The Apostles

The Apostles

Andrew, Bartholomew, James the Son of Alphaeus, James the Son of Zebedee, John, Judas (Not Iscariot),
Matthew, Philip, Simon Peter, Simon Zelotes, Thomas, Matthias (Judas Iscariot’s Replacement),
Judas Iscariot

In the following article we will summarize what the Bible tells us about the apostles. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record their years spent with Jesus. Based on these 4 books, we’ve tried to present the apostles’ words and deeds in chronological order. We have not added anything to the facts, nor embellished them, so that God’s message can reach the reader in its holy simplicity. The paragraphs below the horizontal lines are based on other sources and list the biblical books written by the apostles, the countries they preached in, and the circumstances of their death.

From Their Calling to the Ascension of Jesus to Heaven, as Recorded in the Four Gospels

thomatbar
THOMAS,
MATTHEUS,
BARTHOLOMEUS
6th century mosaic in Cappella Arcivescovile, Ravenna, Italy.

After His baptism by John the Baptist, Jesus chose twelve of His disciples to be His apostles:

“Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.” (Matt. 10:2–4)

The word apostle comes from the Greek word apostolos, which means sent forth, ambassador, and originates from the verb apostello, to send forth. The apostles were Jesus’ ambassadors to the world. He gave them special instructions and power to cast out unclean spirits, raise the dead and heal the sick. He then sent them forth by twos to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:6), with the following mission:

“And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matt. 10:7–8)

After doing what He told them, they returned to Jesus Christ, followed Him wherever he went and were the main witnesses to His miracles and teachings. They were given more understanding of “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 13:11) and Jesus’ wonderful parables, than the multitude.

In the four Gospels the term “disciples”refers to the twelve apostles. The apostles were young men and most of them came from the “Galilee of the Gentiles”(Matt. 4:15), part of northern Palestine, whose simple inhabitants were despised by the Jews.

Three of the apostles, Peter, James and John, were especially close to Jesus. They were the only ones let into the house of Jairus by Jesus, when He raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Luke 8:41–56). They were the only ones taken up on a high mountain by Jesus where they witnessed His transfiguration: “His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light” (Matt. 17:2), and where Moses and Elijah appeared to them. They were the only ones taken by Jesus to be close to Him in Gethsemane, while He was praying on the night of His arrest.

Only to His twelve apostles did Jesus foretell the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. This prediction was fulfilled in AD 70, when Jerusalem was besieged by the Romans. He revealed to them the events leading to the end of the world — the Tribulation, His Second Coming and the Last Judgment — on the Mount of Olives. They were told the duties and the fate of Christians, the Lord’s servants, in three wonderful parables (Matthew, chapters 24–25). Jesus told them three times about His impending death and resurrection: first, 6 days before His transfiguration, the second time probably the day after His transfiguration, and the third time on their way to Jerusalem before His last Passover:

“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem: and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.” (Matt. 20:18– 19)

Jesus spent His last Passover, called the Lord’s Supper, with His twelve apostles. Peter and John prepared the meal. On that evening He predicted Judas’ betrayal three times: once during the supper and twice after washing the disciples’ feet. He also revealed the true meaning of the Passover meal to them:

“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matt. 26:26–29)

iactadsim
IACOBUS,
TADDAEUS,
SIMON CANANEUS
6th century mosaic in Cappella Arcivescovile, Ravenna, Italy.

After the supper Jesus laid His garments aside, girded Himself with a towel, washed the disciples’ feet and wiped them with the towel. This represents spiritual cleansing and it is a lesson of humility for His followers. After this, they sang a hymn and went unto the Mount of Olives. There, Jesus predicted that the twelve will be offended in Him that night, that they will be scattered abroad, and that He will lead them into Galilee after His resurrection. Peter declared that he will never be offended because of Him, but Jesus’ response was that Peter would deny Him three times that night before the “cock crow”.

