Jesus had twelve Apostles, who were his closest followers and disciples. They were chosen by Jesus to spread his teachings and to continue his ministry after his death and resurrection. In this article we explore who the apostles were and their stories.
Apostle comes from the Greek word "Apostolos," which means "one who is sent out." The twelve Apostles were chosen by Jesus to be his closest followers and to carry on his teachings after his death and resurrection.
The term "apostle" can also refer to other early Christian leaders. For example, the apostle Paul was not one of the original twelve apostles. Still, he was chosen by Jesus in a vision and commissioned by the apostles to spread the gospel to the Gentiles.
Disciples follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and seek to live according to his example. The word "disciple" comes from the Latin word "discipulus," which means "learner."
Jesus's apostles were also his disciples, and he had many disciples who followed and learned from him. These disciples were not just passive listeners but active learners who sought to put Jesus' teachings into practice in their own lives.
The following is a summary of who Jesus' apostles were and what they were known for during Jesus' ministry and after his resurrection.
Peter, also known as Simon, was a fisherman and one of Jesus' closest disciples. He was a leader in the early Christian church and is known for his boldness and faith.
In the Gospel of Matthew (16:16), Jesus asks his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" Peter responds, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." This confession is a pivotal moment in establishing the Christian church, as it confirms Jesus' identity as the Son of God.
After Jesus' ascension into heaven, Peter becomes a prominent figure in the book of Acts. He is seen as a powerful speaker and miracle worker. He is credited with preaching the first sermon on the day of Pentecost, where thousands of people were converted to Christianity. Peter is also recorded in Acts as healing the lame man at the temple gate and being imprisoned and miraculously freed by an angel.
Another notable event in Peter's life is his denial of Jesus before his crucifixion. Despite being one of Jesus' closest followers, Peter denied knowing him three times when questioned by the authorities. However, Peter later repented and became a powerful advocate for Jesus and his teachings.
Andrew was Peter's brother and among the first disciples to follow Jesus. He is mentioned as being present during significant events, such as feeding the 5,000 (John 6:8) and the Last Supper (Matthew 26:17-20).
He was said to have preached in what is now modern-day Turkey and Greece and was eventually martyred in Patras by crucifixion on an X-shaped cross.
James was the son of Zebedee and a brother of the apostle John, who was also a fisherman. James was present at several significant events in Jesus' life, such as the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9) and the raising of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:37-43). He was known for his boldness and passion.
James the Greater was the first of the apostles to be martyred, which fulfilled a prophecy that Jesus had given him and his brother John. In Matthew 20:23, Jesus said to them, "You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father."
King Herod Agrippa I, ruling over Judea, arrested James and executed him, as recorded in the book of Acts 12:1-2: "It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword."
John was the brother of James, often referred to as the "beloved disciple" and is known for writing the Gospel of John, three Epistles, and the book of Revelation. These books emphasize the importance of love, faith, and obedience to God and provide insights into the life and teachings of Jesus.
After Jesus' death and resurrection, John played a significant role in the early Christian community. He was present at the Ascension of Jesus and received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. He preached and taught about Jesus and founded several churches in Asia Minor.
In his later years, John was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he received a vision of the end times and wrote the Book of Revelation. This book describes a series of dreams that John had of the future and the return of Jesus Christ.
Philip was from Bethsaida was known for being straightforward and practical with his approach to faith.
It is recorded in the Gospel of John that Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, saying, "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" (John 1:45). Nathanael initially expressed doubt about Jesus. Still, Philip encouraged him to come and see for himself.
Philip was present when Jesus fed the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish (John 6:5-7). Jesus asked Philip where they could buy enough bread to feed the crowd, and Philip responded that it would take more than half a year's wages.
After the death of Jesus, Philip went to the city of Samaria and preached the gospel there where many people believed and were baptized (Acts 8:5-8).
Bartholomew also known as Nathanael was skeptical before he was called to follow Jesus. It is speculated that he traveled to India after the resurrection, where he preached and converted many people to Christianity. He is also said to have preached in Armenia and other parts of the Middle East.
