Apostles, The Twelve

Doctrine of the Apostles


Definition and Etymology:

APOSTOLOS is an attic Greek word that was already 500 years old when used in the New Testament.

1) It was originally used for a high‑ranking admiral or general officer chosen by a counsel to command either an army or an Athenian fleet on a military expedition, generally against the Spartans. Therefore, it was an admiral, supreme commander, one who has the highest rank.

2) Its other meaning was used less extensively for whomever was in command of a band of Greek colonists when they would leave Athens and go elsewhere to establish a Greek colony.  The governor of the founded colony was called an APOSTOLOS.

APOSTOLOS is a Greek noun from the verb APOSTELLOO, which is a compound word from APO, a preposition and primary particle meaning, “from or away from,” and STELLOO a primary verb meaning, “to arrange, prepare, gather up.” Therefore, APSOTLLOO comes to mean, “to send or send away.” Likewise, APOSTOLOS comes to mean, “a messenger, he that is sent or one sent on a mission.” It is transliterated and used for an Apostle, a delegate; specifically, an ambassador of the Gospel; officially, a commissioner of Christ (with miraculous powers). We noted this word in John 13:16 for “one who is sent,” in reference to our Lord who was sent by the Father.

Joseph Thayer states: “A delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders, specifically applied to the twelve Apostles of Christ, and in a broader sense, applied to other eminent Christian teachers like Barnabas, Timothy, and Silvanus.”

So, we understand the generic use of the term but in this outline, we are noting the specific use in regards to the twelve.

“The conceptual background of the New Testament term apostolos has been variously represented. Many scholars believe that the rabbinic office of the shaliach—attested by 150 A.D.—constitutes the proper background for understanding the New Testament term “Apostle.” The shaliach was established as a legal institution in rabbinic Judaism, to ensure that an appointed “messenger” was given due regard as the legal representative of his sender. The shaliach functioned with the full authority of the one who commissioned him. According to Jewish tradition, “A man’s agent (shaliach) is like to himself” (Mishnah Berakoth 5:5; Rosh ha-Shanah 4:9; compare 1 Sam. 25:40-41; 2 Sam. 10:1-19). It is not certain that the legal rabbinic notion of a shaliach was established before the time of Christ. Moreover, even if it were in use by that time, the differences between the rabbinic of shaliach and that of the New Testament term apostolos are significant enough to urge caution in relating the two terms too closely. The shaliach, for example, had a function that was more legal than religious (to serve documents, collect money, carry information), was applied generally to human representation (whether individuals or groups), and lasted for only a limited period. The New Testament Apostle, on the other hand, emerges as a divinely appointed, lifetime witness to the saving acts of God, specifically, the death and Resurrection of Jesus. The Old Testament notion of a shaliach also differs from the rabbinic conceptions of that term and appears to be of more significance for understanding the New Testament term “Apostle.” The “sending” and commissioning of the great prophetic figures such as Moses and Isaiah in Ex. 3:10; Isa. 6:8, where the Hebrew verb for sending, shalach, is translated by apostello in the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament, as divine spokesmen surely influenced the New Testament word, “Apostle.” We may also note that the same “sending” terminology is applied to other noteworthy characters such as Elijah (2 Kings 2:2, 4, 6), Jeremiah (Jer. 1:7), and Ezekiel (Ezek. 2:3, 4). As a reference to a divine spokesman, Old Testament ideas of a “sent one” are certainly in line with the New Testament term “Apostle.” Compare Jeremiah 7:25.” (Holman Bible Dictionary)

Apostleship is a Spiritual Gift: 1 Cor 12:28.

The Qualification for Being an Apostle Included:

  • Seeing the Lord and being an eyewitness to His Resurrection, Acts 1:2, 22; 1 Cor 9:1.
  • Being invested with miraculous sign-gifts, Acts 5:15-16; Heb 2:3-4.
  • Being chosen by the Lord and the Holy Spirit, Mat 10:1-2; Acts 1:2.

The 12 Apostles exercised absolute authority (spiritual dictatorship) over the churches until the Canon of Scripture was completed. The Canon is now the absolute authority.

Apostles were Appointed, (Sovereign decision, no merit involved.) by:

  • God the Father, Rom 1:1.
  • Jesus Christ provided the spiritual gifts, Eph 4:11.
  • The Holy Spirit matches the gift to the individual, 1 Cor 12:11.

No Apostle was appointed to the Church until after the Ascension of Christ, Eph 4:8-11. Peter was NOT appointed an Apostle to the Church in Matthew 16:18-19. The Disciples were appointed Apostles to Israel (at that time), not to the Church. Note: Matthew 10:6, “house of Israel.” The “keys” are the prerogative of witnessing, and they do not carry special authority.

To qualify, as one of the twelve Apostles, one must be an eyewitness to the resurrected Christ, 1 Cor 9:1; 15:8-9.

1 Cor 9:1, “Am I not free? Am I not an Apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?”

An Apostle also had the gift of miracles. Paul did not have the gift of healing at the end of his life, it was removed from him before he died, some ten years before, in 57 AD, 2 Cor 12:6-10; Phil 2:27; 2 Tim 4:20.

This using of miracles was necessary to sustain their absolute apostolic authority, Acts 5:15; 16:16-18; 28:8-9.

There is no perpetuation of Apostleship. No sons became Apostles. We never receive anything in the Christian life through physical birth. Everything we have comes as a result of spiritual birth, regeneration.

Apostles exercised absolute authority (spiritual dictatorship) over the churches until the completion of the Canon of scripture (66 Bible books) which is now absolute. Today no one has the right to exercise authority over more than one church. Each local church should be self-sustaining and self-governing.

Apostles received direct revelation from God. All revelation today is through the Word. All writers of the New Testament were either Apostles or someone closely associated with an Apostle (Mark, Luke, James, and Jude).

No one today has or will reach apostolic stature, 2 Cor 12:12. No human being can perform miracles at will today.

Once the Canon of Scripture was complete, (writing of Revelation), the gift of Apostleship was withdrawn. The Canon of the New Testament became the basis of modus operandi and the absolute criterion.

The list of the original 12 Disciples is found in Matthew 10:2-4 and Luke 6:13-16.

The Roster of the 12 Apostles:

  • Simon‑Peter, one of the three most active Apostles.
  • Andrew, his brother, who was almost an honorary Apostle, because he did so little and had a very short life.
  • John, being one of the most active and who lived the longest. One of the two sons of Zebedee with his brother James, came from a very wealthy family. He wrote 1, 2 & 3 John, Revelation, and the Gospel of John.
  • James, the brother of John.
  • Philip, gets confused with the Evangelist of the same name.
  • Bartholomew, also called Nathanael.
  • Thomas, also called Didymus which means, “a twin.” He did very little according to the Bible. But extra‑Biblical sources indicate that he went to India and did a lot of work there.
  • Matthew, alias Levi, the writer of the Gospel.
  • James, the son of Alphaeus, who disappears immediately.  He is mistakenly called “James the lesser.”  But just because we know so little about him, doesn’t mean he’s inferior.
  • Thaddaeus, called “Lebbaeus” in the KJV Matthew 10:3, and in Luke 6:16, “Judas the brother of James;” while John (John 14:22), referring to the same person, speaks of “Judas, not Iscariot.”
  • Simon, the Canaanite, there is nothing recorded about him. Canaanite was the name of a Jewish sect. He was also called the “Zealot.”
  • These eleven are mentioned first in Mat 10:2‑4 as Apostles to Israel. They were the eleven Disciples of our Lord, along with Judas Iscariot. The twelfth Apostle was not Judas Iscariot, nor Matthias of Acts 1:23-26. It was actually Paul, (Saul of Tarsus). But before he was recognized as such, a farce occurred in Acts 1. Peter suggested that they elect someone to take the place of Judas Iscariot, but God had a better plan.

Meet the Apostles:

Much of the information below is taken from various Biblical Dictionaries including, The Holman, Easton, Unger, Nelson, and Hastings. Likewise, several other reference books and encyclopedias were used including, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Who’s Who in Christian History, Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, Foxes Book of Martyrs, etc.

In this discussion, we will not spend much time on Judas Iscariot, because we already discussed him early in this chapter. Likewise, we will not spend much time on Paul, as I have previously taught on him, and his contributions deserve singular attention.

As we discuss each Apostle, we will note information regarding his Name, Background, Personality, Role Among the Disciples, Role in the Early Church*, Missions*, Legacy, and what Foxes Book of Martyrs states regarding Him.

* These categories will only be used for the more well know Apostles were much information is available. Otherwise, these categories will be included under “Role Among the Disciples” or “Legacy”.

Simon – Peter

His Name:

In the Greek, his name is PETROS, meaning, “a rock, stone, pebble, also a mass of rock detached from a larger rock.” His name was formerly Simon that means, “hearing.” There are actually four forms of Peter’s name in the New Testament: the Hebrew translated into Greek, “Simeon” to “Simon,” and the Aramaic translated into Greek, “Cephas” to “Petros.” Our Lord used the Aramaic name “Cephas,” similar to the Hebrew KEPHA of the same meaning. He was called “Simon” throughout Jesus’ ministry, but came to be known as “Peter” more and more in the apostolic age.


Peter was the son of Jonas, Jonah or John, Mat 16:17; John 1:42; 21:15-16, and was the older brother of Andrew. His mother is not named in Scripture, but traditionally known as Joanna. He was a native of Bethsaida, the whereabouts of which is difficult to place archaeologically, but believed to be on the northwestern coast of the Sea of Galilee, to which also Philip was from, John 1:44. Peter and his brother Andrew had a fishing business centered in Capernaum, Mat 4:18; Mark 1:16, 21, 29, on the Sea of Galilee, and were partners of James and John, Luke 5:10. Peter was married, Mark 1:29-31, 1 Cor 9:5, and maintained a residence in Capernaum, Mark 1:21, 29. In Mark 1:29-31, Jesus heals his mother-in-law, who perhaps was living with Peter. In fact, it is possible that his home became Jesus’ headquarters in Galilee, Mat 8:14; Mark 1:29, 36; 2:1. 1 Cor 9:5 says that Peter, along with the other married Apostles, often took his wife with him on his missionary journeys. Later tradition speaks of his children (Clement of Alexandria’s Stromateis 2.6.52) and says that Peter was present at the martyrdom of his wife, crying out to her by name, “Oh you, Remember the Lord,” (Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History 3.30.2).


The New Testament tells us more about Peter than any other Apostle with the exception of Paul. He was a pioneer among the twelve and the early church, breaking ground that the church would later follow. Easton’s Bible Dictionary states, “Simon was a Galilean, and he was that out and out…The Galileans had a marked character of their own. They had a reputation for an independence and energy which often ran out into turbulence. They were at the same time of a franker and more transparent disposition than their brethren in the south. In all these respects, in bluntness, impetuosity, headiness, and simplicity, Simon was a genuine Galilean. They spoke a peculiar dialect. They had a difficulty with the guttural sounds and some others, and their pronunciation was reckoned harsh in Judea. The Galilean accent stuck to Simon all through his career. It betrayed him as a follower of Christ when he stood within the judgment-hall, Mark 14:70. It betrayed his own nationality and that of those conjoined with him on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:7. Further, we note in the Gospels, Peter’s inquisitive, bold, and boisterous nature, always seeming to be first to ask a question or make a statement, usually “sticking his foot in his mouth,” until we see him after the Resurrection of our Lord.

Role Among the Disciples:

Before becoming a Disciple of Jesus, Peter and his brother Andrew had been influenced by the teaching of John the Baptist, John 1:35-42. Andrew first brought him to Jesus, vs. 40-42. Our Lord gathered his followers in two stages: first as Disciples (learners or apprentices, and later as Apostles. Peter was the first Disciple to be called, Mark 1:16-18, and the first to be named an Apostle, Mark 3:14-16. In Mat 4:18-22, we see our Lord’s encounter with Peter, Andrew, James, and John, where it led Peter to proclaim first Jesus as Lord and the Messiah in Mat 16:13-17 with Luke 5:8-11, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

Peter is credited with being a leader of the twelve Disciples whom Jesus called. His name always occurs first in the lists of Disciples, Mat 10:2; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14. He frequently served as the spokesman for the Disciples, compare Mark 8:29, and was usually the one who raised the questions which they all seemed to be asking, Mark 10:28; 11:21; Mat 15:15; 18:21; Luke 12:41. Jesus often singled out Peter for teachings intended for the entire group of Disciples, see Mark 8:29-33.

As a member of the inner circle, (Peter, James, and John), Peter was also a leader and present with Jesus at the raising of the synagogue ruler’s daughter, Mark 5:35-41, at the Transfiguration, Mark 9:2-8, and at the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane, Mark 14:43-50. He entered into the empty grave, John 20:1-10, and saw the “linen clothes laid by themselves,” Luke 24:9-12.

Our Lord first revealed himself to him of all the Apostles, Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5. Peter was the first to plunge into the water and swim toward the shore where the risen Jesus stood, John 21:7, where upon the shores of the Sea of Galilee our Lord asked him three times, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?”, John 21:1-19.

As representative Disciple, Peter frequently typified the Disciple of little faith. His inconsistent behavior, Mat 14:27-31, reached a climax with his infamous denial, Mark 14:66-72. Peter was restored, however, by the resurrected Lord, to his position of prominence, John 21:15-19; compare Mark 16:7.

