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The Twelve Apostles - Who Were They?

By Edited Sep 6, 2015 0 0

     We know them as the apostles of Jesus Christ, but who were these twelve men that Jesus Christ picked to walk with Him during his earthly ministry? The word apostle means, one who is sent out. Also known as disciples (learner or follower), these twelve apostles learned from and were taught by Jesus. They would become His witnesses to the world after His resurrection and ascension. His twelve apostles were: Simon (called Peter); His brother Andrew; James, son of Zebedee, his brother John;  Philip and Bartholomew ; Thomas (also called diymus); Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus; Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him. Let's take a closer look at these twelve men who would be the companion of Jesus for three years.


     Simon (called Peter): Also known as "Simon Peter" and "Cephas" (Greek: stone or rock), was a fisherman chosen by Jesus frist from his disciples. Like his father and brothers, Peter was a fisherman. Peter would also deny of ever knowing Jesus, three times. "I tell you the truth, "Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three time." Matthew 26:34 This is Peter whom Jesus loved and rebuked. He began to teach the disciples that He (Jesus) must suffer many things. He would be rejected by the elders, chief priests and the scribes. He would be killed and would rise again after three days. Peter told Jesus he would not let these things happen to him, but Jesus knew he was not thinking the way of God. He told Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." Mark 8: 30-33. Born in Bethsaida, in Galilee, Israel, Peter preached to the masses in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, after Jesus' ascension to heaven. Peter's ministry was primarily to the Jews. He was imprisoned many times in Jerusalem because of his faith. Church tradition says Nero, the Roman Emperor of Rome, the time Peter was there, announced himself publicly as the chief enemy of God. In is anger this lead to his wanting to kill the Apostles. Peter remained true to his faith and his Lord. Because of this, Peter was crucified upside down while in Rome.

Peter the Apostle

Andrew: was also a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. Andrew  (known as the "Protocletus", meaning the First Called) was  the first Apostle to follow Jesus after he heard Jesus call, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." Andrew and his brother dropped their nets and followed Jesus.   Beginning his ministry in the Provinces of Vithynia and Pontus, Andrew later traveled to Byzantium. There he founded the Christian Church. While in the City of Patras, many people were converted to Christianity through his preaching in the name of Jesus.  Andrew was crucified in Patras by the Roman Proconsul, Aegeates,  on an X-shaped cross upside down. This was so he could not see the earth, or the executioners. He only saw the sky, glorifying it as heaven where he would meet his Lord, Jesus Christ.

James (Son of Zebedee): James was the eldest brother of the Apostle John. Peter, Andrew, James and John were partners in a fishing business before being called by Jesus Christ. Some evidence suggest that James was the first cousin of Jesus and had know him from infancy. There were three important places where Peter was present: the resurrection of Jarius' daughter,  at Jesus' transfiguration, and the Garden of Gethsemane before Jesus' arrest. After Jesus' resurrection little is known about James' ministry. What is known is James was the first Apostle to suffer martyrdom. James was beheaded in Jerusalem by order of Herod Agrippa 1 around the feast of Easter 44 AD. During James' missionary, he would visit the Jewish colonist and slaves in Spain. There he would preach the Gospel.

     John, also known at "the Apostle Jesus loved most", and "the other Apostle" was the only Apostle that was not martyred. John is the author of the book of Revelation, the Gospel of John and the letters of 1st John, 2nd John and 3rd John in the New Testament of the Bible. Before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD, John moved to Ephesus and became the pastor of the Church there.  John, along with Peter and James, was also present for the transfiguration, the raising of Jarius daughter and the Garden of Gethsemane. From his letters to the Seven Churches in Asia in the book of Revelation, John had a special relationship with other Churches in the area of Ephesus.  Jesus entrusted his mother to the care of John. While on the cross, John and Jesus' mother, Mary, stood near. "Jesus saw his own mother, and the disciple standing near whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold your mother." John 19:26-27  It is believed that Mary stayed with John for a few years. John would eventually be exiled to the island of Patmos. It was there that the book of Revelation was given to John by Jesus. Upon release of exile, John returned to Ephesus where he died peacefully from old age. John was the last Apostle to die.

