The Holy Apostles

From 12 Disciples to the Holy Apostles

Sainte Thérèse
François Pascal Simon Gérard French painter, aquarellist and illustrator Sainte Thérèse

Christ has no Body
The Holy Apostles Must Become His Body
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which He blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are His body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

~Saint Teresa of Ávila~

In this beautiful poem, Saint Teresa of Avila tells us that Christ no longer has a physical body here, on earth and we are to act as He taught and lived. In a sense, she is telling us that we are His disciples.

In the Gospel of Mark, verse 15, Jesus told His apostles, 

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” 

After betraying Jesus, Judas was so overcome with remorse that he hung himself, so at this moment,  there were eleven apostles. These eleven men were asked to perform a difficult mission. They would separate and go to different parts of the world preaching what we now know as Christianity.

Of the eleven, all but Saint John would be martyred for their devotion and obedience to Jesus. Be it not for the holy apostles, we would have no Scripture. We would not know Our Lord.

Be it not for these Holy Apostles, we would neither understand nor accept our salvation. Jesus chose each of these men to follow Him.

They were from different backgrounds and had different personalities and occupations. Jesus knew each man before He chose him and chose each man for a reason. 

the Holy Apostles
the Holy Apostles

The 12 disciples started as average, unexceptional men of their time: fishermen, farmers, and local magistrates. But their dedication to a prophetic Jewish preacher in the backwaters of the Roman Empire transformed them into revolutionaries and, in the process, changed the world in ways that would reverberate across time for two thousand years. Now, discover the extraordinary, untold stories of the men Jesus chose to bring God’s plan to the world.

Among them was Peter, who denied Christ three times but later became a “Rock,” James and John, the fiery-tempered “sons of thunder,” Matthew, the tax collector murdered by cannibals, Simon the Zealot, the anti-Roman fanatic eventually “cut to pieces” preaching in Spain, and Judas Iscariot, whose betrayal would be paid for with silver and suicide.

From their early fear and discouragement at the shock of the Crucifixion to the final acceptance of the resurrection and their epic mission to spread the Gospel through the known world, it’s an inspiring, astonishing story of the little-known men who became the Twelve Apostles.

The Names of the 12 Disciples

The 12 disciples of Jesus Christ were some of his closest followers and confidants. They actively spread his gospel and bore witness to his miracles. The names of the twelve disciples are

They were present at many important events in Jesus’ life such as the Last Supper and the Crucifixion. They also witnessed many miracles performed by Jesus including healing the sick and raising the dead.

The 12 disciples played an important role in spreading Christianity throughout the world after Jesus’ death. They traveled far and wide to preach about Jesus’ teachings and helped establish churches in many different countries. Their legacy lives on today through their writings which are still studied by Christians all over the world.

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Stories of the 12 Disciples

The twelve were not Jesus’s only disciples. In ancient Israel, a disciple chose to follow a teacher and emulate both his lifestyle and teachings. Any good rabbi in Jesus’s world had disciples, and Jesus had quite a few.

Some were more devoted than others, of course. At times, he was followed by hundreds and even thousands of people, but only a few really walked closely with him, and only a few consistently emerged in the gospel story as faithful and committed to him.

These few include twelve men and a handful of women, the latter of whom, against every convention of the day, traveled with Jesus and the other disciples and sat at his feet to learn from him.

So Jesus had many disciples, many followers, many who believed in him — or at least were exploring the belief in him. But out of the many, he called twelve to serve as a special extension of his ministry.

He called twelve to be apostles. Jesus called the Twelve his friends, and he trusted them. The Pharisees thought that the apostles were uneducated and ordinary. But Jesus gave them training for their work. They would be with Jesus at the most important times in his life, such as before his death and after his resurrection.

Like Jesus, most of the Twelve were from Galilee. Some of the apostles were married. The apostles were imperfect men who made mistakes. Sometimes they spoke before thinking and made bad decisions. At times they were impatient. They even argued over who was more important. But they were good people who loved Jehovah. They would be the foundation of the Christian congregation after Jesus was gone.

These men became the pioneering leaders of the New Testament church, but they were not without faults and shortcomings. Interestingly, not one of the chosen twelve disciples was a scholar or rabbi. Jesus taught His apostles about the kingdom of heaven, and in return, He learned much from them about the kingdom of men.