His Role in the Early Church:

In Acts 1:15-26, he proposed that the vacancy caused by the apostasy of Judas should be filled, and He was first on the day of Pentecost to proclaim salvation to all, Acts 2:14-40. Many times, he defended his companions and Christianity in the courts, Acts 4:19-20; 5:17-21; 29-32, and was imprisoned himself several times, many of which he was miraculously freed by our Lord and the Spirit.

Despite Peter’s role among the Disciples and the promise of his leadership in the early church, Mat 16:17-19, he did not emerge as the leader of either the Jewish or Gentile church. He played an influential role in establishing the Jerusalem church (see the early chapters of Acts), yet James, the brother of Jesus, assumed the leadership role of the Jewish community. Though Peter was active in the incipient stages of the Gentile mission, see Acts 10-11, Paul became the “Apostle to the Gentiles.” Peter instead had a commitment to serve as a bridge in the early church, doing more than any other to hold together the diverse strands of primitive Christianity.

His Missions:

Peter left Jerusalem and after laboring for some time in Samaria, he returned to Jerusalem, and reported to the church there the results of his work, Acts 8:14-25. He remained there for a period, during which he met Paul for the first time since his conversion, Acts 9:26-30; Gal 1:18. Leaving Jerusalem again, he went forth on a missionary journey to Lydda and Joppa, Acts 9:32-43. He is next called on to open the door of the Christian church to the Gentiles by the admission of Cornelius of Caesarea, Acts 10.

After remaining for some time at Caesarea, he returned to Jerusalem, Acts 11:1-18, where he defended his conduct with reference to the Gentiles. Next, we hear of his being cast into prison by Herod Agrippa, Acts 12:1-19; but in the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison gates, and he went forth and found refuge in the house of Mary, the mother of John-Mark.

He took part in the deliberations of the council in Jerusalem, Acts 15:1-31; Gal 2:1-10, regarding the relation of the Gentiles to the church. Their discussion regarding the Gentiles awakened new interest for Antioch, and the council of the Apostles and elders at Jerusalem sent new ambassadors. Here Paul and Peter met again.

We have no further mention of Peter in the Acts of the Apostles. He seems to have gone down to Antioch after the council at Jerusalem, and there to have been guilty of false pretense, for which he was severely reprimanded by Paul, Gal 2:11-16, who “rebuked him to his face.” Then extra Biblically, it appears he traveled Paul’s routes until arriving at Rome, under the pseudonym, “Babylon,” to carry the Gospel, 1 Peter 5:13, where he was martyred.

His Legacy:

His legacy lived on long after his death. He is said to have inspired the writing of the first of the Gospels by Mark, Peter’s interpreter in Rome, (See Papias’ writings – 125 A.D.). According to tradition, the Coptic Orthodox Church is the Church of Alexandria, which was established by Mark in the middle of the 1st century. Both 1 & 2 Peter are traditionally attributed to him. The First Epistle of Peter was sent to churches in northern Asia Minor—the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia It also appears there was a great following of Peter in Corinth, as noted by Paul’s rebukes to the Corinthians, 1 Cor 1:12; 3:22. Significant also was the presence of a group of devotees of Peter who produced several writings in the name of the Apostle: the Acts of Peter, (the concluding chapters are preserved separately as the Martyrdom of Peter in three Greek manuscripts and in Coptic (fragmentary), Syriac, Ethiopic, Arabic, Armenian, and Slavonic versions.); the Gospel of Peter, and some would include 2 Peter. In addition, there are several apocryphal books, where Peter is prominently called: Acts of Peter and Andrew, Acts of Peter and the Twelve, and Acts of Peter and Paul. Finally, there is the Apocalypse of Peter, which is an apocalyptic books in the line of John’s Revelation.

To a great extent, subsequent generations of the church rely on the confession, witness, and ministry of Peter, the devoted, but fallible follower of Christ. As the representative Disciple, his enthusiasm and even his weaknesses have made him the supreme example of the developing Disciple, one who, through the power of the risen Lord, rose above his faults to become a towering figure on the church scene.

Tradition holds that Peter died as a martyr in Rome in the 60’s, 1 Clem. 5:1-6:1. Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, in a letter dated c. 170 (preserved in Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History 2.25.8) says that Peter and Paul taught together in Italy. At the end of that century, Irenaeus says (in Against Heresies 2.1-3) that Peter and Paul preached in Rome, and Tertullian in the same general period adds that Peter was martyred “like . . . the Lord” (Scorpiace 15). Clement of Alexandria and Origen both allude to Peter’s presence in Rome, and the latter adds the belief that he was “crucified head-downwards” (Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History 2.15.2; 3.1.2). The tradition that Peter was crucified may be supported in John 21:18: “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.”

Foxes Book of Martyrs states: “Among many other saints, the blessed Apostle Peter was condemned to death, and crucified, as some do write, at Rome; albeit some others, and not without cause, do doubt thereof.  Hegesippus saith that Nero sought matter against Peter to put him to death; which, when the people perceived, they entreated Peter with much ado that he would fly the city. Peter, through their importunity at length persuaded, prepared himself to avoid. But, coming to the gate, he saw the Lord Christ come to meet him, to whom he, worshipping, said, “Lord, whither dost Thou go?” To whom He answered and said, “I am come again to be crucified.” By this, Peter, perceiving his suffering to be understood, returned into the city. Jerome saith that he was crucified, his head being down and his feet upward, himself so requiring, because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord was.”


His Name:

In Greek, his name means, “manly, manliness, or a strong man.” No Hebrew or Aramaic name is recorded for him.


We have noted a few points about him being the younger brother of Peter. He is a native of the city of Bethsaida in Galilee, John 1:44, the son of Jonah – John, John 21:15, and brother of Simon Peter, Mat 4:18; 10:2; John 1:40.

His Personality:

Little is known about Andrew though he was the first to identify the Christ. Interestingly, though a partner in business with His brother Simon-Peter, James, and John, when in regards to our Lord, they are noted as the “inner circle,” and Andrew is left out, though he was one of the “confidential” Disciples with Peter, James, and John. This will be seen as we discuss James and John below. Andrew was either an unassuming figure and just forgotten about or had some personality traits that the others did not have. It is noteworthy that Andrew three times brings others to Christ, 1) Peter; 2) the boy with the loaves and fish; and 3) certain Greeks. These incidents may be regarded as a key to his character.

Role Among the Disciples:

At first a Disciple of John the Baptist, Andrew was led to receive Jesus when John pointed Him out as “the Lamb of God,” John 1:36-40, and became the first of His Disciples. He then brought his brother Simon to the Lord, telling him that he had “found the Messiah,” John 1:41-51, an action that continues to be a model for all who bring others to Christ. They both returned to their occupation as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee and remained there until, after John the Baptist’s imprisonment, they were called by Jesus to follow Him, Mat 4:18-20; Mark 1:14-18.

Further mention of him in the Gospels includes his being ordained as one of the twelve, Mat 10:2; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14. Being one of the confidential Disciples with Peter, James, and John, as they inquired of our Lord privately regarding the destruction of the temple and His future coming, Mark 13:3-4. He called to the attention of our Lord the boy with the loaves and fish at the feeding of the five thousand, John 6:8-9. He and Philip introduced to Jesus Greeks who desired to see Him, John 12:20-22. And he is mentioned for the last time as one of those who continued at Jerusalem in the “Upper Room” after the Ascension, Acts 1:13. Scripture relates nothing of him beyond these scattered notices.

His Legacy:

The traditions about Andrew are various. Eusebius quotes Origen as saying Andrew preached in Asia Minor and in Scythia, the region north of the Black Sea, as far as the Volga and Kiev; therefore, he became the patron saint of Romania and Russia. Jerome and Theodore put him in Achaia (Greece); Nicephorus in Asia Minor and Thrace. It is supposed that he founded a church in Constantinople and ordained Stachys, named by Paul, Rom 16:9, as its first bishop; therefore, known as the Apostle of Byzantium. This church would later develop into the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Andrew is recognized as its patron saint. He is also considered the patron saint of Scotland. The feast of Saint Andrew is observed on November 30 in both the Eastern and Western churches, and is the national day of Scotland.

Andrew is also noted extra biblically in the Acts of Polyxena and Xanthippe. Some ancient writers speak of an apocryphal Acts of Andrew. The text appears to have been aimed to be a continuation of the Acts of Andrew and Matthias (which was a portion of the Acts of Andrew that was sometimes found as a separate work). The extremely fragmentary nature of the Acts of Andrew makes it difficult to determine whether the text of the Acts of Peter and Andrew was originally considered amongst it, or was a later addition to the Acts of Andrew and Matthias fragments. The Acts, as well as a Gospel of St Andrew, appear among rejected books.

At length, tradition states, he came to Patrae, a city of Achaia, where Aegeas, the proconsul, enraged that he persisted in preaching, commanded him to join in sacrificing to the heathen gods, and upon the Apostle’s refusal, ordered him to be severely scourged and then crucified. To make his death more lingering, he was fastened to the cross, not with nails, but with cords. Having hung two days, praising God, and exhorting the spectators to embrace, or adhere to, the faith, he is said to have expired on November 30, but in what year is uncertain. The cross is stated to have been of the form called Crux decussata, and commonly known as “St. Andrew’s cross, X.”

Foxes Book of Martyrs states: “He preached the Gospel to many Asiatic nations; but on his arrival at Edhessa, he was taken and crucified on a cross, the two ends of which were fixed transversely in the ground. Hence the origin of the term, St. Andrew’s Cross.”

James, The Greater

His Name:

James is the English translation of the Greek name IAKOBOS from IAKOB or Jacob, which means, “supplanter.” The Hebrew equivalent is YAAQOB.


He is the older brother of John, Mark 5:37, one of the two sons of Zebedee, Mat 4:21; Mark 1:19; Luke 5:10. Zebedee or the Greek ZEBEDAIOS is from the Hebrew ZEBADYAH meaning, “Yah or God has bestowed” or “My gift from God.” Their mother is Salome, from the Hebrew SHALEM meaning, “peaceful,” who is most likely the sister of our Lord’s mother Mary, compare Mat 27:56; Mark 15:40; 16:1; John 19:25. That would make James and John first cousins of our Lord Jesus, and also related to the family of John the Baptist. He is a native of Bethsaida. His father was apparently a man of some wealth, since he owned a fishing ship and hired servants, compare Mark 1:20; Luke 5:3; John 19:27, as well as the accounts of his mother contributing consistently financially to the ministry of our Lord, Mark 15:41; 16:1; Luke 8:3. As noted previously, James and his brother were fishermen and partners with Simon and Andrew by trade, Mark 1:20; Luke 5:10.

His Personality:

As we will see below James seemed to be warm and somewhat impetuous in temperament. His impetuous, hotheaded, and sometimes fanatic nature may have led to James’ and John’s surname “Sons of Thunder”, Mark 3:17, which also means, “strength, unexpectedness, and zeal, approaching to methods of violence.” (Thunder to the Hebrews was the voice of God. It conveys the idea of ardent temper, great strength and vehemence of character, whether for good or for evil, according to the motive and aim. The same thunder which terrifies does also purify the air and fructify the earth with its accompanying showers of rain. Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church.)

So, we see eagerness, zeal, passion, and obedience in the nature of James and John. The vehemence and fanaticism, which were characteristic of James, had made him to be feared and hated among the Jewish enemies of the Christians, which eventually lead to his martyrdom.

Role Among the Disciples:

James appears first in the narrative as a fisherman. The call to James to follow Christ, Mat 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11, was given by Jesus as He was walking by the Sea of Galilee. James often took care of our Lord’s daily needs, Mat 27:56; Mark 15:40-41. When called by our Lord to be His follower in the spring or summer, James and his brother responded with an eagerness that renders them models of obedience, Mat 4:21-22; Mark 1:19-20. He is in the roll of the twelve, Mat 10:2; Mark 3:14, 17; Luke 6:13-14; Acts 1:13. These brothers and Peter where part of the “inner circle” and seemed for some reason to be especially fitted to live in close intimacy with the Lord and were with Him on several trips; appears among rejected books et al interesting occasions.

As mentioned previously, they alone were present at:

  • The transfiguration, Mat 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28.
  • The raising of Jairus’ daughter, Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51.
  • The Garden of Gethsemane during our Lord’s agony, Mat 26:37; Mark 14:33.
  • With Andrew, they listened to the Lord’s private discourse on the fall of Jerusalem, Mark 13:3.

He was also present when the risen Jesus appeared for the 3rd time to the Disciples and the miraculous catch of fish made at the Sea of Tiberias (a.k.a. Galilee), John 21:1-14.

Through having mistaken views of the Messiah’s kingdom and an ambition to share in its glory, he and John joined in the request made to Jesus by their mother to be seated on Jesus’ right and left, Mat 20:20-28; Mark 10:35-45.

