Introduction

The past several New Testament lessons have explored various aspects of Jesus Christ’s divine mission: Messianic prophecies, glorious birth, precocious youth, exemplary baptism and the spread of gospel truths.  Christ was not to be alone in his mission, however, except in his suffering.  So we turn to the events surrounding Christ’s public proclamation of his mission, the call of the Twelve Apostles, and the preparation they received to follow in his footsteps.  What we will see in these chapters is that Christ taught his apostles by example how to be true disciples engaged in the work of righteousness.

Before we begin, let me just mention that I placed in the footnotes much of the contextual information of the New Testament times relevant to this lesson’s passages to avoid overloading the main document with too much information.

Christ Publicly Proclaims His Messianic Mission

Let us begin by listening to Luke’s testimony.  As chapter 4 opens we find Jesus in a mighty spiritual exercise of fasting for forty days and nights.  After masterfully overcoming diverse forms of temptations, he was endued[1] with spiritual power and returned to Galilee to proclaim his ministry.

On one particular Sabbath he gathered at the synagogue[2] with other Jews in his boyhood town of Nazareth[3] to read and expound upon the scriptures as was the custom.  When the scrolls came to where Jesus was seated, he stood, opened to a passage in Isaiah[4] and in great solemnity read a Messianic prophecy.

Let us look for a moment at the Messianic prophecy that Jesus read, comparing Luke’s version with Isaiah’s.  A careful examination of these two passages will reveal powerful insights to Christ’s purpose and ministry.  Isaiah is on the left (with differences highlighted in blue) and Luke is on the right (with differences highlighted in red).

Chart1

In verse one of Isaiah 61, the reference to deity is “Lord God,”[5] whereas in Luke’s version it is simply “Lord.”  At first take, we may think that such a small change is of no importance, but this one is.  Consider for a moment the Jewish prohibition against uttering the divine name of God.  According to the New Testament, Jews during the time of Jesus were quite particular about blasphemy, a sin they said was punishable by death.  Even the mere mention of God’s name could be grounds for blasphemy.  Well, then, how did one avoid getting himself killed while reading the scriptures in the synagogue, particularly when the great prophet Isaiah wrote out in entirety the name “Lord God”?  One simply said, as Jesus appropriately did in the synagogue, “Lord” (Adonai) instead of “Lord God” (Adonai Jehovah).

The other changes in the accounts are also quite significant and mutually support each other in a rich expression of gospel truths.  Look at the way that the changes are different yet parallel and complimentary.  Again, the Isaiah version is on the left, while Luke’s parallel statements are on the right:

Chart2

What we notice here is that Jesus is keeping with the spirit of Isaiah’s message yet slightly altering the words to give additional depth and richness to express his merciful mission of loving kindness.  One aspect that Jesus did add, which is not found in the Isaiah passage, is mention of giving sight to the blind.  This Christ did, and not just in physical terms, though he did that as well (see for example Matt. 9:27-31; Mark 8:22-26).  Christ also came to heal spiritual blindness.  He came to open our eyes to our own weaknesses that by seeing them we might be free through repentance and the purging fire of forgiveness (see Ether 12:27).

Let us now return to the account of Christ publicly announcing himself in the synagogue.  He finished reading the Isaiah passage, which we explored above, and what happened next is riveting:

And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down.  And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.  And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.  And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?  (Luke 4:20-22)

The immensity of what was announced was beyond the comprehension or acceptance of those in that synagogue of Nazareth that day.  Jesus was but a carpenter’s son in an obscure Galilean village on the fringes of the enormous Roman Empire.  How could the long anticipation of mighty prophetic fulfillment come to one that was so…so meek?

Perceiving their unbelief, Jesus continued to speak, but in parables.  He also reminded them that “no prophet is accepted in his own country” (Luke 4:24) and he likened himself to the great healing, preaching and miracle prophets of Old Testament times, namely Elijah[6] and Elisha.[7]  These two prophets also were persecuted and not well accepted even among their own people.  In fact, some of their greatest works had been done among the “gentiles.”  For example, Elijah ensured that a Sidonian widow would have enough to eat during a famine; Elisha healed the leprosy of Syrian Naaman.  Despite opposition and rejection from their own people to whom they were to minister, these two Israelite prophets were true to their commission from God and they were rewarded with the blessings of heaven.

Not one word of truth penetrated the hearts of his listeners.  In wrath they rose up against Jesus to destroy him, but like Nephi in the Book of Mormon (Helaman 10:16) he was conveyed out of their midst.  And taking his journey he went “to Capernaum,[8] a city of Galilee, and taught [the willing] on the sabbath days” (Luke 4:31).

Christ’s Ministry in the Galilee[9]

With great haste and excitement the message went abroad, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45).  Though some doubted, like the Jews of Nazareth, with such words as, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46), the enthusiasm for the promised Messiah could not be abated for with joyful shouts of “come and see! come and see!” he was proclaimed.[10]

The crowds pressed upon him, both to hear his precious words and to be close to this source of healing.  At one point Jesus had to use Peter Simon’s fishing boat to launch himself off the shore of the Sea of Galilee[11] in order to teach the thronging multitudes.  This set the context for the formal calling of some of his Apostles, disciples which had been with him in his early ministry and had beheld his marvelous works of everlasting kindness and mercy. 

