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Saint is a holy person who becomes a religious hero by exemplifying a virtue or virtues of a religion. The word comes from the Latin sanctus, meaning a holy one.

A holy person believed to have a special relationship to the sacred as well as moral perfection or exceptional teaching abilities. The phenomenon is widespread in the religions of the world, both ancient and contemporary. Various types of religious personages have been recognized as saints, both by popular acclaim and official pronouncement, and their influence on the religious masses (the broad spectrum of those holding various wide-ranging religious beliefs) has been, and is, of considerable significance.

Jesus and his disciples did not speak of saints; but during the period (1st to early 4th century) in which they were persecuted, Christians began to venerate the martyrs as saints. They believed that the martyrs, being sufferers “unto death” for Christ, were received directly into heaven and could therefore be effective as intercessors for the living. By the 3rd century the veneration of martyr saints was already common.


In the Nicene Creed (AD 325) the early church called itself the “communion of saints.” Here, however, the word “saint” has the broader meaning of “believer” rather than being applied strictly to a holy person or numinous personality worthy of veneration. In the 10th century a procedure of canonization (official recognition of a public cult of a saint) was initiated by Pope John XV. Gradually, a fixed process was developed for canonization by the pope, requiring that the person must have led a life of heroic sanctity and performed at least two miracles.


Saints in the Roman Catholic Church are venerated-but not worshipped-because of their spiritual and religious significance and are believed to be the bearers of special powers. Because of a belief in the powers of the saints, their relics are regarded as efficacious. In the Eastern Orthodox Church saints also are venerated, but the process of canonization is less juridical and not always ecumenical. In some Protestant churches (Lutheran and Anglican) saints are recognized, but not venerated as in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox.


In the Christian church, a day commemorating all the saints of the church, both known and unknown, celebrated on November 1 in the Western churches and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in the Eastern churches.


St. Mary


Saint Mary, or Virgin Mary the mother of Jesus, an object of veneration in the Christian church since the apostolic age, and a favorite subject in Western art, music, and literature. Mary is known from biblical references, which are, however, too sparse to construct a coherent biography. The development of the doctrine of Mary can be traced through titles that have been ascribed to her in the history of the Christian communions-guarantee of the incarnation, virgin mother, second Eve, mother of God, ever virgin, immaculate, and assumed into heaven.


Her humility and obedience to the message of God have made her an exemplar for all ages of Christians. Out of the details supplied in the New Testament by the Gospels about the maid of Galilee, Christian piety and theology have constructed a picture of Mary that fulfills the prediction ascribed to her in the Magnificat (Luke 1:48): “Henceforth all generations will call me blessed.”

The first mention of Mary is the story of the Annunciation, which reports that she was living in Nazareth and was betrothed to Joseph (Luke 1:26 ff.); the last mention of her (Acts 1:14) includes her in the company of those who devoted themselves to prayer after the ascension of Jesus into heaven. She appears in the following incidents in the Gospels: the Annunciation; the visit with Elizabeth, her kinswoman and the mother of John the Baptist, the precursor of Jesus (Luke 1:39 ff.); the birth of Jesus and the presentation of him in the Temple (Luke 2:1 ff.); the coming of the Magi and the flight to Egypt (Matthew 2:1 ff.); the Passover visit to Jerusalem when Jesus was 12 years old (Luke 2:41 ff.); the marriage at Cana in Galilee, although her name is not used (John 2:1 ff.); the attempt to see Jesus while he was teaching (Mark 3:31 ff.); and the station at the cross, where, apparently widowed, she was entrusted to the disciple John (John 19:26 ff.). Even if one takes these scenes as literal historical accounts, they do not add up to an integrated portrait of Mary. Only in the narratives of the Nativity and the Passion of Christ is her place a significant one: her acceptance of the privilege conferred on her in the Annunciation is the solemn prologue to the Christmas story; not only does she stand at the foot of the Cross, but in the Easter story “the other Mary” who came to the tomb of Jesus (Matthew 28:1) is not she-according to traditional interpretations, because, having kept in her heart what he was to be, she knew that the body of Jesus would not be there. On the other hand, the three incidents that belong to the life of Jesus contain elements of a pronouncedly human character, perhaps even the suggestion that she did not fully understand Jesus' true mission.


Since the early days of Christianity, however, the themes that these scenes symbolize have been the basis for thought and contemplation about Mary. Christian communions and theologians differ from one another in their interpretations of Mary principally on the basis of where they set the terminal point for such development and expansion-that is, where they maintain that the legitimate development of doctrine may be said to have ended. To a considerable degree, therefore, a historical survey of that development is also an introduction to the state of contemporary Christian thought about Mary.

Dogmatic titles

Probably the earliest allusion to Mary in Christian literature is the phrase “born of woman” in Galatians 4:4, which was written before any of the Gospels. As parallels such as Job14:1 and Matthew 11:11 suggest, the phrase is a Hebraic way of speaking about the essential humanity of a person. When applied to Jesus, therefore, “born of woman” was intended to assert that he was a real man, in opposition to the attempt-later seen in various systems of Gnosticism, a 2nd-century dualistic religion-to deny that he had had a completely human life; he was said by some Gnostics to have passed through the body of Mary as light passes through a window. It seems unwarranted to read anything further into the phrase, as though “born of woman” necessarily implied “but not of a man and a woman.” Thus, the phrase made Mary the sign or the guarantee that the Son of God had truly been born as a man. For the ancient world, one human parent was necessary to assure that a person was genuinely human, and from the beginning the human mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has been the one to provide this assurance. Some scholars have even maintained that the primary connotation of the phrase “born of the Virgin Mary” in the Apostles' Creed was this same insistence by the church upon the authentic manhood of Jesus. That insistence has been the irreducible minimum in all the theories about Mary that have appeared in Christian history. Her role as mother takes precedence over any of the other roles assigned to her in devotion and in dogma. Those who deny the virgin birth usually claim to do so in the interest of true humanity, seeing a contradiction between the idea of Jesus as the human son of a human mother and the idea that he did not have a human father. Those who defend the virgin birth usually maintain that the true humanity was made possible when the Virgin accepted her commission as the guarantee of the Incarnation (Luke 1:38): “Let it be to me according to your word.” This is the original source of the title Coredemptrix-indicating some participation with Christ in the redemption of mankind-assigned to Mary in Roman Catholic theology, though the term has come to connote a more active role by her; the precise nature of this participation is still a matter of controversy among Catholic theologians.


By far the most voluminous narratives about Mary in the New Testament are the infancy stories in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. In their present form, both accounts make a point of asserting that Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary without any human agency (Matt. 1:18 ff.; Luke 1:34 ff.); yet the many textual variants in Matt. 1:16, some of them with the words “Joseph begat Jesus,” have caused some scholars to question whether such an assertion was part of Matthew's original account. The passages in Matthew and in Luke seem to be the only references to the matter in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul nowhere mentions it; the Gospel According to Mark begins with Jesus as an adult; and the Gospel According to John, which begins with his pre-historical existence, does not allude to the virgin birth, unless a variant of John 1:13, which reads “. . . who was born” rather than “. . . who were born,” is followed. Matthew does not attach any theological significance to the miracle, but it is possible that the words of the angel in Luke 1:35 are intended to connect the holiness of the child with the virginity of the mother. In post biblical Christian literature the most voluminous discussions of Mary have been those dealing with her virginity. On the basis of the New Testament, it was the unanimous teaching of all the orthodox Fathers of the Church that Mary conceived Jesus with her virginity unimpaired, a teaching enshrined in the early Christian Creeds and concurred in by the 16th-century Reformers as well as by most Protestant churches and believers since the Reformation.


One of the interpretations of the person and work of Jesus Christ in the New Testament is the formulation of parallels between him and Adam: “As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians 15:22). Decisive in the parallel is the contrast between the disobedience of Adam, by which sin came into the world, and the obedience of Christ, by which salvation from sin was accomplished (Letter of Paul to the Romans 5:12-19). Whether or not the story of the Annunciation in the first chapter of the Gospel According to Luke is intended to suggest a similar parallel between Eve and Mary, this did soon become a theme of Christian reflection. Writing at about the end of the 2nd century, the Church Father Irenaeus elaborated the parallel between Eve, who, as a virgin, had disobeyed the word of God, and Mary, who, also as a virgin, had obeyed it;

for Adam had necessarily to be restored in Christ, that mortality be absorbed in immortality, and Eve in Mary, that a virgin, become the advocate of a virgin, should undo and destroy virginal disobedience by virginal obedience.

Irenaeus did not argue the point; he seems rather to have taken the parallel for granted, and this may indicate that it was not his own invention but belonged to tradition, for which he had a high respect. In any case, the parallel did ascribe to Mary and to her obedience an active share in the redemption of the human race: all men had died in Adam, but Eve had participated in the sin that brought this on; all men were saved in Christ, but Mary had participated in the life that made this possible.

The first widespread theological controversy over Mary had to do with the propriety of applying to her the title of Theotokos, meaning “God-bearer” or “mother of God.” The title seems to have arisen in devotional usage, probably in Alexandria, sometime in the 3rd or 4th century; it was a logical deduction from the doctrine of the full deity of Christ, which was established as a dogma during the 4th century, and those who defended that dogma were also the ones who drew the inference. Perhaps, as the 19th-century English theologian Cardinal John Henry Newman supposed, the determination of the Council of Nicaea in 325 that Christ was not merely the highest of creatures but belonged on the divine side of the line between Creator and creature was even responsible for the rapid growth of devotion and speculation attached to Mary as the highest of creatures. By the end of the 4th century, the Theotokos had successfully established itself in various sections of the church. Because it seemed to him that the supporters of the title were blurring the distinction between the divine and the human in Christ, Nestorius, the patriarch of Constantinople, objected to its use, preferring the less explicit title Christotokos, meaning “Christ-bearer” or “mother of Christ.” Along with other aspects of his teaching, Nestorius' objections were condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431.


Various corollaries could be deduced from the New Testament's assertion of Mary's virginity in the conception of Jesus, including the doctrine that she had remained a virgin in the course of his birth (the virginitas in partu) and the doctrine that she had remained a virgin after his birth and until the end of her life (the virginitas post partum). The Apostles' Creed appears to teach at least the virginitas in partu when it says “born of the Virgin Mary.” Although this teaching about how Mary gave birth to Jesus occurs for the first time in the 2nd-century apocryphal, or non-canonical, Protevangelium of James, its origins and evolution are not easy to trace, and Roman Catholic and Protestant historians have come to contradictory conclusions. The growth of the ascetic ideal in the church helped to give support to this view of Mary as the model of the ever virgin. The doctrine is neither asserted nor denied but is simply ignored in the New Testament, and Old Testament passages adduced in support of it by Church Fathers (such as Ezekiel 44:2 and Song of Solomon 4:12) were probably convincing only to those who already accepted the doctrine.


As the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary implied an integral purity of body and soul, so, in the opinion of many theologians, she was also free of other sins. Attempting to prove the universality of sin against Pelagius (whose teaching was condemned as heretical by the Christian Church but who did maintain the sinlessness of Mary), Augustine, the great theologian and bishop from northern Africa, spoke for the Western Church when he wrote:

We must accept the holy Virgin Mary. Out of respect for the Lord, I do not intend to raise a single question on the subject of sin. After all, how do we know what abundance of grace was granted to her who had the merit to conceive and bring forth him who was unquestionably without sin?

It was, however, the distinction between original sin (i.e., the sin that all men are born with) and actual sin (i.e., the sins that men commit during their life), firmly established in Western theology by the same Augustine, that eventually compelled a further clarification of what the sinlessness of Mary meant. Certain Eastern theologians in the 4th and 5th centuries were willing to attribute actual sins to her, but most theologians in both East and West came to accept the view that she never did anything sinful, a view that found expression even among the 16th-century Reformers. But was she free from original sin as well? And if so, how? Thomas Aquinas, the most important medieval theologian in the West, took a representative position when he taught that her conception was tarnished, as was that of all men, but that God suppressed and ultimately extinguished original sin in her, apparently before she was born. This position, however, was opposed by the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, systematized by Duns Scotus, a 13th-century British Scholastic theologian, and finally defined as Roman Catholic dogma by Pope Pius IX in 1854. According to this dogma, Mary was not only pure in her life and in her birth, but at the first instant of her conception was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, by the singular grace and privilege granted her by Almighty God, through the merits of Christ Jesus, Saviour of mankind. 

