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From Greek apostolos, meaning "commissioned one" or "the one sent." Eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus, commissioned to proclaim and interpret, throughout the world, the meaning of his life and ministry. The original twelve were: Simon, son of John (also known as Peter, Cephas); Andrew, son of John; James, son of Zebedee; John, son of Zebedee; Philip of Bethsaida; Nathanael Bartholomew; Matthew/Levi, son of Alphaeus; James, son of Alphaeus; Judas Thomas Didymus; Simon the Zealot; Judas Iscariot; Judas Thaddeus Lebbaeus (Matt. 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:12-16).

After Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus, Matthias replaced him as the twelfth apostle (Acts 1:21-26). Paul of Tarsus, once known as Saul, later became an apostle through special commission from Jesus (1 Cor. 15:9- 10; Gal. 1:1). First-century Christians also considered the testimony of Jesus' physical half-brothers to be apostolic; in Galatians 1:19, for example, Paul referred to "James, the Lord's brother" as one of the apostles. (Note that Roman Catholics do not believe Jesus had half-siblings—they maintain that there are different ways to interpret and understand the biblical passages that lead Protestants to believe otherwise, such as viewing "the Lord's brother" as a reference to one of Joseph's sons from a previous marriage.) According to the traditions preserved by Eusebius and other early historians, nearly all the apostles faced martyrdom for their faith, sealing the truth of their testimony in their own blood. Therefore, when second-century Christians carefully considered what should be understood as canonical or authentic, they concluded that each New Testament writing should be directly connected to an apostle — its veracity testified and upheld to the point of death. See also canon; Pauline Corpus.

Printed with permission from Bethany House Publishers, South Bloomington, Minnesota from the book "The Da Vinci Codebreaker : an easy-to-use fact checker for truth seekers" by James L. Garlow.

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