Difference between Apostle and Disciple

Apostle vs Disciple

The words apostle and disciple are often encountered in biblical study. Many treat apostles and disciples to be same and often use these words interchangeably. However, it is wrong and needs to be clarified. You ought to know the difference between an apostle and a disciple to have a clearer understanding of the concepts.

If you get to the Greek roots of the words apostle and disciple, the difference between the two becomes crystal clear. The Greek word for disciple literally means student while the Greek word for apostle means a messenger or sent one. If you study bible, you would come to know that disciples were followers or students of Christ. Out of his scores of followers, Jesus chose twelve to travel and learn from him. Of course these 12 were also originally Disciples of Christ. These were the men who were later sent to far off lands to act as messengers, and these 12 men became first apostles.

It is true that apostles were also disciples, but one cannot use the word apostle when he is referring to someone who has merely been a follower or a disciple of the Christ. So, not all of disciples were apostles though all apostles were disciples.

In his time, Jesus accepted all as his disciples and this huge population consisted of sinners and women which made purists angry. The word disciple comes from a Latin word discipulus which means a learner who learns from his teacher. An apostle on the other hand was, apart from being a follower of Jesus, a special trainee who was to be later sent out as messenger to preach Christianity. Interestingly, among the 12 that Jesus chose as apostles, there was Judas who betrayed Christ and later killed himself. Matthais replaced Judas and joined rest of the group to become an apostle.

In brief:

• Apart from the word disciple, there is also mention of the word apostles in Bible and people think of these two as being same which is not true.

• While it is true that Jesus chose 12 of his disciples to later on become messengers, not all disciples can be called apostles.