These were the apostles of Christ, the ones who would cut the path, lay out the teaching, and publish the word of God.
These were the hand chosen apostles of Christ. And if you searched the Bible from end to end you would only find fourteen names that were called to be the chosen apostles of Christ. You will then find only an additional two names mentioned as general apostles, or apostles to or from the churches in Jerusalem and Antioch (to be precise), and these men did not have the same charge or qualifications as did the first group. There is one name among the fourteen who also did not have the exact same qualifications as the other 13, but who was chosen directly yet for other reasons, though with a very similar calling. Finally, you may find the word “apostle” (one sent out) used to describe the work of a few other men in some places in the scriptures, but you will not find it given as a title except to those on this very short list just mentioned.
It has been said that there is only a little information in the scriptures concerning who these men were. That is true. As there is so little known we sometimes act as if there were nothing at all. In light of this we don’t spend a lot of time studying the information that is available, and as such we tend to ignore the purpose, the work, and what is given on the path and the examples left to us by the apostles. That is not particularly useful, and due to ignorance on the history of the calling and work of these men, we seem to tolerate a fair amount of false teaching and misinformation.
So then, the purpose of this next set of essays will be to explore the calling, purpose, and duty of the apostles as it was laid out in the word of God. In the second essay I will do little but print some text which identifies the first twelve men and the replacement of Judas. We will add to the information as we go onward.
These men were chosen ones: the messengers and ambassadors of Christ. They were the hands into which the pen was set to produce the majority of the written record of the New Testament. They were the first “earthen vessels” given God’s plan for humankind, and they are those who published the gospel plan of salvation into the world. They spread the word.
The scriptures tell of Paul and Peter and give us insight into their character through the writings and stories as to the kind of men they were — but what of the others? What of Andrew, of Simon the Zealot, of Judas the other, the one known as Jude? What kind of men were these and what kind of men did they end up becoming? Did they fulfill their charge? All of these are valid inquiries and will be taken up in time.