We see at 1 Cor 15:3-5:

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

But, we see Matthias being elected as replacement for Judas Iscariot only after the ascension of Jesus (See Acts 1:9 [Jesus' ascension] & Acts 1:26 [Matthias chosen]).

My question is: whom does Paul refer to as "the twelve" when there were only eleven apostles left in the group before the ascension of the Lord? What is the explanation offered by Catholic Church for the said statement of Paul?


In Acts 1 Peter's conditions for a new apostle are that "one of the men who have accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22beginning from John’s baptism until the day Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection." Acts 1:21-22

So the new apostle was a person who had seen Christ in His resurrection, and could be considered one of the twelve, even though his official designation came after Jesus ascended.

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  • You aren't really answering the question. The question asks "whom does Paul refer to as "the twelve"". I think Paul makes it clear he considers himself the 12th apostle, and includes Barnabas in his generic use of the word. – 3961 Oct 23 '19 at 20:14
  • Paul uses the term "the twelve" as a collective group of apostles which the Gospels also refer to. Since it's clear that Matthias became one of the twelve, Paul cannot be one of the twelve. He refers to himself as "the least of the apostles" but he doesn't ever refer to himself as one of the twelve. – Paul H Oct 27 '19 at 7:37

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