Who Were the Disciples Thomas, Judas and Simon?

Thomas, Judas Thaddeus, and Simon the Zealot were three of Jesus’ trusted disciples, but each faced martyrdom following the ascension.

May 31, 2024By Ryan Watson, MA History, BA History

disciples thomas judas simon


Jesus Christ had twelve disciples: Peter, James (Jesus’ brother), John, Andrew, Philip, Judas Iscariot (replaced by Matthias), Matthew, Thomas, James, the son of Alpheus, Bartholomew, Judas Thaddeus, and Simon the Zealot. This group of a dozen men were Jesus’ allies throughout His earthly ministry and they carried on His gospel following the date of the ascension. In this article we take a closer look at the traditions regarding the fate of three disciples: Thomas, Judas Thaddeus, and Simon the Zealot.



caravaggio incredulity thomas
The Incredulity of Thomas, 1601, by Caravaggio. Source: Museo Nacional del Prado


It is not recorded how Thomas, also known as Didymus, came to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  He did provide one of the more memorable moments of the Gospels upon hearing the news of Jesus’ Resurrection:


““Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” – John 20:25b


Later, Jesus appears to Thomas, and responds to him, “’Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’  Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20: 27b-28)

Get the latest articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up to our Free Weekly Newsletter


After the ascension, Thomas appears to have gone as far as southern India, and may have been the first Patriarch of the Church of the East (a branch of the Orthodox Church).  Both Eastern and Western Christian traditions hold that he was martyred by spearing in Chennai, India in 72 CE.  The Saint Thomas Christians of India hold that their church was directly founded by Thomas. Several non-canonical works were attributed at one point to Thomas: the Acts of Thomas, the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, and the Gospel of Thomas. All three are generally held to have been written far too late to have been penned by Thomas, and have gained some notoriety for their content.


Judas Thaddeus

Judas Thaddeus, by El Greco, 1608-14. Source: Museo del Greco
Judas Thaddeus, by El Greco, 1608-14. Source: Museo del Greco


Judas Thaddeus, commonly known as Jude (possibly to differentiate him from the betrayer Judas Iscariot), is known primarily for the canonical epistle he wrote in the New Testament – maybe.  Some confusion exists as to whether the author of Jude is the same that is listed among the disciples, or if they are two different individuals. It is believed that Jude may have gone as far as India, but primarily remained in the lands near Judea. He may have been martyred in Beirut, along with Simon the Zealot in 65 CE.


Simon the Zealot

Simon the Zealot, 6th century mosaic in in the Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy. Source: Wikipedia
Simon the Zealot, 6th century mosaic in in the Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy. Source: Wikipedia


Simon the Zealot is one of the more obscure disciples. Some contention exists as to whether or not “zealot” is a reference to his being a former member of a Jewish political faction which advocated for violent rebellion against the Romans, or if the term comes from a confusion as to the meaning of the Greek wording which may refer to his place of birth, possible Canaan. Typically, Simon is held to have been martyred with Thomas, by being sawn in half.  However, various Christian sources claim he died in places such as Iberia, Samaria, or even as far away as Roman Britain!

Author Image

By Ryan WatsonMA History, BA HistoryRyan Watson is a husband, father, underwriter, writer, and reseller. He graduated with a Bachelor's and Master's in History from Louisiana Tech University in the early 2000s. He focuses on Biblical, post-Biblical, and medieval history with occasional dabblings in other arenas.