Disciple or Apostle, what is the difference? (Acts 1:21-26)

Have you ever wondered what the difference between a disciple and an apostle is?  Today  we will look at the difference between the two.

First we must look at what a disciple is.  The Apostles were called disciples before they were called Apostles.  Bill Bright from Campus Crusade for Christ had a great definition of a disciple.  Mr. Bright says that, “A disciple is one who loves God, our Lord Jesus Christ, with all his heart, soul, and mind, and tries to become more and more like him through a life of faith and obedience.”  Another description of a disciple is a student of Jesus. You and I could be called disciples of Jesus.

In the passage today we see the qualifications of an apostle.  Peter stood up and reminded the people about the tragedy of Judas.  Right after he reminded them of Judas, he makes a motion that someone fill the vacancy left by Judas.  Peter then told them of the qualifications of an Apostle.

1)Must have followed Jesus from the time of John’s baptism.

2)They must have seen the resurrected Jesus and His ascension.

What about the Apostle Paul?  He did not serve in the ministry of Jesus from the time of John’s baptism until the time of the ascension?  The list above was the qualifications to replace Judas as one of the original twelve.  If we look at Romans 1:1 we can see the definition the Apostle Paul gives us.  “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God”

If we look at the definition given in Romans it is one who is separated for the gospel of God.  Some believe the difference between a disciple and an apostle is the disciple is one who is a student of the Lord and tries to be more like Christ and an apostle is someone who is set apart to spread the Gospel (Missionary).  Some others believe that an apostle is someone who has seen Jesus in person.

We need not to get caught up in titles.  We should all be disciples of Jesus and doing the work of an evangelist.  With whichever definition you feel most comfortable with, we must agree you have to be a disciple before an apostle.

Justus and Matthias are the two candidates up for the replacement of Judas.  We do not know much of Justus and Matthias, but they must have been two well qualified individuals.  They must have beens so close that Peter and the people there that day had to cast lots.  The lots were cast for Matthias.  The casting of lots was used to determine the will of God before the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost.  Since the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost there is not a need to cast lots to find the will of God any longer.  He reveals it to us through scripture and the Holy Spirit.

If people were to examine your life, would they call you a disciple of Jesus?