The following are examples of (possible) essential features and functions of an Apostle I've heard from different sources.

An authentic Apostle ...

  1. Had to be called supernaturally by God Himself in an unmistakable way (canonical example: Paul in Acts 9).
  2. Had to have eyewitnessed Jesus Christ in physical form after His resurrection (aka a Christophany).
  3. Must have a ministry accompanied by signs, wonders and mighty deeds.
  4. Must be a church planter (see Church planting).
  5. Must be an effective preacher of the gospel and soul winner in unreached areas.
  6. Must have a position of leadership in the church.
  7. Must be author of (or should be able to produce at least) inspired and canonizable writings (i.e. we should be able append their writings to the Bible).

Note: These are just examples off the top of my head, feel free to consider other requirements people have historically proposed if I forgot any.


  • What is an overview of how different Christian denominations define the essential features and functions of an authentic Apostle?
  • Would these different definitions of Apostle allow for the existence of authentic Apostles in modern times?

Related and thought-provoking question (and answers): How do believers in the modern continuation of the office of apostle rebut Don Stewart's article "Are There Still Apostles Today?"?

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    Some of your definitions above would exclude people explicitly called Apostles in scripture. Apr 12, 2022 at 12:55
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    Your question does not seem to address the possibility of infallibility or jurisdiction (at least implicitly) of the 12 Apostles, that some have historically believed
    – Ken Graham
    Apr 12, 2022 at 13:52

2 Answers 2



The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

  1. Apostle does not have to be called supernaturally (Luke 6:13)
  2. Does not have to be eye witness of resurrected Savior, Judas Iscariot for example did not
  3. Yes, though this requirement is unclear
  4. Mostly true (according to my understanding of church planting-LDS does not use this terminology) (Eph 4:5)
  5. Mostly true, see below about essential functions
  6. Yes
  7. Sort of true, LDS church believe the word of the apostles to be the word of God but have not canonized all teachings of all apostles; (plenty of NT apostles who don't have writings) (D&C 1:38)

Essential apostle functions:

The calling of an Apostle is to be a special witness of the name of Jesus Christ in all the world, particularly of His divinity and of His bodily resurrection from the dead (Acts 1:22; D&C 107:23). Twelve men with this high calling constitute an administrative council in the work of the ministry.

Modern apostles

See also:

  • The format you are trying to start is going to be hard to read and unclear. Apr 12, 2022 at 12:57
  • @DJClayworth I was unsure the best way to answer/address all the points. Feel free to edit and make it more readable
    – depperm
    Apr 12, 2022 at 13:00

For the vast majority of Christians the term "Apostle" primarily refers to Jesus' chosen 12, their immediate successors, and some others explicitly called Apostles in scripture.

However the term "apostle" simply means one sent by God to preach his truth, and in that sense every Christian can be truthfully called an apostle.

The vast majority of Christian churches do not use the term "Apostle" as a title for a church position.

Some smaller Protestant churches do use the term "Apostle" to describe those with either specific positions in the church or specific ministries. Frequently this refers to either:

  1. The highest level of church leadership
  2. Those with a specific church planting ministry, or missionary outreach.

Obviously items 1, 2 and 7 cannot apply to modern-day Apostles (unless the church has a open canon, although in practice that rarely applies).

Item 3 applies only to Pentecostal churches (in the widest sense) where most church leaders are expected to exhibit the Gifts of the Spirit. "Mighty deeds" is unlikely to be a qualification for modern day Apostles.

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    Obviously items 1, 2 and 7 cannot apply to modern-day Apostles (unless the church has a open canon, although in practice that rarely applies) - for the most part I agree regarding item 7, but I fail to see how items 1 and 2 "obviously " cannot apply. Do you believe that modern Christophanies or modern supernatural calls are possible?
    – user50422
    Apr 12, 2022 at 14:53
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    However the term "apostle" simply means one sent by God to preach his truth, and in that sense every Christian can be truthfully called an apostle. - what about 1 Corinthians 12:29-30 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? ?
    – user50422
    Apr 12, 2022 at 14:56
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator It's sarcasm. The meaning is "No, not all are apostles." See commentary. That interpretation that all can be apostles is done by NAR-type churches, which in my opinion is heretic, even declared so by mainstream Pentecostals such as Assembly of God Apr 12, 2022 at 15:04
  • @GratefulDisciple - exactly, which is why I quoted it (it clearly contradicts DJClayworth's claim that every Christian can be truthfully called an apostle).
    – user50422
    Apr 12, 2022 at 15:05
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator What DJClayworth meant is the meaning of the word itself, and the responsibility for every Christian to be Christ's ambassador. I don't think he meant it as the name of an office or a gift, the meaning that NT talks about. Apr 12, 2022 at 15:08

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