Who was Thaddeus in the New Testament?

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Thaddæus or Jude was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:2-4). He is identified with Judas Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus. Matthew wrote in his gospel, “Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus” (Matthew 10:3).

There is an ancient tradition, for which there is no proof that equates this apostle with Judas the son of James (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13). It is evident from other examples that this Judas was not the brother but the son of a man named James, although the Greek text of Luke 6:16 simply reads, “Judas of James.” Clearly this James, the father of Thaddaeus or Judas, is not to be identified with any other James of the NT, for the name was very common in those days (Mark 3:17).

Judas Thaddaeus became known as Jude after early translators of the New Testament from Greek into English tried to differentiate him from Judas Iscariot the apostle that betrayed Jesus prior to His crucifixion. The apostle John wrote, “Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” (John 14:22). For this reason, the translators abbreviated his surname. Most versions of the New Testament in languages other than English and French refer to Judas and Jude by the same name.

Not much is recorded about this apostle and his name does not appear as prominently in the NT records as do most of the other disciples. In all probability the apostle spoke both Greek and Aramaic like almost all of his contemporaries, and he could have been a farmer before Jesus called him to the ministry.

According to tradition, Saint Jude preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia, Armenia, and Libya. He is also said to have visited Beirut and Edessa. It is said that he suffered martyrdom about 65 AD in Beirut, in the Roman province of Syria, together with the apostle Simon the Zealot, with whom he is usually associated. The axe that he is often shown holding in pictures symbolizes the way in which he was killed.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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