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A Synopsis of Paper 139: The Twelve Apostles

Andrew, the first chosen apostle, was chairman of the group. He was thirty three years old when Jesus called him, the oldest of all the apostles. Andrew was a good administrator, efficient at personal ministry but never an effective preacher. He got along well with his brother Simon Peter, but was quite unlike him in temperament. Of all the apostles, Andrew was the best judge of people. He had a knack for discovering hidden talents. He was even-tempered, stable, and logical. Andrew died by crucifixion after bringing many thousands in Armenia, Asia Minor, and Macedonia into the kingdom.

Peter was married with three children when he joined the group. He was an impulsive optimist, and often caused trouble by speaking thoughtlessly. He was a natural speaker-fluent, eloquent and dramatic. Peter asked more questions of Jesus than all the other apostles put together. He is described as "one of the most inexplicable combinations of courage and cowardice that ever lived on earth." Peter was a loyal friend, but he feared ridicule. He did more than any of the other apostles to establish the kingdom after Jesus' death; he was a saving light to thousands of people. Peter's wife became a member of the women's corps and was thrown to the beasts in the arena the same day that Peter was crucified in Rome.

James Zebedee was married and had four children when Jesus chose him. He, John, and Peter were assigned to be the personal companions of Jesus. James was an exceptional public speaker and of all the apostles came the closest to grasping the importance of Jesus' teaching. James was a well-balanced thinker. He was modest, undramatic and unpretentious. The first apostle to be put to death, he was killed by Herod Agrippa. When death came, James bore himself with such grace that Herod's informer against James was inspired to join Jesus' disciples.

John Zebedee, the youngest of the twelve, was twenty four when he joined. John was dependable and faithful. His gospel reveals how the concept of love became dominant in his life. John was conceited but usually concealed this trait. He was somewhat bigoted and intolerant of people he considered beneath himself. John had courage unmatched by the other apostles-he followed Jesus throughout the night of his arrest. He was the first apostle to believe in the resurrection, and the first to recognize Jesus in his morontia form. John married his brother James' widow. He was imprisoned several times, and wrote the book of Revelation while in exile on the isle of Patmos. John died a natural death at Ephesus when he was 101 years old.

Philip was married when he joined the apostles. He was methodical, tenacious, and thorough; he was appointed the steward of the group. Philip's weakest trait was his lack of imagination. His effectiveness lay in his habit of showing people what he meant; he always said, "Come and I will show you" rather than, "Go and see." Philip's wife was a fearless member of the women's corps; as Philip was dying, she stood at the foot of his cross encouraging him, and when his strength failed she continued to preach until irate Jews stoned her to death.

When Nathaniel joined the apostles he was twenty-five and unmarried. Honest and sincere,  Nathaniel moved easily between philosophy and humor. He was the best storyteller of the apostles. In spite of a tendency toward prejudice, Nathaniel got along well with everyone except Judas Iscariot. His apostolic duty was to care for the families of the twelve and he saw to it that the needs of each family were well met. Nathaniel died in India.

Matthew was a married customs collector with four children. He was a good business man and got along well with a variety of people. Matthew was in charge of fundraising for the apostles. He was wholeheartedly devoted to the cause of the kingdom. He made extensive notes on Jesus' talks, and these notes later became the basis of the narrative known as the gospel according to Matthew. The fact that he was a publican caused some consternation among the other apostles, but it was a comfort to many downhearted souls who had previously regarded themselves as unworthy of religious consolation. After Jesus died, Matthew traveled north, preaching and baptizing until he was put to death in Thrace.

Thomas was twenty-nine and married, with four children. Thomas was logical, somewhat skeptical, and courageously loyal. He possessed the one truly analytical mind of the twelve. He was pessimistic and somewhat quarrelsome, tending toward suspicion. He was also honest and unflinchingly loyal. Thomas' task was to manage the itinerary, and he did this well. He was cautious, but if his conservative vote was overruled, he fearlessly supported the decision of the group. After Jesus' death, Thomas traveled to Cyprus, Crete, and North Africa, and was put to death in Malta.

James and Judas Alpheus were twenty-six-year-old twin fishermen when they were called. They were almost identical physically, mentally, and spiritually. James and Judas understood little of the discussions of the apostles, but they rejoiced to be among such a group of men. They were the chief ushers during the preaching tours and helped Philip and Nathaniel with their work. The acceptance of these two men into the corps was a great encouragement to the common people of the time. James and Judas could not comprehend Jesus' teachings but they did experience his spiritual nature. The twins were good-natured, simple-minded, and well loved by the other apostles. After Jesus died they returned to their families and their fishing nets.

Judas Iscariot was unmarried and unemployed when he came to the apostles. He was the most well educated of the twelve, and the only Judean. Judas was appointed treasurer, a duty that he fulfilled efficiently and honestly. He was a good business man, discharging his duties with tact and patience. Judas was often critical of Jesus and the other apostles in his own mind. He was never able to rise above his prejudice against Galileans. Judas had exaggerated ideas of self-importance; he was a poor loser.

For Jesus, Judas was a "faith adventure." By accepting Judas as his associate, Jesus demonstrated to mortals of all worlds that when doubt exists about the sincerity of a creature's devotion to God, the universe practice is to give the person every benefit of the doubt. To the very end, Jesus tried to transform Judas' weak spirituality, to prevent him from going the wrong way. Judas brooded over imagined slights and personal disappointments and became steeped in suspicion and malice. After Judas betrayed Jesus, he experienced a moment of regret before committing suicide.

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