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Doctrine of Apostles, the 12

June 16, 2012

The 12 Apostles

The study of the 12 Apostles is an intriguing subject – their personalities, their
strengths, and their weaknesses. We need always to remember that not only were
they human and, like us today, had failures and successes; but they also were
trained by our Lord during His earthly ministry.

Luk 6:13-16 And when day came, He called His disciples to Him; and chose
twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles. Simon, whom He also named
Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and
Bartholomew; and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon
[not Peter] who was called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas
Iscariot, who became a traitor.
The original twelve disciples of Jesus are mentioned in four lists in the New
Testament. These four lists are divided into three groups each, with Peter heading
the first group; Philip, the second; and James, the third. Each group in each of the
4 lists has the same persons. However, after the first name there is variety in the
order. In all four lists, Peter is at the top and Judas Iscariot is at the bottom.
Simon Peter’s group has three more people in it – Andrew, James and John –
listed in various order according to Mat 10:2-4, Mar 3:16-19, and Act 1:13.
John never lists the disciples.
The second group is always begun by Philip; he’s always number 5 and is then
followed by Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas in various order. The third
group is always begun by James, the Son of Alphaeus, and thereafter includes the
same men -Thaddaeus, Simon the Cananaean, (which really means the Zealot)
and Judas Iscariot, last. Judas is not mentioned in the book of Acts; by then he
had committed suicide.
Initially the gospels can appear to be confusing because the Apostles are not
always listed in the same order. Nor are they called by the same name. For
example, in group three Thaddaeus and Judas, son of James, are the same person.
Simon the Cananaean is also Simon the Zealot. It would be easy to mistake this
individual for two different people, but he is one individual. Bartholomew is
called Nathanael elsewhere. Thomas is called Didymus three times in the gospel
of John, which means twin. James on one occasion is called “the Less;” perhaps
he was the younger, perhaps he was the shorter. Matthew, whom we met earlier
in our study, was called Levi in Luke’s gospel.

PETER

Let’s look at the type of people our Lord chose as his disciples. Let’s begin in
Luk 6:14 Simon, whom He also named Peter. The character of Peter is
transparent and easily analyzed. He appears to have been the leader of the
apostles on every occasion. He is named first in every list of them, and was their
common spokesman. Peter was known for being bold, confident, courageous,
frank, impulsive, energetic, vigorous, strong, loving and faithful to his Master in
spite of his defection prior to the crucifixion. It is true that he was liable to
change, and inconsistency prevailed at times. Because of his peculiar
temperament Peter sometimes appeared forward and rash. Yet, his virtues and
faults had their common root in his enthusiastic disposition. Such was Peter’s
makeup, his nature, and his personality traits. Peter was not a phony. However, at
times, he was the type of individual who did not think before acting. He
apparently had the strongest character in the group, and he frequently served as a
spokesman for the disciples. He was their recognized leader. Mar 1:35-36 And in
the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to
a lonely place, and was praying there. And Simon and his companions hunted for
Him.
An inner circle of three apostles existed among the Twelve. Peter was also the
leader of this small group. This trio – Peter, James, and John – was present with
Jesus on a number of occasions. These three witnessed the raising of a young girl
from the dead, Mar 5:37; Luk 8:51. They were present at Jesus’ transfiguration,
Mat 17:1-2. And they were present during Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane, Mat
26:37, Mar 14:33.

ANDREW

Luk 6:14 “Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother;”
Andreas means “manly,” and has also been interpreted as “the mighty one” or
“conqueror.” Andrew was the first called of the Twelve Apostles, which is
significant. The choice was an important one, for Andrew’s influence on the
remaining followers of Christ would be one of searching and desiring higher
things and a deeper knowledge of God. These character traits are what
encouraged Andrew to first follow John the Baptist and then the Lamb of God to
whom John pointed Andrew. Along with a keenness of perception regarding
spiritual truths, Andrew also had a strong sense of personal conviction which
enabled him not only to accept Jesus as the Messiah, but to win his brother Peter
also as a disciple of Christ. Andrew was not the greatest of the apostles, yet he is
typical of those men of open-minded understanding and sound common sense
without whom the success of any great movement cannot be assured. Void of the
boldness and ruggedness of Peter’s character, to which only a few can aspire,
Andrew had that feature which makes him a pattern within the reach of all – a
simple, earnest determination in carrying out the dictates of his personal
convictions. Another feature in Andrew was his eagerness to win souls in private
to Jesus. Andrew was not a powerful public speaker. He was a low-keyed
individual who was very trustworthy.
While we admire Peter as the foremost apostle through whom 3,000 were added
to the church on the day of Pentecost, let us not forget that without Andrew,
“Simon” would never have become “Peter.” So well known was his love for
souls, that when certain Greeks desired to see Jesus, Andrew was the person to
whom Philip brought them.
Joh 12:20-22 Now there were certain Greeks among those who were going up to
worship at the feast; these therefore came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of
Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip came
and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip came, and they told Jesus.
However, Andrew had his faults; in Joh 6:8-9 he shared in the disciples’ unbelief
when Jesus tested their faith.
Joh 6:8-9 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him,
‘There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these
for so many people?”
Luk 6:12-16 And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, He
spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His
disciples to Him; and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles:
Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and
John; and Philip and Bartholomew; and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of
Alphaeus, and Simon [not Peter] who was called the Zealot; Judas the son of
James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

