Studies in Mark: the Appointment of the Twelve

Mark 3:13‑19  •  22 min. read  •  grade level: 10
16.-The Appointment of the Twelve
“And he goeth up into the1 mountain, and calleth unto him whom lie himself would: and they went unto him. And he appointed twelve, that they might be with him, and that he might send them forth2 to preach, and to have authority3 to 4cast out demons: and Simon he surnamed5 Peter; and James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and them he surnamed6 Boanerges, which is, Sons of thunder: and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and “Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot: 7 which also betrayed him” (3:13-19, R. V.).
We now arrive at what was an important juncture in the ministry of the Servant and Prophet of Jehovah. His continuous and indefatigable labors in Galilee, proclaiming the coming kingdom, have been recorded in the previous verses of Mark, along with the marvelous testimonies which accompanied His preaching, of His goodness and His power. This witness to the gospel awakened an interest which spread in every direction throughout the country, so that crowds came to Jesus from all parts. Clearly there was a general desire abroad to hear and to know more of the Prophet of Nazareth. If many journeyed to the place where He was, there were presumably many more unable to travel who were equally desirous to hear for themselves the wonderful works of God. “But how shall they hear without a preacher?” To meet this difficulty the Lord of the harvest selected certain of His followers whom He authorized to proceed in various directions and proclaim in every town and village the good news of the kingdom.
In the First Gospel the call of the twelve is narrated in connection with the great need that sprang up for more extensive service among the masses of the suffering poor of the land. “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were distressed and scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he send forth laborers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:36-3836But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. 37Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; 38Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest. (Matthew 9:36‑38)). Such was the sympathy of the Good Shepherd for the distresses and infirmities of the lost sheep of the house of Israel, that He desired that others should co-operate in the work of speedily gathering together those that were scattered abroad. And immediately, being Himself the Lord of the harvest, He proceeded to send forth laborers into the harvest.
Luke, in recording the call, states quite another circumstance which brings into emphatic prominence the perfect dependence of the Man Christ Jesus upon God. “And it came to pass in these days, that he went out into the mountain to pray; and he continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called his disciples: and he chose from them twelve whom also he named apostles” (Luke 6:12, 1312And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; (Luke 6:12‑13)). In this Gospel, the immediate context portrays the intensified hatred and opposition of the religious leaders to Christ. In view of this enmity Jesus retired to the solitudes of the mountainous country, and spent the night in prayer. At dawn, He chose twelve witnesses to labor with Him in face of this growing antagonism.
These aspects of the apostolic call both differ from that which appears in Mark, while all three, each being itself perfect in its setting, combine to present a flawless portrait of our ever adorable Savior and Lord in His choice of those who should eventually occupy positions of honor and dignity in His kingdom. Sympathy for the ignorant and love for the erring wrought in the heart of the Master, as Matthew shows; grace also wrought in associating fishermen and others with Himself as the “Faithful and True Witness” in testimony against a hostile world, as Luke shows. But Mark is careful to display the holy and heavenly calling of the apostolate instituted by the Lord. He makes it clear that these chosen ones had no connection with the grateful crowds on the one hand, nor with the witnessing demons on the other.
We are told that Jesus left both of these companies and went up into the mountainous region. It was a place of separation from the world of confusion, the powers of evil, and the passions of sin, below. In the presence-chamber of the Most High, the thrice-holy Servant passed the night-watches in communion with His Father. This act of His was, as it were, a foreshadowing of what He said later, in that marvelous prayer before His crucifixion, “For their sakes I sanctify myself that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (John 17:1919And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. (John 17:19)). Even then it was true, though more fully so later, that the called ones were not of the world, even as He was not of the world.
But if this is the correct view of the passage in Mark, the Spirit being jealous for the honor of Christ shows by this connection that the ministry of the Servant of Jehovah was thus freed of all apparent association with either time-serving beneficiaries or the spiritual agents of Satan. He, on the contrary, silenced the demons, and, exercising His sovereign right, selected from His disciples “whom He Himself would.”
The object for which these twelve persons were selected from among the mass of the disciples or followers of the Lord is here stated to be threefold. They were (1) to be with the Lord, (2) to be sent forth to preach, and (3) to have authority to expel demons. These chosen ones, as Luke tells us, are “named apostles” by the Lord Himself (Luke 6:1313And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; (Luke 6:13)); and it is well to remember that this term was applied to them from the first, so that the apostolate, so far as the twelve are concerned, originated before the founding of the church.
