Who Was Bartholomew in the Bible?
Bartholomew is anapostle of Jesus Christ mentioned in Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:14, and Acts 1:13. Some say he may be Nathaniel in John 1:45. He is one of the 12. He lived during the first century A.D. and was martyred.
Apostle means one “sent out” or commissioned to go. The Lord gave them specific tasks as listed in Matthew 10. They were to not go into the way of the Gentiles and not enter any city of the Samaritans. Jesus instructed them instead to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. During Jesus’ time on earth, they were to preach saying the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Jesus further instructed them to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils, freely ye have received and freely give.” They were not to carry any money, any clothes, or shoes. The apostles were like traveling ministers, and it was expected that they would be cared for by the community.
If people did not receive them or their testimony, Jesus instructed them to depart out of that house or city and shake the dust off their feet. Jesus compared those who would not receive His apostles to Sodom and Gomorrah.
Jesus’ disciples would be the first to understand his plan of redemption (The KJV Study Bible, Barbour Publishing, 2011). They would spread the good news of Christianity around the world. Jesus had warned His disciples that they would be hated of all men for His sake. If they were persecuted in one city, He instructed them to flee to another city (Matthew 10:22-23).
What Did Bartholomew Do after Jesus Ascended?
After Jesus ascended into heaven, two men stood by them in white apparel. All the disciples witnessed Jesus’ ascension with the exception of Judas Iscariot. Reference Acts 1 starting at verse 10. These were more than likely angels who asked them “Why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” The disciples returned to Jerusalem and went into an upper room. They prayed and made supplication, with the women, with Jesus’ mother Mary, and with his brethren. It is interesting to note that Jesus’ half-brothers did not believe that He was the son of God until after His ascension. Look to John 7:3-5. Verse five says for neither did His brethren believe in Him. They wanted Him to reveal Himself to them if He was the Christ. Jesus told them that it wasn’t time yet. If Jesus had revealed Himself at this time, that would have escalated His crucifixion (The KJV Study Bible, Barbour Publishing, 2011).
So, this is some firepower for those who are called, and your relatives and close friends don’t believe that God has called you to anything. Continue to study God’s word to show yourself approved. You don’t have to perform miracles, signs, and wonders to make people believe that you have a ministry. You just need to do what God has called you to do and prepare yourself as much as possible until He sends you out to wherever that might be. Understand that you might be mocked for your religion or called names such as a holy roller. Still, be encouraged. The end game is to find that your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life and that you have done whatever it is that God has called you to do and go to heaven. Seek to live your life on purpose. If you don’t know it, ask God to reveal it and He will. Sometimes, we don’t think God has a plan or purpose for us. Many purposes and plans are tied to jobs in particular industries. God needs people of integrity in these industries. Don’t think that your walk is insignificant. It is not.
We don’t have many details about what Bartholomew did after the ascension. We can guess that he fulfilled his mission to spread the Gospel, and like so many of Jesus’ followers, was martyred.
How Did Bartholomew Die, according to Tradition?
Most sources revealedBartholomew was martyred inArmenia. He was eitherdecapitated or skinned alive. There is no reference in Scripture about his death. He is only named in Scripture a few times. Other references of Bartholomew or Nathanael many times include him with the group of disciples. History shows that Bartholomew served as a missionary to Ethiopia, Mesopotamia, Parthia (Modern Iran), Lycaonia (Modern Turkey), and Armenia. It is believed that he was flayed and beheaded for converting the king of Armenia to Christianity. The king’s brother ordered his death.
Sometimes, we as Christians don’t realize the price that was paid by not only Jesus but also his disciples and others so that we might have access to the teaching of Christianity. We should not take our religion for granted but instead witness to others as much as possible. There have been crusades and wars because of Christianity.
5 Important Lessons from His Life
He had a relationship with Jesus Christ. He was one of Jesus' 12 disciples. Since Bartholomew is also referred to as Nathanael in the Bible, we will reference John 1 starting at verse 43. Here we see that the disciples of Christ have started following Him. When Phillip started following Jesus, he said to Nathanael, we have found Him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write. Nathanael told Phillip “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Phillip said unto him, come and see” (John 1:45-46). Jesus saw Nathanael coming and acknowledge that he was an Israelite without guile. Nathanael wanted to know how Jesus knew details on him. Jesus said, “Before that Phillip called thee, when thou were under the fig tree, I saw thee.” Then Nathanael acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God and King of Israel. Jesus told Nathanael that he believed because the Lord provided specific information about him. Jesus told him that greater things were coming. In John 1:51, Jesus prophesied to him that he would see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
He was chosen by God and commissioned. None of the disciples appointed themselves. He commissioned them and gave them specific instructions (Matthew 28:16-20). Here Jesus says “All power is given unto me in heaven and earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
He saw the Lord at least three times after He is raised from the dead. Read John 20 and John 21. In chapter 21, the disciples had been fishing and had caught nothing. Jesus appeared on the shore, but they didn’t recognize Him. He asked them was there any meat. He told them to cast the net on the right side. When they did this, they had so many fish that it was difficult to draw them in.
He was one of the few to witness Jesus ascending into heaven. The Lord had been appearing and disappearing for about 40 days (The KJV Study Bible, Barbour Publishing, 2011). Read Acts 1:1-9. Jesus announced that John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence (verse 5). Jesus told them, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” He told them that they shall be witnesses of Christ both in Jerusalem and in all of Judaea, and in Samaria.
He was not afraid to witness about Christianity and paid the ultimate price. Bartholomew was skinned alive and decapitated for converting a king to Christianity. Many of us don’t have to die because we witness to others. Therefore, we should be bold in knowing that we can do this freely especially if you live in the United States and other countries where there is freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Photo credit: ©Unsplash/Ismael Paramo
Dr. Sandra Hamer Smith is a Christian and wife to Sylvester Smith. She has one stepson, Greg. Smith lives and resides in Memphis, Tennessee. The University of Memphis alumnae has been in education for about 20 years after receiving the call to teach. Dr. Smith primarily teaches language arts. Prior to education, she worked in local and national television news for 13 years including positions as an overnight news anchor, reporter, and assignments editor at two local network affiliate stations. Smith was also a freelance correspondent for BET news. Dr. Smith has freelanced for the Tri-State Defendernewspaper and Contempora magazine. She is the author of the self-published novel GLORY…THE HAIR. Smith is also a playwrightand poet. The Tennessee native is a member of Temple of Deliverance COGIC, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc, Omicron Delta Kappa, The Golden Key International Honour Society, and Kappa Delta Pi.
This article is part of our People from the Bible Series featuring the most well-known historical names and figures from Scripture. We have compiled these articles to help you study those whom God chose to set before us as examples in His Word. May their lives and walks with God strengthen your faith and encourage your soul.
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