JAMES

The next Apostle we will look at is James, the son of Zebedee and the older
brother of John. From the time he was ordained an apostle, James occupied a
prominent place among the apostles, and, along with Peter and John, became the
special confidant of Jesus. These three apostles alone were present at the raising
of Jairus’ daughter, (Luk 8:51), at the Transfiguration, (Mat 17:1-8), and at the
Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, Mat 26:36-46.
Shortly after the Transfiguration, when Jesus was determined to go to Jerusalem,
in Luk 9:51, they were passing through Samaria, the fury of James and John was
kindled by the unkind reception given to our Lord by the crowd, Luk 9:53.
Luk 9:51-56 And it came about, when the days were approaching for His
ascension, that He resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem; and He sent
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messengers on ahead of Him. And they went, and entered a village of the
Samaritans, to make arrangements for Him. And they did not receive Him,
because He was journeying with His face toward Jerusalem. And when His
disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command
fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But He turned and rebuked
them, and said, ‘You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of
Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”
It was probably for this type of hotheaded rashness and fanaticism that the
surname “Boanerges,” which means “Sons of Thunder,” was bestowed on them
when they were ordained to the Twelve, Mar 3:17. Note, however, that there was
some excuse for their action. The impression left by the Transfiguration was still
greatly upon them. They felt strongly that their Lord, whom they had just beheld
“in His glory” with “His countenance altered” and “shining garments,” should not
be subjected to such indignities by the Samaritans. Upon the occasion of our
Lord’s last journey to Jerusalem, Mar 10:32, the two brothers gave expression to
this presumptuous rashness in a more selfish manner, Mar 10:35-45. They
presumed upon their intimacy with Jesus, and made the following request.
Mar 10:35-40 And James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Him,
saying to Him, ‘Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.’ And
He said to them, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ And they said to Him,
‘Grant that we may sit in Your glory, one on Your right, and one on Your left.’
But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to
drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am
baptized?’ And they said to Him, ‘We are able.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘The cup
that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with
which I am baptized. But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give;
but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’
In Mat 20:20-28, these words are put in the mouth of their mother, not directly
from James and John. However, this request drew forth the rebuke of Jesus and
moved the other ten with indignation, Mar 10:40-45 And hearing this, the ten
began to feel indignant with James and John. And calling them to Himself, Jesus
said to them, ‘You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles
lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not
so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your
servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even
the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a
ransom for many.’
James was the first of the 12 apostles to be put to death. Herod Agrippa I, the
grandson of Herod the Great, killed James some time between A.D. 42-44. His
death is the only martyrdom mentioned in the New Testament, Act 12:2.

JOHN

Luk 6:14 Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and
James and John; Both John and James were men of considerable wealth,
assumed from the fact that they had “hired servants” with them and John’s wife
was one of those women who ministered of their substance to Jesus and His
disciples, Mat 27:55-56. A comparison of Mar 15:40-41 identifies the wife of
Zebedee, John’s mother, with Salome. It seems a fair inference from Joh 19:25,
though all do not accept it, that Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Salome, the wife
of Zebedee, were sisters. If true, James and John were cousins of Jesus, and were
also related to the family of John the Baptist.
John also held an intimate connection with the Lord. He was a young man of
fiery zeal and a tendency toward intolerance and exclusiveness, evident in his
desire to call down fire upon the Samaritan village. His tendency toward
exclusiveness is manifested in the request of his mother as to the place her sons
were to occupy in the kingdom – the highest positions. Jesus did not encourage
this and rebuked these tendencies, but the tendencies reveal the man. John was in
the inner circle of the disciples. Indeed, nearest of all to Jesus, he was called,
“the disciple whom Jesus loved” (Joh 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7,20). Because of
that love, John became the apostle of love. Interestingly enough he is the only
one who wrote that he was the disciple that Jesus loved.
John was the kind of man who could profit by the rebuke of Jesus. John’s
passionate disposition was held in check, and under control, and was allowed to
vent only on occasions when it was permissible, and even necessary. In John’s
gospel writings, note the intensity that he had displayed, but directed only against
those who refused to believe in, and to acknowledge, Jesus as the Christ.
Joh 13:21-23 When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and
testified, and said, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.’ The
disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was
speaking. There was reclining on Jesus’ breast one of His disciples, whom Jesus
loved.
Did Jesus love all the disciples? According to Joh 13:1, having loved His own
who were in the world, He loved them to the end. However, John calls himself,
the disciple whom Jesus loved. Note Joh 19:26 “When Jesus therefore saw His
mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother,
Woman, behold, your son!”
Joh 20:1-8 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the
tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the
tomb. And so she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom
Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb,
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and we do not know where they have laid Him.’ Peter therefore went forth, and
the other disciple, and they were going to the tomb. And the two were running
together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter, and came to the
tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there;
but he did not go in. Simon Peter therefore also came, following him, and entered
the tomb; and he beheld the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth,
which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in
a place by itself. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb entered
then also, and he saw and believed.
In Joh 21:7 That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the
Lord.’ And so when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer
garment on for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.
In Joh 21:20 Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following
them; the one who also had leaned back on His breast at the supper, and said,
‘Lord, who is the one who betrays You?’
John had “a quiet and thoughtful temperament” which is not inconsistent with a
certain fierceness. It is not without significance that in the three narratives which
are cited from the gospels to prove the overbearing temper of John, we are told
that Jesus corrected him all three times. Are we to suppose that these rebukes
made no impression? Is it more likely that they sank deep into his heart, and that
the agony of beholding his Master’s crucifixion made them impossible to forget
and reject? And as he grew older and wiser, he began that long development
which changed that youthful “son of thunder” into the “aged apostle of love.”
Never forget that love itself has its side of vehemence and passion, and the
intensity of love toward a person or a cause may be measured by the intensity of
antagonism and of disdain toward those who oppose and contradict that which
they love. There are many reflections in the gospel of John and in his epistles,
which display this energy of hatred toward the work of the devil and toward
those dispositions under the influence of the father of lies. John, as a fervent
youth devoted to his Master, carried with him to the end this same disposition
which was characteristic. The power options – namely the filling of the Spirit and
Bible doctrine – caused him to redirect that energy, fervency and passion toward
the things of God.