The first of their qualifications is of special interest since it is mentioned by Mark alone—they were to be “with Him.” The phrase constitutes one of those inconspicuous points in the differentiation of this Gospel from the others that offer to the believing heart such indisputable evidence that a predominating purpose characterizes the portraiture of the Lord Jesus in each of the four. Here we have the calling of those destined to carry on the service and testimony of the gospel in the whole world after His departure. Do we not therefore see the exquisite propriety that the Evangelist who describes the perfect Servant of Jehovah should show us that His under-servants received their training in the company of the Master Himself. Who so competent to instruct them, by example and precept, what was acceptable and glorifying service to God, as He whose “ears were digged,” as the Psalmist said (Psa. 40:66Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. (Psalm 40:6))? They, after their service in the day of suffering, should serve in the day of glory, as the Lord told them at a later period. “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations; and I appoint unto you a kingdom, even as my Father appointed unto me, that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and ye shall sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:28, 2928Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; (Luke 22:28‑29)). Those who were with David's Son in the cave of Adullam should be with David's Lord in mount Zion.
We may thus consider that this phrase covers the spiritual education which Christ's servants received under the personal tuition of the Incomparable Servant, who in His service served even His own servants. They were admitted to a degree of favor and intimacy which was accorded to none beside. In such a hallowed associate-ship what daily lessons were ever before them for their learning of untiring zeal, exhaustless patience, purest devotion, absolute and unqualified obedience to God and profoundest sympathy for man!
But more than this, being “with Him” they heard His words, and received the truth. Seeing Him, they saw the Father also. Beholding Him, they beheld His glory, as of the Only-begotten of the Father. So that the apostles became qualified to testify, as eye-witnesses, of the revelation of the Father made by the Son. One of them, subsequently, writing to the whole family of God, referred to the fullness of this intimacy as that which constituted the credentials of his apostleship. “What was from [the] beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked on, and our hands handled, concerning the Word of life (and the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and report to you the eternal life, the which was with the Father and was manifested to us); that which we have seen and heard we report to you” (1 John 1:1-31That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1‑3), N.T.). The apostles therefore had the honorable distinction of being not only the servants of the Lord, but His friends ( John 15:14, 1514Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. (John 15:14‑15)).
In the second place, the apostles were called that they might be sent forth to preach. At the commencement of His public ministry the Lord presented Himself, preaching the gospel of God —that the kingdom was at hand. It now was proved to be necessary that this testimony should be taken up by others and spread in all directions, and the Lord chose the twelve that He might commission them to go throughout the country as the accredited heralds of His kingdom. The term “apostle” signifies one who is sent, and the first item of the service assigned to them was to announce that the Redeemer was come to Zion, and that the prophetic kingdom was therefore at the doors.
Thirdly, the apostles were to receive authority to cast out demons. In Matthew and Luke the power to cure diseases is coupled with that over unclean spirits. And copyists with an ignorant zeal to make the Gospels all alike, appear to have added the phrase here unwarrantably, for it is now agreed that the best witnesses omit it in Mark.
And the context supplies what will be found to be quite an adequate explanation of the omission here by Mark of any reference to the curative powers conferred upon the apostles. The purpose of this section, as has been suggested already, is to show the dissociation of the kingdom of the Lord and the kingdom of Satan. One of the special forms of temptation in the wilderness was that the Lord should obtain the dominion of the world by acknowledging the rule of Satan (Luke 4:6-86And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. 7If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. 8And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Luke 4:6‑8)). Now we read that evil spirits submitted to His power and rendered public testimony to His divine person. The Lord knew what His enemies would say, and what indeed they did say of Him, soon afterward—that He had Beelzebub, and that His mighty works were done by evil agency.
Hence the Lord, anticipating this calumny, chose the twelve apostle to be His ambassadors, and gave them also authority over evil demons. So that wherever the Lord and His apostles encountered the spiritual powers of darkness, there was the reverse of co-operation; the unclean spirits were cast out and not suffered to speak. Mark had shown the angels ministering to Jesus (1:13), but he makes it clear that evil spirits, the servants of the great enemy, were in no way associated with Him.
