The Unknown Apostles

It’s Not Accomplishment, but Faithfulness that Counts


I.         Introduction


A.      Studying through the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Rev 21:10,14)


1.        Peter – man of Zeal

2.        Andrew the Soul-Winner

3.        James the Hot-headed

4.        John the Beloved

5.        Philip, the Active Apostle

6.        Bartholomew, or Nathanael as he is called in the Gospel of John

7.        Matthew, the Tax-Collector turned Gospel Reporter

8.        Last week, it was Thomas – the pessimist, the crawler, and the doubter

9.        This week, we focus on three men we know extremely little about. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing to learn from these men


B.       Just for reference, we have these three apostles, and then Judas to study, and then we will spend a little while and study the life of the Apostle Paul, before we will have looked at the twelve apostles of the lamb, and the Anti-Christ.

C.       What a study – not just looking at the men themselves, but the impact that Jesus Christ had upon them, and then the impact on the world these men had


II.       Background


A.      We have looked at the “BIG TIME” apostles already – there is lots of Scripture about Peter, James and John, and especially about the Apostle Paul.

B.       But before we look at the apostle Paul, we need to see what the Holy Spirit wants us to find as we dig for treasures in his word.

C.       Unknown Apostles is probably not a great way to refer to them. They are known, but just not much. These three men are barely mentioned at all

D.      Yet Jesus says He hand-picked not just 9 well written about men, but TWELVE men (Jn 6:70) to follow Him, and turn the world upside down

E.       So even these three have to have something for us to learn from!


III.     Message – The Unknown Apostles


Who were these guys? Three men we know so little about


A.      We Know Their Names (Mt 10:1-3; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:15,16; Act 1:13) - James, Thaddeaus, and Simon the Canaanite


1.       Meet James


a.       The second James in the group

b.       This one is known simply as the son of Alphaeus

c.       We don’t know anything about Mr. Alphaeus, but we do know he had three sons in the ministry (what an accomplishment):


1)       James here

2)       Matthew, the Tax collector

3)       And Judas the brother of James, also known as Thaddeaus, and Lebbeus


d.       None of these men were “great” men whom the Lord called because of their abilities, but because the Lord wanted to show what he could do with ANYBODY! That ought to encourage you!

e.       THAT’S how and why God calls somebody - to show His greatness

f.        James is remarkable for his interest in how the Lord would reveal Himself to the believers after He died (Jn 14:20-23)


1)       If they would stay in love with the Lord – so important

2)       And stay at obeying His word – trusting when it is darkest

3)       They would know and experience the love of God

4)       And would be filled with the person of the Lord

5)       Which is what Pentecost was all about


g.       The same is true for us


1)       Stay in love with the Lord Jesus

2)       Persevere at obeying His word – live His word – trusting it

3)       And you will enjoy the fruits of a personal, intimate, Spirit-filled life! AMEN! No more complicated than that!


2.        Meet Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus, also known as Judas, the brother of James


a.       Why people would have 3 names is beyond me – but many do. I suppose it is for tax reasons, and for when we are in trouble

b.       I have three names: Craig, and Alan, and Ledbetter

c.       Some have four and FIVE names

d.       A Dutch father named his son “Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Thaddeaus, Simon, Judas” – imagine the registry office’s shock to that! I am sure he just called him Peter when he needed him though!

e.       Speaking of names:


1)       A Kerryman named both his sons Ed. When asked Why, he replied, “Well, haven’t you heard, Two ‘Eds’ are better than one”

2)       In Los Angeles, a Federal Judge Yankwich had to deal with a case that would make a grown man cry.


a)       Luther Wright and Hermann Rongg appeared before Federal Judge Leon Yankwich, claiming ownership of a patent

b)       The judge declared, “Well, one of you must be wrong.”

c)       “That’s right,” declared Rongg. “I’m Rongg, and I’m right.”

d)       Then Mr. Write interrupted: “No, He’s wrong, your honour, I’m right, and Rongg is wrong.”

e)       After extensively reviewing the evidence, Judge Yaknwich ended the dispute by ruling:

f)        “Paradoxical as it may appear, in this case, Mr. Write is wrong, and Rongg is right, and I so enter judgment!"


3.        Meet Simon the Canaanite, also known as Simon Zelotes


a.       Zelotes were a group of fanatical men who acted as community vigilantes, and a law unto themselves

b.       They would act against any supposed wrong in the community – keeping it “under control” – kind of like the IRA punishment beatings, etc.

c.       They were highly applauded by the people

d.       Yet, under this name of Zealots, innumerable murders, and most horrible wickedness were committed in the name of zeal.

e.       Simon was one of this sect before his conversion, and still retained the name afterwards. It stuck to him unfortunately

f.        But his zealousness was now for the Lord, not for equal rights, or workers rights, or women’s rights, or anything like that

g.       Thankfully, his cause was changed from exacting vengeance and revenge, to making a way for people to be saved from hell!