Jesus went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane later that night. He made them sit down and wait, while taking three of them, Peter, John and James, a little farther. After telling them to watch and pray, Jesus went to pray as well. Later on, He came back three times, and found them asleep each time. Soon after this, Jesus was betrayed by Judas and arrested by the men of the chief priests and the elders. John and Peter followed Jesus to the palace of the high priest, but the other disciples forsook Him and fled. Peter even denied Him three times “before the cock crow” (Luke 22:61) as Jesus foretold him. The following morning Judas hanged himself for what he did.

The disciples were the first to hear from Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” that Jesus had risen and appeared to the women. Jesus appeared to the disciples the same evening and breathed the Holy Ghost on them. He appeared to them again eight days later, and convinced Thomas, who was not present the first time and could not believe that Jesus had risen. The third time, He appeared to seven of the disciples at the Sea of Galilee (now known as Lake Tiberias) where they went fishing. Jesus spent forty days on the earth before going up to heaven. During this time, He talked to His disciples about the kingdom of God. He gave them the Great Commission, that the Gospel should be preached to the Gentiles as well:

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matt. 28:18– 20)

Jesus promised the apostles to send the Holy Spirit upon them, so that they would be baptized not with water, but with the Holy Spirit, after which they would receive power and “…ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). They were eyewitnesses to the ascension of Jesus to heaven, watching Him as He was caught up into the clouds.

From the Ascension of Jesus, as Recorded in the Book of Acts

Following the ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven, the eleven disciples returned to Jerusalem and assembled with Mary, the mother of Jesus, His brethren and other disciples, about 120 people in all. They filled Judas Iscariot’s place with Matthias by casting lots. Matthias had accompanied them since John baptized Jesus.

As they were assembled on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came and filled all believers who were present in the room. As a result, they began to speak in many tongues, so each man from the multitude heard them speak in his own language. Then they started preaching, healing the sick and performing many “wonders and signs”. Peter’s first powerful sermon led to the saving of 3000 souls, and his second to the saving of another 5000.

The chief priests and the elders threatened Peter and John very early in their ministry. The 12 apostles prayed to God for courage, signs and wonders, and as a result they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and “spake the word of God with boldness”. They continued their work unabated: they cast out unclean spirits, healed the sick and raised the dead.

As the number of believers grew, the high priest and the Sadducees put the apostles in prison, but the angel of the Lord opened the prison doors at night, freed them and sent them to teach in the temple.

King Herod launched a persecution campaign against Christians. James was killed with a sword. Peter was imprisoned, this time chained to two soldiers. At night, while the soldiers were sleeping, the angel of the Lord freed Peter and lead him out through an iron gate, which opened by itself.

The apostles were simple men, yet they were transformed by Jesus Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit to become the brave leaders of the new Christian faith.


 

Andrew
Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter and a fisherman along with him (Mark 1:16–18). He was born in Bethsaida (John 1:44), a village on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Andrew was first a disciple of John the Baptist. He was present with another disciple the day after Jesus Christ was baptized, when John, looking upon Jesus, said: “Behold the Lamb of God!” The two left John and became the followers of Jesus. The next day Andrew told his brother Simon Peter: “We have found the Messias”, and brought him to Jesus (John 1:35–43). Later, as they were fishing on the sea of Galilee, Jesus called them to be His disciples: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:18–20).

 


Andrew preached the Gospel in Macedonia, Greece, Scythia, Asia Minor, Russia and other countries in Asia.

Acts of Andrew, a small book from the 3rd century says that he was crucified at Patras (Greece) in AD 60. He suffered on the cross for 2 days, while preaching and encouraging the people gathered around him. Before his death, as the Lord came for him, he was surrounded by heavenly light and afterwards gave out the ghost.


Bartholomew
Bartholomew means “son of Thalmai” in Aramaic and it is the surname of this apostle. His first name is probably Nathanael (John 1:45). He was born in Cana, Galilee (John 21:2).

The day after Andrew brought Peter to Jesus, Jesus called Nathanael to be His disciple, and said about him, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile” (John 1,47). Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel.” (John 1:47–49) This fact is usually overlooked, and Peter is mentioned as the first disciple to recognize Jesus as the Son of God.

