This last Sunday, I was eating lunch with some friends, and they asked me how my studying was going. I said it was going fine, that I’d managed to get all the information in my head and was going to spend this week polishing it up before I took the exam this Friday. Then one of them asked me what sort of information would be on the exam, and they were a little surprised that one of the things I have to know is the name of all twelve of the apostles. What, they asked, is the ministerial value of that information?
And, as I sit here and think about it, I suppose it is a valid question. I can’t suppose a hospital visitation being improved by being able to rattle them off. “Little Johnny should feel happy he only broke his leg…St. Thomas the apostle was run through by a spear!” * Two years ago, for one of my classes, I had to serve as a hospital chaplain for a couple of overnight shifts, and realized that I did not, at least for my first shift, have the appropriate scripture memorized and on hand to deal with the pain people experience in that environment. Even still, on a list of the most useful scripture, all the way down to the very obscure, I’m not sure this list would make even a courtesy appearance. I just can’t see the application.
On the other hand, how many of you would really want to be pastored by a guy who didn’t know the names of the 12 apostles? I doubt a cardiologist really needs to know the name of the second bone in my right toe, ** but would you let him work on your heart if he didn’t? I suppose there’s a certain amount of base information that every profession just needs to know, regardless of practical, real world value. ***
And so, in alphabetical order, they are: Andrew, Bartholomew, James – brother of John, James – the less well known, John, Judas Iscariot, Judas – also known as Thaddeus, because being named Judas probably lost some cache after 30AD, Matthew, Peter, Phillip, Simon the Zealot, Thomas, and for good measure Matthias – who replaced Judas after his date with the gallows.
Thank you all for your prayers. Two more weeks of studying and exam taking and I will, Lord willing, be done.
*Before you ask, knowing how they died is not a part of the exam. I just happened to read an article on the fate of the 12 apostles not too long ago, and this particular tidbit has, for whatever reason, stayed lodged in my brain.
**the middle phalange
***Also, I’m aware that, as their names are a part of scripture, they are useful as per 2 Tim. 3:16. But, some is undoubtedly more profitable than others, and this list certainly qualifies as the latter.