PHILIP

Next we have Philip. Along with Andrew and other fellow-townsmen, Philip had
journeyed to Bethany to hear the teaching of John the Baptist, and there he
received his first call from Christ, “Follow me,” Joh 1:43. As with Andrew,
Philip’s Greek name implies he had Greek connections. This is strengthened by
the fact that he acted as the spokesman of the Greeks at the Passover. Of a
weaker mold than Andrew, he was the one to whom the Greeks would first
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appeal when seeking answers from the Lord. Philip was very inquisitive, asked
probing questions, and sympathized and understood the doubts and difficulties
that the Greeks had. 1Co 1:22 For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search
for wisdom;
While Andrew was practical, strong-minded and naturally the type of man to win
the impulsive, head-strong Peter; the slower Philip, versed in the Scriptures,
appealed more to the critical Nathanael and the cultured Greeks. Philip was very
cautious, deliberate, and desirous of submitting all truth to the test of sensuous
experience.
Joh 14:8-11 Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for
us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come
to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say,
‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father
is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the
Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the
Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works themselves.’
Philip concluded the same criterion would also be acceptable to Nathanael. Joh
1:44-45 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip
found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law
and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’
Note two things wrong that Philip said:
1. Philip did not find Jesus; Jesus found Philip.
2. Jesus was the Son of God, not of Joseph His reputed father.
We can deduce that in the beginning, Philip was sincere but deficient in
knowledge; for it was Christ who found him, not he Christ. This was a fulfillment
of a prophecy in Isa 65:1 I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not
ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said,
‘Here am I, here am I,’ To a nation which did not call on My name.
Joh 1:43 The next day He [Jesus] purposed to go forth into Galilee, and He
found Philip. And Jesus said to him, Follow Me.
Joh 1:46 And Nathanael said to him, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?
Philip said to him, Come and see.
It was the natural mindedness of Philip that influenced Jesus to awaken in Philip,
His disciple, a larger and more spiritual faith, in Joh 6:6, seeking “to test him.”
Joh 6:4-6 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Jesus therefore
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lifting up His eyes, and seeing that a great multitude was coming to Him, said to
Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?’ And this He was saying
to test him; for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.
This shows Jesus discipling His disciple. The natural reservedness, which
affected Philip’s beliefs, found expression in his outer life and conduct also. It
was not merely modesty, but also a certain lack of self-reliance, that made Philip
turn to Andrew for advice when the Greeks wished to see Jesus. The story of
Philip’s later life shows that he overcame those initial defects in his character,
fulfilling the great commission in Mat 28:16-20. Philip stands at the head of the
second group of the twelve apostles.

BARTHOLOMEW

Luk 6:14 “Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and
James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew;”
Not much is known about Bartholomew. Many scholars believe Bartholomew
and Nathanael are the same, Joh 1:45-49. In the first three gospels, Mat 10:3;
Mar 3:18; Luk 6:14, Philip and Bartholomew are constantly named together,
whereas Nathanael is not mentioned. In the fourth gospel Philip and Nathanael
are correspondingly combined, but nothing is said of Bartholomew. Therefore,
Nathanael is considered to also be Bartholomew. Bartholomew was born in Cana
of Galilee, Joh 21:2. He was a very sincere man in whom there was no guile or
wickedness.
Joh 1:45-46 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of
whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son
of Joseph.’ And Nathanael said to him, ‘Can any good thing come out of
Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’
One of the first characteristics of Nathaniel or Bartholomew was what appeared
to be a prejudice in him, as when he says, “Can any good thing come out of
Nazareth?” This is not to condemn or judge, but merely to try to give you a
picture of what he was like in the natural realm as well as the spiritual realm.
Joh 1:47-51 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an
Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!’ Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do You know
me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were
under the fig tree, I saw you.’ Nathanael answered Him, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son
of God; You are the King of Israel.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Because I
said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see
greater things than these.’ And He said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you
shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending
on the Son of Man
Nathanael or Bartholomew appears to be a calm, retiring, behind-the-scenes type
whom man may not recognize, but God does. According to tradition, he was
crucified upside down after being flayed alive. There is no further reference to
him in the New Testament.

MATTHEW

Matthew, the apostle and evangelist, is mentioned in the four catalogues of the
apostles in Mat 10:3; Mar 3:18; Luk 6:15; Act 1:13, though his place varies
between the seventh and eighth and places exchanging positions with Thomas.
The call of Matthew illustrates a very prominent feature in the public action of
Jesus – Jesus’ utter disregard for religious opinion and worldly wisdom. A
publican disciple and even more as a publican apostle, Matthew could not fail to
be a stumbling block to Jewish prejudice; and therefore, overtly, a source of
weakness rather than of strength. Yet, while perfectly aware of this fact, Jesus
invited Matthew, one who had pursued the occupation of a tax-gatherer, to the
intimate fellowship of disciplehood and apostleship. The call of Matthew is all
the more remarkable when contrasted with the manner in which our Lord treated
others who had overt reputations – outward advantages which would seem to
recommend them for a position with Christ.
Mat 8:18-20 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to
depart to the other side. And a certain scribe came and said to Him, ‘Teacher, I
will follow You wherever You go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘The foxes have holes,
and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His
head.’
Most likely Judas was upset with that statement since he wanted Jesus to join the
bands of the scribes and Pharisees. This scribe in Mat 8:10-20 showed a desire to
follow Jesus by volunteering to become one of His disciples, but the Lord
deliberately discouraged him with a challenge. This scribe, whose social position
and professional attainments seemed to point him out as a very desirable
acquisition for the Lord, was deliberately scared away by Jesus as He gave him a
gloomy picture of the destitute condition our Lord’s followers might face at
times. Confident in the power of truth, He chose the base things of the world in
preference to things held in esteem, assured that they would ultimately conquer in
the end. Aware that both He and His disciples would be despised and rejected of
men for a season, Jesus went calmly on His way, choosing for His companions
and apostles “whom He would,” undisturbed by the opinions of His generation.
He knew that His work concerned all nations and all time.
Matthew is called “Matthew” in the first gospel while in the second and third
gospels he is called “Levi.” Then in the book of Acts, he is once again called
Matthew. Being a tax-collector Matthew was especially hated by the Jews
because they considered the tax-collectors to be evil wicked men. Whether he
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had more to repent of than his neighbors, we cannot tell. It is true that he
belonged to a class of men, many of whom were truly guilty of fraud and
extortion, but Matthew may have been an exception. We can only say this, if he
had been covetous, the spirit of greed was now gone. If he had ever been guilty
of oppressing the poor, he now despised such work. He had grown weary of
collecting revenue from a reluctant population, and was glad to follow one who
had come to take burdens off instead of laying them on, to release from debts
instead of collection from them with severity.
When he was called, we read a very interesting statement. Luk 5:27-28 And after
that He went out, and noticed a tax-gatherer named Levi, sitting in the tax office,
and He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ And he left everything behind, and rose and
began to follow Him.
I like the fact that Luke recorded this and I’ll show you why. Mat 9:9 And as
Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man, called Matthew, sitting in the tax
office; and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he rose, and followed Him.That’s all
Matthew says – not even recording that he left everything behind to follow Christ.
He had the attitude of the apostle Paul in Phi 3:7 But whatever things were gain
to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. At what period
of Christ’s ministry he was called does not appear with certainty in the Scriptures,
but we do know Peter, James and John were already trustworthy disciples of
Jesus. Unlike the first six among the apostles, Matthew did not enter the group
from among the pupils of John the Baptist. Following his call by Jesus, Matthew
is not mentioned again in the New Testament. According to tradition Matthew
preached in Judea and then in foreign nations especially Ethiopia.