 


Bartholomew preached the Gospel in many countries, but mostly in India and Armenia.

He died in Albanopolis, Armenia, where he was beaten, then flayed alive, afterwards crucified and lastly beheaded.

 


James the Son of Alphaeus
We don’t have much information about this apostle. Some suggest that he was the brother of Levi, called Matthew, because the Bible says that Matthew’s father was also called Alphaeus (Mark 2:14). Others believe that “James the less”, whose mother Mary was present at Jesus’ death, refers to this James (Mark 15:40).


He preached in Persia.

There are two views concerning his death. According to the first view, he was beaten and stoned to death by the Jews at the age of ninety-four; and finally had his brains dashed out with a fuller’s club. The second version says that he was crucified in Persia.


James the Son of Zebedee
James was the brother of John. They were called by Jesus Christ to be His disciples on the same day, as they were fishing with their father Zebedee. They left the ship and their father immediately, and followed Jesus (Matt, 4:21–22; Mark 1:19–20).

It is likely that the mother of James was Salome, the sister of Jesus’ mother, meaning that James and Jesus were cousins (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25). Along with John and Peter, James was very close to Jesus. They were present when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:37), at His Transfiguration (Mark 9:2–9; Matt. 17:1–9; Luke 9:28–36) and at Gethsemane when Jesus went to pray before His arrest (Mark 14:32–42; Matt. 26:36– 46).


James is believed to be the first Christian missionary to Spain.

James became the first martyr among the apostles when King Herod Agrippa ordered his execution around AD 43 (Acts 12:2). According to Clement, as he was led to the place of his execution, his accuser, seeing James’ extraordinary courage, repented and asked for his forgiveness. This man became a Christian and asked to be martyred together with James. They were both beheaded at the same time.


John
 

pauiacioh
PAULUS,
IACOBUS,
IOHANNIS
6th century mosaic in Cappella Arcivescovile, Ravenna, Italy.

John often refers to himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23).

He was the brother of James and the son of Zebedee (Mark 1:19–20), and possibly a cousin of Jesus (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25). John and James were fishing partners with Peter and Andrew (Luke 5:10). Jesus called John and James “Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). On one occasion, because a Samaritan village refused to receive Jesus, they asked Him whether He wanted them to command fire to come down from heaven and consume the village. Jesus rebuked them: “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Luke 9:55–56). In another instance, they came to Jesus with their mother, who asked Him to allow her sons to sit at His right and left hand in His kingdom. Jesus told them that this is not His decision “but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.” (Matt. 20:20–28)

John, along with James and Peter, witnessed Jesus Christ’s transfiguration, the raising from the dead of Jairus’ daughter, and Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane. On the night Jesus was arrested, John and Peter followed Him to the palace of the high priest. John was the only apostle standing at the cross of Jesus, and Jesus committed His mother into John’s care (John 19:26–27).

When John and Peter heard from Mary Magdalene that the stone from Jesus’ tomb had been taken away and He is not in, they ran to the sepulcher to see it for themselves.


The Book of Acts usually mentions John and Peter together. They preached, healed the sick and were cast into prison together. John was a pillar among the apostles (Gal. 2:9). He wrote the Gospel of John around AD 90 in the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor. He wrote his epistles around the same time. Emperor Domitian had started a fierce prosecution against the Christians in the whole Roman Empire. He captured John, brought him to Rome and immersed him in boiling oil. John was not harmed by this event, so the emperor exiled him to the Island of Patmos. On this island did John receive from Jesus Christ a prophetic vision of the future and the Apocalypse, which he recorded in the Book of Revelation.

He preached the Gospel in Palestine and Asia Minor. His emblem is an eagle.

After the death of Domitian, John was freed from the Island of Patmos and lived till his death in Ephesus, where Mary was burried. John was the only apostle who died a natural death in c AD 98–100, when he was about 100 years old.