Shortly after the Transfiguration, when Jesus was “determined to go to Jerusalem”, Luke 9:51, and was passing through Samaria, the anger of James and John was fired up by the unfavorable reception granted to Him by the people, Luke 9:52-54. Therefore, the brothers desired to punish the inhabitants of the village. They asked, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” This may be why they were called by our Lord in Mark 3:17, “Boanerges” (bo-an-erg-es’), “Sons of Thunder.” Our Lord, “turned and rebuked them,” Luke 9:55. The text of 55b and 56a, our Lord’s rebuke, is not in the earliest manuscripts.

His Legacy:

He is always mentioned with his brother John, and mentioned first, probably for being the elder, except in Luke 9:28. After the crucifixion, we do not have any mention of James for 14-years until his martyrdom. He was the first of the Apostles to be martyred, and the only one mentioned in the New Testament, being slain with a sword at the command of King Herod Agrippa I of Judea in A.D. 42-44 (most thinking 44), Acts 12:2. The vehemence and fanaticism which were characteristic of James had made him to be feared and hated among the Jewish enemies of the Christians, and therefore when “Herod the king put forth his hands to afflict certain of the church … he killed James the brother of John with the sword,” Acts 12:1-2. Thus, did James fulfill the prophecy of our Lord that he too should drink of the cup of the Lord, Mark 10:39.

Extra Biblically in “The Acts of James in India” (compare Budge, II, 295-303), tells of the missionary journey of James and Peter to India, of the appearance of Christ to them in the form of a beautiful young man, of their healing a blind man, and of their imprisonment, miraculous release, and their conversion of the people. According to the “Martyrdom of James” (Budge, II, 304-8), James preached to the 12 tribes scattered abroad, and persuaded them to give their first-fruits to the church instead of to Herod. The accounts of his trial and death are similar to that in Acts 12:1-2.

James is also considered the patron saint of Spain. The legend states that he preached there and supposedly was the first to bring the Gospel of Christ. It speaks of his death in Judea and the subsequent transportation of his body by ship under the guidance of angels to Iria. Also, they say that his miraculous appearances played heavily in the history of Spain. This led to giving him the name “Santiago Matamoros” (“Saint James the Moor-slayer”). These accounts can be found in Mrs. Jameson’s Sacred and Legendary Art, I, 230-41. These traditions are also the basis for the pilgrimage route in Spain that began to be established in the 9th century, and the shrine dedicated to James at Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia in Spain, which became one of the most famous pilgrimage sites for Catholics. The Way of St. James is a tree of routes that cross Western Europe and arrive at Santiago through Northern Spain.

Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis, VI; Apollonius, quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History 6.17, stated, according to the tradition of the early Church, James had not yet left Jerusalem at this time. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans written after AD 44, expressed his intention to avoid “building on someone else’s foundation,” Rom 15:20, 24, and may have visited Spain, presumably unevangelized.

Foxes Book of Martyrs:

It was not until ten years after the death of Stephen that the second martyrdom took place; for no sooner had Herod Agrippa been appointed governor of Judea, than with a view to ingratiate himself with them, he raised a sharp persecution against the Christians, and determined to make an effectual blow by striking at their leaders. The account given us by an eminent primitive writer, Clemens Alexandrinus, ought not to be overlooked; that, as James was led to the place of martyrdom, his accuser was brought to repent of his conduct by the Apostle’s extraordinary courage and undauntedness, and fell down at his feet to request his pardon, professing himself a Christian, and resolving that James should not receive the crown of martyrdom alone. Hence, they were both beheaded at the same time. Thus, did the first apostolic martyr cheerfully and resolutely receive that cup, which he had told our Savior he was ready to drink. These events took place A.D. 44.


His Name:

John is the Greek name ‘IOANNES. It stems from the Hebrew name YOHANAN that means, “Jehovah or Yahweh is or has been gracious.”


John is the younger brother of James “the greater,” Mat 10:2; Mark 3:17; 10:35, a son of Zebedee and Salome, apparently of some wealth. In noting his acquaintance with Caiaphas, the High Priest at the arrest and Jewish trials of Jesus, it implies a position of at least considerable influence and means, John 18:15. He was most likely a first cousin of our Lord and relative of John the Baptist. He and James were probably trained in the ordinary education of Jewish youth with no special or rabbinical training. He followed his father in occupation as a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, and he and his brother were in partnership with Simon-Peter and Andrew. He was deeply influenced by the teachings of John the Baptist. (See notes on James above for additional scripture references.)

His Personality:

The synoptic Gospels show John as a zealous and loyal follower of Jesus. He was the Disciple whom Jesus loved, yet he had zeal and intensity of character called with his brother James a “Boanerges” (boa-ner’-gaz) – “Son of Thunder.” He is not, however, depicted as gentle and considerate, he was a “Son of Thunder.” In the early days, it appeared that he knew little of the love that should characterize a follower of Jesus (as depicted in the scene regarding the Samaritans), but he did have faith and a passionate conviction that Jesus was the Son of God. In His Gospel and Epistles, we see a similar John but now spiritually matured and abounding in love. On almost every occasion when he is mentioned in the Bible, he is in the company of someone else and normally his companion does the speaking. The only words in the Synoptic Gospels attributed specifically to John are“Master, we saw one casting out devils in your name … and we forbid him, because he does not follow us”, Mark 9:38; Luke 9:49. This may be due to his age, being the younger brother, or just having a reserved personality. John may have been more the thinker than a man of action and leader of men, though the hot temperament of his brother and the men of Galilee named above was also in his nature, Luke 9:49, 54.

Role Among the Disciples:

John was highly esteemed among the Apostles and he stood especially close to Jesus. Upon the invitation of Jesus, he became a Disciple among Jesus’ followers, John 1:36-37. As noted in James’s bio, they returned for a while and when Jesus again called them, Mat 4:21; Luke 5:1-11, they left all and permanently attached themselves to the company of His Disciples. John is always mentioned in the first four in the lists of the twelve, Mat 10:2; Mark 3:17; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13. John is also among the “inner three,” Peter, James, and John, who were with Jesus on special occasions in the Synoptic Gospels: (1) the raising of Jairus’ daughter, Mark 5:37, (2) the transfiguration, Mark 9:2, and (3) the Garden of Gethsemane, Mark 14:32-33. It was to these three that our Lord looked for encouragement. Andrew joined these three when they asked Jesus about the signs of the coming destruction of Jerusalem, Mark 13:3.

Luke 22:8, identifies Peter and John as the two Disciples who were sent to prepare the Passover meal for Jesus and the Disciples. He reclined with Jesus during the Last Supper, John 13:23-26, and at the urging of Peter, asked who the betrayer was. At the betrayal, he and Peter followed Jesus, while the others ran away, John 18:15. At the trial, he follows Christ into the council chamber (because of his acquaintance with the High Priest Caiaphas), and from there to the Praetorium, John 18:15-28. It is thought that only John of the all the Apostles stood at the cross with Jesus’ mother and was charged by our Lord with her care, John 19:25-27. To him and Peter, Mary Magdalene first conveys the Resurrection of our Lord, John 20:2. He and Peter, the first to go see of Mary’s account, ran to the empty tomb, John 20:2-10. He won the race, but stood outside the tomb until Peter came. Peter, the leader of men, went right in, and John followed. We read that he “saw and believed,” John 20:8. After the Resurrection, he and Peter again return to the Sea of Galilee and recognized the risen Lord after the great catch of fish, John 21:1, 7.

Another possible account of the Apostle John besides those attributed to him above, (with Andrew one of John the Baptist’s Disciples, John 1:35, and the unnamed Disciple that helped Peter gain access to the house of the high priest Caiaphas, John 18:15-16), includes: one of the unnamed Disciples who was with the Lord at the marriage feast of Cana, John 2:2.

His Role in the Early Church:

After Jesus’ Ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, John, together with Peter, took a prominent part in the founding and guidance of the Church. The Apostle John appears three times in the Book of Acts, and each time he is with Peter, Acts 1:13; 3:1-11; 4:13, 20; 8:14. He is with Peter at the healing of the lame man in the Temple, Acts 3:1-11; with Peter, he is also thrown into prison, Acts 4:3. After Peter healed a man, they were arrested, imprisoned, and then released, Acts 4:13-20. He is also with Peter visiting the newly converted in Samaria, Acts 8:14.

They were considered “uneducated and untrained men” (probably due to their Galilean accent, as mentioned above and that they did not receive a rabbinical education), Acts 4:13, but they answered their accusers boldly: “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard”, Acts 4:20. Later, John and Peter were sent to Samaria to confirm the conversion of Samaritans Acts 8:14. Philip the deacon evangelist (not the Apostle) evangelized the Samaritans, but the Apostles in Jerusalem decided to send Peter and John to Samaria when they heard how the people had accepted the Gospel message. “As soon as they arrived, they began praying for these new Christians to receive the Holy Spirit,” Acts 8:15. This is interesting given John and James’ earlier rebuke of the Samaritans when refusing to greet the Lord.

Peter’s affection and concern for John are shown in his question in John 21:21, “Lord, and what about this man?

John in common with the other Apostles remained some 12-years in the ministry of Jerusalem, until the persecution of Herod Agrippa I led to the scattering of the Apostles through the various provinces of the Roman Empire, cf. Acts 12:1-17.

Paul mentioned John only once: “James (the brother of Jesus), Cephas (Simon Peter), and John, who seemed to be pillars” of the church agreed that Paul and Barnabas would go to the Gentiles, while they would work among the Jews, Gal. 2:9. John apparently remained in Jerusalem as a leader of the church there, Acts 15:6. During the persecution under Herod Agrippa I, he lost his brother, James by martyrdom, Acts 12:2, while his friend Peter sought safety in flight, Acts 12:18-19. His subsequent history is unrecorded. He was not there; however, at the time of Paul’s last visit, Acts 21:15-40.

His Missions:

John probably remained in Judea until the death of Mary released him from his promise. When this took place, we can only speculate. Assuming the authorship of the Epistles and Revelation to be his, the facts which the New Testament writings assert or imply are:

  • That, having come to Ephesus, some persecution drove him to Patmos, Rev 1:9.
  • That the seven churches in Asia Minor were the special objects of his affectionate solicitude, Rev 1:11.
  • That in his work, he encountered men who denied the truth (Gnostics), 1 John 4:1; 2 John 7, and others who disputed his authority, 3 John 9-10.

After the reference to him being a pillar Apostles in Jerusalem (Galatians), we don’t hear anything about him. We know nothing of his life and activity until we read of his banishment to Patmos and references to the old man at Ephesus, which occur in Christian literature of the 2nd century.

Extra Biblical Tradition Tells us that John of Ephesus:

  • Was shipwrecked off Ephesus and arrived there in time to check the progress of the heresies that sprang up after Paul’s departure.
  • Tertullian says that under Domitian, John was taken to Rome and that the boiling oil into which he was thrown had no power to hurt him, afterwards he was banished to Patmos, an insane asylum. Iranaeus and Eusebius support the Domitian banishment.
  • Returning to Ephesus after Nerva succeeded Domitian, he attested to the truth of the first three Gospels, writing the fourth to supply what was wanting.
  • Polycrates bishop of Ephesus, in a letter to Victor of Rome, noted that John was Priest here, died, and was buried there, (Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History 5.24.3-4).
  • Iraneaus states he fought vigorously heresy, especially the teachings of Cerinthus, refusing to be under the same roof as the heretic.
  • Introduced the Jewish mode of celebrating the Resurrection Sunday feast.
  • Clement of Alexandria said John went into the forest to reclaim a young believer who had fallen into bad ways and joined a band of robbers.
  • Apollonius said that John raised a dead man, (Eus. 5.18).
  • Cassian told a story about John playing with a tame partridge and when accused of frivolity he said, “the bow cannot be always bent.”
  • Jerome tells of when all capacity to work and teach was gone, when there was no strength even to stand, he directed himself to be carried to the assembly of believers, and simply said, with a feeble voice, “Little children, love one another.” This occurred repeatedly.

He appears to have retired to Ephesus, but at what time is unknown, where he died, probably about A.D. 98, having outlived all or nearly all the friends and companions even of his mature years. This tradition is reflected by Polycrates, bishop of Ephesus (fl. c. 190), that John died a natural death in Ephesus, and by Irenaeus (fl. c. 175–195) that John lingered on in Ephesus until the time of the emperor Trajan (ruled c. 97–117).

His Legacy:

Five books of the New Testament have been attributed to John the Apostle: The Gospel, three Epistles, and Revelation, the greatest book in the New Testament of end times prophecy. In each case, the traditional view is that the Apostle was the author of these books can be traced to writers in the 2nd century, although neither the Gospel nor the Epistles identify their author by name. It may be a “John the elder / presbyter” that penned the Gospel and Epistles at John’s narration, because they identify their writer as such, (compare John 21:24 with 2 & 3 John 1), or it is just John referring to himself. The author of Revelation identifies himself as “John,” 1:1, 4, 9; 22:8, but does not claim to be the Apostle. Much of the weight of the traditional view of the authorship of the Gospel rests on the testimony of Irenaeus, bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul (A.D. 130-200). The Gospel was written emphasizing Jesus as the Son of God, and was written for Christians in 85-90 AD, although some date it as early as pre 70’s. The Epistles and Revelation were written in the late 80’s, early 90’s, probably 90 AD.

When John was aged, he trained Polycarp who later became Bishop / Pastor of Smyrna. This was important because Polycarp was able to carry John’s message to future generations.

