Who was Bartholomew?

Bartholomew was a disciple of Jesus Christ, according to the New Testament gospels. He was one of the original 12 apostles (Matthew 10:3 ; Mark 3:18 ; Luke 6:14 ; Acts 1:13 ), making him an important figure in early Christianity. Unlike other apostles, such as Simon Peter and John, there is very little information about Bartholomew in the New Testament.

There is no further reference to him in the New Testament outside of passages that mention him in lists of the apostles. For example:

  • Matthew 10:3 reads, "Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus"
  • Acts 1:13, "And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James."

Barnabas in History

According to the "Genealogies of the Twelve Apostles" (Budge, Contendings of the Apostles , II, 50), "Bartholomew was of the house of Naphtali. Now his name was formerly John, but our Lord changed it because of John the son of Zebedee, His beloved."

A "Gospel of Bartholomew" is mentioned by Hieronymus (Comm. Proem ad Matth.), and Gelasius gives the tradition that Bartholomew brought the Hebrew gospel of Matthew to India.

In the "Preaching of Bartholomew in the Oasis" (compare Budge, II, 90) he is referred to as preaching probably in the oasis of Al Bahnâsâ, and according to the "Preaching of Andrew and Bartholomew" he labored among the Parthians (Budge, II, 183).

The "Martyrdom of Bartholomew" states that he was placed in a sack and cast into the sea.

From the 9th century onward, Bartholomew has been identified with Nathaniel, but this view has not been conclusively established.






  1. The following article is excerpted from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, which is in the public domain.