Was an apostle merely one who had seen Christ’s resurrection?


by Shawn Brasseaux

It is commonly believed and taught that the only qualification for a man to be an apostle was that he was an eyewitness of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. However, this is not a complete picture. Let us compare Scripture with Scripture to see what we are missing.

The qualifications to be an apostle—specifically, Judas’ replacement—are listed in Acts 1:21-22. Notice: “[21] Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, [22] Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” Verse 22 is often misread. It is not saying that someone who had witnessed Christ’s resurrection could become an apostle. Over 500 believers saw the resurrected Christ (1 Corinthians 15:6)—they could not qualify for Judas’ vacated apostleship. An apostle had to have followed Jesus Christ all the way from John’s baptism (beginning of His earthly ministry) up until His ascension (conclusion of His earthly ministry).

Jesus Christ had said of His apostles on the night of His death: “And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning(John 15:27). And, Luke 22:28-30: “[28] Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. [29] And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; [30] That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” The Apostle Peter took that information and prayed what he did in Acts 1:21-22.

The function of an apostle was to bear witness of Christ’s resurrection. We do not question this because the Bible is very clear on this point. Acts 1:22 says, “must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” Acts 2:32 affirms, “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.” Acts 3:15 emphasizes: “…the Prince of Life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.” However, an apostle was a witness of all of Jesus’ earthly ministry—from John’s water baptism in Matthew chapter 3 until Jesus’ ascension into Heaven in Acts chapter 1. The point was that an apostle could verify all of what Jesus taught and did throughout the three years of His earthly ministry.


By now, you are probably wondering about Paul. Was he an apostle? Yes, the Bible says he was an apostle throughout his epistles (Romans 1:1; Romans 11:13; 1 Corinthians 1:1; et cetera). However, Paul was not Judas’ replacement as often assumed. Paul saw the resurrected Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:8-10 says. Yet, he was not one of the 12 Apostles. Paul was separate and distinct from the 12 Apostles.

Also see:
» Who was Judas’ successor—Matthias or Paul?
» Can you compare Peter’s ministry and Paul’s ministry?
» Why did Jesus select evil Judas Iscariot to be an apostle?