Calling His Apostles

Ever the master teacher, Christ employed the seemingly mundane tasks of life as symbols of powerful principles and ideas.  For example, to weary fisherman he urged them to cast forth their nets even though they had toiled throughout the night without success.  To the amazement of all, their nets gathered in schools of fish to the point of their nets breaking. 

Some see this story as a symbol that Peter and the other future apostles were not yet capable of spreading the Gospel message entirely on their own.  Yet after several years of divine training with Christ, they could cast out their nets and bring in until overflowing without the nets breaking (see John 21).  They were then ready to successfully take the message to the world.

When the fishermen-disciples saw the bounteous miracle of the fishes they were filled with amazement.  In simple, yet profoundly symbolic words Christ said to them, “Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men” (Luke 5:10).  It required nothing more than to return to land for these devout men to forsake all and follow the Master.[12]  What a marvelous example these simple men set.  No sooner had they experienced one of the greatest success stories of their lives than they were asked, in plain humility, to forsake it all and they did so willingly.

The Tutoring Begins

Christ taught by example.  His Apostles had been called to serve and live as he did, thus Christ tutored them through his daily acts of loving kindness and spiritual self-mastery.  For example, soon after Peter, Andrew, James and John received their call to the Apostleship, Christ displayed his loving power to heal a man beset with the socially and physically debilitating disease of leprosy (Luke 5:12-15).  Then Christ retired to a secluded spot to pass the night in prayer (Luke 5:16).  Through this simple act of worship, Christ taught his disciples that even the mighty Lord had need for communion with the Father.  Indeed, prayer may have been a source for Christ’s healing power.

As his ministry progressed, opportunities to physically and spiritually heal those who came to him were inextricably interwoven with the great work of teaching the people.  All of this served as the tutoring context for his chosen Apostles as they accompanied him.  With masterful grace, Christ answered the doubting and probing questioning from scribes and Pharisees who ever sought to find fault with the one who could save them from their faults, if they would but be willing.  For example, after telling a man with palsy that his sins were forgiven, Christ posed a question to the scribes and Pharisees, “Does it require more power to forgive sins than to make the sick rise up and walk?” (JST Luke 5:23).  Christ answered his own question for these doubters by showing that he had power to do both.  Under the command of God on earth and in the sight of all present, the palsied man leaped from his bed.  Christ does have all power both in heaven and on earth to heal.

In this manner did Christ tutor his apostles.  By example he taught them that they were to show mercy, to heal, to teach, to liberate and to protect.

Physician for the Sick

Levi, also known as Matthew, was a publican,[13] or in modern terms the detested tax collector.  If Christ was attempting to win popular Pharisaic and scribal opinion, he certainly chose poorly with Matthew as an apostle and the opportunity soon arose for the self-righteous to make their opinion known.  “Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?” they complained to Christ (Luke 5:30).  In a rebuke that was both gentle yet stinging he replied, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-31).  In many of these interactions Christ’s apostles were silent, yet careful observers of the Lord’s ministering work.  Their time was not yet, but soon would be when they would have to answer similar inquiries from those who believed they had nothing to learn from the meek and chosen servants of God.  But for the time being, they were under the tutelage of the Master of heaven and earth.

The Ancient Apostles

Now who were these men that Christ especially chose?  Let us pause for a moment to review the names of those called to be special ministers for Christ’s name in the dispensation of the Meridian of Times.  According to the book of Matthew the following are the names of the Twelve:

  1. Simon (also called Peter)[14]
  2. Andrew (brother to Peter)[15]
  3. James (son of Zebedee)[16]
  4. John (brother to James and son of Zebedee)[17]
  5. Philip[18]
  6. Bartholomew[19]
  7. Thomas[20]
  8. Matthew (the publican)[21]
  9. James (son of Alphaeus)[22]
  10. Lebaeus (also called Thaddaeus & also called Judas)[23]
  11. Simon (the Canaanite, also known as Simon the Zealot)[24]
  12. Judas (Iscariot)[25]

The Ministry of Apostleship

We will end our present study by reviewing the apostolic commission set forth by Christ in Matthew chapter 10.  The work that Christ ordained these men to undertake was by no means an easy task and it certainly was not bedazzled with the glory of this world.

Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.  Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.  But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.  And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.  And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  (Matthew 10:9-10, 16-18, 22, 28)

However, the peace of Christ’s spirit was to ever accompany them and the blessings of joy in this life and eternal joy in the life to come was the sure promise that Christ bestowed upon his Apostles as they set forth to accomplish their mighty tasks.  They would not be left alone. 

But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.  For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.  And fear not….Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.  He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.  (Matthew 10:19-20, 28-31, 38-39)

The apostles received a specific commission to follow in the footsteps of the Savior’s ministry.  In so doing they would be blessed with the same power he had.

Go…to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.  Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,  Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.  And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.  And when ye come into an house, salute it.  And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.  (Matthew 10:6-13)

Conclusion

The apostles are special ministers of Christ’s name unto all the world.  Their commission has ever been the same throughout the ages of the world.  And those who take upon themselves the name of Christ are invited to participate in sustaining that marvelous apostolic commission:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.  (Matthew 28:19-20)

NOTES

[1] Endued, or endowed, comes from the Greek term enduw (enduo), which means “to clothe.”

