The Lives and Legacy of Jesus' Apostles

The Lives and Legacy of Jesus' ApostlesWhat happened to the apostles of Jesus. Let's take a look.

Simon Peter (Matthew 4:18-20; Luke 5:1-11, John 1:35-42)

Simon Peter, also known as Simon or Cephas (Aramaic), was initially a fisherman from Bethsaida. He was the brother of Andrew and was part of a group of fishermen who worked with Jesus brothers and other disciples.

In Matthew 4:18-20, Jesus called out to Simon and Andrew from the shore while they were in Peter's boat casting their nets. Jesus then told them He would make them "fishers of men." From this point onwards, the two brothers became some of Jesus' closest disciples. Andrew seemingly immediately left all he had and began to follow Jesus, while Peter hesitated but ultimately followed with a greater commitment. Throughout the Gospel, Peter is known for his devoted faith and loyalty.

He is often given the highest place among the apostles. On several occasions, he proclaims his faith in Jesus and is willing to take a stand and confront those who would oppose him. Even when the other disciples abandoned Jesus during his arrest, Peter followed after to show his support before ultimately denying his identity three times. In John 21:15-17, Jesus restores Peter to ministry by asking him three times if he loves Him, which faintly echoes the three denials. Peter is then charged with directing the "sheep" and built the church upon Jesus words and teachings.

Andrew (John 1:35-40)

Andrew was a first-century disciple of Jesus Christ and the brother of Simon Peter. Andrew is described in the New Testament as an Apostle and an early leader in the emerging early church. According the Biblical account, Andrew was one of John the Baptists disciples and was present when John pointed out Jesus as the "Lamb of God" after which he left John and began to follow Jesus.

Andrew then brings his brother, Peter, to meet Jesus. While not much else is said about Andrew in the Gospels beyond his introduction of Peter to Jesus, early Church fathers developed strong traditions around him.

They describe Andrew as a missionary who shared the "good news" of Christ to many parts of the world, including Greece, the Black Sea area, and Scythia.

James the Greater (Matthew 4:2122; Matthew 10:24; Mark 3:17; Mark 5:3740; Luke 5:111; Luke 6:14; Luke 9:5256; Acts 1:13)

James the Greater, son of Zebedee and Salome, was a brother of John the Apostle and one of the original twelve apostles. He is perhaps best known for being the first apostle to be martyred. From the Bible, we know that James the Greater was a fisherman, as were his brother, John, and a fellow apostle, Peter. Matthew 4:2122 describes how James responded when Jesus called him and his brother to follow him: "And he (Jesus) went on from there and saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. Immediately they left their boat and their father, and followed him". Sources also note James' courage and fiercely loyal nature.

During the Garden of Gethsemane story (in Matthew, Mark, and Luke), it was James and John who stepped forward to ask Jesus if they could sit at His right and left in His glory. During Jesus crucifixion, James stood at the foot of the cross with his mother and other women (Mark 15:40).

John the Evangelist (John 1:3751; Mark 1:1920; Matthew 4:2122; Luke 5:111; Luke 6:1216; Luke 8:5152; Luke 9:5762; Luke 22:838: Acts 1:911)

John the Evangelist, son of Zebedee and Salome, was the brother of James the Greater and one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is among the most beloved of saints and is renowned as the author of four New Testament Biblical works: the Gospel of John, three epistles, and the book of Revelation. John's Gospel is said to have been written in Ephesus, the same place where Pope John Paul II lived and worked in his years as a missionary in the mid-20th century.

According to the Bible, John's closest relationship among the disciples was with Jesus. He was the "beloved disciple" and was the only one to stand at the foot of the cross with Mary throughout Jesus crucifixion. Further, whileJohn is described as "the disciple whom Jesus loved", he was also fiercely loyal and protective. This can be seen in other instances, such as when he and James the Great try to convince Jesus that they should hold positions of power and sit at His right and left in His kingdom (Matthew 20:20-23).

