Greg asked:

I get confused regarding apostles and disciples. What’s the difference?

Fr. Dave Dwyer replied:

" ... Most often in the New Testament apostles is meant to be a more narrow group than disciples. Disciples was used commonly at the time, and maybe even for centuries after with respect to rabbis, essentially like pupils. Like students. So those were disciples and followers. There’s some evidence in the New Testament that disciples, some particular use of the term was people that Jesus had invited himself ... But then there’s other scenes where it talks about huge crowds of disciples. And then even differences between believers, followers and disciples. So they mesh a lot of these terms together and the different authors of the New Testament don’t use them all in the same way.

... In most cases the group of apostles or kind of a committee or college if you will of these men is synonymous with the twelve ... The ones that are enumerated with slightly different names but that’s not surprising because some guys had nick names and things like that. Like Simon and Peter and things like that. When we enumerate specifically those twelve, we can see that the New Testament authors are singling out these particular guys as unique. Now in many cases the term apostles is synonymous with the twelve, but in some usages it is not ...

Here’s how the Catholic church actually has defined apostles for us. The unique place of the twelve as disciples whom Christ chose to be witnesses of the resurrection, and who were solemnly commissioned by the risen Jesus to proclaim the gospel and to organize the kingdom of God on earth ...

The long and short of it is, that in general disciples were a much wider group. Anyone who was following Jesus. People that came to believe in Jesus. But even that, not exactly ... The apostles were a much smaller group, a college ... By definition there could not be any more apostles after that first generation."


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Show air date: November 20, 2009

Name of show: #220

Guest comments by: Fr. Dave Dwyer

Question appeared in show: 7:27

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