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encouragement theology

The Twelve Messengers

the-last-supper-painting-in-Milan

Thoughts from Matthew 10…

 

The opposition against Jesus was growing. In the previous section, the Pharisees began to accuse Jesus of healing by the power of the devil (see here). He realized that His time was growing short, and so He was even more urgent in sending His message to all of the Jews. Instead of going alone, He now sent out six teams of disciples to also preach His message of the kingdom. In this way, He was able to successfully cover the entire region of Galilee in a short time.

He chose twelve of His disciples and commissioned them as “apostles” (literally, “one who was sent”).a He gave them His own authority to cast out demons and to heal the sick, and then sent them out two by two.

“The Twelve were disciples before they became apostles. That is, they were learners in the school of Christ before they were commissioned as apostles and sent forth as couriers of the King, to proclaim that the long-looked-for kingdom of the heavens had drawn nigh.” – H.A. Ironside2

“Power is the ability to accomplish a task, and authority is the right to do it, and Jesus gave both to His apostles.” – Warren Wiersbe6

The Men

Matthew 10:1-4
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Mark 6:7
And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 

Luke 9:1-2
And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 

This is the only time that Matthew uses the word, “apostle”.1 The apostles are listed in pairs, which may have been the pairs which went out together (as per Mark 6:7).

The twelve apostles are listed in four places in the New Testament. Matthew’s Gospel account lists the apostles here (Matthew 10:2-4), Mark lists them in Mark 3:16-19, and Luke lists them twice. First in Luke 6:14-16 and again in Acts 1:13.

Mark 3:16-19
He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Luke 6:13-16
And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Acts 1:13
And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James.

The lists vary slightly in order, but the only difference among the names is that Judas Iscariot is not mentioned in Acts 1:13. Judas had already betrayed Jesus Christ and had killed himself. Therefore he was not listed among the apostles after the Lord’s resurrection.

 

Matthew 10 Mark 3 Luke 6 Acts 1
Simon (Peter)
Andrew
James of Zebedee
John
Simon (Peter)
James of Zebedee
John
Andrew
Simon (Peter)
Andrew
James
John
Peter
John
James
Andrew
Philip
Bartholomew
Thomas
Matthew
Philip
Bartholomew
Matthew
Thomas
Philip
Bartholomew
Matthew
Thomas
Philip
Thomas
Bartholomew
Matthew
James of Alphaeus
Thaddaeus
Simon the Zealot
Judas Iscariot
James of Alphaeus
Thaddaus
Simon the Zealot
Judas Iscariot
James of Alphaeus
Simon the Zealot
Judas of James
Judas Iscariot
James of Alphaeus
Simon the Zealot

Judas of James

Many Commentators have grouped the apostles into three groups of four.8 Some speculate that this grouping indicates a level of organization among the apostles, but we have no Biblical evidence to pursue this further. Regardless, the groups of four do provide a helpful way to remember them.b

Thaddaeus is also known as “Judas, son of James” in Luke and Acts. See also John 14:22.

Scripture does not provide great detail about many of the apostles. We read a lot about Peter and John, and remember poignant scenes involving Andrew, James, Philip, Nathanael (Bartholomew), Matthew, and Thomas. Judas will always be known as the evil one who betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ. We know very little from scripture about James, son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, or Simon the Zealot. However, we have the following profiles of the twelve apostles when we combine what we do know about them. These help to give us insight into the type of men that Jesus called.

 

Simon (Peter) and Andrew

Andrew and Simon were some of the first followers of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist introduced two of his disciples, Andrew and John, to Jesus at the start of His ministry (John 1:35-42, see here). Andrew then brought his brother Simon to Him. Both brothers abandoned their fishing business when Jesus called them (see here).

Simon Peter, is called out as first in Matthew 10, which has caused many Bible scholars to speculate that he became the leader of the apostles. Whether or not he had a formal role as their leader, he was part of Jesus’ inner circle, was the most vocal, and is possibly referenced by the largest volume of scripture. Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter, meaning “rock” (see Matthew 16:16-17 and John 1:42).

Peter seems to have been bold and impetuous, speaking his mind and always ready to act. Peter was the one who boldly confessed about Jesus, that “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16), but the next scene immediately shows Peter rebuking Jesus for telling of His death (Matthew 16:21-23). Peter was the one to recklessly swing the sword in Jesus’ defense at His arrest (see here), then to follow his Lord to His trial, only to deny Him in the face of a servant girl (see here). But one of the most touching scenes in the Gospels is when Jesus met and restored Peter on the shore of Galilee afterward (John 21, see here). The Book of Acts shows Peter as one of the most vocal preachers about his risen Lord (Acts 2-3) and leading the church through controversies and hardship (Acts 4-6).

