Twelve Apostles facts


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

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 (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.) by Paul of Tarsus and Simon Peter, a fisherman from Bethsaida "of Galilee" (John 1:44; cf. 12:21)
  • Andrew: brother of Peter, a Bethsaida fisherman and disciple of John the Baptist, and also the First-Called Apostle
  • James and
  • John: sons of Zebedee, called by Jesus Boanerges (an Aramaic name explained in Mk 3:17 as "Sons of Thunder")
  • Philip: from Bethsaida "of Galilee" (John 1:44, 12:21)
  • Thaddeus: "Judas, son of James and Judas (not Iscariot)", (Mark 10:3, Acts 1:13, Luke 6:16, John 14:22)
  • Bartholomew: in Aramaic "bar-Talemai?", "son of Talemai" or from Ptolemais, some identify with Nathanael
  • Thomas: also known as Judas Thomas Didymus - Aramaic T'oma' = twin, and Greek Didymous = twin
  • James: commonly identified with James the Less
  • Matthew: the tax collector, some identify with Levi son of Alphaeus
  • Simon the Canaanite: called in Luke and Acts "Simon the Zealot", some identify with Simeon of Jerusalem
  • Judas Iscariot: the name Iscariot may refer to the Judaean towns of Kerioth or to the sicarii (Jewish nationalist insurrectionists), or to Issachar;
  • 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:

  • Mark names him as Thaddaeus
  • Some manuscripts of Matthew also identify him as Thaddeus
  • Some manuscripts of Matthew name him as Lebbaeus
  • Some manuscripts of Matthew name him as Judas the Zealot
  • Luke names him as Judas, son of James or in the KJV: "Judas the brother of James" Luke 6:16

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
  • Thomas (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.

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