February 9, 2011
Apostle or Disciple - What’s the Difference?
The terms “apostle” and “disciple” are often used interchangeably. There is a difference. An apostle, if the definition is taken from the Greek root, is one who is sent forth as a messenger. The word disciple refers to a follower or a student. Basically, while all apostles are disciples, all disciples are not apostles. In fact, many apostles had disciples. The terms disciple and apostle imply different roles and responsibilities within the Church.
The twelve original disciples are considered to be apostles. They were chosen by Christ to spread the gospel following the crucifixion. Does this mean that the term apostle may only apply to the twelve original and immediate followers of Christ? Not necessarily, Saint Patrick, who died in 493, is called the Apostle of Ireland in honor for his missionary work. Saint Paul and other early Christians that spread the faith are also honored with the title apostle.