Peter was the writer for two epistles in the New Testament, First and Second Peter. He referred to John Mark, the writer of the second Gospel, as “my son” (1 Peter 5:13), indicating that he was a mentor and discipler to the young man. Many Bible scholars therefore believe that Mark’s gospel account is Peter’s perspective on the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus predicted that he would die a martyr’s death (John 21:18-19). Church tradition holds that Peter was killed during Nero’s persecution (A.D. 60’s), being crucified on a cross upside-down because he did not want to die in the same way as His Lord.

Andrew is pictured in the gospels as the one introducing people to Jesus. He introduced his brother Simon to Jesus, he was the one to bring the boy with the loaves and the fish when Jesus fed the 5,000 (John 6:8-9), and he was also one of the disciples to bring the Greeks to see Jesus (John 12:20-22, see also here). While the other disciples were fighting over who was the greatest, Andrew stands out as one of the few who were truly humble.14 Andrew was part of the small circle who asked Jesus about the things to come on the Mount of Olives (Mark 13).

 

James and John

The second pair of brothers were James and John, the sons of Zebedee. John was with Andrew when John the Baptist announced Jesus as the Lamb of God (see above). James and his brother John were fishing with their father when Jesus called them. They immediately left their nets and came and followed Him (Matthew 4:21-22, see here).

Jesus gave James and John the name “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17), indicating their loud and forceful personalities, and possibly explosive tempers. At one point during the ministry of Jesus Christ, James and John asked Jesus if he would call down fire and destroy the Samaritans who had refused them passage (Luke 9:51-56).

James and John were both caught up in fighting among the other disciples regarding who was the greatest. At one time, they even came with their mother to ask Jesus if they could sit at His right and His left in the kingdom (Matthew 20:20-28). As mentioned here, their mother, Salome, was probably Mary’s sister, making James and John first cousins of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But these two rough fishermen were some of Jesus’ closest companions on earth. They joined Peter to comprise the Lord’s inner circle.b They would complete their lives in absolute dedication to him; one being the first martyr of the apostles, and the other outliving them all.

James was one of the few apostles whose death is documented in Scripture. Acts 12:1-2 records that Herod Agrippa had James killed as part of his attack on the church (see here for more details about Herod and his family).

John, was, perhaps, one of the closest companions to the Lord Jesus Christ on earth. The fourth gospel is John’s own account of His ministry, and why we can know that Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:31). The Gospel of John shows a very personal view of Jesus Christ, and John himself is shown as the one who was leaning close to the Lord. As mentioned here, John never gave his own name in his gospel account. He preferred to give himself the title of what he valued the most, that Jesus loved him. Therefore, he called himself, “The disciple whom Jesus loved” (see John 13:23, John 21:20-25).

John has been traditionally called “The Apostle of Love,” because of his emphasis on love of God and love to each other in his epistles. However, this title has left the impression in our culture that John must have been quiet and soft-spoken, deferring to the much louder apostles. However, as mentioned above, James and John appeared to be loud and forceful, and nothing like the “sissy” image that most people expect of him.

John traveled to Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and worked with the church at Ephesus. In addition to his Gospel account, John also wrote three epistles which are recorded in Scripture. Toward the end of his life, John was exiled by the Romans to the Island of Patmos, off the Asian coast. It was there in his exile that John received a vision of the risen Lord, showing Jesus as a mighty conqueror, leading His people to victory at the end of the age. This Revelation of Jesus Christ is the final book of the New Testament, and was the final work of this great apostle.

“Jesus never had to tell John to follow him but he told Peter. Jesus never had to ask John if he loved Him but he had asked Peter.” – John MacArthur14

 

Philip and Bartholomew (Nathanael)

Only John’s gospel account gives any detail about Philip and Nathanael. Jesus called Philip at the start of His ministry during His trip to Galilee. Philip then turned and brought Nathanael (Bartholemew) to the Lord (John 1:43-51).

