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Difference Between Apostle and Disciple

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The term Apostle and Disciple can be confusing for many. In case you’re one of them, a healthy walk across this article will be of great help.

What are the differences between an Apostle and a Disciple?

In Christianity, although both Apostle and Disciple are followers of Jesus Christ, they are pretty different from each other. An Apostle is a messenger of God who serves the purpose of spreading spiritual instructions worldwide. A Disciple, on the other hand, is more like a student who accepts the teachings. You can't take anything away from the fact that every Apostle had been a disciple, but not all disciples are Apostles. 

What is an Apostle?

Apostle Paul
Apostle Paul

An Apostle is a carrier of spiritual teachings. In other words, we can define the Apostle as someone who acts as a messenger of God. They are the individuals who hold on to the responsibility of spreading the Gospel. In case you wonder what a Gospel is, well, it refers to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

An Apostle is a chosen candidate, and it is believed the procedure was done by Jesus himself.

What is a Disciple?

Disciple Simon the Zealot
Disciple Simon the Zealot

Usually, the term Disciple is used, or the students and not the scene is no different in this case as well. To talk about Christianity in particular, a Disciple is an individual who follows and intakes the teaching of the messiah. Unlike Apostles, they are called individuals and are the learners of spiritual philosophies.

Differences Between Apostle and Disciple


Although both Apostle and Disciple are derived from Greek literature, both have different origin words. While the one or Apostle is "Apostolos," which means "an ambassador" or signifies "someone who has been sent for a purpose," the same for Disciple is "Mathaytes," meaning student.


Apostle is a term used for a messenger and ambassador who is entitled to spread the belief in God. They are the ones who hold the responsibility to deliver teachings to others. A Disciple, on the other hand, broadly refers to students. They are the individuals who accept the teaching.


The word Apostles belongs to Middle English. Combination of the Old English (termed Apostol) and Old French (called Apostle). Both are acquired from the later half of Latin (Apostolus), which was descended from the Greek word, "Apostolus."

The word Disciple belongs to Middle English. Combination of the Old English (termed Descipul) and Old French (called Disciple). Both are actually acquired from the later half of Latin (termed Descipulus) from discere, to learn in the very Indo-European roots.

Relation with the Gospel

While Apostles are the Gospel's ambassadors, Disciples at the same time are the students of the Gospel.

gospel group
Gospel group

Purpose of Existence

Apostles are chosen to spread the spiritual teachings. On the contrary, Disciples are there to accept the learnings and evolve.


Originally, it is believed that there were 12 Apostles in number. However, the quantity of disciples is hard to count.


The Apostles are chosen in nature. At the same time, Disciples are called upon.

Current Existence

As of now, you will find a healthy number of Disciples who're spreading the words of Jesus, but the same can't be said for Apostles.

Movie References

The Apostle is a well-known movie that stars Robert Dubali. You'll also find a movie called "The Disciple" played by Race Owens.

Comparison Chart:  Apostle Vs Disciple

OriginGreek word ApostolosGreek word Mathaytes
MeaningAmbassador sent for a purposeStudent
Relation with GospelMessenger and AmbassadorStudent
Purpose of ExistenceSpread spiritual teachingsIntake the learnings and evolve
Quantity12Hard to count
AppointmentChosenCalled upon
Current ExistenceNone existA huge volume of Disciples still exist
Movie ReferencesStarring Robert DubaliStarring Race Owens

Similarities: How an Apostle is Similar to a Disciple

As already mentioned, not all Disciples are Apostles; however, every Apostle had definitely been a Disciple. Having said that, both these designations have some elements in common.


No matter what we consider an Apostle or a Disciple, both hold a firm belief in Jesus.


Awareness is one more element that sits similar in Apostles and Disciples. Both are equally aware of the "Gospel of Peace."

Parent Language

The terms "Apostle" and "Disciple" are derived from the Greek language.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Paul, is he an Apostle or a Disciple?

The famous Saint Paul is an Apostle. It is believed that the title was awarded to him by Jesus himself. It was Paul who spread the teachings and words of Jesus in the first century.

Who are the chosen ones, Apostle or Disciple?

Apostles are considered to be the chosen ones. According to Christianity, Jesus picked and sent twelve of them to the earth so that they can spread the language of spirituality all around.

Is it the 12 Disciples or Apostles?

In Christianity, there are a total of 12 Apostles in number, while the same for disciples is pretty large.


If you're someone who has been facing trouble setting the Apostle apart from Disciples, the issue ends right here. In this article, we've talked about every aspect that distinguishes one from the other. Yes, it is true we can't deny the fact that both are similar in various situations, and to help you get rid of the confusion, we made sure to consider those points as well. Hope everything about the Apostle and Disciple sits crystal clear in your mind.


Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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