[2] The term “synagogue” derives from the Greek term sunagwgh (sunagogay), which means “assembly, congregation, gathering.”  The synagogue was “the meeting place and prayer hall of the Jewish people since antiquity.  During Second Temple times [c. 580 BC – 70 AD] the term ‘synagogue’ referred both to a group of people and/or a building or institution.  Although these notions are not mutually exclusive, it is quite probable that at its inception the synagogue did not refer to an actual building but to a group or community of individuals who met together for worship and religious purposes…. By the 1st century [AD] the synagogue had become so important and central an institution to Jewish life in Palestine that the Talmud of Palestine refers to 480 of them existing in Jerusalem at the time of Vespasian [c. 70 AD]…. Josephus [the ancient Jewish author and historian who lived from 37 AD – 105 AD] also emphasizes the centrality of the reading of Scripture and the importance of study found in the Second Temple synagogue…. The [New Testament] corroborates such a picture in reporting Jesus’ and Paul’s frequent visitations to synagogues.  During those times they would invariable read or expound Scripture…. The origin of the synagogue is shrouded in mystery, though most scholars would place its beginning in exilic times…. It was the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 587/6 [BC] and the forced eviction of Judeans to Babylonia that created the conditions which brought about a complete reappraisal of life…. Another aspect of the life crisis facing the Judeans in exile was the question of how to worship without a sanctuary located on a holy place…. Whatever the reality of the situation in exile, the fact of the matter is that the response to Cyrus’ edict in 538 [BC] permitting the Judeans to return to Palestine was underwhelming.  Many chose to stay in the Persian diaspora and such a decision clearly indicates that their religious needs were being met…. Whatever the case may be for an exilic date for the idea or actual establishment of the synagogue as a place where individuals gathered to worship, read, or recite the scriptures, and to venerate [God], the experience and trauma of the destruction and exile of God’s people enabled the Judeans to develop a means of approaching God that transcended the confines of sacred space.”  Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 6:251-252.

[3] Nazareth: “The town of Jesus’ youth in Lower Galilee, just [North] of the valley of Jezreel….The Sea of Galilee lies 15 miles to the [East] while the Mediterranean lies 20 miles to the [West].  Nazareth is identified by Matthew (2:23) and Luke (1:26; 2:4, 39) as the village of Mary and Joseph, the place where Jesus grew up (Luke 2:39, 51) and the village he left to visit the towns and villages of Galilee to begin his ministry (Mark 1:9).  Luke mentions a synagogue in Nazareth (4:16) where Jesus spoke as an adult and where his message was not well received (4:28-30).  Evidently later in his ministry, it was well known that Jesus was from Nazareth (Matt 21:11), which did not always evoke an amiable response (cf. John 1:45-46)….As inferred from the Herodian tombs in Nazareth, the maximum extent of the…village measured about 900 x 200 [meters], for a total area just under 60 acres.  Since most of this was empty space in antiquity, the population would have been a maximum of about 480 [inhabitants] at the beginning of the 1st century A.D.”  Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 4:1050.

[4] Luke quotes from Isaiah 61:1-2.  In the Lukan gospel, the name of Isaiah is written as “Esaias.”  We remember that Luke was a gentile doctor, educated in the Greek educational system and he was probably writing to a Greek speaking audience.  More than likely the version of the Old Testament that Luke referred to was the Greek Septuagint (often symbolized with the Latin numbers for seventy as LXX).  Hence, Isaiah’s name was written in Greek as “Esaias.”  We shouldn’t be surprised however, for even Isaiah today would not recognize his own name pronounced in English, since “Isaiah” is simply the English version of the Hebrew name “yeshayahu.”  According to tradition, the Septuagint (LXX) was translated by Jews from Hebrew into Greek around 275 BC in the city of Alexandria, Egypt.  For Greek speaking Jews (and later for Greek speaking Christians) the Septuagint (LXX) became the standard Old Testament version, much like the King James Version is the standard Old Testament version for English speaking Mormons.

[5] In the Old Testament any reference to “Lord God” is written in the Hebrew as Adonai Jehovah Jehovah was the divine name not to be uttered.

[6] Elias is the Greek form of the name “Elijah.”  This is again evidence that Luke writes in Greek and/or his audience reads Greek and that they use as their standard Old Testament the Greek Septuagint (LXX).

[7] Eliseus was the Greek form of the name “Elisha.”

[8] Caper’naum (village of Nahum) was on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Matthew 4:13; comp. John 6:24 It was in the ‘land of Gennesaret,’ [ Matthew 14:34; comp. John 6:17, 21, 24 ] It was of sufficient size to be always called a ‘city,’ Matthew 9:1; Mark 1:33; had its own synagogue, in which our Lord frequently taught, Mark 1:21; Luke 4:33, 38; John 6:59; and there was also a customs station, where the dues were gathered both by stationary and by itinerant officers. Matthew 9:9; Matthew 17:24; Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27; The only interest attaching to Capernaum is as the residence of our Lord and his apostles, the scene of so many miracles and ‘gracious words.’ It was when he returned thither that he is said to have been “in the house.” Mark 2:1; The spots which lay claim to its site are, 1. Kahn Minyeh, a mound of ruins which takes its name from an old khan hard by. This mound is situated close upon the seashore at the northwestern extremity of the plain (now El Ghuweir).”  William Smith, Smith’s Bible Dictionary, revised & edited by F.N. & M.A. Peloubet, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1979), 106.

