What happened to the 12 Disciples/Apostles
By Dr. Lee W. Warren, B.A., D.D.
Christianity as a religion records almost nothing about the Messiahs twelve disciples. These were the men to whom the Messiah gave the great commission to preach the gospel to every creature (Mt. 28:19). The Bible has very little documentation about what happened to these initial spreaders of the gospel and where they preached.
The book of Acts, written by Luke the physician who was not one of the Messiah's twelve disciples, gives us a brief history of what happened to the Apostles beginning with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit A.D. 34. After the meeting of all the Apostles in A.D. 52 in Jerusalem, where they convened to discuss whether or not the Gentiles should keep the Law of Moses (Acts 15th chp.), the Bible says little about anyone except the Apostle Paul. The other New Testament writings are very sketchy about where the other Apostles traveled and finally died.
This article will deal with only the Messiah's twelve disciples who later became Apostles, and Matthias whom the eleven chose to replace Judas Iscariot. Space will not allow us to deal with the Apostle Paul. Future issues of the "PLIM REPORT" will explore Pauls life.
It is in this light that we will give a brief history of the Apostles after Pentecost. The reader must understand that most of the writings regarding what happened to the twelve disciples is not according to scriptures, but based on church tradition.
Who were the disciples?
Now the Messiah chose twelve disciples to fulfill the twelve tribes of Israel camped around the tabernacle which typified Him (Num. 1:1-10; 7:1-3). Now when the Messiah sent out the twelve disciples, Matthew, Mark, and Luke lists them as follows.
"And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him (Mt. 10:1-; see also Mk. 3;18; Lk. 6;14). "
All of the twelve disciples were Galileans except Judas who came from Kerioth. Of the twelve: four were fishermen, one a publican (or a tax collector), and another a Zealot (or revolutionary). The occupations of the other six are not known.
Now Peter was called Simon before the Messiah called him Peter. He was the son of Jonas (John 1:42; 21:15-16) and a native of Bethsaida in Galilee (Jn. 1:44). His occupation, along with his brother Andrew, was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee (Matt. 4:18; Mark 1:16). Their partners in this business were James and John (Luke 5:10).
Peters brother, Andrew, was a disciple of John the Baptist (John 1:35-40). Now John the Baptist pointed out the Messiah as the Lamb of Yahweh to Andrew (John 1:29). Andrew, then went to his brother Peter and exclaimed: "We have found the Messiah (John 1:41)." He brought Peter to Yahshua the Messiah who looked upon him and said: "You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas (John 1:36-42)" that means "a rock" in Aramaic. In Greek, Petros means a rock.
How did the Messiah call Peter?
The Messiah called Peter and his brother, Andrew, to become disciples at the Sea of Galilee, where they were fishing with their partners James and John. Yahshua was preaching to the people who were pressing near Him to hear His words. He entered Peters boat and requested that he thrust it out from the land. From this vantage point, He could speak to the multitude. While at sea, the Messiah performed a miracle by telling Peter to let down his nets in an attempt to catch fish. Peter told Him that they had been fishing all night and had caught nothing. Nonetheless, they obeyed His words and soon caught a great haul of fish. This successful catch foreshadowed the success of the Apostles as fishers of men (Luke 5:1-7). Peter and Andrew immediately accepted the call and, left all. Soon after, James and John also received the call to follow the Master in A.D. 30-31 and joined Peter and his brother (Matt. 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:8-11).
The New Testament contains more information about Peter than any Messiah's other disciples. Space is not available in this article to cover all that is written about Peter. It was Peter that first spoke on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-47) and it was Peter that the Holy Spirit commissioned to speak the words of Truth to the Gentiles (Acts 10th Chapter).
Was Peter the first Pope of Rome?
The Roman Catholic Church claim that Peter was their first Pope in Rome. [Note: They misinterpret the Messiahs reference to Peter as Cephas that means the 'rock' and claim the Messiah is referring to Peter as "this rock" in Matt. 16:18. We will discuss how the Roman Catholic Church built its church on Peter in future issues. (See Elohim the Archetypal (Original) Pattern of the Universe, Vol. 4; p. 70-72)]
Peter said in his own words that he was an elder, not a Pope. "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, (1 Pet 5:1): ..." Now Peter never went to Rome, much less died in Rome as the Roman Catholic Church says. If Peters epistle (letter) is to believed, he states he was in Babylon, not Rome. "The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son (1 Pet. 5:13)."
