Don’t you love all those tricky things everyone ought to memorize in the Bible? The three big lists that ought to be memorized include the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and perhaps most elusive of all (it has been for me), the Twelve Apostles. But these twelve elusive guys have just been apprehended. I’ll never have trouble again remembering their names. As I studied for this week’s Sunday School lesson from Acts one on The Great Commission, Christ’s Ascension and what I’m calling “Foundation Repair” (replacing Judas Iscariot with Matthias), I noticed some things that will help me remember their names forever. Perhaps one flaw is that the replacement, Matthias, isn’t listed, but it’s a mnemonic device which includes Judas Iscariot. Since we hear more in the Bible about Judas than Matthias, I think it’s appropriate to keep him in mind, even though his office was given to another.
The thing I noticed in the list of apostles in Acts chapter one is that half of the list is taken care of with three names. There are two Simons, Peter and the Zealot; there are two Judases, Isacariot and the Son of James (notice this helpful transition); and there are two Jameses, the son of Alphaeus and the brother of John. Six down, only six to go. But how do we simplify these?
Half of the remaining six end with a “u” sound: Matthew, Andrew, Bartholomew. These, we’ll lump together, and the rest are easy: John, Thomas and Phillip. But did you notice that if you insert these last three after the first six, it provides another memorable link. Since the second James listed is the brother of John, that should help you remember that the next name in the list is John, who are bundled with Thomas and Phillip. Then all you have to remember is the “-ew” names: Matthew, Andrew, Bartholomew.
So, there you have it. A mnemonic device to help us all memorize the names of the Twelve Apostles! I have provided a visual aid that you could perhaps download for your own personal use, or go ahead and make another for yourself, if you prefer. I hope this helps with your biblical headknowledge!