The Disciples: Judas Thaddeus

We first meet Thaddeus in the list of disciples of Jesus.  “…Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddeus.”  {Matthew 10:3}

The name Thaddeus is believed to be a Aramaic form of the Greek name, which means a courageous heart.

The name Lebbaeus is a form of Judas or Jude, to which it is believed he is often referred to later in scripture.

Mark 3:18, list him as Thaddaeus.

Luke mentioned “ And Judas the brother of James.”  {Luke 6:16}

Judas is described as the name of James.

The only mention of him, aside from all of the other disciples is in the upper room.  “Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” {John 14:22}

In the list of those in the upper room when the Holy Spirit came, he is again mentioned as “Judas the brother of James”.  {Acts 1:13}

Later on, it is believed he adopted the name Jude.  After Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, Judas Thaddeus probably did not want to be associated with the tarnished name.  in Jude 1, he identifies himself as the “Brother of James” {Jude 1:1}, leading to the belief he may be the same person who was Jesus disciple.

However, there is great debate about whether Jude was Jesus disciple and brother to James the less or Jesus brother.  After all scripture tells us “Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?”  {Matthew 13:55}.  In Mark the same question is asked, but his name is spelled Juda. {Mark 6:3}

There is great confusion as to whether Judas Thaddeus is the same man as either Jude, or Jesus brother Judas.  Many theologians debate whether this is the same man or two different men.  

The name Jude means praise.

More speculation arises, as to whether the disciple was the same man as Thaddeus of Edessa, who was one of the seventy disciples. “And after these things, the Lord did appoint also other seventy, and sent them by twos before his face, to every city and place whither he himself was about to come…”  {Luke 10}.  The list of the 70 disciples was composed by Hippolytus of Rome, who was a disciple of Irenaeus, who was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John.

What is evident is that Judas Thaddeus used two different names, as was common for the time with Simon Peter, Matthew Levi and Joseph Barnabas.

Given all the speculation on Judas Thaddeus name and relation, what happened to him?

Tradition states he was beheaded with an axe in Beirut, Syria in 65AD. For this reason, he is usually associated with an axe.  He is often associated as being with Simon the Zealot.

His bones are believed to be in a crypt in St. Peter’s Basilica. He is known as the patron saint of lost causes.

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