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A book by Rich Van Winkle

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An Amazing Life: Jesus and the Nozerim

Appendix XXIII – The Apostles & Disciples

For a good start, see Appendices IX & XII


The “Apostles” (those chosen by Jesus to lead his disciples) as described in the gospels are obtuse if not boorish, greedy, stupid and generally insignificant. Even Peter (upon whom Jesus is reported as saying he will build his church) doesn’t have a clue about Jesus’ message or meaning. One would think that Jesus’ “apostles” should be twelve of the best known people in history and although their names are well known, few can offer more than a traditional “label” for most of them. As witnesses to Jesus’ “miraculous” deeds, students of his divine teachings, and carriers of the” good news” that Jesus wanted to share with mankind, we should expect them to be famous and well documented figures in history. Instead, the NT tells us almost nothing about them and the church relies upon legend and myth to reveal useless “details”.

I. Introduction:

Although Judaism had an office known as apostle (שליח)[1], our term comes from the Greek word “apostolos” ("a sent one"). From this word we have the familiar “Twelve Apostles” chosen by Jesus[2].  Like so many aspects of the New Testament (“NT”), there are issues and debates regarding these disciples of Jesus. Matthew gives us the list of the twelve: “first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.” (Mat. 10:2-4). Mark (3:16-19) and Luke (6:13-16) also provide lists of followers, but a comparison of the three lists shows several differences in the names. Apparently, Thaddaeus was also known as “Judas, son of James” (Luke 6:16) and Lebbaeus (Matthew 10:3). Simon the Zealot was also known as Simon the Canaanite (Mark 3:18). These key followers of Jesus – chosen by him – are considered of so little importance to the NT authors that we know almost nothing about them. John only lists 9 of them. 

As explained in Appendix IX (“The Family of Jesus”), the Pauline Church wished to emphasize Paul’s apostolic status (supposedly chosen by Jesus in Paul’s dream) and to use Peter as its primary outward authority. Thus, the only Apostle of the Twelve given any meaningful role in the gospels is Peter – upon whom Jesus is made to say he will “build his church”. The Catholics have interpreted this assertion to give Peter – the foundation of their church – supreme authority over all other apostles[3]. Most interestingly, this “award” is given to Peter for stating that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Mat. 16:16). Thus, in this one verse, Jesus first refers to himself as “the son of man” (read as “THE Son of God” and not so written in the synoptic accounts of Mark and Luke) and is confirmed by a man who doesn’t understand him[4], and will later deny him three times (Luke 22:54-62). While many passages in the gospels show the manner in which the early church re-wrote “history” in their view and to make their case, few are as clearly purposeful fabrications as this one.

Far too much attention has been given to the “Apostles” – and not enough attention to the people who were closest to Jesus. That the New Testament refers to a certain group as Apostles is more anomaly than history as it seems clear that Jesus had no such notion. This is best indicated by the fact that the Gospels name more than twelve men, that the lists disagree, and that the Gospel of John doesn’t even name them all.

But more significantly, the authors of the Pauline version of the Bible specifically sought to disparage and diminish those who were closest to Jesus while introducing us to their fellow “Apostle”, Paul (who never met Jesus). Similarly, the Pauline church needed to build its authority upon a disciple named Peter (Cephas) even though it is clear that others were deemed superior and more authoritative by even Paul himself. Finally, the Pauline church sought to confuse others regarding the closest followers of Jesus – his brothers and family[5]. We are given tales where they deny him and even question his sanity – but they are always by his side, were named his successors, and were venerated to the degree that Paul had to acknowledge their status and authority after Jesus’ crucifixion. James, the oldest brother of Jesus, was the unquestioned leader of the “Jerusalem Council” and when he was killed in 62 CE, he was succeeded by his brother Simon.

Ironically, in the New testament, the James who was Jesus’ brother is referred to as “James the Lesser” and his brother Simon is merely “Simon Zelotes”( Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13) or as Simon Kananaios or Cananeus (best heard as “kanna'im” or priest). I propose (as others have[6]) that this is the same person as “Simeon bar Clopas[7] of Jerusalem”, the successor to James as leader of the Jerusalem Council.

And, of course, there is the odd coincidence that among those named “Apostles”, the names of all four brothers of Jesus appear: James (as “the lesser” and “son of Alpheus/Clopas”, Joses (or “Joseph”, “Jude of James”, “Jude Thaddaeus”, “Thaddaeus” or “Lebbaeus”), Judas (“Thomas” or “Didymus”)[8], and Simon (as above). Since it is well understood that James bar Zebedee and John bar Zebedee (the “Sons of Thunder”) were cousins of Jesus, it is highly likely that at least six of “the Twelve Apostles” were close relatives of Jesus.

The word "Apostle" comes from the Greek “apostello” meaning "to send forth" in a general sense. “Apostolos” or Apostle means one who is sent forth on a mission (as a delegate). The Aramaic title would have been “Seliah”, but we have no reason to think that Jesus used it (note Mark 3:14 and Luke 6: 13). Later, the followers of Jesus adopted the word “mathetai” (disciples) for themselves, but in the Epistles of Paul (and Acts),  the title of Apostle is prominent. Confusingly, it is used there for Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14), Andronicus and Junias (Romans 16:7), and Silas (1 Thes. 1:1)[9]. Apollos is included among "us apostles" (with Paul and Peter in 1 Cor. 4:9 (see 4:6, 3:22, and 3:4-6). Meanwhile the title of Apostle is not clearly given to the seemingly deserving Timothy and Titus.

Jesus had a few specific instructions for his delegates:

  • "He appointed twelve to be with him and to send them to herald, and to have power to heal the illnesses and to cast out demons." Mark 3:14-15.
  • "He gave them power over unclean spirits so as to expel them, and to heal every disease and every illness". Matthew 10:1,
  • Later Jesus sends the Twelve to preach and heal with specific instructions. Mark 6:7-13; Matthew 10:5-15; Luke 9:1-5.
  • "Go ye therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all I have commanded you". (cf. Mark 16:16; Luke 24:46-49).

From this, it would seem that the primary role for the key disciples was to follow Jesus and to aid in teaching and healing. After the crucifixion and death of Judas, the standard changed: instruction and appointment by Jesus were seemingly no longer required as a condition for the title. First, Matthias was added to the Twelve even though there is no indication he was appointed by Jesus and Paul claimed the title even though he never met Jesus (arguing that the preaching of what Paul thought was Jesus’ doctrine made him an authoritative follower). Pauline Apostles assumed the authority to make laws (Acts 15:29; 1 Corinthians 7:12 sq.), teach (or create) doctrine (Acts 2:37 et seq.), and understand the received word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13). They became punishers (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 5:1-5), ministers of sacred rites (Acts 6:1 sq.;16:33; 20:11), and appointed their own successors (2 Timothy 1:6; Acts 14:22). Eventually, the Pauline Apostles somehow gained so abundant an infusion of grace that they “could avoid every mortal fault and every fully deliberate venial sin” (Catholic Encyclopedia).

But it is not the purpose here to debunk or criticize the church; only to show that we have to read their version of things with a discerning eye (as you should with this writing). Discussion of the apostles is one topic that requires us to look beyond the gospels as well as to examine their content carefully. This is especially true of James and Judas, as below. But first, let us review the lists…

The Twelve:

The New Testament offers varying names for the Twelve…



  • Simon, called Peter
  • Simon, surnamed Peter
  • Andrew, his brother
  • James, son of Zebedee
  • James, son of Zebedee
  • John the brother of James
  • John, his brother
  • Andrew
  • Philip
  • Philip
  • Bartholomew
  • Bartholomew
  • Thomas
  • Matthew
  • Matthew, the tax collector
  • Thomas
  • James, son of Alphaeus
  • James, son of Alphaeus
  • Thaddeus (also called Lebbaeus
  • Thaddeus
  • Simon the Cananaean
  • Simon the Cananaean
  • Judas Iscariot
  • Judas Iscariot


Luke differs from Matthew and Mark at two points: "Thaddeus" is listed as "Judas of James[12]" and "Simon the Cananean" is given instead of "Simon the Zealot". Luke 6:16

John does not distinguish “apostles" and "disciples" and offers no list of apostles. The gospel does once refer to "the Twelve" (John 6:67-71) in a way that seems disjointed with the rest of the narrative. I propose that it was a late edit. John does specifically mention the following disciples:



  • Peter
  • Andrew (identified as Peter's brother)
  • "the sons of Zebedee" (likely meaning John and James)
  • Philip
  • Nathanael
  • Thomas (aka Didymus)[11:16] [20:24] [21:2]
  • Judas Iscariot
  • Judas -not Iscariot [14:22](aka Thaddeus/Jude)


Nathanael is not listed in the other New Testament gospels so he has traditionally been identified with Bartholomew under the presumption that his full name was Nathanael bar Tholomew. Bartholomew may well have been a different person (assuming we give up on the notion of 12 being significant. John and James do seem to fit well as the sons of Zebedee, but “James bar Alphaeus”, Matthew/Levi and Simon the Canaanite/Zealot are strikingly insignificant to the author of John.

The New Testament “apostles” would thus include[13]:

The “Ebionites” or family of Jesus:

  • James bar Alphaeus (aka "James the Less" and "James the Just"). The oldest brother of Jesus and the subject of more non-biblical historical references than Jesus. The first “Bishop” of the Jerusalem Council – the leader of the Disciples of Jesus after the crucifixion.
  • Simon the Zealot (aka “Simeon of Jerusalem”). The next oldest brother of Jesus and the second “Bishop” of the Jerusalem Council.
  • Jude (aka “Joseph”, "Lebbaeus" and “Thaddeus”) The next oldest brother of Jesus.
  • Judas Thomas (aka Didymus). The youngest brother of Jesus.
  • James and John, sons of Zebedee, nicknamed “the Boaner'ges” ("sons of thunder”). Cousins of Jesus from Bethsaida of Galilee and almost certainly fishermen.