THOMAS

Next we have Thomas, who was also called “Didymus” or “the Twin,” Joh
11:16; 20:24; 21:2, and is referred to in detail by the gospel of John alone. In Joh
11:1-54, when Jesus, despite imminent danger at the hands of hostile Jews,
declared His intention of going to Bethany to heal Lazarus, Thomas alone
opposed the other disciples who sought to discourage Him, and protested, “Let us
also go; that we may die with him.”
Joh 11:11-16 This He said, and after that He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus
has fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awaken him out of sleep.’ The disciples
therefore said to Him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.’ Now Jesus
had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep.
Then Jesus therefore said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for
your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.’
Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us
also go, that we may die with Him.'”
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Thomas, as many of you know, was known as the doubter in the group. When he
said “Let us also go, that we may die with Him,” this was not a statement of
courage but one of pessimism. Thomas had a tendency to stress the negative or
unfavorable or to take the gloomiest possible view of things. On the night before
our Lord’s death, Thomas asked that famous question.
Joh 14:1-7 ‘Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In
My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told
you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be
also. And you know the way where I am going.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do
not know where You are going, how do we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I
am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through
Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on
you know Him, and have seen Him.’
Now, when Thomas said in Joh 14:5 Lord, we do not know where You are going,
how do we know the way?
Jesus had already answered Peter’s question, in Joh 13:36. Simon Peter said to
Him, ‘Lord, where are You going?’ Jesus answered, ‘Where I go, you cannot
follow Me now; but you shall follow later.’
He told the disciples plainly that He was going to “His Father’s house,” Joh
14:2, ascending to where He had been before, Joh 6:62. However, Thomas still
cannot raise his mind to the unseen future home where Jesus is going, or realize
the way as being through Jesus. After the crucifixion, Thomas apparently severed
his connection with the rest of the apostles for a time, as he was not present when
the risen Christ first appeared to them.
Joh 20:25 When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week,
and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ And
when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The
disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus therefore said to them
again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when
He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy
Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you
retain the sins of any, they have been retained.’ But Thomas, one of the twelve,
called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples
therefore were saying to him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them,
‘Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into
the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’
Seeing was not enough for Thomas; not even feeling will satisfy him. Unless he
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feels with both hand and finger the spear mark as well as the nail marks, he says
he will not and cannot believe. However, he did rejoin them even though he was
not convinced that Christ had risen from the dead. While not convincing him of
the truth of the resurrection, which is why he said “Unless I shall see in His hands
the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my
hand into His side, I will not believe,” at least they encouraged him to be among
their number eight days later in the upper room.
Joh 20:25-29 The other disciples therefore were saying to him, ‘We have seen the
Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the
nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side,
I will not believe.’ And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and
Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their
midst, and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach here your
finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and
be not unbelieving, but believing.’ Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord
and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed?
Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.
Having received the proofs for which he sought, he made the confession, “My
Lord and my God” in Joh 20:28, and was reproved by Jesus for his previous
unbelief. Thomas is probably best known for his inability to believe that Jesus
had indeed risen from the dead, and forever earned the name “doubting Thomas.”
Although little is recorded of Thomas in the gospels, he is yet one of the most
fascinating of the apostles. He is typical of many individuals who have certain
conflicting principles difficult to reconcile. He was the type of individual who
seemed to have difficulty recovering quickly from setbacks and his inclination
was to look upon life with the eyes of gloom or despondency. However, he still
was a man of courage and entire unselfishness. With his perplexed faith in the
teaching of Jesus there was mingled a sincere love for Jesus the teacher. Even in
the incident of Christ’s departure for Bethany, his devotion to the Lord proved
stronger than his fear of death. Many times his faith and courage triumphed; but
when it came into conflict with his standards of belief it was put to a harder test.
Thomas desired to test all truth by the evidence of his senses. In this, coupled
with a mind consistent with beliefs and disbeliefs, lay the real source of his
difficulties with his faith.
It was his sincerity which made him stand distant from the rest of the disciples
until he had attained a personal conviction regarding the resurrection; but his
sincerity also drew from him the testimony to that conviction, “My Lord and my
God.” Thomas was also considered by some a native of Galilee, like most of the
other apostles. From all of these incidents came the title of “Doubting Thomas,”
and is thus characterized as “slow to believe, subject to despondency, seeing all
the difficulties of a case, viewing things on the darker side.” It may be that he
was of a critical tendency of mind, in which he did not recognize the statement of
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eyewitnesses as a sufficient ground of faith. However, having attained notable
faith (for sometimes faith that has overcome doubt is hardier than that of those
who never doubt), Thomas is promoted above Bartholomew and Matthew in
Acts. The case of Thomas does not sanction but condemns skepticism, for if
others were to demand the same tangible visible proofs as Thomas demanded,
miracles would have to be so continual as to cease to be miraculous, and sight
would supersede faith.
The unbelief of Thomas drew forth such an infallible proof of the identity
between the crucified and the risen Lord that he who any longer disbelieves and
is consequently condemned is left without excuse.

