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Who Were The Apostles In The New Testament?
The twelve Apostles of the New Testament were specially chosen followers of Jesus, whom He appointed and sent on missions to preach the gospel, serve Him with their lives, and spread Christianity throughout the ancient world. These influential individuals, sometimes referred to as the “Twelve Disciples” or the “Original Twelve,” have gone down in Christian history as some of the most significant figures in the religion and are credited with creating the foundations of the faith.
The Apostles were summoned and called to follow Jesus at various points throughout His ministry, beginning with Peter and Andrew in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, and culminating with the last two appointments at the beginning of Jesus’s ministry — Judas Iscariot and Thomas — according to Luke’s Gospel.
Though the original group occasionally experienced disagreement and ups and downs, their collective mission was to take the gospel of Jesus to the world. Each apostle had their own individual calling, and each played a vital role in the spread of Christianity throughout the ancient world.
The most prominent and best-known Apostle is surely Peter, also known as “the rock” upon whom Jesus declared that He would “build His church.” Peter was the leader of the Twelve, and his preaching and teaching of the gospel led to the start of the Christian Church in Jerusalem. He was later imprisoned in Rome and as tradition has it, was crucified upside down.
Andrew, Peter’s brother, was the first Apostle to be called by Jesus, and he was known for his ability to reconcile conflicting parties. He was an evangelist who traveled throughout the region of Galilee, sharing the gospel with all that he encountered.
James and John were two of Jesus’s closest friends and were often referred to as the “sons of thunder” due to their passionate faith and fiery temperaments. The two were fishermen but quickly cut ties with their occupation after meeting Jesus. James became a leader in the Jerusalem church and was martyred during the reign of Herod Agrippa I. John was one of the last living Apostles and is referred to as the “beloved disciple” in the Gospels. He is often credited as the author of the fourth Gospel, the Book of Revelation, and the three epistles bearing his name.
Philip was a simple man who was familiar with the Old Testament teachings. He often helped interpret Jesus’s words in a simpler way. He was crucified in the city of Hierapolis in modern-day Turkey.
Bartholomew was an apostle whose only mention in the New Testament are two mentions in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Though not much is known about him, tradition holds that he was martyred in Armenia.
Thomas, also known as “doubting Thomas” was a skeptic who was remembered for his struggle to believe what Jesus had said or done. He is believed to have reached India and distributed the gospel there. It is also believed that he died in South India as a martyr.
Matthew, also known as Levi, was a tax collector prior to meeting Jesus. He is remembered for his numerical and financial prowess, as he likely kept meticulous records of the money collected. Tradition holds that he was martyred in Ethiopia.
James the Less was an apostle of whom little is known. It is believed he was martyred by being thrown from the top of the Temple in Jerusalem.
Thaddeus, Lebbaeus, or Judas the son of James was another obscure apostle whose only mention in the New Testament is in Luke’s Gospel. Tradition holds that he was martyred in Edessa, present-day Turkey.
Simon the Zealot was a member of a Jewish political movement called the Zealots. He was instrumental in the mission of the gospel throughout Galilee and Judea. He is believed to have died in modern-day Iran.
Judas Iscariot betrays Jesus and dies by his own hand. Though the gospel texts do not explicitly identify the manner of his death, tradition holds that he hanged himself. He is remembered as the symbol of betrayal.
The Apostles of the New Testament have gone down in Christian history as some of the forefathers of the faith who, despite their flaws and shortcomings, have left an indelible mark on the Church and on Christianity. Their legacy continues to inspire Christians to this day.
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