Judas (Not Iscariot)
John refers to this apostle as “Judas, not Iscariot” (John 14:22). Matthew calls him “Lebbaeus whose surname was Thaddaeus” (Matt. 10:3). Luke refers to him as “Judas the son of James” (Luke 6:16). The KJV incorrectly translates it as “udas the brother of James”. The Bible doesn’t mention anything else concerning him.


He preached the Gospel in Mesopotamia and Persia.

One tradition says that magicians killed him with clubs and stones in Persia; according to another one he was crucified in Edessa, Turkey, in AD 72.


Matthew
Matthew means “gift of God” in Aramaic, and it was the name given to this apostle by Jesus. He is also referred to as Levi in the Gospels of Mark and Luke (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27–29). He was either named Levi before he began to follow Jesus, or he belonged to the priestly tribe of Levi.

He worked as a publican for the Roman government, collecting tolls on the road from travelers. The Jewish publicans who collected taxes for Rome were considered traitors to their nation. The despised tax collectors made their profit by collecting more taxes than required by the Roman law, and were regarded as sinners by the Jews.

He was called by Jesus while sitting at his tax table. Jesus simply said: “Follow me”, and Matthew left his work immediately to join Him. Matthew made a feast in his own house for Jesus and His disciples, where other publicans and sinners were also present (Matt.; 9:9–13; Mark 2:13–17; Luke 5:27–32). When the scribes and Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?” Jesus replied:

“They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matt. 9:12–13)


This apostle wrote the Gospel of Matthew. Some of Jesus Christ’s miracles and parables are only mentioned in this Gospel. The resurrection of the saints after Jesus’ death and their appearance to many in Jerusalem is recorded solely in Matthew’s book. The sealing of the tomb of Jesus Christ by the Pharisees and the setting of guards outside it is also told only in this Gospel.

John Foxe states in his Book of Martyrs, that Matthew preached in Egypt and Ethiopia.

He was martyred with a spear in the city of Nadabah, Ethiopia, in AD 60.


Philip
The day after Jesus called Andrew and Simon Peter to be His disciples, He met Philip in Galilee and told him, “Follow me”. Philip recognized Him to be the Messiah and went to his friend Nathanael (Bartholomew) saying, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” and they both became disciples of Jesus (John 1:43–46).

Philip was from Bethsaida of Galilee, the city of Andrew and Peter.

After Jesus heard the news of John the Baptist’s death, He departed by ship to a deserted shore, followed by a great multitude. Moved with compassion towards them, Jesus taught them and healed the sick. To test his faith, He asked Philip how they could feed the hungry multitude. Philip immediately started thinking of how much money they would need to buy food, without realizing they only need to rely on God’s power. Jesus then miraculously multiplied the available five loaves and two fish to feed the 5000 men (John 6:1–13; Matthew 14:13–21).

During the Last Supper, Jesus said: “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” Philip did not understand these words, for he said, “Lord show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.” Jesus response was: “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?”(John 14:6–14)


According to tradition, he preached in France, southern Russia and Asia Minor.

It is believed that he was martyred in Hierapolis, a city in today’s Turkey.


Simon Peter
 

petandfil
PETRUS,
ANDREAS,
FILIPPUS
6th century mosaic in Cappella Arcivescovile, Ravenna, Italy.

Peter was the most enthusiastic and brave among the apostles.

At their very first encounter, Jesus told him: “Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.” (John 1:42). Cephas is an Aramaic word, meaning rock, the same way as the Greek petros, from whence the name Peter originates. Jesus named him Peter for he recognized Jesus as the Christ. To Jesus’ question, “But whom say ye that I am?”, Simon Peter responded: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Then Jesus answered:

“Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:17–19)

The two miraculous fish catches may also point to Peter’s role as the apostles’ leader. On the first occasion, despite casting their nets all night long on the sea of Galilee, Peter, Andrew, James and John caught nothing. At Jesus’ request, Peter launched out into the deep again and caught so much fish that their net broke (Luke 5:1–11). The four men brought their ships to land, abandoned everything they had, and followed Jesus who told them: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:18–20; Mark 1:16–18)

The second miraculous catch happened after Jesus’ resurrection. Peter, together with six other disciples, was returning to the shore on the Sea of Galilee after a night of unsuccessful fishing. Jesus, whom the apostles did not recognize, stood on the shore and asked them to cast their net again on the right side of the ship. They complied and caught so much fish that they couldn’t draw them out. Then John exclaimed: “It is the Lord”, and Peter immediately put his clothes on, jumped into the water and swam ashore to Jesus (John 21:1–7).