JUDAS ISCARIOT

Interestingly, Judas Iscariot is always identified as such – Judas Iscariot. Judas
was from Kerioth which means he was near Hebron at birth, and being reared
there he is the only non-Galilean that Jesus chose. He was the only one from
Judea and probably the sharpest of the twelve – that’s why he was treasurer.
However, don’t be impressed by the sharpest of a group. Don’t always think that
the brightest is the best of the bunch. What you should pay attention to is
character and attitude – not intellectual ability only. Our Lord does not grade
according to SAT’s, He looks at the heart.
Note the title the Lord gave Judas in Joh 17. Judas was called the son of
perdition in Joh 17:12 “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Thy name
which Thou hast given Me; and I guarded them, and not one of them perished but
the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”
Notice what He says, not one of them perished but the son of perdition, that the
Scripture might be fulfilled. Why is that important? If Judas was a believer
(which he was not) and he perished, then our Lord did not fulfill the Father’s will.
Joh 6:38-39 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the
will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that
He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.”
Joh 17:12 “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Thy name which Thou
hast given Me; and I guarded them, and not one of them perished but the son of
perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”
To be the “son of perdition” denotes that Judas is a man identified with eternal
destruction and whose destiny is the Lake of Fire. The word “perdition” is also
used for the antichrist in 2Th 2:3 “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will
not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed,
the son of destruction [perdition],”
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In Rev 17:8 The beast that you saw was and is not, and is about to come up out
of the abyss and to go to destruction.
Rev 17:11 And the beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is
one of the seven, and he goes to destruction.
This makes “son of perdition” a predictive designation. Act 1:25 says something
very interesting about Judas, that he went “to his own place” – the place of his
own choosing.
Act 1:24-25 And they prayed, and said, ‘Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of
all men, show which one of these two Thou hast chosen to occupy this ministry
and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’
It was not that Judas was foreordained from eternity past to go to hell without an
opportunity to be saved. Instead, he chose to reject Jesus Christ and will suffer
the consequences of any person who rejects the Savior. Judas also held the
position of treasurer in the ministry of TLJC.
Joh 12:1-6 “Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany
where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they made Him a
supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at
the table with Him. Mary therefore took a pound of very costly perfume of pure
nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the
house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His
disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, Why was this perfume not sold
for three hundred denarii, and given to poor people? Now he said this, not
because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he
had the money box, he used to pilfer [steal a little bit at a time] what was put into
it.”
Matthew would have been the natural person to handle the money needed to
sustain the Lord’s ministry because he had been a tax-collector and well
acquainted with money matters. However, Judas was the treasurer of the Lord’s
group of apostles indicating that he was no imbecile. He knew the ins-and-outs of
collecting, managing, and spending money better than the others, including
Matthew.
Joh 12:6 Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor,
Character trait #1: He did not care about the poor. He was a hard-hearted man,
too concerned with feathering his own nest while others, less fortunate, suffered
around him Joh 12:6.
Character trait #2: He was a thief, pilfering funds from the Lord’s treasury, which
exposes that Judas was full of avarice or greed. Judas was not in tune with Jesus,
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and rejected the Lord’s message. Jesus preached the gospel to the poor, Luk 7:22.
The Pharisees didn’t do that. Why?
Luk 16:14, The Pharisees were lovers of money. Jesus taught that we should go
out of our way to help the needy, as far as we are able (parable of the Good
Samaritan, Luke 10:29-37). Judas did not welcome that message, nor did he
want to help the needy. The comment from John that Judas was a thief is
intended to stress the avarice of Judas, who saw in the price of the ointment
nothing of the beautiful deed for which Jesus praised the woman, but only a
means by which his funds would be increased, enabling him to line his own
pocket. Even this motive was cloaked under a deceptive plea that the money
could be given away to relieve the poor. Thus to covetousness there is added the
trait of deceit.
Was Judas saved? Joh 6:66-71 As a result of this [in context, hard sayings from
Jesus] many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore.
Jesus said therefore to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’
Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of
eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy
One of God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and
yet one of you is a devil?’ Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he,
one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.
“One of you is a devil” reveals Jesus’ omniscience.
Joh 6:64 “But there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus knew from the
beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray
Him.”
Just like He revealed His omniscience with Nathanael in Joh 1:47-48 Jesus saw
Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom
is no guile!’ Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’ Jesus answered and
said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw
you.’
It was the Tuesday night following a dinner party at Mary, Martha, and Lazarus’
home in Bethany, when Jesus rebuked His disciples and particularly Judas, that
Judas rejected the Lord one time too many. The devil then possessed him the first
of two times during the final week of Jesus’ life.
Luk 22:1-3 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover,
was approaching. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they
might put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people. And Satan entered
into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve.
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The phrase “Satan entered into Judas” is the preposition eis plus the aor-act-ind
of the verb eiserchomai, which is Eiselthen with a capital Epsilon that literally
means to enter into someone. This same verb with the same preposition and
construction is used in Luk 8:30 And Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ And
he said, ‘Legion’; for many demons had entered him.
In Luk 8:33, the same prepositional phrase with the exact same verb is used,
“And the demons came out from the man and entered the swine; [eis plus the aoract-
ind of the verb eiserchomai which is eiselthen again] and the herd rushed
down the steep bank into the lake, and were drowned.”
Luk 22:2-4 And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might
put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people. And Satan entered into
Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve. And he
went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray
Him to them.
The gospels do not state why Judas betrayed Jesus. We may infer at least two
reasons. Judas did it after becoming convinced that Jesus was going to die and
not reign as King, Mar 14:3-11. In that passage Jesus rebukes some of His
disciples because a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure
nard broke the vial and poured it over His head. Some of them were irate and
they began to ask to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted?”
Mar 14:5-10 ‘For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred
denarii, and the money given to the poor.’ And they were scolding her. But Jesus
said, ‘Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me.
For the poor you always have with you, and whenever you wish, you can do them
good; but you do not always have Me. She has done what she could; she has
anointed My body beforehand for the burial. And truly I say to you, wherever the
gospel is preached in the whole world, that also which this woman has done shall
be spoken of in memory of her.’ And Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve,
went off to the chief priests, in order to betray Him to them.
