Twelve Apostles - Frequently Asked Questions


Why did Christ pick 12 apostles and not some other number?

The number 12 represents the traditional 12 tribes of Israel.


Was St. Paul (Saul) an apostle?

St. Paul is called "the Apostle to the Gentiles."  However, he was not one of the original twelve apostles.  He referred to himself as an apostle who was "born out of time." 

Unlike the other apostles, he was chosen by Jesus through a vision.  In Chapter 9 of the Acts of the Apostles it states:  On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" He said, "Who are you, sir?"  The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do."  The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one.  Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. (Acts 1:15-26)

Also, see information on St. Paul on the New Advent website


Why did the disciples refuse to keep silent?

Speaking out about Jesus meant the disciples risked being tortured, even killed.  Why didn't they keep silent?

Each of the 12 apostles left families and careers, often traveling alone to distant countries, declaring that Jesus died and came back to life.  For proclaiming Jesus' resurrection, they were beaten, imprisoned, and many killed in torturous ways.

Did they have any basis for declaring this?  Yes.  It is undisputed that after the crucifixion of Jesus, the tomb was empty three days later, just as Jesus' predicted.  The controversy focuses on what became of Jesus' body?  Some say that Jesus' disciples stole his body and concocted a story that he rose from the dead.  However, if the disciples made it all up, each of them allowed himself to be executed -- for what they knew to be a lie.  It doesn't make sense.  Would you die for something you knew was a lie?

What does make sense are the historical facts.  Jesus had been humiliated, beaten, whipped, nailed to a cross, where he died on display before the public.  A spear was thrust into his side just to make sure he was dead.  He was buried in a stone tomb, with Roman soldiers to guard the tomb, assigned by the religious establishment who feared an attempt to steal the body. But on the third day, the guards had fled, the tomb was open, and the only remaining evidence were the burial clothes inside the tomb, laying there empty.

Starting that day, the disciples said they saw Jesus physically alive multiple times.  So had hundreds of others.  They had lengthy conversations with him and ate with him - all after witnessing his death by beating, crucifixion and spearing. When ordered not to speak about Jesus' resurrection, they responded, "We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard!"

These disciples risked their lives to speak out about what they had no doubts about - that Jesus had risen from the dead, proving that he was everything he claimed to be...the Son of God.


Did all the apostles die as martyrs?

St. John died from old age but the others all died as martyrs:

1.  Andrew - crucified

2.  Bartholomew - beaten then crucified

3.  James the Lesser (son of Alphaeus) - stoned to death

4.  James the Greater (son of Zebedee) - beheaded

5.  John - exiled for his faith; died of old age

6.  Judas (not Iscariot) - stoned to death

7.  Matthew - speared to death

8.  Peter - crucified upside down

9.  Philip - crucified

10. Simon - crucified

11.  Thomas - speared to death

12.  Matthias - stoned to death


What are the feast days of the twelve apostles?

Andrew:  November 30

Bartholomew:  August 24

James the Lesser:  May 3

James the Greater:  July 25

John:  December 27

Jude:  October 28

Matthew:  September 21

Peter:  June 29

Philip:  May 3

Simon:  October 28

Thomas:  July 3

Matthias:  May 14

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