Fishing symbolizes “fishing of men”, that is saving the souls of men. On the first occasion, Jesus asked only Peter to sail back to the deep again; the second time He instructed all the apostles who were present.

Peter participated in a third miraculous catch. When the tax collectors asked them to pay the tribute, Jesus sent Peter to go fishing, and told him that the first fish he catches would have money in its mouth, which should be given as their tribute to the tax collectors. And so it happened (Matt. 17:24–27).

Jesus strengthened Peter’s leading role after His resurrection. Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter repeated three times: “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee”. To these faithful answers Jesus responded in sequence: “Feed my lambs”, “Feed my sheep” and “Feed my sheep” again. At the same time He foretold Peter that he would suffer a martyr’s death: he would also be crucified (John 21:13–19).

“Simon, who is called Peter” is always mentioned first wherever the apostles are listed (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:13; Luke 6:14). Several of Peter’s deeds are mentioned in the books of the New Testament. Some of them, like his walking on water, are known even by those unfamiliar with the Scriptures. One night, the disciples were horrified seeing Jesus walking to their ship on the water’s surface; they thought they saw a ghost. Peter set out to meet Jesus, he himself walking on the water. He started to panic and doubt as he saw the stormy waters, and as a consequence he began to sink into the sea. Jesus rescued him and said: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matt. 14:22–31).

Peter was a simple, illiterate (Acts 4:13) Galilean fisherman, who worked together with his brother, Andrew. We can infer he was a married man, since it is recorded in Mark 1:29–31 that his mother-in-law’s fever was miraculously healed by Jesus.

Peter’s enthusiasm sometimes caused him to make wrong statements. When Jesus told the apostles about His future death and resurrection, Peter started to rebuke Him: “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” Then Jesus replied to him, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matt. 16:21–23) (Peter was speaking under the influence of Satan). He spoke unthoughtfully at Jesus’ transfiguration as well, when he suggested they build tabernacles for Jesus, and for Moses and Elijah who appeared to them (Matt. 17:1–4; 9:2–5).

Peter was very devoted to Jesus. When many disciples stopped following Jesus for His “hard sayings”, the apostles did not abandon Him and Peter said: “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:68–69)

Peter often asked Jesus questions, for example: “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?” Jesus answered: “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven”. Peter also asked what the apostles’ reward would be, for they left everything behind to follow Jesus. Jesus replied that when He will sit in the throne of his glory (at His second coming), the apostles will also sit on twelve thrones and will judge the twelve tribes of Israel. What He said afterwards is a consolation for all Christians:

“And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.” (Matt. 19,29–30)

In the description of the Lord’s Supper and the events that followed, we often come across Peter’s name. Jesus asked Peter and John to prepare the Passover lamb (Luke 22:8). After the supper Jesus washed His disciples’ feet in a symbolic act, whose meaning they did not understand at that time. Peter did not want to allow this to happen, saying: “Thou shalt never wash my feet”. Jesus answered him, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” Peter hastily replied: “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” (John 13:6–10)

After the Lord’s Supper, on the Mount of Olives, Jesus foretold them that they would all be offended because of Him that night. Peter assured Him that he would never be offended and that he would rather die with Him than deny Him. Then Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him three times before the cock crew (Matt. 26:30–35; Mark 14:26–30; Luke 22:33–35; John 13:37–38).

