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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#926. What is an apostle? (24/10/23)

This week, as we continue in our series, Luke - Exploring who Jesus is, we will be exploring the account in 6:12-16 and the appointing of The Twelve Apostles. Today, we want to explore what an apostle is.

‘One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.’ (Luke 6:12-16)

Lesson: God’s people are those who are built on The Apostles’ teaching, which focusses on the effects of Jesus’ death, resurrection and His giving of the Spirit.

You can listen to this devotional at:

Jesus, after praying all night, appointed the twelve apostles. Rather like the twelve patriarchs of Israel, Jesus is re-forming God’s people on the teaching and ministry of these men.

What is an apostle? Leaving aside the modern-day, ongoing ministry of the apostle, an apostle can be defined as those sent with the authority of Christ to found the church on Scripture that the Spirit inspired them to write.

Who were qualified to be apostles? There were 2 qualifications for being an apostle. Firstly, one had to be chosen and commissioned by Jesus as an apostle. Secondly, one had to have seen the risen Jesus (Acts 1:22, 26:25; 1 Cor. 9:1).

The Apostles were chosen by Jesus in order to write scripture and establish God’s people - The Church - on Jesus. We read of this foundation-laying ministry:

‘Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.’ (Ephesians 2:19-21)

God’s people are to be founded on The Apostle’s teaching. You and I are to read and obey the New Testament - all of which is written or overseen by an apostle. So, for example, although Luke, the author of this gospel and Acts, was not an apostle, his close connection with The Apostle Paul gives apostolic authority to his writings. Listening to the words of an apostle is equal to listening to the words of Jesus who appointed and sent them.


God’s people are those who are built on The Apostles’ teaching, which focusses on the effects of Jesus’ death, resurrection and His giving of the Spirit. The crucial emphasis of the Apostles’ teaching, called ‘the chief cornerstone’, is what Christ achieves for us. If we are to be strong and build a strong church let’s listen to the Apostles’ on what they teach about Jesus. Can we say that Jesus is our ‘chief cornerstone’? Are we being sufficiently impacted by the Word and Inspired by the Spirit to say that our identity, how we live, our ambitions and our eternity are built on Jesus?

Perhaps you’d like to Pray this:

“Lord Jesus, you are my chief cornerstone. Help me to build my life on you as your apostles have taught in your Word. Forgive me where I’ve valued other wisdom and advice over your Spirit-inspired apostolic truth. Lord Jesus, be my chief cornerstone again. Amen.”


1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

2. Icebreaker How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you?

3. Study and pray together

This week we continue in our Luke series looking at Luke 6:12-16. In this section we see Jesus, after a night of prayer, appoint 12 apostles, who, like the 12 patriarchs of Israel, are chosen and commissioned to re-form and found the people of God on Christ.

Please read Luke 6:12-16

  1. This is the third time that Luke specifically mentions Jesus’ devotion to prayer (See also 4:32, 5:15-16). Why do you think Luke does this and what does it mean for us?

  2. Do you have a special place or time when you pray and read the bible? Share and pool ideas to encourage one another.

  3. Why is it sometimes so hard to spend time alone with God? What might we do to combat the urge not to? (I use the word combat to evoke the idea of a spiritual battle)

  4. Why did Jesus specifically choose 12 to be apostles and why were they, humanly speaking, not the greatest choice?

  5. Ephesians 1:4-5 says that God chose us to be adopted as sons and daughters before the creation of the world. How do you feel knowing you, like the apostles, have been chosen?

  6. SIV - 'Apostle' means ‘sent one’. Although we are not apostles, what are we all appointed and sent by Jesus to do?

  7. SIV - Do we have any stories of how we have ‘Served, Invested, and inVited’ this week?

  8. SIV - How could you step up in praying for your community who don’t know Jesus?

  9. SIV - Let's now pray together that, this week, we will have opportunities to SIV.

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