Is the apostle Paul one of the 12 disciples?

Having grown up going to church, I have often been taught by Sunday School teachers, preachers, and pastors that the apostle Paul was the real replacement for Judas Iscariot among the 12 disciples.  Part of their reasoning was that he had such an impact on the first century church with his missionary journeys and has influenced the church throughout its history with his powerful letters.  Additionally they claim that in Acts 1 when the disciples made the decision to choose Matthias, they were not yet filled with the Holy Spirit and were in error for relying on the superstitious custom of casting lots when they should have waited for the Holy Spirit to reveal to them who the replacement should be.  Is this reasoning correct?  Should the apostle Paul be considered Judas Iscariot’s true replacement?

How Matthias was chosen

The circumstances in Acts 1 were such that the disciples “continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” (Acts 1:14).  They were in godly fellowship with each other and with God while waiting for the Holy Spirit to come.  Out of this fellowship, Peter was given knowledge from God about the Old Testament prophecy stating “[h]is bishopric let another take” (Acts 1:20 quoting Psalm 109:8) when he addressed the 120 disciples who were gathered together.  He also understood that Judas’ replacement would need to be a firsthand witness of Jesus’ entire ministry (Acts 1:21-22).

There were apparently only two who met this requirement–Barsabas and Matthias.  When the two were nominated, all 120 disciples prayed to the Lord for him to reveal who his choice should be for replacing Judas.  Since they were in fellowship with the Lord, God must have heard their prayer.  So they cast their lots, and Matthias was chosen by the lot.

Are casting lots worthless superstition?

When we think of casting lots today, the picture that comes to our mind is a bunch of seedy characters in an alley throwing dice or lottery numbers being randomly selected to reveal a winner.  Casting lots in Biblical times had nothing to do with gambling.  It was very similar to drawing straws and was an acceptable practice with God and men.

The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing [decision] thereof is of the LORD.  Proverbs 16:33

The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.  Proverbs 18:18

These scriptures tell us that godly men understood that God’s hand was involved in making decisions by casting lots.  It was known that everything in life happened for a purpose, whether good or bad, even if we don’t completely understand and that man did not have complete control over every situation in life.  Therefore, when the disciples cast lots they were within God’s will to do so.

Why didn’t the disciples wait on the Holy Spirit?

The disciples knew that there were matters that had to be taken care of even while they waited for the Holy Spirit’s arrival.  The ministry they were called to do–being witnesses for Christ–would require some immediate preparation, such as the prayer, supplication, and fellowship they were participating in every day.  They knew the Holy Spirit was going to arrive soon and that he would empower them to get to work preaching the gospel immediately.  There was no time to waste because souls had to be saved and they had to obey Christ’s instructions without hesitation. 

According to the timeline in the scriptures, it was probably several years after Pentecost before Saul of Tarsus (Paul) was actually saved.  Waiting several years to replace Judas would not have been within God’s will.

Is there proof in scripture that Paul was not numbered with the twelve? 

Besides what I have just stated, let’s examine what else is said in the New Testament to help our understanding.

And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.  Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.  Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.  Acts 6:1-4

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve… 1 Corinthians 15:3-5

So we see here that Luke, who wrote Acts, knew that Paul was not numbered with the twelve and Paul even did not consider himself one of the twelve.  There were many other apostles other than the twelve apostles like Barnabas, Paul, and James the Lord’s brother.  They all did miracles and preached like the others, but were not numbered with the twelve and that didn’t make them any less important than the twelve.

 –posted by Harry A. Gaylord– 

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23 thoughts on “Is the apostle Paul one of the 12 disciples?

  1. If you read Galations, Paul expounds upon this issue, His pedigree and does not have good fancy for the twelve. They were part of the council of Jerusalem and Paul brought money from the Gentile churches to help the poor Hebrew church in Jerusalem. Acts 15 and 21. Some Believe one of the council turned him in to the unbeleiving Jewish council because He would not preach the circumcision in order to be saved. He gets pretty raw at the end of the letter. Whew.

