John the Baptist spent his short ministry traveling throughout the region preaching a baptism for repentance—that is, a 180-degree change in one’s thinking and conduct. Throngs of people, attracted by his message, journeyed into the wilderness to be baptized and forgiven of their sins.
John’s preaching drew a following large enough to attract the attention of the religious leaders of the day. The Temple priests and Levites went out to question him, asking if he were the Messiah. Some may have feared he was just another terrorist leader in the making, someone who would cause trouble and bring the wrath of Rome upon the land.
John’s answer was plain: “I am not the Christ.”
When pressed further to explain who he was, John replied, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, as written in the book of Isaiah: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. Every valley will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be brought low. And the crooked will be made straight, and the rough ways will be made smooth. And all mankind will see the salvation of God.’”
John the Baptist had come
“in the power and spirit of Elijah” to proclaim the First Coming of Christ’s arrival. Speaking of Christ, John declared, “There cometh One mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose” (Mark 1:7).
God’s Word plainly teaches that baptism must be preceded by repentance
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:16;
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
16:32: And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
16:33: And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. Acts 16:31,33).
Upon repentance, the blood of Christ cleanses one of past sins. Baptism involves being entirely submerged underwater as a symbol of acknowledging one’s sins. When baptized, one figuratively dies with Jesus, our Savior, in a “watery grave”—which typifies the death of the old self and the emergence of a new person with a new life. Rising out of that “grave” is symbolic of the resurrection of the dead; we live a new (righteous) life through Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit actively at work within us
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Rom. 6:4
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Rom. 8:9
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Gal. 2:20.
The New Testament is not the first place baptism is found in the Bible. Rather, God used this symbol thousands of years before John the Baptist was born. Noah’s deliverance from the Flood—a watery grave for the sinful world—represented deliverance from the penalty of sin through baptism
Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 3:21: The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: (I Peter 3:20-21).
And Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage through the Red Sea was also considered a type of Christian baptism
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 10:2: And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; (I Cor. 10:1-2).
In both events, at the Flood of Noah’s time and at the Red Sea, God miraculously delivered His people who looked to and trusted in His deliverance.
Water baptism also requires faith in Christ—faith in His sacrifice, which wipes clear the past sins of the repentant believer. Noah acted on his faith in managing the giant project of building the ark. Moses instructed Israel to move forward to the sea and obeyed God’s instruction to lift up his rod to cause the sea to divide. The truly repentant believer must also act in faith, trusting in the deliverance of Christ to cover his sins and “lift him up” to a new life led by the Holy Spirit. An active, living faith is required.
When the time came for Jesus to start His ministry, John the Baptist was told how he was to recognize the Christ when he would baptize Him at a future time. The baptism of John symbolized the outward expression of sincere genuine repentance of those who would be convicted by the message he preached.
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Luke 1:77
states John the Baptist came “to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins.” His ministry focused on the first step of salvation, preparing a people for Christ’s arrival. They did not receive the Holy Spirit; Jesus had not yet been resurrected and glorified so He could not send forth the Spirit according to God’s Plan
(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:39).
Jesus came to His cousin to be baptized, but John was hesitant. He said to Jesus,
“I have need to be baptized of You, and come You to me?” (Matt. 3:13-14).
Christ never sinned—never broke any of God’s laws. One of the purposes of His earthly ministry was to set the example for those whom God the Father might call into the difficult long-life journey of Christianity. This is why Jesus permitted Himself to be baptized. Also, His baptism foreshadowed an event that would occur three and a half years later: His death and resurrection.
As soon as He was baptized and received His Father’s approval—
“You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11)
—Jesus, led by the Holy Spirit, went into the wilderness, where He
“fasted forty days and forty nights” (Matt. 4:1-2).
Matthew 4 and Luke 4 record in detail a monumental battle of wills between Jesus Christ and Satan the devil. The two engaged in a very real outright spiritual war to determine who would ultimately rule the earth and reign over all nations, kingdoms and governments!
To spiritually prepare for this great test, Jesus humbled Himself through fasting, denying His body food and drink for 40 days. Contrary to hunger strikes, used throughout history to gain sympathy from the public and essentially extort the powers-that-be to give in to one’s demands, fasting is different. It is not a method to somehow “twist God’s arm” into rendering a favorable decision, or impress Him with one’s “righteousness,” or gain His sympathy. Fasting—when done in the right way, for the right purpose—is used to lower the self in one’s own eyes, to see himself as God sees him.