Saint Paul

Bartholomew: Also known as "Nathaniel," he was introduced to Jesus by Philip. Bartholomew appeared as one of the witnesses of the Ascension with Philip. There is no word or individual action about Bartholomew in the New Testament. However; in John's Gospel, Philip and Nathaniel are mentioned together. In John 1: 45-51 Philip finds Nathaniel and tells him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote-Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." It was Nathaniel who said, "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?..." It was Nathaniel that Jesus was speaking when he said, "Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit." The greatest tradition is that Bartholomew was skinned alive and beheaded.

Thomas, also known as Didymas (the twin): He was also a fisherman, by trade and a native of Galilee in Israel. Thomas established the first Christian church in Babylon. Although little is recorded about Thomas, there are occurrences in the Bible where he did play an important part. In John 11:14-16 Jesus is speaking to his disciples. He says, "Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there,so that you may believe. But let us go to him." Thomas was the one who said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." Again, during the Last Supper, the Lord tells the disciples that He would be going to prepare a place for them. He tells them they know the way to the place He is going.  Thomas says to the Lord, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" John 14:3-5 Thomas was a doubter. When the other disciples told Thomas the Lord had appeared after Jesus' Resurrection, Thomas tells them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." John 20:25 The Apostle Thomas was martyred in India where he was killed with a lance and buried. He was a great builder of churches.

Matthew (the tax collector): Also known as Levi, Matthew was a tax collector before being called by Jesus. He was the writer of The Gospel of Matthew. Matthew was one of the witnesses of the Resurrection and the Ascension. As a tax collector, Matthew collected taxes for Herod Antipas from the Hebrew people in Capernaum where his office was located.  The Scribes and Pharisees criticized Jesus for eating at Matthews house, a tax collector and sinner. It was then that Jesus said to them, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Luke 5:32.  After the Ascension Matthew preached the Gospel to the Jewish community in Judea, in Hebrew.  Following Jesus' Great Commission to take the Gospel to the world, Matthew spread the Gospel to the Ethiopians. Some sources say that Matthew was not martyred while others say he was stabbed to death in Ethiopia.

Apostle Thomas(57739)

James, son of Alphaeus: Was also called "Younger" or "Less." James was the brother of the Apostle Matthew.  James, son of Alphaeus is referred to as, " James the younger."  His mother Mary was one of the women who went to the tomb of Jesus after He was crucified. James was witness to Jesus' words and miracles. After the Ascension, James, son of Alphaeus journeyed to Judea, Edessa, Gaza and Eleutheropolis preaching and proclaiming the Gospel.  James was crucified in the Egyptian city of Ostrachina. 

     Thaddaeus: Also known as Jude, Thaddaeus left Jerusalem after the Ascension of Jesus to go to a foreign country. In Armenia, it is believed he did his ministry. Also known as Jude Lebbeus he was the brother of James, son of Alpheaus. In the New Testament, Thaddaeus asks Jesus, at the Last Supper,"But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" John 14:22  It is believed that Thaddaeus went to Armenia to share the Gospel, and was martyred and buried in Kara Kalisa near the Caspian Sea.

     Simon the Zealot: Simon Zelotes, the eleventh Apostle, was a merchant in Capernaum before turning his attention to the patriotic organization of the Zealots. These were the political, violently anti-Roman, wing of the Pharisees. To distinguish himself from Simon Peter, "the Zealot" was added to his name. The Bible doesn't mention much on Simon the Zealot. It does mention he was chosen to be one of the twelve and that he was sent forth to preach, Mark 3:14. Simon traveled with Jude to Mesopotamia where both Apostles were martyred.  There are two Church traditions with variations to how Simon the Zealot was killed. The first being Simon was sawn in two and Jude being killed with a halberd (a combined spear and battle-ax). The second, Simon the Zealot was crucified and buried in Caistor, Lincolnshire, Britain.

Judas Iscariot: Was the Apostle who would betray Jesus. Leading a group of men to the garden where Jesus was praying, Judas Iscariot betrayed Him with a kiss. The Jewish leaders, wanting to kill Jesus, bribed Judas with thirty pieces of silver to take them to where Jesus was. It was this betrayal that led Jesus to being turned over to the Romans for crucifixion. The Bible says Judas was seized with remorse when he saw Jesus was condemned. He went to the chief priests and the elders to return the thirty pieces of silver. "I have sinned, " he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood." Matthew 27:3-5 In the New Testament of the Bible there are two accounts of how he died. The first account says Judas threw the money into the temple, left and hung himself, Matthew 27:5, while the second account in Acts 1:18 says, "With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. This could suggest what happened to him after he hung himself.  After his corpse fell to the ground he literally burst apart.



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