This blog explores the depth of meaning behind the words used in the Bible, focussing mostly on the New Testament which was originally written in Koine or common Greek spoken 2,000 years ago. Exploring these words can often reveal that the English words chosen by the translators can actually obscure the true meaning.
Why did Jesus have disciples?
Couldn’t he go it alone? Asking such questions can lead us to different
perspectives regarding our own spiritual journey. If we are totally honest with
ourselves, all we want is to understand ourselves. Then, the next thing we want
is to understand others. Looking into the lives of the disciples can assist
When we look at the disciples the
first thing we notice is that each disciple is different, yet they walk
together, and they walk with a leading principle called Jesus. This does not mean that we should look for
a leader outside ourselves, but rather look for a leading principle within us.
When we look at the characteristics
of the disciples we will identify with one more than another. This can reveal
to us the path we are on, and another disciple can reveal the path a friend is
on, this should not be cause for disagreement. Yet this is often the case;
unless you agree with someone you are against them is a common principle today.
This has a stifling effect because unless you have the strength to support your
own ideas you are silenced in one way or another.
Apart from describing our different
paths, each disciple represents mind traits. We can think like Thomas in one
situation, and respond like Judas in another. Understanding the twelve traits
revealed in the nature of the disciples, we can understand ourselves better,
and find ways of responding to life differently. Also, if we can identify where
other people are coming from - a Judas or a Thomas trait - we will meet their
ideas with understanding and life will be more harmonious.
The next three disciples show that
the conventional interpretation of them is actually the opposite of what they
really represent as mind qualities. This is often the case when we investigate beneath
the surface to discover spiritual meanings.
Nathanael Bartholomew, Judas and Thomas
Nathanael Bartholomew: Nathanael means gift of God. He is known by
his family name, Bartholomew, in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. St.
John calls him Nathanael. In my book on the Disciples I show how Nathanael is the faculty of imagination within us. Not fantasy but
real imagination - a spiritual imagination able to create concepts as living
images. By creating moving pictures in our mind when we try to understand a
concept brings it to life. Also, these concepts will be much easier to
remember. This is a method used by people who have excellent memories and inventors
also think this way as they work out the detail of their invention.
What this means is that we ‘see’
things differently. Here is an excerpt from my reflections about Nathanael
“Jesus points out to Nathanael that this is only the
beginning: “You shall see greater things
than these.” This must always be our expectation, to see greater things. We
should always strive to have firsthand experiences, by hearing Philip within us
saying, “Come and see.”
Judas: Judas represents the generative, reproductive energy within
us which can work in a positive or negative way. Judas is said to be the Greek
version of the Hebrew name Judah which means ‘praise Jehovah’.
And she conceived again and bore a son, and said,
"This time I will praise the LORD"; therefore she called his name
Judah; then she ceased bearing. Gen 29:35.
The reproductive force within us is
motivated by conservation; survival of the species. Judas is also associated
with betrayal, however, the word ‘betray’ also means to ‘reveal’. Judas gives
us the opportunity to act in a higher way.
“There are two sides to the Judas energy within us. He can
assist us or assail us. Mostly he works within us without our knowing. It is up
to us to become conscious of what he is doing. Jesus was.” Twelve Disciples byKristina Kaine
Thomas: Thomas represents reasoning, understanding. Thomas’ central
role in some of the Bible stories alerts us to the imperative of reasoning. He
doesn’t take things at face value, he wants to understand and experience things
fully. His questioning can be described as a lack of faith or disbelief,
however, blind faith is like a blind person crossing a busy road alone.
The Thomas in us continually tests
the facts from every side to reach a full understanding. Generally people do
not do this, they stop at the first understanding that meets with their satisfaction
which is usually only a fraction of the truth. This is lazy - taking the easy
way out so we have instant answers and don’t have to put in much effort. What
is not realized is that the effort we put in awakens our consciousness. We
don’t need to find the ultimate truth, or have it given to us by others, what
we need to do is to strive.
The road from disciple to apostle
has one purpose; to open us up to the experience of our Higher Self referred to
in the Bible as ego eimi, I Am. If we
speak these two words, “I AM” out aloud and imagine standing in the Universe,
beyond the idea of time and space, we get a sense of this eternal state of
being. Yesterday, today and tomorrow open up to us as one place. In this way,
we claim our own individuality without the weight of opinions and the ideas of
society. Try it, it is refreshing. When we come back to the here and now our
outlook has changed. It is from this perspective that we can view the
We can imagine their incredible journey with Jesus - the one who
experienced his I Am first - and stand in their shoes as they approach their
own I Am from their unique perspective. This was not without trepidation as we
read in the Bible.
We can ask what it was like for
John, Thaddaeus or Matthew as they journeyed through the Middle East with Jesus
as he challenged the status quo. Each one experienced it through the qualities
given to them by their name.
As previously suggested, while the
disciples represent qualities in our mind or consciousness, they also represent
the different paths that we each take as we strive to connect to the highest,
purest human condition, our I Am. At this stage in the evolution of
consciousness, we are about halfway there. As with all things, some are a
little ahead, some are a little behind. This does not mean we can pass
judgement on others, it simply means they are taking a different path.
Disciples John, Thaddaeus and Matthew
John: The name John means ‘the grace of the Lord’ and he represents
love and grace. This love is agape,
one of four main Greek words for love. Agape is the highest love, it loves
everyone equally; it does not favour family over friends and acquaintances nor
does it favour one’s own culture over another.
In its highest expression, love is
objective. It does not see through the eyes of judgement, but understands human
behaviour as a developmental process we all go through. This love is not biased and it does not take offence. It is a kind and
understanding witness, always recognising the pure human seed within each human
being. Then, seamlessly this love fertilises the seed in the other person
opening it to its inner potential. From this comes the expression of grace.
Grace is that capacity in our soul
for doing what is right, what is good, out of our inner self, not through
externally imposed rules and regulations. Grace says, “How can I be so that you can be free.” Charis is the Greek word
for grace - which reveals the word charismatic. This is when love shines from
us in an inspiring way. Other people want to become like us and they do this of
their own accord, not because we give them advice about how they should be.
Thaddaeus: Thaddaeus represents elimination, letting go of things
so that we can keep moving forward. The name Thaddaeus means ‘of the heart’,
big-hearted, warm-hearted. The disciple Thaddaeus is also known as St Jude and
was a brother of St James the Less, and a relative of Jesus. It is the heart which can eliminate things that
mesmerise the mind. Thaddaeus within us works continuously to restore
harmony by eliminating that which disrupts. This is tied to forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not so much about covering up what we feel, but stepping
over it and moving on. To assist this, we could work with John and adopt some
love and grace.
Matthew: Matthew represents our will - human intentions and
actions. Matthew collected taxes. He works in the depths of the community to sustain
the body - the infrastructure - of society. He was called away from that to
serve in the innermost circle so that
human will could become freewill. The other thing about will is that it
reveals ourselves to us. Our acts of will, when, for example, we dig the garden
or rearrange the furniture, give us a glimpse of ourselves, of our ability and
place in the world.
As separate paths, or working in
conjunction with one of the other disciple-paths, we can find our way to our
Higher Self. Using the disciples to become more aware of our character and
qualities, and the particular path we are on, is the ancient recipe for
personal development untainted by modern fads that often accentuate the self
over others. This is the ego trying to displace the I Am - feeling threatened
by it actually. By accepting our own path, and remaining open to the path of
others, the whole human race will climb the mountain with more certainty and