When the Immaculate Conception was promulgated, petitions began coming to the Vatican for a definition regarding the Assumption of the Virgin into heaven, as this was believed by Roman Catholics and celebrated in the Feast of the Assumption. During the century that followed, more than 8,000,000 persons signed such petitions; yet Rome hesitated, because the doctrine was difficult to define on the basis of Scripture and early witnesses to the Christian tradition. No account of the place and circumstances of Mary's death was universally accepted in the church (although paintings depicting her “dormition,” or “falling asleep,” in the ancient Ionian city of Ephesus were quite common); no burial place was acknowledged (although there was a grave in Jerusalem that was said to be hers); and no miracles were credited to relics of her body (although the physical remains of far lesser saints had performed many). Such arguments from silence, however, did not suffice to establish a dogma, and on the positive side even the earliest doctrinal and liturgical testimony in support of the idea has appeared relatively late in history. Finally, in 1950 Pope Pius XII made the dogma official, declaring that “the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was run, was assumed in body and soul to heavenly glory.”


In addition to these official prerogatives and titles given to her by Catholic Christianity, the Virgin Mary has achieved great cultural importance. Popular devotion to Mary-in such forms as feasts, devotional services, and the rosary-has played a tremendously important role in the lives of Roman Catholics and the Orthodox; at times, this devotion has pushed other doctrines into the background. Modern Roman Catholicism has emphasized that the doctrine of Mary is not an isolated belief but must be seen in the context of two other Christian doctrines: the doctrine of Christ and the doctrine of the church. What is said of Mary is derived from what is said of Jesus: this was the basic meaning of Theotokos. She has also been known as “the first believer” and as the one in whom the humanity of the church was representatively embodied.

Mary's cultural importance, however, far transcends any dogmatic or institutional boundaries. In ways that she could never have anticipated, all generations have indeed called her blessed.

The followers of a religion regard its saints as unusually blessed. They believe these saints are able to give special blessings and to exercise certain superhuman powers. All the world's major religions revere (deeply respect) saints, but in different ways. Some religions have formal procedures for officially granting sainthood. Other religions do not formally recognize saints, but they have religious practices that honour holy people.


Many people achieve sainthood because they played a major role in the history of their religion or because they symbolize a traditional feature of it.For example,  Saint Paul converted to Christianity and became a great missionary who sought other converts. Some saints are martyrs who died for a holy cause. Many Christians who died rather than give up their faith during early Christianity are now considered saints.


A number of saints are considered especially close to God. Roman Catholics believe that the Virgin Mary is so loved by God that she rose bodily to heaven.


Some saints, such as Buddha, are believed to have gained superhuman or special knowledge about, or insight into, holy mysteries. Eastern Orthodox Christians revere Saint John Chrysostom for his wisdom.


Some people are revered as saints because before or after death they performed miracles and pleaded with God for blessings or curses on particular people. Others achieved sainthood because their relics (remains or possessions) or some place associated with them came to be regarded as holy.


Still others are considered saints because before or after death they became demigods (partly a god and partly human) and had divine powers. Before World War II (1939-1945), believers in one form of Shintoism regarded the emperor of  Japan as divine.

Non-Christian saints

Judaism forbids praying to any being other than God. But Jews honoursaintly people as heroes. Such early heroes as Jacob and David sometimes broke Jewish laws. But later Jewish saints were learned in the Torah (religious law) and followed its rules of behavior. Jewish saints have been called "toilers in the Torah." Jewish saints include Hillel the Elder and Akibaben Joseph.

Islam credits supernatural powers only to Allah (God). All Muslims acknowledge as saints such heroes as Muhammad and Ali. The Islamic holy book, the Quran, does not provide for the worship of saints, but each locality cherishes a saint called wali (benefactor, companion, or friend).Muslim saints are considered to be close to God but not divine. The spiritual powers they exercised as living people increase when they die. Then, their influence centres on their tombs and relics, especially their robes. A visit to a saint's tomb, with its holy objects and its pool or fountain, is believed to provide advice, cure a disease, or grant children to a childless woman.

The Oriental religions have a greater variety of practices and beliefs regarding saints than do the Western religions. Buddhism honours thebuddhas and their close disciples, along with relics and sacred places associated with them. Buddhist monks and nuns recognize patron saints as special guardians, and Buddhist martyrs are honoured as religious heroes.Hinduism has no official saints for all Hindus. There are many ranks ofsemidivine local or regional saints. A Hindu village, tribe, or religious order may raise its own heroes or protectors to sainthood. Confucianism has holy men who are sages (wise men) of intellectual and moral superiority. The most famous sage is Confucius. Shintoism has no human saints or martyrs because its holy people are considered divine.

Christian saints

The more traditional Christian denominations emphasize the honouring of saints. The  Eastern  Orthodox  Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, some Lutheran churches, and the churches of the Anglican Communion regard many of the same people as saints.

A canonized saint is a person whose name is included in a canon (official list). Christian saints were first canonized by common agreement among local people, and later by regional bishops. Gradually, the authority to canonize saints for Latin Christians centered on the pope.

The earliest Christian writings call all believers saints. This practice has been renewed by several modern denominations, including the Mormons (Latter-day Saints). During the 200's, the term saint referred specifically to martyrs, and in the 300's to bishops. By the 500's, the term referred to all departed heroes and heroines of Christianity who were honoured in worship services.

After many heroes and heroines had entered the list of saints, their relics were considered able to give special blessings. Believers asked the saints to plead with God for special favours. By the early 1500's, many people prayed to the saints and their relics for special assurances of salvation.

During the Reformation, both Protestants and Catholics attacked abuses in the worship of saints. Most Protestants refused to revere any people as saints except certain heroes mentioned in the New Testament. After the Reformation, Catholic saints were clearly ranked lower than God. Roman Catholics, members of Eastern Orthodox Churches, and some Protestants still ask saints to plead with God on their behalf.

Roman Catholic saints

Present Roman Catholic procedures of canonization were officially established in the 1600's. A commission appointed by the church strictly examines the subject's life and works. If the investigation produces enough evidence, the person is eligible for beatification. That is, he or she may officially be declared "blessed." If further investigation produces proof of two miracles associated with the person, he or she may be canonized as a saint.

Canonization consists of declaring that a person believed to be holy was indeed a saint during his or her lifetime and is in heaven with God. This official status does not approve all that the individual said, did, or wrote.Among Roman Catholics, only the pope can grant official recognition to a person nominated for beatification or canonization.

In 1969, the  Vatican announced a revision of the church's liturgical calendar, which lists the feast days of saints celebrated by the church. The new calendar listed 58 saints. But many more saints could continue to be venerated locally. The Roman Catholic Church also made optional the celebration of the feast days of other saints.

Children of Catholic parents and many others are named after a saint, often the saint on whose day the child was born or baptized. That saint becomes the child's special guardian or patron. A number of cities, especially in the Western Hemisphere, are named after saints. They include  Saint Louis, Missouri U.S.A., and  Sao Paulo ( Saint Paul),  Brazil. In many denominations, parish churches or congregations take the names of saints.Many Christians, recognizing that many holy men and women have never been canonized, celebrate them on All Saints' Day, November 1.

Malankara Orthodox Saint

At the turn of the 20th century, there lived a Holy man on a haunted island, called Parumala, on the banks of Rivers Pampa and Achencovil in  Kerala, India. He was the prophet of his time, who set moral tone for his people. Powerful like Prophet Elijah and glittering like John the Baptist, he remains the beacon and a great Saint of the Malankara Orthodox Church.

It was on  June 15, 1848 that Kochu Iypera (Geevarghese) was born in the priestly family of "Pallithatta Thanagattu" of Chathuruthy, Mulanthuruthy,Kerala. His parents were Kochu Mathai and Mariam, who had three sons and two daughters. After the birth of fifth child Iypera,his mother Mariamdied. He was baptised as Geevarghese at his home Parish, Mar ThomanChurch Mulunthuruthy. The disciplined life of Mar Gregorios enriched by prayer & fasting helped him to commune with God from his childhood days. He had a thorough knowledge in Theology and Syriac, which he developed through his teachers, Pallithatta Rev.Fr. Gheevarghese Malpan (his uncle), Konat Malpan & the Patriarchal delegate Yuyakkim Mar Koorilose. His Grace was a man of prayer and made it clear to the world that Prayer and devotion is mightier than any worldly possession. Parumala Thirumeni's short life was remarkable in many respects. After the early days of education inSyriac and theology, Kochu Iypera was ordained as deacon on  September 14, 1859, by Palakunnath Mathews Mar Athanasios Metropolitan. He was only ten years old at that time

One day Malpan became seriously ill with smallpox. Deacon Geevarghese was the only one who stayed and took care of him, while all others were sent home. On the eight day Malpan died and Deacon became ill. During this time he had a vision of St. Mary in his dream, descending to console him, and exhorting him to dedicate the rest of his life to the Lord. He pledged "He would". This was a heavenly vision that enables him to become a humble servant of God. Very soon the deacon recovered. Deacon Geevarghese continued his theological training under Konat Malpan at Pampakuda. Some times later, he joined Yoyakim Mar Ivanios, the Metropolitan of Syria who was sojourning in Malankara, as private secretary as well as learning Syric from him. Thirumeni was blessed with the order of 'Korooyo' at the tender age of ten by Palakunnath Mar Athnasius at the Karingachira St.Georgechurch. At the age of 18, he was elevated as 'Shamshono' and In 1865 Mar Ivanios ordained the deacon as 'Kassisso' and 'Cor-episcopa' by YuyakkimMar Koorilose. Later he stayed at the Vettikkal Dayra and led a strict monastic life. In 1872 he was ordained as Ramban Geevarghese (Monk-Priest) by Pulikottil Mar Dionysius.

Fr. Geevarghese ministered in Mulanthuruthy church for a time residing atVettical Dayara. It was here that the future Metropolitan trained his body and mind by ascetic virtues in gaining communion with God. Today it serves as head quarters of Kandanad diocese.

Pulikottil Joseph Mar Dionysios Metropolitan had established the frame of a future Seminary at Parumala in the south. Mar Dionysius soon put Fr. Geevarghese in charge of training deacons in theology and Syric. Mar Dionysius raised him to the order of monks (Ramban) in 1872.

When Patriarch Ignatius Mar Peter III visited Malankara in 1875, Ramban Geevarghese served as his secretary and interpreter, and traveled with him through out Kerala. Impressed by the simplicity, sincerity, commitment, and spirituality of Geevarghese Ramban. The Patriarch of Antioch consecrated four (4) Metropolitans at St.Thomas North Paravur church, Kerala in December 10, 1876. The youngest among them was Geevarghese Ramban and who was named Mar Gregorios. Because of his age everybody called him "Kochu Thirumeni"(Youngest Bishop). Mar Gregorios was appointed as the bishop of Niranam diocese, Kerala. He started a monastery at Parumala, Kerala.

Mar Gregorios was a man of God, who lived not according to the way of the flesh but according to the law of God. He led a virtuous and austere life, like a monk, living on frugal diet enriched by prayer and fasting.

At Parumala Seminary he led a austere life. He woke up at  4 am in the morning and prayed till  5am. He taught deacons till  7am followed by prayer and his light breakfast. From  9am till  11am he taught deacons again. From 11am to  noon he took care of administrative matters and again went to prayer at  noon and then to lunch. He rested till  1:30pm and taught till  4pmwith a brief prayer in between. From  4pm to  5:30pm he was busy with his administrative duties. After evening prayers and supper he taught Bible to the deacons. After the complaining, at  9pm he would let the deacons go to bed, but he would still be praying until  midnight. On Wednesdays and Fridays andlenten days, he would fast till evening. Besides, he observed his own special fasts. People came from far and near to seek his blessings and paternal advises.

In his own words "Prayer brings truth, religious faith, honesty and respect among the people." In his life time, Mar Gregorios was known for strict observance of ascetic rigorous in the footsteps of St. Antony and had gained divine powers.

Mar Gregorios had a wider acceptance among all the sections of the  Syrian Church. In the earlier part of his life, Mar Gregorios spent most of his time in North Kerala. But after becoming a Metropolitan for Niranam diocese, his activities continued in the south. Until then, marriages between people staying North and South of Kerala, were not common. On the insistence of Mar Gregorios, who had a wider acceptance among the entire Syrian Christian community of Malankara, many marriages took place among these people and this resulted in having a closer cultural contact.

With the initiative of Parumala Kochu Thirumeni and Joseph Mar Dionysius, the then Malankara Metropolitan, many educational institutions were started by the Malankara

Four years, the Metropolitan served the diocese and was a strong defence against the reform movement. St. Gregorios became sick when he returned from  Veeyapuram  Church after blessing a marriage. Even from the beginning of his illness he knew that he was in his last days. The news of illness spread all over Malankara. Although he grew weaker day by day, his face shone brighter and brighter. It was on  November 2, 1902 midnight he was ready to meet his heavenly father. He left his earthly abode and flew to his heavenly eternity. In 1947, The Holy Episcopal synod canonized and proclaimed Mar Gregorios as a Saint of the Orthodox Church. The Saint's tomb at Parumala today is a pilgrimage center. There are hundreds of instances that proved his Saintliness. Countless people receive favours and blessings through his intercession.

