Must an apostle see Jesus? This question gets raised when attempting to justify the appointment of apostles today. The word “apostle” in the Greek (apóstolos) literally means “one who is sent” or “to send off” or simply “messenger”. Therefore, while the word could be applied to any missionary or emissary, the question about requiring that an apostle see Jesus pertains to the office of apostle as conveyed in Scripture.

how Scripture answers "Is it required that an apostle see Jesus?"

an answer short on commentary and long on Scripture as footnoted1 | please contribute with your comment at the bottom

It was a requirement that an apostle see Jesus.1,2,3,7.

Jesus chose the men that would be by his side during his ministry known as “the twelve” or “the apostles”1,9. Not to be confused with other messengers we read about in Scripture5,8, it was an official office during Jesus’ ministry6,9 that continued after Jesus’ ascension2 and through the early church4 period.

When Judas, one of the original twelve was replaced, we see the qualification noted that any replacement would have had seen Jesus, specifically being a witness of Jesus raised from the dead2. Later, Paul confirms this even further, affirming in the defense of his apostleship (the office7) that he too saw the risen Jesus3 – even if it was “untimely”7.

the answer above is based on and footnoted with the following passages and their BSF application

1

Jesus answered them, Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.

Jesus answered that he had chosen the Twelve, but one was a devil.

Jesus’ last week before his death, burial and resurrection.

How does it inform?

Jesus chose the original twelve apostles.

Does it apply? Yes

2

So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.

A man that was with us throughout the time of Jesus’ public ministry, from His baptism by John to His ascension in order that he might testify with us about His resurrection.

Jesus has just ascended and the disciples are gathered to replace the apostle Judas.

How does it inform?

Their selection for the twelfth apostle was limited to those men who were with them during Jesus’ public ministry and witnessed Him alive after His crucifixion.

Does it apply? Yes

3

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?

I am free and an apostle that saw Jesus. You are my work in Him.

Paul is in the midst of a brief defense of his apostleship, one he apparently needs to continue in a subsequent letter to them (2 Corinthians 11-12).

How does it inform?

Paul states his status as a legitimate apostle since he saw the Lord (presumably risen and referring to his encounter on the road to Damascus).

Does it apply? Yes

4

And he himself gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,

He appointed some apostles, some prophets, some as evangelists [preachers], and others as pastors [elders] and teachers.

Paul, writing to the church in Ephesus, is using a body metaphorically to describe the church.  Jesus is the head that supplies all the other members of the body (vss 15-16).  These different roles in the church were appointed by Him in order “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (vs 12).

How does it inform?

Apostles were an office of the early church, appointed by Jesus.

Does it apply? Yes

5

If there is any question about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; if there is any question about our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ.

If anyone wonders about Titus, they shouldn’t as he is a close colleague of Paul’s.  Along with the other brothers, they are messengers (preachers) of/to the churches to Christ’s glory.

Paul is writing to the Corinthians, informing them of his sending Titus and other brothers and encouraging them to accept them in love.

How does it inform?

Shows the use of the Greek word (apóstolos) as simply “one who is sent”, clearly not referring to the office of apostle.

Does it apply? Yes

6

And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.

He gathered the twelve and sent them out in twos, giving them authority over unclean spirits.

Jesus sends the twelve apostles to proclaim the gospel and gave them power to cast out unclean spirits in order that they could confirm the word they spoke was from God [see Do miracles still happen today? ].
How does it inform?

The twelve apostles held a special office with special power directly from Jesus.

Does it apply? Yes

7

Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

Lastly, since I [Paul] came later, he appeared to me as well, even though I was undeserving since I persecuted the church.  But, God’s grace allowed me to be who I am today and it wasn’t wasted, since through Him I word harder than any of the other apostles.

While making the point of the importance of Jesus’ resurrection to the Christian’s faith, he is recounting the appearances that Jesus made after His resurrection.

How does it inform?

Paul confirms his apostleship with the appearance of Jesus to him (even though he didn’t experience Jesus’ resurrection appearances as the others had).

Does it apply? Yes

8

Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,

Brethren, you who are holy and share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the messenger and high priest of our faith,
Letter to Jewish Christians that is calling on them to “hold fast” in spite of persecution.  The main argument is the “better” things that exist for them through Christ Jesus.
How does it inform?

Jesus was an apostle, obviously not the official office, but a special messenger of God.

Does it apply? Yes

9
And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons.
He went up on the mountain and called the twelve He desired in order to appoint them as apostles.  He would send them out to preach, having authority to cast out demons.
Jesus appointing and naming the twelve apostles.
How does it inform?

Jesus appointed twelve men to a specific office for a specific task: to preach with the authority to cast out demons.

Does it apply? Yes

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