What does Luke 6:15 mean?
ESV: and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot,
NIV: Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot,
NASB: and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot;
CSB: Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot;
NLT: Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (who was called the zealot),
KJV: Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes,
NKJV: Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot;
Verse Commentary:
Having introduced the first six men Jesus called, Luke continues the list. Here, Luke uses "Matthew" where before he called the tax collector "Levi" (Luke 5:27). We know it's the same person because Matthew 9:9–13 gives the same details for Matthew that Luke 5:27–32 does for Levi. It's possible Matthew is from the tribe of the Levites. There's no indication as to why Luke changes what he calls Matthew.

Thomas, of course, is best known for disbelieving the disciples when they told him Jesus had risen from the dead (John 20:24–29). Considering the disciples didn't believe Mary Magdalene and the other women, Thomas is criticized too harshly. He also showed loyalty and courage when Jesus decided to return to the Jerusalem area despite the danger; Thomas responded, "Let us also go, that we may die with him" (John 11:16). "Thomas" is from the Aramaic for "twin;" John uses "Didymus," the Greek for "twin." The church in India claims Thomas brought the gospel to the sub-continent. Despite the name, Thomas is not the author of the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas.

We know even less about James the son of Alphaeus. Levi/Matthew is also identified as the "son of Alphaeus" (Mark 2:14), although the two aren't otherwise connected in the Gospels. Others identify him with "James the younger" although that James' father's name seems to be Clopas (Mark 15:40; John 19:25).

Nor do we know much about Simon. Zealots were a nationalistic political party that believed resisting Roman influence was an essential expression of devotion to God. The term is related to the Hebrew word used to describe God as a jealous God who does not accept divided allegiances (Exodus 20:5). The King James Version uses zelotes, the Latin form. But history is not clear as to when the Zealots consolidated as a party; Simon may have just been a strong nationalist. Conversely, as a tax collector Matthew collected money from Jews for the Roman government. The fact that the two are both apostles is a testament to the unifying peace Jesus brings.
Verse Context:
Luke 6:12–16 records Jesus officially calling His twelve disciples. Luke has shown that Jesus' way is incompatible with that of the Pharisees (Luke 5:33–39). His new way needs new leaders. Jesus has gained a large following and picked out five men for special attention. Now, after conferring with Father-God, Jesus chooses seven more to become leaders of the church. From here, Luke sets aside the religious leaders and records Jesus' instruction to general followers and invitation to base their life on Him (Luke 6:17–49). This section is also recorded in Matthew 10:1–4 and Mark 3:13–19.
Chapter Summary:
Luke 6 contains two main sections of teaching and calls to discipleship. Luke 6:1–16 continues the pattern of Luke 5. The two ways in which Jesus sets aside tradition—this time by taking authority over the Sabbath—are paired with His call for the Twelve disciples. Luke 6:17–49 records Jesus' teaching on the ''level place,'' or His ''Sermon on the Plain,'' and a call to a crowd for general discipleship. Much of this material has parallels in Matthew 5 through 7, but it's not clear if the two accounts are of the same event. As a travelling teacher, Christ likely gave the same general message multiple times.
Chapter Context:
Luke 6 completes Jesus' call for disciples and followers that started in Luke 5. Luke 5:1—6:16 consists of three calls for disciples, each paired with two revolutionary teachings about Jesus' authority that increasingly infuriate the religious leaders. Luke 6:17–49 continues the theme with a general call for followers and a description of their responsibilities. In Luke 7:1—8:3, Jesus interacts with the other: Gentiles, women, and even the dead. This is followed by another general call (Luke 8:4–21), a series of miracles (Luke 8:22—9:17), and a final call for the Twelve to follow Him even more deeply (Luke 9:18–50).
Book Summary:
Luke was a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:10) and a physician (Colossians 4:14). Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke writes his gospel as an historian, rather than as a first-hand eyewitness. His extensive writings also include the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–3). These are deliberately organized, carefully researched accounts of those events. The gospel of Luke focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke's Gentile perspective presents Christ as a Savior for all people, offering both forgiveness and direction to those who follow Him.
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