Now Andrew originates from a Greek name Andreas, which means "manly." He was a native of the city of Bethsaida in Galilee and Simon Peter's brother (Jn. 1:44, 21:15; Matt. 4:18; 10:2; John 1:40). Andrew was the disciple of John the Baptist, who pointed out the Messiah to Him. [For more details see the Apostle Peter above].
During the Messiahs ministry, Andrew called to the Messiahs attention that a lad had 5 barley loaves and 2 fishes at the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:8-9). He also introduced Yahshua (Jesus) to certain Greeks who desired to see Him (John 12:20-22). He, along with his brother Simon, and the two sons of Zebedee, asked the Messiah to explain the prophecy concerning the destruction of the Temple (Mark 13:3-4).
The New Ungers Bible Dictionary by Merril F. Unger gives an outline of Andrews life. "Eusebius makes him preach in Scythia; Jerome and Theodoret in Achaia (Greece); Nicephorus in Asia Minor and Thrace. At length, tradition states, he came to Patrae, a city of Achaia, where Aegeas, the proconsul, enraged that he persisted in preaching, commanded him to join in sacrificing to the heathen gods, and upon the apostles refusal ordered him to be severely scourged and then crucified. To make his death more lingering, he was fastened to the cross, not with nails, but with cords. Having hung two days, praising God, and exhorting the spectators to embrace, or adhere to, the faith, he is said to have expired on November 30, but in what year is uncertain."
Now James is the English form of Jacob more correctly Jacobus when one uses the Greek version Iakobos-Jacob. Students of the Bible must understand that there was never a J letter or 'J' sound in Hebrew, Greek, or Latin to this day. Thus, James name was spelled in Hebrew as Yaaqobh. He was the son of Zebedee (Matt. 4:21), and the elder brother of John, the evangelist (Mark 5:37).
James was a fisherman by occupation and he and his brother John were both partners with Simon Peter (Luke 5:10) and Andrew. According to the gospel of Luke, the Master called James, John, and Peter to be His disciples in the spring or summer of A.D. 30-31 when they were fishing; Lk. 5:10-11).
Now the gospels state that James and his brother were present at the transfiguration (Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28). They were also present at the raising of Jairuss daughter (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51) and at the Garden of Gethsemane during the Messiahs agony (Matt. 26:37; Mark 14:33). James and Andrew listened to the Messiahs private discourse on the fall of Jerusalem (13:3). Their mother requested that each son sit on the right and left side of Yahshua in heaven (Matt. 20:20-23; Mark 10:35-40).
James was the first of the Apostles to suffer martyrdom, being slain with a sword at the command of Herod (Acts 12:2), A.D. 44. He and Judas are the only disciples whose deaths are recorded in the book of Acts of the Apostles and the four Gospels.
The name John in Greek is Ioannes; which is derived from the Hebrew Yahanan, "Yahweh is gracious." John was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 1:19-20; Luke 5:10). He was the son of Zebedee, and his mother Salome was one of the women that followed Yahshua the Messiah to His crucifixion (Matt. 27:56; cf. Mark 15:40).
The incident recorded in John 1:35-39 would seem to indicate that John had first been a disciple of John the Baptist. The gospel of John only referred to Andrew by name as one of the two disciples of John the Baptist. However, this is consistent with his usual manner of naming himself as "the other disciple" (John 20:2), or the disciple "whom Yahshua the Messiah loved" (John 21:7, 20).
John part in the Messiah's ministry?
Here are some of the events recorded in the New Testament about John. He was at the raising of Jairuss daughter (Mark 5:35-37; Luke 8:51) and at the transfiguration (Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28). He rebuked someone who cast out devils in the Messiahs name because he was not one of their company (Luke 9:49). He sought to call down fire from heaven upon a village of the Samaritans (Luke 9:54). He joined with his mother and brother James in asking for the highest place in the kingdom of the Master (Matt. 20:20-28; Mark 10:35-45). He was with Yahshua the Messiah upon the Mount of Olives when He foretold the destruction of Jerusalem (Mark 13:3); and was sent by the Master to prepare, with Peter, the Passover (Luke 22:8). He asked Yahshua the Messiah, at the Last Supper, who would betray Him (John 13:23-26); and was with Peter and James in Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-33). When the betrayal occurred, Peter and John followed from a distance and, through the personal acquaintance between the latter and Caiaphas, gained admittance into the palace (John 18:15-16). John was the only disciple present at the crucifixion and was appointed by Yahshua the Messiah to care for Mary (John 19:26-27).
