The 12 Apostles

On June 30, the Maronite Church commemorates the Twelve Apostles. On this feast day we celebrate that Jesus handpicked the 12 disciples to bring the message of the Gospel.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John;  Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

Matthew 10:2-4


The 12 Apostles

The Apostles preached the good news and endured suffering and hardship. The message of the gospel was at times rejected and therefore many Christians were persecuted for their beliefs. Despite the hardship, the Apostles played an important role in instituting the Christian church we know today.

He placed the keys of his kingdom in their hands and entrusted them with the treasures of his grace. He exalted their memory on earth and in heaven, and he fills the holy Church with joy on their feast.

(Prayer of Forgiveness)

The Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit; on a day we now remember as ‘Pentecost’. In the Maronite church, Pentecost is celebrated fifty days after Easter. Jesus ascends to heaven. However, we are not left without Him. The Holy Spirit resided with the Apostles and remains with the followers of Jesus today. Before Jesus’ death the Apostles witnessed many of Jesus’ miracles and walked with Him on His mission, after His death, He now sends them to continue His work. The Apostles were an example of how we can spread the gospel where we go, through not only our words but through our actions and works.

What’s the difference between a disciple and an apostle?

Jesus’ disciples were His students, who left everything behind, including family and followed Jesus. The Apostles are those who were sent out to spread the good news of the Gospel. Those sent out included the 11 disciples, (as Judas betrayed Jesus before His crucifixion) and the 12th apostle was Paul.

Saint Peter, originally named Simon denied Jesus three times. Later, Peter came to know Christ in Faith and Jesus entrusted him with the universal church, making him the first Pope.


St Peter

The Sibling of Simon Peter. He was a disciple of John the Baptist before becoming a disciple of Jesus. He was a fisherman with his brother, who then became a fisher of men and women, bringing them closer to Christ.


St Andrew

The son of Zebedee and often referred to as ‘James the Greater’, to distinguish him from James the younger, another apostle. He was the first of the twelve to be martyred for his faith in A.D.44.


St James the Greater


The brother of James. He had a great impact on the early Christian Church through his writings we know as the Gospel of John.


St John the Evangelist

A disciple of Jesus, who brought many people to become followers of Christ including Bartholomew, who was a sceptic. Scholars believe that Philip preached in Phrygia, in Asia Minor, and was martyred there at Hierapolis.


St Phillip

Bartholomew or Nathanael
Nathanael is believed to be the disciple Bartholomew. The apostle Philip called him to come and meet the Messiah, although he was sceptical, he followed him anyway.

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”


St Bartholomew / Nathanael

Matthew was formally known as Levi and was a customs official who taxed imports and exports based on his own judgement. The Jews dislikes him as he worked for Rome and they saw this as betrayal to his fellow Jewish people. When Jesus asked Matthew to follow Him, he left behind a life of luxury and became a disciple, preaching the good news. Matthew is the author of one of the synoptic gospels.


St Matthew

Thomas, infamously referred to as ‘Doubting Thomas’ as he refused to believe that Jesus was resurrected until he was able to see and touch him. Thomas was nevertheless was brave, however like the other disciples, abandoned Jesus during the crucifixion.  It is believed that Thomas carried the gospel to the east, and was martyred for his faith.


St Thomas

James (son of Alphaeus)
James, also known as James the younger, not much is known about him except that he was present in the upper room of Jerusalem after the ascension of Christ.


St James the Less

Simon is often known as Simon the Zealot to distinguish him from the Apostle Simon Peter. Tradition places him at the wedding of Cana as the bridegroom, where he witnessed the first miracle of Jesus and became a zealous follower of Christ. He travelled to many places proclaiming the Gospel of Christ and was martyred by crucifixion.


St Simon

Jude is an apostle believed to be the Son of Saint Joseph from his first wife. This is a theory commonly accepted by the Eastern Church. It is believed that Joseph was a widower before meeting Mary the mother of Jesus. Jude travelled to many places to preach the gospel including the lands of Arabia and Syria. He died a Martyr


St Jude

Paul is the twelfth apostle and the only apostle not originally a disciple of Jesus. He was originally known as Saul had persecuted early Christians. He was blinded by a vision of Christ

 “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do. (Acts 9:3-6)

After this encounter, Saul changed his name to Paul and begun spreading the gospel.


St Paul


Article by Christina Maksisi

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