He appointed twelve–designating them apostles–that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (Mark 3:14-19)
This is not the only list of Jesus’ Apostles in the scriptures. For the others and a short examination of some facts relating to the lists, you might check out this website: http://www.textexcavation.com/twelvedisciples.html
The basic qualifications for an Apostle of Jesus are mentioned in Acts 1:21-22 when the eleven Apostles made the decision to replace Judas. Peter said: “Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:21-22) A man by the name of Matthias was chosen to fill this role, and there are those who believe the eleven “jumped the gun” on their selection and that God had really planned on replacing Judas with Paul. The thought is that God aided them in their selection, even though it was unnecessary. This issue is relevant to those who want to know if the list of twelve Apostles in Revelation includes Matthias or Paul.
Thus, there were at least fourteen Apostles: the original twelve, including Judas, Matthias who was selected to replace Judas, and Paul. I use the number fourteen with some reservation because there are others in the New Testament called “apostles”, including James, the brother of Jesus and Barnabas. The word “apostle” means “sent out one”, so it can refer to anyone sent out in the name of Jesus. Some say there are Apostles with a big “A” and those with a small “a.” The small “a” apostles were “sent out” but did not necessarily meet the qualifications for a big “A” Apostle, and may or may not have been gifted with supernatural powers.
The Apostles are also called “disciples”, which is a generic name for those who submit to Jesus’ teaching. Much of the time we hear the words “apostle” and “disciple” used interchangeably, and that is fine. It is just important to know, while followers today are still considered disciples of Jesus, an Apostle is someone specifically chosen by God for a special mission. And it would be impossible for a big “A” apostle to be alive today, unless one could prove an encounter with Jesus similar to the one Paul experienced on the road to Damascus.
The authority Jesus gave his Apostles enabled them to cast out demons, heal the sick and raise the dead. They also had the ability to impart these gifts to others through the laying on of hands (which is why many believe the supernatural powers possessed by the Apostles died out with the next generation of leaders, just as the New Testament was being pulled together in canonical form).
If we were to meet an Apostle, it wouldn’t be the same as meeting Jesus face-to-face, but it would be a really big deal. Perhaps you have seen the apostle’s team picture.
Dear God, thank You for providing leadership for Your church. In Jesus’ name, Amen.