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Christianity /

Simon; also called Peter
John (two latter, the sons of Zebedee)
Matthew; also called Levi
James (son of Alphaeus)
Simon the Cananaean, or the Zealot
Thaddaeus; also called Judas, son of James

In Christianity, the central followers and missionaries after the death of Jesus Christ.
Apostle comes from the Greek, meaning "person sent".
There is often confusion about the distinction between 'disciple' and 'apostle. Mark 6:30 may offer the clearest distinction; the disciples were called apostles when preaching and healing on the command of Jesus. Depending on church traditions, apostle and disciple are used indiscriminately. Adding to the confusion, Luke 6:13 states that Jesus chose his 12 disciples, who also were known as apostles. This encyclopaedia will to the extent possible use 'disciple' for Jesus' followers while he was alive, and 'apostle' for his messengers after his death.
There were 12 individuals being the apostles after the death of Jesus Christ. These corresponded with the disciples, but the vacant position after Judas was filled by Matthias, apparently chosen by heavenly intervention, as told in Acts 1:26. Although not expressed, the number 12 appears to have been central, a reflection of among other things, the 12 tribes of Israel.
In addition to the apostles originating from the closest followers of Jesus, the New Testament indicates the use of 'apostle' also for others. This is especially the case with St. Paul, who had never met Jesus but converted in 33, just a few years after the death of Jesus. Paul's claim to be an apostle was based on his having seen Jesus in a revelation and received his commission. Among the others called apostles, there was no clear background. Apostle was also used to designate a high administrative or ecclesiastical officer.

By Tore Kjeilen