The Apostles... How Many Were There?
The Twelve Apostles
by Pastor Bob Leib
“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; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent forth….” (Matthew 10:1-5a)
Twelve Minus One
“And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James." [Note: This Judas could of been Thaddaeus (Luke 6) or Simon the Canannite. (Matthew 10; Mark 3) These verses only list 10 Apostles.] "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” (Acts 1:13-14. See; Luke 24:9, 33) Judas Iscariot is missing from this list, and needs to be replaced...
The Qualification for an Apostle was laid out in
Acts chapter one.
“And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection." (Acts 1:15-22)
Twelve Plus One
"And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:23-26)
Note: These were Jewish Apostles—following in Jewish/Apostolic truth (Acts 2:42. See; Acts 15), who were waiting for the imminent return of the Lord from Glory, to set up His Kingdom–-a literal, physical, visible, JEWISH kingdom on Earth—The Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 25) If the Jewish leaders would have accepted their Messiah, He would have returned, immediately. (See; Acts 7:56)
Twelve Minus One—AGAIN
“Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.” (Acts 12:1-2)
Since Herod killed James the brother of John, there was one less Apostle. If there was one less Apostle, when was he replaced? NEVER! There is no such thing as apostolic succession, either for AUTHORITY or POWER. Even though Judas Iscariot was replaced in Acts one, once the original Apostles died off, no more were added. Notice: No NEW Apostle replaced James.
"And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." (1 Corinthians 12:28)
“And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;…” (Ephesians 2:20
“Wherefore he saith , When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended , what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:…” (Ephesians 4:8-13) The Lord gave gifts unto men. The first group, were the Apostles.)
BUT, we cannot IGNORE ACTS CHAPTER 15:13
“And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me….”
If James the son of Zebedee, brother of John, is dead (Acts 12:2), WHO IS THE JAMES OF ACTS 15:13?
Galatians 1:19 has the answer…
“But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.”
This James was flesh brother to The Lord Jesus. [“…James the son of Alphaeus…” is a different James. (Luke 6:15)]
“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” (Mark 6:3-4)
This was not a cousin, as some say, because, in the same text, the word “cousin” was available to use.
“And, behold, thy COUSIN Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.” (Luke 1:36)
Could this be why JAMES receives a special revelation of the resurrection of Jesus, mentioned in I Corinthians 15:7?
“After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.” [These were the Disciples of I Corinthians 15:5, who saw him right AFTER His resurrection—as the Disciples (Mark 16), and, right before His ascension into Heaven—as the Apostles. (Acts 1:2) Note: The term, “Disciple” could refer to the 12, or ALL the followers of Jesus. The Apostles were disciples, and more. They were a group of hand chosen believers, sent out by Jesus, imparted with special signs, to prove they were from God. (Exodus chapter 4; Matthew 12:38-39; I Corinthians 1:22; 14:22)]
“For neither did his brethren believe in him.” (John 7:5) Remember; "A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” (Mark 6:3-4)
If we count James, the Lord’s Brother…
that makes 13 Apostles!
When Luke used the word, “Apostles” (with an “s”), in Acts 14:4, who was he speaking about?
“But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.”
All of chapter 13 was talking about Paul and Barnabas. (See; Acts 13:2) NO ONE ELSE IS ON THIS JOURNEY. Who else could the author (Luke) be referring to?
This would make 14 Apostles.
A problem arises…
In New Jerusalem there are only 12 Apostles mentioned.
“And the wall of the city had TWELVE foundations, and in them the names of the TWELVE apostles of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:14)
Given the set of facts (above), staring Revelation 21:12 in the face; here’s the only conclusion true Bible believing Christians can come to. There are 12 original Disciples, who were hand picked by our Saviour. One was a devil (John 6:70) and needed to be replaced. (Acts 1) At the ascension these Disciples (called Apostles—“messengers”), lost that dual designation (Disciples/Apostles) used by our Lord during His earthly ministry. They were now exclusively called, “Apostles.” James gets killed in Acts 12, but is never replaced, and, other men were called Apostles, along the way. What can we make of all this? There are 12 Apostles of the Lamb, and, others were made Apostles ONE TIME, by the original 12. The only way someone could prove them, was to see if they had the signs. Some did. (II Corinthians 12:12) Some did not. (Revelation 2:2)
The Apostles of the Lamb
The following are probably the 12 Apostles of the Lamb. The first 11 match the original Apostles.
“Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite….”
But, no one knows who the last one might be. Either, Matthias (Acts one) or Paul (I Corinthians 4:9; 15:9), we’ll find out in Glory.
Matthias, Paul, James the Lord’s brother, and Barnabas…
Are there other Apostles?
Silvanus (Silas) and Timotheus (Timothy) (I Thessalonians 1:1; 2:6)
~ AND ~
Andronicus and Junias (Romans 16:7)
Something to Consider
Some say that since Matthias was added by "lots," the first church made a mistake.
They say that since Paul gets saved later on in scripture that he was really God's choice and that this "choice" was a mistake, because they didn't wait.
Now, let me ask you...
Where does it say in scripture that how Peter handled this replacement was a mistake...?
At the zenith of apostolic history—right after the ascension and BEFORE Pentecost, where does it indicate that these disciples blundered...?
While God was STILL dealing with the Jews—salvation is of the JEWS—why would this choice be improper, since their goal was replacing Judas as they were waiting/ready to bring in the Kingdom...? (See Acts 1:15-26. Peter, led of the Lord, obeyed Old Testament scripture, spoken by David, to replace Judas; verse 16.)
At this point in history, what is wrong with "the lot," if that's how they received God's answer...? (For more on "the lot" see pages 121 to 123 https://www.boazbaptist.com/estherthegoldensceptre.htm)
If Peter shouldn't have chosen Matthias to be a replacement for Judas, who chose Barnabas (Acts 14:14) and James the Lord's brother (Acts 15)?
For someone to quote Revelation 21:14 and arbitrarily add Paul's name to the twelfth foundation, is nothing more than mere speculation—presumption.
That's the reason, at the end of my article, I did NOT say who it might be.
In my opinion, it is Matthias.
Because the whole thing is JEWISH, with a JEWISH king ruling over it, with...
Twelve thousand furlongs
Now, I will grant you that Paul was “a Jew” (Acts 21:39)—“a Hebrew of the Hebrews.” (Philippians 3:5) No doubt. But, Paul was “one born out of due time.” (1 Corinthians 15:8) He was a Jewish Apostle SENT (primarily) to the Gentiles. He didn't fit in with the twelve. He was “an oddball …a misfit.” And, because the twelve Apostles were complete, when Matthias was added—NOWHERE DOES IT SAY HE WAS REMOVED OR REPLACED—there is no reason to think that the Lord would make Paul an "Apostle of the Lamb."
With that said, do I think that the Lord has a special place for the Apostle Paul...? Of course I do. (II Corinthians 11:5) Don't forget I Corinthians 9:24. In my opinion, if you added Paul among the Apostles in memoriam, by adding his name to a foundation, it would only minimize his greatness. Jesus knew who He was choosing, when He chose Paul (Acts 9:15), and He knows where he will serve Him in eternity.