May 23, 2017: A Quick Rundown On The Twelve Apostles

Morning: Mark 3:6-19Noon: 1 Chr. 2:18-5:22; Evening: Psa. 81

What do you really know about the twelve who followed Jesus closely? Can you name them by memory? Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew (Nathanael), Simon the Cananite, Judas Iscariot….? That was my own memory test, but I seemed to have fallen short of four. Ah yes, Matthew, Thomas, James (the lesser), and Thaddaeus. Who could have forgotten Thaddaeus?!

That there names are recorded in Scripture are significant, for a number of reasons. For the historical reader in the first century, they confirmed real men who could give testimony to the things they saw. Christianity has always invited open examination and scrutiny. “Test every spirit,” is the mentality of honest and earnest Christians (1 John 4:1). For the current reader in the 21st Century, it too is a comfort to us that these men would be openly identified to the public for cross-examination. They were not anonymous sources hiding in the shadows of legend or skepticism.

Each name indicates a sense of honor as well. That God made room for the names of men in His book is a high honor indeed. Jesus called them and appointed them. They became His, and He sent them out in His name. One He even renamed, “Peter,” whose name was Simon. Many commentators have remained uncertain about the significance of Simon’s rename, but the importance may lie in two parts. 1). That Jesus has the authority to change the names of men at His will indicates once again His divine position. 2). That as we have mentioned, men hold a place of honor in the divine heart. He knows them by name. He counts every hair on their head (Mat. 10:30).

A quick run-down and insight into the twelve: Peter’s name means “the rock.” James and John are also given a name, “Boanerges.” Mark himself translates for us the meaning, “Sons of Thunder,” a name that becomes more clear to us after we witness their hot-tempered desire to see Jesus rain fire upon the disobedient (Luke 9:51-56). You have Andrew, who is the brother of Peter, named after first three on account of their close relationship to Jesus (Peter, James, and John). Philip and Bartholomew are also brothers. Matthew is the tax collector, also called Levi. Thomas is the famously known doubter. James the son of Alphaeus, is sometimes called “James the Lesser,” to distinguish him from the more well known James of Zebedee. Thaddaeus is also called Lebbaeus (Mat. 10:3), or Judas the son of James (Luke 6:16). Simon is called the Canaanite, and Zealot, likely part of the militant political coalition that existed among Jewish sects at that time (Luke 6:15). And of course, the infamous, Judas Iscariot. His name is listed last in all three synoptic gospels, probably for obvious reasons, as that one who betrayed Jesus.


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