Biblical People

Biblical People: Thaddaeus and Judas (3) the Son of James (4)

Next we’ll consider two more disciples in tandem. They’re Thaddaeus and Judas, the son of James. What makes them unique is that they didn’t make all four of the lists of disciples. Instead, they’re each referred to twice—not four times like Bartholomew, James, Simon, and the rest of the group.

Matthew and Mark both mention Thaddaeus as one of the twelve disciples. However, Luke omits Thaddaeus in both his books (Luke and Acts). Instead he includes Judas, the son of James, who Matthew and Mark both omit.

Why the difference?

We’re left to wonder why the Bible has this discrepancy. It could be that Mark got it wrong and Matthew copied him. (Some Bible scholars believe the book of Mark was written first, and Matthew based his on it.)

Or it could be that Luke got the names wrong when he researched and wrote about Jesus and the early church.

Another possibility is that Thaddaeus starts out as a disciple but then leaves, with Judas, son of James, taking over. 

A third explanation is that twelve isn’t a literal number but figurative. It could be there are twelve disciples, perhaps thirteen, or maybe even more.

A fourth option is that Jesus’s band of twelve is a dynamic group with people coming and going. Therefore, the roster changes over time.

Regardless, the Bible says that both Thaddaeus and Judas, son of James, are disciples. Let’s celebrate them as such.

How do we react when our name is omitted from a list of people serving Jesus or someone else’s name is inserted for the work we did?

[Discover more about Thaddaeus in Matthew 10:3 and Mark 3:18. Read about Judas the Son of James in Luke 6:16, and Acts 1:13.]

Read more about other biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at