Apostle

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You were looking for Apostle, which this page hopes to explain. You may want to disentangle a confusion between apostle and epistle.

  • An Apostle (pronounced with a silent '-t'-, IPA: /æ (or ə) ˈpɒs əl/, 'e[r]-POSS-el') is primarily applied to the twelve close followers and companions of Jesus during his ministry. (For a list, see Twelve Apostles.) The Twelve Disciples is another, less frequent, way of referring to them. After Jesus's crucifixion, Barnabas, Barsabas, Matthias and (later) Paul (the "Apostle of the Gentiles", called Saul before his conversion), were added. The word comes from the Greek άπόστολος, 'a messenger, one sent forth'; and the Apostles were primarily missionaries spreading Christian beliefs through the Roman Empire.
    • The adjective meaning 'to do with [one or more] Apostles' is apostolic, in which the '-t-' is NOT silent, and the stress is on the third, not the second, syllable: 'a-post-OLL-ic', IPA: /æ pɒs ˈtɒl ɪk/).
  • The word apostle has been transferred to mean
    • any missionary
    • positions in various Christian sects, notably the Catholic Apostolic Church
    • a follower, with missionary instincts, of any teacher or movement

Apostles is a shortened form used to refer to The Acts of the Apostles, a book in the New Testament principally relating the missionary journeys of St Paul and the early growth of Christianity. It is more commonly shortened to Acts

    • The Apostles are the members of an exclusive and secretive society in the University of Cambridge founded in 1820. (Originally there were twelve members, hence the nickname.) They meet for discussion, and have the reputation of having very rarefied intellectual interests. Famous members have included
      • in the nineteenth century, the poet Lord Tennyson and his friend Arthur Hallam, the subject of In Memoriam; the physicist James Clerk Maxwell and the philosopher and promoter of higher education for women Henry Sidgwick.
      • in the twentieth century, the economist John Maynard Keynes, the art historian Roger Fry, the writers E.M. Forster and Lytton Strachey, the philosophers Bertrand Russell and Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, the mathematicians G.H. Hardy and A.N. Whitehead, Leonard Woolf, the publisher who gave his name to Virginia Woolf (these were also members of the Bloomsbury group); and the 'Cambridge spies', Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, Donald MacLean, and Kim Philby.