I was asked a very good question today and I should have given a better answer. What is the difference between a Disciple, Apostle, and a Prophet
A disciple is a follower, one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another. A Christian disciple is a person who accepts and assists in the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ. Christian discipleship is the process by which disciples grow in the Lord Jesus Christ and are equipped by the Holy Spirit, who resides in our hearts, to overcome the pressures and trials of this present life and become more and more Christlike. This process requires believers to respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to examine their thoughts, words and actions and compare them with the Word of God. This requires that we be in the Word daily—studying it, praying over it, and obeying it. In addition, we should always be ready to give testimony of the reason for the hope that is within us and to disciple others to walk in His way.
During the first century of the church, there was an office of apostle and there was a spiritual gift of apostle. The office or position of apostle was held by the 12 disciples of Jesus plus Matthias, who took Judas’ place, and Paul. Those who held the office or position of apostle were chosen specifically by Christ. The replacement for Judas is seen in Acts. Note in this passage that Judas’ position was called an office. It should also be noted that Paul was chosen by Christ. These men were given the task of setting up the foundation of the church. It should be understood that it was for the universal church that these men were a part of the foundation. The foundation of the church (universal church) was laid in the first century. This is why the office of apostle is no longer functioning.
There was also a spiritual gift of apostle (this is not to be confused with the office—they are separate). Among those who had the spiritual gift were James, Barnabas, Andronicus and Junias, possibly Silas and Timothy, and Apollos. This latter group had the gift of apostleship but not the apostolic “office” conferred upon the Twelve and Paul. Those who had the gift of apostle, then, were those who carried the gospel message with God’s authority. The word “apostle” means “one sent as an authoritative delegate.” This was true of those who held the office of Apostle (like Paul) and those who had the spiritual gift (like Apollos). Though there are men like this today, men who are sent by God to spread the gospel, it is best NOT to refer to them as apostles because of the confusion this causes since many are not aware of the two different uses of the term apostle.
The gift of prophet was a temporary gift given by the Christ for the laying of the foundation of the universal church. Prophets also were foundational to the universal church . The prophet proclaimed a message from the Lord for the believers of the first century. These believers did not have the advantage we have of having a complete Bible. The last book of the New Testament (Revelation) was not completed until late in the first century. So the Lord provided gifted men called prophets who proclaimed messages from God to the people until the canon of Scripture was complete.