If Judas was convinced that Jesus was going to die and not reign as King, his
hopes for political power and influence were dashed. Then secondly, Judas also
did it for money, Mat 26:14-16. Judas’ expectation of financial wealth no longer
existed either. Therefore, Judas bargained for what he could receive from the
religious leaders (30 pieces of silver). The night of Christ’s betrayal began with
the Passover feast. Judas was apparently still smarting from Jesus’ rebuke. Jesus
reclined at the table getting ready to explain what was about to happen while at
the same time, the religious leaders were meeting to discuss how they could
arrest Jesus and put Him to death. The multitudes intimidated them, and they
needed and discussed a private way to apprehend the Lord in Mar 14:1-2.
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Mar 14:1-2 Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread was two days off; and the
chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth, and kill
Him; for they were saying, ‘Not during the festival, lest there be a riot of the
people.’
Satan’s demons attended that meeting. Once they knew of the religious leaders’
desire, they hastened to Satan with the news. The devil had stepped out of Judas’
life for a short time, but then Satan hatched a plan and imparted it to Judas’ soul
while Judas sat at the Passover table with Jesus.
Joh 13:2 And during supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas
Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him,
Satan apparently did this without possessing Judas because it is not until after
Jesus gives bread to him that Satan re-enters Judas.
Joh 13:3-9 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands,
and that He had come forth from God, and was going back to God, rose from
supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself
about. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’
feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. And so He came
to Simon Peter. He said to Him, ‘Lord, do You wash my feet?’ Jesus answered
and said to him, ‘What I do you do not realize now, but you shall understand
hereafter.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Never shall You wash my feet!’ Jesus answered
him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’ Simon Peter said to Him,
‘Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.’
The following very simply describes the fact that Judas was not saved:
Joh 13:10-11 “Jesus said to him, He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet,
but is completely clean;”
“Washing the feet” refers to rebound; “completely clean” refers to salvation.
“Jesus said to him, He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is
completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you. For He knew the one who
was betraying Him; for this reason He said, Not all of you are clean.” As the
Last Supper continues, Jesus proceeds to train His apostles in humility, servanthood,
and forgiveness, which He illustrates by washing their feet. The Lord’s
announcement of betrayal, during the solemn Passover occasion, bewilders the
apostles. Joh 13:21-27 “When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit,
and testified, and said, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.’
The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He
was speaking. There was reclining on Jesus’ breast one of His disciples, whom
Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore gestured to him, and said to him, ‘Tell us who
it is of whom He is speaking.’ He, leaning back thus on Jesus’ breast, said to Him,
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‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus therefore answered, ‘That is the one for whom I shall dip
the morsel and give it to him.’ So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and
gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. And after the morsel, Satan then
entered into him. Jesus therefore said to him, ‘What you do, do quickly.'”
Again we have the preposition eis plus the aor-act-ind of the verb eiserchomai
which is eiselthen which means to enter into someone. Judas was possessed by
Satan – just like the King of Tyre was possessed by Satan, Eze 28. This is the
second time during the final week that Satan possesses Judas. In Joh 13:31,
Judas departs the Upper Room where the Lord and the apostles were eating the
Last Supper.
Joh 13:31 When therefore he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man
glorified, and God is glorified in Him;”
Comparing the other gospel accounts, we see the devil motivate Judas to tell the
religious leaders that he will find a way to betray Jesus. His plan would avoid
confrontation with the crowds gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover, Luk 22:6.
The religious leaders promptly paid Judas for his treacherous scheme, Mar
14:10-11. Judas thought the Garden of Gethsemane would be an ideal place to
arrest Jesus because it was outside the city’s eastern wall and away from the
crowds, Mat 26:27-28. Satan, who anticipated the Lord’s movements, put this
plan into Judas’ head. Judas, the traitor, notified the religious leaders that he
would identify Jesus with a “kiss.”
Mat 26:48 Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, ‘Whomever
I shall kiss, He is the one; seize Him.’
Why a kiss? It would be nighttime and not immediately apparent to the soldiers
who Christ was among His disciples. Once the religious leaders called together
the Roman soldiers (a military unit, or cohort, of 600), they tagged along as well,
and Judas led them to the place in the Garden where Jesus prayed. This
treacherous act by Judas became embedded in the minds of the apostles, so much
so that Paul, when explaining the communion service, says:
1Co 11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that
the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;
If you still believe that Judas may have been saved, look at what Jesus said at the
Last Supper. Mat 26:20-24 Now when evening had come, He was reclining at the
table with the twelve disciples. And as they were eating, He said, Truly I say to
you that one of you will betray Me. And being deeply grieved, they each one
began to say to Him, Surely not I, Lord? And He answered and said, He who
dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. The Son of
Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of
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Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.
If Judas was going to go heaven after his betrayal, isn’t that better than nonexistence?
Being in a place where there shall no longer be any death; no longer
be any mourning, or crying, or pain; a place of perfect happiness! Jesus said Mat 26:24-25 ‘The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that
man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man
if he had not been born.’ And Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said,
‘Surely it is not I, Rabbi?’ He said to him, ‘You have said it yourself.’
How much clearer can you get than that? In Joh 6:64, Jesus says that some of
His disciples never believed from the beginning, and He mentions Judas as one
of them. Judas did miracles, healed the sick and cast out devils in the name of the
Lord; and you mean to tell me he was never saved? In Mat 7:21-23 Jesus speaks
of this. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of
heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.”
What is the will of His Father?
Joh 6:40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son
and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the
last day.”
Mat 7:22-23 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy
in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform
many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from
Me, you who practice lawlessness.'”
He had no personal knowledge of them. They were NEVER born again. Yet they
did these mighty works, as did Judas. Peter denied the Lord three times (Luke
22:31-34), but he had faith and was graciously restored; but Judas was a betrayer
who never had faith to begin with, so he died and went to his own place, Act
1:25. The manner in which the betrayal by Judas was conducted supports the idea
that Judas was actuated by malicious, revengeful feelings. Not content with
giving enough information which would enable the Jewish authorities to get their
victim into their hands, Judas led the band that was sent to apprehend his Master,
and even pointed Him out to them by an affectionate salutation – a kiss. To one in
a vengeful mood that kiss might be sweet; but to a man in any other mood, even
though he were a traitor, how detestable and appalling! The kiss was not
necessary for the success of the plot; for the military detachment was furnished
with torches, and Judas could have indicated Jesus to them while he himself kept
in the background. Judas was an unbeliever who committed suicide and is now
suffering in Hades in the place of torments.