These twelve men represented many different types of human temperament. In a religious sense, they were laymen, unlearned in the lore of the rabbis and untrained in the methods of rabbinical interpretation of the Scriptures. God chose them for a purpose—to fan the flames of the gospel that would spread across the face of the earth and continue to burn bright throughout the centuries to follow. He selected and used each of these regular guys to carry out his exceptional plan.

Their love and loyalty to Jesus made them uncommon heroes. After an intensive discipleship course and following his resurrection from the dead, the Lord fully commissioned the apostles (Matthew 28:16-2, Mark 16:15) to advance God’s kingdom and carry the gospel message to the world. Take a few moments now to learn a lesson or two from the twelve apostles—men who helped ignite the light of the truth that still dwells within our hearts today and calls us to come and follow Jesus Christ. Below is a summary of each apostle.

Saint Peter

Saint Peter stained glass
Saint Peter

Simon Peter was the son of Jonas and a fisherman who lived in Bethsaida and Capernaum. Simon Peter (brother of Andrew), James, and John were appointed personal companions of Jesus. The Master had known Simon for some time before Andrew presented him as the second of the apostles.

Simon Peter was 30 years of age when he joined the Apostles, was married, and had three children. Simon was known to all his friends as an erratic and impulsive fellow. He was constantly getting into difficulties because he persisted in speaking without thinking, and asked many questions, more than all the apostles put together; the majority of these questions were good and relevant, but many were thoughtless and foolish.

Simon Peter was the outstanding preacher of the twelve; he did more than any other man, aside from Paul, to establish the kingdom and send its messengers to the four corners of the earth in one generation.

Saint Andrew

Saint Andrew stained glass
Saint Andrew

Andrew (brother of Simon Peter) and the son of Jonas. He lived in Bethsaida and Capernaum and was a fisherman. Andrew was initially a follower of John the Baptist. He brought his brother, Saint Peter, to Our Lord. He was the first chosen apostle, was active in bringing people to Jesus, and was the director-general of the Twelve.

Andrew was chairman of the apostolic corps of the kingdom and he was 33, a full year older than Jesus and the oldest of the apostles. Saint Andrew was the best judge of men, a good organizer but a better administrator. Saint Andrew died on the cross

Saint James the Greater

Saint James the Greater stained glass
Saint James the Greater

James the Elder was the son of Zebedee and Salome and the brother of John the Apostle. He also was a fisherman who lived in Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Jerusalem.

Peter, James son of Zebedee (older brother of John), and John were appointed personal companions of Jesus. They were to attend him day and night, to minister to his physical and sundry needs, and to accompany him on those night vigils of prayer and mysterious communion with the Father in heaven.

James son of Zebedee was 30 years old when he became an apostle, he was married and had four children. James had a fiery temper, was a well-balanced thinker, and was a very tactical planner. He was next to Peter unless it was Matthew, James was the best public orator among the twelve, thus the first of the twelve to sacrifice his life upon the new battle line of the kingdom. James was also known as James “the Greater”

Saint John

Saint John stained glass
Saint John

He was 24 years old when he became an apostle and was the youngest of the twelve, unmarried, and lived with his parents. He was perhaps just a bit spoiled and was a man of few words except when his temper was aroused.

He was gifted with a remarkable and creative imagination. John Zebedee died a natural death at Ephesus in A.D. 103 when he was 101 years of age.

Saint Philip

Saint Philip stained glass
Saint Philip

Philip came from Bethsaida, the same town as Saint Peter and Saint Andrew. It is believed that he was a fisherman. Philip was made steward of the group. It was his duty to provide food and to see that visitors and even the multitude of listeners at times, had something to eat. Apostle Philip was the fifth apostle to be chosen and was 27 years of age when he joined the disciples.

Philip had recently been married, but he had no children at this time. He came from a family of seven, three boys and four girls. Though Philip was not necessarily dull, he lacked imagination and was not a man who could be expected to do big things, but he was a man who could do little things in a big way and do them well and acceptably. Apostle Philip was not a good public speaker, but he was a very persuasive and successful personal worker

Saint Bartholomew

Saint Bartholomew stained glassed
Saint Bartholomew

He lived in Bethsaida and Bartholomew Nathanael was the son of Talmai and lived in Cana of Galilee. Many believe that he was the only one of the twelve men who descended from royalty.