Unlike the other apostles, Philip had a Greek name, which may have been why the Greeks came to him when they wanted to see Jesus (John 12:20-22). Philip’s actions seem to show a practical personality. When confronted by 5,000 hungry people, Jesus challenged Philip with where could they get food for them (John 6:5-7). When Jesus told His disciples that He was leaving them, Philip was the one to respond with “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” (John 14:8-11).

Bartholomew, also known as Nathanael in John’s gospel account, was a close friend of Philip. Nathanael Bartholomew was a native of Cana in Galilee, the very town where Jesus performed His first sign at the wedding feast (see here).

The only detailed scene that we have of Nathanael (Bartholomew) is in John 1, which was his famous question when he first heard about the Messiah. He asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Jesus responded to Nathanael that He knew what he was thinking, and that He is the way to God. Nathanael’s belief and allegiance to Jesus Christ from that scene is later proved when he is commissioned as one of the twelve apostles. At the end, Nathanael Bartholomew was one of the disciples who go fishing with Peter after the resurrection (John 21).

 

Thomas and Matthew (Levi)

Thomas has often been called “doubting Thomas” because of his skepticism of the Lord’s resurrection (John 20:25). However, scripture shows Thomas as a realist who was prepared to follow his Lord to the death (John 11:16). He was not afraid to ask for how to get to the Lord when Jesus is comforting His disciples. It is because of Thomas that we have the famous response by Jesus Christ, “I am the way, the truth, and the life!”

John 14:5-6
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Thomas expressed his initial doubts about the resurrection since he did not personally witness the risen Lord. But when Jesus came again to Thomas, he was quick to respond with, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:24-29).

Thomas was called Didymus (which means “twin”, John 11:6), which gives some insight into his family background.

Matthew was a tax collector who left his business immediately when Jesus called him. See here for more details about Matthew’s call (Matthew 9). Matthew is the writer of the first gospel.c

 

James of Alphaeus, Judas of James (Thaddaeus), and Simon the Zealot

Early church tradition reported that James, Judas, and Simon were brothers. This was based on Hegesippus, an early church historian, who wrote that Simon was also the son of Alphaeus, and the term, “Judas of James” indicates a relationship of brothers, not a father-son relationship.7 We have no basis in Scripture to confirm or refute this, but regardless, there are very little record in Scripture of these three men.d

James, the son of Alphaeus is the third James mentioned in the New Testament, with the two others being James, the son of Zebedee (see above), and James the brother of Jesus (and writer of the Epistle of James, see Matthew 13:55, Galatians 1:19). He was called “James the younger” (or “James the less”) in Mark 15:40, showing that he was known by his youth. This may show that he was a younger brother of Judas and Simon or, more likely, that he was younger than the other apostle, James the son of Zebedee.

The only reference that we have of Judas, son of James is in John 14:22-24, when he asks Jesus “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus replied that He will show Himself to only those who love and obey Him. Judas is often reported as Thaddaus or Lebbaeus, and his original name can be easily confused with Judas Iscariot. Even John 14:22 introduces him as “Judas (not Iscariot)”.

His formal name was likely Judas Lebbaeus Thaddaeus.  The name “Lebbaeus” was from the Hebrew word for the heart (lebh) and  “Thaddaeus” originated from the Jewish name Thodah, from “praise.” Therefore, his names indicates a man who was full of praise with all his heart.7

We know very little of Simon the Zealot. The zealots were a faction of Jews who were committed to throwing out their Roman rulers, by force if necessary.e It is interesting to note that before knowing Jesus Christ, Simon the Zealot would have wanted to kill Matthew the tax collector.

 

Judas Iscariot

Judas Iscariot has become one of the most infamous villains in all Scripture. He is always last in the three lists of the apostles, with all three include the description, “Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.” Judas was the only one of the twelve apostles who was from Judaea in the south; the others were all from Galilee.7 While the Galileans were known as being rough and uneducated, the Judaeans had the reputation of being refined, elegant and pious.

It is often startling to consider that this man lived with Jesus Christ for over three years, and was sent out on Jesus’ behalf to perform miracles and announce the kingdom. If the pairs in Matthew are the order in which they were sent out, Judas would have paired with Simon the Zealot, as they went across Galilee preaching about the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

In all of this time, the other apostles never suspected Judas. They trusted Judas as their treasurer with no idea that he was stealing from them (John 12:6). Even when Jesus announced that one of them would betray Him, they would sooner suspect themselves than to suspect Judas!