On that night, turning to Peter, Jesus said that Satan had asked God for the apostles to “sift” them. But Jesus promised that He would pray for Peter so that his faith would not fail and that later he would strengthen the other apostles (Luke 22:31–32).

Peter showed great courage when he cut off the right ear of the high priest’s servant, one of the armed men who came to arrest Jesus (John 18:10–11). But on the same night he denied Jesus three times in Caiaphas’ courtyard; he even began to curse and swear the third time. The cock immediately crew. At that moment, Peter remembered Jesus’ prediction and started to cry bitterly (Matt. 26:58–75; Mark 14:66–72; Luke 22:54–62; John 18:14–27).

On the day of Jesus’ resurrection, Mary Magdalene ran to Peter and John with the news that the tomb was empty. The two disciples immediately ran to the tomb of Jesus. Despite the fact that John arrived there first, he stopped at the entrance and let Peter go in first.

After Jesus’ ascension to Heaven, Peter was the one who suggested that they should appoint another apostle in Judas’ place (Acts 1:15–22).

After the apostles were filled with the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, they started speaking different languages. Seeing the amazed and confused people, Peter stepped forward and spoke on behalf of the apostles. He explained the mission of Jesus to them, and as a result about three thousand people were converted and baptized that day (Acts 2:14–41).

Another day, Peter and John healed a lame man in the temple, then started to preach the Gospel to the crowd gathered at the news of this miracle; 5000 men were converted on that occasion. After this, the two apostles were imprisoned by the enraged chief priests and Sadducees. The next day they were brought before the elders, chief priests and scribes, who forbade them to continue preaching in Jesus’ name. When they refused to comply, they were threatened and then released. Subsequently, they prayed to God and were filled with the Holy Ghost. They preached the Gospel with boldness from there on (Acts chapters 3 and 4).

The next time the apostles were imprisoned, the angel of the Lord opened the prison doors at night and released them. They immediately went to the temple and resumed teaching. They were brought before the council and questioned again. They answered: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” A learned Pharisee, called Gamaliel, diverted the council’s urge to kill them, reasoning that if the apostles’ work is of men, they would fail, but if it is of God, the council cannot overthrow it. As a consequence, they were only beaten before their release (Acts 5:17–42). They did not cease preaching Jesus Christ afterwards and the number of converts increased continually.

While praying in Joppa, Peter had a vision: he saw a great sheet descending from heaven full of all kinds of animals considered unclean by the Mosaic Law. A voice told him to slay and eat. Peter started arguing that he had never eaten anything unclean before. The voice replied, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” This dialog repeated another two times, and Peter later understood that it meant they should also preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, not only to the Jews, as nobody is common or unclean (Acts 10 and 11).

Later, King Herod Agrippa imprisoned Peter, but the angel of the Lord released him again (Acts 12).


Peter is the author of two books: The First and the Second Epistle of Peter.

According to the Church History of Eusebius, Peter preached in Pontus, Galatia, Bithynia, Cappadocia, and Asia.

According to John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, after hearing Nero’s intention to kill Peter, the Christians convinced him to flee Rome. “But coming to the gate, he saw the Lord Christ come to meet him, to Whom he, worshipping said, ‘Lord, whither dost Thou go?’ To whom He answered and said, ‘ I am come again to be crucified.’ By this, Peter, perceiving his suffering to be understood, returned back into the city.” [3] He was then killed in Rome at the order of Nero around AD 68, one of thousands of Christians martyred during this emperor’s reign. According to Tertullian and Origen, he was crucified head downwards at his request. He said he was unworthy to be crucified the same way as Jesus Christ.


Simon Zelotes
This disciple is named Simon Zelotes in Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13; and “Simon the Canaanite” in Matt. 10:4 and Mark 3:18. The Greek word zelotes means “zealous one”, and the word Canaanite comes from the Aramaic word kanna’ah, which means “zealous one” as well. He may have been a member of the fanatic sect Zealots, which opposed Roman occupation, or was a zealous supporter of the Jewish law.


He preached the Gospel in Egypt, Mauritania, Africa, Libya and Britain.

