Getting to Know the Disciples: August 5. 2018, Robin Kidd Peter, Philip, and James the Son of Alphaeus
List of Disciples in the Bible: Four places in Scripture the disciples of Jesus are listed. Their names are giv- en in the following passages: Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16, and Acts 1:13.
Peter: Named first in all four lists.
- Matthew 10:2-”Simon, who is called Peter”, paired with “Andrew his brother”
- Mark 3:16-”Simon, to whom He gave the name Peter”
- Luke 6:14-”Simon, whom He also named Peter”
- Acts 1:13-”Peter”
Philip: Named fifth in all four lists.
- Matthew 10:3-”Philip”, paired with Bartholomew
- Mark 3:18-”Philip”
- Luke 6:14-”Philip” paired with Bartholomew
- Acts 1:13-”Philip”, paired with Thomas
James: Named ninth in all four lists.
- Matthew 10:3-”James the son of Alphaeus”, paired with Lebbaeus
- Mark 3:18-”James the son of Alphaeus”
- Luke 6:15-”James the son of Alphaeus”, paired with “Simon called the Zealot”
- Acts 1:13-”James the son of Alphaeus”, paired with “Simon the Zealot”
The lists in Mark 3 and Luke 6 are given at the same point in Jesus’ ministry (He had gone upon a mountain to pray). The Matthew 10 list is given later when Jesus sends them out in pairs to preach in Galilee. The list in Acts 1:13 is given after the ascension of Jesus.
Peter: Also called “Simon” (lists above), “Simon Bar-Jonah” (Matthew 16:17, “Simon the son of Jo-
From Bethsaida, the same hometown of Andrew (his brother) and Philip (John 1:44). This is one of the cites, along with Chorazin and Capernaum, which Jesus condemned for not believing in the works He had done in them (Matthew 11:20-24).
A fisherman along with his brother Andrew and the sons of Zebedee, James and John (Matthew 4:18-22). In Luke 5:3, Jesus used Peter’s boat to teach the multitude from. After the resurrection, Jesus appeared for the third time to Peter, Thomas, Nathanael of Cana, James and John the sons of Zebedee, while they were fishing (John 21:1-14).
Was married. As Jesus was staying at Peter’s house, He healed his mother-in-law who was lying sick with a fever (Matthew 8:14, Mark 1:29-31, Luke 4:38-39). Also, Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 9:5 that Peter’s
“believing wife” accompanied him as he ministered.
Philip: NOT the same as Philip of Acts 6:5 who was chosen by the disciples to minister to the widows who were in need and who also later witnessed to the Ethiopian on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza in Acts 8:26- 40.
Not the same as James the brother of John and a son of Zebedee. Not the same as James the brother of Jesus who was a leader in the early church and the writer of the epistle of James.
Also called “James the Less” in Mark 15:40 and according to the translation used also referred to as “the mi- nor”, “the little”, and “the younger”. These names are not meant to demean but rather simply to distinguish him from the other disciples of the same name.
According to Mark 15:40, had a brother named Joseph (not the husband of Mary, Jesus’ mother).
Life Lessons from the Disciples:
James the son of Alphaeus-Spiritual Heritage
We do not know very much about this James because as previously stated his name is mentioned only in the four lists of the disciples and in one other instance (Mark 15-40). There is nothing given about anything he may have said or done. We actually know more about his mother than we do him.
- Matthew 27:56- “Mary the mother of James and Joses”
- Mark 15:40-41- “Mary the mother of James the less and Joses” James’ mother can be seen in the accounts of the burial of Jesus. Please read Matthew 27:57-61 and Mark 15-42-47.
- Matthew 27:56-61- “the other Mary”
- Mark 15:42-47- “Mary the mother of Joses”
James’ mother can be seen in the accounts of the resurrection. Please read Matthew 28:1-9 and Mark 16:1-8.
- Matthew 28:1-9- “the other Mary”
- Mark 16:1-8- “Mary the mother of James”
In the gospels women played an important role in the ministry of Jesus (Luke 8:1-3). James the Less’ mother, Mary, was present at the crucifixion, went and saw the tomb where Jesus was laid, was among those who dis- covered that the tomb was empty. She also was one of the women who first saw the resurrected Jesus.
Question: What does this say about James’ mother Mary?
We do not know the story of how James or his mother became followers of Jesus. Was James called by Jesus to follow Him and then he went and told his mother or was she first a follower who brought James to Jesus? Matthew Henry states “that one of the other 12 disciples of Jesus, Lebbaeus (Thaddaeus), was a brother of James the Less. What we can say with certainty is that his family had a mother who was willing to stay with Jesus even when most of His disciples made the decision to run. They had a mother they could turn to who was unwavering in her belief in Jesus.”