[9] “Galilee, Sea of (Matt. 4:18; 15:29), is mentioned in the Bible under three other names. (1.) In the Old Testament it is called the ‘sea of Chinnereth’ (Num. 34:11; Josh. 12:3; 13:27), as is supposed from its harp-like shape. (2). The ‘lake of Gennesareth’ once by Luke (5:1), from the flat district lying on its west coast. (3.) John (6:1; 21:1) calls it the ‘sea of Tiberias’ (q.v.). The modern Arabs retain this name, Bahr Tabariyeh.

This lake is 12 1/2 miles long, and from 4 to 7 1/2 broad. Its surface is 682 feet below the level of the Mediterranean. Its depth is from 80 to 160 feet. The Jordan enters it 10 1/2 miles below the southern extremity of the Huleh Lake, or about 26 1/2 miles from its source. In this distance of 26 1/2 miles there is a fall in the river of 1,682 feet, or of more than 60 feet to the mile. It is 27 miles east of the Mediterranean, and about 60 miles north-east of Jerusalem. It is of an oval shape, and abounds in fish.

Its present appearance is thus described: ‘The utter loneliness and absolute stillness of the scene are exceedingly impressive. It seems as if all nature had gone to rest, languishing under the scorching heat. How different it was in the days of our Lord! Then all was life and bustle along the shores; the cities and villages that thickly studded them resounded with the hum of a busy population; while from hill-side and corn-field came the cheerful cry of shepherd and ploughman. The lake, too, was dotted with dark fishing-boats and spangled with white sails. Now a mournful, solitary silence reigns over sea and shore. The cities are in ruins!’

This sea is chiefly of interest as associated with the public ministry of our Lord. Capernaum, ‘his own city’ (Matt. 9:1), stood on its shores. From among the fishermen who plied their calling on its waters he chose Peter and his brother Andrew, and James and John, to be disciples, and sent them forth to be ‘fishers of men’ (Matt. 4:18, 22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5: 1-11). He stilled its tempest, saying to the storm that swept over it, ‘Peace, be still’ (Matt. 8:23-27; Mark 7:31-35); and here also he showed himself after his resurrection to his disciples (John 21).

‘The Sea of Galilee is indeed the cradle of the gospel. The subterranean fires of nature prepared a lake basin, through which a river afterwards ran, keeping its waters always fresh. In this basin a vast quantity of shell-fish swarmed, and multiplied to such an extent that they formed the food of an extraordinary profusion of fish. The great variety and abundance of the fish in the lake attracted to its shores a larger and more varied population than existed elsewhere in Palestine, whereby this secluded district was brought into contact with all parts of the world. And this large and varied population, with access to all nations and countries, attracted the Lord Jesus, and induced him to make this spot the centre of his public ministry.’”  Entry taken from Easton’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary.

[10] John 1:46, slightly modified and twice repeated.

[11] In Luke 5:1, the Sea of Galilee is called “Lake of Gennesaret.”  “Gennesaret (A garden of riches). (1.) A town of Naphtali, called Chinnereth (Josh. 19:35), sometimes in the plural form Chinneroth (11:2). In later times the name was gradually changed to Genezar and Gennesaret (Luke 5:1). This city stood on the western shore of the lake to which it gave its name. No trace of it remains. The plain of Gennesaret has been called, from its fertility and beauty, ‘the Paradise of Galilee.’ It is now called el-Ghuweir.  (2.) The Lake of Gennesaret, the Grecized form of Cinnesareth.”  Entry taken from Easton’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary.

[12] See Luke 5:11

[13] “Publican The class designated by this word in the New Testament were employed as collectors of the Roman revenue. The Roman senate farmed the vectigalia (direct taxes) and the portorin (customs) to capitalists who undertook to pay a given sum into the treasury (in publicum), and so received the name of publicani. Contracts of this kind fell naturally into the hands of the equites, as the richest class of Romans. They appointed managers, under whom were theportitores, the actual custom-house officers, who examined each bale of goods, exported or imported, assessed its value more or less arbitrarily, wrote out the ticket, and enforced payment. The latter were commonly natives of the province in which they were stationed as being brought daily into contact with all classes of the population. The name pubicani was used popularly, and in the New Testament exclusively, of the portitores. The system was essentially a vicious one. The portitores were encouraged in the most vexatious or fraudulent exactions and a remedy was all but impossible. They overcharged whenever they had an opportunity, Luke 3:13; they brought false charges of smuggling in the hope of extorting hush-money Luke 19:8; they detained and opened letters on mere suspicion. It was the basest of all livelihoods. All this was enough to bring the class into ill favor everywhere. In Judea and Galilee there were special circumstances of aggravation. The employment brought out all the besetting vices of the Jewish character. The strong feeling of many Jews as to the absolute unlawfulness of paying tribute at all made matters worse. The scribes who discussed the question, Matthew 22:15; for the most part answered it in the negative. In addition to their other faults, accordingly, the publicans of the New Testament were regarded as traitors and apostates, defiled by their frequent intercourse with the heathen, willing tools of the oppressor. The class thus practically excommunicated furnished some of the earliest disciples both of the Baptist and of our Lord. The position of Zacchaeus as a “chief among the publicans,” Luke 19:2; implies a gradation of some kind among the persons thus employed.”  Entry taken from Smith’s Bible Dictionary.