The growing flow of pilgrims to his tomb, several years after his demise, tells a story of a man of faith, prayer, healing, and great intercession.

What are some of the qualities that made Parumala Thirumeni and exemplary bishop and a spiritual leader.

1. Call of God. From his childhood he was aware of his call to serve the Lord and the Church. He surrendered his life completely to God and allowed the Holy Spirit to indwell in him and to control and guide his life.

2. Dependence on God. He depended upon God for his physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs. He was not concerned about what would happen to him in the future. He believed that God would provide for him. How many of us worry about what will happen in the future?

3. Communion with God.  He was a prayer "warrior". His disciplined prayer life helped him to commune with God and receive guidance from Him. Before making any major decision, he used to spend time in fasting and prayer. Many of us recite our canonical prayers, but we don't know how to commune with God.

4. Life-long Student. Geevarghese Malpan and Konattu Malpan had great influence upon Deacon Geevarghese. Under the guidance of Konattu Malpan, he studied Syriac, the Holy Scriptures, theology, worship, and canon law. He also made very good use of Malpan Achen's library. He continued his studies during the rest of his life.

5. Dedicated and Devoted Teacher.  His rigorous religious training at Pampakuda with Konattu Malpan Achen helped him to become a dedicated and devoted teacher. He provided religious and spiritual training for all the deacons who lived with him at Parumala Seminary. He influenced all of them by his life and example. Many of his students became spiritual leaders in Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church. How many of us have any influence on the lives of our students?

6. Serving Others. He always remembered what Jesus said, "If you want to be great in the  Kingdom of  God, be a servant." He served God's people without expecting anything in return. Since he had experienced the unconditional love of God, he shared that love with others. He reached out and touched the lives of many that were in need.

7. Trusting in God.  Since he trusted in God to provide for his needs, he never worried about "tomorrow." Whatever he had, belonged to God, and he believed they were God's gifts. Whatever he received from the people belonged to the Church. How many of our leaders really trust in God? Don't we try to keep everything in our names?

8. Healing the Sick. During his ministry as a priest and bishop, people used to ask him to pray for them. They especially asked him to pray for the sick and lay his hands on them for healing. Many miraculous healing took place during his lifetime. The healing ministry of Parumala Thirumeni is still continuing. How many of us have time to pray for others?

9. Friend of the Poor.  He was a friend of the poor, downtrodden, and untouchables. He encouraged the establishment of schools and the spread of the Gospel to the neighboring states and to low caste people who lived among the Syrian Christians.

10. Defender of the Faith.  As a priest and a metropolitan, he defended the Orthodox faith and taught the believers through letters, articles, and sermons. Even though he was the Metropolitan of Niranam Diocese, his ministry extended all over Malankara.

11. Glorified God in Sickness.  Even in his sickness and suffering, he glorified God and thanked Him for His grace. With Paul he was able to say, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." He did not consider death "as an enemy" but "as a friend." How many of us are afraid of death?

May the life of Parumala Thirumeni be an inspiration for all of us .Let us ask him to intercede for us. May his prayers be a stronghold for us .



Apostles, in the New Testament, are the 12 men chosen by Jesus Christ to be His close companions. The term is also used to identify other early missionaries, such as Paul and Barnabas. The word is used once in the Bible to refer to Jesus Himself. The term apostle should be distinguished from disciple, a New Testament term for any follower of Jesus.

(From Greek apostolos, “person sent”), any of the 12 disciples chosen by Jesus Christ, the term is sometimes also applied to others, especially Paul, who was converted to Christianity a few years after Jesus' death. In Luke 6:13 it is stated that Jesus chose 12 from his disciples “whom he named apostles,” and in Mark 6:30 the Twelve are called Apostles when mention is made of their return from the mission of preaching and healing on which Jesus had sent them.The privileges of the Twelve were to be in continual attendance on their master and to be the recipients of his special teaching and training. At least once they were sent on a special mission, two by two, to announce the imminence of the messianic Kingdom (Mark 6: compare Matthew 10; Luke 9). Three of them, Peter, James, and John, formed an inner circle who alone were permitted to witness such events as the raising of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51), the Transfiguration (Mark 9; Matthew 17; Luke 9), and the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33; Matthew 26:37).


There are four lists of the 12 apostles in the New Testament. There are slight differences between the lists. The lists agree on Peter (also called Simon Peter), Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew,James the son of Alphaeus, Simon, and Judas Iscariot. The gospels of Matthew and Mark list Thaddeus, while the gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles list Judas the son of James (or the brother of James in some versions of the Bible). After Judas Iscariot killed himself for betraying Jesus, Matthias was chosen to take his place among the 12. This story, told in Acts 1: 21-26, states that an apostle must have accompanied Jesus from the time of Jesus' baptism until His Ascension into heaven. ­­­­­­­­­­

Special importance seems to have been attached to the number 12, which some scholars interpret as a reference to the 12 tribes of Israel. When a gap had been left by the defection and death of the traitor Judas Iscariot, immediate steps were taken to fill it by the election of Matthias (Acts 1). It is to members of this band of 12 that the word Apostle is usually applied in Acts.


Paul himself claimed the title of Apostle, apparently on the ground that he had seen the Lord and received a commission directly from him. This appears to be in agreement with the condition in Acts that a newly appointed Apostle should be capable of giving eyewitness testimony to the Lord's Resurrection. According to some early Christian writers, however, some were called apostles after the period covered by the New Testament. The word also has been used to designate a high administrative or ecclesiastical officer.

Saint Thomas

Born, probably Galilee, died AD 53,, Madras, India; Western feast day December 21, feast day in Roman and Syrian Catholic churches July 3, in the Greek church October 6

Saint Thomas one of the Twelve Apostles. His name in Aramaic (TeÆoma)and Greek (Didymos) means “twin”; John 11:16 identifies him as “Thomas, called the Twin.” He is called Judas Thomas (i.e., Judas the Twin) by the Syrians.

Thomas' character is outlined in The Gospel According to John. His devotion to Jesus is clearly expressed in John 11:5-16: when Jesus planned to return to Judaea, the disciples warned him of the Jews' animosity (“now seeking to stone you”), to which Thomas soon replied, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” At the Last Supper (John 14:1-7) Thomas could not comprehend what Jesus meant when he said: “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas' question, “how can we know the way?” caused Jesus to answer, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”

Perhaps the best-known event in his life is the one from which the phrase “doubting Thomas” developed. In John 20:19-29 he was not among those disciples to whom the risen Christ first appeared, and, when they told the incredulous Thomas, he requested physical proof of the Resurrection, fulfilled when Christ reappeared and specifically asked Thomas to touch his wounds. His sudden realization of truth (“My Lord and my God”) made Thomas the first person to explicitly acknowledge Jesus' divinity.

Thomas' subsequent history is uncertain. According to the 4th-century Ecclesiastical History of Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, he evangelized Parthia (modern Khor(s(n). Later Christian tradition says Thomas extended his apostolate into India, where he is recognized as the founder of the Church of the Syrian Malabar Christians, or Christians of St. Thomas. In the apocryphal Acts of Thomas, originally composed in Syriac, his martyrdom is cited under the king of Mylapore at Madras, where are to be found St. Thomas Mount and San Thomé Cathedral, his traditional burial place. His relics, however, supposedly were taken to the West and finally enshrined at Ortona, Italy. He allegedly visited the court of the Indo-Parthian king Gondophernes, who put him in charge of building a royal palace (the Acts of Thomas states that he was a carpenter); he was imprisoned for spending on charity the money entrusted him.

In addition to the apocryphal works, other similar writings related or accredited to Thomas are the Gospel of Thomas (among the Coptic Gnostic papyri found in 1945 in Upper Egypt), The Book of Thomas the Athlete, and Evangelium Joannis de obitu Mariae (“The Message of John Concerning the Death of Mary”).



Synod of Diamper

Council that formally united the ancient Christian Church of the Malabar Coast (modern Kerala), India, with the Roman Catholic church; it was convoked in 1599 by Aleixo de Meneses, archbishop of Goa. The synod renounced Nestorianism, the heresy that believed in two Persons rather than two natures in Christ, as the Portuguese missionaries suspected the Indians of being heretics. The Syrian Chaldean patriarch was then removed from jurisdiction in India and replaced by a Portuguese bishop; the Syrian liturgy of Addai and Mari was “purified from error”; and Latin vestments, rituals, and customs were introduced to replace the ancient Syrian traditions.

This forced Latinization and disregard for local tradition elicited a violent reaction from the Christians of St. Thomas, as the Indians called themselves. In 1653 most of them broke with Rome; and only when a Syrian bishop, John Sebastiani, was installed in 1661 did three-fourths of the schismatics return. The church, however, has remained Latinized. Those who stayed dissidents formed the Syrian Orthodox Church.


Member of a Christian sect originating in Asia Minor and Syria out of the condemnation of Nestorius and his teachings by the councils of Ephesus (AD 431) and Chalcedon (AD 451). Nestorians stressed the independence of the divine and human natures of Christ and, in effect, suggested that they were two persons loosely united. In modern times the Church of the East, or Persian Church, usually referred to in the West as the Assyrian, or Nestorian, Church, represents them. Most of its members-numbering about 170,000-live in Iraq, Syria, and Iran.

Christianity in Persia faced intermittent persecution until the Persian Church in 424 formally proclaimed its full independence of Christian churches elsewhere, thereby freeing itself of suspicions about foreign links. Under the influence of Barsumas, the metropolitan of Nisibis, the Persian Church acknowledged Theodore of Mopsuestia, the chief Nestorian theological authority, as guardian of right faith, in February 486. This position was reaffirmed under the patriarch Babai (497-502), and since that time the church has been Nestorian.

Nestorius had been anathematized at Ephesus in 431 for denouncing the use of the title Theotokos (“God-Bearer”) for the Blessed Virgin, insisting that this compromised the reality of Christ's human nature. When supporters of Nestorius gathered at the theological school of Edessa, it was closed by imperial order in 489, and a vigorous Nestorian remnant migrated to Persia.

The Persian Church's intellectual centre then became the new school in Nisibis, which carried on the venerable traditions of Edessa. By the end of the 5th century there were seven metropolitan provinces in Persia and several bishoprics in Arabia and India. The church survived a period of schism (c. 521-c. 537/539) and persecution (540-545) through the leadership of the patriarch Mar Aba I (reigned 540-552), a convert from Zoroastrianism, and also through the renewal of monasticism by Abraham of Kashkar (501-586), the founder of the monastery on Mount Izala, near Nisibis.

After the Arab conquest of Persia (637), the Caliphate recognized the Church of the East as a millet, or separate religious community, and granted it legal protection. Nestorian scholars played a prominent role in the formation of Arab culture, and patriarchs occasionally gained influence with rulers. For more than three centuries the church prospered under the Caliphate, but it became worldly and lost leadership in the cultural sphere. By the end of the 10th century there were 15 metropolitan provinces in the Caliphate and 5 abroad, including India and China. Nestorians also spread to Egypt, where Monophysite Christianity acknowledged only one nature in Christ. In China a Nestorian community flourished from the 7th to the 10th century. In Central Asia certain Tatar tribes were almost entirely converted, Christian expansion reaching almost to Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia. Western travelers to the Mongol realm found Nestorian Christians well established there, even at the court of the Great Khan, though they commented on the ignorance and superstition of the clergy. When during the 14th century the Church of the East was virtually exterminated by the raids of the Turkic leader Timur, Nestorian communities lingered on in a few towns in Iraq but were concentrated mainly in Kurdistan, between the Tigris River and Lakes Van and Urmia, partly in Turkey and partly in Iran.

In 1551 a number of Nestorians reunited with Rome and were called Chaldeans, the original Nestorians having been termed Assyrians. The Nestorian Church in India, part of the group known as the Christians of St. Thomas, allied itself with Rome (1599), then split, half of its membership transferring allegiance to the Syrian Orthodox (Monophysite) patriarch of Antioch (1653). In 1898 in Urmia, Iran, a group of Nestorians, headed by a bishop, was received in the communion of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Chaldean Catholic Church

Eastern rite church prevalent in Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon, united with the Roman Catholic Church since 1830, and intermittently from 1551.

Christianity in Iraq and Iran dates from the late 2nd century. In the 5th century, the Church of the East embraced Nestorianism, a heresy that declared Christ to be man and God the son to be his divine counterpart. The church prospered and expanded into China, the steppes of Mongol Asia, and the Malabar Coast of India until the 14th century, when the Mongol leader Timur completely destroyed the Nestorian Church east of Iraq, except in India.