What happened to John
after the Messiah died?
John witnessed the ascension and shared in the election of Matthias and the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Peter and John entered the Temple together as worshipers (Acts 3:1), were imprisoned, and protested against the threats of the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:3-21). They were also sent together to preach to the Samaritans (Acts 8:14). John and the rest of the Apostles remained steadfast in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19) despite the persecution of Saul (Acts 8:1).
During Herod Agrippas persecution, he lost his brother James, by martyrdom (Acts 12:2), while his friend Peter sought safety in flight (12:18-19). He was one of the "pillars" of the church and took part in settling the controversy in Jerusalem in A.D 52, between the Jews and Gentiles who had been recently grafted into the Messiahs body (15:6-13; Gal. 2:9).
Now Christian tradition tells us that he was shipwrecked off Ephesus and arrived there in time to check the progress of the heresies that sprang up after Pauls departure. During the persecution under Domitian, he was taken to Rome and thrown into boiling oil which had no power to hurt him. After that, he returned to Ephesus.
The following books of the New Testament are generally accepted as having been written by the Apostle John: the gospel, the three epistles bearing his name, and Revelation which he wrote as a result of a vision in A.D. 96. It is believed that the apostle John died in A.D. 98.
Philip means in Greek, Philippos, "lover of horses." He was of the city of Bethsaida, in Galilee (John 1:44; 12:21), but the Bible does not contain information about his family. Little is recorded of Philip in the New Testament.
The Apostle John in his Gospel does not clarify whether Philip knew Andrew and Peter before they became the Messiahs disciples. Since Philip was from the area where John the Baptist preached, it is probable that he had heard him. It appears from the Apostle Johns writings that the Messiah called Philip after Andrew introduced the Messiah to Peter (Jn. 1:42-43).
The first act of Philip was to invite Nathanael to come and see Yahshua the Messiah. Philip told his friend: "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Yahshua the Messiah of Nazareth, the son of Joseph (Jn. 1:45-47).
Now the New Testament, especially the four gospels, does not mention very much about Philip. When Yahshua the Messiah was about to feed 5,000, He asked Philip: "Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?" The scriptures record: "And this He was saying to test him (John 6:5-7)." The Messiah knew that Philip would think of physical solutions that required food and money. He then demonstrated that only the Spirit could multiply five loaves of bread into enough food to feed a multitude.
Certain Greeks, desiring to see Yahshua the Messiah, made application to Philip for an introduction. Philip, consulted with Andrew, who went with him and mentioned the circumstance to Yahshua (John 12:20-22).
Scripture records a remark made by Philip during the last supper: "Master, show us the Father, and it is enough for us" (John 14:8), and refers to his presence at Jerusalem with the church after the ascension (Acts 1:13).
Christian tradition concerning Philip is vague and uncertain; but there is nothing improbable in the statement that he preached the gospel in Phrygia and that he met his death at Hieropolis in Syria.
Bartholomew ("son of Tolmai") was one of the twelve disciples of Yahshua the Messiah, and was generally supposed to have been the same person referred to in Johns gospel as Nathanael. Now in the first three gospels (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14) Philip and Bartholomew are constantly named together, whereas Nathanael is not mentioned. In the gospel of John, Philip and Nathanael are similarly combined, but nothing is said of Bartholomew. So there is a controversy on whether or not Bartholomew is Nathanel.
Bartholomew was born in Cana of Galilee (John 21:2). It was Bartholomew called Nathanael who asked: "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" when Philip told him that he had found the Messiah (John 1:45). Philip answered: "Come and see."
Yahshua the Messiah uttered Bartholomew's eulogy as He saw him approaching, "Behold an Israelite, indeed, in whom is no guile! (John 1:45-47)." Bartholomew was astonished at this words and "saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel (John 1:49)."
Bartholomew was one of the disciples to whom the Messiah appeared after the resurrection (John 21:2), was a witness of the ascension, and returned with the other Apostles to Jerusalem (Acts 1:4,12-13).