Philip (John 1:43-46)

Philip, son of Hegesippus, was a Jewish fisherman from the city of Bethsaida (in modern-day Israel). He was one of the original twelve apostles chosen by Jesus as chronicled in the Gospel of John. Philips loyalty to Jesus was evident when he forsook his nets to join the group of disciples. He was one of the first two disciples to unmistakably recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah and sought to bring others to meet with Him. In John 1:46, Philip encouragingly exclaims to Nathanael, "Come and see". Philip was an effective minister to the Gentiles and is even mentioned in Acts 21, when Paul consults him about preaching in Galilee. He is also stated to have gone on to evangelize in Carthage and Scythia.

Bartholomew (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13)

Bartholomew, another of the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus, is mentioned in the book of John as one of the two unnamed apostles brought to Jesus by Philip who emphatically declared "Come and see". Biblical records state Bartholomew to have been a devoted follower of Jesus who obeyed His commandments and taught about Him in many places, from Palestine to India.

The Church Fathers tell us he was sent to preach and later martyred for his faith in what some believe to be Armenia. Bartholomew was an apostle of humble means, a Galilean fisherman and quite possibly the apostle Nathanael mentioned in the Gospels as being "without guile". He is praised in the Bible for his idealistic innocence which showed in his unstinting faith in Jesus Christ, who he was willing to follow unto death.

Thomas (John 11:16; John 13:23-27; John 14:4-6; John 20: 26-29; Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15)

Thomas, son of Didymus, was an apostle of Jesus and one of the twelve chosen disciples. He is best known for his sincere declaration of faith in Jesus when told He had risen from the dead: "My Lord and My God!" (John 20:28). Thomas, also called Didymus, was born in Galilee.

He is also known as "Doubting Thomas" because of his initial lack of faith when told Jesus had risen from the dead despite his best friend's claim that he had seen Christ. He demanded a tangible proof and was not convinced until he put his hands into the wounds of Jesus. Upon seeing Jesus in this way, Thomas was filled with newfound faith and exclaimed his faith. Church tradition recounts that Thomas did go on to preach in the Middle East and to all the way India, where he died a martyrs death in what is today Chennai.

Matthew (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 5:27-29; Luke 6:15; John 4:13-18)

Matthew, son of Alpheus, was a first-century taxation agent from the town of Capernaum and one of the twelve apostles. He is best known as the author of the first book of the New Testament, known as the Gospel of Matthew.

Matthew was working at a tax collectors booth when Jesus called him to follow Him (Matthew 9:9-13). As a tax collector, he was considered an outcast by many, especially from the religious establishment of the time. As such, the locals were surprised when Jesus chose him to be one of His followers. The Gospel of Matthew is often seen as the most Jewish of the four Gospels, as it has many interpretive details not found in the other three. It was most likely written with an audience of Jewish believers in mind and in part to demonstrate that Jesus ministry and teachings fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies.

James the Less (Mark 15:40; John 19:25)

James the Less, son of Alphaeus, was the brother of Matthew and one of the twelve original apostles chosen by Jesus. He goes by many names, often referred to as James the Less or the Little. James the Less appears briefly in the Bible and there is relatively little known about him. He was noted to be present at the crucifixion of Jesus and could have been the James who is noted in Acts 21:18-19 as being one of the pillars of the church in Jerusalem. He was also possibly the one referred to in 1 Corinthians 15:7 as having seen the risen Jesus, and thus played a major role in the spread of Christianity in the early church. The Church Fathers tell us he went on to preach and die a martyrs death in what is today Syria.

Simon the Zealot (Matthew 10:4; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13)

Simon the Zealot was a Jewish follower of Jesus and one of the Twelve Apostles. He was a religious Zealot, a member of a Jewish sect that was opposed to Roman rule. We learn of Simon in the Gospels during his calling as one of the twelve apostles (Luke 6:12-16), and afterwards only in passing.