[14] “Pe’ter (a rock or stone). The original name of this disciple was Simon, i.e. “hearer.” He was the son of a man named Jonas, Matthew 16:17; John 1:42; John 21:16; and was brought up in his father’s occupation, that of a fisherman. He and his brother Andrew were partners of John end James, the sons of Zebedee, who had hired servants. Peter did not live, as a mere laboring man, in a hut by the seaside, but first at Bethsaida, and afterward in a house at Capernaum belonging to himself or his mother-in-law, which must have been rather a large one, since he received in it not only our Lord and his fellow disciples, but multitudes who were attracted by the miracles and preaching of Jesus. Peter was probably between thirty and forty pears of age at the date of his call. That call was preceded by a special preparation. Peter and his brother Andrew, together with their partners James and John, the sons ,of Zebedee, were disciples of John the Baptist when he was first called by our Lord. The particulars of this are related with graphic minuteness by St. John. It was upon this occasion that Jesus gave Peter the name Cephas, a Syriac word answering to the Greek Peter, and signifying a stone or rock. John 1:35-42; This first call led to no immediate change in Peter’s external position. He and his fellow disciples looked henceforth upon our Lord as their teacher, but were not commanded to follow him as regular disciples. They returned to Capernaum, where they pursued their usual business, waiting for a further intimation of his will. The second call is recorded by the other three evangelists; the narrative of Luke being apparently supplementary to the brief and, so to speak official accounts given by Matthew and Mark. It took place on the Sea of Galilee near Capernaum, where the four disciples Peter and Andrew, James and John were fishing. Some time was passed afterward in attendance upon our Lord’s public ministrations in Galilee, Decapolis, Peraea and Judea. The special designation of Peter and his eleven fellow disciples took place some time afterward, when they were set apart as our Lord’s immediate attendants. See Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; (the most detailed account); Luke 6:13 They appear to have then first received formally the name of apostles, and from that time Simon bore publicly, and as it would seem all but exclusively, the name Peter, which had hitherto been used rather as a characteristic appellation than as a proper name. From this time there can be no doubt that Peter held the first place among the apostles, to whatever cause his precedence is to be attributed. He is named first in every list of the apostles; he is generally addressed by our Lord as their representative; and on the most solemn occasions he speaks in their name. The distinction which he received, and it may be his consciousness of ability, energy, zeal and absolute devotion to Christ’s person, seem to have developed a natural tendency to rashness and forwardness bordering upon resumption. In his affection and self-confidence Peter ventured to reject as impossible the announcement of the sufferings and humiliation which Jesus predicted, and heard the sharp words, “Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offence unto me, for thou savorest not the things that be of God but those that be of men.” It is remarkable that on other occasions when St. Peter signalized his faith and devotion, he displayed at the time, or immediately afterward, a more than usual deficiency in spiritual discernment and consistency. Toward the close of our Lord’s ministry Peter’s characteristics become especially prominent. At the last supper Peter seems to have been particularly earnest in the request that the traitor might be pointed out. After the supper his words drew out the meaning of the significant act of our Lord in washing his disciples’ feet. Then too it was that he made those repeated protestations of unalterable fidelity, so soon to be falsified by his miserable fall. On the morning of the resurrection we have proof that Peter, though humbled, was not crushed by his fall. He and John were the first to visit the sepulchre; he was the first who entered it. We are told by Luke and by Paul that Christ appeared to him first among the apostles. It is observable; however, that on that occasion he is called by his original name, Simon not Peter; the higher designation was not restored until he had been publicly reinstituted, so to speak, by his Master. That reinstitution—an event of the very highest import-took place at the Sea of Galilee. John 21. The first part of the Acts of the Apostles is occupied by the record of transactions in nearly all forth as the recognized leader of the apostles. He is the most prominent person in the greatest event after the resurrection, when on the day of Pentecost the Church was first invested with the plenitude of gifts and power. When the gospel was first preached beyond the precincts of Judea, he and John were at once sent by the apostles to confirm the converts at Samaria. Henceforth he remains prominent, but not exclusively prominent, among the propagators of the gospel. We have two accounts of the first meeting of Peter and Paul—Acts 9:26; Galatians 1:17, 18; This interview was followed by another event marking Peter’s position—a general apostolical tour of visitation to the churches hitherto established. Acts 9:32; The most signal transaction after the day of Pentecost was the baptism of Cornelius. That was the crown and consummation of Peter’s ministry. The establishment of a church in great part of Gentile origin at Antioch and the mission of Barnabas between whose family and Peter there were the bonds of near intimacy, set the seal upon the work thus inaugurated by Peter. This transaction was soon followed by the imprisonment of our apostle. His miraculous deliverance marks the close of this second great period of his ministry. The special work assigned to him was completed. From that time we have no continuous history of him. Peter was probably employed for the most part in building up and completing the organization of Christian communities in Palestine and the adjoining districts. There is, however strong reason to believe that he visited Corinth at an early period. The name of Peter as founder or joint founder is not associated with any local church save the churches of Corinth, Antioch or Rome, by early ecclesiastical tradition. It may be considered as a settled point that he did not visit Rome before the last year of his life; but there is satisfactory evidence that he and Paul were the founders of the church at Rome, and suffered death in that city. The time and manner of the apostle’s martyrdom are less certain. According to the early writers, he suffered at or about the same time with Paul, and in the Neronian persecution, A.D. 67, 68. All agree that he was crucified. Origen says that Peter felt himself to be unworthy to be put to death in the same manner as his Master, and was therefore, at his own request, crucified with his head downward. The apostle is said to have employed interpreters. Of far more importance is the statement that Mark wrote his Gospel under the teaching of Peter, or that he embodied in that Gospel the substance of our apostle’s oral instructions. [MARK] The only written documents which Peter has left are the First Epistle—about which no doubt has ever been entertained in the Church—and the Second, which has been a subject of earnest controversy.”  Entry taken from Smith’s Bible Dictionary.