JAMES, SON OF ALPHAEUS

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Luk 6:15 and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus,
This James is generally identified with James the Little or the Less, the brother of
Joseph and son of Mary, Mat 27:56; Mar 15:40. In each list of the apostles he is
mentioned in ninth position. He is said to be the brother of Jude, Jud 1:1. We
know very little of his background except that some teach that he was known for
his quietness and humility. Perhaps the type of individual who doesn’t stand out
in a crowd, but is always faithful.

SIMON THE ZEALOT

Luk 6:15 and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon [not
Peter] who was called the Zealot;
Simon is called the Zealot and the Canaanite to distinguish him from Simon
Peter. He was an ex-member of a fanatical Jewish sect, called the Zealots.
Members of this group were fanatical opponents of Roman rule in Palestine. As a
Zealot, Simon hated any foreign domination or interference. The Zealots were
also known for their fierce advocacy of the Mosaic rituals. He was strong-willed,
and once he made up his mind he was the type of individual to go all the way
with what he believed. He was not a leader, but a tremendous strong-willed
follower. Simon received his call to the apostleship along with Andrew and Peter,
the sons of Zebedee, Thaddaeus and Judas Iscariot at the Sea of Tiberias, Mat
4:18-22. Although Simon, like the majority of the apostles, was probably a
Galilean, the designation “Canaanite” is regarded as of political rather than of
geographical significance.

JUDAS SON OF JAMES

Judas, surnamed Thaddeus was also called Judas the Zealot and was a very
enthusiastic and intense individual, Mat 10:3. The only incident recorded of
Judas is in Joh 14:22, where during Christ’s address to the disciples after the last
supper he put the question, Joh 14:22-25 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord,
what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us, and not to
the world?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My
word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our
abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word
which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. These things I have
spoken to you, while abiding with you.’
He seems to have been a follower who needed to fall in love with his Lord.
Tradition says he preached in Assyria and Persia and died a martyr in Persia.

The leading characteristic of each apostle seems to be:

Peter – impulsive
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Andrew – open-minded
James – fanatical
John – passionate
Philip – inquisitive
Bartholomew – composed
Matthew – humble
Thomas – pessimism
James the son of Alphaeus – quietness
Simon the Zealot – strong-willed
Judas son of James – intense
Judas – traitor.

What you want to pay attention to is character and attitude, not intellectual ability
only. What did these men have with the exception of one? They were available,
they were flexible, they were teachable, and they were dependable. With these
four traits character can be built. There was within them not a great deal of
intellectual ability, except probably with Judas Iscariot, but they had the things
from which character could be built. They were Galileans, also. Galileans were
easily recognized when they spoke. This is why during the trial of Jesus, it was a
simple matter for the servant girl to detect Simon Peter as one of Jesus’ disciples.
The name Galilean was also used as a term of contempt or reproach when applied
to the disciples of Jesus, Luk 22:59; Act 2:7. The people of Galilee were always
blamed for neglecting the study of their language, charged with errors in
grammar, and especially with absurd mispronunciation, sometimes leading to
ridiculous mistakes. A good book to read on this subject is called the “Master
Plan of Evangelism” by Robert Coleman, who has done a wonderful job
explaining how Jesus worked with His twelve.

In the section on selection, Coleman writes this: “There is no evidence of haste in
the selection of these disciples, just determination. What is more revealing about
these men is that at first they do not impress us as being key men.”
None of them occupied prominent places in the synagogue, nor did any of them
belong to the Levitical priesthood, and for the most part they were common
laboring men probably having no professional training beyond the rudiments of
knowledge necessary for their vocation.

