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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Matt 10:1-6 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 Alpheus, and Lebbeus, whose surname was Thaddeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. These 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: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Also see Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:13-16)

According to the gospel records of both Mark and Luke, the choosing of His apostles took place immediately after Jesus healed the man with the withered hand and was thereafter followed by multitudes of men and women in the area of Galilee around the northern coast of the sea, which bears its name. Both accounts state that Jesus went into a mountain, He prayed, and then He called twelve of His disciples to become His apostles. Once they were called Jesus' disciples, meaning His followers. Now they were called to be His apostles. This title carried much more significant duties. An apostle serves his master as a special messenger. Jesus would delegate to them, not only spiritual responsibilities to establish His kingdom, but also the authority to carry them out. And to confirm the deity of their Master, Jesus, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.

Each account, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, name the twelve disciples that Jesus appointed as His apostles on this occasion. Also, each account begins with Jesus naming Simon, who is called Peter. From that point on, the rest of the apostles are named in no specific order. They include Andrew, the brother of Peter, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Also Jesus called Philip and Bartholomew. Many bible scholars consider the name Bartholomew comes from "Bar Talmai," which means the son of Talmai, and this person, is more than likely, the same person as Nathanael, who was introduced to Jesus by Philip, and was called to become a disciple of Jesus according to John's gospel 1:45-49. He then called Thomas, who, in John 11:16, and 20:24, is given the additional name of Didymus. Thomas is also mentioned in John 20:24-31 as the apostle that had to examine the pierced hands and side of Jesus before he would believe that He had been resurrected from the dead. This prompted Jesus to criticize Thomas by saying, blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Afterward Jesus called Matthew, the Jewish tax collector for the Roman government. The title he carried was a publican, whom the majority of the Jewish people detested. It is his gospel we are considering in the lesson text. Then there is James, the son of Alpheus, who was given this appellation to distinguish him from James, the Son of Zebedee, and brother of John. Following him, Jesus called Lebbeus, surnamed Thaddeus. Mark refers to him only as Thaddeus, while Luke gave him the name of Judas, which seems to be a contracted version of Thaddeus. Then there is Simon, who is identified as a Canaanite, also called Zelotes in Luke's account.

Lastly, in all three gospels, Jesus called Judas Iscariot to be one of His original twelve apostles. Judas Iscariot is not to be confused with Judas, the brother of James, who was listed among the twelve apostles in Acts 1:13, who was the same apostle known as Lebbeus, surnamed Thaddeus above. It is significant that Judas Iscariot is not mentioned in Acts 1:13 because he had already betrayed the Lord, which resulted in him taking his own life by committing suicide. Was Judas' heart pure at the time he was called? If not, and Jesus could see into his heart, why was he chosen as an apostle? If so, what was the reason that he gave in to bribery, which resulted in him betraying Jesus to the Jewish leaders? Can it be assumed that, for some reason or another, Judas began to doubt the deity of Jesus and thought Him to be a false Messiah? These, and many other questions, go unexplained in the calling of Judas Iscariot as an apostle of our Lord.