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  Artist's conception of the scene in the Upper Room the night before the Lamb was crucified..

#1 - Simon Peter
#2 - James
#3 - John
#4 - Andrew

#5 - Philip
#6 - Thomas
#7 - Bartholomew
#8 - Matthew

#9 - James (of A)
#10 - Simon Zelotes
#11 - Judas(of J)
#12 - Judas Iscariot

These names are listed in the order of Acts 1:13. The 4th figure from the left, with the bag in his hand, would be Judas Iscariot.

When we compare these twelve APOSTLES to the twelve TRIBES of the Old Testament, we notice both similarities and differences. The tribes were brothers and half-brothers who were born in a two-by-two order, but arranged 6&6 on the Mountains of Blessing and Cursing, and by the gems on the breastplate in a 6x2 order.

Malachi 3:17 tells us "they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him". Seems that figurative "jewels" will supercede those earlier gems.

Jesus answered them, "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" John6:70

These apostles, on the other hand, are consistently listed in three groups of four, and include at least three sets of brothers.   James and John Boanerges, the 'sons of thunder', are the best known of these brothers.

Two Simons, two James, and two Judas (not brothers, except in the sense of having the same heavenly Father), are included in the "Twelve".

It's noted elsewhere that the "12 tribes" were known by 14 names, but consisted of but 13 groups, and the "12 Apostles" listed in Matthew 10, Mark 3, Luke 6, and Acts 1, do not explain why Lebbaeus Thaddaeus is found in Matthew and Mark, but is replaced by Judas of James in Luke and Acts.
Perhaps the Apostle Thaddaeus was replaced by Judas of James, preliminary to the time when Matthias replaced the betrayer Judas Iscariot.

1st String - Matt 10:2

Simon Peter
Andrew (Peter's brother)
James Boanerges
John Boanerges
3rd String - Luke6:13

James of Alphaeus
Simon Zelotes
Lebbaeus Thaddeus
Judas of James
Judas Iscariot
2nd String - Mark3:18

Philip Acts6:5, 21:8
Thomas Didymus
Matthew Mt9:9

At the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed and perspired as it were "great drops of blood", Lk22:44, only Peter, James, and John were with him. Matt26:37.   Also, on that notable occasion at the top of a high mountain where Moses and Elijah appeared, Matt 17, it was only these three who accompanied Jesus.   No explanation is given for why Andrew or the other eight didn't go along to those events.

SURNAMES. The Old Testament didn't use surnames (last names) although Isaiah 44:5 and 45:4 spoke of them. James and John were surnamed Boanerges by Jesus himself, Mk3:17, and also Simon surnamed Peter. It's peculiar how his brother Andrew is never called Andrew Peter. Others with surnames include Judas Iscariot and Lebbaeus Thaddaeus.
"Didymus" (means twin) was not the last name of Thomas, but the Gospel of John says three times he was called by that name, even though none of the synoptic gospels make that claim.

What does "Apostle" mean?

It's the Greek word apostolos, meaning "a sent one", (by the LORD, of course). Today we may call them Missionaries: those who are sent into other countries to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Apostles are part of the five-fold ministry of Ephesians 4:11 (Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers), and the word "missionary" is NOT found in the Bible.

Jesus repeatedly said "It is written", referring to the Old Testament as authoritive, so that his disciples would grow in understanding his principles. It seems that twelve of these were specially promoted to the rank of apostle; members of his special twelve. Matt10:1

Rom15:4 "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."

The Apostles, the "Twelve", the chosen, were all Galileans.

"Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you unto heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven". Acts 1:11. They watched Him go, in fashion similar to the way Elisha had watched Elijah.
The Sea of Galilee was north of Jerusalem and the people living in that area were called Galileans, much like people from the town of Nazareth were called Nazarites, in spite of that specific title given in Numbers 6:2.   Samson was a Nazarite: Judg13:5.

O.K., so Jesus is never called a Nazarite in scripture, and there's no clear connection between Nazareth and Nazarite. Even so, the prophet Jonah was sent to the city of Nineveh, which Jesus said was occupied by "Ninevites", Lk11:30, and it's this one-time N.T. terminology which I'm using.

It seems that Jesus didn't tell them about his being born in Bethlehem. Also, the Pharisee's claimed "no prophet ariseth out of Galilee", Jn7:52, but they were wrong about that, because the prophet Jonah was from Gath-Hepher, a small town about 5 mi. from Nazareth, in Galilee. Shame on them for not knowing!

The Galileans all spoke in tongues.

And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue...?" Acts2:7

The Twelve Apostles

"For many are called, but few are chosen". Matt 22:14
Simon Peter - Best known of the twelve because of his stepping out on the water, and his thrice denials of Christ. He was chief spokesman for the twelve on the Day of Pentecost and became special minister to the Jews, Gal 2:8.   He was called Cephas in John 1:42, and authored the books of 1st & 2nd Peter. Click here for more on Peter.

Andrew - He heard John the Baptist speaking, Jn1:40, and told his brother Simon Peter "we have found the Messiah", and he took him to Jesus. These two brothers, both fishermen, were first called to be "fishers of men". Mt4:18. So they were LOOKING for Him! (As we should be doing...)

