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What Do We Know about Bartholomew, the Apostle and Missionary?

Bartholomew was the son of Talmai. He lived in Cana of Galilee. He was known as a missionary in Armenia. Scripture shares that Jesus called him a man with no deceit. 

Contributing Writer
Updated Nov 15, 2021
What Do We Know about Bartholomew, the Apostle and Missionary?

Bartholomew. Have you ever heard that name or read about Bartholomew in the Bible? Who was this man named Bartholomew? Did you know he was referred to as Nathanael in the Gospel of John? Why did he have two names? Bartholomew was called by Jesus to be one of the 12 disciples. Those 12 men chosen by Jesus were Peter, James, John, Andrew, Bartholomew (or Nathanael), James, Judas Iscariot, Jude (or Thaddeus), Matthew (or Levi), Philip, Simon the Zealot, and Thomas. Jesus chose specific people to be disciples. These people were from various walks of life. Each came with their own personalities and life situations. Those men chosen were not famous or outspoken for their appearance or accomplishments in life. They were chosen by Jesus to expand the work of the Father.

What Does the Bible Say about Bartholomew?

Bartholomew is not discussed many times in Scripture. We don’t learn the color of his hair or anything about his daily routine. Was he a light sleeper? A grouch in the morning? Did he have a favorite food? Those specific details aren’t needed to know he was special because he was chosen to be a disciple. Jesus didn’t call the disciples because of their great popularity or appearance. Jesus equipped the ones He called.

Bartholomew was the son of Talmai. He lived in Cana of Galilee. He was known as a missionary in Armenia.

Scripture shares that Jesus called him a man with no deceit (John 1:47 NIV). How would you feel if you were referred to as a person with no deceit? This declaration by Jesus meant that Bartholomew could be trusted. To be trusted by the Lord is special.

Scripture says that after Jesus called Philip to follow Him, Philip then told Bartholomew the good news (John 1:45 NIV). Yet, when he heard the news, Bartholomew questioned how anything good could come out of Nazareth. Even with doubt, Jesus still called him to be a disciple. Jesus knew the true heart and feelings of Bartholomew, as He knows about all of our feelings and actions. This is a great point as God can use any person to further His kingdom and teach others about His love and glory. Even when we have doubts, we can still find ways to share the love and glory of the Lord.

The Bible tells us that Bartholomew spoke to Jesus and asked how He knew him. I wonder if Jesus smiled when the question was asked. The reply of Jesus was profound, showing that Jesus sees us at all times (John 1:48 NIV). Even when we are filled with doubt, the true way and comfort of the Lord can be found by following Him.

When Jesus told Bartholomew how he had seen him under the fig tree, Bartholomew responded with a statement of belief. Jesus then asked if he believed because Jesus told him that he was seen under the tree. Jesus shared how greater things than that would be seen.

What Happened to Him after Jesus Ascended into Heaven?

When learning that Jesus would be leaving them, the disciples questioned when Jesus would return. They wanted answers. Like us today, we often want immediate answers. God’s timing is always best. His plan for us is always best. Jesus replied telling the disciples that they were not to know the time He would return (Acts 1:17 NIV). There are times when we don’t need to know every detail in life. We can rest in the promises of God.

According to Scripture, Jesus showed himself to seven disciples by the Sea Tiberias (John 21:1-3 NIV). Gathered together were Simon Peter, Thomas, Bartholomew, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples. Simon Peter declared he was going fishing. The group went together to fish. After daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach, yet the disciples didn’t know it was Jesus. As Jesus spoke to the men about the lack of fish caught, Jesus directed them to cast their net to the right side of the boat and that they would find fish. A large amount of fish was caught. As the men began to recognize and acknowledge that Jesus was there among them, they ate a meal together.

We often want answers immediately. Wanting answers to heartfelt prayers and answers to longing questions sometimes burden our minds and hearts. Trusting in the Lord’s plan for our lives can bring comfort and peace. God’s answers will come in His way and in His timing. Yes, no, or not now are all answers we have encountered.

Some authorities report that after Jesus ascended into Heaven, Bartholomew continued with his missionary work.

Studies show that he was probably martyred. Some reports say he was beheaded or skinned alive. There are no specific details of his death. Yet we can learn important lessons about faith and trust in the Lord from Bartholomew. He was human. He listened, he had doubts, he trusted, and he obeyed. Bartholomew continued to share the teachings and love of God with others. His obedience to God perhaps caused his death. As a disciple of the Lord, he did not stop teaching when met with conflict. How do we react when we are met with resistance to someone learning about God? Do we act with love and kindness?

25 Important Lessons from the Life of Bartholomew

God calls the weak and the humble to share His news.

God knows our hearts at all times.

God loves us even when we have questions.

Anyone can be called to share the Gospel.

We don’t need to be rich or famous to tell others about God.

Sharing the love of God can be done through simple words and actions.

God can call us at any time to help further His kingdom.

We have the ability to teach others about God.

God will help us share His message. He will give us what we need.

God doesn’t consider our outward appearance when He calls us.

Bartholomew had questions. We can have questions and go to God for answers.

Bartholomew answered the call to follow Jesus and he went with the disciples.

After Jesus ascended into Heaven, Bartholomew continued to preach the gospel.

Bartholomew listened and acted on his belief in the Lord.

Asking God questions is important in growing our faith.

Listening for God’s answers is vital in growing our faith.

Trusting the Lord with all our heart, mind, body, and soul is the key to showing others His love.

We may be criticized for our faith, yet we press onward to the goal of sharing the Gospel. Sharing the Word of God has no time limit.

We can show the love of Christ in all our words and actions.

We can place full trust in the Lord.

God equips those He calls.

We are loved by God.

God’s love for His creations never ends.

Bartholomew loved the Lord.

As we read and learn more about Bartholomew, we can find comfort in knowing we, too, are His chosen people. God has a plan for each of His children. He will give us the way and the tools needed to help share the good news of the Gospel. How can you share His love today? Pause and find moments in each day to share the love of God with family, friends, and strangers.

In His Name,

Melissa Henderson

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Digitalskillet

Melissa HendersonAward-winning author Melissa Henderson writes inspirational messages sometimes laced with a bit of humor. With stories in books, magazines, devotionals, and more, Melissa hopes to encourage readers. 

Melissa is the author of Licky the Lizard and Grumpy the Gator. Her passions are helping in the community and church. Melissa is an Elder, Deacon, and Stephen Minister. 

Follow Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and at http://www.melissaghenderson.com


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