John’s traditional tomb is thought to be located at Selçuk, a small town in the vicinity of Ephesus. The tomb of John was the site of a fourth-century church, over which the Byzantine Emperor Justinian (AD 482-565) built the splendid basilica of St. John. The ruins of this basilica are still visible in Ephesus today. Legend stated he was not really dead, just asleep and that the ground where he lay would rise and fall with his breathing and the dust would move. This falsehood emanates from the discourse between Peter and our Lord in John 21:21-23.

The apocryphal 2nd century Gnostic text called “Secret Book of John” or the “Apocryphon of John” was also attributed to him, though not by established traditional Christian orthodoxy. It is an early Gnostic work that purports to contain a vision of the Apostle John. It describes Jesus Christ reappearing after his Ascension and giving secret knowledge (GNOSIS) to the Apostle John. Copies were found among the codices at Nag Hammadi. The work itself must go back at least to the 2nd century, because Irenaeus quoted from it.

The Acts of John is a 3rd century apocryphal writing which records miraculous events, John’s journey to Rome, his exile on Patmos, accounts of several journeys, and a detailed account of John’s death. In theology, this work is Docetic, and it was eventually condemned by the 2nd Nicene Council in A.D. 787.

The Apostle John also has a place in the martyrologies of the medieval church. A 5th century writer, Philip of Side, and George the Sinner, of the 9th century, report that Papias (2nd century) wrote that James and John were killed by the Jews according to Acts 12:2, yet Acts 12:2 states that only James was killed. These reports are generally dismissed as fabrications based on interpretations of Mark 10:39.

Foxes Book of Martyrs:

The “beloved Disciple,” was brother to James the Great. The churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira, were founded by him. From Ephesus, he was ordered to be sent to Rome, where it is affirmed, he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. He escaped by miracle, without injury. Domitian afterwards banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation.  Nerva, the successor of Domitian, recalled him. He was the only Apostle who escaped a violent death.


His Name:

In Greek, his name is Philippos that means, “fond or lover of horses.”

His Background:

Philip, like the first four mentioned, was also from the city of Bethsaida, in Galilee, John 1:44; 12:21, but we have no information of his family. Little is recorded of Philip in the Scriptures. He had probably gone with Andrew and John to hear the preaching of John the Baptist, or they had spoken to him of Jesus as the long-expected Savior, like they did with Peter and James, or Philip knew of Jesus from His teachings around Galilee. For whatever pre-understanding he had, Philip unhesitatingly complied with the Lord’s request to follow Him John 1:41-43. According to John’s Gospel, he was the fourth of the Disciples to attach himself to Jesus (after Andrew, John, and Peter) and first who our Lord directly called. Clearly the Synoptic Gospels show Andrew, Peter, John, and James called first, making Philip the fifth. For some reason, John skipped over the calling of his older brother James.

His Personality:

When Philip told Nathanael (a.k.a. Bartholomew) about the Messiah in John 1:45-47, we understand more about Philip. “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. His ready acceptance of Jesus, and statement to Nathanael seems to imply much knowledge of the Word. “Son of Joseph” may have indicated his familiarity with the family of Jesus, since we know that James and John were cousins, and Philip also from Bethsaida, may have had some previous acquaintance with Jesus. It also indicates the royal line of David as prophesied. Some say that the three episodes of John’s Gospel furnish a consistent character-sketch of Philip as a naïve, somewhat shy, and sober-minded man. As we will see, his direct accounting when the Lord tested him regarding the feeding of the 5,000 demonstrated his pragmatism, most likely from being business minded from the fishing industry in Bethsaida. So, we have another of the Galilee fishing industry who is eager, direct, pragmatic, and full of faith.

His Role Among the Apostles:

He seems to have held a somewhat prominent place among the Apostles. He is mentioned after the “inner” and “close” circle of Apostles and heads the list of the second quartette of Disciples / Apostles each time listed, Mat 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13.

He is noted in four events in John’s Gospel; John 1:45-51; 6:1-14; 12:21-22; 14:8-9.

  • The first act of Philip was to invite Nathanael to “come and see” Jesus. Philip is usually mentioned with Nathanael, John 1:45-51.
  • When Jesus was about to feed the 5,000, He asked Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?” And it is added, “And this He was saying to test him,” John 6:5-7. Bengel and others suppose that this was because the duty of providing food had been committed to Philip; whereas, Chrysostom and Theodore of Mopsuestia rather suppose it was because this Apostle was weak in faith. Although the answer of Philip agrees with either supposition, the later does not align with the first encounter Jesus had with Philip, who showed tremendous faith with little physical evidence.
  • Certain Greeks, desiring to meet Jesus, made application to Philip for an introduction. Philip being a Greek name probably led to familiarity from the inquirers. He then consulted with Andrew, also a Greek name, who went with him and mentioned the circumstance to Jesus, John 12:21-22.
  • Philip is one of the four questioners at the beginning of the Upper Room Discourse who asks, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us, opening the way for Jesus’ teaching that “to see Him is to see the Father,” and further teaching about the unity of the Father and the Son, John 14:8-9.

This is the third (divine perfection) act of Philip in regards to “seeing is believing,” as tested by our Lord at the feeding of 5,000.

a) His response to Nathanael in leading him to the Messiah, “come and see.”

b) The Greeks who wanted to “see” Jesus came to Philip.

c) Philip’s Upper Room questioning, “show us the Father.”

All three demonstrate his Jewish propensity of desiring visible proof, Mat 12:38; John 2:18; 1 Cor 1:22, even though he previously had believed. This is also in accordance with Philip’s initial faith in the Messiah where our Lord made the statement to the unbelieving Nathanael, “I saw you under the fig tree.”

His Legacy:

His Biblical accounts are in the Gospel of John, where John was writing after all his counterparts were dead. Possibly wanting to include his two friends from youth, Philip and Nathanael (Bartholomew), who were missing from the Synoptic Gospels, John wrote about them. Extra Biblical tradition regarding this Philip gets confused with the Deacon Philip, “one of the seven,” Acts 21:8, who was also a great evangelist to the Samaritans, as mentioned above. Philip the Apostle was a great teacher in Asia in the area of Phrygia with Hierapolis as the main place of his work along with Bartholomew. He is said to have also taught in Greece, Western Europe, (the Gauls – doubtful), and Parthia (Iran / Afghanistan, probable).

Extra Biblical:

The non-canonical book, “Acts of Philip” with its appendix “the Journeyings of Philip,” recounts the preaching and miracles of Philip. It states that following the Resurrection of Jesus, Philip was sent with his sister Mariamme and Bartholomew to preach in Greece, Phrygia, and Syria. He worked in Hierapolis, Lydia, and Asia, the Upper Hellas (Greece), particularly Athens, where he lived for two years and founded a Church, appointing a Pastor and Deacons. From there he went to Parthia, the ancient empire of Asia, in what is now Iran and Afghanistan. The Parthians were of Scythian descent, they were excellent horsemen and archers (note Philips name meaning!). Later Latin documents say he evangelized the Gauls (Western Europe) [possibly an error for Galatians?] and Scythians (Southeastern Europe above the Black Sea).

Hastings believes the best evidence of the Apostle comes from Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus in the latter 2nd century, who was likely to have been well informed. Eusebius quotes Polycrates, “Philip, one of the Twelve, lived as one of the great lights of Asia, and is buried at Hierapolis along with his two aged virgin daughters. He adds that another daughter who lived in fellowship with the Holy Spirit was buried at Ephesus.” This is supported by the apocryphal “Journeyings of Philip the Apostle.”

The mention of daughters does draw some confusion with Philip the Evangelist who had four virgin daughters who prophesized, Acts 6:5; 21:8-9. But the Apostle could have had prominent daughters as well. Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies, 3.6.52, states that Philip was married, had children, and one of his daughters was also married.

Gnostics also appealed to the apostolic authority of Philip, ascribing a number of Gnostic texts to him, most notably the “Gospel of Philip” from the Nag Hammadi library.

His death accounts are conflicting. Clement and others says a natural death at age 87, while others say martyrdom by being stoned, then crucified head down, or just crucified head down. The “Acts of Philip” includes his martyrdom. According to this text, through a miraculous healing and his preaching, Philip converted the wife of the proconsul of the city of Hierapolis. This enraged the proconsul, and he had Philip, Bartholomew, and Mariamme all tortured. Philip and Bartholomew were then crucified upside down, and Philip preached from his cross. As a result of Philip’s preaching, the crowd released Bartholomew from his cross, but Philip insisted that they not release him, and Philip died on the cross. His remains were later placed in Constantinople, were they were transported to Cyprus after the conquest of the City in 1204.

Foxes Book of Martyrs:

Was born at Bethsaida, in Galilee and was first called by the name of “Disciple.” He labored diligently in Upper Asia, and suffered martyrdom at Heliopolis, in Phrygia. He was scourged, thrown into prison, and afterwards crucified, A.D. 54.


His Name:

Bartholomew is from Hebrew origins “Bar Talmay” meaning, “son of Tolmai.” Tolmai means, “a plowman,” so literally it would be “son of a plowman.” In the first three Gospels, Mat 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14, Bartholomew is used in the list of twelve, as it is in Acts 1:13; whereas, Nathanael is used in the fourth Gospel. In the Synoptic Gospels, Philip and Bartholomew are always mentioned together, while Nathanael is never mentioned; in John’s Gospel, on the other hand, Philip, and Nathanael are similarly mentioned together, but nothing is said of Bartholomew.

Nathanael was his proper name and Bartholomew (Bar-Tolmai) his surname, just as Simon was called Bar-Jona. Nathanael is Greek from the Hebrew (Nathan – el) that means, “given/gift of God” or “God has given.”

According to the “Genealogies of the Twelve Apostles,” (Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, II, 50), “Bartholomew was of the tribe of Naphtali. Now his name was formerly John, but our Lord changed it because of John the son of Zebedee, His beloved.” There is no mention of his name being John in Scriptures.

His Background:

Bartholomew was born in Cana of Galilee, John 21:2, the place of our Lord’s first miracle, John 2:1-11.

In the first three Gospels, Philip and Bartholomew are constantly named together. The “Smith Bible Dictionary” states, “Bartholomew is named by each of the first three evangelists immediately after Philip, while by Luke he is coupled with Philip precisely in the same way as Simon with his brother Andrew, and James with his brother John.” In the fourth Gospel, Philip and Nathanael are similarly combined. Therefore, from this and other early church writers like Ebedjesu, the 14th century Nestorian metropolitan of Soba, and Elias, the bishop of Damascus, (Giuseppe Simone Assemani Bibliotheca Orientalis iii.i. pp. 30ff.), we understand Bartholomew and Nathanael to be one and the same person.

In John 1:43-50, Philip, having accepted Jesus, told Nathanael that he had “found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth.” To his question Bartholomew said, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip replied, “Come and see.” Nathanael’s critical reluctance was soon dispelled by our Lord Jesus, as He saw him coming to Him, uttered the statement, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” This elicited the inquiry from Nathanael as to how he had become known to Jesus. The answer, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you,” satisfied him that Jesus was more than man and led him to reply, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel”.

His Personality:

Our Lord best describes him as an “Israelite indeed, without any deceit,” John 1:47, after seeing him under the fig tree, where he may have been in prayer or meditating on Scripture. Some scholars say this is a Jewish figure of speech, referring to studying the Torah.

We also see in this account that he doubted Philip’s proclamation that Jesus was the Messiah, possibly based on His hometown, Nazareth. Nazareth was part of the Galilee region. Its name means, “the guarded one,” perhaps for the fact that it is surrounded on three sides by high hills. It was an unimportant town located in the territory of Zebulun, overlooking the Plain of Esdraelon, even though situated near several of the important trade routes of Palestine. This town had a poor reputation and was a despised city. Ultimately, Nathanael’s statement was further proof of prophecy regarding our Lord being despised by men, Isa 53:3; Psa 22:6.

In addition, we understand the “Israelite” character as one who needed a sign, which our Lord gave Nathanael straight away, John 1:48-51. Therefore, we can say he was a traditionalist, needed some evidence before believing but gave even objectionable information a chance, “nothing good can come from Nazareth.” He was an honest and honorable man. He was sincere and candid, open-minded, and single-hearted, and free from the deceit of Jacob. Nathanael “seems to have been one of those calm, retiring souls whose whole sphere of existence lies not here, but ‘where, beyond these voices, there is peace.’ It was a life of which the world sees nothing, because it was ‘hid with Christ in God’” (Farrar).

His Role Among the Apostles:

Bartholomew was appointed with the other Apostles, Mat 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13.

John 1:50, “Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these. 51And He said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”” Here our Lord makes a fascinating promise of the blessings he would enjoy here on earth.

He was one of seven of the Disciples to whom the Lord appeared after the Resurrection at the Sea of Tiberias, John 21:2. He was also a witness of the Ascension, and returned with the other Apostles to Jerusalem, Acts 1:4, 12-13. Some believe that his lesser role in the list of Disciples was due to being a learned Hebrew; whereas, our Lord wanted to transform the world through the unlearned to show the power of God, see Augustine and Gregory the Great, although the appointment of Paul works against that theory.

He is one of the Apostles of whom no word is reported nor any individual action recorded in the New Testament.

