The Twelve Apostles
Jesus had many disciples and devoted followers. From them, he picked twelve men to travel with him. These disciples came to be known as the apostles, from the Greek word
These were the Twelve Apostles:
Peter and his brother Andrew
James and John, also brothers. (This John is not to be confused with John the Baptist, who had a separate role as the Precursor — the one who announced that the Son of God was coming.)
Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus (son of James), and Simon
Judas Iscariot, who would betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver
Paul would join the Christians later and become an “honorary” apostle, making their number twelve again.
It was the apostles' special privilege to stay close to Jesus and receive his training and wisdom. As witnesses to Jesus' life on earth and students of his teachings, the apostles became founders of the Church and the authors of the Gospels (first passed down orally and eventually written down). The Gospels, apostolic letters, and other writings were later compiled into what we know as the New Testament.Peter, the Rock of the Church
Peter was a married fisherman who lived in the Galilee. Peter's name was originally Simon; later, Jesus came to call him Cephas (“rock,” in Aramaic). Later still, this name came into Greek as Peter (
Jesus' choice of a fisherman and the name he gave him are both symbolic. Jesus chose Peter to be a fisher of men, the first in the apostolic line of popes who would later follow him.Paul, the Twelfth Apostle
The story of Paul is different from that of all the other apostles. Saul (as he was originally called) never knew Jesus during his lifetime. A practicing Jew, Saul saw the Christian faith as heresy. In fact, he was a zealous persecutor of the new Christian faith. (He acted as a witness at the stoning of the apostle Stephen, the first Christian martyr.)
One day, on the way to Damascus to rout out Christians, Saul received a revelation from the Lord that blinded him for three days. Once he recovered, he took his Roman name, Paul, and became an enthusiastic convert to Christianity. From that day, Paul devoted all of his energy to spread the message of Jesus Christ and help new converts to interpret it.