Union with Rome was first realized in 1551, when the elected patriarch John Sulaka went to Rome and made his profession of the Catholic faith. From this period on, those Nestorians who became Catholics were referred to as Chaldeans. Other unions were realized in 1672, 1771, and 1778, the current unbroken line of “patriarchs of Babylonia” originating in 1830. The patriarchal residence was at first in the monastery Rabb(n Hormizd, then in Mosul, and finally in Baghdad. Besides the patriarchal diocese of Baghdad, there are four archdioceses (Basra, Kirkuk, Sehna, Iran-residence at Tehr(n-and Urmia, to which is united the diocese of Salmas) and seven dioceses (Aleppo, Alkosh, Amadya, Akra, Beirut, Mosul, and Zakho). The Chaldeans have preserved the ancient East Syrian liturgy of Addai and Mari, which they celebrate in Syriac.


Gondophernes of Judas Thomas the Apostle, which told that St. Thomas visited the court of Gondophernes, where he was put in charge of building a royal palace but was imprisoned for spending the construction money on charitable purposes. Meanwhile, according to the story, Gad, the king's brother, died and the angels took him to heaven and showed him the palace that St. Thomas had built there by his good deeds; Gad was restored to life, and both he and Gondophernes were converted to Christianity.

Coins of Gondophernes, some bearing his Indian name Guduphara, indicate that he may have reigned supreme over both eastern Iran and northwestern India. According to an inscription at Takht-i-Bh(i (near Pesh(war), Gondophernes ruled for at least 26 years, probably from about AD 19 to 45.


A city of southern Kerala state, southwestern India, near Vemban(d Lake at the mouth of the Minachil River south-southeast of Cochin. The city is a centre of the Syrian Christian community, which traces its origin to the apostle Saint Thomas, who is believed to have visited Kerala in AD 53 and to have established seven churches on the Malabar coast. Kottayam developed into an important market centre in the early 20th century after tea and rubber plantations were established in the nearby Anaimalai Hills. It is also an educational and cultural centre, with several schools, including three Christian colleges (two of which are for women) and several professional colleges, all affiliated with the University of Kerala. Pop. (1991 prelim.) 62,829.

Saint Peter the Apostle,

Died c. AD 64, Rome

Original name Simeon, or Simxn disciple of Jesus Christ, recognized in the early Christian church as the leader of the disciples and by the Roman Catholic church as the first of its unbroken succession of popes. Peter, a fisherman, was called to be a disciple of Jesus at the beginning of his ministry. He received from Jesus the name Cephas (i.e., Rock, hence Peter, from the Latin petra).

The man and his position among the disciples

The sources of information concerning the life of Peter are limited to the New Testament: the four Gospels, Acts, the letters of Paul, and the two letters that bear the name of Peter. He probably was known originally by the Hebrew name Simeon or the Greek form of that name, Simxn. The former appears only twice in the New Testament; the latter, 49 times. At solemn moments (Gospel According to John 21:15) he was called “Simon, son of John.” The Gospel According to John prefers Simon (17 times) or the compound, rarely found elsewhere, of Simon Peter. Though Paul has a distinct preference (8 times out of 10) forthe Greek transliteration KAphas (Latinized as Cephas) of the Aramaic name or title Kepha, meaning “rock,” the Gospels and Acts use the Greek translation Petros approximately 150 times. From the Synoptic Gospels (Gospel According to Matthew 8:14) and Paul (First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians 9:5), there is indirect evidence that Peter was the son of John and was married. His family originally came from Bethsaida (John 1:44), but during the period of Jesus' ministry he lived in Capernaum, at the northwest end of the Sea of Galilee, where he and his brother Andrew were in partnership as fishermen with James and John, the sons of Zebedee (Gospel According to Luke 5:10).

Much can be learned about Peter from the New Testament-either explicitly from the statements made by and about Peter or indirectly from his actions and reactions as revealed in a number of episodes in which he figures prominently. He was at times vacillating and unsure, as in his relations with the church of Antioch when he at first ate with the Gentiles and later refused to do so (Letter of Paul to the Galatians 2:11-14); he could also be resolute (Acts of the Apostles 4:10; 5:1-10). Occasionally he is depicted as rash and hasty (Luke 22:33, etc.) or irritable and capable of great anger (John 18:10). Often he is pictured as gentle but firm and, as in his professions of love to Jesus, capable of great loyalty and love (John 21:15-17).

The New Testament reports that Peter was unlearned in the sense that he was untrained in the Mosaic Law (Acts 4:13), and it is doubtful that he knew Greek. He apparently learned slowly and erred time and time again, but later, when entrusted with responsibility, he demonstrated that he was mature and capable.

The Gospels agree that Peter was called to be a disciple of Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, but when and where the event took place is recorded differently in the several Gospels. Luke (5:1-11) scarcely mentions James and John and omits Andrew while emphasizing the call of Peter. Matthew (4:18-22) and Mark (Gospel According to Mark 1:16-20) note the call of the four men and-with Luke-agree that the event took place at the Sea of Galilee. The Gospel According to John places the call in Judaea (1:28) and states that Andrew-who had been a follower of John the Baptist (1:35) and had heard John indicate that Jesus was the Lamb of God-left John and introduced Peter to “the Messiah,” who at that time gave him the name (or title) Cephas (i.e., Peter, or Rock).

The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are probably correct in recording that the call to Peter was extended in Galilee when Jesus first began his work in that area. The Gospel According to John is here, as elsewhere, perhaps more theologically than historically motivated; the author of John wishes to stress that Peter recognized Jesus' Messiahship from the beginning and that Jesus had seen Simon as the rock from their first meeting.

The Synoptic Gospels largely agree in the amount of emphasis each gives to the leadership of Peter among the Twelve Apostles, but there are differences also. For example, in one case Matthew and Luke note that Peter was the speaker in questioning Jesus about a parable, but Mark has attributed these words to the group of disciples (see Matthew 15:15; Luke 8:45; and Mark 7:17). With differing degrees of emphasis, the Synoptic Gospels agree that Peter served as spokesman, the outstanding member of the group, and enjoyed certain precedence over the other disciples. Whenever the disciples are listed, Peter is invariably mentioned first (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13; compare only Galatians 2:9). Although it is not certain whether or not this priority is due primarily to reading back into the Gospel narrative Peter's importance in the apostolic church, his forceful personality was surely a factor.

Those not belonging to the immediate followers of Jesus also recognized the authority of Peter, such as when the collectors of the temple tax approached him for information (Matthew 17:24). Again, with characteristic quickness he sought a clarification from Jesus on behalf of the disciples concerning the meaning of a parable (Matthew 15:15) or of a saying (Matthew 18:21). As both an individual and representative of the Twelve Apostles, he made a plea for personal preference in the Kingdom of Heaven as a reward for faithful service (Matthew 19:27, 28).

On several occasions Peter alone is mentioned by name, and others are indicated as merely accompanying him (Mark 1:36; Luke 8:45). Even when the three disciples closest to Jesus (the “pillars”-Peter, James, and John) figure in a particular incident, it is frequently Peter alone who is named. When the three are named, Peter's name invariably appears first (as in Matthew 17:1, 26:37). It was his home in Capernaum that Jesus visited, when he cured Peter's mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14); it was Peter's boat that Jesus used when he instructed the crowd (Luke 5:3). It was Peter who possessed remarkable insight and displayed his depth of faith in the confession of Christ as the Son of God (Matthew 16:15-18; Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20); and it was Peter who rebuked and in turn was rebuked by Jesus when the Master prophesied that he would suffer and die (Mark 8:32, 33). It was also Peter who manifested the momentary weakness of even the strongest in the denial of his Lord (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-61). Later, however, with greater maturity, he discovered strength and, as he was charged by Jesus (Luke 22:31, 32), effected the strengthening of others. Finally, Peter, who survived his denial, was permitted to be the first witness of the Resurrection (Luke 24:34).

In the Fourth Gospel, the prominence of Peter is challenged in the person of John, the “Beloved Disciple.” Though Peter receives mention in John 37 times (out of a total of 109 times in the four Gospels), one-third of the references are found in the appendix (chapter 21), and he appears in only 9 incidents. The Gospel According to John attempts to show the close relationship between John and Jesus while still reserving to Peter the role of representative and spokesman. The fact that Peter is emphasized in John and charged by Jesus to “tend my sheep” and “feed my lambs”(John 21:15,16) at the same time that the role of the disciples as a whole is being de-emphasized attests to the prestige of Peter in the apostolic church. But throughout the Fourth Gospel Peter shares his prominence with John (13:24; 18:15; 19:26, 27, etc.). Among the purposes of chapter 21 in emphasizing Peter may well be an attempt to restore the disciple who denied his Lord to the position he enjoyed in the Synoptic Gospels.

Incidents important in interpretations of Peter

Out of the many incidents in which Peter figures prominently in the Gospels, three should be separately considered; for each is important, contains problems of interpretation, and is controversial.

In Mark (8:29) and Luke (9:20), to a question of Jesus concerning his essential identity, about which he pressed the disciples for an opinion, Peter answered for them all that Jesus is the “Messiah” or “God's Messiah.” In adjuring them to be silent, Jesus rejected the response as perhaps too partial, too political. In the Matthean version (16:13), expanding upon the narrative in Mark, Peter answered for himself and presumably for the other disciples, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” A new dimension of understanding was thus reached, and this heightened awareness of Jesus' divinity was approved by Jesus and occasioned Peter's “ordination.”

In what may be a grouping of Petrine material (Matthew 16:18, 19)-the confession, naming, and receiving of authority-Jesus gave to Simon the title of Cephas, or Peter (Rock). Though in the past some authorities have considered that the term rock refers to Jesus himself or to Peter's faith, the consensus of the great majority of scholars today is that the most obvious and traditional understanding should be construed, namely, that rock refers to the person of Peter. In John the title was granted at what may have been their first meeting (1:42). Thus when the name was given is open to question, but that Jesus gave the name to Peter seems fairly certain. Matthew continues that upon this rock-that is, upon Peter-the church will be built. The word church in the 1st-century Gospel According to Matthew is to be understood as referring to the community of the faithful rather than to a definite ecclesiastical organization.

The authenticity of the uniquely Matthean material (Matthew 16:16-19) of this narrative has been and is widely discussed and has been challenged on the bases (1) that verses 16-19 are found only in Matthew, or (2) that the inclusion of the word church suggests a level of organization acquired only at a later period. Though these and other arguments against authenticity are given most careful consideration, the general consensus is that at some time-and more likely at the end of his career-Jesus spoke these words.

If Peter's confession demonstrates his faith and insight, his denial that he knew Jesus demonstrates a weakness of will (even if momentary), capability of inaction, and a tendency toward vacillation, but not a loss of faith. Prior to the denial, out of his deep love for Jesus and his overestimation of his own capabilities, he had sought to overrule Jesus' prophecy of his denial and declared that, even if the other disciples deserted Jesus, he would suffer death rather than disown his Lord (Matthew 26:33-35; Mark 14:29-31; Luke 22:31-34; John 13:37-38). As the drama unfolded, Peter fled when Jesus was arrested but did find his way to the palace of the high priest where Jesus had been taken. When confronted in the courtyard with the danger of admitting association with Jesus, he chose to deny (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-61; John 18:15-18, 25-27). The degree of his shame and the depth of his love were revealed when he later realized that the prophecy had been fulfilled, and he wept bitterly (Matthew 26:75; Mark 14:72).

The fact of Peter's denial did not destroy the love and trust that Jesus felt for him. It was to Peter-who had confessed the Sonship of Jesus (Matthew 16:16), who had been commissioned earlier to “lend strength” to his brothers (Luke 22:32), who had hesitated in his resolution at one crucial point (Mark 14:66-72), and who on the morning of the Resurrection “ran to the tomb” (Luke 24:12)-that the Resurrected Christ first appeared. The earliest report of Peter's priority as a witness to the Resurrection is found in the letters of Paul (1 Corinthians 15:5), and this most probably is the intent of Luke (24:34). An initial appearance to Peter in Galilee may have been included in the original ending of Mark (16:6-8).

The silence concerning this important matter of priority in Matthew and John is remarkable. It may be, however, that Matthew 14:27, 28 represents a misplaced post-Resurrection narrative, and John 21 may contain an echo of the tradition preserved by Paul (1 Corinthians 15:5). Whether or not Jesus appeared first to Peter after the Resurrection, he was a witness, which Peter declared to be a criterion of apostleship (Acts 1:22).

The position of Peter in the Apostolic Church

Given the information supplied by the Gospels, it is not unexpected that Peter should emerge immediately after Jesus' death as the leader of the earliest church. For approximately 15 years after the Resurrection, the figure of Peter dominated the community. He presided over the appointment of Matthias as an Apostle (Acts 1:23-26) to take the place of Judas, who had betrayed Christ and later died. It was Peter who first “raised his voice” and preached at Pentecost, the day when the church came into being (Acts 1:14-39). It was Peter who served as an advocate for the Apostles before the Jewish religious court in Jerusalem (Acts 4:5-22). And it was he who exercised the role of judge in the disciplining of those who erred within the church (Acts5:1-10).