His Legacy:

Tradition only speaks of his subsequent unsubstantiated history that he was a missionary preaching the Gospel along with Philip and Thomas in many countries, especially in India (probably Arabia Felix); where he left behind a copy, in Hebrew, of the Gospel of Matthew.

Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History (5.10.3) states that after the Ascension, Bartholomew went on a missionary tour to India, where he preached and left behind a copy of the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew. Other traditions record him as serving as a missionary in Ethiopia, Mesopotamia, Parthia, and Lycaonia.

Along with the Apostle Jude, Bartholomew is reputed to have brought Christianity to Armenia in the 1st century. Thus, both saints are considered the patron saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

A “Gospel of Bartholomew” is mentioned by Hieronymus (Comm. Proem ad Matth.), and Gelasius also gives the tradition that Bartholomew brought the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew to India. In the “Preaching of Bartholomew in the Oasis” (compare Budge, II, 90), he is referred to as preaching probably in the oasis of Al Bahnâsâ, and according to the “Preaching of Andrew and Bartholomew,” he labored among the Parthians (Budge, II, 183). There is also a book entitled “Questions of Bartholomew.” The “Martyrdom of Bartholomew” states that he was placed in a sack and cast into the sea. There is also a local tradition that he was martyred at the site of the Maiden Tower in present-day Baku, Azerbaijan (West of the Caspian Sea), by being flayed alive and then crucified head down.

Foxes Book of Martyrs:

He preached in several countries, and having translated the Gospel of Matthew into the language of India, he propagated it in that country. He was at length cruelly beaten and then crucified by the impatient idolaters.


His Name:

Thomas, a Hebrew name (from TAOM) and Aramaic (T’OMA) means, “double or twin,” was also called Didymus, his Greek surname, with the same meaning, John 11:16; 20:24; 21:2.

His Background:

Some believe that Thomas was born in Antioch, but Galilee is also considered his native home, like most of the other Apostles, John 21:2.

There is much confusion regarding his potential siblings and actual identity:

  • Because of the meaning of his name, twin, several in the early Christian era attempted to identify his twin brother or sister. But, it is likely that the twin is not even mentioned in the NT, making such identification impossible. The name Lysia comes forward from a story that she was his twin sister.
  • The apocryphal book, The Acts of Thomas, uses the literal meaning of his name “twin” in making him the twin of Jesus Himself! It supposes that Thomas was also surnamed Judas Thomas and that Judas Thomas was the Judas of James, the brother of our Lord. Therefore, Thomas would also be the brother of the Lord. Also in the “Book of Thomas the Contender,” part of the Nag Hammadi library, it is said to be Jesus himself: “Now, since it has been said that you are my twin and true companion, examine yourself…”(Turner, John D. The Book of Thomas (NHC II,7 138,7-138,12). Retrieved September 10, 2006.) But this cannot be verified.
  • Another theory is from the circumstance in the list of the Apostles, Thomas is usually mentioned along with Matthew, who was the son of Alphaeus, Mark 2:14, and that these two are followed by James (the lesser), who was also the son of Alphaeus, Mark 3:18. From that it has been supposed that these three; Matthew, Thomas, and James, were brothers, but no proof of this can be found. In addition, it is debated whether Matthew and James are brothers, or if they just both had fathers named Alphaeus.
  • Additionally, because of the Judas surname in Mat 10:3and Mark 3:18, some identify Thaddaeus with Luke’s Judas of James, Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13, which led to the later Syrian tradition that makes Thaddaeus and Thomas the same person, brothers of James the son of Alphaeus.

We are left with no real or credible evidence as to his family background.

His Personality:

From the three main accounts of Thomas, we see something of his personality. His willingness to die with the Lord, John 11:16, his longing to remain with the Lord, John 14:5, and his hesitation to believe that the Lord had risen, John 20:24-29. His personality was complex, revealing a courageous boldness with loyalty and faithfulness, while also being pessimistic at times. Hastings says that, “he had a personality of singular charm and interest.” He had an eager devotion as noted in his desire to die with the Lord in John 11:16. Likewise, his eager devotion did not want to endure separation from the Lord, which lead him to ask in John 14:5, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”  He has been characterized as slow to believe, subject to despondency, seeing all the difficulties of a case, viewing things on the darker side. To give him the benefit of doubt, it may be that he was a critical thinker, in which he did not recognize the statement of eyewitnesses as a sufficient ground of faith. Yet, he too being a Galilean had a bold, strong, and courageous temperament as evident by his statement in John 11:16, “Thomas … said to his fellow Disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.

His Role Among the Apostles:

Only the Gospel of John reveals information regarding various acts of Thomas. The synoptic Gospels purely identify Him, Mat 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15 and list him third or fourth in the second grouping. The rest that we know of him is derived from the Gospel of John, John 11:15-16; 14:4-5; 20:24-29. John lists him second in the second of the three groups of four.

  • When Jesus declared His intention of going to Bethany after Lazarus’s death, the Disciples were resisting Jesus’ decision to return to Judea, where the Jews had previously tried to stone Him. Thomas also apprehensive of danger, said to the other Disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him,” John 11:16.
  • At the Last Supper, when Jesus was speaking of His departure, Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” John 14:5.
  • He was absent when Jesus first appeared to the Disciples after the Resurrection, John 20:24.Then came the infamous doubtful reaction in regards to the risen Lord, John 20:25-29. (The Bible never states whether Thomas actually touched Christ’s wounds.) When convinced of the Resurrection, he made an historic confession of faith, in Verse 28, “My Lord and my God!”
  • After that, we only hear of Thomas twice more, once on the Sea of Galilee, with six other Disciples Post-Resurrection in witness of the risen Lord, John 21:2, and finally in the assembly of the Apostles, after the Ascension, Acts 1:13-14.

His Legacy:

Unfortunately, Thomas is infamously known for his act of doubt, John 20:24-25, rather than for his courage as seen in John 11:16.

When Jesus appeared to the first assembly after His Resurrection, Thomas, for some reason was absent. The others told him, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas broke forth into an exclamation that conveys to us at once the vehemence of his doubt and the vivid picture that his mind retained of his Lord’s form, as he had seen Him lifeless on the cross, John 20:25-29. From this incident came the title of “Doubting Thomas.” But his doubt or better stated, “need for further proof” was not unlike that of the other Disciples who also were invited to touch our Lord and did not believe until our Lord ate something, Luke 24:39-43. Because of his absence at the original appearing, he was singled out, which has given him an unfortunate legacy. Reading further we see that unlike the others, Thomas once given the proof immediately praises the Lord in Verse 28, “My Lord and my God!” The words of our Lord in regards to his initial “unbelief,” John 20:29, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” were truly directed at all of the Disciples. The object lesson was to demonstrate the difference between empiricism and faith.

Just as Peter and Paul are said to have brought the fledgling Christianity to Greece and Rome, Mark brought it to Egypt, John to Syria and Asia Minor, Thomas is often said to have taken it eastwards as far as India.

In the Agbarus legend from Eusebius (Eccl. His., 1.13), it states that Thomas sent Thaddaeus to Agbarus, a Syrian historical ruler of the kingdom of Osroene, holding his capital at Edessa, post Ascension in response to Jesus’ letter to Agbarus promising to send someone to him. We will see more of this under Thaddaeus.

Early traditions, as believed in the 4th century, represent Thomas as preaching in Parthia or Persia, and as finally being buried in Edessa. Later traditions carry him farther east into India as we saw under Bartholomew. The Mar Thoma Church in India traces its origin to Thomas, but it is likely that they were evangelized in Edessa.

According to tradition, the Indo-Parthian king, Gondophares, was proselytized by Thomas, who continued on to southern India. Marco Polo in 1292 traveled to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Quilon (Kollam) on the western Malabar coast of India, where he met Syrian Christians and recorded their legends of Thomas.

In addition, various Eastern Churches claim that Thomas personally brought Christianity to China and Japan in AD 64 and 70, respectively.

Extra Biblical Writings:

The Gospel of Thomas (a.k.a. the “sayings”) next to the Protevangelium is the oldest and the most widely spread of the apocryphal Gospels. It is mentioned by Origen and Irenaeus and seems to have been used by a Gnostic sect of the Nachashenes in the middle of the 2nd century. It was Docetic, (the belief that Jesus was not really true humanity and that the cross was just an optical illusion), in regards to the miracles recorded in it. There is also the Acts of Thomas, (a.k.a. the Infancy Gospel of Thomas), about Jesus’ boyhood, and the Apocalypse of Thomas. The Acts of Thomas is also a Gnostic work from the 2nd century written by Leucius, the author of several apocryphal books.

Foxes Book of Martyrs:

His martyrdom is said to have been occasioned by a lance. Thomas called Didymus, preached the Gospel in Parthia and India, where exciting the rage of the pagan priests, he was martyred by being thrust through with a spear.

He is said to be a martyr and was killed (AD 72?) by a group of sages in Chennai (formerly Madras) India where there is a Palace called Saint Thomas Mount. According to the Roman Martyrology, his remains were brought from India and buried in Edessa, then moved to Ortona in Italy during the Crusades. Clement of Alexandria’s Stromateis, 4.9.73 states that he died of natural causes.


His Name:

Matthew occurs in two forms Maththaios – Μαθθαῖος and Matthaios – Ματθαῖος, as a Greek reproduction of the Hebrew Mattithyah – מַתִּתְיָה and is equivalent to Theodore. It means, “the gift of Yahweh or Jehovah,” or “Gift of God.”

It was a common Jewish name after the Exile. Before his apostolic call, the Gospels refer to Matthew by his Hebrew surname Levi meaning, “joined to,” Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27; compare Mat 9:9. The identity of Matthew also being Levi is practically beyond all doubt, as is evident from the predicate, “the tax collector,” in Mat 9:9; 10:3, while Luke says Levi the tax collector.

Whether Jesus gave him the additional name of Matthew as He did in the case of several other Disciples, we do not know. But some speculate that the Lord changed his name in recognition to the gift he was to our Lord and His ministry, and to the Church as the writer of the Gospel.

His Background:

Mark calls him “the son of Alphaeus,” Mark 2:14. Alphaeus = “changing.” It is not known whether his father was the same as the Alphaeus named as the father of James the Less, Mat 10:3.

Matthew/Levi the son of Alphaeus, Mark 2:14.

James the lesser son of Alphaeus, Mat 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Act 1:13.

It is improbable that Matthew was the brother of James the Less since this fact would have been mentioned in Scripture, as it is in the cases of Peter and Andrew and the sons of Zebedee.

Those who believe otherwise include: 1) Holman who believes Matthew and James are 1/2 brothers. He states, “James the son of Alphaeus is also listed among the Apostles.” 2) Weiss identifies the father of Levi with the father of the second James. He says that “James and Levi were undoubtedly brothers.” 3) Chrysostom says, “James and Levi had both been tax-gatherers before they became followers of Jesus.”

Also, the western manuscripts identify them and read James instead of Levi in Mark 2:14. This, however, is undoubtedly a corruption of the text. If it had been the original, it would be difficult to explain the substitution of an unknown Levi for James who is well known.

Nevertheless, it is unlikely that they were brothers and more likely that their fathers had the same name. In addition, James the lessor’s father Alpheaus is also thought to be named as Clopas in several places. We will note this under James the lesser. But we never hear of Matthew’s father as also being named Clopas.

Matthew’s residence was at Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee, and he was a publican / tax collector in the territory of Herod Antipas. There was at that time a large population surrounding the Lake of Gennesaret, (a.k.a., Sea of Galilee) derived from the plain along its shore, Luke 5:1. The Romans established a customhouse at Capernaum (a local IRS office, as we would call it today), where Matthew was a tax collector.

The publicans proper (tax officials) were usually Romans of rank and wealth who collected the land and poll taxes, yet they farmed out the business of collecting taxes on transported goods to local resident deputies called portitors. Matthew was one of these. Matthew’s office was located on the main highway, the Great West road that ran from Damascus, down the Jordan Valley to Capernaum, then westward to Acco (a.k.a., Ptolemais) to join the coastal road to Egypt or southward to Jerusalem. He was situated well to collect taxes from local merchants, fisheries, and farmers carrying their goods to market, as well as distant caravans passing through Galilee.

The publicans were the middlemen in collecting Roman taxes. They paid an agreed sum to the Roman officials in advance for the right to collect taxes in an area. Their profit came from the excess they could squeeze from the people. As such, Matthew knew the value of goods of all description: wool, flax, linen, pottery, brass, silver, gold, barley, wheat, olives, figs, wheat. He knew the value of local and foreign monetary systems. He spoke the local Aramaic language, as well as Greek. Therefore, he was well equipped to run a profitable collection for the publicans.

As a tax collector, Matthew may have been a man of wealth, but this occupation also caused him to be despised by the Jews and considered among the lowest of people. The Pharisees consistently spoke of tax collectors in the same breath with sinners, Mat 11:19; Mark 2:16; Luke 7:34; 15:1.

Because of his profession, his fellow Jews most likely hated him. Not only for his profession, but also because he worked for and with the despised Romans. Tax collectors were ranked with murderers and robbers, and a Jew was permitted to lie to them if necessary. They were as offensive to the Jews as lepers were for their uncleanness. The Gospels show a similar attitude towards them, lumping them with sinners, Gentiles and harlots, Mat 9:10; 18:17; 21:31. This shows us another ironical choice by our Lord.

