Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Apostle (Christian)

The term apostle is derived from Classical Greek ἀπόστολος (apóstolos), meaning "one who is sent away", from στέλλω ("stello", "send") + από (apo, "away from"). The literal meaning in English is therefore an "emissary", from the Latin mitto ("send") and ex ("from"). The purpose of such "sending away" (not strictly "forth" which implies "forward", πρό (pró in Greek), and pro in Latin) is to convey messages. Thus "a messenger" is a common alternative translation, but distinguished from Greek: ἄγγελος ("angel" or "messenger").

In the case of the Christian apostles, the message they were sent away to convey was very broadly the message of the "good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ", and they were sent away by Jesus to the Jews in Matthew 10 (see also Matthew 10), as the following quote from verses 1 to 7 reveals:

:"And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.: Now the names of the twelve apostles are these:...These twelve Jesus sent forth and commanded them, saying, go not into the way of the Gentiles and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not : but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel And as ye go preach saying 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand'"

Before their sending away the Twelve had been mere "Disciples", from Latin discipulus, one who learns, from disco, to learn. This event was for them thus a form of graduation, when they stepped-up from being students to teachers. Shaliah is a comparable Hebrew term of the Greek word apostle. Jesus is stated in the Bible to have had twelve apostles who by the Great Commission spread the message of the Gospel to all nations after his resurrection. There is also an orthodox tradition derived from the Gospel of Luke of Seventy Apostles.