“…by the end of three and a half years, Judas was more dishonest than ever.” – Stephen Davey10

But Jesus knew that Judas had set his heart against Him. As early as a year before the cross, Jesus referred to Judas, saying “one of you is a devil.” (John 6:70-71). At some point, Judas surrendered his heart to Satan and refused to believe in Jesus. Judas reached his breaking point when, the night before His entry into Jerusalem, Mary anointed Jesus feet. Judas criticized Mary, earning a stinging rebuke from the Lord (see here). With this rebuke in his ears, Judas went to the priests the following week, agreeing to deliver Jesus to them for thirty pieces of silver. Judas famously delivered on his promise when he led the priests and the soldiers to Jesus Christ at Gethsemane. He led them to Jesus, whom he greeted with a repeated kiss.

When Jesus was arrested and condemned, Judas, overcome with remorse, brought back his money to the priests. But it was too late for him, so he bought a field and hung himself (Matthew 27:3-10). But even this was not the final end for Judas. We find later that Judas fell during his hanging attempt and his body burst from the fall, spilling his entrails on the ground (Acts 1:18). Thus ended the life of one of the most infamous traitors that the world has known.

Jesus reserved some of the most terrifying words to describe Judas. He described him as “a devil” (John 6:70) and “the son of destruction” (John 17:12). In describing the consequences that Judas would face for his betrayal, He said, “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” (Matthew 26:24, Mark 14:21).

“Peter denied Christ, but repented and found hope. Judas denied Christ and was filled with remorse, but never repented and found death.” – Stephen Davey11

 

The Mission

Matthew 10:5-15
These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Mark 6:8-13
He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.

Luke 9:3-6
And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

Jesus’ instruction to His apostles shows the urgency of the mission. They were to go only to the Jews — not the Gentiles nor the Samaritans — and proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The Messiah is here and is ready to begin His kingdom, if they would only receive Him!

“The disciples were to proclaim the same message that John announced (Matthew 3:1) and The Lord was preaching (Matthew 4:17).”- Toussaint1

He gave them other instructions for this mission. They were to go into each town healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing lepers, and casting out demons. Accept no payment for their ministry and take no extra provisions for the journey. They would be totally supported by the towns they visited, and the worthy house that they found within. Stay at the original house that received them until it was time to move on. If the people did not receive them nor listen to their words, then shake off that town and move on.f

We also have a commission by Jesus Christ to preach to the lost. However, our mission is different than that of the apostles when Jesus sent them out.

First, the apostles’ mission was temporary while our mission is lifelong. Mark 6:30 and Luke 9:10 show the apostles returning to Jesus Christ and reporting on what had transpired. In contrast, Paul tells Timothy to be ready always to preach the word. Our mission is for our lifetime!

2 Timothy 4:1-2
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

Second, the apostles were given specific parameters for what not to take with them; we are told to do all things helpful for the sake of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 10:23-33). For example, Paul was a tentmaker as he preached through Europe (Acts 18:2-3). In answer to those who may use this passage to teach an aesthetic lifestyle, Paul also gave specific instructions for wealthy believers (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

1 Corinthians 10:31-33
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.

Third, the apostles had miracles to authenticate their message; we have the Word of God. We can no longer heal, cast out demons, nor raise the dead. But we have something even greater — the actual words of God Himself!

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

And finally, the apostles were sent only to the “lost sheep of Israel”; we are sent to the entire world. At the end of Matthew’s Gospel account, the risen Jesus Christ instructed His disciples to go to all nations. Our commission is to make disciples of the entire world!

Matthew 28:19-20
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 

Previous post: Sheep Without a Shepherd


References

[1] Stanley D. Toussaint, Behold The King, Kregel Publications, 1980, Matthew 10:1-11:1, pages 136-144

[2] H.A. Ironside, Ironside Expository Commentaries, Matthew 10, The King’s Couriers

[3] H.A. Ironside, Ironside Expository Commentaries, Address 31, The Mission of the Twelve, Luke 9:1-17

[4] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: New Testament, David C. Cook, 2007, Matthew 10, pages 30-33

[5] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: New Testament, David C. Cook, 2007, Mark 6:7-29, pages 106-107

[6] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: New Testament, David C. Cook, 2007, Luke 9:1-6, page 165