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Perhaps a few of them came from families of considerable means, such as the
sons of Zebedee, but none of them could have been considered wealthy. They
had no academic degrees in the arts and philosophies of their day. Like their
master their formal education likely consisted only of the synagogue schools.
Most of them were raised in the poor section of the country around Galilee. Only
one of the twelve, Judas Iscariot, came from the more refined region of Judea.
By any standard of sophisticated culture then and now they would surely be
considered as a rather ragged aggregation of souls. One might wonder how Jesus
could ever use them. They were impulsive, temperamental, easily offended, and
had all the prejudices of their environment.
They are real people like you and me. They are not saints. We made them into
saints, and of course, their life after Pentecost was incredible and certainly
deserves our salute, but we’ve turned these men into celebrities and made them
into statues in cathedrals. But that was not the way it should have been. They
were just plain garden-variety men who were available, and teachable, flexible
and dependable willing to go with Christ. He chose them. This gives people like
us hope. People like you and me who can name our faults and weaknesses much
quicker than we can name our strengths, plagued by them at times, might think
that if the Lord were choosing today, I would never be on that list. You might be
surprised! Jesus saw His men not as what they were, but as what they were to
become. That’s a great principle. And so should you and I with our children, the
people we work with, our friends, we should see them in the process of what they
could become.
I believe He chose mainly Galileans because that was where He was raised. He
knew Galileans. He understood the Galilean culture and mind-set. Maybe He also
selected men from the same area so that there would be that oneness among
them. Who knows the mystery of the choice of Judas Iscariot? He did not pick
Judas Iscariot because He was looking for a traitor. He just knew according to the
Old Testament that there would be a traitor among them, Psa 1:9; Psa 109:6-19;
Zec 11:12.
Right away, Jesus gave the twelve their first taste of ministry as He descended to
a “level place” on the side of the mountain. Luk 6:17 And He descended with
them, and stood on a level place; and there was a great multitude of His
disciples,
Standing by His side, His disciples watched in amazement as He cured diseases
and cast out demons. There were a lot of mathetes, a lot of learners, a lot of men
and women sitting around ready to learn hanging on His every word, and think of
how they felt when they saw the twelve. One wonders if there wasn’t envy
wishing he or she had been chosen. There was a great multitude of His disciples
and then there’s the larger group, a larger circle,
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In Luk 6:17-18 and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and
the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear Him, and to be
healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were
being cured.
Many of His other disciples, as well as people from all over the nation, had
flocked to this place and “were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from
Him and healing them all.”
Luk 6:19 And all the multitude were trying to touch Him, for power was coming
from Him and healing them all.
That was the disciples’ first view of boot camp training. What a great moment! I
wonder if Peter didn’t look wondering, “How could He be that patient, I’d love to
have that quality?” Or, if Andrew didn’t look and think, “How great it is that He
reaches out, if only I were more assertive, I’m not like that.” Maybe John, the
passionate one, the devoted one, was thinking “How practical of Him to be in
touch and accessible, I would love to be like that.”
That is part of mentoring. Our Lord didn’t just teach them principles and give
them facts, He showed them those principles and facts in action. They saw in
Him the strengths that He was telling them that they were going to have
someday. Their temperaments didn’t change. Temperament doesn’t change. Their
personality didn’t change. God gives that prior to birth, that’s built into our genes.
But the way of dealing with life and people and our attitudes, those are choices
we make and things that can change in our lives. How wonderful it was for them
to see Him with the crowd, pushing, pulling, and reaching and shoving, and yet
still being patient and tolerant. The disciples were impressed. They will spend
three and a half years impressed. He was the Best. And then He turned and
looked at His men. When all was silent, He delivered His greatest sermon,
beginning with a series of beatitudes similar to those recorded in Matthew’s
gospel. His thesis was simple. Those who follow Him must operate under a set of
values opposite that of the world. For example, those whom the world calls
miserable, Jesus pronounces “blessed,” or happy.
Luk 6:20 And turning His gaze on His disciples [you see, He’s training], He
began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”
This had nothing to do with financial ability. He is talking about you who are
poor in spirit. You who do not conduct yourself with an elevated opinion of
yourself. You who are not arrogant, you are who are teachable. Blessed are you.
You have begun to touch the kingdom of God.
Luk 6:21 “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed
are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”
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“Blessed or happy are you who hunger now,” doesn’t mean that your stomach
growls and you haven’t had food. It is a hungering for righteousness. It is a
hungering for the truth of God. The “hunger” is your desire, passion, dedication,
and devotion for righteousness and truth. It is never really having that sense of
fullness. You’re always ready for more.
Luk 6:21 “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”
You who are touched with the sorrows and horrors of the world. You who are
moved with compassion, and brought to tears around the needs of others. Happy
are you! While others laugh and shove them away, blessed are you for touching
their lives. Blessed are you for caring.
Luk 6:22-23 “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast
insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be
glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for
in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.”
The world’s view is: “They’re not going to ostracize me and get away with it!”
“They’re not going to insult me like that.” “They’re not going to talk to me like
that. Don’t they know who I am? I have my rights.” He says, “Blessed are you
when you are hated and ostracized and insulted, and they spurn your name as
profanity.” “Happy are you.” This is wisdom in reverse order. This is a wonderful
truth, but the world laughs at it. As a matter of fact, the more you read through
here the more you realize that what the world laughs at, Christ rewards. And
what Christ turns off as nothing, the world gives trophies.
Luk 6:24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in
full.”
He is not saying, if you’re well off, you’re wrong; certainly not! If you earned it,
and earned it the right way, it’s yours from God. It’s the person who trusts in his
riches, whose whole dream in life is to get rich; when he gets there, enough is
never enough. Woe to you! Does that sound like today’s council? Has anyone at
work ever told you, “Woe to you if you get rich?” Can you imagine, you’re on the
sales force and someone says, “Woe to you if you’re the top salesman?”
What He is saying is that, you’re getting everything now. You wanted to get rich,
you are rich, you’ve got it. Enjoy it!
Luk 6:25 “Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you
who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.”
This has the idea of laughing at significant and sacred things. If you do, you will
mourn later.
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Luk 6:26 “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their
fathers used to treat the false prophets.”
You see, our Lord’s sermon leads us to a crossroads. We must decide whether to
pursue the wide path or the narrow path, the world’s values or Christ’s values,
immediate gratification or ultimate glorification. It’s not an easy decision because
it’s easy to go in the other direction. It’s much easier to go the way of the world.
After all, that’s what the majority does. Choosing Christ will open the door to
insult and injury. It may mean passing up some tantalizing, worldly delights. But
however rocky the narrow road gets, our Lord is there to satisfy our deepest
hunger and bestow on us riches this world has never known.
Which way will you choose? Jesus promised his disciples three things: they
would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble. None of
that is like the world’s counsel. It all boils down to this: if you take the world’s
way and buy into it, you must abandon Christ’s way. Or, if you take Christ’s way
and buy into it, you need to abandon the world’s philosophy.

Life doesn’t revolve around:

a. Getting what you want.
b. Making all the money that you ever dreamed of making.
c. Life doesn’t revolve around being famous, successful or popular.
God’s work revolves around not immediate gratification, but ultimate
glorification. The world runs from difficulty. Christ says, “I want men who will
run toward it.” As you go through this passage, you can see the world’s payoff is
now. While the world’s view is for now, Christ’s payoff is for all eternity.