Apostle vs Disciple: Difference and Comparison

Apostles and disciples have regularly used terms when describing students or followers and the carriers of messages which act as messengers.

Both are a huge part of spreading knowledge or certain information that has to be carried out through generations of mankind irrespective of the initial source.

They refer to real-life people who follow or are followed. These two terms are confused while in use.

Key Takeaways

  1. Apostles are the twelve closest followers of Jesus Christ, chosen by him to spread his teachings, while disciples are all students and followers of Jesus, including the apostles.
  2. Apostles had a unique authority to establish and govern the early Christian church, while disciples were committed to learning and sharing Jesus’ teachings without the same level of authority.
  3. The term “apostle” has a more specific connotation, referring to a messenger or representative, while “disciple” has a broader meaning, encompassing all believers and learners of a particular teaching.

Apostle vs Disciple

Apostles and disciples are both followers of Christ, but the term ‘apostle’ is specifically used to refer to the twelve individuals Jesus chose to spread his teachings, while ‘disciple’ can refer to any follower of Jesus.

Apostle vs Disciple

Apostle is a term that has been in use since the time of Christ.

Back then, it meant the messenger or the one who carried a specific knowledge about the topic of concern to the next few generations of people and thereby making sure that whatever they were meant to pass on doesn’t wither away with age and can withstand all human-made transformations and additions.

A disciple is a commonly used word back in the time of Christ as well as now. The more recent usage of the disciple is among the monk communities in China and Vietnam.

The students who are sworn into the monasteries where the monks reside are casually referred to as the disciples of the monks who are the next generation of monks.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonApostleDisciple
OriginHas a historical linkNot in an association with anyone or any reform unit in history
Greek InfluenceDerived from the Greek word “Apostolos” which mean ambassadorDerived from the Greek word “Mathetes” which mean student
DesignationA person who has been given the responsibility of teaching others the knowledge given to themThat of a student who gains all knowledge irrespective of any other delimiting factors
ChoiceThey are chosen to become apostlesThey get to choose whether need to become a disciple or not
FollowersHas a great following unit and supportersNone until they become apostles

What is Apostle? 

Apostle is a word that has origins dating back to the ancient Greeks. Though it is only known to have originated in Greek, there are influences from other regions.

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The Latin apostolic term also forms a link to the origin of the word, along with the old French days. The original meaning of the apostle is the messenger. In recent times, it could be modified to mean ambassador.

The recent modification to the original meaning of the term is owing to the current usage of the term. Ambassadors are the ones who now represent a certain side or preach and thereby spread it to others.

Apostles are those who were known to lead the people over time, recreate history and give way to revolutions. Their teachings are known to create a new belief that became the cause for massive reforming actions in the past.

Apostles at the time of Jesus Christ were the original followers of Christ who believed in the teachings of Christianity. They followed His path and undertook the mission started by Jesus Christ to spread the message of Christianity.

Their major presence is felt by the teachings they deliver and the spread of their knowledge gathered among mankind. Apostles have dual meanings that differ over time and in different eras.

The original intended meaning of the apostle is the 12 people who are under the direct fellowship of Jesus Christ. They followed him and gathered his teaching to spread the word about Christianity.

The other meaning of the apostle is just a synonym for the followers of Christ, messengers. The original use of the apostle term was publicized during the apostolic age, which was terminated by the end of 100 AD.

They were once disciples who were taught all that they needed to preach and were chosen as apostles. This choosing ceremony was not in the hands of the apostles, and they were only asked to serve the one they follow and preach.

What is Disciple? 

Having originated at the time of the early Greeks, the term disciple saw a lot of changes before it was modernized to the present term of a disciple.

They have influences from the Mid-English era and the Indo-European connections that gave birth to the present-day used term, disciple.

The technical meaning of a disciple is a student. Those who choose to become a student and thereby make a vow to abide by the teachings and methods of their master or teacher.

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The mentors the disciples follow are commonly among the prime people in society.

They are known and acknowledged by all and considered wise and intellectual enough to make decisions and lead the young disciples to the right path.

They accept the knowledge bequeathed to them by their mentors and makes sure that they are followed in their own life.

Disciples readily accept their mentors’ teachings and spread them to all who are ready to accept them and follow them.

Disciples are not known to be historically related to anyone or any other event and are not originally historic in terms of the word origin.

In general, disciples are just students who learn from a teacher who willingly gives them knowledge out. Disciples themselves choose to believe in the teachings taught to them. No one forces them to gain knowledge, and it is willfully done.

The newer times have given the disciples a great definition. That is the learner of age-old philosophies or ancient knowledge. These disciples eventually transform into apostles who become preachers of knowledge.


Main Differences Between Apostle and Disciple

  1. While apostles have got a historical touch to their origin during the time of Christ, disciples are not known to have a historical origin and are considered to have come into existence more recently. 
  2. Disciples are students who depend upon a mentor to teach them all that is known to them, while apostles are already filled in on the information on the topics specific to them. They do not need a mentor to teach them any further. 
  3. Apostles have historically got two meanings: messengers and the followers of Christ, while disciples have got only one meaning that hasn’t changed its term since the time of its definition. 
  4. While disciples have an Indo-European touch in the origin of usage and term formation, apostles haven’t got any Indo-European link to it. 
  5. The Greek term Apostolos means ambassador, while the Greek term origin for disciples was derived from the word Mathetes which means student. 
Difference Between Apostle and Disciple
  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=2P7zSnM9BjMC&oi=fnd&pg=PR10&dq=apostles&ots=lPlfv1zGS5&sig=6MgtBwHeZJpr8mDDKbTzkE85hJ8
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=KpEl5rEWFicC&oi=fnd&pg=PA7&dq=disciples&ots=Qr8rvqmTgC&sig=z0z5MXan-S8r1UK9RB3cdYERH7E

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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12 thoughts on “Apostle vs Disciple: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The precision of terminology used here is commendable. It’s enlightening to understand the actual differences between apostles and disciples.

  2. I appreciate the in-depth exploration of the terms ‘apostle’ and ‘disciple’ in different contexts, ancient and modern. Great scholarly work.

  3. The thorough analysis of these theological terms is impressive. The article presents a compelling narrative of their historical roots and contemporary significance.

  4. This article provides a fascinating exploration of the evolution of the terms ‘apostle’ and ‘disciple’ across different eras. Well-researched and enlightening.

  5. The detailed comparison table is extremely helpful in clearly distinguishing between apostles and disciples. Well-researched content!


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