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/ əˈpɒs əl /
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Definition of apostle

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Origin of apostle

First recorded before 950; Middle English apostle, apostol, apostul, apostle, from Old English apostol and Old French apostle, from Late Latin apostolus, from Greek apóstolos “one who is sent out,” derivative of apostéllein “to send off,” equivalent to preposition and preverb apo, apo- “away, away from” + stéllein “to send, dispatch”; see also apo-


a·pos·tle·hood, a·pos·tle·ship, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does apostle mean?

The word apostle most commonly refers to one of the 12 original disciples, or followers, who Jesus assembled to follow him and preach his message.

According to the Bible, the 12 apostles were Simon Peter, the brothers James and John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas Iscariot. When used to refer to one of these 12, the word is sometimes capitalized.

In the Eastern Church, apostle refers to one of 70 original disciples of Jesus. Sometimes, it refers to any of the early followers of Jesus, though the word disciple is more commonly used this way.

The word is also used as a title of certain church officials, such as in some Protestant sects or in the Mormon Church.

Example: My favorite story about Jesus and the 12 apostles is when they fed all those people with just a few loaves and fishes.

Where does apostle come from?

The first records of the word apostle in English come from before the mid-900s. It comes from the Old English apostol, which derives from the Greek apóstolos, meaning “one who is sent.”

Two of the Gospels (accounts of Jesus’s life and teachings in the New Testament) are attributed to a few of the original, capital-A Apostles—Matthew and John. These accounts tell the story of how the Apostles were chosen by Jesus and their travels with him before he eventually sent them to go out and spread Christianity.

Apart from its use to refer to the original followers of Jesus—whether it refers to 12 or 70 or just the first ones in general—the word came to be used in several other ways referring to people following in the footsteps of the first Apostles. In general, it can refer to a prominent Christian missionary. More specifically, it’s used as a title for certain church leaders. Although the term is almost always used in the context of Christianity, it can also generally refer to a pioneer of any reform movement.

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What are some other forms related to apostle?

  • apostolic (adjective)
  • apostlehood (noun)
  • apostleship (noun)

What are some synonyms for apostle?

What are some words that share a root or word element with apostle


What are some words that often get used in discussing apostle?


How is apostle used in real life?

Apostle is almost always used in a religious context. When capitalized, it refers to one of the original followers of Jesus.


Try using apostle!

Which of the following people was NOT one of the original 12 apostles?

A. Matthew
B. Paul
C. John
D. Judas

How to use apostle in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for apostle

/ (əˈpɒsəl) /

(often capital) one of the 12 disciples chosen by Christ to preach his gospel
any prominent Christian missionary, esp one who first converts a nation or people
an ardent early supporter of a cause, reform movement, etc
Mormon Church a member of a council of twelve officials appointed to administer and preside over the Church

Word Origin for apostle

Old English apostol, from Church Latin apostolus, from Greek apostolos a messenger, from apostellein to send forth
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012