The very first apostles were the same as Jesus first disciples.
Matt. 10:2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
Luke 6:13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
When Judas Iscariot fell away, Matthias was appointed in his stead.
Acts 2:23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
Also Paul was called by God to be an apostle.
Corinthians 1:1 Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother (Rom. 1:1, 11:13, 1 Cor. 1:1, 9:1-2, 1 Cor. 15:9, 2 Cor. 1:1, Gal. 1:1, Eph. 1:1, Col. 1:1, 1 Tim. 1:1, 1 Tim. 2:7, 2 Tim. 1:1, 1:11, Titus 1:1)
Barnabas was called an apostle according to Luke, and it’s possible that also Timothy, Judas Barsabas and Silvanus (probably the same as Silas) were considered apostles as well. They were certainly called, and sent forth by Paul to spread the gospel and to perform miracles.
Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me BARNBABAS and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
Acts 14:13 Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.14 Which when the apostles, BARNABAS and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out
Act 15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed BARSABAS and SILAS, chief men among the brethren
70 other individuals sent out to spread the gospel and to heal the sick
Apart from the first 12, and apart from Paul and Barnabas, we can read from Luke that 70 other individuals were sent forth to spread the gospel and to perform miracles.
Luke 10:1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.—9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.—13 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.—16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
In the above verses it’s clear that these 70 individuals were given much divine power. Not only does Jesus separate people between those who listen to these 70 and those who despite them, but the 70 are also given power to do mighty work like healing the sick. They were more powerful than the enemy – including the spirits from the enemy. With other words, there were no one else who had greater power apart from God and the other 12 apostles, and Jesus told these 70 individuals to pray that the Lord would send forth laborers into his harvest. This seems to be exactly what Jesus had done to these 70 at one point, because he had sent them forth to do mighty work.
The commands for the initial 12 apostles were similar as for the 70:
Matt. 28:1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.—7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
In order to not confuse the first 12 apostles with the above 70 individuals (all of them called to spread the gospel by Jesus Christ), it makes sense that “the apostles” refers only to the original apostles, including either Judas Iscariot or later on Matthias. Also Jesus Christ could actually be called an apostle, because he was also sent forth by his Father to share the gospel with the people on earth. Neither Jesus would be included whenever the Bible uses the term “the apostles”.
Hebr. 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;
John 13:16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
Even if the 70 individuals mentioned in Luke 10 had similar tasks as the 12 apostles, it’s only the 12 apostles that will be given one foundation each in the new Jerusalem. The 12 are likely viewed in highest regard because they were the first disciples who remained with him (unlike other disciples as those mentioned in John 6:66), who were taught by him, dined with him, were his close friends, etc. It’s difficult to have 12 + 70 very close and intimate friends, but it’s possible to select 12 individuals and be both a close friend as well as being their master. They in turn could do the same – gather a few people and making them into disciples.
Rev. 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Eph. 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Acts 16:4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
2 Peter 3:2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.—17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Luke 11:47 Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.48 Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:50 That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation
Jesus is naturally the one with all the wisdom in the world, but since the first apostles were sent out from him they are also very trustworthy. Jude is therefore in Jude 1:3 exhorting christians “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints“. The saints were the first christians, and the very first christians were the apostles. If the apostles make sure to adhere to Jesus teaching, and if these apostles make sure to only appoint qualified men to be apostles and pastors, then all would be well in church. Unfortunately Paul (and Peter, John, Jude, etc) also knew that wolves in sheep’s clothing would be entering the church soon after their own departure. In 1 Tim. 5:22 we can read Paul’s warning to Timothy “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily” (which is the way one officially appoints a presbytery/pastor), because he knew the order of events.
Junia is a female name, but rather than being named an apostle it’s more likely that the below verse should be read as though the apostles viewed both Andronicus and Junia as godly individuals of highest regard.
Rom. 16:7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
If teachers, evangelists and pastors are still active in church today, then so are apostles and prophets since they are all listed together in the below verses. Paul is explaining the church order for the Corinthians and the Ephesians (and for all of us), and it would be strange if he asked “are all apostles, are all teachers, are all workers of miracles?”, if these functions would soon cease and lose their significance. If apostles would soon be irrelevant in church within one generation, it would be better for Paul to end all confusion by explaining that only the twelve could be considered apostles and that therefore false apostles could easily be detected.
1 Cor. 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
Eph. 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Based on the above, the order of authority seems to be: God almighty, Jesus Christ his son (Jesus is of course also God, but he is also the son who is sent out), the 12 apostles, other apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healing, helps, governments and diversities of tongues.
We are warned about false apostles
If the case would be that only the initial 12 disciples could ever be considered true apostles, it would be a breeze to figure out which ones the false apostles are. Anyone claiming to be an apostle and not being among the first dozen or more, would by definition be a false prophet. Yet, the Bible doesn’t make this particular distinction between true apostles and false apostles, but it’s rather about being qualified and showing good fruit. We are warned about both false apostles and false prophets – and supposed to look out.
2 Cor. 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Rev. 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
2 Cor. 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
A true Biblical apostle would also be able to show signs, perform wonders and mighty deeds. Both Philip and Stephen did great miracles (Acts 8:6 and 6:8).
The holy Spirit and the ability to speak in tongues can be received by laying on of hands
Some christians suggest that the holy Spirit and miracles can only come from the hands of the apostles, but the Bible doesn’t narrow it down in that way. The first christians (normally the apostles) had this power, but the amount of christians increased and the holy Spirit could also be received in other ways (by listening to the gospel and having a repentant heart).
Acts 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money
Acts. 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 9:17 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.18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
Acts 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”