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I was reading Hebrews 3 when I saw that the author is calling Jesus the apostle.

Hebrews 3:1-2 (ESV): Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house.

I understand the reasoning behind calling Jesus the high priest, and Hebrews goes into a lot of specificity with that, but calling him an apostle seems so out of place? What is the meaning behind this?

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    The Messenger of the Covenant was prophesied in Malachi 3:1,2. Mark alludes to this in Mark 1:1. Hebrews enlarges upon this.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 23, 2021 at 17:10

3 Answers 3

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The word, apostle" simply means one who is sent (on a mission or errand of some kind).

Jesus was sent by the Father:

  • John 17:18 - As You [the Father] sent Me into the world, I have also sent them into the world.
  • John 5:23 - that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
  • John 5:37 - And the Father who sent Me has Himself testified about Me.
  • John 6:29 - The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.
  • John 6:38 - For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me.

... and so forth. This designation of Jesus as the Great Apostle is consistent with His many other titles. See appendix below.

APPENDIX - Titles of Jesus

Here is a sample (not exhaustive) of the titles of Jesus:

  • Jesus is our Great High Priest (ἀρχιερεύς = leading priest, Heb 3:1, 4:14, 8:1, etc) who is head/leader of the royal priesthood (ἱεράτευμα, 1 Peter 2:5, 9), the church of Jesus Christ who are thus denoted as "priests" (ἱερεύς, hiereus)
  • Jesus is our King (Luke 1:33, John 1:49, Acts 13:23, Rev 11:15) of the Holy nation (1 Peter 2:5, 9), His church
  • Jesus the Great Shepherd (ἀρχιποίμην, 1 Peter 5:4, see also John 10:11, 14) and we are the sheep of His pasture (John 10:4, 27, 1 Peter 2:25, etc), His church
  • Jesus is the great Overseer (1 Peter 2:25) of us all, His church
  • Jesus is our great Example (John 13:15, 1 Peter 2:21, 1 Tim 1:16) that we follow ("Christians" are those who are like Christ) to create His church
  • Jesus is also the Great Apostle, Heb 3:1 (see also John 5:23, 6:29, 38, 17:18, etc).
  • Jesus is the First & Last, Rev 1:17, 18, 2:8, 22:13.
  • Jesus set an example of how to love (John 13:34, 35, 1 John 4:8, 16) that we should love as He loves us
  • Jesus is the chief cornerstone or “capstone” (Eph 2:19-22, 1 Peter 2:4-8, Acts 4:11, Matt 21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17) with the members of the Christian community are bricks in the temple of God (1 Cor 3:16, 17)
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Why does Hebrews 3:1 call Jesus an apostle?

The original Greek word in this verse is apostolos (Ἀπόστολον Strong's G652). Strong's Concordance defines it as follows:

Definition: a messenger, one sent on a mission, an apostle
Usage: a messenger, envoy, delegate, one commissioned by another to represent him in some way, especially a man sent out by Jesus Christ Himself to preach the Gospel; an apostle.

Note what Thayer's Greek Lexicon mentions in reference to this verse:

ἀπόστολον ... τῆς ὁμολογίας ἡμῶν the apostle whom we confess, of Christ, God's chief messenger, who has brought the κλῆσις ἀπουρανιος, as compared with Moses, whom the Jews confess, Hebrews 3:1 INT.

The topic "Apostle" in the Insight on the Scriptures corroborates this information:

The Greek word a·poʹsto·los is derived from the common verb a·po·stelʹlo, meaning simply “send forth (or off).” (Mt 10:5; Mr 11:3) Its basic sense is clearly illustrated in Jesus’ statement: “A slave is not greater than his master, nor is one that is sent forth [a·poʹsto·los] greater than the one that sent him.” (Joh 13:16) In this sense the word also applies to Christ Jesus as “the apostle and high priest whom we confess.” (Heb 3:1; compare Mt 10:40; 15:24; Lu 4:18, 43; 9:48; 10:16; Joh 3:17; 5:36, 38; 6:29, 57; 7:29; 8:42; 10:36; 11:42; 17:3, 8, 18, 21-25; 20:21.) Jesus was sent forth by God as his appointed and commissioned representative.

So while we usually understand this word applied to Jesus' 12 chosen disciples, it does also apply to Jesus himself.

[Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)]

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Apostle, or messenger, one who is sent. Malachi 3:1,

"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts." (KJV)

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