[15] “An’drew (manly), one of the apostles of our Lord, John 1:40; Matthew 4:18; brother of Simon Peter. He was of Bethsaida, and had been a disciple of John the Baptist, leaving him to follow our Lord. By his means his brother Simon was brought to Jesus. John 1:41; His place among the apostles seems to have been fourth, next after the three Peter, James and John, and in company with Philip. Mark 3:18; Acts 1:13; The traditions about him are various. He is said to have preached in Scythia, in Greece, in Asia Minor and Thrace, and to have been crucified at Patrae in Achaia.”  Entry taken from Smith’s Bible Dictionary.

[16] “James [the son of Zebedee] (the Greek form of Jacob, supplanter). 1. James the son of Zebedee, one of the twelve apostles. He was elder brother of the evangelist John. His mother’s name was Salome. We first hear of him in A.D. 27, Mark 1:20; when at the call of the Master he left all, and became, one and forever, his disciple, in the spring of 28. Matthew 10:2; Mark 3:14; Luke 6:13; Acts 1:13; It would seem to have been at the time of the appointment of the twelve apostles that the name of Boanerges was given to the sons of Zebedee. The “sons of thunder” had a burning and impetuous spirit, which twice exhibits itself. Mark 10:37; Luke 9:54; On the night before the crucifixion James was present at the agony in the garden. On the day of the ascension he is mentioned as persevering with the rest of the apostles and disciples, in prayer. Acts 1:13; Shortly before the day of the Passover, in the year 44, he was put to death by Herod Agrippa I. Acts 12:1, 2.”  Entry taken from Smith’s Bible Dictionary.

[17] “John the apostle [Gift of Jehovah] was the son of Zebedee, a fisherman on the Lake of Galilee, and of Salome, and brother of James, also an apostle. Peter and James and John come within the innermost circle of their Lord’s friends; but to John belongs the distinction of being the disciple whom Jesus loved. He hardly sustains the popular notion, fostered by the received types of Christian art, of a nature gentle, yielding, feminine. The name Boanerges, Mark 3:17; implies a vehemence, zeal, intensity, which gave to those who had it the might of sons of thunder. [JAMES] The three are with our Lord when none else are, in the chamber of death, Mark 5:37; in the glory of the transfiguration, Matthew 17:1; when he forewarns them of the destruction of the holy city, Mark 13:3; in the agony of Gethsemane. When the betrayal is accomplished, Peter and John follow afar off. John 18:15; The personal acquaintance which exited between John and Caiaphas enables him to gain access to the council chamber, praetorium of the Roman procurator. John 18:16, 19, 28; Thence he follows to the place of crucifixion, and the Teacher leaves to him the duty of becoming a son to the mother who is left desolate. John 19:26, 27; It is to Peter and John that Mary Magdalene first runs with the tidings of the emptied sepulchre, John 20:2; they are the first to go together to see what the strange words meant, John running on most eagerly to the rock-tomb; Peter, the least restrained by awe, the first to enter in and look. John 20:4-6; For at least eight days they continue in Jerusalem. John 20:26; Later, on the Sea of Galilee, John is the first to recognize in the dim form seen in the morning twilight the presence of his risen Lord; Peter the first to plunge into the water and swim toward the shore where he stood calling to them. John 21:7; The last words of John’s Gospel reveal to us the deep affection which united the two friends. The history of the Acts shows the same union. They are together at the ascension on the day of Pentecost. Together they enter the temple as worshippers, Acts 3:1; and protest against the threats of the Sanhedrin. ch Acts 4:13; The persecution which was pushed on by Saul of Tarsus did not drive John from his post. ch. Acts 8:1; Fifteen years after St. Paul’s first visit he was still at Jerusalem, and helped to take part in the settlement of the great controversy between the Jewish and the Gentile Christians. Acts 15:6; His subsequent history we know only by tradition. There can be no doubt that he removed from Jerusalem and settled at Ephesus, though at what time is uncertain. Tradition goes on to relate that in the persecution under Domitian he is taken to Rome, and there, by his boldness, though not by death, gains the crown of martyrdom. The boiling oil into which he is thrown has no power to hurt him. He is then sent to labor in the mines, and Patmost is the place of his exile. The accession of Nerva frees him from danger, and he returns to Ephesus. Heresies continue to show themselves, but he meets them with the strongest possible protest. The very time of his death lies within the region of conjecture rather than of history, and the dates that have been assigned for it range from A.D. 89 to A.D. 120.”  Entry taken from Smith’s Bible Dictionary.

