Bartholomew is named in Matthew, Mark and Luke in the list of 12 apostles. His name comes after Philip and before Matthew and Thomas. In John there is no mention of Bartholomew at all. However John writes about Nathanael as Philip’s friend and he is mentioned in the short list of apostles in the fishing boat on the sea of Galilee after the resurrection. Here he is mentioned with Thomas and Peter, James, John and two others. It is therefore acknowledged that Bartholomew and Nathanael are one and the same person.  The most likely explanation for the two names is that Nathanael was his given name and Bartholomew a relationship name, one that identifies his family connection.


Nathanael means “gift of God” .What does your given name mean?


Do you know why you were given your name?


Bartholomew is a surname or family name, meaning ‘son of Tolmai’. Tolmai means “furrow” . . . his name is thus equivalent to ‘son of the ploughman’.


What does your family name say about you and your family?


What qualified Bartholomew to be one of the twelve inner group of disciples? Obviously it was because Jesus prayerfully discerned him to be a reliable and trustworthy man. Jesus could see his potential for leadership and to be a role model. Leaders are good role models.


How can you be a role model for other disciples of Jesus?


When Bartholomew and the other ten inner disciples met after the ascension of Jesus to choose a replacement for Judas, they decided that the new 12th man had to meet certain requirements. Firstly the person had to have been with Jesus from the start of Jesus’ ministry and secondly, had to have been a witness to the resurrection.


You, as a baptized disciple of Jesus, must be a witness to the resurrection. How do you think you can do this?


Bartholomew was certainly a missionary and took seriously his call to take the good news of Jesus out into the world. The heart of that news was that

1      Jesus was the visible image of the invisible God

2      Jesus died that we might have forgiveness and eternal life

3      God raised Jesus from the dead to guarantee this new life

Bartholomew was sent by the Holy Spirit to India and Armenia with the good news.


In what contexts are you called to live out the good news that Jesus is alive in you?