The Fishermen Friends:

  • Andrew bar Jonah/Jochanan, the brother of Simon/Peter, was a disciple of John the Baptist and a fisherman from Bethsaida of Galilee.
  • Simon bar Jonah/Jochanan, later known as Simon Peter/Cephas (supposedly renamed by Jesus to mean “the rock”. He was a fisherman from Bethsaida of Galilee.
  • Philip from Bethsaida of Galilee. Possibly a cousin of Andrew and Simon.
  • Bartholomew, the son of Tolomai who may also have been “Nathanael”.

The Others:

  • Matthew/Levi the tax collector was of the tribe of Issachar.
  • Judas bar Simon from Iscariot/Issachar the treasurer. Accused of betraying Jesus, Judas would seem to be the favored and trusted friend of Jesus who was given the assignment of revealing Jesus’ location.
  • Matthias, the replacement for Judas after the crucifixion and death of Judas bar Simon.

Of the Apostles, we are told there were twelve, but at least 15 are named. To make sense of this, most writers assume that some of the names are nicknames or different names for the same person, such as this…

The “core group”:

  • Simon bar Jonah (Peter) Simon bar Jochanan (Aram.), Cephas (“the rock” Aramaic), and Simon Peter - a fisherman from the Bethsaida (John 1:44, cf. John 12:21; Mk. 3:16).
  • Andrew bar Jonah - the brother of Simon Peter, a Bethsaida fisherman, and a former disciple of John the Baptist.
  • James bar Zebedee - the brother of John.
  • John bar Zebedee - the brother of James (aka the Bo-aner'ges or "sons of thunder”(Mk 3:17).

The uninvolved others:

  • Philip of Bethsaida of Galilee. (John 1:44; 12:21).
  • Nathanael bar Talemai (or Tolmai), aka Bartholomew (John 1:45-51).
  • Matthew (possibly aka Levi)[14] - a tax collector.
  • Judas the twin, aka Thomas Didymus from the Aramaic T'oma' and Greek Didymos, each meaning twin.
  • Judas of Kerioth (Iscariot), "Judas, the son of Simon”. (John 6:71; 13:26).

Those of “the Twelve” not even mentioned in John:

  • James bar Alphaeus[15], possibly "James the Less" or James the Younger.
  • Thaddeus or "Lebbaeus"  - traditionally identified with Jude or as Judas of James.
  • Simon “the Zealot” or Simon the Cananean, possibly Simeon of Jerusalem.

And these are named only in Acts:

  • Matthias – named as an apostle shortly after the death of Judas.
  • Justus bar Sabbas (aka Joses) – the alternative to Matthias who missed out of being named because his “lot” wasn’t drawn (Acts 1:23).

We don’t need to sort all this out, but we do have special interest in two names: James and Judas. There are two primary reasons for this interest: two of these men are more than apostles – they are brothers of Jesus[16] and both have key roles that have been obfuscated and modified in the gospels.  Let us begin with the siblings of Jesus (also detailed in Appendix IX, “The Family of Jesus” and Appendix XII, “James, the Just”).

The “Apostles” who were also Jesus’ brothers were:

  • James (Jacob or Yaa'kov) who was known by many names and titles: "James the Just", "haTzaddik"= The Righteous, Oblias = "bulwark", Mebekkar =  leader, "James of Jerusalem", "James Protepiscopus" (first bishop of Jerusalem) and "James the Younger”. Known to be the “opposition High Priest” and a Nazarite. James is so important that I have written a separate appendix (XII) about him.
  • Joses (Jospeh or Yoset) who was nicknamed Justus, Barsabbas, or Justus bar Sabbas. Of the brothers, this is the one about which we know the least.
  • Simon (Symion or Shimeon), who was nicknamed “the Zealot” and who would succeed James as Bishop of the Jerusalem Council. “Simeon the son of Clopas was leader of the Jerusalem church - and doubtless the most important figure in Jewish Christianity - for at least 40 years, until his martyrdom in the reign of Trajan (either between 99.and 103 CE or between 108 and 117 CE)”[17].
  • Judas (Jude or Yehuda) who was nicknamed  "haToma'  (Aramaic for twin, our “Thomas”) or  Didymus  (Greek for “the Twin”). We know him from the NT book of “Jude” and from the writings of Heggisipus[18] and Epiphanius Monachus[19] where his grandsons are taken before Domitian as relatives of Jesus and leaders of the Christian movement.

The "James" passages in the NT include:

  • The Apostle James: Matthew 4:21; 10:2-3; 17:1; 20:20-23; 26:37;Mark 1:19-20; 1:29; 3:17; 5:37; 9:2; 10:35, 41; 13:3; 14:33; Luke 5:10; ; 8:51; 9:28, 54; Acts 1:13
  • The Apostle James son of Alphaeus/Clopas: Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13
  • James the "brother" of Jesus; Jesus' "brothers" in general: Matthew 12:46-50; 13:55;

Mark 3:21, 6:3; John 7:3-5; Acts 1:14; Galatians 1:19; James 1:1.

  • James whose mother is Mary: Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40, 16:1; Luke 24:10.
  • James, the "brother" of Jesus and Bishop of Jerusalem: Acts 12,2; 12:17; Acts 15:13; 21:18;

1 Corinthians 15:5-7; Galatians 1:19; 2:9, 12; James 1:1; Jude 1:1

  • James, the father of the Apostle Jude: Acts 1:13

The overlap with the lists of the Apostles is beyond coincidence. The question here is not whether the brothers of Jesus were also apostles (again, that subject is covered in Appendix IX), but which person is meant when the NT uses the duplicated names – James, Judas, and Simon[20]. The more we look at this, the clearer it becomes that the confusion of names is not unintentional. Here are the NT passages dealing with an “Apostle” named James…

Matthew 4: 18-22: Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

Mat.  17:1-2: Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.

Mat.  20:20-23: Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor of him. And He said to her, "What do you wish?" She said to Him, "Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left." Jesus said to them, "You will indeed drink from my cup. But it's not up to me to grant you a seat at my right hand or at my left. These positions have already been prepared for others by my Father."

Mat. 26:37-40: He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. He told them, "My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, "Couldn't you watch with me even one hour?” Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!" He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done."

Mat. 27:56: Among [the women at Golgotha]  were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons.

Mark 1:19-20: A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee's sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him. (As in Mat 4:18 and Luke 5:11). They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach.

Mark 1:29: After Jesus left the synagogue [in Capernaum] with James and John, they went to Simon and Andrew's home.

Mark  3:17: James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder)[21]

Mark 5:37: He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James.

 Mark  9:2: After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them.

Mark  10:35, 41: Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. "Teacher," they said, "we want you to do for us whatever we ask.

Mark  13:3: As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately,

Mark 14:33: He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. He told them, "My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." "Abba, Father," he cried out, "everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine."

 Luke 5:10: His (Simon’s) partners[22], James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed. Jesus replied to Simon, "Don't be afraid! From now on you'll be fishing for people!"

Luke 8:51: When he arrived at the house of Jairus (to heal his daughter), he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child's father and mother.

Luke 9:27-29:  I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God." About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.

Luke 9: 54: But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. And when his disciples [μαθηταὶ] James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”

Acts 1:13: When they arrived, they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying. Here are the names of those who were present: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the Zealot), and Judas (son of James).

In short, an Apostle named James appears in the gospels in only nine situations (other than a list):

  1. When Jesus first calls him to be a follower,
  2. When Jesus calls out the fish,
  3. When Jesus took them up to the mountain for his transfiguration,
  4. When Jesus denies his (or his mother’s) request for his privileged position in God’s Kingdom,
  5. When healing Jairus’ daughter in Capernaum,
  6. After Jesus left with him from the synagogue in Capernaum,
  7. Walking through Samaria (burn the village?),
  8. In the “private teaching at the Mt. of Olives
  9. When he falls asleep at Gethsemane.

Because James and John are often named together, it has been generally assumed that such references refer to the brothers, sons of Zebedee. However, each gospel writer who names the brothers also specifically refers to them at some point as the “sons of Zebedee”. Thus, we might easily differentiate the situations when the James being named is inherently the son of Zebedee…

“He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James.” The added  reference to John as the brother of James can easily be read two ways – as referring to the James just mentioned (the same as saying the brothers, James and John) or as a way to say that this James was not the brother James (as in John, the brother of the other James). 

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. The writers had to know that there were two different apostles of the same name, so the author either assumed it was obvious which James this was or made sure the reference was vague. In every other instance, when referring to the brothers, we are told such.

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately… As above.

When he arrived at the house of Jairus (to heal his daughter), he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child's father and mother. Here, the translators have changed the wording and added punctuation: the original Greek reads “λθν δ ες τν οκίαν οκ φκεν εσελθεν τινα σν ατ ε μ Πέτρον κα ωάννην κα άκωβον κα τν πατέρα τς παιδς κα τν μητέρα” or  “And when he came into the house he suffered no man to go in save Peter and James and John and the father and the mother of the maiden.

The reason this is worth emphasizing is that the Christians sought to minimize the role of Jesus’ brothers, especially James. But, as Jesus’ oldest brother, James held a special position amongst Jesus’ followers – which we know for certain since he was deferred to as Jesus’ successor by all. However, based upon the assumption that the above references place James bar Zebedee amongst the favored followers (the “inner circle”), we are often reminded that he was a favored apostle of Jesus…

“James is styled "the Greater”… In all four lists the names of Peter and Andrew, James and John form the first group, a prominent and chosen group (cf. Mark 13:3); especially Peter, James, and John. These three Apostles alone were admitted to be present at the miracle of the raising of Jairus's daughter (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51) [and] at the Transfiguration (Mark 9:1; Matthew 17:1; Luke 9:28). (St. James the Greater in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Camerlynck, A., Robert Appleton Company (1910).

But which makes more sense: that the brother of Jesus would be his trusted associate at key times or that someone who is otherwise unknown would be so trusted? The same issue arises when we deal with Judas.