His Personality:

Matthew served King Herod Antipas in Capernaum of Galilee collecting tariffs on goods passing on the road from Damascus to the Mediterranean Sea or Jerusalem. To function in this capacity, Matthew would have been an educated man, acquainted with the Greek language, as well as the native Aramaic. In addition, because of his profession, he was most likely a wealthy man. This is also seen in him hosting the banquet for our Lord and his Disciples, as well as “many” of Matthew’s previous associates, Mat 9:10; Mark 2:15; Luke 5:29.

Luke 5:29, “And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them.”

So, we see that he was very intelligent and wealthy, but he also had to have a tough demeanor and thick skin as he was collecting taxes from his fellow Jews, sometimes forcibly, and at the same time enduring their hatred. Thayer notes: “The tax collectors were as a class, detested not only by the Jews, but by other nations also, both on account of their employment and of the harshness, greed, and deception with which they did their job.”

As a result of his acceptance of Christ, many other tax collectors and “sinners” came to hear Jesus, Luke 15:1; 7:34; Mat 11:19. So, he must have been respected and influential among those groups.

Matthew had a number of valuable skills included keeping meticulous records, having a tough skin and demeanor, understanding people and their motivations, and understanding wealth, as well as insults. These would be valuable assets in the ministry of Christ. Matthew’s skills, when combined with our Lord’s Discipleship, would lead him to be a valuable witness, recorder, and author of the Gospel.

His Role Among the Apostles:

He is listed among the twelve. In Mark 3:18 and Luke 6:15, he is listed seventh. In Mat 10:3 and Acts 1:13, he is listed eighth, swapping positions with Thomas. Aside from these lists, Matthew is only mentioned in the record of his calling by Christ, Mat 9:9; Mark 2:13-14; Luke 5:27. John never mentions him.

While Matthew was performing his job as a tax collector, “sitting in the tax office,” Jesus said to him, “Follow Me!” He probably already knew Jesus, because he immediately “rose, and followed Him,” Mat 9:9-10; Mark 2:14-15; Luke 5:27-29. Unlike the first six among the Apostles, Matthew did not enter the group from among the pupils of John the Baptist, at least there is no account of him following John the Baptist. Therefore, he must have known about Jesus from his early works in Capernaum, as indicated by his non-hesitant response to Jesus’ call.

At what period of Christ’s ministry he was called, does not appear with certainty. Evidently, it was not at the very beginning, because on the day he was called, Mat 9:11, 14, 18; Mark 5:37, Peter, James, and John are already trustworthy Disciples of Jesus, who attended the banquet with Him. Likewise, at the following “reception for Him in his house,” Pharisees were already prowling about and complained to Christ’s Disciples during Matthew’s feast. It was at this feast that the Pharisees and their scribes made the well-known complaint in Luke 5:29-32, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

The reception to which he invited Jesus and his Disciples was perhaps a farewell to his old associates, for “many tax-gatherers and sinners came and were dining” or to mark the new relationship and introduce Jesus to his old circle of friends, outcasts from Jewish society.

After this there is no mention of him except in the catalogs of the Apostles, Luke 6:15, and his presence in the “Upper Room” in Jerusalem after our Lord’s Ascension, Acts 1:13.

His Legacy:

This Apostle, according to the testimony of all antiquity, wrote the Gospel that bears his name in the 60’s AD. He wrote it in his native tongue Hebrew. It was later translated to Greek. It emphasizes Jesus’ Kingship, written for the Jews.

What is found in post-Biblical and extra-Biblical (apocryphal) sources is mainly the product of imagination and in part based on mistaking the name of Matthew for Matthias (compare Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament, chapter 54, note 3).

Tradition states that he preached for 12-15 years in Palestine and that after this, he went to foreign nations, the Ethiopians (Cush in Egypt), Macedonians, Syrians, Persians, Parthians, and Medea being mentioned.

One of the few good sources, Eusebius (3:24) say he, like John, wrote only under the stress of necessity. “For Matthew, after preaching to Hebrews, when about to go also to others, committed to writing in his native tongue the Gospel that bears his name; and so by his writing supplied, to those, whom he was leaving, the loss of his presence.”

He is said to have died a natural death either in Ethiopia or in Macedonia, but Foxes Book of Martyrs disagrees with this. Holman states: “Later legendary accounts tell of Matthew’s travel to Ethiopia where he became associated with Candace, identified with the eunuch of Acts 8:27. The legends tell us of Matthew’s martyrdom in that country.” It is thought by some that the stories of the Roman Catholic Church that he died the death of a martyr on September 21 and of the Greek Church that this occurred on November 10 are without any historical basis. Clement of Alexandria (Strom., 4.9) gives the explicit denial of Heracleon that Matthew suffered martyrdom.

Foxes Book of Martyrs:

Whose occupation was that of a toll-gatherer, was born at Nazareth. He wrote his Gospel in Hebrew, which was afterwards translated into Greek by James the Less. The scene of his labors was Parthia, and Ethiopia, in which latter country he suffered martyrdom, being slain with a halberd in the city of Nadabah, A.D. 60.

James, the Son of Alphaeus

His Name:

James is the English translation of the Greek name IAKOBOS from IAKOB or Jacob, which means, “supplanter.” The Hebrew equivalent is YAAQOB.

His father is Alphaeus, Mat 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13, meaning, “changing.”  If James the son of Alphaeus is also “James the Less,” then it is thought that his father was also known as Clopas or Cleophas (KJV) meaning, “my exchanges” from the Hebrew CHELEPH meaning, “exchange,” John 19:25. This is further linked in that the name Alphaeus is of Hebrew origin from CHELEPH. CHELEPH was also a city in the Naphtali region of Israel. Another thought is that Clopas could have been his grandfather, but this is not known.

So, James the son of Alphaeus means, “supplanter of the, or my exchange.”

James the Less is better translated James the Little, as the Greek HO MIKROS means, “the small or little” in Mark 15:40. Unger equates him with James the less by noting: “James the Less (hoô mikros, “the little”), was given that title either because he was younger than James the son of Zebedee or on account of his short stature.”

His Background:

The James’ of the Bible get highly confused. Some lump them together or combine them in various ways. Nelson’s Dictionary does a good job of defining each separately. As such James “the son of Alphaeus,” is always mentioned as such in the apostolic lists. Where “James the Less” is only mentioned to identify one of the Mary’s at the Cross of our Lord, Mark 15:40; Mat 27:56, and the Resurrection, Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10.  Nevertheless, many throughout church history make James the son of Alphaeus and James the Less, (son of Mary who is the wife of Clopas), one and the same. This is probable in light of his father’s name, as noted above.

Some equate James the Less with James the brother of our Lord which is very unlikely.

Some have applied the phrase, “his mother’s sister” in John 19:25 to Mary the wife of Clopas, instead of to Salome, as we identified above in the discussion regarding the sons of Zebedee, John and James. As such, this would make James the Less the cousin of our Lord. But this is not likely.

Given His father’s name Alphaeus, from the Hebrew Celeph a region in the land of Naphtali, he may have been from the tribe of Naphtali. But according to the Genealogies of the Apostles (compare Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, II, 50), James was of the house of Gad.

If this James is also called “the less,” then from the accounting of his mother Mary, we know that James had a brother, Joses or Joseph, Mat 27:56.  Of interest, our Lord also had brothers named James, Jose, and Judas, Mark 6:3; 15:40, 47 along with Simon, but these were common names of the day and are not the same persons.

As we noted above, Matthew (Levi), is also a son of Alphaeus (compare Mat 9:9; Mark 2:14); therefore, it is possible but not probable that he and James were brothers.

The King James translation has added further confusion, where in Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13 they translate the title of Thaddaeus as “Judas brother of James” when it should read “Judas son of James.” As a result, James the son of Alphaeus and Thaddeus are considered brothers.

In addition, there is evidence in apocryphal literature of a Simon, a son of Clopas, who was also one of the Disciples. If this be the same as Simon Zelotes, it would explain why he and James, (assuming them to be brothers), were coupled together in the apostolic lists of Luke and Acts. Again, we have no conclusive evidence of this.

His Personality:

We know nothing about him. Some say he was a tax collector, but this is not verified.

His Role Among the Apostles:

He is listed as one of the twelve Disciples, Mat 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13. He heads the last group of four including Thaddeus, Simon Zelotes, and Judas Iscariot. He is not distinguished by name in any occasion reported in the Gospels or Acts. By Matthew and Mark, he is coupled with Thaddaeus, and by Luke and Acts, with Simon Zelotes.

His Legacy:

As stated above, his legacy is highly confused: Foxes Book of Martyrs states, “Is supposed by some to have been the brother of our Lord, by a former wife of Joseph. This is very doubtful, and accords too much with the Catholic superstition, that Mary never had any other children except our Savior.”

Foxes has that point right, but then confuses James the Less with our Lord’s true half-brother, James who was not an Apostle by stating, “He was elected to the oversight of the churches of Jerusalem and was the author of the Epistle ascribed to James in the sacred canon.”   But the James that headed the Church in Jerusalem and wrote the Epistle is the half-brother of our Lord from Mary and Joseph.

We have no real information about this Apostle.

Foxes Book of Martyrs:

At the age of ninety-four he was beat and stoned by the Jews; and finally had his brains dashed out with a fuller’s club.

In addition, The Martyrdom of James, the son of Alphaeus (compare Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, 264-66) records that James was stoned by the Jews for preaching Christ, and was “buried by the Sanctuary in Jerusalem.” But this sounds similar to, the brother of our Lord, James’ account.

Some also say he was martyred by crucifixion at Ostrakine in Lower Egypt, where he was preaching the Gospel.


His Name:

Thaddaeus, a.k.a. Lebbaeus, a.k.a. Judas son of James, was one of Jesus’ twelve Disciples that included two named Judas’. John 14:22, referring to the same person, speaks of “Judas, not Iscariot.”

The surname Thaddaeus is used in Mat 10:3 and Mark 3:18, where the KJV uses Lebbaeus in Mat 10:3.

The name by which Luke calls the Apostle, “Judas of James” in Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13, is somewhat ambiguous as to the relationship of Jude to this James. Such a construction usually connotes a relationship of father and son, but the KJV has interpreted it as “brother,” trying to connect James the son of Alphaeus and Jude/Thaddaeus, (who he follows in the Matthew and Mark lists), together as brothers.

In addition, others have supposed the reason for the change to “Judas of James” was that sometime during the ministry of our Lord Thaddaeus had died and “Judas of James” replaced him. But this cannot be verified.

Continuing in the use of Judas, the Gospel of John once mentions this same Judas as “not Iscariot,” John 14:22.

The use of Judas has led many to confuse him with the half-brother of our Lord.

When comparing the listings of the Apostles between Matthew and Mark with Luke (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13), it seems impossible to doubt that Judas and Thaddaeus were the same person.

Easton’s Dictionary states, “Lebbaeus is a surname of Judas (Jude), one of the twelve (Matthew 10:3), called also Thaddaeus, not to be confounded with the Judas who was the brother of our Lord.”

Easton’s makes this statement, because opinion is divided on whether Jude the Apostle is the same as Jude, brother of Jesus, who is mentioned in Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55-57, and is the traditional author of the Epistle of Jude.[1] Generally Catholics believe the two Judes are the same person,[2] while Protestants do not.[3]

[1] Jerome H. Neyrey, 2 Peter, Jude, Anchor Bible Reference Library, Doubleday, 1993. p.44-45.

[2] The Brethren of the Lord, Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.

[3] The situation is similar with James: Catholics tend to identify James the brother of Jesus with the Apostle James, son of Alphaeus, but Protestants and Orthodox generally do not.

Some say that because the name “Judas” was so tarnished by Judas Iscariot, it was natural for Mark and Matthew to refer to him by his alternate name.

Finally, it is noted that some even called him Judas the Zealot, either confusing him with Simon or that he may have been from the same sect as Simon that sought to overthrow Roman occupation.

Meaning of the Names:

Thaddaeus means, “gift of God” in Greek, but derived from Hebrew or Aramaic meaning, “breast.” In addition, Edersheim (Life of Jesus, 1:522) derives the term Thaddaeus from THODAH, meaning, “praise.”

Lebbaeus means, “heart or courageous.”

Judas is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew personal name Judah meaning, “Praise Yahweh.”

Interestingly, Iscariot means, “men of the city” from the Hebrew ISH = man and QIRYAH = city. So, Judas not Iscariot would mean, “Praise Yahweh but not from the men of the city.”

His Background:

Many scholars say, as we saw with James the son of Alphaeus, that there is no information on this Apostle. Yet some talk about him. Much though, seems to be confused with either a Thaddaeus of Edessa or Jude the Lord’s half-brother. Nevertheless, we have the following.

Some say that Thaddaeus/Jude was born into a Jewish family in Paneas, a town in Galilee, later rebuilt by the Romans and renamed Caesarea Philippi. In all probability, he spoke both Greek and Aramaic, like almost all of his contemporaries in that area, and was a farmer by trade.

Thaddaeus, a.k.a. Jude, is clearly distinguished from Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed our Lord Jesus.

