In Christianity, the disciples were the students of Jesus during his ministry. While Jesus attracted a large following, the term disciple is commonly used to refer specifically to the twelve apostles.

In addition, the gospels and the Book of Acts refer to varying numbers of disciples that range between 70 and 120 to a "growing multitude".

The word disciple is used today as a way of self-identification for those who seek to learn from the teachings of Jesus, such as the Sermon on the Mount.

Comparison chart

Apostle versus Disciple comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartApostleDisciple
Meaning An apostle is a messenger and ambassador. Someone who champions a critical reform movement, belief or cause (more so in the Christian context). A disciple is a follower and student of a mentor, teacher, or any other wise person. Someone who accepts and helps in spreading the teachings of another or simply put one who learns any art or science.
Origin of the word An apostle was originally and usually referred to the early followers of Jesus who spread the Christian message to the world or to a person of the Christian missionary designated to spread the Christian message. The term disciple is not solely associated with any particular person or association.
Etymylogy Middle English, from Old English apostol and from Old French apostle, both from Late Latin apostolus, from Greek apostolos Middle English, from Old English discipul and from Old French desciple, both from Latin discipulus, pupil, from discere, to learn; see dek- in Indo-European roots.
Term referenced elsewhere "The Apostle" is the title of a blockbuster movie starring Robert Duvall. "The Disciple" is the title of a movie starring Race Owens.

Differences in meaning

While a disciple is a student, one who learns from a teacher, an apostle is sent to deliver those teachings to others. "Apostle" means messenger, he who is sent. An apostle is sent to deliver or spread those teachings to others. The word "apostle" has two meanings, the larger meaning of a messenger and the narrow meaning to denote the twelve people directly linked to Jesus Christ.

We can say that all apostles were disciples but all disciples are not apostles. Jesus chose twelve Disciples and this inner circle of men came to be known as Apostles who were entrusted to spread the message of Jesus throughout the world so that eventually there would be many Disciples.

Origins of the words Apostle and Disciple

The term apostle came to be used after Ascension of Jesus. The Christian assembly defines Apostle as 'a preliminary to choice of replacement of Judas'. Paul is also known as an apostle since he was awarded this title by Jesus himself.

The apostolic age came to an end when the last apostle died around 100AD. There are many disciples of Christianity spreading the words of Jesus even today. But there are no true apostles in Christian church today.

References in cinema

The Apostle is the title of a blockbuster movie starring Robert Duvall. The Disciple is also a movie, starring Race Owens.

Differences in etymylogy


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