In the original Greek New Testament, the name “Ιούδας” is translated as both "Jude" and "Judas" although it is properly the Hebrew name “Yehuda” (Judah)[23]. Given the role of “Judas Iscariot” in the gospel stories, it is obvious why the other people named “Judas” needed to be distinguished and therefore why they are given pseudonyms. Other than “the traitor”, we are interested in two related names: “Jude” and “Judas of James”.

"Jude of James" appears in the lists of apostles at Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13. It is an unusual reference because the standard appellation “son of” has been left specifically void of “son”. Thus, many have assumed the author intended “brother of” (as in the KJV). That is the interpretation here as well. John 14:22 mentions a disciple or Apostle called "Judas not Iscariot" who has been generally accepted as the same as the Apostle Jude (In some Latin manuscripts he is called Judas the Zealot). In comparing the list of the Apostles, (Mat 10:3 and Mark 3:18), we find that Jude where is omitted, “Thaddeus” or "Lebbaeus who was surnamed Thaddaeus") listed in his place. In an effort to harmonize the lists by positing a "Jude Thaddeus" – an adjustment supported by the fact that "Thaddeus" a nickname for a close friend or a younger brother. Thus, we will work on the presumption that Judah bar Jospeh was the younger brother of Jesus also known as the Apostle Jude nicknamed Thaddeaus[24].

As above, I equate this person to Thomas and I suggest that the nickname “Lebbaeus” (related to the Aramaic Thaddeus meaning one of courageous heart) was yet another reference to this important brother of Jesus. It is odd that few equate this person with the “Ioudas Barsabbas” (Judas, son of the father) [25] mentioned in Acts (15:22-41) since that Judas was chosen from among the Apostles, was called a "chief [] among the brethren", and a “prophet". (Eusebius reports that two grandsons of Jude named Zoker and James were taken to Rome to stand trial before Domitian as leaders of the Christian movement).

This brother of Jesus is almost unknown even though his stature led to the inclusion of a problematic (and little read) book in the New Testament. The name Judas has forever been tainted by the gospel accounts of Judas Iscariot and his betrayal of Jesus – especially for those who don’t actually read those gospels. But before we challenge those notions, we should know more about Jude/Judah/Thomas. I have already indicated that Judah was almost certainly the younger brother of Jesus and was also known as “Thomas”, “Didymus” (Greek for “the Twin”), and “Jude”. There has been reasonable speculation that he was Jesus’ look-alike, thus the nickname.  It seems likely or plausible that the following passages in the NT refer to him…

  • Luke 6:16: “Judas the brother (“son” in some translations) of James…”
  • John 11:16 Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."
  • John 14:4: “’You know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?’ Jesus answered, "I am one way and one truth and one life. No one comes to the Father though only because of me[26].
  • John 14:22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?"
  • John 20:24: “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I 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.’”
  • John 20:27-29: “Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’"
  • John 21:2-3: “Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’ They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.”
  • Acts 1:13: And when they were come in they went up into an upper room where abode __ both Peter and James and John and Andrew Philip and Thomas Bartholomew and Matthew James the son of Alphaeus and Simon Zelotes and Judas the brother of James[27]…”
  • Acts 9:11: The Lord told him (Ananias of Damascus), "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying…” (The only reference to and uncertain Judas that I would suggest is not the brother of Jesus – although it could be).
  • Acts 15:27/32: “We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth… And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.”
  • Jude 1:1: Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:

It would seem from these references and the sparse other information offered that Yudah[28] was the youngest brother of Jesus and that his youth prevented him from being the successor to James as leader of the early “church”. However, he later became increasingly prominent and his children and grandchildren led the Desposynoi (family of Jesus) movement. That we probably know him best as “doubting Thomas” is a reflection of the success of the Paulines in minimizing his influence.

Despite the limited role he is given in the gospels, Yudah emerges as an important player in Acts. There, he is sent out (with Silas) [29] to carry a letter back to the gentile congregation at Antioch regarding the requirements for joining the Jewish congregation (no circumcision required). The writer of Acts glosses over the most important details of the story:

  • It was “the brethren” who determined that Paul and Barnabas should (must) go to Jerusalem to get a ruling on the matter from “the apostles and elders”. (Acts 15:2).
  • It was James who had the authority to make the final judgment. (Acts 15:13/19).
  • The “apostles and elders” of Jerusalem didn’t think it wise or appropriate to trust Paul and Barnabas with the letter, so they sent two men with greater authority: Yudah and Silas[30]. (Acts 15:22/25).
  • “Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves; encouraged and strengthened the brethren.” (Acts 15:32). This is as high of praise as offered to anyone other than Jesus in the NT.

Aside from the obvious inferior position of Paul, Yudah is positioned among the apostles, elders, and brethren of Jerusalem and is given the title “prophet”. He was prominent enough in stature that in his introductory passage at Jude 1:1, he does not even need to mention that he is Jesus’ brother.

So, we have a brother of Jesus and one of the twelve apostles named Judas (Judah) who is reduced to “doubting Thomas” by the Catholics. Is it possible that the other Judas was similarly diminished? We should look carefully at the gospels:

  • "For Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that did not believe, and who he was, that would betray him" (John 6:65).
  • Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. "What you are about to do, do quickly," Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. For some of them thought because Judas had the money bag that Jesus had said unto him ‘Buy those things that we have need of for the feast’… (John 13:26-29).
  • And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests, to betray him to them. Who hearing it were glad; and they promised him they would give him money. (Mark 14:10-1)

The gospel accounts of “the betrayal” have created problems since their writing. You don’t have to pursue other contradictions between the gospels to wonder about the gist of the story – Jesus knew he would be betrayed by Judas and yet he encouraged him to do so. According to Matthew and John, Judas did so because he was possessed by Satan. And yet, we are told that the betrayal was part of God’s plan and was essential to Jesus’ mission (John 13:18, John 17:12, Matthew 26:23-25, Luke 22:21-22, Matt 27:9-10, Acts 1:16, Acts 1:20). Matthew indicates that Judas didn’t even know that he was to be the betrayer (Mat. 26:25).

We are also told that Judas betrayed Jesus for money although he was the keeper of the group’s money bag[31]. Thus, he was trustworthy enough to keep the collective and collected funds and yet he allegedly forfeited his honor and position to betray his friend and leader for a paltry sum of 15 shekels[32]. Frankly, there’s simply no rational way to make sense of most of what we are told about Judas[33] and it is much more likely that the gospel writers were just as interested in getting Judas out of the picture as they were Judah. The difference is that we can readily see why a prominent brother of Jesus was a threat to them, but not why Judas was[34]. Thus, it was not overly surprising that the discovery of the lost Gospel of Judas in 2006 would inform us that Judas was a favorite disciple (apostle) and that Jesus may have asked Judas to betray him with some larger scheme in mind[35].

It is remarkable that Judas does not appear in the Epistles of Paul or in the Q Gospel. Theologian Aaron Saari contends that Judas Iscariot was the literary invention of the Markan community[36] directly correlated with the elevating of Peter as was needed to found the Catholic Church. Mark 16:14 and Luke 24:33 state that following his resurrection Jesus appeared to "the eleven”, and yet the missing apostle wasn’t Judas Iscariot – it was Judah (Thomas) (John 20:24). That means that Judas was still among the twelve long after he had supposedly killed himself (by one of several different ways given in the gospels)! Furthermore, Paul tells us that following his resurrection Jesus was seen by “the twelve” (1 Cor. 15:5). This had to include Judas because it wasn't until some forty days after the resurrection (the “ascension”; Acts 1:3) that Matthias was voted in to replace Judas (Acts 1:26).

Because another option is presented in my story, I will not detail it here. Suffice it to say: Judas was likely a major character in Jesus’ life and he played a very large role in its conclusion – just not the one offered in the gospels.

Having re-defined who the apostles were and having begun to question the gospel accounts of their role and significance, we will now move on to a more general discussion about them.

First and foremost we should view the apostles as missionaries: that is as teachers and preachers. The details of their teaching and preaching are discussed more fully in Appendix IV (“Jesus”). Here, we are most concerned with how their mission was organized and carried out.

Jesus repeatedly said "It is written", referring to the Old Testament as authoritative and more. We should never doubt that Jesus sought to advance the teachings of the scripture as he knew it. So we should start our understanding of the role of the Apostles through the Jewish scripture and Jewish interpretation of it. The number twelve has special significance in Judaism and we have every indication that Jesus specifically chose twelve leaders from among his followers to satisfy either prophecy or scriptural expectation. Thus, according to Luke, the Apostles would administer the affairs[37] of the twelve tribes of Israel as “Kings”[38] (Luke 22:28-30). Similarly, Jesus affirmed that his mission was directed primarily towards members of the house of Israel[39] (Mt 10:1-6; 15:22-24[40]; Luke 22:30). While obviously changed later by the Pauline church, we can best understand how Jesus perceived his apostles from a Jewish viewpoint. In this light, we can see that Jesus sought to prepare the Twelve for their prospective roles in the coming kingdom. But this hardly fits the “Great Commission” promulgated by the Pauline church.

There is a striking contrast between the early apostolic commission and the later - as well as significant differences in the commissions offered in gospels. The earliest edition was that of Mark: "He appointed twelve to be with him and to send them to herald, and to have power to heal the illnesses and to cast out demons[41]," (Mark 3:14-15). Matthew offers a similar start: "He gave them power over unclean spirits so as to expel them and to heal every disease and every illness" (Mat. 10:1). According to Luke, Jesus told his followers that all people would be called to repentance and told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem until they became invested with power (presumably at Pentecost per Acts). But Luke also says that Jesus dispatched the apostles during his ministry: sending them to the nations and giving them power over demons (Luke 9:1). In short, Jesus sent out his apostles (aka messengers) to prepare the chosen for the coming Kingdom of God – by “healing” them of their sacrilege and irreverence.

At issue here is the very concept of “healing” as Jesus understood and practiced it. Our difficulty is that none of his followers understood his methods and therefore they were unable to properly record or replicate it. We might term Jesus a “faith healer”, but there was clearly more at work than a “placebo effect”. There was clearly an element of faith in Jesus’ healings – and perhaps the “power of persuasion” was often manifest. “Weak minded” people are particularly susceptible to flawed beliefs – even to the extent that they will not believe their eyes or will “remember” things that never happened.  We may see some of those things behind the gospels tales of Jesus’ healings[42]. But ultimately, what Jesus thought he did to heal people was to apply the “holy spirit”.