[18] “Phil’ip (lover of horses) the apostle was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter, John 1:44; and apparently was among the Galilean peasants of that district who flocked to hear the preaching of the Baptist. The manner in which St. John speaks of him indicates a previous friendship with the sons of Jona and Zebedee, and a consequent participation in their messianic hopes. The close union of the two in John 6 and 12 suggests that he may have owed to Andrew the first tidings that the hope had been fulfilled. The statement that Jesus found him John 1:43; implies a previous seeking. In the lists of the twelve apostles, in the Synoptic Gospel, his name is as uniformly at the head of the second group of four as the name of Peter is at that of the first, Matthew 10:3; Mark 5:18; Luke 6:14; and the facts recorded by St. John give the reason of this priority. Philip apparently was among the first company of disciples who were with the Lord at the commencement of his ministry at the marriage at Cana, on his first appearance as a prophet in Jerusalem, John 2. The first three Gospels tell us nothing more of him individually. St.John with his characteristic fullness of personal reminiscences, records a few significant utterances. John 6:5-9; John 12:20-22; John 14:8; No other fact connected with the name of Philip is recorded in the Gospels. He is among the company of disciples at Jerusalem after the ascensionActs 1:13; and on the day of Pentecost. After this all is uncertain and apocryphal.  According tradition he preached in Phrygia, and died at Hierapolis.”  Entry taken from Smith’s Bible Dictionary.

[19] “Bartholomew Son of Tolmai, one of the twelve apostles (Matt. 10:3; Acts 1:13); generally supposed to have been the same as Nathanael. In the synoptic gospels Philip and Bartholomew are always mentioned together, while Nathanael is never mentioned; in the fourth gospel, on the other hand, Philip and Nathanael are similarly mentioned together, but nothing is said of Bartholomew. He was one of the disciples to whom our Lord appeared at the Sea of Tiberias after his resurrection (John 21:2). He was also a witness of the Ascension (Acts 1:4, 12, 13). He was an ‘Israelite indeed’ (John 1:47).”  Entry taken from Easton’s Bible Dictionary.  “He is said to have preached the gospel in India, that is, probably, Arabia Felix, and according to some in Armenia.”  Entry taken from Smith’s Bible Dictionary.

[20] “Thom’as (a twin), one of the apostles. According to Eusebius, his real name was Judas. This may have been a mere confusion with Thaddeus, who is mentioned in the extract. But it may also be that; Thomas was a surname. Out of this name has grown the tradition that he had a twin-sister, Lydia, or that he was a twin-brother of our Lord; which last, again, would confirm his identification with Judas. Comp. Matthew 13:55; He is said to have been born at Antioch. In the catalogue of the apostles he is coupled with Matthew in Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; and with Philip in Acts 1:13; All that we know of him is derived from the Gospel of St. John; and this amounts to three traits, which, however, so exactly agree together that, slight as they are they place his character before us with a precision which belongs to no other of the twelve apostles except Peter, John and Judas Iscariot. This character is that of a man slow to believe, seeing all the difficulties of a case, subject to despondency, viewing things on the darker side, yet full of ardent love of his Master. The latter trait was shown in his speech when our Lord determined to face the dangers that awaited him in Judea on his journey to Bethany. Thomas said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” John 11:16; His unbelief appeared in his question during the Last Supper: “Thomas saith unto him Lord we know not whither thou goest, and how can we: know the way?” John 14:5; It was the prosaic, incredulous doubt as to moving a step in the unseen future, and yet an eager inquiry as to how this step was to be taken. The first-named trait was seen after the resurrection. He was absent—possibly by accident, perhaps characteristically—from the first assembly when Jesus had appeared. The others told him what they had seen. He broke forth into an exclamation, the terms of which convey to us at once the vehemence of his doubt, and at the same time the vivid picture that his mind retained of his Master’s form as he had last seen him lifeless on the cross. John 20:25; On the eighth day he was with them at their gathering, perhaps in expectation of a recurrence of the visit of the previous week; and Jesus stood among them. He uttered the same salutation, “Peace be unto you;” and then turning to Thomas, as if this had been the special object of his appearance, uttered the words which convey as strongly the sense of condemnation and tender reproof as those of Thomas had shown the sense of hesitation and doubt. The effect on him was immediate. The conviction produced by the removal of his doubt became deeper and stronger than that of any of the other apostles. The words in which he expressed his belief contain a far higher assertion of his Master’s divine nature than is contained in any other expression used by apostolic lips—”My Lord and my God.” The answer of our Lord sums up the moral of the whole narrative: “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen me, and yet have-believed.” John 20:29; In the New Testament we hear of Thomas only twice again, once on the Sea of Galilee with the seven disciples, where he is ranked next after Peter, John 21:2; and again in the assemblage of the apostles after the ascension. Acts 1:13; The earlier traditions, as believed in the fourth century, represent him as preaching in Parthia or Persia, and as finally buried at Edessa. The later traditions carry him farther east, His martyrdom whether in Persia or India, is said to have been occasioned by a lance, and is commemorated by the Latin Church on December 21 the Greek Church on October 6, and by the Indians on July 1.”  Entry taken from Smith’s Bible Dictionary.

