07.03.03 Lk. 6:12-16 (Mk. 3:13-19) Hills Near The Sea: Jesus Appoints 12 Disciples


Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 07, 2016  -  Comments Off on 07.03.03 JESUS APPOINTS 12 DISCIPLES

07.03.03 Lk. 6:12-16 (See also Mk. 3:13-19) Hills near the Sea



12 During those days He went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God. 13 When daylight came, He summoned His disciples, and He chose 12 of them — He also named them apostles:

14 Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; 15 Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; 16  Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.


Again Jesus went to a quiet place to pray all night, and again Scripture is silent on the details of His prayer. Certainly it included issues related to His disciples and year and a half ministry in Galilee.[1] Only He could have brought together such a diverse group of men and transformed them into a powerful group of evangelists.

As previously stated, it was common for people to have more than one name: one Greek and another Hebrew, but also first and last names in Hebrew. A brief review of these individuals is in order here, although it can become a bit confusing. Possibly the most extreme examples of personalities, temperaments and motivational passions were Matthew and Simon the Zealot.  Matthew was of priestly stock but had degenerated to being a tax agent for the Romans. Simon belonged to a radical fringe group of Pharisees known as the Zealots who would have liked to have seen all Romans dead. The Zealots were known to have caused a number of rebellions and scores of them were eventually crucified.[2] None of the Twelve could have a more vivid contrast between their former position in life and where Jesus placed them than Simon and Matthew.  The crucifixion of Jesus must have had special meaning since so many other Zealots Simon had known were also crucified.



Little is known of Bartholomew and Nathanael, yet in later years they became effective apostles and were martyred for their faith and ministry.[3]  Bartholomew means son of Tholmai or Ptolemy, but no one’s first name was ever son of … which means that Bartholomew is a second name. It is highly probable that Nathanael was the first name and Bartholomew was his second name.[4] 

It is believed that Thaddaeus is the same as Judas, son of James. If so, the four lists are harmonized. Matthew and Nathanael are both Jewish names and both mean the gift of God. Just as there are several Marys in the biblical narrative, several Judes and Jacobs in the Bible, two or more disciples could have had similar names.[5]  The Greek name Philip means fond of horses which may why a church legend says that he was once a chariot driver.[6] He is not related to the Philip of Acts 6:5 and 8:5-40.  Thomas is a Hebrew name meaning twin, but there is no biblical record of his twin brother or sister.[7]  He is referred to also by his Greek name of Didymus in John 11:16.

According to Mark (3:17) Jesus called John and James, the two sons of Zebedee, boanerges. The term is often said to mean sons of rage or sons of thunder.[8]  However, some scholars believe the name does not mean sons of thunder, but that definition was attached because later when the Samaritan village rejected them. John and James were quick to call for the town’s destruction (Lk. 9:54).[9] In addition, later these two disciples asked Jesus to appoint them to high position in the Kingdom of Heaven (Mk. 10:35-36).  Clearly, they were not among the quiet and timid ones, but loud, zealous, with possible need of private instruction, and being associated with Matthew and Simon, the group was certainly a diverse one.[10] Therefore, “sons of thunder” might have been related to a quick temper. It is amazing that Peter isn’t grouped with them.

All of the disciples were from the Galilee area, with the exception of Judas, the son of James, who was probably from Kerioch in Judea, a town about twenty miles south of Jerusalem. His name is not according to the customary formula: [first name] son of [his father]. Rather, it is Y’hudah from K’riot, Judas from the town of Kerioch (or Keriot), shortened to Judas Iscariot.[11] Of course, to add interest to this study of names, there is another Judas – Thaddaeus or Labbaeus (Mt. 10:3) is the Judas of John 14:22, (not Judas Iscariot).  His name means beloved child and he has been at times referred to as the “good Judas.”[12] Since Judas Maccabaeus was a national hero of the Maccabean Revolt, the name Judas was extremely popular.


07.03.03.Q1 Do the gospels agree on the names of the disciples?

Yes and no. Critics have long argued that the gospel writers did not agree on the names of the disciples.[13]  But the reason is that the order of the twelve names was not important to the authors, only their listing. In fact, their list is similar to listings found on other Jewish writings.[14]


Mt. 10:2 ff.                 Mk. 3:16 ff.                 Lk. 6:14 ff.                  Acts 1:13 ff.


Simon Peter                 Simon Peter                 Simon Peter                 Simon Peter

Andrew                       James, son of               Andrew                       James


James, son of               John                             James                           John


John                             Andrew                       John                             Andrew



Philip                           Philip                           Philip                           Philip

Bartholomew              Bartholomew              Bartholomew              Thomas

Thomas                        Matthew                      Matthew                      Bartholomew

Matthew                      Thomas                        Thomas                        Matthew



James, son of               James, son of               James, son of               James, son of

Alphaeus                     Alphaeus                     Alphaeus                      Alphaeus

Thaddaeus                   Thaddaeus                   Simon the Zealot         Simon the Zealot

Simon the Zealot         Simon the Zealot         Judas, son of               Judas, son of

James                           James

Judas Iscariot             Judas Iscariot             Judas Iscariot             – – – – –



It appears that Jesus had His disciples divided into three subsets of four men each. Simon Peter, Philip, and James were the leaders of these three groups. In the book of Matthew, the tax collector is known by his own name: Matthew, but in Mark and Luke he is known by his Hebrew name, Levi. Also, the English name James is from the biblical Greek is Iakabos, meaning Jacob. In fact, all persons named “James” in the New Testament are actually “Jacob.”[15]


07.03.03.Q2 Was Judas Iscariot a Jew or an Idumean?

Scholars have often pondered this question.  Their reasoning is based upon the fact that the name “Iscariot” is rooted in the village name Kerioth or Kireot,[16] which was located near Arad in the Negev Desert. This village was occupied predominantly by Idumeans – descendants of Esau. However, if in fact, he was from Kireot, that does not mean that he was an Idumean. Many communities had both Jewish and non-Jewish residents. In fact, most of the disciples were from communities occupied by both Jews and Gentiles. But, for Jesus to have selected a non-Jew to be one of His disciples would have gone against all biblical and cultural protocols. Judas was definitely a Jew!

[1]. Bookman, When God Wore Sandals. CD Trac 7.


[2]. See 02.01.22 and Appendix 25.


[3]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:178.


[4]. Barclay, “John.” 1:90, 93-95; Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 20. See John 21:2; Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 3:246-47; Farrar, The Life of Christ. 134-36.

[5]. Farrar, The Life of Christ. 134-36.


[6]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:178.


[7]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:178.


[8]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:178.


[9]. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 19-20.


[10]. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/boanerges. Retrieve October 9, 2012; Green, Interlinear Greek-English New Testament; Berry, Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament.


[11]. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. 38.


[12]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:178.


[13]. For more information on this style of education and early discipleship and mentorship, see “Education” in 02.03.04.


[14]. Mishnah, Aboth 2:8-14; Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a.


[15].  Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 279.


[16]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:58.


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