Twelve Apostles

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The Twelve Apostles (Ἀπόστολος, apostolos, Liddell & Scott, Strong's G652, someone sent forth/sent out) were men that according to the Synoptic Gospels and Christian tradition, were chosen from among the disciples (students) of Jesus for a mission. According to the Bauer lexicon, Walter Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon of the NT: "...Judaism had an office known as apostle (שליח)".

The Gospel of Mark states that Jesus initially sent out these twelve in pairs (Mark 6:7-13, cf. Matthew 10:5-42,Luke 9:1-6), to towns in Galilee.

The Twelve Apostles[change | change source]

According to the list occurring in each of the Synoptic Gospels (Mark 3:13-19, Matthew 10:1-4, Luke 6:12-16), the Twelve chosen by Jesus near the beginning of his ministry, those whom also He named Apostles, were:

  • Simon: called Peter (Bowen, Grk. petros, petra; Aram. kēf; Engl. rock) by Jesus, also known as Simon bar Jonah and Simon bar Jochanan (Aram.) and earlier (Pauline Epistles were written first) Cephas (Aram.), and Simon Peter, a fisherman from Bethsaida "of Galilee" (John 1:44; cf. 12:21) Simon/Peter - Andrew's brother (Matthew 10:2; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14), Mary's husband, Mark's father (1 Peter 5:13; Acts 12:12) and Barnabas' brother-in-law (Acts 15:39; Colossians 4:10)
  • Andrew: brother of Peter, a Bethsaida fisherman and disciple of John the Baptist, and also the First-Called Apostle. (Matthew 10:2; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14) and Mark's uncle (Matthew 4:18)
  • James - John's brother, son of Zebadee, Borgerges, son of Thunder (Matthew 10:2; Mark 3:17; Luke 6:14)
  • John: sons of Zebedee, called by Jesus Boanerges (an Aramaic name explained in Mk 3:17 as "Sons of Thunder") - James' brother (Matthew 10:2; Mark 3:17; Luke 6:14) and author of the Gospel of John, 1, 2, 3 John, and the Revelation.
  • Philip: from Bethsaida "of Galilee" (John 1:44, 12:21) (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14)
  • Thaddeus: "Judas, son of James and Judas (not Iscariot)", (Matthew 10:3, Acts 1:13, Luke 6:16, John 14:22). Lebbaeus/Judas/Juda - Jesus' half-brother, Simon's brother (Matthew 10:3; 13:55; Mark 3:18; 6:3; Luke 6:16; Jude 1:1)
  • Bartholomew: in Aramaic "bar-Talemai?", "son of Talemai" or from Ptolemais, some identify with Nathanael. (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14)
  • Tomas: also known as Judas Tomas Didymus - Aramaic T'oma' = twin, and Greek Didymous = twin (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15)
  • James: commonly identified with James the Less [1] - Matthew's/Levi's brother, son of Alphaeus (Matthew 10:3; 27:56; Mark 2:14; 3:16, 18; 6:3; 15:40, 47; Luke 5:27; 6:14-15; 24:18; Acts 1:13; 4:36).
  • Matthew: the tax collector, some identify with Levi son of Alphaeus - Levi - James' brother (James the less) (Matthew 10:3; 27:56; Mark 2:14; 3:16, 18; 6:3; 15:40, 47; Luke 5:27; 6:14-15; 24:18; Acts 1:13; 4:36) and author of the Book of Matthew
  • Simon the Canaanite: called in Luke and Acts "Simon the Zealot", some identify with Simeon of Jerusalem[2] - Jesus' half-brother, Thaddeus' brother (Matthew 10:4; 13:55; Mark 3:18; 6:3; Luke 6:15)
  • Judas Iscariot: the name Iscariot may refer to the Judaean towns of Kerioth or to the sicarii (Jewish nationalist insurrectionists), or to Issachar; (Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:19; Luke 6:16)
    • He was replaced as an apostle in Acts by Matthias
Major events in Jesus's life in the Gospels

The identity of the other apostle of the twelve, traditionally called St. Jude, varies between the Synoptic Gospels and also between ancient manuscripts of each gospel:

The Gospel of John, unlike the Synoptic Gospels, does not offer a formal list of apostles, but does refer to the Twelve in 6:67, 6:70, and 6:71. The following nine apostles are identified by name:

  • Peter
  • Andrew (identified as Peter's brother)
  • the sons of Zebedee (plural form implies at least two apostles)
  • Philip
  • Nathanael
  • Tomas (also called Didymus (11:16, 20:24, 21:2))
  • Judas Iscariot
  • Judas (not Iscariot) (14:22)

The individual that the Gospel of John names as Nathanael is traditionally identified as the same person that the Synoptic Gospels call Bartholomew, and most would agree that the sons of Zebedee is likely to be a reference to James the Great and John, while Judas (not Iscariot) probably refers to Thaddaeus, also known as St. Jude. Noticeably missing from the Gospel of John are James, son of Alphaeus, Matthew, and Simon the Canaanite/Zealot. James the Just was, according to Acts, the leader of the Jerusalem church, and Matthew is noticeably the most Jewish of the Gospels, and it may be the case that the author of John deliberately left out these two figures for a motive opposed to Jewish Christianity.[source?]The second Simon may also have been Simeon of Jerusalem, the second leader of the Jerusalem church, after James.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  • Navarre RSV Holy Bible. Four Courts Press, Dublin, Ireland, 1999.
  • Albright, W.F. and C.S. Mann. "Matthew." The Anchor Bible Series. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1971.
  • Carson, D.A. "The Limits of Functional Equivalence in Bible Translation - and other Limits Too." The Challenge of Bible Translation: Communicating God's Word to the World. edited by Glen G Scorgie, Mark L. Strauss, Steven M. Voth.
  • Carter, Warren. "Matthew 4:18-22 and Matthean Discipleship: An Audience-Oriented Perspective." Catholic Bible Quarterly. Vol. 59. No. 1. 1997.
  • Clarke, Howard W. The Gospel of Matthew and its Readers: A Historical Introduction to the First Gospel. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.
  • "Fisher's of Men." A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature. David Lyle Jeffrey, general editor. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1992.
  • France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
  • Manek, Jindrich. "Fishers of Men." Novum Testamentum. 1958 pg. 138
  • Schweizer, Eduard. The Good News According to Matthew. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975
  • Wuellner, Wilhelm H. The Meaning of "Fishers of Men". Westminster Press, 1967. ( :) G woz 'ere)
  1. Catholic Encyclopedia: The Brethren of the Lord: "His [James the brother of the Lord] identity with James the Less (Mark 15:40) and the Apostle James, the son of Alpheus (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18), although contested by many Protestant critics, may also be considered as certain."
  2. Catholic Encyclopedia: The Brethren of the Lord: "Some identify him [Symeon of Jerusalem] with the Apostle Simon the Cananean (Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:18) or the Zealot (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13)."

Other websites[change | change source]