James Boanerges - He was killed by King Herod, Acts12:2, which must have been a horrendous blow to his brother and those other early Christians. Jesus himself surnamed these brothers, Mk3:17, who wanted to sit next to Him when He became King.

John Boanerges - The disciple "whom Jesus loved", Jn13:23, and the author of five books of the Bible including the Revelation. Earlier, in Luke 9:54, these two brothers had wanted to call down fire on the Samaritans, the way Elijah had done.

Philip - In the four lists of the Apostles, Philip always heads the second group. He's sometimes confused with another Philip, an Evangelist with four daughters who was one of the seven chosen to serve tables, Acts6:5, and who ministered to the Ethiopian eunuch. Acts8:26

Thomas - He wasn't present when the resurrected Jesus showed the others the scars in his hands and feet, so he's best known for saying "Except I see for myself, I won't believe", and is often derided for his lack of faith.
I think he's getting a bad rap--personally, I wouldn't take anyone's word for anything as important as Eternal Life. Rather, I want to see for myself!

Bartholomew - Nothing is told about him in the Bible, though he's included in all four lists of the twelve apostles. "Bar" means Son in Aramaic, so his name translates as "Son of Tolmai".

Matthew - A tax collector initially; he's assumed to be the author of that Gospel, and known also as Levi (son of) Alpheus. Mk2:14

James of Alphaeus - He's possibly a brother of Matthew. Alphaeus translates as "leader or Chief". There's a "James the Less" mentioned in Mk15:40, perhaps to distinguish him from the James in the first group.

Simon Zelotes - His surname means "zealous", and he's called a Canaanite in Mt10:4, which wouldn't necessarily keep him from being a Galilean.

Judas of James - Perhaps a half-brother of Jesus, Mk6:3, and/or author of the Book of Jude. It isn't clear which James might be his father.

Lebbaeus Thaddeus - He's named in Matthew 10 and Mark 3 lists, but replaced by Judas of James in the Luke 6 and Acts 1 lists.

Judas Iscariot - This was the thief which "had the bag", Jn12:6, and betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, Zech 11:12/Matt26:15. He was "surnamed" Iscariot (given that last name), and after he realized what he'd done, he went out and hanged himself. Acts 1:18, Matt27:5
Following the death of Judas Iscariot, the apostles elected Matthias to their special group of twelve. Acts1:23 "And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias". 1:26 "And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles".

  {These are New Testament authors.   (cf)"Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost". 2Pet1:21

Nathanael, only from John 1 and John 21, isn't listed as an apostle, but was apparently on the scene all the time, even from when they "found" Jesus to begin with. When he said (essentially) "My Lord and my God", it spoke to the contrast between him and Thomas -- and makes us aware of how some people 'believe' on the basis of very little evidence (it seems), while others, like Thomas, aren't going to take someone elses word concerning a matter of such great importance.

NEW NAMES: Of the four Gospel authors, two were apostles (Matthew, John) and two were unknowns (Mark, Luke). None of these exact names are found in the Old Testament -- all four are 'New Names' beginning in the Gospels.

Duties of an Apostle

1. To cast out unclean spirits. Matt 10:1
2. To heal all manner of sickness and disease.
3. To proclaim the gospel, the TRUTH, "in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth", Acts 1:8.
It's a world-wide ministry, sometime's called the Great Commission!

In the Old Testament it was SEVENTY souls, Ex1:5, who went down into Egypt, and it was SEVENTY elders, Numb 11:16, who assisted Moses in the task of ministering to the people.

Compare this to the SEVENTY men in the New Testament which Jesus "sent out", Luke10, to perform these apostle duties.

We don't see the Tribe of Joseph on the map here, because he received the double-portion (instead of Reuben), and so his two sons, Manasseh & Ephraim, were made 'tribes' in his stead. 1Chr5:1.

Jesus himself is called "the Apostle and High Priest of our profession" in Hebrews 3:1. The Apostle Paul (Saul of Tarsus) never met Jesus face-to-face or in the flesh, but saw that Great Light on the Road to Damascus and became an Apostle and the special minister to the Gentiles (those who aren't Jews).

False Apostles, 2Cor11:13, are those deceitful workers who transform themselves...

Those opposed to the Bible like to point out how Judas died twice! That isn't true, of course, but Matt27:5 does say that "Judas went out and hanged himself", and in Acts 1:18 it's written that Judas "purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out".. We agree the two statements are seemingly conflicting, but can you not imagine a scenario which fits both?

He goes out to his field and finds a tree and hangs himself. Nobody cuts down the body and it continues to swing and sway and be bloated with gas until the day it falls headlong to the earth and explodes. Sooo, both sentences are reconciled, but the atheists and agnostics don't want to hear it.

There are those who think it was a mistake to replace Judas with Matthias, instead of Joseph, but I don't find fault with the Great Author, and have decided any "mistakes" are probably caused by my own thinking.

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Last modified 4 February 2014 by Bob Smith.