It is easy to read the “Holy Spirit” methodology into many of the accounts of Jesus’ healing, so I won’t do so here. The details and support for my proposal regarding this form of healing comes in four parts:

  1. That Jesus specifically used the “Holy Spirit” as part of his healing,
  2. That Jesus specifically sought to teach his apostles this method,
  3. That Jesus (apparently confirming their failure to “get it”) promised the apostles that they would have assistance in applying the method after he was gone, and
  4. That the apostles were able to at least verbalize the method sufficiently to pass it along.

There is an interesting diversity in the accounts of Jesus’ healings and there are certain commonalities. A list of the healing accounts includes…

Healed leprosy (several)

Matthew 8:3, Luke 17:12-14

Healed the Centurion's servant

Matthew 8:13

Healed Peter's mother-in-law of fever

Matthew 8:14-15

Healed a paralytic at Capernaum

Matthew 9:6-7

Healed a bleeding woman

Matthew 9:20-22

Healed Jairus' daughter

Luke 8:51-55

Gave sight to blind men

Several (Mark 8:23; 10:51-52)

Restored a withered hand

Matthew 12:13

Cured a boy of seizures

Matthew 17:15-18

Healed all who touch his cloak in Gennesaret

Mark 6:53-56

Cured a deaf/mute man in Decapolis

Mark 7:32-35

Raised a man from the “dead[43]

Luke 7:14-15

Healed an infirm woman

Luke 13:10-13

Healed a man of dropsy

Luke 14:2-4

Healed the guard’s cut ear at Gethsemane

Luke 22:50-51

Healed an official's son

John 4:52-53

Healed a paralyzed man at Bethesda

John 5:8-9

Raised Lazarus from the “dead”

John 11:43-44


Before I elaborate on Jesus’ healing methodology, I should first explain why I don’t accept the Pauline methodology or the Pauline extensions to the gospel accounts. In general, this matter is revealed in the “Great Commission” – the Catholic Church’s view of the apostolic role…

The Apostles are directed to “baptize people of all nations in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” and are promised that they will have divine power and inspiration from the Holy Spirit. (Mat. 28:19-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8).

Although this is recorded as a teaching of Jesus, it is clearly divergent from his initial position that his (and the apostolic) mission was specifically for the “House of Israel”. Indeed, it is impossible to understand the teachings of Jesus without recognizing his belief that the coming Kingdom of God was reserved for those who accepted Jehovah as God and obeyed his commandments. For Jesus (and his mentor John), baptism was a means to affirm or re-affirm a commitment to righteousness and it was that commitment that was both restorative and empowering.

Jesus tells the disciples to preach repentance and forgiveness in the name of God (the Father). The Trinitarian concept was created much later by joining Jesus’ well established belief in God with his misunderstood healing concept (“Holy Spirit”) and his newly conceived divinity (“the Son”). Thus, whenever we see the formula “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”, we know we are dealing with a later theological creation and not something from Jesus. Indeed, it is well established that the ending of Mark that includes the “Great Commission” (starting at Mark 16:9) was not in the original[44].

Despite this later change and reformulation in the apostolic commission, its roots were well founded in the work of Jesus. The manner of Jesus’ healing is somewhat revealed in a synthesis of ideas presented throughout the NT:

First, we should be clear that Jesus relied upon the faith of the sick in order to cure them…

  • "Rise and go; your faith has saved you" (Luke 17:19).
  • "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." (Mat. 9:22)
  • “Then He touched their eyes, saying, "It shall be done to you according to your faith.” (Mat. 9:29).
  • “And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well…” (Mark 5:34).
  •  “Everything is possible for one who believes.” (Mark 9:23).

His healing method relied, in part, upon the “laying on of hands”…

  • “And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.” (Mark 10:16).
  • “After laying His hands on them, He departed from there” (Mat. 19:15).
  • “While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them…“ (Luke 4:40).
  • “And he could not do any miracles there, only that he cured a few that were sick, laying his hands upon them…” (Mark 6:5)
  • “So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, ‘Brother Saul…’” (Acts 9:17).

Jesus believed in the “Holy Spirit” as the agent of God’s power and will…

  • “But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith and pray in the power of the Holy Spirit” (Jude 1:20).
  • “But the “παράκλητος” intercessor (Paraclete or Counselor), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).
  • “…for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (Luke 12:12)
  • "And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven." (Luke 24:49).

Many are not aware that “laying on hands” was an ancient Jewish practice. It was the normal method for invoking a blessing on someone[45] and the priests “laid hands” on animals being sacrificed in the temple (symbolically transferring the sins of the people to the animal as per Leviticus 16:21). Similarly, the concept of the “Holy Spirit” was well known among the ancient Jews: “Where is He who put His Holy Spirit (“רוח קדשו׃”) in the midst of them… (Isaiah 63:11). And, of course, “faith healing” is probably the most ancient medical art. Thus, Jesus didn’t invent these things – he put them together in a new and more powerful way.

Along with his well developed methodology for healing, Jesus brought together other attributes that aided his practice. I propose that Jesus enjoyed great “charisma” – in a reserved, quiet, and powerfully persuasive form. He would tell others to “follow me” and they “dropped everything” to do so (Mark 2:14). The loyalty of his followers strongly indicates the nature of his personality: he was a person others inherently respected and trusted. Jesus had great personal insight into others – their motives, needs, wants, and weaknesses. And, Jesus understood the power of a crowd and generally healed with a crowd present. These things combined synergistically to greatly enhance his healing ability. But they were also skills he had difficulty “teaching” his apostles.

If our only gospel was that of Mark, we would have to wonder why Jesus would have anything to do with the Twelve since therein they are painted as obtuse, arrogant, disobedient dolts…

  • Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? (Mark 4:13).
  • The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? (Mark 4:40-41).
  • “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” (Mark 5:31).
  • They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. (Mark 6:52).
  • The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat… Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? … “Do you still not understand?” (Mark 8:14-21).
  • But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Mark 8:33).
  • “I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” (Mark 9:17-19).
  • But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it. (Mark 9:32).
  • “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. (Mark 9:33-34).
  • “Rabbi” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” (Mark 9:38).
  • People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. (Mark 10:13-14).
  • “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them… Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same. (Mark 14:27-31).
  • He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”… Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “Are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! (Mark 14:33-40).
  • Then one of [the apostles] drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Am I leading a rebellion?” asked Jesus… (Mark 14:47-48).

This portrayal of the apostles is clearly intended to show why Paul was superior to those chosen by Jesus when he was alive – almost any choice would have been better than the Twelve depicted in Mark. That all but one of the Twelve opposed Paul was a fact the early Catholic Church struggled to deal with (at least while those who had memories of the facts were alive).

At least we have a somewhat different presentation in the “Acts of the Apostles” (aka “Book of Acts”):

  • “Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.”    (Acts 2:43).

 Also in Acts, it is acknowledged that James was not only the successor of Jesus, but that he was held in high esteem by the other apostles and followers of Jesus (see Appendix XII). We know (as above) that Judah was considered a “prophet”. And, we’re given several instances where the Apostles perform miracles and seem to act earnestly in fulfilling the mission Jesus gave them. However, we also learn that the upstart “apostle” named Paul is smarter and more “in tune” with Jesus than any of the original Twelve. Thus, the “Acts of the Apostles” is more about Paul than the Apostles.

It is worthwhile to review the specific mission Jesus gave the apostles…

Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”  They went out and preached that people should repent, drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. (Mark 6:6-13).

From these instructions, the apostles are generally paired in a manner like this:

  • Simon Peter with his brother Andrew
  • James and John – the Boanerges brothers
  • James of Alphaeus with Simon Zelotes (brothers?)
  • Judah of James and Thaddeus -"Lebbaeus"
  • Philip and Nathaniel Bartholomew
  • Judas Iscariot and Matthew/Levi

But these pairings are mostly guesswork and tell us little. I think the most revealing information we have regarding the apostles comes from a few rather obscure passages in the NT…


Acts 1:4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.

Acts 16:7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.

He will be with them all days to the end of ages (Matthew 28:20)

And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” Mark 9:1.

He will be with them all days to the end of ages (Matthew 28:20)

He gave a sanction to their preaching (Mark 16:16)

He promised to send them the "promise of the Father", "virtue from above" (Luke 24:49).

And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” Mark 9:1.

Most of the remaining information we have about the Twelve Apostles is legendary and focused upon their martyrdom. Gospels were written in most of their names and their relics are scattered throughout Christendom.

The Greatest Disciple:

One of Jesus’ followers stood apart from the others and thus the Paulines had to make a special effort to ignore and diminish her – Mary Magdalene. Indeed, as we shall see below, it is clear that women played an important role in Jesus’ ministry and that they were treated with greater equality than was common. But Mary stood apart as both the best friend of Jesus and as his supporter. Her status is best indicated within the non-canonical gospels (those the Paulines choose to reject in favor of those supporting their view of history):

“There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion”. (All were named some variation of “Mary”). (Gospel of Philip 59.6-11)[46].

“And the Savior’s companion was Mary Magdalene. Jesus loved Mary more than any of the disciples, and frequently kissed her. The rest of the disciples were offended by this and expressed their disapproval. They said to him, ‘Why do you love her more than all of us?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Why do I not love you like her?’” (Gospel of Philip 63.34-36).

“Levi replied: ‘But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you to reject her? Surely the Savior knew her very well. For this reason he loved her more than us.’” (Gospel of Mary)[47].

“Jesus said: ‘Mary, thou blessed one, whom I will perfect in all mysteries of those of the height, discourse in openness, thou, whose heart is raised to the kingdom of heaven more than all thy brethren.’" (Pistis Sophia)[48].

