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The Original Names of the 12 Apostles

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It’s one of those first things that you memorize in 2nd grade or in religious education: the names of the 12 Apostles of Jesus. We’ve all heard their names in Scripture and in prayers countless times. Also, they are probably some of the most commonly given names in the world! But Jesus would not have called them John or Thomas or Andrew or Peter, etc… those are all Anglicized version of the names of the Apostles. The English language didn't even exist at the time of the Apostles!

So what would their names have sounded like when spoken by Our Lord and what did those names mean? Here are the original forms of the names of the 12 Apostles and their meanings: 

Peter The name Peter is derived, via Latin "petra", from the Greek word πέτρος (petros) meaning "stone" or "rock". According to the New Testament, Jesus gave Saint Peter (whose given name was Simon) the name Kephas or Cephas meaning "stone" in Aramaic.

Andrew English form of the Greek name Ανδρεας (Andreas), which was derived from ανδρειος (andreios) "manly, masculine", a derivative of ανηρ (aner) "man".

James the Greater & James The Lesser English form of the Late Latin name Iacomus which was derived from Ιακωβος (Iakobos), the New Testament Greek form of the Hebrew name Ya'aqov.  The name comes from the Old Testament figure, Jacob (later called Israel) who was born holding his twin brother Esau's heel, and his name is explained as meaning "holder of the heel" or "supplanter", because he twice deprived his brother of his rights as the firstborn son (see Genesis 27:36).

John English form of Iohannes, the Latin form of the Greek name Ιωαννης (Ioannes), itself derived from the Hebrew name יוֹחָנָן (Yochanan) meaning "YAHWEH is gracious".

Philip From the Greek name Φιλιππος (Philippos) which means "friend of horses", composed of the elements φιλος (philos) "friend, lover" and ‘ιππος(hippos) "horse"

Bartholomew From Βαρθολομαιος (Bartholomaios), which was the Greek form of an Aramaic name meaning "son of TALMAI".

Matthew English form of Ματθαιος (Matthaios), which was a Greek form of the Hebrew name מַתִּתְיָהוּ (Mattityahu) meaning "gift of YAHWEH".

Thomas Greek form of the Aramaic name תָּאוֹמָא (Ta'oma') which meant "twin". (Apparently Thomas looked very much like Our Lord).

Jude (Thaddeus) & Judas Iscariot From the Hebrew יְהוּדָה (Yehudah) which meant "praised". From Ιουδας (Ioudas), the Greek form of JUDAH.

Simon The Zealot From Σιμων (Simon), the New Testament Greek form of the Hebrew name שִׁמְעוֹן (Shim'on) which meant "he has heard". This name is spelled Simeon, based on Greek Συμεων, in many translations of the Old Testament
 

If you want to learn about Scripture and deepen your knowledge of the Bible, join Biblical scholars such as Dr. Scott Hahn, Jeff Cavins, Dr. Ted Sri, Patrick Madrid, and Mark Hart at the Steubenville Conferences!

 Steubenville Conferences offer five unique conference experiences for adults on our campus in Ohio. Every summer thousands of Catholics make the pilgrimage to Franciscan University to have their faith renewed, their spirits refreshed, and to be equipped to not only live the faith but to share it with others. Whether you are looking for apologetics, Scripture study, catechetics, or spiritual renewal, we have a conference that will meet your needs.

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