Tag Archives: New Testament

Simon, the Zealot


Image source:  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bb/Rubens_apostel_simon.jpg

In the New Testament, there are four places where the disciples were named in list form: Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:13-16, and Acts 1:13.

In this ongoing series on the 12 Disciples, we have looked at Matthew, the tax-collector and James, son of Alphaeus and when we last left off, we mentioned that one other disciple besides James, son of Alphaeus appeared only in the four lists.

Simon, the Zealot; and that is all we know about him!

In First Century Judaism, there were four notable sects: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes and the Zealots. In the Gospels, Jesus has dialogs and disagreements with the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Pharisees were the keepers and defenders of the Law while the Sadducees’ center of power was the running of the Temple. The Essenes were the separatists and it is thought that some inhabited the Qumran community near where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found leading to the theory that the scrolls were collected and prepared by the Essenes. Lastly, the Zealots were the rebels who wanted to oppose Rome militarily. This group is probably best known for the Siege of Masada.

There are two possibilities for the “zealot” designation of Simon. One, of course, was that he was part of the Zealot sect. The other possibility was that he was a zealous individual.

John MacArthur offered some interesting lessons one might draw from the story of Simon the Zealot.

Whether Simon was a Zealot in the sense of being part of the sect or zealous in a sense of zeal for God and the Law, he was without doubt a passionate individual and he was won over by Jesus! Quoting from MacArthur’s sermon transcript:

Now a man like Simon to attach himself to them must have been a man with a tremendous passion, a tremendous capacity for zeal. And you can imagine that he must have been a fireball when it got to the work of the Lord. He found a better leader and a greater cause.

Another consideration MacArthur brought up was what kind of tension might have been within Simon and for that matter within the group towards the former Roman collaborator, Matthew, the tax-collector. Another excerpt:

Simon believed and was transformed, Judas did not, and so no one names anything Judas. Simon became Christ’s man. Think of how wonderful it must have been for him to get along with Matthew who collected taxes for the Roman government. I wonder if he ever had just little anxieties about Matthew.

The 12 Disciples were an interesting collection of diverse individuals. Yet, they had in common being called by Jesus and loved by Jesus and sent by him to start the daisy chain of communicating the Good News of the Gospel to all the world down the ages.

We started this series with Matthew, a social outcast as a tax-collector who became part of the fabric of the new community in Jesus. Though, we only have his name in the lists and the one episode of his calling by Jesus, his recollections became Scripture in the Gospel according to Matthew. James, son of Alphaeus, possibly Matthew’s brother and Simon, the Zealot who may have had nothing but contempt for tax collectors and anyone connected with one, yet, in Christ, they were united!

Next up, the disciple whose voice is heard in one question in the four Gospels.

Advertisements

Matthew’s Story, Part II


Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_the_Apostle#/media/File:Giuseppe_Bernardi-Matthew-BMA.jpg

Previously, in part I, we highlighted that Matthew’s name appears in 4 lists: Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13. And we posed the question as to whether we could see some differences in the lists.

Did you notice that in three of the four, Matthew is listed with his name only and no descriptor. But in Matthew 10:3 we see: Matthew the tax collector.

Isn’t it interesting that only in the list that Matthew wrote that his occupation is highlighted?!

Flip back to Matthew 9:9-13 the one other place in the Gospel of Matthew that Matthew mentioned himself.

As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him. Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

What did Matthew feel when he began to follow of Jesus? Though we can’t read Matthew’s mind when he penned the Gospel passages here, but it probably isn’t too much of a stretch to suspect that Matthew had an overwhelming sense of the grace of Jesus in allowing him into the company of his followers. Tax collectors were hated people! Yet, Jesus had the audacity to talk to them and dine with them. This was scandalous! And so Matthew probably felt a mixture of joy and unworthiness. And indeed, isn’t that what grace is: unmerited favor?

And so when Matthew got to writing the episode of the selection of the Twelve, he remembered: Jesus called me to be one of the Twelve, yes me, a wretched hated tax collector.

The story of Jesus’ meeting with Matthew was also described in Mark 2:14-17 and Luke 5:27-32.

What do you notice there?

Answers below the artwork.


Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/80/Matthaeus_San_Giovanni_in_Laterano_2006-09-07.jpg

We find out that Matthew was apparently also known by the name Levi.

We find out the party of “tax collectors and sinners” was at his home.

And we find out that he is the son of Alphaeus which might mean he was the brother of one of the other 12 disciples.

To be continued …

Matthew’s story, part I

image

Image above is from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/ba/The_Evangelist_Matthew_Inspired_by_an_Angel.jpg

There are 4 places in Scripture where the disciples are named in list fashion. Take a look at how Matthew is described:

Matthew 10:3

Mark 3:18

Luke 6:15

Acts 1:13

Do you notice any differences? What do you make of it?

To be continued …..