In This Biography
The Apostles of Jesus Christ
The 12 disciples/apostles of Jesus were the foundation stones of His church, several even wrote portions of the Bible.
We are told that the twelve foundations of the wall of the New Jerusalem will have in them the names of the twelve disciples/apostles. It is evident, therefore, that God attaches great importance to these 12 men.Therefore, it is evident
Brief Biography of the 12 disciples.
Simon Peter, son of Jonas, was a fisherman who lived in Bethsaida and Capernaum. He did evangelistic and missionary work among the Jews, going as far as Babylon. He was a member of the Inner Circle and authored the two New Testament epistles which bear his name. Tradition says he was crucified, head downward, in Rome.
Peter was a typical Galilean. Among the twelve, Peter was the leader. He stands out as a spokesman for all the twelve Apostles.
Peter was martyred on a cross. Peter requested that he might be crucified head downward for he was not worthy to die as his Lord had died. His apostolic symbol is a cross upside down with crossed keys.
James, the Elder, Boanerges, son of Zebedee and Salome, brother of John the Apostle; a fisherman who lived in Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Jerusalem. He preached in Jerusalem and Judea and was beheaded by Herod, He was a man of courage and forgiveness, a man without jealousy, living in the shadow of John, a man of extraordinary faith. He was the first of the twelve to become a martyr. His symbol is three shells, the sign of his pilgrimage by the sea.
John Boanerges, son of Zebedee and Salome, brother of James, the Apostle. He was known as the Beloved Disciple. A fisherman who lived in Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Jerusalem, he was a member of the Inner Circle.
He preached among the churches of Asia Minor. Banished to the Isle of Patmos, he was later freed and died a natural death. John was one of the prominent Apostles.
He was a man of action; he was very ambitious; and a man with an explosive temper and an intolerant heart. His second name was Boanerges, which means son of Thunder. He and his brother, James, came from a more well-to-do family than the rest of the 12 Apostles.
It is said that an attempt was made on his life by giving him a chalice of poison from which God spared him. He died of natural causes. A chalice with a snake in it is his symbol.
Andrew was the brother of Peter and a son of Jonas. He lived in Bethsaida and Capernaum and was a fisherman before Jesus called him. Originally he was a disciple of John the Baptist.
Andrew introduced others to Jesus. Although circumstances placed him in a position where it would have been easy for him to become jealous and resentful, he was optimistic and well content in second place. His main purpose in life was to bring others to the master.
According to tradition, it was in Achaia, Greece, in the town of Patra that Andrew died a martyr. When Governor Aepeas’ wife was healed and converted to the Christian faith, and shortly after that, the Governor’s brother became a Christian. AepeasAeneas was enraged. He arrested Andrew and condemned him to die on the cross. Andrew, feeling unworthy to be crucified on the same-shaped cross as his Master, begged that he be different. So, he was crucified on an X-shaped cross, which is still called Saint Andrew’s cross and is one of his apostolic symbols. A symbol of two crossed fish has also been applied to Andrew because he was formerly a fisherman.
Bartholomew or Nathanael
Bartholomew Nathanael, son of Talmai, lived in Cana of Galilee. His apostolic symbol is three parallel knives. Tradition says he was a missionary in Armenia. A number of several scholars believe that he was the only one of the 12 disciples who came from royal blood or noble birth.
He is said to have preached with Philip in Phrygia and Hierapolis; also in Armenia. The Armenian Church claims him as its founder and martyr. However, tradition says that he preached in India, and his death seems to have taken place there. He died as a martyr for his Lord. He was flayed alive with knives.
James, the Lesser or Younger, son of Alpheus, or Cleophas and Mary, lived in Galilee. He was the brother of the Apostle Jude.
According to tradition he wrote the Epistle of James, preached in Palestine and Egypt, and was crucified in Egypt. James was one of the little-known disciples. Some scholars believe he was the brother of Matthew, the tax collector. James was a man of strong character and one of the fieriest types. Still another tradition says that he died as a martyr and his body was sawed in pieces. The saw became his apostolic symbol.
Judas Iscariot, the traitor, was the son of Simon who lived in Kerioth of Judah. He betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and afterwardsafterwardafterwards afterward hanged himself (Matthew 26:14,16).
Judas stems from the Hebrew Yehudah meaning ‘praised’. Judas Iscariot committed suicide following his betrayal of Jesus Christ, and the whereabouts of his remains are unknown.