Tradition only speaks of his subsequent history. He is said to have preached the gospel in India (probably Arabia Felix); others say in Armenia, and report him to have been flayed alive there, then crucified with his head downward.
Thomas (from Aramaic teoma, "twin") was also called Didymus, its Greek equivalent. From a spiritual standpoint the meaning of Thomas name points to the fact that he was double minded. Thus, the title "Doubting Thomas" was quite appropriate and will be discussed later. Thomas is said to have been born in Antioch, but is also considered by some as a native of Galilee, like most of the other Apostles (Jn. 21:2).
None of the four gospels records how Thomas became a disciple of the Messiah. The scriptures record him speaking to the other disciples when the Messiah decided to go to Bethany to resurrect Lazarus (Jn. 11:16). They all knew that the Scribes and Pharisees sought the Messiahs life in Jerusalem. Yet, Thomas was willing to be sacrificed with him. He said: "Let us also go, that we may die with Him."
John captures Thomas' response to Yahshua the Messiah as He spoke of His departure at the Last Supper (Jn. 13:33). "Master, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way? (14:5)"
Thomas is best known for doubting the Messiahs resurrection since he was absent when Yahshua (Jesus) appeared the first time to His disciples after His resurrection. The others told him, "We have seen Yahweh (the Lord)!" "And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Yahshua the Messiah came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, Peace be with you." Yahshua said to Thomas: Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing." This was the proof necessary to establish Thomass faith and remove doubt. The Messiah said to Thomas: "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed (20:26-29)." After the above-mentioned incident, we hear of Thomas only twice again, once on the Sea of Galilee, with six other disciples (John 21:2), and again in the assembly of the Apostles after the Messiah's ascension (Acts 1:13).
Early traditions as believed in the fourth century, which have no Bible reference, represent him as preaching in Parthia, or Persia, and as finally being buried in Edessa. Later traditions carry him farther. His martyrdom is said to have been occasioned by a lance.
Matthew (contraction of Mattathias, "Gift of Yahweh") was the son of a certain Alphaeus, surnamed Levi (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27). It is not known whether his father also was the father of James the Less; but he probably was not. Matthew resided at Capernaum and he was a publican or "tax-gatherer." The publicans were usually Romans of rank and wealth who farmed out the business of collecting to resident deputies called portitors. It was to this class that Matthew belonged.
Yahshua (Jesus) called Matthew to be His disciple while he was "sitting in the tax office (Matt. 9:9; Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27-28)." It is not known whether Matthew knew the Messiah prior to His calling, but he immediately rose and followed Him. According to religious history, Matthew wrote the gospel that bears his name about 30 years after the Messiahs death. There is no mention in the New Testament about what happens to Matthew, but historical tradition relates that Matthew preached in Judea after the ascension for twelve or fifteen years and then went to foreign nations.
James the son of Alphaeus
James the Less (another of the twelve apostles) was the son of Alphaeus (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13) and Mary, the sister of the Messiahs mother (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40; Luke 24:10; John 19:25). He was called James the Less (ho mikros, "the little"), either because he was younger than James the son of Zebedee or because of his short stature (Mark 15:40).
According to Unger's Bible Dictionary (p. 649), James' mother is supposed by some to have been called sister, i.e., sister-in-law, of Mary the mother of Yahshua the Messiah, because of their marriage to two brothers, Clopas and Joseph (see John 19:25). Clopas, or Cleopas, KJV, is believed by scholars to be the same person as Alphaeus). There are two references in the Bible that mentions James' brothers. Matthew states that James had a brother, Joses or Joseph (Matt. 27:56). Luke 6:16 states: "Judas the brother of James." There is no other reference to James the son of Alphaeus than in the listings of the Messiahs disciples. Halley's Bible Dictionary states he went to Egypt to preach.
Labbaeus or Thaddaeus
THADDAEUS (tha-dius) name appears in Marks catalog of the twelve Apostles (Mark 3:18) in the great majority of manuscripts. From a comparison with the catalog of Luke (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13) it does not seem possible that the names of Judas and Thaddaeus were borne by one and the same person. Edersheim (Life of Yahshua the Messiah, 1:522) derives the term Thaddaeus from thodah, praise. KJV Matt. 10:3 lists him as "Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus." There is no reference to Thaddaeus other than a disciple and Apostle of the Messiah. Halley's Bible Dictionary states he went to Syria and Arabia to preach.
