Apostle Name Lists
By: Date: September 24, 2019 Categories: Uncategorized
Is there prophesy in the translated names of the Apostles? You decide!

The prototype “Twelve Tribes” of Israel were not always listed in the same order, and certain names are included or excluded in each list because there were really fourteen patriarchs from Israel when we add Ephraim and Manasseh. Thirteen became tribes where Joseph is excluded, but the twelve sections of land left out Levi – who received the six cities of refuge instead of a land. Dan is excluded from certain lists because his tribe rebelled.

We see an anti-type of this in the apostle name lists, because there were twelve original apostles, but Judas Iscariot rebelled and #13 Matthias was chosen by lot to replace him before Pentecost. Afterward, #14 Paul appears, “as of one born out of due time” (1 Cor. 15:8-9), “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”

Mark (the oldest of the Gospels) and Acts list Peter, James, and John first, with Andrew fourth. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke list Simon Peter, Andrew his brother, James ben Zebidee, with John his brother fourth. Catholic sources follow Matthew, while Orthodox sources do not appear to have a consensus. I defer to Matthew because he was one of the Twelve. 

With the above differences in mind, Peter is always first, Phillip is always fifth, James ben Alphaeus always ninth, with the others varying in where they appear among the lists with Judas, Matthias, and Paul last, when included.

Other complexities are that 1. some apostles received a surname, and 2. some had multiple names by which they were known. Example: the Apostle Jude is called Lebbaeus surnamed Thaddaeus by Matthew (who knew him best), Thaddaeus by Mark, Judas the brother of James by Luke, and Jude the Apostle by later writers, but there is disagreement on whether he is the author of the epistle of Jude. The name Judas implies that he was either a descendant of Judah, or an inhabitant of Judea, and that his family preferred Greek. 

With the above problems firmly in mind, I have taken a stab at translating their names and listing them in approximate order. After looking at it different ways, the following is the sense I have of their name list and it’s meaning. Please feel free to rearrange it according to your sense of the correct order and meanings. 

Simon Peter (Cephas in Aramaic), was quite certainly not schooled in Greek, and used other men to write for him as he did not consider himself able to write well enough. Simon is from Simeon, one of the twelve tribes of Israel, meaning “He hears.” Jesus surnamed him Cephas or Peter (Petros), which means a loose stone, one that could be picked up and thrown with the hand.

Jesus says to Peter: You are petros (a small wobbly and easily movable stone), but on that petra (the unmovable faith that is not from man but from God) I’m going to build my church.

Abarim Publications’ Biblical Library

Andrew is from Andros, which means Manly or Courageous. It is also the root of Alexander, Alexandra, and Sandra. 

James the Greater is from Jacob, which means Supplanter, or he who follows closely. Jesus surnamed him Boanerges for Son of Thunder. 

John is Johanan in Hebrew, meaning Yah is Gracious. He called himself “the Beloved,” but Jesus surnamed him Boanerges, a son of Thunder.

Phillip means Lover of Horses, or Lover of Cavalry, understood to mean the primary means of waging war in the ancient world. He has no surname that we are aware of. 

Bartholomew means Son of Talmai, One of the Plowmen, or Son of Furrows according to Abarim-Publications’ Dictionary of names. Another source offered Son of Him who Lets Down Water, which seemed harder to use in a sentence.

Thomas and Didymus both mean Twin.

James the Less is from Jacob, which means Supplanter, or he who follows closely.

Jude has the same meaning as Judas, from Judah, which means Praise or Confession. Matthew called him Lebbaeus, meaning Man of Heart, surnamed Thaddeus, which means Warm-Hearted. 

Simon called the Canaanite, surnamed Zelotes. It is presumed that he belonged to the Zealot Party prior to his calling as an apostle, a political group that supported armed rebellion against the Romans to make Israel a free kingdom again. Simon is from Simeon, one of the twelve tribes of Israel, meaning “He hears.” Since his name is Jewish, we may presume he was raised as a Jew in spite of his heritage. 

Judas Iscariot means the same thing as Judah, of Kerioth, which is plural and means either Cities, or a Federation of Cities. In the context of this name list, I took it as a reference to the Roman Empire, but perhaps that is taking liberties. He had the posthumous surname “Betrayer.” 

If we include the later apostles, we may add Matthias, which has the same meaning as Matthew, and Saul of Tarsus, surnamed Paul, which means Small, Little, or Little by Little according to Abarim. We get a fine sentence pointing to the original Twelve without them, but no harm is done to the sense by adding them either.

Given Names


My Translation

Simon = He Hears or Obeys

Cephas/Petros = Loose Stone

Loose stones

Andrew = Manly, Courageous


Courageous men

James = Supplanter, He who closely follows

Boanerges or Son of Thunder

Closely following

John = Gracious Lord

Beloved, Boanerges

Their gracious Lord

Levi = Joined, or Levite

Matthew = Gift of Yah

The gift of Yahweh

Phillip = Lover of Horses, or of Cavalry


To them that loved war

Bartholomew = Son of Talmai or One of the Plowmen, Son of Furrows

Nathaniel = God has Given or Given of God

I sent plowmen

Thomas = Twin

Didymus = Twin

Two by two

James = Supplanter, He who closely follows

The Less, or The Just


Jude = Praise or Confession

Lebbaeus = Man of Heart

Thaddaeus = Warm-Hearted

By their confession

Simon = He Hears or Obeys

Zealotes = Zealot, Zealous

The zealous

Judas = Praise or Confession

Iscariot = Of Kerioth = Cities, or a Federation of Cities


(If we include the later apostles)


Matthias = Gift of Yah


By My gifts

Saul = Asked For

Paul = Little, Small, or Little by Little

Little by Little