4.        Their names are etched in Scripture for all time (Ps 118:89)

5.        Their names proclaimed in heaven – written in the Book of Life (Lk 10:20) – Why? For no other reason than:


a.       Because they responded to Christ’s call to follow Him (Lk 5:27; Jn 6:70)


1)       Same call every time – Follow Me

2)       Same goal every time – to make them different than they were

3)       If you are not following the Lord Jesus, you are no Christian


b.       Because they believed on Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God for their own salvation from sin and hell.

c.       Is YOUR name written down in heaven? That’s the most important write-up to have your name in! Only happens when born again!


B.       We Know They Were Apostles – review of what an apostle was


1.        Had a special job to do: get the New Testament church going - and they did

2.        Had special abilities to get the job done: miracles. Only for the time though – not passed down to all of us. Needed only at the first until the New Testament was written


C.       But That’s not the most important stuff to learn! What Can we learn from just these three men’s names?


1.        Notice again, God’s Call


a.       It was to these 3 men just as clearly as it was to Peter and Matthew!

b.       It’s not what they were, or what they became known as (title: apostles), but what God called them to do, and whether they did it that matters

c.       Think about it – what is your calling in life?

d.       Is it God’s call, or just what you can do?

e.       There is nothing greater than fulfilling God’s design for your life

f.        Are you doing God’s will, little by little, day by day?


2.        God’s Conditioning – God had these 3 little known men in a team


a.       They were not just individuals – not rocket-scientists

b.       You have all kinds of people in a team – some very prominent, some not prominent at all – but they are still needed on a team

c.       Same in war – frontline soldiers, Generals, drivers, mechanics, pilots, and so many parents back home praying – all together make an army

d.       We will spend a whole Message dealing with Christian Teamwork in a few weeks

e.       Just realize, God calls Christians to “assemble together” so that we can as a team, as an army, as a body of believers, can make a difference in a world gone bad!


3.        God’s Concern


a.       That they would do what He called them to do – nothing less

b.       To do anything less, would be a wasted life


D.      What Difference did they make?


1.        The whole world by 95 AD heard of the Gospel (Col 1:4-6)

2.        By 300 AD, half of the Roman Empire was Christian! So much so that Constantine had to give in and join them in order to stay in power

3.        It didn’t happen by accident, by just Peter preaching, or even Paul. It happened because multitudes of Christians were willing to give their lives so that all men might hear the Good News!


a.       But it only happens when we work together as a team – God needed all twelve men working together

b.       It only happens when churches work together in supporting missionaries

c.       It only happens when there are LOTS of unknowns working

d.       Simon Zelotes preached the Gospel in a distant country of Mauritania, on the coast of western Africa, and even up into Britain, in which latter country he was crucified, in A.D. 74

e.       Thaddeaus preached and ultimately was crucified at a city called Edessa, Macedonia, in A.D. 72.


4.        These “unknowns” get a seat right next to the Lamb, and have a layer of the New Jerusalem named after them! Pretty Good huh, even though not the most outstanding of apostles – they still did pretty good!


IV.    Conclusion


A.      What will be the result of your life when it is over?


1.        A lot of money in a bank account that your kids will fight over?

2.        A selfish, self-centred, self-serving life that was miserable?

3.        An empty life with nobody ever loving your for anything more than your money, or your abilities?


B.       Jesus died to give you a new life that counted for eternity – the abundant life

C.       What difference will all the civil rights marches, and riots and all the money spent on Advertising mean to eternity?

D.      This world desperately needs to hear once again about Jesus Christ – not the church, or good works, but the finished work of Jesus Christ for man’s sins!

E.       The world is NOT going to hear just by the Paul’s and Peters, but only when the Simons, and Thaddeaus’ and James the less’ get busy for God as well!

F.       But they all started at the same place


1.        At the bottom

2.        No Christian was ever BORN a Christian

3.        All are born wrong and need to be born again

4.        All are sinners, in need of the Saviour

5.        Are YOU one of them?

6.        Today is your day – THE day to get saved!


G.       Christian? Are you discouraged? Because you can’t show any GREAT things being done by your life yet?


1.        Become part of a team – part of the ministries of this church

2.        Get all the way in – become passionate for souls, and soul-winning, and teaching, and helping people know Jesus

3.        You will never be the same, and neither will your heart!

Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church
Ballincollig, Cork
and Mallow, Co. Cork

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