Of course, there has been much recent speculation that Mary was actually married to Jesus and bore his child or children. While there is sparse historical support for this idea, it is clear that an unmarried man and woman who travelled together as Jesus and Mary did and who behaved as indicated in the non-canonical gospels would have been sternly criticized by common Jews in the first century. The lack of such is an indicator that they at least portrayed themselves as married. Consistent with that notion, some suggest that the gospel story of the wedding at Cana was actually about the wedding of Jesus and Mary.

We should give serious consideration to the great disparity between the Pauline accounts and the others – and we should examine what the New Testament says about Mary more carefully. For example, the New Testament confirms several key facts about Mary:

    1. She was present at the Crucifixion of Jesus and went to prepare his body at his tomb – roles consistent with a grieving wife and widow. See Mark 15:47;16:8 and Mat.28:1.
    2. Mary was the first witness to the Resurrection. John 20:16 and Mark 16:9. That Jesus would choose to appear first to a woman has been largely ignored – especially since women at the time were not even allowed to be a witness in legal proceedings[49].
    3. The Gospel of John further elaborates that the risen Jesus gave Mary special teaching and commissioned her as an "Apostle to the Apostles." (a formal title given to her later by the Catholic Church). As the first to fulfill the role of an Apostle – Jesus’ first delegate  to spread the gospel ("good news” that "He is risen!") – Mary was undoubtedly a leader within the early Jesus movement. Mt. 28:7 Mk. 16:9-11 Lk. 24:10 Jn. 20:2).
    4. When we examine the lists of named apostles in the New testament, there is general significance given to the order of the names and being named first strongly indicates a person’s importance. When the women followers (and family) of Jesus are specifically named in the New Testament, Mary’s name is the most frequently found and found listed first:
      • “Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.” Mat.27:56.
      • “It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them…” Luke  8:1-3; 24:10.
      • In the Gospel of Mark, the author lists a group of women three times, and each time, Mary Magdalene’s name appears first. Mark 15:40; 15:47; 16:9.

That Mary Magdalene is listed even before the Mother Mary is profound.

    1. In the Gospel of John there is a mysterious character termed “the disciple Jesus loved”. There is good support for the idea that this is a reference to Mary, especially in John 19:26[50]. See “Secrets of Mary Magdalene: The Untold Story of History’s Most Misunderstood Woman”, Edited by Dan Burstein and Arne J. De Keijzer, Perseus (2006).

With such prominence and favor within the Gospels, it is quite odd that Mary is never mentioned in Acts or the Epistles – unless we recognize that the Paulines wanted to ignore and diminish her.

To start, we should realize that the Paulines were generally opposed to the advances women gained within Jesus’ ministry and the Jesus movement. Whereas Jesus clearly favored a more equitable and egalitarian relationship with women, there was a continuous movement away from that position by the Pauline Church. That movement is evident within the edited gospels:

  1. The Catholic Church rejected any gospel within its canon which gave prominence to Mary.
  2. By editing the Book of John to make it inherently inconsistent, Mary does not emerge as the disciple Jesus loved (as above).
  3. By adding a single parenthetical note, the Pauline Church identified Mary as the “prostitute” (Mary of Bethany) and the sinful woman[51]: “Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out—and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.” Luke 8:1-3.

The net effect of these historical revisions was a dramatic change between the teachings and practices of Jesus and those of the church created from his legacy. If the church had followed the lead of Jesus, their leaders would either be women or an egalitarian balance of men and women.

The Dangers of Apostleship:

According to Christian tradition, the Apostles died as follows:

  • Peter was crucified upside-down in Rome around 64 CE.
  • James, son of Zebedee, was beheaded by Herod Agrippas in 37 CE.
  • John, son of Zebedee, died in Ephesus of old age (around 70 CE).
  • Andrew was crucified upon a diagonal or X-shaped cross.
  • Philip was crucified in 54 CE.
  • Bartholomew (also known as Nathaniel) was flayed alive (skinned) and then beheaded.
  • Matthew killed by an axe in 60 CE.
  • Thomas was killed by a spear in Mylapore, Madras, India in 72 CE.
  • James, son of Alphaeus, was stoned then clubbed to death in Jerusalem (at age 90).
  • Jude was clubbed to death then beheaded.
  • Simon the Zealot was crucified by Nero in 74 CE.
  • Judas Iscariot is said to have hanged himself , fell in a field and burst open "walking the world" as his body become swollen until he was crushed by a chariot. (Papias)
  • Matthias was stoned and beheaded.

Thus, all but one of the Twelve met a violent death and many suffered an untimely death. What we should recognize is that almost all of these men continued as disciples of Jesus without joining Paul in his religious adventurism. Following the lead of Jesus, they were willing to die because they adhered to their belief in what Jesus had taught – righteousness in its pure form (the Great Commandments[52]).

The Seventy:

In Luke’s gospel, Jesus appointed seventy (or 72) disciples[53] and sent them out in pairs on a mission to every city and place where he was about to go:

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. “Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. “Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ “If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. “Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. “Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’“But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ “ Luke 10:2-12.

The names of the seventy (according to “The Book of Bees) were: James, the son of Joseph; Simon the son of Cleopas; Cleopas his father; Joses; Simon; Judah; Barnabas; Manaeus; Ananias, who baptised Paul; Cephas, who preached at Antioch; Joseph the senator; Nicodemus the archon; Nathaniel the chief scribe; Justus, that is Joseph, who is called Barshabbâ; Silas; Judah; John, surnamed Mark; Mnason, who received Paul; Manaël, the foster-brother of Herod; Simon called Niger; Jason, who is (mentioned) in the Acts (of the Apostles); Rufus; Alexander; Simon the Cyrenian, their father; Lucius the Cyrenian; another Judah, who is mentioned in the Acts (of the Apostles); Judah, who is called Simon; Eurion (Orion) the splay-footed; Thôrus; Thorîsus; Zabdon; Zakron.

Hippolytus of Rome (a disciple of Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp, a disciple of Apostle John) put in the appendix of his works a list titled “On the Seventy Apostles of Christ”: 1. James the Lord’s brother, bishop of Jerusalem 2. Cleopas, bishop of Jerusalem. 3. Matthias, who supplied the vacant place in the number of the twelve apostles. 4. Thaddeus, who conveyed the epistle to Augarus. 5. Ananias, who baptized Paul, and was bishop of Damascus. 6. Stephen, the first martyr. 7. Philip, who baptized the eunuch. 8. Prochorus, bishop of Nicomedia, who also was the first that departed, 11 believing together with his daughters. 9. Nicanor died when Stephen was martyred. 10. Timon, bishop of Bostra. 11. Parmenas, bishop of Soli. 12. Nicolaus, bishop of Samaria. 13. Barnabas, bishop of Milan. 14. Mark the evangelist, bishop of Alexandria. 15. Luke the evangelist. These two belonged to the seventy disciples who were scattered by the offence of the word which Christ spoke, “Except a man eat my flesh, and drink my blood, he is not worthy of me.” But the one being induced to return to the Lord by Peter’s instrumentality, and the other by Paul’s, they were honored to preach that Gospel on account of which they also suffered martyrdom, the one being burned, and the other being crucified on an olive tree. 16. Silas, bishop of Corinth. 17. Silvanus, bishop of Thessalonica. 18. Crisces (Crescens), bishop of Carchedon in Gaul. 19. Epænetus, bishop of Carthage. 20. Andronicus, bishop of Pannonia. 21. Amplias, bishop of Odyssus. 22. Urban, bishop of Macedonia. 23. Stachys, bishop of Byzantium. 24. Barnabas, bishop of Heraclea 25. Phygellus, bishop of Ephesus. He was of the party also of Simon. 26. Hermogenes. He, too, was of the same mind with the former. 27. Demas, who also became a priest of idols. 28. Apelles, bishop of Smyrna. 29. Aristobulus, bishop of Britain. 30. Narcissus, bishop of Athens. 31. Herodion, bishop of Tarsus. 32. Agabus the prophet. 33. Rufus, bishop of Thebes. 34. Asyncritus, bishop of Hyrcania. 35. Phlegon, bishop of Marathon. 36. Hermes, bishop of Dalmatia. 37. Patrobulus,1 bishop of Puteoli. 38. Hermas, bishop of Philippi. 39. Linus, bishop of Rome. 40. Caius, bishop of Ephesus. 41. Philologus, bishop of Sinope 42, 43. Olympus and Rhodion were martyred in Rome. 44. Lucius, bishop of Laodicea in Syria. 45. Jason, bishop of Tarsus. 46. Sosipater, bishop of Iconium 47. Tertius, bishop of Iconium. 48. Erastus, bishop of Panellas. 49. Quartus, bishop of Berytus. 50. Apollo, bishop of Cæsarea. 51. Cephas. 52. Sosthenes, bishop of Colophonia. 53. Tychicus, bishop of Colophonia. 54. Epaphroditus, bishop of Andriace. 55. Cæsar, bishop of Dyrrachium. 56. Mark, cousin to Barnabas, bishop of Apollonia. 57. Justus, bishop of Eleutheropolis. 58. Artemas, bishop of Lystra. 59. Clement, bishop of Sardinia. 60. Onesiphorus, bishop of Corone. 61. Tychicus, bishop of Chalcedon. 62. Carpus, bishop of Berytus in Thrace. 63. Evodus, bishop of Antioch. 64. Aristarchus, bishop of Apamea. 65. Mark, who is also John, bishop of Bibloupolis. 66. Zenas, bishop of Diospolis. 67. Philemon, bishop of Gaza. 68, 69. Aristarchus and Pudes. 70. Trophimus, who was martyred along with Paul. (See a reference list at the end of this Appendix).

When the seventy returned, Jesus told them:

 “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven… I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants… Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see, for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them.” Luke 10:17-24.