    • Saul Aka ‘Paul’ recognized that he was a zealous persecutor of the true follower of Christ.

      The Lord told us that “anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven,
      but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”

      Does the word of the Lord failed?

      The Kingdom of the Lord is the Kingdom of repentance.

      Saul conversion is not through repentance, but by grace according to him.

      Saul old works need repentance and lamentation that he should express during his story of conversion.

      • As usual, you display your lack of Biblical knowledge. Paul preached the gospel of repentance and that one can only be saved by God’s grace which brings them to repentance. You probably missed it since you’re so focused on denying the Trinity and clinging to your salvation-by-works doctrine.

  2. If Paul was a real apostle who was guided by the Holy Spirit, why are some of his teachings so different from Jesus. Ex: Jesus narrated a parable to His disciples about a good Samaritan. In this story Jesus displayed a desire for His followers to be compassionate of everyone specially those whom they did not consider friends but Paul said to be good “specially to those related to us in the faith”. Also, he generalized when it came to helping the widows in the congregation by establishing guidelines which Jesus never did.

    • Just because Paul’s style was different from Christ’s style does not mean we should dismiss what he said. Peter was not perfect, but we accept him as being anointed. Peter verified that Paul was guided by the Holy Spirit when he said “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” [2 Peter 3:15-16]. So it was acknowledged by Peter that Paul had godly wisdom, was a Christian brother, and that Paul’s writings were scripture.

      You also misquoted the scripture to make it look like you have a valid point. The scripture you claim that says “specially to those related to us in the faith” actually says, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith,” [Galatians 6:10]. There is nothing wrong with what Paul said here. And your criticism of his principles for helping widows is unfounded also.

      Jesus’ ministry only lasted three years, so he could not cover 100% of what was necessary. He didn’t stick around long enough to write the New Testament books or cover the day-to-day operations of the church. This is why he left his apostles here after he left, including Paul. In case you’ve forgotten, Jesus did not go throughout the world preaching the gospel. He did not even baptize any believers. Instead, he left these things for his disciples to do as he stated in Matthew 28:19-20.

      I’ve noticed through the years that those who criticize Paul do so because they find it hard to admit some of the things they do are sin. Or they misunderstand what he says so they have to come up with excuses to reject what he said. So like it or not, Paul’s writings are just as valid as the four gospels and all other scripture.

      • Well explained Harry. I do agree with you biblically. We need to read word of God to know more about Him. Be blessed. Agape.

  3. But the problem is, some of St. paul writings are used,misinterpreted and abused by some church ministers and in fact roman catholism used it, as some ministers of some church proclaiming themselves as like St. Paul.

    Our Lord Jesus Christ was humbly say that “be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect”

    St. Paul writings are good, specially to the topic about faith.

    He is the author which emphasize about faith.

    That works is a product of faith.

    That without faith we are nothing.

    As our Lord Jesus Christ said “seek first the kingdom of God and all the things that you need shall be added unto you”.

    Human is weak as flesh is weak as Jesus christ said.

    that’s why on that weakness we are seeking for help,

    a help which called faith.

    • It’s not only Paul’s writings that are misinterpreted. People who choose to misuse God’s word tend to misuse many parts of it, whether it’s Old Testament or New Testament. This is why we as Christians are commanded to test the spirits that speak to see whether they are truly of God. We should be like the Bereans in Acts who study scripture regularly and ask God for understanding so we can rightly divide the word of truth.

  4. Roman catholics abuse the writing of saint paul, like to be called “father”, excommunication, tithings, that only church officials can interpret the bible and many more.

    But I wonder, why in the catholic mass they will not read the writings of St. Paul in their liturgy. Mostly they focus on the four Gospels.

  5. I also wonder Mr. harry why roman catholics insist that their first pope is St. Peter but mostly of their doctrine are based on st. paul writings.

    please give us your insight about this. thanks

    • Roman Catholics cling to Peter based on a misinterpretation of Matthew 16:15-19 which says

      “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

      They mistakenly believe Peter is the rock on which the church is built and behind closed doors, the Vatican and their officials claim they are the only true church based on this. However, Peter’s name means “small stone” while the “rock” on which the church is built is a word that means “boulder.” Jesus was speaking of himself, and the belief that he is the son of the living God, as the “boulder” that the true church is built on.

