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Studies and Research
The Apostles (from Greek: someone sent forth, envoy, messenger) are the twelve chosen early followers (disciples) of Jesus who carried the Christian message (Gospel) into the world.
According to the Synoptic Gospels (Mark 3:13-19, Matthew 10:1-4, Luke 6:12-16), the Twelve chosen by Jesus near the beginning of his ministry, those whom also He named Apostles, were:
The Gospel of Mark states that Jesus initially sent out these twelve in pairs (Mark 6:7-13, Luke 9:1-6), to towns in Galilee. Literal readings of the text state that their initial instructions were to heal the sick and drive out demons, and in the Gospel of Matthew to raise the dead, but some scholars read this more metaphorically as instructions to heal the spiritually sick and thus to drive away wicked behaviour. They are also instructed to: "take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff - no bread, no bag, no money in their belt - but to wear sandals; and He added, "Do not put on two coats." And that if any town rejects them they ought to shake the dust off their feet as they leave, a gesture which some scholars think was meant as a contemptuous threat. Their carrying of just a staff (Mathew and Luke say not even a staff) is sometimes given as the reason for the use by Christian Bishops of a staff of office, in those denominations that believe they maintain an apostolic succession.
Later in the Gospel narratives the 12 Apostles are described as having been commissioned to preach the Gospel to the world, regardless of whether Jew or Gentile. Although the Apostles are portrayed as having been Galilean Jews, and most of their names are Aramaic, a few names are Greek, suggesting a more metropolitan background.
The three Synoptic Gospels record the circumstances in which some of the disciples were recruited.
Simon (Peter) and Andrew are, according to Matthew, the first two apostles to be appointed, and Matthew identifies them as fishermen. Both Andrew and Peter are names of Greek origins - a reflection on the multicultural nature of Galilee at this time. It is also notable that Peter is identified by Paul in his letters as Cephas, which is the Aramaic equivalent of the Greek Peter, both words meaning "rock". Simon however is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Shimeon, a common Jewish name found referring to several other individuals in contemporary works such as Josephus as well as in the Old Testament.
Despite Jesus only briefly requesting that Simon and Andrew join him, the two are described as immediately consenting, and abandoning their nets to do so. Traditionally the immediacy of their consent was viewed as an example of divine power, although this statement isn't made in the text itself. The alternative and much more ordinary solution is that Jesus was simply friends with the individuals beforehand, as implied by the Gospel of John, which states that Andrew and an unnamed other had been a disciple of John the Baptist, and started following Jesus as soon as Jesus had been baptized. As a carpenter (Mark 6:3), it is eminently plausible for Jesus to have been employed to build and repair fishing vessels, thus having many opportunities to interact with and befriend such fishermen.
Albright and Mann extrapolate from Simon and Andrew abandonment's of their nets, that Matthew is emphasizing the importance of renunciation by converting to Christianity, since fishing was profitable, though required large start-up costs, and abandoning everything would have been an important sacrifice. Regardless, Simon and Andrew's abandonment of what were effectively their most important worldly possessions was taken as a model by later Christian ascetics. 
Matthew describes Jesus meeting James and John, also fishermen and brothers, very shortly after recruiting Simon and Andrew. While Matthew identifies James and John as sons of Zebedee, who is also present in their ship, Mark makes no such proclamation. Luke adds to Matthew and Mark that James and John worked as a team with Simon and Andrew. Matthew states that at the time of the encounter, James and John were repairing their nets, but readily joined Jesus without hesitation. This parallels the accounts of Mark and Luke, but Matthew implies that the men have also abandoned their father (since he is present in the ship they abandon him behind them), and Carter  feels this should be interpreted to mean that Matthew's view of Jesus is one of a figure rejecting the traditional patriarchal structure of society, where the father had command over his children; most scholars, however, just interpret it to mean that Matthew intended these two to be seen as even more devoted than the other pair.
The synoptics go on to describe that much later, after Jesus had later begun his ministry, Jesus noticed, while teaching, a tax collector in his booth. The tax collector, Levi according to some Gospels, Matthew according to others, is asked by Jesus to become one of his disciples. Matthew/Levi is stated to have accepted and then invited Jesus for a meal with his friends. Tax collectors were seen as villains in Jewish society, and the Pharisees (a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews that flourished during the Second Temple Era) are described by the synoptics as asking Jesus why he is having a meal with such disreputable people. The reply Jesus gives to this is now well known: "it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick ... I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17).
In his writings, Saul, later known as Paul, though not one of the Twelve, described himself as an apostle, one "born out of time" (Romans 1:1), claimed he was appointed by the resurrected Jesus himself during his Road to Damascus vision; specifically he referred to himself as the Apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13, Galatians 2:8). He also described some of his companions as apostles (Barnabas, Silas, Apollos, Andronicus and Junia) and even some of his opponents as super-apostles (2 Corinthians 11:5, 12:11). As the Catholic Encyclopedia states: "It is at once evident that in a Christian sense, everyone who had received a mission from God, or Christ, to man could be called 'Apostle'"; thus extending the original sense beyond the original Twelve. Since Paul claimed to have received the Gospel through a revelation of Jesus Christ ( Acts 9:3-19, 26-27) after the latter's death and resurrection, (rather than before like the Twelve) , he was often obliged to defend his apostolic authority, "Am I not an apostle?" (1 Corinthians 9:1) and proclaimed that he had seen and was anointed by Jesus while on the road to Damascus; but James, Peter and John in Jerusalem accepted his apostleship to the Gentiles (specifically those not circumcised) as of equal authority as Peter's to the Jews (specifically those circumcised) according to Paul in Galatians 2:7-9. "James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars ... agreed that we (Paul and Barnabas) should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews." (Galatians 2:9) Paul, despite his self-designation as an Apostle, considered himself inferior to the other Apostles because he had persecuted Christ's followers (1 Corinthians 15:9). Many historians maintain that Paul and Peter certainly disagreed on the extent of Paul's authority as an Apostle, with Peter maintaining Paul was not one of those chosen by Jesus, or by his chosen after his death. Nevertheless, the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church consider Paul an Apostle; they honor Paul and Peter together on June 29. Paul sometimes replaces Matthias in classical depictions of "The Twelve Apostles," although he has also been called the "Thirteenth Apostle" because he was not a member of the original Twelve (unlike the replacement Matthias) but is still considered an apostle.
Notes1.Albright, W.F. and C.S. Mann. "Matthew." The Anchor Bible Series. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1971.
2. Carter, Warren. "Matthew 4:18-22 and Matthean Discipleship: An Audience-Oriented Perspective." Catholic Bible Quarterly. Vol. 59. No. 1. 1997.
LinksApostle - Columbia Encyclopedia
Apostle - Britannica
Apostles - Catholic Encyclopedia
Fishing at the Time of Jesus - americancatholic.org