Peter led the Twelve Apostles in extending the church “here and there among them all” (Acts 9:32). He went first to the Samaritans (Acts 8:4-17), “who received the Holy Spirit”; in Samaria he encountered the magician and faith healer Simon Magus; then he went to Lydda, in the plain of Sharon (Acts 9:32-35), where he healed the paralyzed Aeneas; and then at the Mediterranean coastal town of Joppa (Acts 9:36-43) he effected the cure of Tabitha (Dorcas) in the name of Christ.

He went farther north on the Mediterranean coast to Caesarea (Acts 10:1-11:18), where, through the conversion of Cornelius, “a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort” (Acts 10:1), Peter introduced Gentiles into the church. According to Jewish requirements, a Gentile convert must first become a Jew through the rite of circumcision and be acceptable as a proselyte. In accepting Cornelius and the others-who may have had some informal connection with the synagogue (Acts 10:1)-and ordering “them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:48) without submission to the prior rite of circumcision, Peter introduced an innovation that insured the opposition of the Jewish Christians and others. This independent course set by Peter with the blessing of “the Spirit” (Acts 10:10-15) was possibly a factor in Herod's beheading of James (the brother of John) and in the arrest of Peter (Acts 12:2, 3). In prison (c. AD 44) Peter was visited by an “angel of the Lord . . . . And the chains fell off his hands,” and he made his escape (Acts 12:1-8). He went immediately to “the house of Mary, the mother of John who’s other name was Mark” (Acts 12:12). After asking them to report his escape “to James and to the brethren,” he “went to another place” (Acts 12:17).

At this point the unchallenged leadership of Peter in Jerusalem came to an end. It is not at all clear where Peter went, but it is not probable that the words to another place refer to a different home in the same general area that would provide temporary refuge.

The later work of Peter is not covered in Acts, perhaps because the author of Luke-Acts had planned a third book that would have included such a discussion, but the book was never written or was written and later lost. Perhaps the events would have included un edifying material such as the internal jealousy within the church alluded to in the First Letter of Clement 4-6, or perhaps the author died before completion of his work. Whatever momentary glimpses into the period of the later ministry of Peter remain can only be noted in a discussion of his relationship with the two other outstanding Apostles of the time, James and Paul.

Peter was the most prominent figure in the Jerusalem Church up to the time of his departure from Jerusalem after his imprisonment by King Herod and his subsequent release in the New Testament account (Acts 12:1-17). For example, Paul went up to Jerusalem to consult with Peter three years after he had been converted and remained with him for two weeks (Galatians 1:18, 19). When Peter left Jerusalem, however, it appears clear to many New Testament scholars (although unconvincing to others) that he assumed a missionary role while the actual leadership of the church devolved upon James, “the brother of the Lord.” This sequence of authority is suggested by Peter's obedience to the wishes of “certain persons who came from James” and hence his ceasing to eat with Gentile Christian sat Antioch (Galatians 2:11-14); by a final “summing up” of decisions made in the so-called apostolic Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:7) by James; and later, when Peter made his departure from the home of the mother of John whose other name was Mark, by the word of explanation or “report” of his whereabouts left primarily for James (Acts 12:17).

Paul first met with Peter at Jerusalem three years after his conversion. In the record of this meeting the name of Cephas (Peter) precedes that of James, although Galatians notes that in another meeting 14 years later the name of James precedes that of Cephas (Galatians 2:9). Paul also emphasized an incident involving himself and Peter at Antioch. Apparently, Paul had achieved some success in the difficult matter of welding the Jewish and Gentile Christians of Antioch into one congregation. The Jewish Christians saw the sharing of food with Gentiles as quite alien to their tradition. In the absence of Paul, Peter, perhaps in his capacity as missionary, visited Antioch and ate with the united group. Later, “certain persons came from James” and opposed the united congregation's custom of eating together. In apparent deference to James, Peter “drew back and began to hold aloof,” and the Jewish Christians did likewise. The unity of the group had been destroyed. When Paul returned, he upbraided Peter for what he may have considered Peter's vacillation or perhaps even purposeful disruption (Galatians 2:11-14). This incident may have occasioned the Jerusalem Council (AD 49 or 50), in which it was settled that hereafter Paul should be “entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised” (Galatians 2:7) and Peter “for the mission to the circumcised”(Galatians 2:8).

In passing, Paul refers to a party of Cephas (Peter) in 1 Corinthians 1:12 that suggests that a group in the church of Corinth was especially devoted to Peter (leading some to assume a residence of Peter in Corinth) and in 1 Corinthians 9:5 to Peter as carrying on missionary activity accompanied by his wife. A missionary journey to Asia Minor may be suggested in the First Letter of Peter 1:1.

Tradition of Peter in Rome

The problems surrounding the residence, martyrdom, and burial of Peter are among the most complicated of all those encountered in the study of the New Testament and the early church. The absence of any reference in Acts or Romans to a residence of Peter in Rome gives pause but is not conclusive. If Peter did write 1 Peter, the mention of “Babylon” in 5:13 is fairly reliable evidence that Peter resided at some time in the capital city. If Peter was not the author of the first epistle that bears his name, the presence of this cryptic reference witnesses at least to a tradition of the late 1st or early 2nd century. “Babylon” is a cryptic term indicating Rome, and it is the understanding utilized in Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:5, 6 and in the works of various Jewish seers.

It may be said that by the end of the 1st century there existed a tradition that Peter had lived in Rome. Further early evidence for the tradition is found in the Letter to the Romans by Ignatius, the early 2nd-century bishop of Antioch. It is probable that the tradition of a 25-year episcopate of Peter in Rome is not earlier than the beginning or the middle of the 3rd century. The claims that Peter founded the Church of Rome or that he served as its first bishop are in dispute and rest on evidence that is not earlier than the middle or late 2nd century.

Words of John 21:18, 19 clearly allude to the death of Peter and are cast into the literary form of prophecy. The author of this chapter is aware of a tradition concerning the martyrdom of Peter when the Apostle was an old man. And there is a possible reference here to crucifixion as the manner of his death. But as to when or where the death took place there is not so much as a hint.

The strongest evidence to support the thesis that Peter was martyred in Rome is to be found in the Letter to the Corinthians (c. AD 96; 5:1-6:4) of Clement of Rome:

Peter, who by reason of wicked jealousy, not only once or twice but frequently endured suffering and thus, bearing his witness, went to the glorious place which he merited (5:4). . . . To these men [Peter and Paul] who lived such holy lives there was joined a great multitude of the elect who by reason of rivalry were victims of many outrages and tortures and who became outstanding examples among us (6:1).

These sources, plus the suggestions and implications of later works, combine to lead many scholars to accept Rome as the location of the martyrdom and the reign of Nero as the time.

As part of the general question of Peter's residence and martyrdom in Rome, debated since the appearance of the Defensor pacis of Marsilius of Padua (c. 1275-c. 1342), the particular question of where Peter was buried has been argued. There is not the slightest hint at a solution in the New Testament. The earliest evidence (c. AD 200) is found in a fragment of a work by Gaius (or Caius) witnessing to a tradition at least a generation earlier (c. AD 165) that the “trophy” (i.e., tropaion, or monument) of Peter was located at the Vatican. Though difficult to interpret, the use of the word trophy indicates that in this period the Vatican area was associated with either the tomb of the Apostle or simply a monument erected in the area of Peter's victory (i.e., his martyrdom).

Some scholars find support for a tradition that the Apostle was buried “Ad Catacumbas” (“at the catacombs” of San Sebastiano) on the Via Appia in an inscription of Damasus (pope, 366-384), composed in such ambiguous terms that it was certain to foster such misinterpretations as are found in the letter of Gregory the Great to Empress Constantina and the notice of Cornelius in the Liber Pontificalis. Apart from the aforementioned, later literary tradition is unanimous in indicating the Vatican Hill as the place of burial. See Peristephanon, XII, of Prudentius, various notices in the Liber Pontificalis, and The Salzburg Itinerary. Liturgical sources such as the Depositio Martyrum, Martyrologium Hieronymianum, though interesting, add nothing to the literary evidence.

Excavations were begun in the late 19th century in order to substantiate the theory that the burial of Peter and Paul was “Ad Catacumbas.” After a half century of investigation, it now seems reasonable to concede that a cult of the Apostles existed there about AD 260, though Christian influence may have been exerted as early as AD 200. None of the excavations, however, in all of the areas indicated at various times as the resting place of the apostolic relics, have produced any evidence whatsoever that the bodies of Peter and Paul were either buried there originally or brought there at a later time after earlier burials elsewhere.

In the early 4th century, the emperor Constantine (d. AD 337) with considerable difficulty erected a basilica on the Vatican Hill. The difficulty of the task, combined with the comparative ease with which this great church might have been built on level ground only a slight distance to the south, may support the contention that the Emperor was convinced that the relics of Peter rested beneath the small Aedicula (shrine for a small statue) over which he had erected the basilica. The task before the excavators was to determine whether or not the belief of Constantine accorded with the facts or was based merely upon a misunderstanding.

The excavation of this site, which lies far beneath the high altar of the present Church of St. Peter, was begun in 1939. The problems encountered in excavation and interpretations of what has been discovered are extremely complex. There are some scholars who are convinced that a box found in one of the fairly late sidewalls of the Aedicula contains fragments of the remains of the Apostle, fragments which at an earlier time may have rested in the earth beneath the Aedicula. Others are most definitely not convinced. If a grave of the Apostle did exist in the area of the base of the Aedicula, nothing identifiable of that grave remains today. Furthermore, the remains discovered in the box that until comparatively recently rested in the sidewall do not lead necessarily to a more positive conclusion. Archaeological investigation has not solved with any great degree of certainty the question of the location of the tomb of Peter. If it was not in the area of the Aedicula, perhaps the grave rested elsewhere in the immediate vicinity, or perhaps the body was never recovered for burial at all.

The feast of St. Peter

Five festivals in the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church involve honour paid to Peter. And in each, the name of Paul is also associated. First chronologically, on January 18 is celebrated the festival of the “Cathedra Petri” at Rome, and on February 22 at Antioch. June 29 marks the festival of Peter and Paul, ranking among the 12 most important celebrations of the Roman Catholic Church. The escape of Peter from his chains is noted in the feast of August 1. Last, the dedications of the basilicas of Peter and Paul, commemorating their construction by the emperor Constantine, are celebrated in the festival of November 18.

Saint James,

Born, Galilee, Palestine

Died AD 44, Jerusalem; feast day July 25

Saint James, also called James, Son Of Zebedee, or James The Great one of the Twelve Apostles, distinguished as being in Jesus' innermost circle and the only apostle whose martyrdom is recorded in the New Testament (Acts 12:2).

James and his younger brother, the apostle St. John, are designated Boanerges (from the Greek boanerges), or “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17), perhaps because of their characteristic fiery zeal (Mark 9:38, Luke 9:54). With Saints Peter and Andrew, James and John were the first four disciples whom Jesus called (Mark 1:16-19) and whose question (“Tell us, when will this [the end of time] be, and what will be the sign when these things are all to be accomplished?”) sparks Jesus' eschatological discourse in Mark 13.

As a member of the inner circle, James witnessed the raising of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:37, Luke 8:51), the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2), and Jesus' agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33, Matthew 26:37). James and John asked Jesus to let them sit, one at his right and one at his left, in his future glory (Mark 10:35-40), a favour that Jesus said was not his to grant. James was beheaded by order of King Herod Agrippa I of Judaea; according to Spanish tradition, his body was taken to Santiago de Compostela, where his shrine attracts pilgrims from all over the world.

Saint John The Apostle

Also called Saint John The Evangelist, or Saint John The Divine in Christian tradition, the author of three letters, the Fourth Gospel, and the Revelation to John in the New Testament. He played a leading role in the early church at Jerusalem.

The son of Zebedee, a Galilean fisherman, and Salome, John and his brother James were among the first disciples called by Jesus. In the Gospel According to Mark he is always mentioned after James and was no doubt the younger brother. His mother, Salome, was among those women who ministered to the circle of disciples. James and John were called by Jesus “Boanerges,” or “sons of thunder,” perhaps because of some character trait such as the zeal exemplified in Mark 9:38 and Luke 9:54 when John and James wanted to call down fire from heaven to punish the Samaritan towns that did not accept Jesus. John and his brother, together with Simon Peter, formed an inner nucleus of intimate disciples. In the Fourth Gospel, ascribed by early tradition to John, the sons of Zebedee are mentioned only once, as being at the shores of the lake of Tiberias when the risen Lord appeared; whether the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (who is never named) mentioned in this Gospel is to be identified with John (also not named) is not clear from the text.