It is said that Judas was a violent Jewish Nationalist who had followed Jesus in hope that through Him his nationalistic flame and dreams might be realized. No one can deny that Judas was a covetous man and at times he used his position as treasurer of the band to pilfer from the common purse. There is no certain reason as to why Judas betrayed his master, but it is not his betrayal that put Jesus on the cross-it was the human sins. His apostolic symbol is a hangman’s noose or a money purse with pieces of silver falling from it.
Jude or Thaddeus
Judas stems from the Hebrew Yehudah meaning ‘praised’. According to tradition, Saint Jude Thaddeus was martyred around the year 65 A.D. in Beirut and his body was filled with arrows. He is often pictured with an ax, a symbol of his martyrdom and how he was killed. His remains can be found at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Italy.
By character, he was an intense and violent Nationalist with the dream of world power and domination by the Chosen People.
It is said that Jude went to preach the gospel in Edessa near the Euphrates River. There he healed many and many believed in the name of the Master. Jude went from there to preach the Gospel in other places. He was killed with arrows at Ararat. The chosen symbol for him is the ship because he was a missionary thought to be a fisherman.
Matthew or Levi
Matthew, or Levi, son of Alpheus, lived in Capernaum. He was a publican or tax collector. He wrote the Gospel that bears his name. He died a martyr in Ethiopia.
Matthew was unlike the other Apostles, who were mostly fishermen. He could use a pen, and by his pen, he became the first man to present to the world, in the Hebrew language, an account of the teaching of Jesus. It is impossible to estimate the debt that Christianity owes to this despised tax gatherer. tax-gatherer The average man would have thought it impossible to reform Matthew, but to God all things are possible. Matthew became the first man to write down the teachings of Jesus. He was a missionary of the Gospel, who laid down his life for the faith of his Master. The apostolic symbol of Matthew is three money bags which reminds us that he was a tax collector before Jesus called him.
Philip stems from the Greek name Philippos meaning friend of horses. He became a missionary to Greece, Syria, and Phrygia. Eventually, he traveled to the Egyptian city of Heliopolis, where he was whipped, thrown into prison, and then crucified around 54 A.D. His remains can be found in the Holy Apostles Basilica in Rome.
Philip was a man with a warm heart and a pessimistic head. He would very much like to do something for others, but who did not see how it could be done. Yet, this simple Galilean gave all he had. In return God used him. It is said that he died by hanging. While he was dying, he requested that his body be wrapped not in linen but in papyrus for he was not worthy that even his dead body should be treated as the body of Jesus had been treated. The symbol of Philip is a basket, because of his part in the feeding of the five thousand. It is he that stressed the cross as a sign of Christianity and victory.
Simon the Zealot
Simon, the Zealot, one of the little-known followers called the Canaanite or Zelotes, lived in Galilee. Tradition says he was crucified.
From this background, we see that Simon was a fanatical Nationalist, a man devoted to the Law, a man with bitter hatred for anyone who dared to compromise with Rome. Yet, Simon emerged as a man of faith. He abandoned all his hatred for the faith that he showed toward his Master and the love that he was willing to share with the rest of the disciples and especially Matthew, the Roman tax collector.
Simon, the Zealot, the man who once would have killed in loyalty to Israel, became the man who saw that God will have no forced service. Tradition says he died as a martyr. His apostolic symbol is a fish lying on a Bible, which indicates he was a former fisherman who became a fisher of men through preaching.
Thomas was his Hebrew name and Didymus was his Greek name. At times he was called Judas. Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us nothing about Thomas except his name. However, John defines him more clearly in his Gospel. Thomas appeared in the raising of Lazarus (John 11:2-16), in the Upper Room (John 14:1-6) where he wanted to know how to know the way where Jesus was going. In John 20:25, we see him saying unless he sees the nail prints in Jesus’ hand and the gash of the spear in His side he will not believe. That’s why Thomas became known as Doubting Thomas.
By nature, Thomas was a pessimist. He was a bewildered man. Yet, he was a man of courage. He was a man who could not believe until he had seen. He was a man of devotion and faith. When Jesus rose, he came back and invited Thomas to put his finger in the nail prints in his hands and his side. Here, we see Thomas making the greatest confession of faith, “My Lord and my God.” Thomas’ doubts were transformed into faith. By this very fact, Thomas’ faith became great, intense, and convincing. It is said that he was commissioned to build a palace for the king of India, and he was killed with a spear as a martyr for his Lord. His symbol is a group of spears, stones, and arrows.
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