      Many mistakenly believe the teachings of the Catholic Church are based on Paul’s writings, but they’re not. They’re based on man-made traditions in much the same way that the Pharisees and Sadducees followed man-made doctrines. They have a different Bible and different doctrines that add to God’s word, take away from God’s word, and misinterpret God’s word. For example, they teach salvation and God’s grace are obtained by works such as taking the Eucharist, whereas Paul tells us in Romans 11 and Ephesians 2 that grace is not based on works. He also tells us in Galatians 1 that if anyone preaches anything other than salvation by grace (God’s gift that we didn’t earn), that person is preaching a false gospel.

  6. By the way Mr. harry what is grace in your point of view? based on St. Paul writings?

    Four Gospel define grace as it is already there in each of us through Jesus Christ.

    “as God loves the world; He gave His only begotten son”

    “through Him grace by grace we received”

    grace is free for all and our each individual faith will take care and grows it which leads into a graceful work.

    one of the beautiful example of grace is the two thieves in the cross.

    one of the thieves repented his sin and being pardon right away – what an awesome grace

    but if we are investigating that situation, we can find, that awesome grace will not be given to him unless there is no little faith acting on that situation.

    faith is very broad,there is little secret on it.

    • There are at least three different definitions for grace in the Bible. The grace that brings us salvation is one of them and it refers to an undeserved or unearned gift given to someone by a generous benefactor. This is the grace God shows to us as Paul states in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”

  7. paul was an apostle in the sense that he was a special witness of christ and “one sent forth”. but he was not one of the chosen 12 apostles. thats simply my understanding of it.

  8. Hi Harry,

    You are correct that salvation is by the grace of God [His gift to ALL mankind]. However, a gift is only a gift when it’s accepted. If we reject the gift of salvation or worse, blaspheme against the Holy Spirit [maligning God’s gracious gift to another power as the Pharisees did when they accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub], we are not saved.

    To argue otherwise is to presume salvation by predestination, which is not grace. That is, if God’s grace obtains by predestination, the first Adam would have been predestined to sin, which radically cuts away free will. Predestination makes a mockery of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians: 15:22)

    We have to respond to the gift!

    You have emboldened and highlighted Ephesians 2:8-9 in particular places, but the verse begins: “For by grace are ye saved through faith……” Yes, we cannot boast, because salvation is God’s gift, but we have to accept it first! (Sorry – I can’t highlight in my response).

    The problem is that highlighting is a problem because it focuses attention on a specific portion of the verse. You can’t do that and then accuse Catholics of adding or removing from the Bible! The verse is complete, word for word, situated and meaningfully related, within the sentence structure and expanded in the paragraph and letter!

    We cannot claim to be saved solely by the gracious gift of God. Believing in the gift of God is not salvation! I can believe that God has sent me a postcard, but refuse to open it! Salvation is accepting, opening, reading and obeying God’s instructions by faith! Practicing what you believe is a natural result of faith.

    I cannot have faith that God has sent me a handbook in the Bible, but remain hateful toward my fellow human beings. I cannot have faith that the Holy Spirit is guiding me and be OK with adultery or anger.

    How do we know we are saved? It’s not by simply mouthing “Lord, Lord.” Jesus said very plainly that not all those who call him Lord will enter the kingdom of God.

    We have to act on our faith! Faith without a change in behavior is dead! The Gospel of Christ is about Living! “Now about the dead rising–have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!” (Mark 12:26-27)

    Yes, Jesus was referring to the resurrection, but he was also referring to men of faith who obeyed God in this world before the promised resurrection! Harry, I’m a sinner, I can fool myself by saying “Thank you God,” and doing nothing different. Appealing to God may bring me some comfort, but when I persist in my disobedience, I know I disappoint him.