The “Gospel of the Ebionites,” or “Gospel of the Twelve Apostles,” of the 2nd century and mentioned by Origen, narrates that Thaddaeus was also among those who received their call to follow Jesus at the Sea of Tiberias (compare Mat 4:18-22).

According to the “Genealogies of the Twelve Apostles” (compare Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, II, 50), Thaddaeus was of the house of Joseph; according to the “Book of the Bee,” he was of the tribe of Judah.

The 14th century writer Nicephorus Callistus makes Thaddaeus/Jude the bridegroom at the wedding at Cana.

Of the various identifications of Thaddaeus with other Biblical personages, which might be inferred from him, that with “Judas … of James” is the only one that has received wide acceptance.

His Personality:

We cannot say much about his personality other than that if he were bi-lingual and a farmer, he would have been a hard worker and had tremendous patience. From the question, he asks our Lord in John 14:22, he seems to be a very caring individual, “what then has happened?”

His Role Among the Apostles:

One of the Twelve Apostles, Mat 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:16; Act 1:13. In Matthew and Mark, he is listed 10th before Simon, and in Luke’s accounts (Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13), he is listed 11th after Simon.

His only recorded words are found in John 14:22. He was the last of the four questioners (Peter, Thomas, Philip, Judas not Iscariot) of our Lord in John 13:36- 14:23.

He was perplexed at our Lord’s statements in Verse 1-21, but specifically Verse 19. Having been in a very public ministry for 3.5 years, he now understands the Lord to be saying, “I am going to disclose myself to you all only, and not to the world.” He too did not understand the Lord’s statements in regards to His death, Resurrection, and Ascension, as well as the sending of the Holy Spirit. His understanding of our Lord to be removing Himself from the public eye and going into recluse, gave our Lord the opportunity to expand on the relationship of the believer with the Lord during the Church Age, by means of the Word and the Holy Spirit in Verses 23-26.

His Legacy:

Most scholars say we know nothing about Thaddaeus either Biblically or extra-Biblically. Many of the accounts associated with him seem to be of another Thaddaeus, Thaddeus of Edessa, one of the Seventy Disciples.

Though Saint Gregory the Illuminator is credited as the “Apostle to the Armenians,” when he baptized King Tiridates III of Armenia in 301, converting the Armenians, the Apostles Thaddaeus Jude and Bartholomew are traditionally believed to have been the first to bring Christianity to Armenia, and are therefore venerated as the patron saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Linked to this tradition is the Thaddeus Monastery.

There is abundant testimony in apocryphal literature of the missionary activity of a certain Thaddaeus in Syria, but doubt exists as to whether this was the Apostle. Thus:

  • According to the “Acts of Peter” (compare Budge, II, 466 ff), Peter appointed Thaddaeus over the island of Syria and Edessa.
  • The “Preaching of the blessed Judas, the brother of our Lord, who was surnamed Thaddaeus” (Budge, 357 ff), describes his mission in Syria and in Dacia, and indicates him as one of the Twelve.
  • The “Acta Thaddaei” (compare Tischendorf, Acta Apostolorum Apocrypha, 1851, 261 ff) refers to this Thaddaeus in the text as one of the Twelve, but in the heading as one of the Seventy.
  • The Abgar legend, dealing with a supposed correspondence between Abgar, (king of Syria in the Osroene kingdom holding his capital at Edessa), and Christ, states in its Syriac form, as translated by Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, I, xiii, 6-22), that “after the Ascension of Christ, Judas, who was also called Thomas, sent to Abgar the Apostle Thaddaeus, one of the Seventy” (compare Hennecke, Neutestamentliche Apokryphen, 76 ff). Jerome, however identifies this same Thaddaeus with Lebbaeus and “Judas … of James” of Luke (Lk 6:16). Hennecks (op. cit., 473, 474) surmises that in the original form of the Abgar legend, Thomas was the central figure, but that through the influence of the later “Acts of Thomas,” which required room to be made for Thomas’ activity in India, a later Syriac recension was made, in which Thomas became merely the sender of Thaddaeus to Edessa, and that this was the form which Eusebius made use of in his translation “According to Phillips” (compare Phillips, The Doctrine of Addai the Apostle), who quotes Zahn in support, the confusion may be due to the substitution of the Greek name Thaddaeus for the name Addai of the Syriac manuscripts.

The general consensus seems to indicate, however that both Thomas and Thaddaeus the Apostle had some connection with Edessa.

So, he may have preached in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Libya, or in Assyria and Persia. He is also said to have visited Beirut and Edessa, though the latter mission is also identified with Thaddeus of Edessa, one of the Seventy.

Finally, a “Gospel of Thaddaeus” is mentioned in the Decree of Gelasius.

Foxes Book of Martyrs:

He was crucified at Edessa, A.D. 72.

According to the Armenian tradition, Thaddaeus/Jude suffered martyrdom about AD 65 in Beirut, Lebanon together with the Apostle Simon the Zealot, with whom he is usually connected. Their acts and martyrdom were recorded in an Acts of Simon and Jude.

Occasionally, he is represented holding an axe or halberd, as he was brought to death by one of these weapons. The burial place of Thaddaeus is variously placed at Beirut and in Egypt.

Catholic tradition (probably confusing Jude the writer of the Epistle) states that sometime after his death, Saint Jude’s body was brought from Beirut, Lebanon to Rome and placed in a crypt in St. Peter’s Basilica which is visited by many devotees. According to popular tradition, the remains of St. Jude were preserved in an Armenian monastery on an island in the northern part of Issyk-Kul Lake in Kyrgyzstan at least until mid-15th century. Later legend either denounces the remains as being preserved there or moved to yet more desolate stronghold in the Pamir Mountains. Recent discovery of the ruins of what could be that monastery may put an end to the dispute.


His Name:

The Disciple whom we have saved for last, like the one who stands at the head of all the lists, was a Simon.

Simon means, “a rock or stone” just as we saw with Peter. It is perhaps a contraction of the Hebrew SHIMEON that means, “heard, hearkening, or listening.”

Even though the NASB calls him Simon the Zealot in all four lists of the Apostles, the Greek uses two different words. The KJV differentiates the names. So, we have Simon the Canaanite or Zealot, not only giving us a definition of him but also perhaps to distinguish him from Simon Peter.

  • He was called “Simon the Canaanite” by Matthew and Mark, Mat 10:4; Mark 3:18, utilizing the Greek word KANANAIOS or Cananaean which means, “the jealous or zealous one,” and comes from the Hebrew QANNA that means the same.
  • He was called “Simon the Zealot” by Luke (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13), utilizing the Greek word ZELOTES that means, “one burning with zeal, a zealot.” The root word for jealous or zealous is ZEO meaning, “to boil or be hot.”

So, Matthew and Mark use the Hebrew origin, while Luke used the Greek origin.

His Background:

This second Simon is as obscure as the first is celebrated, for he is nowhere mentioned in the Gospel history, except in the catalogues. Even though he is little known, the epithet attached to his name conveys both curious and interesting information. All we can glean from his background is from the title given to him by the Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Luke in his Gospel puts it best, “Simon who was called the Zealot.”

The title “Canaanite” does not mean a native of Canaan, it has political rather than geographical significance. As mentioned above regarding Hebrew origins, it is also derived from the Syriac word Kanean or Kaneniah, which was the name of a Jewish sect. This group was also referred to in the Greek by ZELOTES. So, we understand that this Simon, previous to his call of Apostleship, had been a member of the fanatical sect of the Zealots.

From the time of the Maccabees, there existed among the Jews one or more parties who professed great zeal for the observance of the “law.” According to Josephus (BJ, IV, iii, 9; v, 1; VII, viii, 1) they resorted to violence and assassination in their hatred of the foreigner. It is not improbable that the “Assassins” of Acts 21:38 were identical, or at least closely associated, with this body of “Zealots.” Some say the Zealots were conspicuous for their fierce advocacy of the Mosaic ritual. They strongly desired the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy and were zealous to usher it in by means of the sword if necessary. So, these Cananaean were members of a Jewish nationalistic sect who began some twenty years before Christ’s ministry when Judea and Samaria were brought under the direct government of Rome. They were headed by Judas of Galilee, who “in the days of the enrollment” (compare Luke 2:1, 2; Acts 5:37) bitterly opposed the threatened increase of taxation at the census of Quirinius. At that time, the census of the population was taken with a view to subsequent taxation. The Zealots refused to pay tribute to the Romans, on the ground that this was a violation of the principle that God was the only king of Israel. Therefore, they rebelled against the Romans, but were soon scattered, and became a lawless roving band. They were afterwards called Sicarii, from their use of the sica, i.e., the Roman dagger. It was a blessing to Simon to accept the Lord because Judas of Galilee and those who followed him all perished or were scattered, Act 5:37.

His Personality:

How singular a phenomenon is this ex-zealot Simon among the Disciples of Jesus! No two leaders of his following could have differed more widely in their spirit, ends and means, than Judas of Galilee and Jesus of Nazareth. The one was a political malcontent; the other would have the conquered bow to the yoke, and give to Caesar Caesar’s due. The Zealots aimed at restoring the kingdom to Israel, adopting for his watchword, “We have no Lord or Master but God;” the latter aimed at founding a kingdom not national, but universal, not “of this world,” but purely spiritual. The means of the two philosophies were as diverse as their ends. One desired recourse with the weapons of warfare, the sword and the dagger; the other relied solely on the gentle but omnipotent force of truth.

So, we can understand Simon as one who was fervent in his beliefs, committed to its means and ends. He was like many of the previous Galileans, a bold man willing to sacrifice all on behalf of his conviction. This trait would come in handy during our Lord’s ministry, which was constantly harassed by the establishment of the Israelites.

His Role Among the Apostles:

He is listed as one of the twelve in Mat 10:4; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13.

According to the “Gospel of the Ebionites” or “Gospel of the Twelve Apostles” (of the 2nd century and mentioned by Origen) Simon received his call to the Apostleship along with Andrew and Peter, the sons of Zebedee, Thaddaeus, and Judas Iscariot at the Sea of Tiberias (compare Mat 4:18-22; see also Hennecke, Neutestamentliche Apokryphen, 24-27).

As noted above, the choice of Simon to be an Apostle gives us another fascinating illustration of Christ’s disregard of prudential wisdom. An ex-zealot was not a safe man to make an Apostle. He might have been the means of rendering Jesus and His follower’s objects of political suspicion, not only by the Pharisees but by the Romans too. Yet, our Lord was willing to take the risk knowing the resultant benefits. Our Lord expected to gain many Disciples from the dangerous classes, as well as from the despised, as he had gained many tax collectors, as a result of Matthew. So, He would have the Zealots too, being represented among the twelve.

His Legacy:

The truth is, we do not know anything of this Apostle after the Resurrection of our Lord.

Foxes Book of Matyrs may have some insight where it states, “Surnamed Zelotes, preached the Gospel in Mauritania, Africa, and even in Britain, in which latter country he was crucified, A.D. 74.” But this is not supported.

In later tradition, Simon is often associated with Jude as a proselytizing team; as such the Catholic church combines their feast day on 28 October. The most widespread tradition is that after evangelizing in Egypt, Simon joined Jude in Persia and Armenia, where both were martyred. This version is the one found in the “Golden Legend.”

Some have wrongly identified him with Simon the half-brother of our Lord mentioned in Mark 6:3, who is said to have taken over the leadership of the Jerusalem church after James’ martyrdom, his brother.

Another wrong legacy of Simon is stated in the “International Standard Bible Encyclopedia” that notes he may be Nathanael in referencing the “Genealogies of the Twelve Apostles” (compare Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, II, 50). They say Nathanael was the same as Simon, the son of Cleopas, and was one of the Twelve. But this comes from John 21:2 that states, “Nathanael of Cana in Galilee.” They are taking the hometown “Cana” in regards to the surname for Simon “the Canaanite.” As I noted above, the title was not of origin but the sect he belonged to. Also, the ISBE in another article referring to our Lord’s gathering of the twelve states, “Philip sought Nathanael (of Cana of Galilee, Jn 21:2)-the same probably as Bartholomew the Apostle-and told him he had found Him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets had written, John 1:45.” (Nathanael—Discipleship an Effect of Heart-Searching Power: (John 1:45-51). Here they believe Nathanael was most likely Bartholomew.

The ISBE makes another link with Simon (Nathanael) son of Cleopas. It says that as Alpheus, the father of James, is generally regarded as the same as Clopas or Cleopas, this identification of the above Simon Nathanael, son of Cleopas, with Simon Zelotes would shed light on the reason of the juxtaposition of James son of Alpheus and Simon Zelotes in the apostolic lists of Luke and Acts, i.e. they were brothers. But this is highly speculative and is not shown or proven anywhere.

The 2nd century Epistle of the Apostles (Epistula Apostolorum), a polemic against Gnostics, lists him among the Apostles purported to be writing the letter as Judas Zelotes. This has led to many confusions regarding Simon as Thaddaeus or one of the others.

