Saint Andrew Characteristics
Some of the interesting characteristics of Apostle Andrew are that, like many of us, Andrew lived in the shadow of his more famous sibling, Simon Peter. All four Gospels identify Andrew as Peter’s brother. The pair was from Bethsaida, a town north of the Sea of Galilee.
Andrew led Peter to Christ, then stepped into the background as his boisterous brother became a leader among the apostles and the early church.
The Gospels don’t tell us a great deal about Andrew, but reading between the lines about the characteristics of the 12 Apostles reveals Apostle Andrew as a person who thirsted for truth and found it in the living water of Jesus.
In the life of Andrew, we discover how a simple fisherman dropped his nets on the shore and went on to become a remarkable fisher of men.
Who was St. Andrew?
He was the brother of St. Peter, who was also known as Simon bar-Jonah. He and Andrew shared the same father, so the latter would have been known as Andrew bar-Jonah.
Saint Andrew is regularly mentioned after Simon Peter, which suggests that he was Peter’s younger brother. Like his brother Peter and their partners James and John, Andrew was initially a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee.
The first striking characteristic of Andrew is his name: It is not Hebrew, as might have been expected, but Greek, indicative of a certain cultural openness in his family that cannot be ignored. We are in Galilee, where the Greek language and culture are quite present.
Andrew was Simon Peter’s brother and a member of the fishing community from which Jesus drew several of His disciples. Together with their partners, James and John, they plied their fishing trade on the Lake of Galilee with some success.
Excavations at Capernaum, the main fishing village on the Lake of Galilee in Bible days, reveal that some of the houses were large—implying that some of the fishermen were able to make a good living from their fishing business. A fisherman’s task in Bible days was a strenuous one and demanded total commitment. Successful fishermen were known to be reliable and diligent men—good qualities for disciples, too.
A New Vocation
As Jesus walks along the shore of Galilee, He catches sight of Andrew and Peter at work in their boat, letting down their fishing net. The Master speaks to them and informs them that He wants them to change their vocation and become His disciples.
No doubt they knew at once what was involved in this challenge—a different lifestyle, constant traveling, hours of instruction—but they seemed not to hesitate.
Christ’s call came to them in words with which they could easily identify: “Follow me… and I will make you fishers of men.” The word ‘make’ in Greek is a strong one, indicating that Christ would impart His spiritual strength and power to them.
A Change of Leader
Before his call to join Christ’s disciples, Andrew was a devoted disciple of John the Baptist. One day, when he was in John and another disciple company, a carpenter from Galilee passed by, and John pointed Him out as “the Lamb of God.” Andrew and the other disciple immediately left John and went after Jesus to get to know Him better.
We are not told who the other disciple was, but we do know that something began in Andrew’s heart that prepared him for the direct call of Christ. There had been many great spiritual leaders in Israel, but none so great as Jesus: others could proclaim Him, but none could equal Him.
A Willing Helper
As Jesus preaches and teaches the people on the shores of Galilee, great crowds are drawn to Him. On this occasion, being some distance from the nearest town and because the people are hungry, a problem arises as to how they will be fed. Philip points out that even if it were possible to buy food, the cost would be too great.
Andrew, overhearing these words, brings a young boy to Jesus who has with him five small loaves and two fishes. Jesus blesses the small supply, and, miraculously, enough food is distributed to meet everyone’s need. Later, when some Greeks ask Philip if they can be introduced to Jesus, he appeals to Andrew for help. No doubt by this time, Andrew had revealed what seems to be his uppermost characteristic: that of being a willing helper.
Introduces the Family
Having left John the Baptist to seek Jesus and get to know Him more intimately, Andrew is so thrilled with his first encounter with Christ that he hastens to find his brother, Simon Peter, and joyfully introduces him to Jesus. Although a seemingly simple act, that introduction made a great impact, not only on Simon Peter personally but on the ages to come.
Simon Peter became the one to whom Christ gave the keys of the kingdom, and through his thrilling, Spirit-anointed sermon on the Day of Pentecost, opened its gates to thousands of newly-converted souls. Little did Andrew know what impact that simple introduction was to have.
A Good Learner
Jesus spent a good deal of His time teaching His disciples and preparing them for their future ministry in His Church. On this occasion, when one of the disciples remarked to Jesus how well-built and how magnificent were the Temple buildings, the Master turned to them and predicted their utter destruction.
This prediction disturbed the disciples somewhat, and four of them—Peter, James, John, and Andrew—approached Christ privately and asked Him to tell them precisely when the event would take place and what would be the signs that would precede it. Andrew, no doubt, learned a lot from Jesus, not just by listening to what He said, but by asking Him pointed questions.
The Place of Prayer
After His resurrection, Jesus instructed His disciples to remain in Jerusalem and wait for the power of the Holy Spirit to descend upon them. Now that Judas is dead, the remaining eleven disciples—one of whom is Andrew—make their way and over one hundred other followers of Christ into the Upper Room.
They wait in prayer for ten days until, at last, on the Day of Pentecost, the promised power is given. As the Holy Spirit falls, everyone in the room is filled with the Spirit and empowered to carry out Jesus’ commission to them: “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15, NIV).
Summary Characteristics of Apostle Andrew
Andrew was the first recorded disciple of Christ—and his first action as a disciple was to seek out his brother, Simon Peter, and bring him to Jesus. This makes Andrew not just the first disciple but the first evangelist too.
Some commentators refer to Andrew as “the overshadowed saint” in that he appears to be constantly overshadowed by his more ebullient and outgoing brother.
Despite this, however, Andrew continues with his task of serving Christ and excels as “a bringer of others to Jesus.” First, he brought his brother, then the lad with the loaves and fishes, and later the Greeks.
Though the mention of Andrew in the Gospel accounts is scarce compared to his brother Simon Peter, yet he is a life worth studying. He may not have been included in the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples (Peter, James, and John), but he was a saint* and an apostle whose character is to be admired.
Resources Characteristics of Apostle Andrew