Accordingly, we should understand that one role of the Apostles and Disciples was to know and share the great secrets of God…

The Secret Society:

Commentators have long sought resolution of the paradox created within Mark’s Gospel: the disciples (apostles) don’t pay attention to the teachings and secrets Jesus offers them and when they do pay attention and make inquiries of Jesus, they never quite grasp what is going on. In short, Jesus’ disciples are portrayed as an uncomprehending lot who don’t seem to deserve their position. One answer is that the Paulines wanted to show that Paul was the only smart follower who understood the real meaning of Jesus’ teachings. Thus, all the other disciples (who were chosen by Jesus and actually knew him) should be ignored. But there is also another possibility…

An early Gnostic and mystery religion tradition had secret teachings that were meant only for the “select”. Often, such teachings were presented in the form of metaphors, stories, and parables which had multiple meanings: a superficial public meaning which covered a secret meaning only comprehendable by those who either had advanced understanding or proper “authority”. Followers within such groups had to achieve some specified status to demonstrate that they were qualified or deserving to handle the greater (spiritual) “truth”. Of course, knowledge of such truth was often presented as a key to special privilege after death.

There should be little dispute that Jesus was a mystic and that he believed in such special truths. Mark may have been following the lead established by Jesus to keep such secrets – a likelihood best demonstrated through the Secret Gospel of Mark[54]. Whatever the basis or reasons,  the traditions of Jesus admonishing others to keep his identity, the nature of his mission, or the truth of his teachings secret are just as much a part of discipleship as Jesus’ public teachings.



These are the seven who were chosen with Stephen: Philip the Evangelist, who had three2 daughters that used to prophesy; Stephen; Prochorus; Nicanor; Timon; Parmenas; Nicolaus, the Antiochian proselyte; Andronicus the Greek; Titus; Timothy.


The Seventy with links to their mention in the literature (From Wikipedia)...

1.     James "the Lord's brother" (James the Just), author of the Epistle of James, and first Bishop of Jerusalem (sometimes is replaced by Jacob Joses Justus, who was also a brother of Jesus, since James the Just is identified as one of the twelve apostles) Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3, Acts 12:17, 15:13; Epistle of James.

2.     Agabus. Reference to in Acts 11:28; 21:10.

3.     Amplias. Reference to in Romans 16:8

4.     Mark the Evangelist, author of the Gospel of Mark and Bishop of Alexandria

5.     Luke the Evangelist, author of the Gospel of Luke

6.     Cleopas

7.     Simeon, son of Cleopas, 2nd Bishop of Jerusalem

8.     Barnabas, companion of Paul

9.     Justus, Bishop of Eleutheropolis

10.  Thaddeus of Edessa (not the Apostle called Thaddeus) also known as Saint Addai

11.  Ananias, Bishop of Damascus

12.  Stephen, one of the Seven Deacons, the first martyr

13.  Philip the Evangelist, one of the Seven Deacons, Bishop of Tralles in Asia Minor

14.  Prochorus, one of the Seven Deacons, Bishop of Nicomedia in Bithynia

15.  Nicanor the Deacon, one of the Seven Deacons

16.  Timon, one of the Seven Deacons

17.  Parmenas the Deacon, one of the Seven Deacons

18.  Timothy, Bishop of Ephesus

19.  Titus, Bishop of Crete

20.  Philemon, Bishop of Gaza

21.  Onesimus (Not the Onesimus mentioned in the Epistle to Philemon)

22.  Epaphras, Bishop of Andriaca

23.  Archippus

24.  Silas, Bishop of Corinth

25.  Silvanus

26.  Crescens

27.  Crispus, Bishop of Chalcedon in Galilee

28.  Epenetus, Bishop of Carthage

29.  Andronicus, Bishop of Pannonia

30.  Stachys, Bishop of Byzantium

31.  Amplias, Bishop of Odissa (Odessus)

32.  Urban, Bishop of Macedonia

33.  Narcissus, Bishop of Athens

34.  Apelles, Bishop of Heraklion

35.  Aristobulus, Bishop of Britain

36.  Herodion, Bishop of Patras

37.  Agabus the Prophet

38.  Rufus, Bishop of Thebes

39.  Asyncritus, Bishop of Hyrcania

40.  Phlegon, Bishop of Marathon

41.  Hermes, Bishop of Philippopolis

42.  Parrobus, Bishop of Pottole

43.  Hermas, Bishop of Dalmatia

44.  Pope Linus, Bishop of Rome

45.  Gaius, Bishop of Ephesus

46.  Philologus, Bishop of Sinope

47.  Lucius of Cyrene, Bishop of Laodicea in Syria

48.  Jason, Bishop of Tarsus

49.  Sosipater, Bishop of Iconium

50.  Olympas

51.  Tertius, transcriber of the Epistle to the Romans and Bishop of Iconium

52.  Erastus, Bishop of Paneas

53.  Quartus, Bishop of Berytus

54.  Euodias, Bishop of Antioch

55.  Onesiphorus, Bishop of Cyrene

56.  Clement, Bishop of Sardis

57.  Sosthenes, Bishop of Colophon

58.  Apollos, Bishop of Caesarea

59.  Tychicus, Bishop of Colophon

60.  Epaphroditus

61.  Carpus, Bishop of Beroea in Thrace

62.  Quadratus

63.  John Mark (commonly considered identical to Mark the Evangelist: see 4 above), bishop of Byblos[7]

64.  Zenas the Lawyer, Bishop of Diospolis

65.  Aristarchus, Bishop of Apamea in Syria

66.  Pudens

67.  Trophimus

68.  Mark, Bishop of Apollonia[disambiguation needed  ]

69.  Artemas, Bishop of Lystra

70.  Aquila

71.  Fortunatus

72.  Achaicus 1 Corinthians 16:17

73.  Tabitha, a woman disciple, whom Peter raised from the dead

Matthias, who would later replace Judas Iscariot as one of the twelve apostles, is also often numbered among the seventy, since John Mark is typically viewed as Mark the Evangelist.[8]

Also, some lists name a few different disciples than the ones listed above. Other names commonly included are:

§  Another Stephen

§  Rodion

§  Cephas, Bishop of Iconium

§  Caesar, Bishop of Dyrrhachium

§  Another Mark, Bishop of Apollonias

§  Another Tychicus, Bishop of Chalcedon in Bithynia

These are usually included at the expense of the aforementioned Timothy, Titus, Archippus, Crescens, Olympas, Epaphroditus, Quadratus, Aquila, Fortunatus, and/or Achaicus.

Solomon, Nestorian bishop of Basra in the 13th century offers the following list:[7]

"The names of the seventy.

1.     James, the son of Joseph;

2.     Simon the son of Cleopas;

3.     Cleopas his father;

4.     Joses;

5.     Simon;

6.     Judah;

7.     Barnabas;

8.     Manaeus (?);

9.     Ananias, who baptised Paul;

10.  Cephas, who preached at Antioch;

11.  Joseph the senator;

12.  Nicodemus the archon;

13.  Nathaniel the chief scribe;

14.  Justus, that is Joseph, who is called Barshabbâ;

15.  Silas;

16.  Judah;

17.  John, surnamed Mark (John Mark);

18.  Mnason, who received Paul;

19.  Manaël, the foster-brother of Herod;

20.  Simon called Niger;

21.  Jason, who is (mentioned) in the Acts (of the apostles);

22.  Rufus;

23.  Alexander;

24.  Simon the Cyrenian, their father;

25.  Lucius the Cyrenian;

26.  another Judah, who is mentioned in the Acts (of the apostles);

27.  Judah, who is called Simon;

28.  Eurion (Orion) the splay-footed;

29.  Thôrus (?);

30.  Thorîsus (?);

31.  Zabdon;

32.  Zakron.

A more concise and acknowledged list[citation needed] is below:

1.     Archaicus. Reference to in 1 Corinthians 16:17

2.     Agabus. Reference to in Acts 11:28; 21:10

3.     Amplias, appointed by St. Andrew as bishop of Lydda of Odyssopolis (Diospolis) in Judea. He died a martyr. Reference to in Romans 16:8.

4.     Ananias, who baptized St. Paul. He was the bishop of Damascus. He became a martyr by being stoned in Eleutheropolis. Reference to in Acts 9:10-17; 22:12

5.     Andronicus, bishop of Pannonia. Reference to in Romans 16:17

6.     Apelles, bishop of Heraclea (in Trachis). Reference to in Romans 16:10

7.     Apollos. He was a bishop of several places over time: Crete (though this is questioned), Corinth, Smyrna, and Caesarea. Reference to in Acts 18:24; 19:1; 1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:4-22; 4:6; 16:12, Titus 3:13

8.     Aquila. He was martyred. Reference to in Acts 18:2, 18, 26; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19

9.     Archippus. Reference to in Colossians 4:17; Philemon 2

10.  Aristarchus, bishop of Apamea in Syria. He was martyred under Nero. “Aristarchus, whom Paul mentions several times, calling him a ‘fellow laborer,’ became bishop of Apamea in Syria.” Orthodox Study Bible Reference to in Acts 19:29; 20:4; 27:2; Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24

11.  Aristobulus, bishop of Britain. “…the brother of the apostle Barnabas, preached the gospel in Great Britain and died peacefully there.” Orthodox Study Bible Reference to in Romans 16:14

12.  Artemas, bishop of Lystra in Lycia. Reference to in Titus 3:12

13.  Aristarchus, bishop of Hyracania in Asia. Reference to in Romans 16:14

14.  Barnabas. “A Jew of the Tribe of Levi, was born in Cyprus of wealthy parents. He is said to have studied under Gamaliel with Saul of Tarsus, who was to become Paul the apostle. Originally named Joseph, he was called Barnabas (Son of Consolation) by the apostles because he had a rare gift of comforting people’s hearts. He sought out Paul when everyone else was afraid of him, bringing him to the apostles. It was Barnabas whom the apostles first sent to Antioch with Paul. Their long association was broken only when Barnabas was determined to take his cousin Mark, whom Paul did not trust just then, on a missionary journey. The three were later reconciled. Many ancient accounts say Barnabas was the first to preach in Rome and in Milan, but he was martyred in Cyprus, then buried by Mark at the western gate of the city of Salamis.” Orthodox Study Bible Reference to in Acts 4:36; 9:27; 11-15; 1 Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 2:1,9,13; Colossians 4:10