John's authoritative position in the church after the Resurrection is shown by his visit with Peter to Samaria to lay hands on the new converts there. It is to Peter, James (not the brother of John but “the brother of Jesus”), and John that Paul successfully submitted his Gospel for recognition. What position John held in the controversy concerning the admission of the Gentiles to the church is not known; the evidence is insufficient for a theory that the Johannine School was anti-Pauline-i.e., opposed to granting Gentiles membership in the church.

John's subsequent history is obscure and passes into the uncertain mists of legend. At the end of the 2nd century, Polycrates, bishop of Ephesus, claims that John's tomb is at Ephesus, identifies him with the beloved disciple, and adds that he “was a priest, wearing the sacerdotal plate, both martyr and teacher.” That John died in Ephesus is also stated by Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon c. AD 180, who says John, wrote his Gospel and letters at Ephesus and Revelation at Patmos. During the 3rd century, two rival sites at Ephesus claimed the honour of being the Apostle's grave. One eventually achieved official recognition, becoming a shrine in the 4th century. In the 6th century the healing power of dust from John's tomb was famous (it is mentioned by the Frankish historian Gregory of Tours); at this time also, the church of Ephesus claimed to possess the autograph of the Fourth Gospel.

Legend was also active in the West, being especially stimulated by the passage in Mark 10:39, with its hints of John's martyrdom. Tertullian, the 2nd-century North African theologian, reports that John was plunged into boiling oil from which he miraculously escaped unscathed. During the 7th century, this scene was portrayed in the Lateran basilica and located in Rome by the Latin Gate; it is still annually commemorated on May 6. John's feast day otherwise is December 27. This belief that John did not die is based on an early tradition. In the original form of the apocryphal Acts of John (second half of the 2nd century) the Apostle dies; but in later traditions he is assumed to have ascended to heaven like Enoch and Elijah. A popular tradition known to Augustine declared that the earth over his grave heaved as if the Apostle were still breathing.

The legends that contributed most to medieval iconography are mainly derived from the apocryphal Acts of John. These Acts are also the source of the notion that John became a disciple as a very young man. Ichnographically, the young, beardless type is early (as in a 4th century sarcophagus from Rome), and this type came to be preferred (though not exclusively) in the medieval West. In the Byzantine world the evangelist is portrayed as old, with long, white beard and hair, usually carrying his Gospel. His symbol as an evangelist is an eagle. On account of the inspired visions of the book of Revelation the Byzantine churches entitled him “the Theologian”; and the title appears in Byzantine manuscripts of Revelation but not in manuscripts of the Gospel.


Saint Andrew

Died AD 60/70, Patras, Achaia [Greece]; feast day November 30

Saint Andrew, one of the Twelve Apostles and brother of St. Peter. He is the patron saint of Scotland and of Russia.

In the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), Peter and Andrew-whose Greek name means “Manly”-were called from their fishing by Jesus to follow him, promising that he would make them fishers of men. With Saints Peter, James, and John, Andrew asked Jesus on the Mount of Olives for signs of the earth's end, which inspired the eschatological discourse in Mark 13. In John's Gospel he is the first Apostle named, and he was a disciple of St. John the Baptist before Jesus' call.

Early Byzantine tradition (dependent on John 1:40) calls Andrew protokletos, “first called.” Early church legends recount his missionary activity in the area about the Black Sea. Apocryphal writings centred on him include the Acts of Andrew, Acts of Andrew and Matthias, and Acts of Peter and Andrew. A 4th-century account reports his death by crucifixion, and late medieval accretions describe the cross as X-shaped. He is ichnographically represented with an X-shaped cross (like that depicted on the Scottish flag).

St. Jerome records that Andrew's relics were taken from Patras (modern Pátrai) to Constantinople (modern Istanbul) by command of the Roman emperor Constantius II in 357. From there the body was taken to Amalfi, Italy (Church of Sant' Andrea), in 1208, and in the 15th century the head was taken to Rome (St. Peter's, Vatican City). In September 1964 Pope Paul VI returned Andrew's head to Pátrai as a gesture of goodwill toward the separated Christians of Greece.


Saint Philip The Apostle

Born, Bethsaida of Galilee

Died 1st century, ; Western feast day May 3, Eastern feast day November 14

One of the Twelve Apostles. Mentioned only by name in the Apostle lists of the Synoptic Gospels, he is a frequent character in the Gospel According to John, according to which (1:43-51) he came from Bethsaida, answered Jesus' call (“Follow me”), and was instrumental in the call of St. Nathanael (probably St. Bartholomew the Apostle), whom he brought to Jesus.

At the time of his call, Philip seemingly belonged to a group influenced by St. John the Baptist. He participated in the miracle of the loaves and fishes (John 6:5-9), accounting for his symbol in medieval art of loaves. With St. Andrew the Apostle, he brought word to Jesus that certain Greeks had asked to see him (John 12:21-22). In John 14:8-9, Philip asked Jesus to reveal the Father, receiving the answer, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father.”

Nothing more is known about him from the New Testament. In later legends he was often confused with St. Philip the Evangelist (Philip the Deacon), one of the seven deacons of the early church (Acts 6:5). His apostolate was supposedly in the territory of Scythia, an ancient Eurasian area. He died of natural causes according to one tradition but, according to another, of crucifixion, accounting for his other medieval symbol of a tall cross. The Acts of Philip are apocryphal and probably date from the 3rd/4th century.

Saint Bartholomew

Flourished 1st century AD, d. traditionally Albanopolis, Armenia; Western feast day August 24; date varies in Eastern churches

Apart from the mentions of him in four of the Apostle lists (Mark 3:18, Matt. 10:3, Luke 6:14, and Acts 1:13), nothing is known about him from the New Testament. Bartholomew is a family name meaning “son of [Hebrew: bar] Tolmai, or Talmai,” so he may have had another personal name. For that reason and because he was always associated with the Apostle St. Philip in the Gospel lists, a 9th-century tradition identified him with Nathanael, who, according to John 1:Jesus called 43-51, with Philip. Upon seeing Nathanael, Jesus said, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” This identification sought to explain how the otherwise unknown Bartholomew could be mentioned in the Apostle lists, while Nathanael, whose call is explicitly described by John, does not figure in them. His full name would then be Nathanael bar Tolmai.

The 4th-century Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea in his Ecclesiastical History relates that, when the 2nd-century teacher St. Pantaenus of Alexandria made a visit to India, he found the Hebrew “Gospel According to Matthew,” which had been left behind there by Bartholomew. Traditionally, Bartholomew also served as a missionary to Ethiopia, Mesopotamia, Parthia (in modern Iran), Lycaonia (in modern Turkey), and Armenia. The apostle is said to have been martyred by flaying and beheading at the command of the Armenian king Astyages. His relics were supposedly taken to the Church of St. Bartholomew-in-the-Tiber, Rome.

Saint Matthew

Flourished 1st century AD, Palestine; Western feast day September 21, Eastern feast day November 16

Also called Levi one of the Twelve Apostles, traditional author of the first Synoptic Gospel.

According to Matthew 9:9 and Mark 2:14, Matthew was sitting by the customs house in Capernaum (near modern Almagor, Israel, on the Sea of Galilee) when Jesus called him into his company. Assuming that the identification of Matthew with Levi is correct, Matthew (probably meaning “Yahweh's Gift”) would appear to be the Christian name of Levi (called by Mark “Levi the son of Alphaeus”), who had been employed as a tax collector in the service of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee. Because Levi's occupation was one that earned distrust and contempt everywhere, the scribes of the Pharisees criticized Jesus on seeing him eat with tax collectors and sinners; whereupon Jesus answered, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:15-17). According to Luke Levi in his house, the aforementioned dinner gave 5:29, after his call.

Other than naming Matthew in the list of Apostles, usually pairing him with St. Thomas, the New Testament offers scanty and uncertain information about him. Outside the New Testament, a statement of importance about him is the passage from the Apostolic Father Papias of Hierapolis preserved by Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea: “Sothen Matthew composed the Oracles in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as he could.” The Gospel According to Matthew was certainly written for a Jewish-Christian church in a strongly Jewish environment, but that this Matthew is definitely the synoptic author is seriously doubted. Tradition notes his ministry in Judaea, after which he supposedly missioned to the East, suggesting Ethiopia and Persia. Legend differs as to the scene of his missions and as to whether he died a natural or a martyr's death. Matthew's relics were reputedly discovered in Salerno (Italy) in 1080. His symbol is an angel.

Saint James


Flourished 1st century AD, Western feast day May 3; Eastern feast day October 9

James may be he whose mother, Mary, is mentioned among the women at Jesus' crucifixion and tomb (Mark 15:40, 16:1; Matthew 27:56). He is not to be confused with the apostle St. James, son of Zebedee, or James, “the Lord's brother.” Depending upon the Bible consulted, he is probably the brother (Revised Standard and New English) or father (Authorized and Douay) of the apostle St. Judas (Jude). Nothing further is known of him, and a late legend of his martyrdom in Persia is spurious.

In the Western church, his identity with James, “the Lord's brother,” was originally assumed in the feast of Saints Philip and James on May 1, the date of the dedication of the Church of the Holy Apostles, Rome, where supposed relics of these saints were brought about 560.

Saint Judas

Flourished 1st century AD, Western feast day October 28, Eastern feast days June 19 and August 21

Also called Jude, Thaddaeus, and Lebbaeus one of the original Twelve Apostles. He is distinguished in John 14:22 as “not Iscariot” to avoid identification with the betrayer of Jesus, Judas Iscariot. Listed in Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13 as “Judas of James,” some Biblical versions (e.g., Revised Standard and New English) interpret this designation to mean “son of James” (i.e., probably the Apostle St. James, son of Alphaeus), while others (e.g., Authorized and Douay) call him “brother of James.” Judas is more probably identified with Thaddaeus (Lebbaeus) in Mark 3:18 and Matt. 10:3 and less probably with Jesus' “brother” Judas (Mark 6:3, Matt. 13:55), reputed author of the canonical Letter of Jude that warns against the licentious and blasphemous heretics.

According to John 14:22-23, Judas, after Jesus completed the Last Supper and announced his manifestation to his disciples, asks, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” After Jesus' ascension, Judas' history is unknown. Like the Apostle St. Simon, he seems to have come from the Zealots, the Jewish nationalistic party prior to AD 70. Legends first appearing in the 4th century credit Simon and Judas with missionary work and martyrdom in Persia (noted in the apocryphal Passion of Simon and Jude). Thus, since the 8th century, the Western Church has commemorated them together on October 28. The Greek Orthodox Church, however, distinguishes Judas from Thaddaeus, celebrating Judas, brother of the Lord, on June 19, and Thaddaeus the Apostle on August 21. The devotion to Judas (Jude) as patron of desperate causes began in France and Germany in the late 18th century.

Saint Simon

The Apostle, flourished 1st century AD; d. Persia or Edessa, Greece? Western feast day October 28, Eastern feast day June 19

Also called Simon the Zealot one of the Twelve Apostles. In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, he bears the epithet Kananaios, or the Cananaean, often wrongly interpreted to mean “from Cana” or “from Canaan.” Kananaios is the Greek transliteration of an Aramaic word, qanÆ anaya, meaning “the Zealot,” the title given him by Luke in his Gospel and in Acts. It is uncertain whether he was one of the groups of Zealots, the Jewish nationalistic party before AD 70. Apparently the titles may have been an attempt to distinguish him from the apostle St. Simon Peter.

Nothing further is known about him from the New Testament. He supposedly preached the Gospel in Egypt and then joined the apostle St. Judas (Thaddaeus) in Persia, where, according to the apocryphal Acts of Simon and Judas, he was martyred by being cut in half with a saw, one of his chief iconographic symbols (another being a book). According to St. Basil the Great, the 4th-century Cappadocian Father, Simon died peacefully at Edessa.

Judas Iscariot

Died c. AD 30

One of the Twelve Apostles, notorious for betraying Jesus. Judas’ surname is more probably a corruption of the Latin sicarius (“murderer” or “assassin”) than an indication of family origin, suggesting that he would have belonged to the Sicarii, the most radical Jewish group, some of whom were terrorists. Other than his apostleship, his betrayal, and his death, little else is revealed about Judas in the Gospels. Always the last on the list of the Apostles, he was their treasurer. John 12:6 introduces Judas' thievery by saying, “. . . as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it.”

He disclosed Jesus' whereabouts to the chief priests and elders for 30 pieces of silver. They provided the armed guard that he brought to the Garden of Gethsemane, near Jerusalem, where Jesus went to pray with the other 11 Apostles after the Last Supper. There he identified Jesus with a kiss, addressing him as” master.” Matt. 26:14-16 and John 12:6 designate Judas' motive as avarice, but Luke 22:3-6 ascribes his action to the entrance of Satan into his body, paralleling John 13:27, where, after Judas took the bread at the Last Supper, “Satan entered into him.” Jesus then says, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” This is the culmination of John 6:70-71, which, after Jesus says, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve, and one of you is a devil?” discloses that he meant “Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was to betray him.”