    Nevertheless, we run the race. I often come last, but I trust that God will help me over the finish line one day. He encourages me, but it’s my weak legs that have to take the steps.

    God bless
    Dean

    • Dean,

      I’m not presuming salvation by predestination anywhere in my post or follow-up comments. And your argument about highlighting portions of verses is not worth arguing about, especially since I included enough of the verse to render the context that renders the proper meaning of Eph. 2:8-9. This isn’t anywhere close to what Roman Catholics do in adding to or taking away from God’s word, so your attempt to place me in the same category as them falls way short when taking into account everything I’ve said in my post & all my comments.

      You’re getting things really confused in your understanding of what salvation is. For instance you said

      [Believing in the gift of God is not salvation!]

      There are different types of belief in the Bible & the context surrounding the word “belief” gives the meaning.

      For instance, James 2:19 says “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”

      John 8 tells us “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed … Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.”

      How can it say these Jews believed on him yet they believed him not? Because they had a belief which was not the type of belief for salvation. The same type of belief the devils have.

      Here’s the type of belief that equals salvation– “…The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation,” Romans 10:8-10. When a person believes in his heart that Jesus is Lord and that he was raised from the dead and confesses that belief, then that is salvation.

      John 3:36 says “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” Those who believe on or in Jesus as Lord have salvation. In other words, salvation = believing in Jesus as Lord.

      Galatians 2:16 says “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” So the faith of Jesus Christ = belief in Jesus Christ = justification = salvation = everlasting life.

      Then James 2 goes into detail about how the faith of Jesus Christ, which is salvation, results in good works. Those good works are the proof that one has the faith of Christ and do not give us salvation. They are simply the result of that salvation, the result of belief in Jesus Christ as Lord. And I think your comment stirs up confusion about these clear distinctions that the Bible makes about how it defines these important words and you muddy the waters about what I’ve actually said.

  9. Good article! God started a new program and dispensation with Paul. Check out Ephesians 3. The twelve represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the prophesied kingdom. Paul represented the one new man, the Body of Christ, which was a mystery. See Romans 16:25-26. God’s program for today is found in Paul’s writings, not the old testament or the four gospels. Romans 15:8 points out that Christ on earth was a minister of the circumcision, to confirm the promises and covenants to Israel. Galatians 2 points out the same about Peter, James and John. When Israel continued to reject the King, all the way up to the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7 and 8, God set Israel and it’s program aside, temporarily, according to Romans 11, and saved Saul of Tarsus and began a program that was not based on prophecy or covenants, but based on grace to the Gentiles. According to prophecy, Gentiles would be blessed through Israel’s rise. According to the mystery, Gentiles are blessed through Israel’s fall!

  10. How deeply sad is this story all about What you say is the Truth…Listen to the still small voice who speaks of Love and Compassion in the heart God gave you

  11. Does the Lord has not said that “Knock(repent) and the door(grace) will opened(given) unto you?.”

    Saul of Tarsus never repented his crime againts the holy spirit through the persecution of the followers of Christ. (Matthew 12:32)

    Though he talked about repentance of his own gospel but this was already foretold by the Lord in Matthew 15:8.

    • You’re deceived. You do err, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God. But that’s what happens when you don’t believe in the Trinity. One false doctrine leads to other misconceptions. God said of Saul in Acts 9 “…he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake,” Acts 9:15-16. If he was God’s chosen vessel to spread God’s name, he was God-approved and sanctified. Which means he repented. It’s a package deal.

      Then Acts 9:17 says, “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” Only those who repent unto salvation by faith in Jesus through God’s grace are filled with the Holy Ghost.

      So you and your false doctrine of salvation-by-works are based on the lies you buy into, not on the actual true word of God.

  12. who ever you are eyes you are blind and ignorant of the Lord and His Word the scriptures should be rightly divided 2Tim 2;15. The Lords parables were Jewish and spoke of the kingdom dispensation. Paul was The Apostle to the gentiles and received of The Lord the mystery of the Church and I highly doubt if someone who doubts A chosen vessel of God, as The Lord told Ananias in Acts 9:15, is even born again.

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