15.  Caesar, bishop of Dyrrhachium (in the Peloponnese of Greece)

16.  Carpus, bishop of Berroia (Verria, in Macedonia. Reference to in 2 Timothy 4:13

17.  Clement, bishop in Sardis. Reference to in Philippians 4:3

18.  Cephas, bishop of Iconium, Pamphyllia.

19.  Cleopas, was with the Lord on the road to Emmaus. Reference to in Luke 24:18; John 19:25

20.  Crescens, later bishop of Galatia. He was martyred under the Emperor Trajan. Reference to in 2 Timothy 4:10

21.  Crispus, bishop of Aegina, Greece. Reference to in Acts 18:8; 1 Corinthians 1:14

22.  Epaphras. Reference to in Colossians 1:7; 4:12; Philemon 23

23.  Epaphroditus, bishop of the Thracian city of Adriaca. Reference to in Philippians 2:25; 4:18

24.  Epaenetus, bishop of Carthage. Reference to in Romans 16:5

25.  Erastus. He served as a deacon and steward to the Church of Jerusalem. Later he served in Palestine. Reference to in Acts 19:22; Romans 16:23; 2 Timothy 4:20

26.  Euodias(Evodius), first bishop of Antioch after St.Peter. He wrote several compositions. At the age of sixty-six, under the Emperor Nero, he was martyred. Reference to in Philippians 4:2

27.  Fortunatus. Reference to in 1 Corinthians 16:17

28.  Gaius, bishop of Ephesus. Reference to in Acts 19:29; 20:4; Romans 16:23; 1 Corinthians 1:14; 3 John 1

29.  Hermas, bishop in Philipopoulis. He wrote The Shepherd of Hermas. he died a martyr. Reference to in Romans 16:14

30.  Hermes, bishop of Dalmatia. Reference to in Romans 16:14

31.  Herodion, a relative of the Apostle Paul, bishop of Neoparthia. He was beheaded in Rome. Reference to in Romans 16:11

32.  James, brother of the Lord(also called "the Less" or "the Just"). He was a (step-)brother to Jesus, by Jesus' Father Joseph, through a previous marriage. James was the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Reference to in Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Acts 12:17; 15:13; Epistle of James

33.  Jason, bishop of Tarsus. Traveling with Sosipater to Corfu, the two were able, after an attempt made at their lives by the king of Corfu, to convert his majesty. Reference to in Acts 17:5-9

34.  Justus, brother to the Lord and bishop of Eleutheropolis. He was the half-brother of Christ(as was Sts. James, Jude, and Simon) through Joseph's previous marriage to Salome. He died a martyr. Reference to in Acts 1:23; 18:7; Colossians 4:11

35.  Linus, bishop of Rome. Reference to in 2 Timothy 4:21

36.  Lucius, bishop of Laodicea. Reference to in Acts 13:1; Romans 16:21

37.  Luke the Evangelist. He is the author of the Gospel of Luke, and the founder of Iconography(Orthodox Icon-writing). Reference to in Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24

38.  Mark the Evangelist (called John). He wrote the Gospel of Mark. He also founded the Church of Alexandria, serving as its first bishop. Reference to in Acts 12:12, 25; 15:37-39; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24; 1 Peter 5:13

39.  Mark

40.  Narcissus, ordained by the Apostle Philip as bishop of Athens, Greece. Reference to in Romans 16:11

41.  Nicanor, one of the original seven deacons. He was martyred on the same day as the Promartyr Stephen. Reference to in Acts 6:5

42.  Olympas, beheaded with St. Peter under Nero. Reference to in Romans 16:15

43.  Onesimus. Onesimus preached the Gospel in many cities. He was made bishop of Ephesus, and later bishop of Byzantium (Constantinople). He was martyred under the Emperor Trajan. Reference to in Colossians 4:9; Philemon 10

44.  Onesiphorus, bishop of Colophon (Asia Minor), and later of Corinth. He died a martyr in Parium. Reference to in 2 Timothy 1:16; 4:19

45.  Parmenas, one of the original seven deacons. He preached throughout Asia Minor, and later settled in Macedonia. He was a bishop of Soli. He died a martyr in Macedonia. Reference to in Acts 6:5

46.  Patrobus, bishop of Neapolis (Naples). Reference to in Romans 16:14

47.  Philemon. He, with his wife Apphia, and the apostle Archippus, were martyred by pagans during a pagan feast. Reference to in Philemon 1

48.  Philip the Deacon (one of the original seven). He was born in Palestine, and later preached throughout its adjoining lands. In Acts, he converts a eunuch (an official) of Candace, queen of Ethiopia, to Christ. He was later made bishop by the apostles at Jerusalem, who also sent him to Asia Minor. Reference to in Acts 6; 8; 21:8

49.  Philologus, ordained bishop of Sinope (near the Black sea) by the Apostle Andrew. Reference to in Romans 16:15

50.  Phlegon, bishop of Marathon, in Thrace. Reference to in Romans 16:14

51.  Prochorus, one of the original seven deacons. He was made bishop of Nicomedia by St. Peter. He was later banished with the Apostle John (John the Theologian) to the Island of Patmos. In Antioch, he died a martyr. Reference to in Acts 6:5

52.  Pudens (Pastorum). He was an esteemed member of the Roman Senate, then received Sts. Peter and Paul into his home, and was converted to Christ by them. He was martyred under Nero. Reference to in Acts 6:5

53.  Quadratus, bishop of Athens. He was author of the Apologia. He was stoned, but survived. Soon-after, he died of starvation in prison.

54.  Quartus, bishop of Beirut. Reference to in Romans 16:23

55.  Rufus, bishop of Thebes, Greece. Reference to in Mark 15:21; Romans 16:13

56.  Silas (Silvanus), bishop of Corinth. Reference to in Acts 15:22-40; 16:19-40; 17:4-15; 18:5; 2 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Peter 5:12

57.  Simeon, son of Cleopas. “Simeon, son of Cleopas (who was the brother of Joseph, the betrothed of the Virgin Mary), succeeded James as bishop of Jerusalem.” Orthodox Study Bible He was martyred through torture and crucifixion, at the age of one-hundred. Reference to in Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3

58.  Sosipater, ordained bishop of Iconium by the Apostle Paul, his relative. With St. Jason, he converted the king of Corfu. Reference to in Romans 16:21

59.  Sosthenes. “…became bishop of Caesarea.” Orthodox Study Bible Reference to in 1 Corinthians 1:1

60.  Stachys, ordained by St.Andrew to be bishop of Byzantium. Reference to in Romans 16:9

61.  Stephen the Promartyr and Archdeacon(one of the original seven deacons). Reference to in Acts 6:5-7:60; 8:2 (Acts 6:5-8:2); 11:19; 22:20

62.  Tertius, bishop of Iconium (after Sosipater). He wrote down St. Paul's letter to the Romans. He died a martyr. Reference to in Romans 16:22

63.  Thaddaeus. He was baptized by John the Baptist (John the Forerunner). He later preached, and founded a Church in Beirut. Reference to in Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18

64.  Timon,one of the original seven deacons, and later bishop of Bostra (in Arabia). He was thrown into a furnace, but emerged unharmed. Reference to in Acts 6:5

65.  Timothy. He accompanied St. Paul often, and both 1 and 2 Timothy are addressed to him. He was ordained bishop of Ephesus by St. Paul. He died a martyr. Reference to in Acts 16:1; 17:14, 15; 18:5; 19:22; 20:4; Romans 16:21; 1 and 2 Timothy

66.  Titus. “ Among the more prominent of the seventy was the apostle Titus, whom Paul called his brother and his son. Born in Crete, Titus was educated in Greek philosophy, but after reading the prophetIsaiah he began to doubt the value of all he had been taught. Hearing the news of the coming of Jesus Christ, he joined some others from Crete who were going to Jerusalem to see for themselves. After hearing Jesus speak and seeing His works, the young Titus joined those who followed Him. Baptized by the apostle Paul, he worked with and served the great apostle of the gentiles, traveling with him until Paul sent him to Crete, making him bishop of that city. It is said that Titus was in Rome at the time of the beheading of St. Paul and that he buried the body of his spiritual father before returning home. Back in Crete, he converted and baptized many people, governing the Church on that island until he entered into rest at the age of ninety-four.” Orthodox Study Bible Reference to in 2 Corinthians 2:13; 7:6-14; 8:6-23; 12:18; Galatians 2:1-3; Epistle to Titus

67.  Trophimus, disciple of St.Paul, and martyred under Nero. Reference to in Acts 20:4; 21:29; 2 Timothy 4:20

68.  Tychicus. “…succeeded him (Sosthenes, as bishop) in that city (of Caesarea).” Orthodox Study Bible He delivered St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians and Colossians. Reference to in Acts 20:4; Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7; 2 Timothy 4:12; Titus 3:12

69.  Urbanus, ordained by the Apostle Andrew as bishop of Macedonia. He died a martyr. Reference to in Romans 16:9

70.  Zenas, (called 'the lawyer') bishop of Diospolis (Lydda), in Palestine Reference to in Titus 3:13

Additional Names:

1.     Alphaeus, father of the apostle James and Matthew.

2.     Apphia, wife to the Apostle Philemon. The Church had gathered in her home for liturgy, while pagans who had been celebrating a pagan feast broke in and raided her home. They took Apphia, Philemon, and Archippus to be killed. She suffered martyrdom, and is commemorated by the Church on February 19.

3.     Junia, accompanied Andronicus in preaching all over Pannonia. She was a relative to the Apostle Paul, and a martyr.

