him to build His Church upon and gave them authority and specifically Peter the Keys of the Kingdom. As a Protestant, you would not be recognizing this and just consider them the first disciples.

People mix up “apostle” and “disciple” all the time. She probably just got confused. Plus, people hear the term “disciple” more often, so they recognize it and use it.

In the Douay-Rheims, the term ‘Apostle’ is used:

1 time in the Gospels, by St. John.

In the plural form, the term ‘Apostles’ is used:

1 time by St. Matthew,
1 time by St. Mark,
7 times by St. Luke.

The term ‘Apostle’ is used:

17 times by St. Paul, and
2 times by St. Peter.

In the plural form it is used:

29 times times in Acts of the Apostles, used
17 times by St. Paul,
1 time by St. Peter,
1 time in Jude, and
2 times in Revelation.

In the Gospels, the term ‘disciple’ is used 23 times, and the term ‘disciples’ is used over 200 times. In Acts, the term ‘disciple’ is used 5 times, and the term ‘disciples’ is used 24 times.

Interesting question…I hear both terms used often by Protestants, but when I hear “Jesus and the twelve disciples” I tend to picture them all a bit younger, gathered around Jesus and following Him. For the “twelve Apostles”, I think of them as older, and “sent”, as I believe that’s what the word apostle means? I guess I would have tended to call the group of college aged students you saw “Jesus and the twelve disciples” too.

It is my understanding that while Christ was alive on earth, they were the 12 Disciples, after the Resurrection, they are the 12 Apostles.

Yes, that’s how I’m used to thinking about it, too.

Or, disciples=students; Apostles=teachers sent out to various places.

A Disciple follows. An Apostle is sent.

They were Apostles once they were sent out two by two by Jesus.

Jesus had multitudes of disciples, but only 12 apostles.

Fairly certain this girl just got confused, since it is fairly easy to get the two confused, and she was probably used to the other word.

She probably wasn’t confused. I was raised protestant and can only remember them being called disciples as well.

Our Lord Himself called them Apostles (Luke 6:13), but that raises them above the average believer, which is probably not a teaching of her community. Thus, “disciple” makes them basically an honored, older version of the average believer. It makes them more common, more relatable, like her pastor. However, it is also not consistent with Paul:

Ephesians 4:11-12
King James Version (KJV)
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”

I always considered the Apostles those that were chosen specifically by Jesus, so they were disciples and Apostles. I thought of everyone else (the ones that didn’t leave or turn away) as the disciples.

This is the way I always thought of it. I always thought the 12, plus Paul could be considered apostles, while everyone else were disciples. Also, does this depend on denomination? My mother is Lutheran and she referred to them as the Apostles. Is it more of an Evangelical thing to call them disciples compared to more Mainline churches

Luke 6:13 mentions that our Lord called them Apostles. However, at the time of His ascension, there were only 11. What now? Apostolic succession, which is intrinsic only to Apostolic Churches. Acts 1 describes the first order of business in the fledgling Church - replacing Judas. Peter, speaking for the Church, had the authority to call a replacement, an indicator that he acted in persona Christi, since Christ had called the 12.

How does the term “Apostle” imply a sucession? Apostle means witness…in Acts Matthais was chosen because he was a witness of the resurrection and had been with the company of disciples Jesus named apostles from the beginning.

Only if one adopts the belief of “succession” could it “imply” “sucession”. The word and useage implies no such thing.

Actually, it does not. Acts 1:12:26 not only implies, but specifies succession.

Get a better dictionary!

From the desktop dictionary of my iMac:
ORIGIN Old English apostol, via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek apostolos ‘messenger,’ from apostellein ‘send forth.’

He was chosen as an Apostle because he was a witness (Acts 1:22). “… and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:26)

How can someone NOT see succession in this? :confused: I think you are confusing his qualification for the office with the office for which he was qualified.

Rather, in recent times, some Christians have been forced to adopt a novel doctrine which denies apostolic succession in the face of clear scripture. By denying succession, you do realize that you risk offending every Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Patriarch, Metropolitan, Priest and parishioner on earth?

Apostles and Disciples are not mutually exclusive. Disciples are followers who learn from the one they follow. Sort of like a Jedi Padawan. The Apostles are, by all intents and purposes, Disciples of Christ. Though not all Disciples as we know became Apostles.

Both in Luke and Acts the same Greek word is used
652 apostolos {ap-os’-tol-os} from 649; TDNT - 1:407,67; n m 1) a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders 1a) specifically applied to the twelve apostles of Christ 1b) in a broader sense applied to other eminent Christian teachers 1b1) of Barnabas 1b2) of Timothy and Silvanus

Interestingly, the English word apostle according to Webster Middle English, from Anglo-French & Old English; Anglo-French apostle & Old English apostol, both from Late Latin apostolus, from Greek apostolos, from apostellein to send away, from apo- + stellein to send
First Known Use: before 12th century
At any rate both of these, say that apostle means one who is sent not witness.

Two were put forward to replace Judas. Matthias and Joseph called Barsabbas were chosen like you said because they had accompanied the others from the time that the Lord Jesus went in and went out among us beginning with the Baptism of John to the resurrection. The way it is stated there were more than two but that these were the two put forward and the lot fell on Matthias who then was numbered among the Apostles that is one who is sent forth with orders.

“Joseph called Barsab′bas, who was surnamed Justus” being the first explicit example. Acts 1:23

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