The Bible states,
“The heart [carnal mind] is deceitful above all things, and is desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9).
Therefore, man cannot
“walk to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23)
through life, making decisions that
“seem right unto a man, but the end therefore are the ways of death” (Prov. 16:25),
for “all the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes” Prov. 16:2.
When our stomachs are empty and begin to growl, we then realize that life is temporary.
“My days are like a shadow that declines,” Psalm 102:11
states, “and I am withered like grass.” King David wrote, “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more” (Psa. 103:15-16).
When compared to the Great God of the universe,
“the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity” (Isa. 57:15),
this physical, chemical existence humans call life is less than a breath. While God has need of nothing, our physical strength and bodily existence relies on whether we eat. Fasting—denying the body food and drink for at least 24 hours—reminds us we are less than nothing in the grand scheme of things, and that we need our Maker and Sustainer to provide for all our necessities. This humble mindset permits one to be teachable and willing to suppress his will to readily receive God’s direction.
When Satan confronted Christ in the wilderness, the first thing he did was try to tempt Jesus into eating, thus breaking His fast
And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. (Matt. 4:3).
Yet by making Himself physically weak, Christ actually strengthened Himself spiritually. The devil tried to appeal to Jesus’ ego by saying, “IF you be the Son of God”—in other words, “Prove it!” But instead of relying upon Himself, Jesus wielded the
“sword of the spirit” (Eph. 6:17)
—that is, He recalled the Holy Scriptures in His mind—and said,
“It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4),
And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. Deuteronomy 8:3.
But Satan was not ready to give up the battle
.Matthew 4 records that he set Christ on a pinnacle of the Temple, and then quoted Scripture. Again, trying to inflate Jesus’ ego, the devil said,
“IF You be the Son of God, cast Yourself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning You: and in their hands they shall bear You up, lest at any time You dash Your foot against a stone” Matt 4:6.
Yes, the devil can read the Bible. Satan is the master at misusing Scripture to confuse and deceive billions into blindly accepting easily disprovable false doctrines. He has long used false ministers as his human agents to carry out mass deception—religious leaders who seem to be sincere and truthful, but God’s Word calls them
“false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (II Cor. 11:13-15).
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. 91:12: They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Psalm 91:11-12,
taking the passage out of context. Jesus understood this, and answered with God’s Word rather than trusting in Himself.
“It is written again,” He said, “You shall not tempt the Lord Your God” (Matt. 4:7),
Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah. Deuteronomy 6:16.
The devil tried to tempt Jesus one more time. He took Him up to a high mountain and, perhaps primarily through a vision,
“showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and said unto Him, All these things will I give You, IF You will fall down and worship me” (Matt. 4:8-9).
This epic battle was about rulership. Satan knew Christ was destined to establish God’s government on earth and rule all nations. In this
“present evil world” (Gal. 1:4)
of man’s 6,000-year history, the nations, kingdoms, governments, laws, practices, traditions, systems, cultures and societies are influenced by and belong to
“the great dragon…that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9).
“prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2),
the devil broadcasts wrong attitudes, thoughts and emotions, which translate into perverse language and conduct in the lives of an unsuspecting humanity.
Before the universe existed, God created hundreds of millions of angels. Like human beings, God granted them free moral agency, permitting the angels the capacity to decide and choose for themselves whether they will obey Him.
God then created all the stars, planets, moons and galaxies in the vast and expanding universe. Millions of these spirit beings sang for joy, especially when God created the earth
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:7),
for they knew it would be handed to one-third of all the angels as part of a very special assignment. They were to live on the earth, led by the archangel Lucifer, and take special care of it. If they succeeded, they would eventually be given the entire universe to rule under God.
At first, the angels were happy about their assignment. They wanted to do all they could to make the world a beautiful garden paradise of peaceful meadows, green forests, sandy beaches and sparkling oceans. But as time passed (the Bible does not say how long; it may have taken millions, even billions, of years), something changed.
It all began with Lucifer. Full of wisdom and beauty, he was the most brilliant, perfect being God had ever created
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 28:12: Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. 28:13: Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 28:14: Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. (Ezek. 28:11-14).
For a while, Lucifer obediently carried out God’s commands and government on the earth. But, at some point, he allowed a wrong thought or attitude to enter his mind. Instead of removing it and replacing it with right thoughts, Lucifer allowed even more wrong ideas and feelings to guide and control his mind. He soon became full of pride
Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. Ezek. 28:15.