The apostolic power over diseases is therefore not mentioned in this connection, in order that greater prominence might be given to their power over demons, We can see the utmost propriety in this omission, especially when we consider that the chapter goes on to narrate that the charge of complicity with Satan was actually brought against the Lord by the scribes which came down from Jerusalem.
The Lord chose and appointed the twelve to be His apostles. The term itself, though used in connection with the call by Matthew and Luke, is not given by Mark, who only uses it once throughout his Gospel (6:30). Their number has an obvious allusion to the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:2828And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28)); and the sphere of their service was confined to the earthly people of God. Their charge from the Lord was, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:5, 65These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matthew 10:5‑6)). After the Lord's resurrection the commission was made universal in its scope: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:1515And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15)). And at Pentecost the apostles being together with others of the followers of the Lord, the Spirit descended upon them (Acts 2), and they were incorporated in the church, that new building of God which groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord (Eph. 2:21, 2221In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:21‑22)).
Paul, called after Pentecost, was pre-eminently the apostle of the church in the sense that the revelation of the mystery of its heavenly calling was communicated to him. Barnabas is also alluded to as an apostle in company with Paul (Acts 14:1414Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, (Acts 14:14)). But the original call of the twelve Jewish apostles as recorded in the Gospels is clearly in connection with the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom to Israel.
This band of apostles is frequently alluded to in Scripture as “the twelve,” but this mode of reference is used most of all by Mark. The following is a list of the passages—Matt. 26:2020Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. (Matthew 26:20); Mark 3:14; 6:7; 9:35; 10:32; 11:11; 14:1714And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, (Mark 3:14)
7And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; (Mark 6:7)
35And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. (Mark 9:35)
32And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him, (Mark 10:32)
11And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve. (Mark 11:11)
17And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. (Mark 14:17)
; Luke 6:13; 8:1; 9:12; 18:3113And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; (Luke 6:13)
1And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, (Luke 8:1)
12And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place. (Luke 9:12)
31Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. (Luke 18:31)
; John 6:67, 7067Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? (John 6:67)
70Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? (John 6:70)
; Acts 6:22Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. (Acts 6:2) Cor. 15:5. Thomas is called “one of the twelve” (John 20:2424But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. (John 20:24)); and so is Judas (Matt. 26:14, 1714Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, (Matthew 26:14)
17Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? (Matthew 26:17)
; Mark 14:10, 20, 4310And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them. (Mark 14:10)
20And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish. (Mark 14:20)
43And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. (Mark 14:43)
; Luke 22:3, 173Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. (Luke 22:3)
17And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: (Luke 22:17)
; John 6:70, 7170Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? 71He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve. (John 6:70‑71)). After the defection of Judas, they are called “the eleven” (Matt. 28:1616Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. (Matthew 28:16); Mark 16:1414Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. (Mark 16:14); Luke 24:9, 339And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. (Luke 24:9)
33And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, (Luke 24:33)
; Acts 1:2626And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:26)); Matthias being subsequently chosen by lot after prayer to fill the vacancy (Acts 1:26; 2:1426And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:26)
14But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: (Acts 2:14)
The names of the twelve apostles are enumerated in each of the Synoptic Gospels, and also in the Acts, and these names were also seen in vision inscribed upon the foundations of the wall of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:1414And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Revelation 21:14)). They occupied a special place of honor and privilege in the confession of the name of Jesus in the days of His presentation as Messiah to Israel, and in the coming day of glory a special award is accorded to them in manifestation before Israel and the nations in that holy city which is to come down from God. Paul undoubtedly will have his distinguished place in that heavenly kingdom, but the twelve, unlike Paul, moved along, in believing wonder, with the Lord in His daily progress through this world of woe. Hence, their names are written, not only in heaven (a matter in itself of greater cause for their rejoicing than power over evil spirits, Luke 10:2020Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20)), but also in the foundations of the wall of that figurative city which will be a medium for the light of the glory of God and the Lamb throughout the millennial earth.
The various names of the apostles, with one or two exceptions, are easy of identification. A few brief remarks upon each are appended, following the order found in Mark.
