It can be a little difficult to identify the original 12 apostles. Let’s look at a couple of times that the 12 apostles are spoken of by name. Let’s compare the apostle’s names as given in the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John does not give us a direct list of the apostle’s names.

Matthew 10:1-4 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

Mark 3:14-19 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: And Simon he surnamed Peter; And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite, And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house.

Luke 6:13-16 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.

A few clarifying notes:

  • Bartholomew is not mentioned in the book of John. However, Nathanael is mentioned quite often. In Matthew, Mark and Luke, Bartholomew is often mentioned along with Philip. In John, Nathanael is often mentioned with Philip. Therefore, it’s thought by most that Bartholomew and Nathanael are the same person.
  • In Matthew, we have “Lebbaeus whose surname was Thaddaeus”. In Mark, we have “Thaddaeus”. In Luke, we have “Judas the brother of James”. In Acts 1:13, there is a list of the apostles, and “Judas the brother of James” is mentioned instead of “Thaddaeus”. Therefore, we believe these two men are the same person.   In John 14:22, he is called “Judas, not Iscariot”.
  • Acts 1:13 reads, “And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.” Notice here that only eleven apostles are mentioned. Matthew 27:5 tells us, “And (Judas) cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.”

In Acts 1:15-26, we see that the remaining eleven apostles were led of the Lord to choose another person to take Judas’ place. Verse 26 says, “And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” This is a list of the original twelve apostles and Matthias, who was chosen to take Judas’ place. (299.6)