Instead of being grateful for the assignment God gave him, Lucifer had become bitter and angry. He had come to believe that he deserved more, that God was somehow “limiting” him, not putting his “enormous talents” to better use (and in the process, forgot that his talents came from God in the first place). Lucifer wanted more power, more responsibility, more “respect”—and he wanted it his way, not God’s.
Lucifer’s mind corrupted to the point he believed he knew better than his Maker—and that he was greater than God! Eventually, Lucifer believed he should be God! He reasoned that he needed to take God’s place and remove Him from His heavenly throne
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 14:13: For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14:14: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isa. 14:12-14).
Lucifer’s perverse and twisted thoughts and attitudes led him to sin—to break God’s spiritual laws of love and outgoing concern for others
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (I John 3:4;
Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 7:13: Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. 7:14: For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. Rom. 7:12-14).
Thus, he became God’s enemy. Through lies and deception, Lucifer convinced angels around him to believe his way was right and that God’s ways were unfair and unjust. In turn, those angels convinced others of the same lies, eventually twisting the minds of all the angels on the earth— one-third of the spirit beings that God created rebelled against their Creator
These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. (Rev. 12:4;
Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly: Job 4:18).
Led by Lucifer, the rebellious angels—now demons—invaded heaven to take over God’s throne. But God—armed with the limitless power of His Holy Spirit, and backed by twice as many loyal angels—squashed the invasion. He cast the evil spirits back to the earth, and changed Lucifer’s name, which means
“morning star” or “shining one,” to Satan the devil, which means “adversary, accuser” and “slanderer” (Ezek. 28:11-19).
(Additional facts and description of Lucifer’s rebellion are contained in others of our books and booklets.)
Ever since he influenced Adam and Eve to reject God’s rule over them, and subsequently their descendants, Satan and his demons have had dominion over mankind’s kingdoms, governments and systems. This world belongs to the devil—and man’s carnal nature, which is naturally hostile to God and His laws
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (Rom. 8:7),
is actually Satan’s nature!
The devil knows that His days as ruler over this perverse, rebellious, anti-God age are numbered. Satan, through Herod, tried to destroy Jesus when He was just a babe. As you will read in this book, the devil on many occasions tried to use his human agents to kill Christ before it was His time to die. And Satan used all his wiles in Matthew 4 to influence Jesus to go his way—but in all strategies he failed!
When Christ successfully defeated His adversary, He qualified to rule over the kingdom of God, the divine government He will establish on the earth to produce true and lasting peace, equity and prosperity for all!
Contrary to popular teaching among many churches today, it is God the Father, not Christ, who calls people to come into the Christian way of life
Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. (John 6:44).
No one can take upon himself this calling—the decision is up to the Father.
At the start of Jesus’ ministry, God called men from different walks of life who would become Christ’s disciples (students), in training to become apostles. These 12 men received intense, and extensive, as well as often private, one-on-one training, which would prepare them to take the gospel to other cities, territories, regions, nations and kingdoms.
Peter: Born with the name Simon, Jesus later renamed him Peter, or “Cephas,” an Aramaic name equivalent to the Greek Petros (Peter), which means “a mass of rock detached from the living rock.”
Simon Peter and his brother Andrew were the sons of Jona
And 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).
He was a fisherman from Bethsaida, a native town on the western coast of the Sea of Galilee, in Galilee
Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. (John 1:44,
The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. John 12:21.
Simon, Andrew, James, and John grew up together as childhood friends, and later became fishing partners.
Though they had some level of religious training and were acquainted with prophetic scriptures about the coming of the Messiah, they did not receive any special rabbinical training. This is why Peter and John, when they were brought before the Sanhedrin, seemed to be “unlearned and ignorant men” in the eyes of the leading religious leaders of the land
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13).
Galileans had a reputation for being independent, blunt and impetuous. They spoke a peculiar dialect that seemed harsh and backward in Judea.
Peter and the other apostles were called to become
“fishers of men” (Matt. 4:18-19),
“to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils [demons]” (Mark 3:14-15).
Andrew: Once a disciple of John the Baptist, Andrew was the first to follow Christ, and introduced Peter to Him
One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. (John 1:40).
The brothers became Jesus’ disciples after John the Baptist was imprisoned
And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 4:19: And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matt. 4:18-19;
Now 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. 1:17: And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. Mark 1:16-17).
