9 Silent Virtues the 12 Apostles Portrayed
9 Silent Virtues the apostles portray, in the new testament, several portions speak of virtues that Christians need to have or manifest in Christ. The Fruits of the Spirit outlined in Galatians 5 are made up of nine theological virtues that are manifested when you choose Christ continuously. They are love, joy, peace, long-suffering or patience, meekness or kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and temperance.
Apart from these, other virtues make an appearance in the bible both in the old and new testaments. There is courage which was obvious in the actions of David throughout his life but was particularly clear when he stole a lock of King Saul’s robe as he slept amid soldiers in 1 Samuel Chapters 24 to 31.
Examples of other heavenly 9 virtues the 12 Apostles Portrayed are brotherly kindness, godliness, knowledge, and moral excellence. While examples of people with these 9 silent virtues are abundant throughout the bible, it’s important to get the examples portrayed by the 12 disciples.
As the twelve individuals specifically chosen by Jesus to lead the church and spread the gospel and as the people who spent the most time with the Lord while he was on Earth, the twelve disciples should be able to portray the virtues listed in the bible.
The bible doesn’t tell us much about many disciples. However, we do get a glimpse of the personalities of the twelve apostles in many verses. We can also see how the teachings of Jesus Christ made manifest the virtues in them. To make this clearer, we’ll explain the nine heavenly virtues that the twelve disciples portrayed.
Love is one of the three greatest virtues and also the Great Commandment of Jesus. In Matthew 22: 37-39, Jesus said that the two greatest commandments were to love God and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. These are the greatest commandments under which all other virtues fall. That is why the first virtue that the twelve disciples showed was love.
How Did They Show Love?
We’re sure that the disciples showed love in many ways throughout their lives after Jesus’ ascension, but there was not much insight in their lives apart from the places they visited to spread the word. However, we can draw some conclusions based on the few acts we saw them perform.
The twelve disciples were some of the first people to choose to follow Jesus. They continued to follow Jesus through every trial and tribulation (except for Judas Iscariot). They also mourned Jesus terribly after his death according to Mark 16:10:
And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. (KJV)
The “them” in this verse is alluding to some of the twelve disciples. This means that they did weep after Jesus’ death.
After Jesus rose and appeared to the disciples, he gave them their mission to spread the gospel and foretold the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Another example of the love shown by the disciples was their establishment of the churches in the land of the Gentiles. At the time, while there was more exposure to other lands, non-Hebrew people were still considered Gentiles and not many bothered to convert them to the true God.
However, the disciples carried out the mission given to them by Jesus Christ. They evangelized worldwide and helped communities along the way.
Last Supper Catholic icon 50x70cm, Romania
One of the trademarks of the early church is sharing and charity. By building the church in this way and encouraging love amongst the body of Christ, they also helped the less fortunate members of the church.
They spread the gospel as far as Ethiopia, spreading their love for Christ and the things of the Spirit along the way.
As you may well know, the peace we’re speaking of does not share the same meaning as the English word peace. The word “peace” has an earthly meaning but it also has a supernatural connotation.
The earthly meaning of peace, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is a state of tranquillity or quiet. However, in John 14:27, Jesus confirms the existence of another kind of peace when he speaks to the disciples at the Last Supper:
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (KJV)
From this verse, we can understand that the peace God gives to us is spiritual and more encompassing than worldly peace. However, this doesn’t mean that Christians have this peace which is what makes it a virtue.
The disciples portrayed this virtue in numerous circumstances as they carried out the work of the Lord even in troubled times and in areas where they were despised and reviled. They were also at peace with being hated even in their hometowns and chose to focus on Jesus even in horrible and unjust situations.
One example of this peace would be John’s exile. While John was one of the few disciples to die a non-violent death, he was exiled to the island of Patmos, in his old age after not dying even when boiled in a pot of oil.
When John was still there, he was enveloped by the Lord’s peace. He wasn’t bothered, nor was he terrified. Instead, he drew even closer to God and wrote one of the most prolific and important books of the bible: Revelations.
Peace is also a quality evident in other disciples. Paul was in many risky situations and was imprisoned many times. Several accounts show that St. Matthew, Mark, and others were put into prison or punished several times for their choice to follow Jesus’ teachings and to obey his commandment to spread the word to the world.