There are variant traditions about Judas' death. According to Matt.27:3-10, he repented after seeing Jesus condemned to death, then returned the silver and hanged himself (traditionally from the Judas tree). In Acts 1:18, he “bought a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out,” implying that he threw himself down, rather than that he died accidentally. Apocryphal gospels developed the point in Acts that calls the spot of his death the place (field) of blood. The 1st/2nd-century Apostolic Father Papias is quoted to have given macabre details about Judas' death, presumably to show that Gospel prophecies were literally fulfilled. His account appears in numerous legends, particularly in Coptic works, and in medieval literature. In Dante'sInferno Judas appears in the deepest chasm of hell with Julius Caesar's assassins, Brutus and Cassius.

In Muslim polemic literature, however, Judas ceases to be a traitor; instead, he supposedly lied to the Jews in order to defend Jesus (who was not crucified). The 14th-century cosmographer ad-DimashqY maintains that Judas assumed Jesus' likeness and was crucified in his place. The 2nd-century apocryphal Gospel of Judas favourably evaluates him. His name has subsequently become associated with traitor (a Judas) and treacherous kiss (a Judas kiss).

Saint Matthias

Flourished 1st century AD, Judaea; d. traditionally Colchis, Armenia; Western feast day February 24, Eastern feast day August 9

The disciple who, according to the biblical Acts of the Apostles 1:21-26, was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot after Judas betrayed Jesus.

Jesus' choice of 12 Apostles points to a consciousness of a symbolic mission-originally there were 12 tribes of Israel-which the community maintained after the Crucifixion. Acts reveals that Matthias accompanied Jesus and the Apostles from the time of the Lord's Baptism to his Ascension and that, when it became time to replace Judas, the Apostles cast lots between Matthias and another candidate, St. Joseph Barsabbas. St. Jerome and the early Christian writers Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius of Caesarea attest that Matthias was among the 72 disciples paired off and dispatched by Jesus. Soon after his election, Matthias received the Holy Spirit with the other Apostles (Acts 2:1-4). He is not mentioned again in the New Testament.

It is generally believed that Matthias ministered in Judaea and then carried out missions to foreign places. Greek tradition states that he Christianized Cappadocia, a mountainous district now in central Turkey, later journeying to the region about the Caspian Sea, where he was martyred by crucifixion and, according to other legends, chopped apart. His symbol, related to his alleged martyrdom, is either a cross or a halberd. St. Helena, mother of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, reputedly transported Matthias' relics from Jerusalem to Rome.

Saint Paul

The Apostle, born AD 10? Tarsus in Cilicia [now in Turkey]

Died 67? Rome [Italy]

Original name Saul of Tarsus1st-century Jew who, after first being a bitter enemy of Christianity, later became an important figure in its history.

Converted only a few years after the death of Jesus, he became the leading Apostle (missionary) of the new movement and played a decisive part in extending it beyond the limits of Judaism to become a worldwide religion. His surviving letters are the earliest extant Christian writings. They reveal both theological skill and pastoral understanding and have had lasting importance for Christian life and thought.

Early life

In the time of Paul, Tarsus, the home of famous Stoic philosophers, was on the main trade route between East and West. Like many of the Jews there Paul inherited Roman citizenship, probably granted by the Romans as a reward for mercenary service in the previous century. This fact explains his two names. He used his Jewish name, Saul, within the Jewish community and his Roman surname, Paul, when speaking Greek. Though he had a strict Jewish upbringing, he also grew up with a good command of idiomatic Greek and the experience of a cosmopolitan city, which fitted him for his special vocation to bring the gospel to the Gentiles (non-Jews). At some stage he became an enthusiastic member of the Pharisees, a Jewish sect that promoted purity and fidelity to the Law of Moses. According to Acts, he received training as a rabbi in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. His knowledge of the Law and of rabbinic methods of interpreting it is evident in his letters. Like most rabbis he supported himself with a manual trade-tent making-probably learned from his father. It is clear that he never met Jesus while in Jerusalem, if, indeed, he was there before the Crucifixion. He learned enough about Jesus and his followers, however, to regard the Christian movement as a threat to the Pharisaic Judaism that he had embraced so eagerly. Thus he first appears on the scene of history as a persecutor of the newly founded church.

Serious persecution of Christians first arose in connection with converts among the Hellenists (Greek-speaking Jews) in Jerusalem. When one of them, Stephen, was stoned to death, the murderers “laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul” (Acts 7:58). At that time Paul shared the sense of outrage aroused by the Hellenist converts. They had not only proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah and heavenly Lord, a man who had been crucified and therefore accursed by God (Deut. 21:23), but they also claimed that the temple and its sacrifices were superseded by the sacrificial death of Jesus and that therefore the Law could be disregarded (the subject of another curse, Deut. 27:26). Paul thus joined in the effort to stamp out the Christian movement. The Hellenist converts fled to the foreign cities where they had family connections, while the original Aramaic-speaking group in Jerusalem kept a low profile to avoid giving provocation.


Paul, in Galatians, bears out the impression given in Acts that he was converted as a result of a vision on the road to Damascus, on his way to apprehend some of the scattered converts. His own account is tantalizingly brief: “he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles” (Gal. 1:15-16). The longer description in Acts, given three times, dramatizes what may have been essentially an inward experience. It was certainly a moment of revelation, changing Paul from bitter enmity to lifelong dedication to the Christian cause.

Paul's conversion has often been explained psychologically as the resolution of an inner conflict. But the notion that Paul was tormented by scruples rests on a misunderstanding of Rom. 7. This chapter is concerned not with autobiography but with universal experience seen in the light of mature Christian understanding. Paul would not have spoken in these terms before his conversion. In fact, it is clear from other passages that his early life was free from such struggle. He excelled in zeal for the Law, and by its standards his life was blameless.

Paul's own account is much more in keeping with Old Testament callings of a prophet. Though it is impossible to state exactly what happened, the central feature was certainly his vision of Jesus in glory. It convinced him that Jesus was raised from the dead and exalted as Lord in heaven, as the Christians claimed. It also was proof that Jesus had been crucified wrongfully. Hence the curse did not apply, and his death could be understood as a sacrifice on behalf of others.

To Paul this had universal significance. Believing, like many Jews of his time, that God's final Day of Judgment, on which he would come to free the world from evil and to establish lasting peace and righteousness, was imminent, Paul then saw his vocation to be a missionary to people of every nation to prepare them for God's coming. The new feature of this expectation was the place accorded to Jesus Christ. In agreement with the earliest apostolic preaching, Paul believed that Jesus, having died for the sins of mankind, was now reserved in heaven as God's agent for the judgment. Those that believed in him and acknowledged him as Lord would have him as their deliverer on that day. Thus faith in Christ became the foundation of Paul's preaching. Along with this he proclaimed the love of God shown in the sacrificial death of Christ, who “loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). All his devotion was transferred to this new centre. Formerly his energy had been directed to preparing people for God's Kingdom by imposing on them strict Pharisaic interpretation of the Law. Now all that seemed useless in the light of what God himself had done for humanity through Jesus. Henceforth his one aim was to proclaim the faith of Jesus as Lord everywhere.

Immediately after his conversion Paul spent a period of solitude in Arabia. He then took up residence in Damascus. There presumably he established contact with the Christians he had originally planned to harm and received from them information about Jesus and his teaching as well as experience of Christian fellowship. Damascus was the base for his first missionary work, but nothing is known of the effects of his mission in the region.

Paul in Antioch

After three years his work in Damascus came to an abrupt end. Somehow he had fallen foul of the ethnarch (governor) of the region of Nabataean Arabia. The ethnarch set a watch on the gates of Damascus, but Paul escaped over the wall in a basket and made his way to Jerusalem. There he met Peter, the Apostle, and James, the Lord's brother. This was an important meeting, for it established Paul as a recognized Apostle alongside the founders of the church at Jerusalem. The visit was brief, and Paul did not meet the Christian communities in the vicinity. Most likely this was due to the danger of reprisals from the Pharisees, who regarded Paul as a renegade. Therefore, after only two weeks, he set out on a new mission to Cilicia and Syria, with a base in his native city of Tarsus. About this mission, again, there is no information.

At some point Paul moved to Antioch, the capital of Syria, to assist Barnabas in his successful mission there. The converts included a large number of Gentiles. This eventually led to a serious crisis, in which Paul emerged as the champion of the Gentiles. The controversy, which lasted several years, stimulated Paul’s most important contribution to Christian theology. His stand on behalf of the Gentiles ensured that Christianity became not just a Jewish sect but a universal religion. The point at issue was the relationship between Jewish and Gentile Christians. Primitive Christianity was a closely-knit fellowship with the common meal and the Eucharist (thanksgiving for the sacrificial death of Christ) at the heart of it. But the Jewish purity rules made Jews reluctant to eat with Gentiles for fear of transgressing the Law. Jesus had taught that purity of heart was more important than attention to rules, but this did not lead his followers to abandon them. But at Antioch the accession of Gentile converts created a mixed congregation, in which the Jewish members were content to eat with the Gentiles for the sake of Christian fellowship. In Jerusalem, however, since the death of Stephen, the Christians had had to take great care not to offend Jewish susceptibilities, and the prospect of making headway in the mission there depended on their being seen as faithful to the Law. Thus reports of the liberal attitude of the Christians in Antioch were bound to be extremely damaging. Some of the Jerusalem Christians who were converted Pharisees even held the view that Gentile converts should be required to accept circumcision and the obligations of the Law.

Paul states in Galatians that he did not revisit Jerusalem for 14 years, and, when he finally did so, it was to deal with the problem of Gentile membership of the church. This conflicts with the information in Acts, which tells of a visit by Paul and Barnabas to bring relief during a famine at some time in AD 47-49. Acts then describes a further visit to deal with the Gentile issue. Most scholars today identify the latter visit with that described in Galatians. This means that Luke, in writing Acts on the basis of various sources, either presented twice what was actually one visit or wrongly included Paul's name in the earlier relief visit.

Antioch continued to be Paul's base for further pioneering work. Acts records three itineraries, generally referred to as missionary journeys, spanning a number of years. The second visit to Jerusalem probably took place at the end of the first of these.

First missionary journey

Acts describes how Paul and Barnabas, accompanied by Barnabas' cousin John Mark, set out for Cyprus, visiting Salamis and Paphos. They then crossed to the mainland (modern Turkey), landing at Perga (near modern Murtana), but Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. They worked in Pisidia and Pamphylia, which formed the southern part of the Roman province of Galatia, beginning in Pisidian Antioch (near modern Yalvaç). Acts records a sermon that Paul preached in the synagogue, which is a fine specimen of the presentation of the faith to a Jewish audience in New Testament times. After further stops at Iconium (modern Konya), Lystra (near modern Hatunsaray), and Derbe (unidentified), they retraced their steps to Perga and the port of Attalia (modern Antalya) and then sailed back to Antioch.

It is unclear from this account how many of the new converts were drawn from local Jewish communities and how many were Gentiles. The monotheism and strong morality of the Jews always attracted to the synagogues Gentiles who proved to be receptive to the Christian mission, especially as Paul did not require circumcision and observance of the Law for Christian fellowship. In some places the new congregations may have been entirely composed of Gentiles.

At this time Greek and Roman traditional religion was losing its hold, and a deputation had come from Jerusalem to Antioch to insist that the Gentile converts should be circumcised. This led to Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem. Paul says that he and Barnabas went “by revelation,” perhaps meaning as a result of a message from a prophet, not in response to a summons from Jerusalem as stated in Acts. The party from Antioch included Titus, a Gentile whom Paul had taken into his mission team.

It is almost impossible to harmonize the information in Acts 15 and Gal. 2, but it is best to regard them as accounts of the same occasion. In Jerusalem there seem to have been three main actions. First, Paul and Barnabas had a private consultation with James, Peter, and John, in which they compared the content of their mission preaching and established that they were in basic agreement. This confirmed Paul's contention that the gospel message did not require the circumcision of Gentile converts. A campaign by the hard-line party to have Titus circumcised was firmly resisted. Second, a larger conference was convened in order to inform all about the Gentile mission so that they should have no doubt that the power of the Holy Spirit had been at work. This resulted in the decision that the Gentile mission should continue without pressure to Judaize converts. Paul would carry this on from Antioch, while Peter would continue the mission among Jews from the base at Jerusalem. Paul, however, was urged to bear in mind the precarious position of the Jerusalem church. Third, a letter was sent to Antioch with minimum rules for Gentile converts: to abstain from meat used in pagan sacrifices, to use only kosher meat according to Jewish custom, and to observe Jewish restrictions on sexual relationships. Later events show that the contents of this letter were unknown to Paul, and it is conjectured that it belongs to a later attempt to regulate relationships with the numerous Jewish Christian congregations of Judaea and Syria after Paul had ceased to have close contact with Antioch.

