Apostles (Gr. the sent, messengers), a title bestowed in the New Testament upon all who were commissioned to preach the gospel of Christ, but especially upon the twelve whom Jesus chose from the whole number of his disciples to be his heralds among Jews and Gentiles. Their names were - Simon Peter, Andrew, James (son of Zebedee), John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew (Levi), James (son of Alpheus), Lebbeus (Thaddeus), Simon, and Judas Iscariot. They were mostly Galileans and laboring people, all being fishermen but Matthew, who was a tax-gatherer. Some of them were connections of the family of Jesus or companions of his youth, and they had been disciples of John the Baptist before Christ's appearance. They accompanied Christ on his journeys, witnessed his works, heard his public teaching and discussions, and the more intimate of them (Peter, James, and John) were often admitted to the privacy of his meditations. During his lifetime the apostles undertook one missionary expedition at their Master's bidding; but after the resurrection the eleven remained in Jerusalem, not openly distinguished from other Jews. The place of Judas was filled by Matthias. It was not until the day of Pentecost that their work commenced in earnest with the public announcement of Christ as the Messiah. The persecution to which Stephen fell a victim scattered the believers (some think only those of Greek extraction); but the apostles still continued in the city or in Judea, Peter alone venturing reluctantly to make a short journey as far as CAessarea, where he baptized some un-circumcised people. - The work assigned by Christ of preaching the gospel to " all the world," left unattempted by the original apostles, who wished to confine its blessings to the circumcised Jews, was first fully undertaken by Paul, a man who had never seen Jesus on earth, had received no commission from him like the rest, had sought from Peter and his companions no authoritative exposition of the Master's truth, and was at first an object of suspicion.
All that we know from historical records respecting the apostles is gathered from the letters of Paul and the book of Acts, though legends about all of them were early current, recounting their voyages, sufferings, and martyrdoms. An interesting account of the apostles' labors is found in Neander's "Planting and Training of the Christian Church."
Schwegler's Nachapostolisches Zeitalter should also be consulted.