He was crucified in Britain in AD 74.


Thomas
The Gospel of John says that Thomas was also called Didymus (John 11:16, 20:24), which is a Greek word meaning “twin”.

On one occasion, when Jesus planned to return to Judea, His disciples warned Him not to go, because the Jews wanted to stone Him, but Thomas said courageously: “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:1–16).

During the Last Supper, Jesus told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house, and “whither I go ye know, and the way ye know”. Thomas remarked, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” Jesus replied, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” (John 14:1–7).

Thomas is often remembered for his unbelief of Jesus’ resurrection. On the evening of the day of His resurrection, Jesus Christ appeared to His disciples, but Thomas was not present. When Thomas heard the event, he couldn’t believe it, and said: “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Eight days later Jesus appeared to them again and Thomas was convinced: “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:24–29) Thomas was fishing with other six disciples at the sea of Galilee, when Jesus appeared to them again (John 21:1–2).


Thomas preached the Gospel in India and to Parthians, Medes, Persians and other nations.

He was martyred with a spear in India. It is said, that he is buried in Mylapore, a suburb of Madras.


Matthias
After the Ascension of Jesus, the disciples appointed two men, Joseph Justus and Matthias, who had both accompanied them and Jesus “from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us”. They prayed to God to show which one of the two is chosen to take part of the ministry and apostleship in Judas’ place, then cast lots and the lot fell on Matthias (Acts 1:15–26).

Matthias comes from mattathias, which means gift of God.


Matthias was stoned to death and then beheaded by the Jews in Jerusalem.


Judas Iscariot
In their list of disciples, Matthew, Mark and Luke always place Judas Iscariot last and add that he betrayed Jesus.

Iscariot in Aramaic means man of Kerioth. Kerioth was a town near Hebron, so Judas was the only Judean among the disciples.

The Gospels do not record that he was called to be a disciple by Jesus, only that he was chosen to be an apostle from among the disciples.

He was the treasurer of the apostles and John called him a thief (John 12:6). He was money-grubbing and hypocrite. When Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus’ feet with a costly ointment, Judas said: “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?” (John 12:5). John comments: “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein” (John 12:6). In the end he even betrayed Jesus to the chief priests for thirty pieces of silver (Matt. 26:14–16; Mark 14:10–11).

Early in His ministry, Jesus warned His disciples that there is a traitor, a devil among them, but he did not reveal his name (John 6:70–71). During the Last Supper, Jesus predicted three times that Judas would betray Him (Matt. 26:21–24; Mark 14:18–21; Luke 22:21–23; John 13:21–27). Judas even asked, “Master, is it I?” Jesus answered, “Thou hast said” (Matt. 26:25) and “That thou doest, do quickly” (John 13:27). According to Luke and John, Judas betrayed Jesus Christ after Satan had entered him (John 13:27; Luke 22:3).

At that night, Judas led the men of the chief priests, elders and Pharisees to the garden of Gethsemane and betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Matt. 26:47–50; Mark 14:43–45; Luke 22:47–48; John 18:2–3).

The following verses describe Judas’ fate:

“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? See thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.” (Matt. 27:3–8)


References

  1. The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, King James Version, 1991
  2. J.I. Packer, Merrill C. Tenney, William White, Jr.; Nelson’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Bible Facts; 1995
  3. John Foxe, The Book of Martyrs. John Foxe (1516–1587) was born in Boston, Lincolnshire, England. He studied at Oxford, but after turning to Protestantism, he had to resign. When Queen Mary took the throne in 1553, Foxe fled England with his family, but returned after the Protestant Elizabeth became queen. During these years, he worked on his manuscript describing the persecution of the Christians from the early beginnings and through the English Reformation. The first edition was printed in 1563, the second and revised edition in 1570.
  4. Christian Bible Encyclopedia, Hungarian Edition, 1993
  5. Who’s Who in the Bible, 1997
  6. György Szikszai, Pillar of Martyrs (Mártírok oszlopa), 1789