The choice of Simon the Zealot and Matthew the Publican should be refreshing to many as they are to me. They were two men coming from opposite quarters. One a tax collector for the Romans, while the other a tax hater of the Romans. Here they are brought together in close fellowship in the little band of twelve by our Lord. In the persons of these two Disciples extremes meet, the tax-gatherer and the tax-hater, the unpatriotic Jew, who degraded himself by becoming a servant of the alien ruler; and the Jewish patriot, who was irritated under the foreign yoke, and longed for emancipation. This union of opposites was not accidental, but was designed by Jesus as a prophecy of the future. He wished the twelve to be the church in miniature, and therefore He chose them so as to intimate that, as among them distinctions of publican and zealot were unknown, so in the church of the future there would be neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, slave nor free, but only Christ – all to each, and in each of the all.

Foxes Book of Martyrs:

Surnamed Zelotes, preached the Gospel in Mauritania, Africa, and even in Britain, in which latter country he was crucified, A.D. 74.

Other writings claim various scenarios for his martyrdom, such as Christian Ethiopians who claim that he was crucified in Samaria, or Justus Lipsius who writes that he was sawn in half at Suanir, Persia. However, Moses of Chorene writes that he was martyred at Weriosphora in Caucasian Iberia. Tradition also claims he died peacefully at Edessa. Another tradition which Foxes takes says he visited Britain, possibly Glastonbury, and was martyred in modern-day Lincolnshire.

Judas Iscariot

See Doctrine of Judas Iscariot. (coming soon)

Saul / Paul

Click the Link to see Doctrine of Paul: Meet the Apostle Paul w/ Doctrine of Apostleship

Foxes Book of Martyrs – Paul

Paul, the Apostle, who before was called Saul, after his great travail and unspeakable labors in promoting the Gospel of Christ, suffered also in this first persecution under Nero.  Abdias, declareth that under his execution Nero sent two of his esquires, Ferega and Parthemius, to bring him word of his death.  They, coming to Paul instructing the people, desired him to pray for them, that they might believe; who told them that shortly after they should believe and be baptized at His sepulcher.  This done, the soldiers came and led him out of the city to the place of execution, where he, after his prayers made, gave his neck to the sword.

Meet the Apostles Conclusion:

Apostles Deaths, Summary:

Peter – Crucified upside down

Andrew – Crucified in Edhessa or Ethiopia

James – Brother of John, beheaded in 36 AD

John – Died of old age

Phillip- Scourged, crucified, and stoned to death 54AD

Bartholomew – Beaten, crucified in India

Thomas – Great missionary in India, speared

Matthew – Run through by a spear/Halberd in Nadabah 60AD

James son of Alphaeus – Beaten and stoned by Jews, brains dashed out with fullers club

Thaddaeus – Crucified in Edessa or by Halberd

Simon the Zealot – Crucified, he preached in Africa and Briton

Paul – Beheaded

6 – Crucified*

2 – Beheaded

2 – Beaten / Stoned to death*

2 – Speared

1 – Old Age

* Philip received both

As a reward for the tremendous work each Apostle performed, they are honored with their names written on the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem, in the new earth created post Millennium, Rev 21, specifically Verses 14, 19-20.

Rev 21:14, 19-20, “And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb…. 19The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.”

The decorations on the walls are gems of the future. All of these are merely approximations, for in the eternal state, these materials are all translucent and they all reflect the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ who is the only light in the city.

Each foundations stone is a unique gem and color. This gives us correlation to the Ephod worn by the High Priest in the Age of Israel, Ex 28:17-20.

Ex 28:17-21, “You shall mount on it four rows of stones; the first row shall be a row of ruby, topaz and emerald; 18and the second row a turquoise, a sapphire and a diamond; 19and the third row a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst; 20and the fourth row a beryl and an onyx and a jasper; they shall be set in gold filigree. 21“The stones shall be according to the names of the sons of Israel: twelve, according to their names; they shall be like the engravings of a seal, each according to his name for the twelve tribes.”

Adjacent to each foundation stone are the Gates of the new city and upon the Gates are the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.

In Verse 13, there are three gates on each side. “On the east side” as in Numbers 2, the gates would be named Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, “on the south side,” Reuben, Simeon, Gad, “on the west side,” Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, “on the north side,” Dan, Asher, Naphtali. This may tell us that each Apostle was from one of the 12 Tribes of Israel.

In Verse 14, “The walls of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.” So, on these stones would be the names of Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Thaddaeus, Simon, and Paul. Paul is the twelfth Apostle, according to 1 Cor 15:7-10. All of these inscriptions are permanent; therefore, they have spiritual connotation, speaking to the permanency of our rewards in the eternal state.

The New Jerusalem is the city Abraham was looking forward to in Heb 11:8-10, as prophesized by Isaiah in Isa 54:11-12.

The Apostles are the foundation stones, as Christ is the corner stone of the Church which we stand as today, Eph 2:20 with Psa 118:22; Mat 21:42, etc.

Eph 2:19-22, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20having been built on the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”

Notice also the correlation with 1 Cor 3:1-15.

1 Cor 3:10-15, “According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

As such, they will be rewarded greatly in the eternal state.

The Apostle Code!

(See below)

This list of Apostles and the meaning of their names is no random act. Like everything that God does, there is meaning. In the lists, we see greater meaning. We see God’s plan of Salvation given to us in a praise hymn. I call this the Apostle Code.

Order of Mat 10:2-4 – Matthew – Emphasizing His Kingship

Mat 10:1-4, “Jesus summoned His twelve Disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. 2Now the names of the twelve Apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him.”

Simon Peter, brother of Andrew = Rock / Stone.

Andrew = A Strong Man, manly.

James the son of Zebedee, brother of John – James means, “Supplants, undermines, or the heel = Satan, sin.” Zebedee = My Gift or God has bestowed, endowment of Jehovah.

John = The grace or mercy of the Lord; Jehovah or Yahweh is or has been gracious.

Philip = Lover of horses, Warrior.

Bartholomew = Son of a plowman (Adam tills the ground).

Thomas = Twin (like Adam).

Matthew, the Tax collector = The gift of Yahweh or Jehovah or Gift of God.

James son of Alphaeus = Supplants, undermines, heal [Alphaeus = changing].

Thaddaeus, (a.k.a. Lebbaeus) = Large heart, a man of heart, courageous, and son of supplanter.

Thaddaeus means, “Gift of God” in Greek, but derived from Hebrew or Aramaic meaning, “Breast.” In addition, Edersheim (Life of Jesus, 1:522) derives the term Thaddaeus from THODAH, meaning, “Praise.”

Lebbaeus means, “Heart or courageous.”

Simon the Canaanite (Zealot) – Simon means, “A rock or stone.” Zealot means, “That hears, harkens, obeys [zealous].”

Judas Iscariot = The praise of the Lord, confession [Iscariot = men of Kerioth = men of cites, the world].

The Apostle Code – Matthew

Jesus Christ – The rock the corner stone (of our faith), being all-powerful (in hypostatic union), the one who has supplanted sin. He is the gift of the grace and mercy of the Lord.

Jesus Christ – The warrior on horseback [Rev 19:11] (who won the strategic victory of the Angelic Conflict) by becoming the curse (sin) for man [Gen 3:17ff] in the likeness of Adam [Rom 5:12-17], the gift of God who will come to collect His just due at the Resurrection [1 Cor 15:20-22].

Jesus Christ – Supplanting our sinful flesh by changing (becoming a man). He is the courageous One. Praise God for His gift, the corner stone for all who hear and obey (confess the name of the Lord). Praise the Lord you men of the world.

Order of Mark 3:18 – Mark – Emphasizing His Servanthood, Written for the Romans.

Mark 3:14-19, “And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, 15and to have authority to cast out the demons. 16And He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter), 17and James, the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means, “Sons of Thunder”); 18and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot; 19and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.”

Simon Peter, brother of Andrew = Rock / Stone.

James the son of Zebedee, brother of John – James means, “Supplants, undermines, or the heel = Satan, sin.” Zebedee = My Gift or God has bestowed, endowment of Jehovah.

John = The grace or mercy of the Lord; Jehovah or Yahweh is or has been gracious. (Sons of thunder).

Andrew = A Strong Man, manly.

Philip = Lover of horses, Warrior.

Bartholomew = Son of a plowman (Adam tills the ground).

Matthew, the Tax collector = The gift of Yahweh or Jehovah or Gift of God.

Thomas = Twin (like Adam).

James son of Alphaeus = supplants, undermines, heal [Alphaeus = changing].

Thaddaeus, (a.k.a. Lebbaeus), = large heart, a man of heart, courageous, and son of supplanter.

Thaddaeus means, “Gift of God” in Greek, but derived from Hebrew or Aramaic meaning, “Breast.” In addition, Edersheim (Life of Jesus, 1:522) derives the term Thaddaeus from THODAH, meaning, “praise.”

Lebbaeus means, “Heart or courageous.”

Simon the Canaanite (Zealot) – Simon means, “A rock or stone.” Zealot means, “That hears, harkens, obeys [zealous].

Judas Iscariot = The praise of the Lord, confession [Iscariot = men of Kerioth = men of cites, the world].

The Apostle Code – Mark

Jesus Christ – The rock, the corner stone (of our faith), the one who has supplanted sin. He is the gift of the grace and mercy of the Lord, the all-powerful (in hypostatic union).

Jesus Christ – The warrior on horseback [Rev 19:11] (who won the strategic victory of the Angelic Conflict) by becoming the curse (sin) for man [Gen 3:17ff], the gift of God who came in the likeness of Adam [Rom 5:12-17].

Jesus Christ – Supplanting our sinful flesh by changing (becoming a man). He is the courageous one. Praise God for His gift, the corner stone for all who hear and obey (confess the name of the Lord). Praise the Lord you men of the world.

Order of Luke 6:14- Luke – Emphasizing Him as the Son of Man

Luke 6:13-16, “And when day came, He called His Disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as Apostles: 14Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew; 15and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; 16Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”

Simon Peter, brother of Andrew = Rock / Stone.

Andrew = A Strong Man, manly.

James the son of Zebedee, brother of John – James means, “Supplants, undermines, or the heel = Satan, sin.” Zebedee = My Gift or God has bestowed, endowment of Jehovah.

John = The grace or mercy of the Lord; Jehovah or Yahweh is or has been gracious.

Philip = Lover of horses, Warrior.

Bartholomew = Son of a plowman (Adam tills the ground).

Matthew, the Tax collector = The gift of Yahweh or Jehovah or Gift of God.

Thomas = Twin (like Adam).

James son of Alphaeus = Supplants, undermines, heal [Alphaeus = changing].

Simon the Canaanite (Zealot) – Simon means, “A rock or stone.” Zealot means, “That hears, harkens, obeys [zealous].”

Thaddaeus = Large heart, a man of heart, courageous.

(Judas son of James) = Praise the Lord, son of supplanter.

Judas is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew personal name Judah meaning, “Praise Yahweh.”

Judas Iscariot = The praise of the Lord, confession [Iscariot = men of Kerioth = men of cites, the world].

The Apostle Code – Luke

Jesus Christ – The rock, the corner stone (of our faith), being all-powerful (in hypostatic union), the one who has supplanted sin. He is the gift of the grace and mercy of the Lord.

Jesus Christ – The warrior on horseback [Rev 19:11], (who won the strategic victory of the Angelic Conflict) by becoming the curse (sin) for man [Gen 3:17ff], the gift of God who came in the likeness of Adam [Rom 5:12-17].

Jesus Christ – Supplanting our sinful flesh by changing (becoming a man). The corner stone for all who hear and obey, (confess the name of the Lord). Praise God for His substitution. Praise the Lord you men of the world.

Order of Acts 1:13 – Emphasizing Post-Crucifixion / Pre-Resurrection:

Acts 1:13-14, “When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. 14These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”

Peter = Rock / Stone.

John = The grace or mercy of the Lord; Jehovah or Yahweh is or has been gracious.

James the son of Zebedee – James means, “Supplants, undermines, or the heel = Satan, sin.”

Andrew = A Strong Man, manly.

Philip = Lover of horses, Warrior.

Thomas = Twin (like Adam).

Bartholomew = Son of a plowman (Adam tills the ground).

Matthew, the Tax collector = The gift of Yahweh or Jehovah or Gift of God.

James son of Alphaeus = Supplants, undermines, heal [Alphaeus = changing].

Simon the Canaanite (Zealot) – Simon means, “A rock or stone.” Zealot means, “That hears, harkens, obeys [zealous].

Thaddaeus = Large heart, a man of heart, courageous.

(Judas son of James) = Praise the Lord, son of supplanter.

Judas is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew personal name Judah meaning, “Praise Yahweh.”

Judas Iscariot = Was dead / missing, and not included in this list. A picture of our Lord in the tomb / in Hades.

The Apostle Code – Acts

Jesus Christ – The corner stone gift of the grace and mercy of the Lord who has supplanted sin (as our substitute) being all-powerful (in hypostatic union).

Jesus Christ – The warrior on horseback [Rev 19:11] (who won the strategic victory of the Angelic Conflict), in the likeness of Adam [Rom 5:12-17], by becoming the curse (sin) for man [Gen 3:17ff], the gift of God.

Jesus Christ – Supplanting our sinful flesh by changing (becoming a man). The corner stone for all who hear and obey, (confess the name of the Lord). Praise God for his substitution. (He is gone – until his Resurrection).

This concludes our study of the Apostles!