This is a virtue shared by all the members of the early church who faced stigmatization and outright hatred from both the citizens and government for their choice to accept Jesus Christ and follow his teachings.
The disciples embodied the virtue of long-suffering long before Jesus died on the cross. They endured it when they left their homes and comfort to follow Jesus into places and situations that weren’t comfortable or inviting. They endured it when they had to do jobs they never had to before in pursuit of salvation with Jesus.
A clear example is Matthew, a tax collector whose position was above the common people being “reduced” to an usher to distribute fish and bread amongst the people as Jesus taught them. However, because these people were following Christ and had Jesus with them, they did not feel fall under the pressure of society and their religious leaders (Pharisees, Sadducees).
When Jesus rose again and ascended, it caused the disciples’ faith to surge so that they finally understood that it was the Son of God who had been with them all the time. They wanted to evangelize and proceeded to do so but things were harder now that Jesus wasn’t physically there anymore.
People threw stones at them, beat them, and killed them many times. Christian families lost sons, brothers, wives, and more when they went out to evangelize and never came back. Although the early church helped each other in any way they could, some people had to keep their Christianity secret for fear that their business(es) would suffer should people know of their faith.
The twelve disciples (excluding Judas Iscariot), as the leaders of the early church, were at the forefront during this difficult time. They had to endure canings, beatings, imprisonments, humiliation, and all sorts of punishments at any time. They also had to endure being far away from their family and friends all the time, because they had decided to carry their cross and follow Jesus.
Their time was one of the worst times to be a Christian and most of the disciples died violent deaths at the hands of people who hated to hear the truth. The twelve disciples had the virtue of long-suffering for they persevered and chose Jesus in the time when that choice almost certainly meant the death of the physical body.
The fourth virtue the disciples portrayed is faith. This one is pretty obvious but at the same time, not. Some people believe that it is because Jesus was with the twelve disciples and taught them directly that they were able to do signs and wonders. However, if that was true then it means that death would’ve stolen the only twelve men who knew how to perform signs and wonders. Fortunately, that’s not true.
In fact, for people who stayed with Jesus for so long, some members of the disciples were fairly lacking in faith. Take Simon Peter for instance. He denied Jesus three times in one (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, John 18).
Then, there’s Doubting Thomas, who refused to believe that Jesus had risen again until he’d seen the marks left by the nails in Jesus’ hands (John 20:24-31).
However, their faith was later perfected in Christ and they were able to use it to do signs and wonders, healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead.
They were also able to spread their faith in Jesus to both Israelites and Gentiles to try to save as many souls as possible. These were the ones who did not need to see to believe.
It was also because of their faith that they were able to persist through difficult situations. Their faith in Jesus carried them through persecution and when the end was inevitable their unwavering faith made it possible for them to stay in Jesus even in the end.
It is also because of their faith that we have the church today.
Because the disciples refused to back down and because they continued to pray and preach no matter the circumstance, the gospel continued to spread and the teachings of Jesus have continued to make an impact on people’s lives today and will do so forever.
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, James 1:19 KJV
The above verse is James, physical brother of Jesus’ exhortation to the twelve tribes scattered abroad and it urges both them and us to be gentle and slow to anger.
Gentleness is an often overlooked virtue in Christianity but it is one of the most important as it is a close relative to love. Out God is a kind and gentle God. If He wasn’t, maybe He’d have chosen to just cleanse the earth of sinful humans and create new beings that would be faithful to Him. But instead, He sent His Son to die for us and be the bridge to our salvation.
The disciples emulated God and His Son by gently teaching wherever they went. They did not cause disturbances nor did they deliberately offend anyone. All they did was share the gospel and let the Holy Spirit touch the hearts of the people through it.
If they were unwelcomed in a home or city, they simply dusted their shoes and left, never causing a ruckus. And even when they were persecuted, they did not curse those persecuting them. And it is through their gentle preaching that many souls were saved and led back to Christ.
Just like joy, biblical goodness has a different meaning from our world’s concept of it. While the virtues are called goodness, biblical goodness doesn’t just mean being good in our actions. To have goodness as a virtue, you must radiate it from the inside, out.
Confused? We’ll explain further.
Being “good” can mean being kind, hardworking, dedicated, reliable, and all of that good stuff that entails you taking action to prove that you are “good.” But the Bible’s meaning of being good is being godly.