Simon Peter. The name of this apostle is always placed first in the various lists of the twelve, and also when two or three or more are mentioned by name. Simon or Simeon (Symeon, Acts 15:1414Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. (Acts 15:14); 2 Peter 1:11Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: (2 Peter 1:1)) was the son of Jona or Jonas (John 1:42; 21:15-1742And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone. (John 1:42)
15So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (John 21:15‑17)
). Jonas, which is equivalent to John, is the Greek form of Jonah. And Bar-jona, or Bar-Jonah, means son of John (Matt. 16:1717And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 16:17)).
(3) John. The brother of James was also chosen to be an apostle, and the two sons of Zebedee were surnamed by the Lord Boanerges, which means, Sons of thunder.8 Though others of the apostles appear to have had several names, Peter, James and John are the only ones who, we are told, received surnames from the Lord.
John is associated with Peter in their visit to the tomb of Jesus (John 20:1-101The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. 2Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. 3Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. 4So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. 5And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. 6Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 7And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. 8Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. 9For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. 10Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. (John 20:1‑10)), in the healing of the lame man and the subsequent testimony (Acts 3:1, 4; 4:14, 191Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. (Acts 3:1)
4And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. (Acts 3:4)
14And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. (Acts 4:14)
19But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. (Acts 4:19)
), and in their journey to Samaria after the preaching of Philip (Acts 8:1414Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: (Acts 8:14)); while Peter's inquiry of the Lord concerning John, “And what shall this man do?” (John 21:2121Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? (John 21:21)) spews the affection existing between the two men.
The name John in Hebrew is Johanan, “the gift of Jehovah.”
(4) Andrew. In Matthew and Luke, Andrew immediately follows Simon Peter in the list of names. They were brothers, and natives of Bethsaida, like Philip (John 1:4444Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. (John 1:44)). Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, whom he left to follow Jesus, afterward communicating to his own brother the joyful intelligence that the Messiah was found. This preceded the call by the Lord (Mark 1:1616Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. (Mark 1:16)).
Little is said of Andrew. His name is, however, mentioned alone twice by John (6:8; 12:22). The four, Peter, Andrew, James and John are named as being together with the Lord in the house at Capernaum (Mark 1:2929And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. (Mark 1:29)) and on the mount of Olives (Mark 13:33And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, (Mark 13:3)).
“Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us” (John 14:88Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. (John 14:8)). All these historical items are communicated in the Fourth Gospel only.
The name itself means “lover of horses.”
(6) Bartholomew. This was the apostle's patronymic, that is, his family name, or surname; and it occurs in all four lists. Nathanael was, most probably, his personal name, signifying the “gift of God.” He confessed the Lord before His public ministry as Son of God and King of Israel (John 1:4949Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. (John 1:49)). Bartholomew is not mentioned by John, who, however, includes Nathanael of Cana when naming others of the apostles after the resurrection (John 21:22There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. (John 21:2)). Of him the Lord said, “Behold, an Israelite indeed in whom there is no guile” (John 1:4747Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! (John 1:47)).
(7) Matthew. The identity of Matthew and Levi the publican seems to rest upon sufficient evidence, and reference has previously been made in these articles to this point.9 He was the writer of the First Gospel, but no further record of him is found in the Scriptures. Mark alone gives the name of his father, Alphaeus (2:14), a different person, it is presumed, from the one mentioned in connection with James, since the two apostles are not associated like James and John of Zebedee.
(8) Thomas. The name Thomas, like that of Didymus, which is used three times by John, means “a twin.” Nothing is said of him after his call and appointment except by John. When the Lord spoke of going to Bethany, Thomas said to the other disciples, “Let us also go with him, that we may die with him” (John 11:1616Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. (John 11:16)). When the Lord was instructing the apostles as to His immediate departure and their knowledge of the way, Thomas broke in with, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (John 14:55Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? (John 14:5)). His incredulity at the tidings of the resurrection has passed into a proverb (John 20:24-3124But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. 30And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:24‑31)).
(9) James. In each of the four lists, Peter heads the first four names, Philip the second four, and James of Alphteus the third four.
James is a name of frequent occurrence among the Jews, and, on this account, the name is not easy of identification, apart from some distinguishing epithet. In the New Testament we read of (1) James of Zebedee, (2) James of Alphaeus, (3) James the Lord's brother, and (4) James the Less. The first is clear, but scholars are divided in their opinions as to the number of persons referred to by the following terms, whether three, two or one. A few words must suffice here upon what has been the subject of much controversy.
