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Simon the Zealot - Mystery Apostle

Profile of Simon the Zealot, Disciple of Jesus

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Three Apostles

From left to right: Matthew, Thaddeus (Jude), and Simon the Zealot at the last supper in Jerusalem.

Photo: Getty Images

Simon the Zealot, one of Jesus Christ's 12 apostles, is a mystery character in the Bible. We have one tantalizing bit of information about him, which has led to ongoing debate among Bible scholars.

In some versions of the Bible (Amplified Bible), he is called Simon the Cananaean. In the King James Version and New King James Version, he is called Simon the Canaanite or Cananite. In the English Standard Version, New American Standard Bible, New International Version, and New Living Translation he is called Simon the Zealot.

To confuse things further, Bible scholars argue over whether Simon was a member of the radical Zealot party or whether the term simply referred to his religious zeal. Those who take the former view think Jesus may have chosen Simon, a member of the tax-hating, Roman-hating Zealots, to counterbalance Matthew, a former tax collector and employee of the Roman empire. Those scholars say such a move by Jesus would have shown that his kingdom reaches out to people in all walks of life.

Accomplishments of Simon the Zealot:

Scripture tells us almost nothing about Simon. In the Gospels, he is mentioned in three places, but only to list his name with the 12 disciples. In Acts 1:13 we learn that he was present with the 11 apostles in the upper room of Jerusalem after Christ had ascended to heaven.

Church tradition holds that he spread the gospel in Egypt as a missionary and was martyred in Persia.

Simon the Zealot's Strengths:

Simon left everything in his previous life to follow Jesus. He lived true to the Great Commission after Jesus' ascension.

Simon the Zealot's Weaknesses:

Like most of the other apostles, Simon the Zealot deserted Jesus during his trial and crucifixion.

Life Lessons:

Jesus Christ transcends political causes, governments, and all earthly turmoil. His kingdom is eternal. Following Jesus leads to salvation and heaven.

Hometown:

Unknown.

Referenced in the Bible:

Matthew 10:4, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15, Acts 1:13.

Occupation:

Unknown, then disciple and missionary for Jesus Christ.

Key Verse:

Matthew 10:2-4
These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (NIV)

Old Testament People of the Bible (Index)
New Testament People of the Bible (Index)

Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian website for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.

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