Choosing His Apostles
IT HAS been about a year and a half since John the Baptizer introduced Jesus as the Lamb of God and Jesus began his public ministry. At that time Andrew, Simon Peter, John, and perhaps James (John’s brother), as well as Philip and Nathanael (also called Bartholomew), had become his first disciples. In time, many others joined them in following Christ.
Now Jesus is ready to select his apostles. These will be his intimate associates who will be given special training. But before selecting them, Jesus goes into a mountain and spends the whole night in prayer, likely asking for wisdom and God’s blessing. When it becomes day, he calls his disciples and from among them chooses 12. However, since they continue to be Jesus’ pupils, they are still called disciples as well.
Six that Jesus selects, named above, are those who became his first disciples. Matthew, whom Jesus called from his tax office, is also selected. The other five chosen are Judas (also called Thaddaeus), Judas Iscariot, Simon the Cananaean, Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus. This James is also called James the Less, perhaps because of being either smaller in physical stature or younger in age than the other apostle James.
By now these 12 have been with Jesus for some time, and he knows them well. In fact, a number of them are his own relatives. James and his brother John evidently are Jesus’ first cousins. And it is probable that Alphaeus was the brother of Joseph, Jesus’ adoptive father. So Alphaeus’ son, the apostle James, would also be a cousin of Jesus.
Jesus, of course, has no problem in remembering his apostles’ names. But can you remember them? Well, just remember that there are two named Simon, two named James, and two named Judas, and that Simon has a brother Andrew, and that James has a brother John. That is the key to remembering eight apostles. The other four include a tax collector (Matthew), one who later doubted (Thomas), one called from under a tree (Nathanael), and his friend Philip.
Eleven of the apostles are from Galilee, Jesus’ home territory. Nathanael is from Cana. Philip, Peter, and Andrew are originally from Bethsaida, Peter and Andrew later moving to Capernaum, where it appears that Matthew lived. James and John were in the fishing business and also likely lived in or near Capernaum. It seems that Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed Jesus, is the only apostle from Judea. Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16.
▪ What apostles may have been relatives of Jesus?
▪ Who are Jesus’ apostles, and how can you remember their names?
▪ From which territories did the apostles come?