James [the son] of Alphaeus only occurs in each of the various lists of the apostles. But it has been supposed that Alphaeus is the Greek name for the Hebrew Cleophas (Clopas, John 19:2525Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. (John 19:25)), whose wife stood by the cross with the other Marys, and is called the mother of James (Luke 24:1010It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. (Luke 24:10)). In any case, that James of Alphaeus was an apostle is fully established.
James the Lord's brother is so called by the apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians. He states that on his visit to Jerusalem, “other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother” (Gal. 1:1919But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. (Galatians 1:19)). This person appears to be distinguished in this way from the other James who is mentioned in the succeeding chapter without any qualifying phrase (Gal. 2:9, 129And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. (Galatians 2:9)
12For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. (Galatians 2:12)
) [?]. Such a form of reference implies that the latter was too well-known in Galatia to require any special term of distinction. The latter may therefore be assumed to be the James who came into prominence in Jerusalem after the martyrdom of the son of Zebedee (Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:1817But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go show these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place. (Acts 12:17)
13And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: (Acts 15:13)
18And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. (Acts 21:18)
), and to be identical [?] with James of Alphaeus, one of the twelve. He wrote the inspired Epistle to the twelve tribes (James 1:11James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. (James 1:1)), and is sometimes known as James the Just.
James the Lord's brother is mentioned with others (Matt. 13:5555Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? (Matthew 13:55); Mark 6:33Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. (Mark 6:3)); and in the account of the meeting in the upper room at Jerusalem before Pentecost, the brethren of Jesus are said to have been there, but they are mentioned separately from the apostles (Acts 1:1414These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. (Acts 1:14)). In favor of the hypothesis that he wrote the Epistle of James it may be noted that like Jude he does not claim to be an apostle, but neither does John in any of his three Epistles. This argument therefore is not a weighty one.
James the less, or little, occurs but once (Mark 15:4040There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; (Mark 15:40)), and is named as the son of Mary, one of the Galilaean women who were last at the cross and first at the tomb. She was the wife of Alphaeus, so that this is the James already mentioned, the epithet being applied to him probably because of his stature.
(10) Thaddaeus. From Matthew we learn that Lebbaeus was surnamed Thaddaeus (Matt. 10:33Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alpheus, and Lebbeus, whose surname was Thaddeus; (Matthew 10:3)), while Luke, in his Gospel and in the Acts, gives a further name of this apostle, viz., Judas [the son or brother] of James. A question of his is recorded by John, who distinguishes him from the traitor of the same name: “Judas (not Iscariot) saith unto him, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” (John 14:2222Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? (John 14:22)). There is no further reference to him by name in the New Testament.
Whether Judas the apostle was the writer of the Epistle bearing this name is a matter upon which difference of judgment exists. The writer introduces himself, not as an apostle (see also verse 17), but as “Judas, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,” this James being the Lord's brother. It is certain that of the Lord's brothers there were two so-named, since they both are mentioned by Matthew and Mark (Matt. 13:5555Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? (Matthew 13:55); Mark 6:33Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. (Mark 6:3)), and we know that the brethren of the Lord were at the apostolic prayer-meeting in Jerusalem (Acts 1:1111Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11)), including James and Judas, if not Joses and Simon. There is no great difficulty therefore in supposing that Judas the Lord's brother wrote the Epistle known by that name.
If the contrary opinion is held—that the writer was an apostle—it is necessary to translate the idiomatic expression in Luke 6:1616And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor. (Luke 6:16) and in Acts 1:1313And 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 Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. (Acts 1:13) as in the Authorized Version, “Jude [the brother] of James” to agree with Jude 11Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: (Jude 1), instead of “Jude [the son] of James,” as in the Revised Version. And yet in a previous case the same idiom is rendered, “James [the son] of Alpheus,” so that the identification calls for patient discrimination rather than hasty dogmatism.
(11) Simon. He is distinguished from Simon Peter by Matthew and Mark as the Cananean, and by Luke as the Zealot. The first term is the Hebrew (not meaning an inhabitant of Canaan), and the second the Greek name for a Jewish sect holding violent religious and political views, inimical to the Romans. Nothing else is recorded concerning this apostle specially.
[W. J. H.]