Who were the Apostles?:
Apostle is an English transliteration of the Greek apostolos, which means one who is sent out. In ancient Greek, an apostle might be any person sent out to deliver news messengers and envoys, for example and perhaps carry out other instructions. Via the New Testament, however, apostle has acquired a more specific usage and now refers to one of the elect disciples of Jesus. Apostolic lists in the New Testament all have 12 names, but not all the same names.
The Apostles according to Mark:
And Simon he surnamed Peter; And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite, And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house. (Mark 3:16-19)
The Apostles according to Matthew:
Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. (Matthew 10:2-4)
The Apostles according to Luke:
And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor. (Luke 6:13-16)
The Apostles according to Acts of the Apostles:
And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. (Acts 1:13) [Note: Judas Iscariot was gone by this point and not included.]
When did the Apostles live?:
The lives of the apostles appear to be more legendary than historical reliable records of them outside the New Testament are almost nonexistent. It is plausible to assume that they were supposed to be around the same age as Jesus and thus lived primarily during the first half of the first century.
Where did the Apostles live?:
The apostles chosen by Jesus appear to have all been from Galilee mostly, though not exclusively, from the region around the Sea of Galilee. After Jesus was crucified most of the apostles stayed in or around Jerusalem, leading the new Christian church. A few are thought to have travelled abroad, carrying Jesus message outside Palestine.
What did the Apostles do?:
The apostles chosen by Jesus were meant to accompany him on his journeys, watch his actions, learn from his teachings, and then eventually carry on for him after he was gone. They were supposed to receive additional instructions not meant for other disciples who might accompany Jesus along the way.
Why were the Apostles important?:
Christians regard the apostles as the connection between the living Jesus, the resurrected Jesus, and the Christian church that developed after Jesus ascended to heaven. The apostles were witnesses to Jesus life, recipients of Jesus teachings, witnesses to appearances of the resurrected Jesus, and recipients of the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. They were authorities on what Jesus taught, intended, and desired. Many Christian churches today base the authority of religious leaders on their supposed connections to the original apostles.