Bartholomew watched over the needs of the families of the twelve. He received regular reports as to the requirements of each apostle’s family and made requisitions on Judas, the treasurer, who would send funds each week to those in need. He was the sixth and last of the apostles to be chosen by the Master himself and was brought to Jesus by his friend Philip.

Bartholomew was 25 years old and was the next to the youngest of the group, he was the youngest of a family of seven, unmarried, and the only support of aged and infirm parents. Saint Bartholomew was an apostolic philosopher and dreamer, but he was a very practical sort of dreamer. Bartholomew also refers or known as (Nathaniel) was one of the best-educated men among the twelve.

Saint Matthew or Saint Levi

Saint Matthew stained glass
Saint Matthew

Matthew was the son of Alpheus and lived in Capernaum. He was a tax collector. It is believed that one of the reasons Jesus chose Matthew is because he had studied Scripture and had a great understanding of its meaning. Matthew (Levi) was the fiscal agent of the apostolic corps. It was his duty to see that the budget was balanced, and the treasury replenished.

If the funds for mutual support were not forthcoming, if donations sufficient to maintain the party were not received, Matthew was empowered to order the twelve back to their nets for a season. But this was never necessary after they began their public work; he always had sufficient funds in the treasurer’s hands to finance their activities.

Levi was the seventh apostle and was chosen by Andrew. Matthew was 31 years old, married, and had four children. He was a good businessman and a good social mixer gifted with the ability to make friends and to get along smoothly with a great variety of people. Matthew gave practically the whole of his modest fortune to the work of the Master and his apostles, but they never knew of this generosity. The apostles all died without knowing that Matthew was their benefactor.

Saint Thomas

Saint Thomas stained glass
Saint Thomas

Thomas Didymus lived in Galilee. The synoptic Gospels tell us nothing of Thomas but John gives us more insight into his personality. Thomas (Didymus) was the manager of the itinerary. It devolved upon him to arrange lodgings and in a general way select places for teaching and preaching, thereby ensuring a smooth and expeditious travel schedule. He was the eighth disciple and was chosen by Philip.

He was 29 when he joined the Apostles and was married with four children. Thomas was formerly a carpenter and stonemason, but latterly he had become a fisherman and had little education, he possessed a keen, reasoning mind and was the son of excellent parents. Thomas grew up having a very disagreeable and quarrelsome disposition.

His wife was glad to see him join the apostles; she was relieved by the thought that her pessimistic husband would be away from home most of the time. Thomas was a good executive, and an excellent businessman, but his many moods handicapped him. If Jesus and his work had not been genuine, it could not have held a man like Thomas from start to finish. He had a keen and sure sense of the fact.

Saint James the Lesser

Saint James the Less stained glass
Saint James the Less

James, the Lesser, or Younger was the son of Cleophas and Mary. He lived in Galilee. Although James is believed to have been the brother of the Apostle Jude, some scholars believe that he was the brother of the Apostle Matthew. Saint James “the Less” and Judas were assigned to the management of the multitudes.

It was their task to deputize a sufficient number of assistant ushers to enable them to maintain order among the crowds during the preaching. Saint James the Less was a fisherman, he was 26 years old, married, and had three children, was thought to be the cousin of Jesus and helped Philip with the supplies and also carried money to the families for Nathaniel.

Saint Simon the Zealot

Saint Simon stained glass
Saint Simon

Very little is known about Simon the Zealot, but he was called the Zealot and lived in Galilee. Simon Zealotes (the Zealot) was given charge of recreation and play. He managed the Wednesday programs and sought to provide a few hours of relaxation and diversion each day. He was the eleventh apostle and was chosen by Simon-Peter.

He was 28 years old when he became attached to the apostles. Simon the Zealot was a fiery agitator; and a man who spoke much without thinking. He was a very efficient organizer and a great debater and he did like to argue.

Saint Jude

Saint Jude stained glass
Saint Jude

Jude Thaddeus lived in Galilee. He was the son of Alpheus or Cleophas and Mary and the brother of James the Lesser.