[7] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book III, CHAPTER XVII: THE CALL OF MATTHEW, THE SAVIOUR’S WELCOME TO SINNERS, RABBINIC THEOLOGY AS REGARDS THE DOCTRINE OF FORGIVENESS IN CONTRAST TO THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, THE CALL OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES (St. Matthew 9:9-13; St. Mark 2:13-17; St. Luke 5:27-32; St. Matthew 10:2-4; St. Mark 3:13-19; St. Luke 6:12-19.), https://www.ccel.org/ccel/edersheim/lifetimes.viii.xvii.html

[8] Doug Bookman, Life of Christ, Audio Series, Lecture 8, https://www.christianity.com/jesus/life-of-jesus/harmony-of-the-gospels/15-the-unpardonable-sin-and-a-shift-to-parables.html

[9] Stephen Davey, The Hotheads, Matthew 10:4, 2/24/1991

[10] Stephen Davey, Judas: The Assassin, Matthew 10:2-4, 4/11/2004

[11] Stephen Davey, Living a Lie, Matthew 10, 3/11/1991

[12] John MacArthur, The Messengers of the King, Matthew 10:1, Mar 29, 1981

[13] John MacArthur, Peter: A Lesson in Leadership, Matthew 10:2, Apr 5, 1981

[14] John MacArthur, The Master’s Men Part 1: Andrew, James the son of Zebedee, and John, Matthew 10:2, Apr 12, 1981

[15] John MacArthur, The Master’s Men Part 2: Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew 10:3, May 10, 1981

[16] John MacArthur, The Master’s Men Part 3: Matthew and Thomas, Matthew 10:3b, May 17, 1981

[17] John MacArthur, The Master’s Men Part 4: James the Son of Alphaeus, Matthew 10:3-4, May 24, 1981

[18] John MacArthur, The Master’s Men Part 5: Judas Iscariot, Matthew 10:4, May 31, 1981

[19] John MacArthur, Principles for an Effective Missionary, Part 1, Matthew 10:5-7, Jun 7, 1981

[20] John MacArthur, Principles for an Effective Missionary, Part 2, Matthew 10:8-15, Jun 14, 1981


Notes

[a] “A man had to meet certain qualifications to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. He must have seen the risen Christ (1 Cor. 9:1) and fellowshipped with Him (Acts 1:21-22). He had to be chosen by the Lord (Eph. 4:11).” – Wiersbe4

 

[b] Some Bible scholars have also observed that the first name in each group of four apostles is always the same, possibly alluding to a leadership structure among sub-groups. Others have speculated that the later groups are more distant from the Lord than the earlier ones.

We do know that Jesus had only taken Peter, James, and John (and occasionally Andrew) on some of the most personal acts of His ministry: raising Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:37, see here), the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8), the Mount Olivet Discourse (Mark 13), and the prayer in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46, see here). Therefore, He seemed to draw them into His closest circle. However, any structure among the apostles beyond that is pure speculation.

The idea of a highly structured and hierarchical organization among the apostles appeals to some Bible teachers (especially those who prefer a similar organization themselves). However, it is important to remember that these ideas are speculation and not Biblical fact. It is also important to remember that the apostles were constantly infighting among themselves regarding who was the greatest (Matthew 18:1, Mark 9:33-34, Luke 9:46-48, Luke 22:24-26), and it seems doubtful that the Lord would have imposed such a hierarchy to this environment.

 

[c] Mark 2:14 refers to Matthew as “Levi the son of Alphaeus”. Although this is the same father’s name as James, son of Alphaeus, there is no indication that Matthew and James were brothers. The more likely explanation is that Matthew’s father was a separate Alphaeus.7

[d] John 19:25 indicates that “Mary the wife of Clopas” was at the cross. This same Mary is indicated in Mark 15:40 as “Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses”, and in Matthew 27:56 as “Mary the mother of James and Joseph”. Church history identifies “James the younger” as the apostle James, son of Alphaeus, so therefore, Alphaeus and Clopas must have been the same person. Hegesippus also wrote that Clopas was the brother of Joseph, so James, Judas, and Simon may have also been step-cousins to Jesus Christ.7

[e] The KJV calls this disciple, “Simon the Canaanite”, based on Cananaean, from the root word qanna, meaning “zealot”.7 17 This has led to the misconception that Simon was one of the original Canaanites and not of Jewish descent.

[f] The expression to shake the dust off their feet against them was an act of God’s judgement. It was customary for the Jews to shake the dust off their feet whenever they left Gentile territory, thereby separating themselves from the uncleanness of the town. See also Luke 10:10-11 and Acts 13:51.4 5

 

 

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