These are the names of the twelve disciples: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (Plus his replacement Matthias)
After Simon the Zealot, let us have a look at Bartholomew. He is only mentioned four times in the New Testament and these are in conjunction with lists of the disciples. Bartholomew is always mentioned after Phillip and it appears that there may be a link between the two, but this is only perceived.
Bartholomew was empowered by Jesus to go to the lost sheep of Israel. Jesus said to him, as he did with the other disciples, “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:5-8 and Mark 3:13-19
Many scholars equate Bartholomew with Nathaniel (John 1:45-49), but no proof of this identification exists, except by inference. According to church tradition, Bartholomew was a missionary to various countries, such as Armenia and India. He is reported to have preached the gospel along with Philip and Thomas. As a disciple of Jesus, Bartholomew’s main goal was to become like Jesus, an impossible task on this earth. He placed his trust in Jesus, mainly due to his close contact with Jesus and being able to experience the Saviour at work. He followed and obeyed Jesus in the tasks he was given.
Even though we do not have the written proof that Bartholomew went to Armenia and India, it is apparent that tradition shows that he learnt the lessons that he heard from Jesus. In Mark’s Gospel we can read the following words, ‘Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” ’ Mark 16:14-16 The word of God was not carried throughout the world by television, radio or the internet, but by word of mouth.
We may not be famous, well known or a ‘star’ but followers of Jesus are empowered to do His work here on earth. “Go into the world and preach the Gospel.” is just as valid to-day, for us, as it was in the time of Bartholomew, for him. Let us live our lives, every day in every way, serving the living Lord.