Simon the Canaanite
"Simon the Zealot," was one of the twelve Apostles (Matt. 10:4; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13; also see "Divisions Among the Jews in Yahshua's Time," in the "Did You Know?" section of the November/December 1993 issue of the "PLIM REPORT"). The latter term (Greek Zelotes), which is peculiar to Luke, is the Greek equivalent for the Aramaic term Qannean, preserved by Matthew and Mark. Each of these equally points out Simon as belonging to the faction of the Zealots, who were conspicuous for their fierce advocacy of the Mosaic ritual and the overthrow of Rome. There is no scriptural reference to Simon the Canaanite except as a disciple and Apostle.
Judas Iscariot (Greek Ioudas, from Hebrew Judas; Iskariotes, "inhabitant of Kerioth") was the son of Simon and one of the Messiahs twelve apostles. The four gospels do not record how Judas became the Messiahs disciple.
When the Messiah and the twelve became an organized body, they needed someone to act as the treasurer. Judas received money and other offerings and distributed them to the poor. He was also a thief and used to pilfer what was put into the money box (John 12:4-6; 13:29).
When many of the Messiahs disciples, other than the twelve, began to leave because of his sayings, the Messiah said that not all of the twelve were true to him. " Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil? Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him (John 6: 67-71)."
How did Judas betray the Messiah?
Before the Passover feast, Judas had gone to "the chief priests and officers," agreeing to betray Yahshua the Messiah to them for a sum of money (Matt. 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6). At the Last Supper Judas was present and had his feet washed. He heard the Messiahs words, "You are clean, but not all of you," (John 13:2-15). The Messiah said to His disciples: "One of you will betray Me," and Judas asked with the others, "Surely not I, Master?" And then, fully given over to Satan, he heard Yahshua the Messiah say to him: "What you do, do quickly."
Judas rose from the feast (Matt. 26:20-25; John 13:26-30), and went directly to the priests to betray the Messiah. He knew the garden where Yahshua the Messiah and the disciples often went. Judas came, accompanied by a band of officers and servants, to identify his Master with a kiss (Matt. 26:47-49; Mark 14:43-45; Luke 22:47-48; John 18:1-5). Yahshua the Messiah replied to that kiss with words of stern, sad reproach: "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss (Luke 22:48)?"
When Judas saw the guards take Yahshua the Messiah, his conscience was stricken with guilt and condemnation. Returning to the priests, he confessed his crime and hurled down the money, which they refused to take (Matt. 27:3-5). Feeling, perhaps, that there was no restoration for him, and that he was, indeed, "the son of perdition" (John 17:12), "he went away and hanged himself" (Matt. 27:5). Judas was buried in a place called the field of blood (Acts 1:16-25).
After Judas death, the eleven remaining disciples chose another person to replace him.
Matthias is a variant of Mattathias which means, "gift of Yahweh." There is no biblical account of Matthias' family nor of his life, except the incident narrated in (Acts 1:15-26), where he is chosen as an Apostle. The 120 were assembled at Jerusalem, waiting for the advent of the Holy Spirit. Peter suggested that someone be chosen to fill the place Judas Iscariot had left vacant among the twelve by his betrayal and death. Two men were chosen, but the ultimate decision was referred to Yahweh Himself by the sacred trial of the lot, accompanied by prayer. The two were Joseph, called Barsabbas, and surnamed Justus; and Matthias, upon whom the lot fell. He was immediately numbered among the Apostles. Nothing reliable is recorded of his later life.
Many of the early church scholars such as Eusebius and Epiphanius believed him to be one of the seventy disciples. Some Churchs tradition says that he preached the gospel in Judea and was then stoned to death by the Jews. Others make him a martyr by crucifixion in Ethiopia.
This article has covered a brief history of the Messiah's twelve disciples/Apostles and Matthias, Judas' replacement.
New Ungers Bible Dictionary (© 1988 Moody Press).
Dictionary of the Bible by James Hastings(© 1963 Scribners)
Halley's Bible Dictionary by Henry H. Halley (© 1965 Zondervan Pub.)
A Book of Jewish Concepts by Philip Birnbaum (© 1964 Hebrew Pub. Co.)
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