Reader's Encyclopedia

apostles (fr Gr, apostolos, "messenger; envoy")

Jesus' twelve original disciples: Peter, Andrew, James the Less, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, Simon the Canaanite (also Simon Zelotes), Jude (also Thaddaeus and Lebbaeus), James the Greater, and Judas Iscariot. Jesus gave His message to the apostles personally and gave them the task of being his witness after His death. He shared with them the Last Supper, which has become the fundamental sacrament of Christian worship.

To the apostles, Jesus entrusted the work of establishing the Church, with Peter to be the "rock" upon which it was built. Matthias was later chosen to take Judas Iscariot's place. All of the apostles met martyr's deaths except John and, of course, Judas Iscariot, who committed suicide.

Beside Judas Iscariot, two other apostles have not been canonized: Philip and Simon the Canaanite. Paul, though not one of the original twelve, is always classed as an apostle, as is often Barnabas, Paul's companion in his first mission.

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