If you have goodness, it means that both your actions and your heart are pure. It means reflecting God in both intention and action. Doing good works and doing them with a good heart shows not only excellent character but a heart for God.
Jesus’ act of selflessness by dying on the cross for humanity is the ultimate example of goodness and the disciples tried to emulate him through their words and actions in the days after His ascension.
They were Jesus’ messengers on Earth to spread the gospel. They healed the sick, raised the dead, converted souls to Christ and most of them did it all with only the support of the Holy Ghost and the church.
They made their way across many nations and faced many problems and persecution, but pushed on regardless. A lot of them abandoned their homes, friends, and relatives to go and spread the gospel and save souls. Jesus told them to carry their crosses and follow him and they die even unto their death.
In some translations, the eighth virtue, meekness, is seen as kindness. The two do have similar meanings but meekness in the eyes of the world means the quality of being unassertive, gentle, and submissive. However, meekness is not a bad quality as seen in today’s world. Rather, being meek means being submissive.
And who’s the object of such submission?
Therefore, you can see meekness as being obedient, submissive, and subservient to God. This quality is hard-won and a lot of us who long for God subconsciously wish for it.
A meek person is completely submissive to God’s will and allows Him to mold them into who He wants them to be. A meek person turns to God for help first in all things. A meek person knows that they cannot do it without God and acts accordingly.
The Spirit of Meekness within the disciples was learned from Jesus who turned to his Father first in all situations, even when it seemed that his Father turned away from him. Whenever they were in trouble, they wholeheartedly depended on God and saw problems as challenges they had to endure to fulfil their work on earth.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when ye encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that ye may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 (KJV)
Joy is a virtue that’s very well-explained in the bible. It’s also a commonly used word in literature and is often thought to have the same meaning as the world’s definition of happiness. However, biblical joy is entirely different.
Happiness is an emotion brought about by an event or circumstance. That’s why when someone asks why you’re happy, you say “I’m happy about…” And happiness is transient. It comes and it goes and the world can take it from you.
But joy, at least biblical joy, is different. When you have biblical joy, which is the joy of the Lord, you’re taking joy in the presence of the Lord (which is everywhere) and the works of the Lord and the things he has done or is doing. God is constantly making moves and constantly performing miracles so joy is a never-ending gladness in the Lord.
It is not something that came about as a result of an event so no one can take it away.
By the definition of biblical joy, you can see that the disciples were practically overflowing with joy. This joy is most apparent in the Book of Acts.
And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost. Acts 13:48-49, 52 (KJV)
At this time, the disciples were evangelizing all over the land and even into the Gentiles’ territory. And it was working. People were getting saved, miracles were displayed and the gospel was spreading farther and farther. And so, having the virtue of biblical joy, they were glad in their hearts.
Temperance means self-control, that is, being in strict control of yourself and not allowing your body to sin. However, we’re all made of flesh and blood, not spirit. Not allowing yourself to succumb to the will of the flesh is difficult even when you are in Christ, talk more of being on your own.
One of the greatest cravings of the flesh and vice that’s extremely hard to ignore is lust. However, you’ll remember that very few of the twelve disciples married anyone. The only disciple that we’re sure married is Peter because Matthew directly mentions that he has a mother-in-law in Matthew 8:14.
There’s also some speculation that Phillip was married, but there’s no concrete evidence. However, there is proof that Peter wasn’t the only man with a family amongst the disciples. Paul implies that he has the right to marry a believing woman like his fellow apostles in 1 Corinthians 9:5. This means that others were married.
Still, the majority of the disciples were not married, including Paul himself. They lived by themselves or with their Christian brothers and sisters but most of them did not leave any children behind. For the most part, they followed Paul’s belief and love for singleness as portrayed in 1 Corinthians 7:1.
Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman (KJV).
But in the next verse, Paul acknowledges the difficulty of avoiding lustful thoughts and fornication:
Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. In this way, the disciples tempered their bodies, overcame the will of their bodies with that of the spirit. They also actively practised forgiveness and tempered their flesh’s need for revenge.
Virtues That the 12 Disciples Portrayed are not much talked about but they were the foundations for the Church we have today. They may not have had a lot of focus on the bible but we can see that they did their best to emulate Christ and retain a Christ-like nature no matter how the world and the flesh tried to stop or break them.
Resources 9 Silent Virtues the 12 Apostles Portrayed