The Twelve Apostles

Simon Peter was a Galilean, the son of Jonas and brother of Andrew. He was a fisherman by trade and lived at Capernaum. Among the apostles he stands without a rival, except Paul. Quick and impulsive he is first to confess his Lord, and first to deny him, but with a speedy repentance. He stood a tower of strength among the Jews on the day of Pentecost, and showed fellowship for the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius. He showed faith in God in the raising of Dorcas, and fear of punishment when he denied his Lord; but unshaken faith when he was threatened with martyrdom (Acts 12:3).

Andrew, a brother of Peter and also a fisherman, was first a follower of John the Baptist and then a follower of Jesus, being with him at the marriage in Cana.

James, son of Zebedee, and Salome, born at Bethsaida presumably the cousin of Jesus, and supposed to be a fisherman by trade, and one of the three leading apostles, to-wit: Peter, James, and John. The two latter were called the "sons of thunder," no doubt from their fearless manner of preaching. He was the first apostle to perish by the sword, by the hands of the Jews (Acts 12:2).

John, a brother of James and a son of Zebedee, was no doubt a fisherman by trade. His call to the apostleship seems to have occurred simultaneously with that of his brother James, Andrew, and Peter. He was distinguished as the apostle "whom Jesus loved." He wrote the book called "The Gospel According to Saint John," and also three epistles to the church. Tradition says that he was dipped in boiling oil which failed to kill him. After this time he was banished to the isle of Patmos, where he wrote the book of Revelation. He is said to have died at Ephesus, during the reign of Trojan.

Philip, also of Bethsaida, seemed to have received his call at Bethany, at which time and place he brings Nathaniel to Jesus (John 1:45-49). He evidently had insight of financial matters, as he counted the cost of feeding the multitude (John 6:7). Little more is known of him, except the fact that he was present at the choosing of Matthias.

Bartholomew is generally admitted by historians to be the same Nathaniel whom Philip introduced to Jesus in Galilee, and of whom Jesus said, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" We have but little account of him left on record, except historians say, "He was flayed alive, being crucified head downward."

Thomas, according to history, was born at Antioch, and associated with Matthew. He appeared to be full of devotion, ready to die with his Master, but doubted the resurrection until fully convinced. According to tradition he suffered martyrdom in India.

Matthew, the Publican, was a son of Alpheus, of Jewish birth, a tax collector by trade, who seemed to have been wealthy, was called from the seat of custom. Very little is known of him except that he wrote the book of Matthew. Tradition among the Greeks and Romans says he suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia.

James, son of Alpheus, also called, "James the less." He is believed by some to be the same James who had charge of the church at Jerusalem and handed down the decisions of the church, relative to circumcision; and to have written the "Epistles of James." This, however, is doubted by many, as this James is claimed to be a brother in the flesh of Jesus, and whom Paul called a pillar to the church (Galatians 2:9).

Lebbaeus, called Thaddeus, also called Judas or Jude. Whether he is a brother of our Lord and wrote the book "Jude" or not, is a question which writers seem not to have agreed upon. This Jude is a brother of James (Jude 1), and both seem to be near relatives of Jesus. Still their identity is more or less a matter of conjecture.

Simon, the Canaanite, is the least known of all the apostles. He was also called Zelotes. But we have so far failed to trace his history farther than that he is not supposed to be the son of Cleopas and Mary and brother of James and Jude.

Judas Iscariot was a son of Simon, according to history. He was a thief, a traitor and a devil. In the year thirty-two, Jesus told him he was a devil (John 6:70, 71), and in the year thirty-three, at the feast of unleavened bread, Luke said Satan entered into him (Luke 22:3), and John said the same (John 13:2,23). We have little history of Judas, except his treachery and covetousness, and that he took his own life by hanging himself.

--From "The Messenger of Truth." Copied in the "Messenger of Peace," July 15, 1914.

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