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Thaddeus - The Apostle With Four Names

Profile of Thaddeus, Apostle and Epistle Writer

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Thaddeus and Simon the Zealot

The Apostle Thaddeus (on left) and Simon the Zealot.

Photo: Getty Images
Little is known about Thaddeus, one of Jesus Christ's 12 apostles. Bible scholars generally agree, however, that the four names used for him all refer to the same person.

In lists of the Twelve, he is called Thaddeus or Thaddaeus, a surname for the name Lebbaeus (Matthew 10:3, KJV), which means "heart" or "courageous."

The picture is confused further when he is called Judas but is distinguished from Judas Iscariot. In the single epistle he authored, he calls himself "Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James." (Jude 1, NIV). Most scholars believe that brother would be James the Less, or James the son of Alphaeus.

Church tradition holds that Thaddeus founded a church at Edessa and was crucified there as a martyr.

Accomplishments of Thaddeus:

Thaddeus preached the gospel as a missionary following Jesus' resurrection. He also penned the book of Jude. The final two verses of Jude (24-25) contain a doxology, or "expression of praise to God," considered the finest in the New Testament.

Thaddeus' Strengths:

Thaddeus learned the gospel directly from Jesus and loyally served Christ despite hardship and persecution.

Thaddeus' Weaknesses:

Like most of the other apostles, Thaddeus abandoned Jesus during his trial and crucifixion.

Life Lessons from Thaddeus:

In his short epistle, Jude warns believers to avoid false teachers who twist the gospel for their own purposes, and he calls us to staunchly defend the Christian faith during persecution.

Hometown:

Unknown

Referenced in the Bible:

Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:16; John 14:22; Acts 1:13; Book of Jude.

Occupation:

Unknown, missionary.

Family Tree:

Father - Alphaeus
Brother - James the Less

Key Verses:

John 14:21-22
[Jesus speaking] "Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them." Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" (NIV)

Jude 20-21
But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. (NIV)

Jude 24-25
To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (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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