Why are we still talking about this? > What else do you suppose is that simple in the Bible? > what did these words mean in the language of regular people like me?
Because the Bible is really that simple if you just let it be...
Or take apostles. Holy men, anointed by God in a special ceremony? Of which God only appointed the original twelve, and never any more since?
We could debate this all day; many books have been written on what an apostle is, usually concluding that there aren’t any today (or that the guy writing the book is one) – full of many, many, many words.
But we only need the one word: apostle.
Apostle comes from the Greek word apostolos. As before, it was copied directly into English and means “one who is sent off”. That’s all. And that’s enough.
Once again, this is an ordinary Greek noun with no special meaning until organized religion gave it one.
If you had said this word to a contemporary Greek, they would have known it meant an emissary – which is just a word English borrowed from Latin meaning... “one sent”.
And in hindsight, this simple meaning makes perfect sense; for God’s Kingdom is in heaven (Hebrews 11:16). And God sends emissaries or ambassadors to speak things He wants other men to hear (2 Corinthians 5:20).
But that also means that anyone whom God sends is an apostle. Anyone. Take John the Baptist. Not one of the twelve, nor ever mentioned as an apostle... and yet, called an apostle in the Bible, though few know it!
John 1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
In the original Greek, the word used there is apostello; in other words, this says there was an apostle whose name was John (the Baptist)! They didn’t translate it as a title because it isn’t a title – it’s simply a description of the job!
This John died before Jesus, long before the other “apostles” were sent out in Matthew 28:19. Because that particular group of apostles were never intended to be the only ones in the world. They were just the first after Jesus died!
Everyone God sent was, by definition, an apostle. Because that’s what the word means! Not just the twelve; for Jesus promised He would send many different kinds of teachers (Matthew 23:34)... and if He sent them, they were apostles of His! (Mark 12:1-9).
This means Jeremiah was an apostle (Jeremiah 26:12); Jesus was an apostle (Hebrews 3:1); Samuel was an apostle (1 Samuel 15:1); Barnabas, though not one of the twelve, was explicitly called an apostle just as much as Paul was (Acts 14:14); and so on.
Of course, not everyone who says “God sent me!” is in fact an apostle of God; many are liars (Revelation 2:2). When someone claims to be sent from God, we are supposed to test them and see, by their works, whether they are one or not (1 Corinthians 9:1, 2 Corinthians 12:11-12).
Just as we should test every spirit, and every so-called prophet! (1 John 4:1-3). But the fact that we are supposed to test them, means there must have been apostles out there to test! Apostles who were not one of the original twelve!
But all this just goes back to the point: an apostle is not a holy office, ordained by a great church, with holy oil and robes and prayers in a dead language; an apostle is someone God sent to do something.
Apostle means “one sent”.