Questions From Readers
● Acts 14:14 (NW) speaks of “the apostles Barnabas and Paul.” Why was Barnabas, not one of the twelve apostles, here called an apostle?—H. B., Canal Zone.
“Apostle” means an envoy or one who is sent forth. Acts 14:14 speaks of Barnabas as an apostle because he was on a missionary tour with Paul and he had been sent forth by the Christian congregation at Antioch under instructions by the holy spirit. (Acts 13:1-4, NW) At 2 Corinthians 8:23 (NW) Paul speaks about “our brothers” and says that they are “apostles of congregations,” which means, according to the footnote, that they were “envoys; men sent forth.” They were sent forth by the congregations to represent them and at their expense. At Philippians 2:25 (NW) Paul speaks of Epaphroditus as their envoy, or, according to the footnote, their apostle. Even Christ Jesus is spoken of as God’s apostle because he was sent forth from God on an earthly mission.—Heb. 3:1.
This understanding clears away what some thought a discrepancy between Acts 9:26, 27 and Galatians 1:17-19. In Acts it states that when Paul arrived in Jerusalem and sought to associate with the disciples they were afraid of him, not having positive assurance of his conversion; “so Barnabas came to his aid and led him to the apostles,” detailing to them Paul’s conversion and his later Christian conduct in Damascus. (NW) In Galatians when Paul tells of going to Jerusalem, three years after returning to Damascus from a trip to Arabia, he says: “I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. But I saw no one else of the apostles, only James the brother of the Lord.” (NW) The only one of the twelve apostles Paul saw on this trip to Jerusalem was Cephas, or Peter. Yet this does not contradict the fact that at this time Barnabas “led him to the apostles.” It does not say Barnabas led him to the twelve apostles, or the committee of twelve. Peter was the only one of the twelve Paul met then. Any other apostles he may have met there were merely envoys or sent-forth ones. In this sense James the brother of the Lord could be called an apostle, as Paul seems to call him.