4.     Silvan, bishop of Thessaloniki, Greece. Reference to in 1 Peter 5:12; 2 Corinthians 1:19

5.     Zacchaeus, appointed by St.Peter to be bishop of Caesarea. Reference to in Luke 19:1-10

Manuscripts of the New Testament with lists:

§  Minuscule 82

§  Minuscule 93

§  Minuscule 177

§  Minuscule 459

§  Minuscule 613

§  Minuscule 617

§  Minuscule 699

 Catholic Encyclopedia: Disciple: "The disciples, in this disciples, in this context, are not the crowds of believers who flocked around Christ, but a smaller body of His followers. They are commonly identified with the seventy-two (seventy, according to the received Greek text, although several Greek manuscripts mention seventy-two, as does the Vulgate) referred to (Luke 10:1) as having been chosen by Jesus. The names of these disciples are given in several lists (Chronicon Paschale, and Pseudo-Dorotheus in Migne, P.G., XCII, 521-524; 543-545; 1061-1065); but these lists are unfortunately worthless."

1.   ^ Orthodox Church in America: Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles

2.   ^ From translation from Young's Literal Translation (1898)

3.   ^ Bruce Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek NT

4.   ^ Ante-Nicean Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson and A. Cleaveland Coxe, vol. 5 (Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 3

5.   ^ Ante-Nicean Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson and A. Cleaveland Coxe, vol. 5 (Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 254–6

6.   a b "The Book of the Bee, Chapter XLIX, The Names of the Apostles in Order". 1886. Retrieved 2008-02-21.

7.   ^   "St. Matthias". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.

8.   ^ Jordan archaeologists unearth 'world's first church'. Retrieved 11 June 2008.

9.   ^ "Oldest Church" Discovery "Ridiculous," Critics Say. News.nationalgeographic.com (2010-10-28). Retrieved on 2011-01-22.

10. ^ Acts 5 (Blue Letter Bible: KJV – King James Version). Blue Letter Bible. Retrieved on 2011-01-22.

11. ^ Lexicon. Blue Letter Bible. Retrieved on 2011-01-22.




[1] Walter Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon of the NT.

[2] In the Eastern “Orthodox” Christian tradition, the “70 disciples” of Luke (10:1-24) were all “apostles” of Jesus. There is more discussion of this below.

[3] Clarke’s Commentary offers this view: “…I build my Church, μου την εκκλησιαν, my assembly, or congregation, i.e. of persons who are made partakers of this precious faith. That Peter is not designed in our Lord's words must be evident to all who are not blinded by prejudice… therefore Jesus Christ did not say, on thee, Peter, will I build my Church, but changes immediately the expression, and says, upon that very rock, επι ταυτη τη πετρα, to show that he neither addressed Peter, nor any other of the apostles. So, the supremacy of Peter, and the infallibility of the Church of Rome, must be sought in some other scripture, for they certainly are not to be found in this.”

[4] How is it that ye do not understand? (Mat. 16:11).

[5] Is not this Mary's son [Jesus] and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us? Mark 6:3.

[6] Including Eisenman and Meier, noted below.

[7] Clopas was Joseph’s brother who would have become the levirate husband of Mary and step-father to Jesus upon Joseph’s death.

[8] “Didymus” is “twin” in Greek; "Thomas" is “twin” in Aramaic.

[9] It is not universally agreed that the epistles actually use the title Apostle in reference to these persons, but may have been  assumed as some kind of lesser title.

[10] Mt 10:1-4.

[11] Mk 3:13-19

[12] The verbatim translation of the original Greek is: "Judas of Jacob/James" and this could mean brother of or son of.

[13] I have utilized many sources in this compilation, including “The Book of the Bee” edited and translated by Earnest A. Wallis Budge, M.A., Clarendon Press 1886 (originally written by Nestorian Solomon, Bishop of Bassora, around 1200 CE).

[14] Based upon the similarity between Mt 9:9-10, Mk 2:14-15 and Lu 5:27.

[15] "Clopas" and "Alphaeus" seem to be variations of the Aramaic name "Chalphai” which may be adapted from the Hebrew Halpai.

[16] In various references, the brothers of Jesus are given the following names (not including all their forms): James, Joseph, Joses, Judas, Thomas, Levi, Simon, Jude, and Barsabbas. See appendix IX for more detail.

[17] “The Relatives of Jesus” by Richard Bauckham, Themelios 21.2 (January 1996): p.20.

[18] Quoted in Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. 3.19.1-3.20.7; 3.32.5-6. The names of Jude’s grandsons, Zoker and James, are not preserved in Eusebius's quotations from Hegesippus, but in another ancient summary of Hegesippus's account of them (Paris MS 1555A and Bodleian MS Barocc. 142).

[19] De vita B. Virg. 14

[20] Symeon [Simon] bar Clopas was selected by the Apostles to succeed James as the Bishop of Jerusalem after James was martyred. (Hegesippus). This position was held by a blood relative of Jesus for three generations.

[21] Oddly, the term “Boanerges” (Βοανηργές) is neither Hebrew nor Syriac, but is likely a mistranscribed  בני רעם (“beney raam”). The ancient Greeks would have pronounced this as beneregem which has been taken to mean “sons of thunder”.  In the Syriac version of this passage, it reads, "Benai Regesh" and in the Persic, "Beni Reg'sch". The Greek Church calls John Βροντόφωνος, the thunder-voiced. We really have no idea where this nickname came from, although it is generally read as referring to the boisterous manner of these brothers. This is its only use.

[22] The word is actually μέτοχοι; from μετά, with, and ἔχω, to have. The word “partner”, as used here, denotes a close association and a common interest – beyond friendship or fellowship.

[23] Meaning "praised" - a son of Jacob in the OT and a grandson of Jacob here.

[24] According to Nicephorus Callistus, who Eusebius quotes in his history of the Church, Jude was the bridegroom at the marriage feast at Cana. That makes sense to me and it is consistent with other legends. See “The Apostles" by Otto Hophan, The Newman Press, Westminister, Maryland 1962 for this detail and many others.

[25] Given the patronymic Barsabbas, others have concluded that Judas was probably the brother of Joseph Barsabbas – the Apostle I have identified as Justus, brother of Jesus.

[26] If this sounds unfamiliar it is because this translation was made using other common meanings of the terms from the original Greek.

[27] This was “James the less” who was less enough to become the first Bishop of Jerusalem (over Peter and before Paul was “converted”).

[28] Which comes from a word that signifies "to praise" or "confess" and in the Rabbinical dialect is called "Juda".

[29] ” Those they sent were not inferior persons, who might serve to carry the letters, and attest the receipt of them from the apostles; but they were chosen men, and chief men among the brethren, men of eminent gifts, graces, and usefulness; for these are the things which denominate men chief among the brethren, and qualify them to be the messengers of the churches. They are here named: Judas, who was called Barsabas (probably the brother of that Joseph who was called Barsabas, that was a candidate for the apostleship, ch. 1:23).” Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary regarding Acts 15:27-32.

[30] Despite the revision of the letter by the Catholics, it is clear that the “men who have risked their lives” in the name of Jesus were Yudah and Silas – not Paul and Barnabas. (Acts 15:25-26).

[31] Which we know held more than half a year’s wages – Mark 6:37 where it held over two hundred denarii.

[32] Shekels were the only currency accepted at the Jerusalem Temple, so it only makes sense that these would be the thirty silver coins offered Judas by the priests. Since the silver coins were ½ shekel coins from Tyre, the amount offered was a mere 15 shekels.

[33] “It is rather significant, it would seem to me, that [Judas Iscariot’s] name should come last in the list of the Apostles, and the text, "And Judas Iscariot," would suggest to me not only that his name was last, but that it was there for some special reason…” J. Wilbur Chapman, sermon (“And Judas Iscariot”) regarding Mark 3:19.  If Judas hadn’t actually betrayed Jesus, what would the reason be?

[34] According to the Gospel of Barnabas, it was Judas who was crucified on the cross instead of Jesus.

[35] Origen knew of a tradition holding that a larger circle of disciples betrayed Jesus, but does not attribute this to Judas in particular and Origen did not deem Judas to be thoroughly corrupt (Matt., tract. xxxv).

[36]“The Many Deaths of Judas Iscariot” by A.M.H. Saari, Routledge Press (2006).

[37] In Luke, the specific role is given as “κρινοντες”- "judging" in the sense of upholding order.

[38] Jesus specifically is said to have used the word “Βασιλειαν” (without article) which must be read as “kingship” (Luke 22:29) and told the Apostles that they will sit on “θρονων” or thrones (Luke 22:29-30).

[39] Jesus would have understood this to mean any descendant of the patriarch Jacob (Israel).

[40] Although Jesus made an exception here for a Canaanite woman of great faith (and wisdom).

[41] Some scholars suggest that this is a metaphorical commission, but during that period it was widely thought that most ailments were the result of “demons”. Thus, the gist of the commission was to announce the coming kingdom and to prepare people through healing and baptism.

[42] If one wants to see other examples of the power being described here, an examination of Simon Magnus would be a good starting point.

[43] Since I do not accept the “miraculous” (or “superstitious”), I propose that these “dead” people were presumed dead. This is easily supported by the issues regarding the resurrection of Lazarus: had he been actually dead for a few days, the revived “corpse” would have been 

[44] The canonical version ends with some of the craziest

[45] In Genesis, Jacob laid hands on his children and pronounced various blessings on them (Genesis 48:17).

[49] An early anonymous Christian writer (perhaps Hippolytus) has been quoted: “Then he [Jesus] appeared to his disciples and upbraided them for not believing the women's report, referring to the women as apostles… Christ showed himself to the apostles and said to them, 'It is I who appeared to these women and I who wanted to send them to you as apostles.'" “Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend” by Bart Ehrman, Oxford University Press, (2006), p.253.

[50] In John 20:2, Mary is said to have reported to the beloved disciple and thus she is excluded as being that person, but it seems apparent that this was a later edit with the specific intent of misleading. See "The Gospel According to John (xiii-xxi)" by Raymond E. Brown, Doubleday & Co. (1970), Pages 922, 955.

[51] In 591, Pope Gregory the Great first formalized the suggestion that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute: "She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary, we believe to be the Mary from whom seven devils were ejected according to Mark. And what did these seven devils signify, if not all the vices?” Although this was contradicted during the papacy of Paul VI (in 1969) the damage is irreversible.

[52] Matthew 22:36-40: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind….’ and the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

[53] In Eastern Christianity they are usually referred to as apostles.

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