He is purportedly the only member of the twelve who is not mentioned in the post-resurrection accounts. However, it is believed that he went on to preach the gospel until his martyrdom. The Church Fathers tell us he preached the gospel throughout much of the Middle East and later the Mediterranean region. It is believed he may have taken part in the Massacre of the Innocents during Herods reign.

Judas Iscariot (Matthew 10:4; Luke 6:15; John 6: 71-72; John 12: 4-6; John 17:12; Matthew 26:47-50)

Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve chosen apostles of Jesus and is today remembered for betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. He is the son of Simon Iscariot and was prominent in most of the gospel accounts of Jesus life and ministry. Judas was an able apostle and had a great interest and commitment to Jesus, likely even greater than the other apostles.

His betrayal of Jesus is often blamed on his jealousy of Jesus favoritism towards his brother Simon and the outsiders Jesus welcomed into his inner circle. It appears Judas was aware of Jesus true identity and meant to force Jesus hand into proving Himself as the Messiah so that He could be accepted by the Jews. The New Testament recounts Judas suicide soon after Jesus death, remorse and guilt overwhelming him.

Judas the Galilean (Acts 5:37)

Judas the Galilean was a Jewish prophet and perhaps revolutionary who appeared in Jerusalem during the time of the census taken by Quirinius. He is usually identified with Judas, the father of Simon the Zealot. Judas was a well-known socialist who, despite Jesus teaching a pacifistic way of life, believed an armed uprising against Rome was needed for freedom.

He was very popular and inspired a religious-military freedom movement which rallied the Jews to fight for their independence. Judas the Galilean was one of the very few who foresaw the impending doom of the Jewish nation at the hands of the Roman Empire. He was ultimately arrested and crucified by Rome, a fate similar to that of Jesus.

Judas, son of James (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13)

Judas, known as Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus, was a follower of Jesus, one of the Twelve Apostles and the son of James the Less. The Gospels and Acts of the Apostles do not mention much about Judas; however, he is known to have been present at the Last Supper and one of the apostles who stayed with Jesus during His crucifixion. Judas was known in the early church as the "brother of Jesus" due to their close relationship. He was also the sheep that the Lord mentioned would "go astray" (John 6:71), but whose faithfulness Jesus later acknowledged three times. Judas preached the Gospel along with Matthew and Thomas and is believed to have gone on to evangelize in Syria and Persia. Orthodox tradition states that Judas was ultimately stoned and then hung after refusing to renounce his faith.

Matthias (Psalms 109; Luke 3:23-38; Acts 1:23-26)

Matthias was a Jewish apostle, best known as the man chosen by the apostles to replace Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:23-26). It is believed he was born in Bethlehem and brought up in Jerusalem. In the infancy narratives, he is equated with Jacob, who is called a brother of Saul. The name Jacob in Aramaic means "the supplanter" and is presumably a reference to Matthias being replaced Judas. The biblical record of Matthias does not include any of his sayings or deeds, so further knowledge of him is largely derived from Christian Church tradition and apocryphal sources. Orthodox Church tradition claims Matthias preached the Gospel and spread the faith in Ethiopia, where he was ultimately martyred.

Paul (Acts 9:3-9; Acts 15; Galatians 1; Acts 13:9; Acts 21-28; Romans)

Paul, also known as Saul of Tarsus, was a Roman citizen who spread the teachings of Jesus as far away as the Gentile world. Although he was not one of the original Twelve Apostles, he is thought to have known Jesus personally and later came to be seen as an apostle in his own right and an important leader in the early church. Paul was born around the year 5 AD and was raised a strict Jew.

He was a passionate religious zealot and persecuted Christians before having a conversion experience on the road to Damascus. From that point on, he devoted his life to the spread of the gospel to Jews and Gentiles alike.

Throughout his ministry, Paul is often seen as an aggressive proponent of the Christian faith, even using his Roman privileges to preach the gospel in places and with impunity that other apostles lacked or had. He wrote fourteen of the New Testament books, or over half of the New Testament. Paul remains one of the most influential figures in Christian history.


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