James: He and his brother John were called Boanerges—“sons of thunder”—due to their boldness and intensity. Their parents were Zebedee and Salome. James was called the “greater” (to distinguish him from the other apostle-in-training who had the same name). He also was a fisherman
And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. (Matt. 4:21).
John: He may have been younger than his brother James. Zebedee, his father, apparently was a man of some wealth, since he could afford hired servants
( And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him. Mark 1:20)
and possessed at least two fishing vessels
And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. (Luke 5:3).
John, like his brother and childhood friends, was a fisherman on the Lake of Galilee. He was also influenced by the teachings of John the Baptist, becoming one of his disciples. At John the Baptist’s announcement that Jesus was “the Lamb of God,” John accepted Christ’s offer to follow Him
And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! 1:37: And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. (John 1:36-37).
However, John and James temporarily returned to their fishing business before becoming fulltime apostles-in-training
And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. (Matt. 4:21;
And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 5:2: And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 5:3: And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. 5:4: Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5:5: And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 5:6: And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 5:7: And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 5:8: When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 5:9: For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: 5:10: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. 5:11: And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him. Luke 5:1-11).
Peter, Andrew, James and John grew up together and became business partners in a family fishing venture. Upon being called, they became an “inner circle” around Jesus, to whom He privately shared His thoughts, plans and even a vision of His Second Coming.
Philip: Also native of Bethsaida
Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. (John 1:44;
The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. John 12:21.
He responded to his calling without hesitation, and brought with him Nathanael—or Bartholomew
Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. (John 1:45
And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. John 1:46.
He may have held a prominent place among the apostles, after Peter, James, John and Andrew
Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; (Matt. 10:3;
And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite, Mark 3:18;
When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6:6: And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. John 6:5-7;
The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. John 12:21
Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. John 12:22
Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. John 14:8
Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? John 14:9
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. Acts 1:13).
Bartholomew: The son of Talemai. Some believe that he and Nathanael
Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 1:46: And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. 1:47: Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! 1:48: Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. 1:49: Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. 1:50: Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. 1:51: And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. (John 1:45-51)
were the same person. Bartholomew was friends with Philip before being called.
Matthew: He was a tax collector (“publican”) at Capernaum, the son of Alphaeus. He became one of Christ’s disciples when Jesus passed the custom-house (“receipt of custom”) where Matthew worked for Rome in collecting taxes that the empire levied on the Jews. The people despised publicans, since they willingly worked for the Romans. Matthew was originally called Levi
And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. (Mark 2:14;
And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. Luke 5:27).
Thomas: Also called Didymus
Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. (John 11:16;
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. John 20:24.
Since Thomas is always mentioned along with Matthew, the son of Alphaeus, when the apostles are listed, always followed by James, who was also the son of Alphaeus, there has been speculation that Matthew, Thomas and James were brothers.
James: The son of Alphaeus (or Cleopas), he is known as “James the Less” or “the Little.”
Thaddeus: Also called “Lebbaeus” in the book of Matthew.
Simon: Also called
“the Canaanite” (Matthew 10:4;
And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite, Mark 3:18),
derived from the Syriac word Kanean or Kaneniah, the name of a Jewish sect. He was also called
“Simon the Zealot” or “Zelotes” (Luke 6:15;
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. Acts 1:13);
before his calling to become an apostle, Simon was a member of the Zealots, a fanatical sect.
Judas Iscariot: It is possible that the name Iscariot refers to the Judean town of Kerioth
This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Judah according to their families. 15:21: And the uttermost cities of the tribe of the children of Judah toward the coast of Edom southward were Kabzeel, and Eder, and Jagur, 15:22: And Kinah, and Dimonah, and Adadah, 15:23: And Kedesh, and Hazor, and Ithnan, 15:24: Ziph, and Telem, and Bealoth, 15:25: And Hazor, Hadattah, and Kerioth, and Hezron, which is Hazor, (Joshua 15:20-25)
or to the sicarii (Jewish nationalist insurrectionists). The Bible also calls this man
“Judas…the son of Simon” (John 6:71
And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; John 13:2,
Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. John 13:26.
The treasurer among Jesus and the disciples, he later betrayed Christ
And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house. (Mark 3:19),
and then committed suicide. Matthias replaced him as one of the original apostles shortly after Christ’s resurrection.
With the apostles and many other disciples learning from Him, Jesus was planting seed that would sprout into the first century Church on Pentecost A.D. 31