Judas was a fisherman, was married, and had at least one child. Jude helped Philip with the supplies and also carried money to the families for Nathaniel. Judas was also known as Jude, Lebbaeus, and Thaddaeus

Judas Iscariot

Judas Kiss
Judas kisses Jesus

Judas Iscariot was the traitor; the man who betrayed Jesus. He was the son of Simon who lived in Kerioth of Judah. Of the group of twelve men, Judas was the only Judean. All the others came from Galilee. Judas Iscariot was appointed treasurer. He carried the bag. He paid all expenses and kept the books. He made budget estimates for Matthew from week to week and also made weekly reports to Andrew. Judas paid out funds on Andrew’s authorization.

Judas was an only son of wealthy and unwise Jewish parents living in Jericho. Judas was 30 years of age and unmarried when he joined the Apostles. At a young age, he was pampered and petted; he was a spoiled child. Judas Iscariot was looking for employment in these regions when Jesus’ apostles found him and he was the only Judean among the twelve apostles. Judas was a good businessman, a great executive, a farseeing and able financier, and a stickler for organization. Judas Iscariot was one of the best-educated men among the twelve.

Saint Matthias

Saint Matthias stained glass
Saint Matthias

Apostle Matthias was a disciple of Jesus Christ but was not part of the original 12. He is the only disciple who wasn’t summoned or called into the ministry by Jesus. Instead, he was chosen by the other disciples to replace Judas Iscariot, who committed suicide by hanging himself after betraying Jesus.

Apostle Matthias is only referenced by name in Acts 1:23 and Acts 1:26, but after that, anytime the Twelve Apostles are named collectively, he is included. The New Testament tells us nothing about him other than these two mentions in Acts. We do know that he matched Peter’s criteria for replacing Judas: he had accompanied Jesus since his baptism by John the Baptist, and he had witnessed Jesus’ ascension to heaven (Acts 1:21; Acts 1:22).

As with other more obscure disciples, the early church was frequently perplexed regarding Matthias’ identity, making it difficult for us to discover much more about him. Some said he was the same person as Nathanael or Zaccheus, and some even claimed he was the same person as Matthew. There are also apocryphal texts that purport to offer us an account of Matthias’ work, and numerous stories have developed around his missionary trips and death.

Jesus Called

As Jesus went around teaching and healing, he called people to start following him. Once as he was walking by the lake called the Sea of Galilee, He saw two fishermen. Simon and his brother Andrew were throwing a net into the lake to catch fish. Jesus said to them,

Come and follow me. I will make you fishermen who will catch people.

So Simon and Andrew left their nets and followed Jesus. Jesus gave Simon another name-“Rock.” In the Aramaic language, this name is called “Cephas” and in the Greek language it is called “Peter.”

As Jesus continued walking by the lake, he saw two more brothers. James and John were sons of a man called Zebedee. They were in their boat, preparing their nets to catch fish. Jesus told the brothers to come with him. So they left the boat and their father, and they followed Jesus.

Jesus' Calling
Jesus' Calling

On another day, Jesus was walking beside the lake. He saw the tax office there and a tax collector named Mathew Levi sitting there. Jesus said to him,

“follow me.”

Then Matthew stood up and followed Jesus.

Many people followed Jesus. They were called disciples, that is, people who learn from a teacher. Out of his disciples, Jesus chose twelve men and called them apostles. The word apostle means someone who is sent out. After he trained them, he gave them the power to heal people.

Then he sent them out to preach and heal. These are the names of the twelve apostles: Simon Peter, James and John (the sons of Zebedee), Andrew, Phillip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot. Judas Iscariot was the one who later turned Jesus over to his enemies.

Those Who Became His Body: The Holy Apostles

Now you have a brief introduction to the twelve men, who for three years, followed Our Lord and who, after Jesus’ Ascension, walked on the paths He set for them.

These were brief introductions but we will be offering articles on each Apostle, including profiles of their lives, from their meeting Jesus to the beginning of their ministry, their travels, and concluding with their deaths next to Holy Apostle stories.

You will find articles about each Apostle and their influence on people in the places where they taught. You will also be offered prayers for their intercession and information on their patronage.

Please stay with us as we continue to bring The Holy Apostles to your home.

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