It is believed he was martyred for his faith and flayed alive and then beheaded.
Matthew was working as a tax collector in Capernaum. Tax collectors in ancient Israel were often seen as corrupt and treacherous people, as they collected taxes for the Roman Empire, which was the governing power at the time.
After he was called by Jesus to be a disciple, Matthew hosted a feast at his house for Jesus. He invited many other tax collectors and sinners to meet with him (Matthew 9:10-13).
He wrote the first book in the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew, which emphasizes Jesus' Jewish heritage and focuses on his teachings and miracles.
Matthew was among the disciples who saw Jesus after his resurrection (Matthew 28:16-20). He then traveled to spread the faith in Ethiopia and Persia.
Thomas is known for his doubt about the resurrection of Jesus until he saw Jesus' wounds. He is often called "Doubting Thomas" and is known for his passion for the truth.
Despite his initial doubts, Thomas was the first disciple to declare Jesus as God publicly. When Jesus appeared to him after the resurrection, Thomas exclaimed, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28)
After Jesus' death and resurrection, Thomas traveled to India to preach the gospel. It is believed he established churches and performed many miracles there. Thomas was martyred for his faith in India, where he was stabbed with a spear by a group of anti-Christian zealots. His tomb in Mylapore, Chennai, is still revered by Christians today.
While no surviving works are attributed to Thomas, some ancient texts, such as the Acts of Thomas, record his travels and teachings. This is a Gnostic text from the early Christian era, possibly written in the 2nd or 3rd century AD, and is not considered part of the canonical Bible. It was widely read and respected in some Christian communities in the early centuries of the church.
James was the son of Alphaeus and is known for his work in the early Christian church and is often referred to as "James the Less" to distinguish him from James, the brother of John. He was highly respected for his wisdom and righteousness and was known for his strict adherence to Jewish law.
According to Acts 15, James played a key role in the Council of Jerusalem, where the church leaders decided to welcome Gentiles into the faith without requiring them to follow Jewish customs. It is said that he also preached the gospel in Palestine, Egypt, and Mesopotamia.
It is believed that James was the author of the Epistle of James, one of the books of the New Testament. The letter is addressed to Jewish Christians and contains practical advice on how to live a faithful life.
He was martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ during the mid-1st century and was stoned to death in Jerusalem.
Jude was the brother of James the Less and is often referred to as Thaddeus or Lebbaeus. He preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumea, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Libya. He and the apostle Simon the Zealot are believed to have been martyred in Persia.
Simon was referred to as the "Zealot" because of his association with the Zealot movement, a group of Jewish nationalists who were known for their radical opposition to the Roman Empire.
There is little information about Simon in the New Testament. Though it is believed that he preached in Egypt and Mesopotamia after the death of Jesus. Some sources suggest that he was martyred for his faith, although the details of his death are unknown.
The identity and background of Simon the Zealot are subject to some scholarly debate, and it is suggested that he may not have been a member of the Zealot movement at all.
Judas was the treasurer of the twelve apostles and is known for betraying Jesus to the chief priests and elders of the Jewish people in exchange for thirty pieces of silver. He identified Jesus to the authorities by kissing him on the cheek. Jesus was subsequently arrested and tried before the Roman prefect, Pontius Pilate.
It is thought that Judas betrayed Jesus due to his own greed and personal desires rather than out of loyalty to the authorities.
Judas was filled with remorse and attempted to return the money, but the chief priests refused. In his despair, Judas died by suicide shortly after Jesus' crucifixion.
The following is a list of written books in the New Testament widely believed to be written by the Apostles:
Additionally, here is a list of books and writings attributed to the apostles. However, their authorship is disputed and is known as the "Gnostic Gospels" or the "New Testament Apocrypha."
The Apostles dedication and faith played a significant role in the life of Jesus and in the growth of the Christian faith. Their stories have been shared through the centuries and continue to inform and inspire believers today.
Next read about the witnesses of Jesus' resurrection, his teachings during this time, and ascension to Heaven.
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