Question: Is there a person or persons in your life (past or present) who has had a great influence on your be- ing a follower of Jesus? How did they influence you?
Question: Are you leaving a spiritual heritage to someone in your life? Would they say that you are teaching them by your actions and your words that nothing is greater than following Jesus?
Peter and Philip-Triumphs and Failures
Most of us probably know something about Peter because he is named first in every list given of the disciples and because he is typically the spokesperson for the group, Peter is generally recognized as the leader. He is also certainly one of the key leaders in the early church of the Book of Acts. We know Peter had moments when he was commended for his faith but also moments when he was rebuked for his lack thereof. Much more is known about Peter than is the disciple Philip. But just like Peter, Philip had some triumphs in his walk, as well as, failures.
Both Recognize Jesus as the Messiah:
Peter-Matthew 16:13-17 (v16) “You are the Christ the Son of the living God.”
Philip-John 1:43-45 (v45) “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote- Jesus of Nazareth the son of Joseph.”
For both of these men this was a great revelation and one that went against what they were being told by the Jewish leadership. This Jesus was not the picture of the Messiah they had envisioned for hundreds of years. Yet Philip saw the truth from the Old Testament Scriptures that even the theologians of his day did not see. At one point Jesus tells Peter, “flesh and blood had not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven,” This was truly a great moment in the life of each of these men.
Question: What triumphant moments have you had in your walk with Christ?
Both Tested and Failed:
Peter-Luke 22:31-34 (v31) “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.” Philip-John 6:4-14 (v6) “But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.”
Question: What were the results of the tests of Peter and Philip? Did they pass? If not, how did they fail?
Saying you will pass a test and then actually passing a test is two different things as we can see from Peter. He had previously made some great confessions about Jesus being the Messiah and here in Luke 22:31 he pro- claimed how he would stand with Christ. In reality when it came down to putting what he said into practice, he failed.
For Philip his test was directly from Jesus. Verse 6 of John 6, tells us that Jesus knew exactly what He was going to do to feed the multitude but He wanted to see how Philip would answer. Keep in mind that Philip had seen Jesus perform many miracles at this point. The question was actually one with no man made solution be- cause even if there was enough bread to feed the multitude the disciples couldn’t afford to buy it! Andrew ac- tually came closer to passing the test than Philip did when in verse 8 when he brought the boy to Jesus with five loaves and two small fish which Jesus would use to miraculously feed the multitude.
Question: How do you think Peter felt when Jesus told him He would deny Him? How do you think Philip felt as he watched how Jesus fed the multitude?
Question: Have you ever failed in your faith? Have you ever sought a solution in your own strength rather than in God’s strength?
Peter-Matthew 16:21-23 (v23) “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Philip-John 14:7-11 (v9) “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip?”
Peter had confessed Jesus as the Messiah yet in verse 22 he actually rebuked Jesus! Philip from day one rec- ognized Jesus as Messiah but even after the resurrection he still did not understand fully who Jesus was.
Question: How do you think it felt to be rebuked by Jesus? Can you relate to the failures of these two disci- ples in your own walk? Have you ever been rebuked by Jesus?
Conclusion: Please read Mark 6:6-7
Question: What is the significance of the words “and Peter” in verse 7?
Please read Acts 1:13
Question: In this list of disciples, after Jesus ascension, are Peter and Philip included? What is the signifi- cance of this?
Peter and Philip along with the other disciples had many ups and downs in their journey with Jesus. Although not noted in Scripture, James the son of Alphaeus most certainly had his shortcomings as well. Despite all of this, these men are still present in the upper room in the book of Acts and will powerfully and effectively lead the early church. Their walk was not perfect yet they were still used in a mighty way. I once listened to a ser- mon from pastor Matt Chandler who described the Christian walk as “stumbling forward.” His emphasis was not so much on the “stumbling” part of this statement as it was on the “forward” part. The Bible describes the way of following Jesus as the difficult way that few find (Matthew 7:14). If you’re truly walking this path there will be times when you stumble.
Questions: Will your walk with Christ be defined by your stumbles or will it be defined by what you do after you stumble?
Have you stumbled in your walk and failed to get up and move forward? How does Jesus want you to react to your stumbles? How does satan want you to react to your stumbles?
Have you stumbled in building a spiritual heritage for your family? Is it too late to start building it? Is your family worth it?
Carson, D. A. NIV Zondervan Study Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2015.
Henry, Matthew. Commentary of the Whole Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1961.
Robertson, A. T. A Harmony of the Gospels. New York NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1950.
Strong, James. The Strongest Strong’s Concordance of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2001.