Peter, who subsequently visited the church in Antioch, had endorsed Paul’s view. Apparently he had no difficulty in sharing in the life of the mixed congregation. Yet when some hard-liners came from Jerusalem, Peter felt compelled to withdraw from meals with Gentile members. Other Jewish members also yielded to the pressure, including even Barnabas. Paul, however, was adamant in his conviction that this was fundamentally wrong. This crisis could never have arisen if the letter from Jerusalem had already been sent; it must have been due to differing views of the implications of what had been agreed. Not only Paul but also Peter and the main body in Jerusalem had assumed that the purity rules would not be allowed to interfere with table fellowship in mixed congregations. But it is clear from the trouble over Titus that the hard-liners would demand separation into two groups and then claim that the unity of the congregation would require Judaizing of the Gentile converts. Paul insisted on his own understanding of the agreement, and the visitors left.

Second missionary journey

Paul then planned to revisit the churches of south Galatia. Barnabas wished to take Mark, but Paul refused in view of his previous failure. Barnabas and Mark went to Cyprus, and nothing more is said about them in Acts. The subsequent account is entirely concentrated on Paul, who took with him Silas, also a Roman citizen (Roman name Silvanus). They went overland to Galatia. At Lystra Paul took into his team Timothy, a Gentile with a Jewish mother, who is mentioned with Silas in Paul's letters. The claim of Acts that Paul circumcised him seems improbable in view of the earlier decisions but is not impossible if the work was mainly among Jewish communities.

Because Paul hoped to establish the church in large centres of influence, he planned to go to Ephesus, the principal city of the province of Asia and a port on the Aegean coast. He was, however, prevented from doing so “by the Holy Spirit” (perhaps another reference to Christian prophecy). Instead he turned toward the large cities of Bithynia in the north. Possibly the Gentile churches of north Galatia, to which the letter to the Galatians is addressed, were founded on the way. Once more his plans were prevented, and so he moved northwest to Troas. From there, in response to a vision, he sailed to Macedonia and founded churches at Philippi, Thessalonica (modern Thessaloníki, Greece), and Beroea. Philippi, a Roman colony on the Via Egnatia, the major route across Greece, produced a loyal group of Gentile converts, who frequently contributed funds to Paul in later years. Acts tells how Paul and Silas were imprisoned there but released when they revealed their Roman citizenship. At Thessalonica and Beroea trouble from hostile Jews compelled Paul to move on to Athens. After a short stay there, during which he is said to have addressed the council of the Areopagus, he went on to Corinth. The speech, as given in Acts, was an attempt to meet the needs of a philosophically trained audience. No church was founded in Athens.

The events of that time are reflected in I Thessalonians, perhaps the earliest of Paul's letters, written after Silas and Timothy had joined Paul at Corinth. The letter expressed his great anxiety for this newly founded church in Thessalonica, which he had had to leave hurriedly, having been accused of treason for proclaiming Christ as a rival emperor. It emerges from the letter that he had taught the Gentile audience to turn “to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1:9-10). This can be taken as a good example of Paul's basic mission preaching. Timothy had reported that the converts were anxious about their fate because some of them had already died. Paul explained that the time of Christ's coming (Parousia) for judgment was unknown, but both living and dead who had faith in him would be claimed by him as his own and saved for the everlasting kingdom. Some as a supplementary letter, written shortly afterward, regards II Thessalonians but there are doubt about its authenticity. It contains details of the events that are to precede the Parousia (unfortunately these details are by no means easy to understand).

Paul was in low spirits when he reached Corinth after the failure at Athens. At Corinth he met a Jewish couple, Aquila and Priscilla, tentmakers like himself, who became his lifelong friends. They had recently come from Rome, following an edict of the emperor Claudius expelling all Jews from the capital. Possibly they had already become Christians in Rome. In Corinth Paul at last was able to exercise a long and fruitful ministry in a great trading centre. Acts records an incident in which Paul was brought before the proconsul Gallio. This is important for dating Paul's career because an inscription discovered at Delphi proves that Gallio began his year of office in AD 51. Paul had probably arrived in the previous year. When he left Corinth, Aquila and Priscilla accompanied him to Ephesus, but he went on alone by sea to Caesarea for Jerusalem and from there to Antioch.

Third missionary journey

Paul had by then established churches in Asia Minor and Greece, with a major centre at Corinth, and had begun work in the equally important Ephesus. Then followed a period of consolidation. He went overland to Ephesus, which became his base for the next three years. Acts gives little detail, but he must have founded the churches at Colossae, Hierapolis, and Laodicea in the Lycus Valley during this period. A group of followers of John the Baptist at Ephesus is mentioned, and there were probably other Christian missionaries working in the same region. References in his letters to fighting wild beasts at Ephesus and to imprisonment show that he faced great hazards.

This was the period of Paul's most important letters. His correspondence with Corinth shows the grave difficulties that were liable to arise. I Corinthians refers to a previous letter urging the Christians not to associate with immoral persons, but it has not survived. In I Corinthians Paul tackles a whole array of problems. Rival groups were claiming the authority of different teachers (Peter, Apollos, and Paul himself). A case of incest had gone unrebuked. Paul's teaching on freedom from the Law had been twisted to justify licentiousness. There were problems of marriage and divorce. The question of which foods a Gentile Christian might eat was causing problems of conscience. There was disorderly conduct at the Eucharist (Lord's Supper). In dealing with these matters Paul showed knowledge of Jesus' teaching on marriage, and he gave the account of the Last Supper in its oldest known form. A section on the gifts of the Holy Spirit includes his famous chapter on love (chapter 13) and regulates the practice of speaking with tongues. A long section on resurrection shows that, while teaching that Christian life was already participation in the risen Christ, Paul still thought that the Parousia was near and that the full experience of eternal life lay beyond this event.

Before long, however, there were fresh troubles at Corinth. Intruders from another church were trying to undermine Paul's authority. He dashed to Corinth but failed to restore confidence. He returned to Ephesus and wrote a severe letter (possibly partly preserved in II Cor. 10-13), which he regretted as soon as Titus had left with it. Paul had intended to work at Troas but was so anxious about Corinth that he went on to Macedonia instead in the hope of meeting Titus on his return. Titus returned with the good news that the severe letter had accomplished its purpose. With tremendous relief Paul wrote II Corinthians (perhaps only chapters 1-9), which is full of the theme of reconciliation: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (5:19). Paul also gave further teaching on the resurrection of the body in terms of renewal and transformation into the state of glory.

Another theme of II Corinthians is a collection for the poor church of Jerusalem, a gift that Paul intended to symbolize the unity between the Jewish and Gentile churches. Behind this project was the continuing problem of the Judaizing party. This comes to the fore in Galatians, probably written during this period. The letter is concerned with the attempt of some Jewish Christians to persuade the Gentile Christians of Galatia to be circumcised and keep the Law. Here Paul lays out his doctrine of justification by faith, generally reckoned his most important contribution to Christian theology, which was to reach its classic expression in Romans.

From Macedonia Paul went to Corinth, and it was during his three months there that he wrote to the Christians in Rome. The letter was written ostensibly to seek their help in his plan to evangelize the far west (Spain is mentioned) after taking the collection to Jerusalem. In fact, he clearly felt the need to win their support for his position on the Judaizing issue, and he presented the case at length. God's plan, he argued, is for universal salvation. This is God's gift available through faith in the sacrificial death of Christ. By itself the Law cannot bring salvation. It can show the nature of human sin but is powerless to make people righteous. Paul's opponents feared that without the Law the Gentile converts would be liable to libertine behaviour (as had happened at Corinth). Paul replied that faith in Christ opens the believer to the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. Then the opponents complained that Paul's argument left no room for the privileged position of the Jews as God's chosen people. Paul replied that, though many Jews had failed to respond to the gospel, the success of the mission to the Gentiles would prompt them to seek salvation at the end of time, “and so all Israel [would] be saved” (Rom. 11:26). Then the universe would reach the fulfillment of its purpose, and the final transformation could begin.

Arrest and imprisonment

At the end of the letter Paul expressed his fear of danger from the Jews in Jerusalem and even hinted that the church there might not feel able to accept the collection. It seems that both these fears were realized. Acts tells that Paul was accompanied by delegates from the Gentile churches but does not mention the collection. This omission is best explained on the assumption that Luke did not wish to say that the church in Jerusalem did not dare to accept it. If so, Paul's hope that it would symbolize the gathering of the Gentiles into the one family of God was disappointed. In Jerusalem Paul was mistakenly accused of bringing one of the Gentile delegates into the inner courts of the Temple, beyond the barrier excluding Gentiles. He was arrested, partly to save his life from the mob, but given good treatment on account of his Roman citizenship. When a plot against his life came to light, he was removed to Caesarea, the Roman military headquarters. The governor Felix kept him in prison to avoid antagonizing the Jewish authorities. Two years later Felix's successor, Festus, wanted to send him to Jerusalem for trial, but Paul refused to go and appealed to Caesar.

The journey to Rome began in late autumn, but a shipwreck delayed the travelers for three months at Malta, so that they arrived in Rome in the spring of AD 60. There Paul was kept under house arrest for two years awaiting trial. At this point the narrative of Acts closes, and it is left to the reader to guess what happened. As long as the Pastoral Letters were accepted as genuine, their evidence demanded the hypothesis of acquittal, further work in Greece, Asia Minor, and even Crete, before a second arrest, return to Rome, and sentence to death. Now that these letters are recognized to be pseudonymous, there is no reason to suppose that Paul was acquitted at all.

Paul wrote several letters during captivity. These might have been written during an earlier imprisonment in Ephesus or, perhaps, while he was at Caesarea, but Rome seems most likely. Of the four captivity letters, Philippians and Philemon are generally accepted as genuine; Colossians and Ephesians are questioned. The letter to Philemon, a Christian of Colossae, concerns his runaway slave whom Paul has converted in prison and now sends back to him “no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother” (verse 16). This letter, with its sensitive handling of a delicate situation, is a gem among the Pauline writings. Philippians is a serene acknowledgement of the generosity of the Christians at Philippi. Colossians is concerned with trouble from false teachers at Colossae, conjectured to be an unorthodox fringe sect of Judaism. In response, Christ is presented as the true wisdom of God, embodying his whole plan of salvation. Ephesians is an eloquent, perhaps overly rhetorical, statement of the privilege of the Gentiles, who in Christ enjoy the status of God's chosen people. Through his death Christ “has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility” (2:14).

Achievement and influence

Paul's lasting monument is the worldwide Christian Church. Though he was not the first to preach to the Gentiles, his resolute stand against the Judaizing party was decisive for future progress. It can be justly claimed that it was due to Paul more than anyone else that Christianity grew from being a small sect within Judaism to become a world religion.

Paul's influence continued after his death. The Pastoral Letters to Timothy and Titus were written in Paul's name to promote fidelity to his teaching, probably around the end of the 1st century. At the same time, Paul's surviving letters were collected for general circulation. They quickly became a standard of reference for Christian teaching. In particular, theories of atonement (the reconciliation of mankind to God through the sacrificial death of Christ) have always relied heavily on Paul.

In the Western (Latin) half of Christendom Paul had a profound effect upon the history of the church through the writings of St. Augustine. The Pelagian controversy concerning grace and free will turned on the interpretation of passages in Paul's letter to the Romans. In arguing for the necessity of divine grace for salvation, Augustine built on Paul's idea of predestination, correctly interpreting Paul's idea as a reference to God's predestined plan of universal salvation and as a concept that did not necessarily conflict with the exercise of free will.

The reformers of the 16th century were also deeply indebted to Paul. Martin Luther seized on the doctrine of justification by faith and made the distinction between faith and works the basis of his attack on the late medieval church. John Calvin drew from Paul his concept of the church as the company of the elect, using the idea of predestination and adding that predestination to salvation belongs only to the elect. Thus Paul's teaching came through the influence of Augustine to dominate the Reformation and its legacy in the Lutheran and Calvinist churches of modern Protestantism. These issues, however, never had the same prominence in the Eastern Orthodox churches.

Modern study of Paul has tried to reach behind these controversies and to see Paul in his true context of the rise of Christianity. Once the basis of Paul's thought in the context of Jewish concepts of his time is understood in the light of modern scholarship, uncompromising predestination views of some of Calvin's followers can be seen to be an overly rigid interpretation of Paul's meaning. Attempts to derive Paul's ideas from Greek or Gnostic influences have been largely abandoned. Paul stands out more clearly as a Christian Jew, whose conversion experience convinced him that Christ was the universal Lord under God, the agent and leader of God's kingdom. Paul thus maintained that through Christ every barrier is broken down: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

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