[21] “Mat’thew (gift of Jehovah). (A contraction, as is also Matthias, of Mattathias. His original name was Levi, and his name Matthew was probably adopted as his new apostolic name was a Jew. His father’s name was Alphaeus. His home was at Capernaum His business was the collection of dues and customs from persons and goods crossing the Sea of Galilee, or passing along the great Damascus road which ran along the shore between Bethsaida, Julius and Capernaum. Christ called him from this work to he his disciple. He appears to have been a man of wealth, for he made a great feast in his own house, perhaps in order to introduce his former companions and friends to Jesus. His business would tend to give him a knowledge of human nature, and accurate business habits, and of how to make a way to the hearts of many publicans and sinners not otherwise easily reached. He is mentioned by name, after the resurrection of Christ, only in Acts 1:15; but he must have lived many years as an apostle, since he was the author of the Gospel of Matthew which was written at least twenty years later. There is reason to believe that he remained for fifteen years at Jerusalem, after which he went as missionary to the Persians, Parthians and Medes. There is a legend that he died a martyr in Ethiopia.—ED.).”  Entry taken from Smith’s Bible Dictionary.

[22] James the son of Alpheus, one of the twelve apostles. Matthew 10:3; Whether or not this James is to be identified with James the Less, the son of Alphaeus, the brother of our Lord, is one of the most difficult questions in the gospel history. By comparing Matthew 27:56; and Mark 15:40 with John 19:25 we find that the Virgin Mary had a sister named, like herself, Mary, who was the wife of Clopas or Alpheus (varieties of the same name), and who had two sons, James the Less and Joses. By referring to Matthew 13:55; and Mark 6:3 we find that a James the Less and Joses, with two other brethren called Jude and Simon, and at least three sisters, were sisters with the Virgin Mary at Nazareth by referring to Luke 6:16; and Acts 1:13 we find that there were two brethren named James and Jude among the apostles. It would certainly be natural to think that we had here but one family of four brothers and three or more sisters, the children of Clopas and Mary, nephews and nieces of the Virgin Mary. There are difficulties however, in the way of this conclusion into which we cannot here enter; but in reply to the objection that the four brethren in Matthew 13:55; are described as the brothers of Jesus, not as his cousins, it must be recollected that adelphoi, which is here translated “brethren,” may also signify cousins.”  Entry taken from Smith’s Bible Dictionary.

[23] “A man of heart” see Smith’s Bible Dictionary.  “One of the twelve disciples of Jesus (Matt 10:3; Mark 3:18).  In Matt 10:3 variant reading include ‘Lebbaeus’ or ‘Thaddeus, surnamed Lebbaeus.’  The name is omitted from the Lukan lists of apostles (Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13), where the name ‘Judas son of James’ is inserted instead.  If Luke’s name is correct, the descriptions ‘Lebbaeus’ and ‘Thaddeus, surnamed Lebbaeus’ may have been added to avoid confusion with Judas Iscariot the traitor.  They may be based on leb (‘heart’), the Hebrew root of ‘Lebbaeus,’ and be a term of endearment.  The reference to Judas, not Iscariot, in John 14:22 probably refers to Thaddeus….No other person in the NT named James can be identified with any certainty with James the father of Thaddeus.  In extracanonical literature, Thaddeus healed, preached to, and converted persons in Edessa in Mesopotamia.  The story is preserved in the Greek and Syriac versions of the Acts of Thaddeus and an earlier account by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. 1.13; 2.1.6-8).  Eusebius also mentions Thaddeus as one of the Seventy (1.13.4, 11; cf. Luke 10:1).”  Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 6:435.

[24] “Simon the Canaanite, one of the twelve apostles, Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:18; otherwise described as Simon Zelotes, Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13; (A.D. 28.) The latter term, which is peculiar to Luke, is the Greek equivalent for the Chaldee term preserved by Matthew and Mark. [CANAANITE] Each of these equally points out Simon as belonging to the faction of the Zealots, who were conspicuous for their fierce advocacy of the Mosaic ritual.”  Entry taken from Smith’s Bible Dictionary.

[25] “The term Iscariot’ indicates that Judas belonged, at first, to the name itself but emerged to distinguish this Judas from many others of that name…Schwarz lists nine interpretations of the term ‘Iscariot’ and adds another of his own…These fall into four main groups:

“(i) Some hold that the term ‘Iscariot’ indicates that Judas belonged to the group of the Sicarii: dagger-wielding assassins…and thus they concluded that Judas was a member of the Zealot party.

“(ii) Others suggest that the term is derived from the [Hebrew] shaqar and designates ‘false one.’  This highlights the characters of Judas by alluding in his surname to his act of deception and betrayal.

“(iii) Others believe that the word designates his deed.  He was a ‘deceiver’ (root shkr), and thus [the Greek word] ho paradidous is a simple translation of (I)Skariot(h)…Still others suggest that it refers to what Judas did for a living, concluding that he was a red dyer…or a fruit grower…

“(iv) Some believe that the name Iscariot indicates hometown.  Was Judas perhaps the only one of the Twelve from Judea, from the village of Kerioth (Josh 15:25)?…Schwarz…proposes that the original Aramaic yields the translation ‘the man from the city’=Jerusalem.  This is supported by evidence from the Targums where the formula appears frequently at least in the plural, ‘men from the city,’ and the word keriotha is often used to mean Jerusalem.”  Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 3:1091-1092.