reported by John-Peter Gernaat
Revelation 21:14 “And the wall of the city rested on twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Revelation 21:19-20 “The foundations of the city wall were adorned with precious stones of every kind:
The first foundation with jasper,
the second with lapis lazuli,
the third with chalcedony
the fourth with emerald,
the fifth with sardonyx
the sixth with carnelian,
the seventh with chrysolite,
the eighth with aquamarine beryl,
the ninth with olivine topaz,
the tenth with chrysoprase,
the eleventh with jacinth,
the twelfth with amethyst.
It is no coincidence that in the twelve Holy Nights of 2017 we studied the twelve foundation stones of the New Jerusalem (see the January 2018 newsletter or the news page on the website). This article also reminded us that it was the third successive year in which a twelve-foldness had been studied. This study was preceded by the Twelve Virtues – these are soul qualities that become spiritual virtues – and the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac. Subsequently we have studied the twelve World Views. Why twelve? Even when the ancient Babylonians looked into the night sky and recognised the influence of stellar constellation on humanity, they knew there would be twelve constellations in the band that embraces our vision, even though they could initially find only eleven. When they looked more closely they found a constellation of stars they had initially ascribed to part of Scorpio that then they saw not a living being, but an object used by the god of justice: Libra, the scales.
Jacob has twelve sons and from the root of his sons the twelve tribes of Israel arose. These twelve tribes also find their way into the description of the New Jerusalem; the names of the twelve tribes of Israel are inscribed one above each of the twelve gates to the New Jerusalem. The twelve tribes provide entry into the New Jerusalem while it is now the twelve apostles that form the foundation of the city wall. Twelve is the completion of space in as much as seven is the completion of time (Genesis – the seven days of creation.) When we connect with the twelve-foldness we are connecting with the purpose of humanity. We can begin to live these qualities and relate them to ourselves as disciples in The Christian Community. We work into the seven-foldness in Holy Week and have begun to experience the nine-foldness in the days between the Ascension and Whitsun. We are part of building a cosmic organisation for the future of humanity. This lives within the bigger intention of our Christian community as a community organisation. In linking the Apostles to the Foundation Stones we will also link them to the Sign of the Zodiac they represent and the soul quality that transforms into a spiritual Virtue. The studies of the past years begins to form a bigger picture.
The Gospels name the twelve disciples of Jesus and also mention and even name other disciples as well. How were the twelve apostles identified? We have the answer in Acts 1:21 when Peter stood up in the midst of the brother – about one hundred and twenty names – and after speaking about Judas says: “‘Let his task as leader pass to someone else’”. Peter then describes the character of the person who would be worthy of receiving the apostolate of Judas. “‘Therefore, one of the men who walked with us during the time when the Lord Jesus shared his life with us, from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up – one of these men must become a witness with us to his resurrection.’” This provides the complete requirement for being an Apostle of Christ Jesus.
When we recall the talks about the Foundation Stones we recall that the fixed stars represent the silicate minerals of the earth. The walls of the New Jerusalem are founded on the power radiating from the stars. Silicate provides strength in the human body where calcium provides the structure (bones of the skeleton). The Foundation Stones are described as having many kinds, and with kinds comes colours. These colours are derived from metals that become trapped (taken up into) the structure of the silicate mineral to provide the colour by trapping light that shines on the stone. Six of the stones are translucent and six are opaque and when we place the stones listed above in a circle the opaque mineral appears opposite the translucent one.
The tribes of Israel inscribed on the gates by which all enter the city represents our history and lineage. We do not enter the city without a full history of a tribal life; many connections to many peoples. The foundations of the New Jerusalem, our new and future home, is built on our new unique ability to bear the self. Each of the Foundation Stones represents a unique quality of one of the Apostles. We can also recall that the same twelve stones, although in a different order, were sewn into the breastplate of the High Priest. At that stage of human history these stones were borne at the heart level of the human and the twelve tribes were inscribed on the stones. It was important that all of humanity be kept together. Now it is the development of the individual that is important and the names of the twelve tribes are no longer inscribed on the foundations of our dwelling place.
Both Matthew and Mark present a list of the twelve disciples in the same order. Some of these disciples appear by other names in the other Gospels, especially John. Jude is also called Thaddeus, Matthew is also called Levi, he was a tax collector and Nathanial is called Bartholomew. The Gospel of John (John 1: 35-41) describes that Andrew and another disciple of John the Baptist are the first to follow Jesus. Andrew, after staying with Jesus the whole day, then goes to tell his brother that they have found the Messiah. John 1: 43-45 tells us the next day Jesus finds Philip and Philip finds Nathanial. In Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 4: 18-22) Jesus is walking by the Sea of Galilea and sees Simon and his brother Andrew and calls them to follow him. As he continues walking Jesus seen James and his brother John and calls to them to follow him. It is not until chapter 9 that Matthew describes his own calling. Chapter 10 begins: “And he called together the twelve disciples and gave them authority to drive out unclean spirits … ”. Matthew then lists the disciples. This is the order of their apostates (given their mission). The list is: “The first is Simon who was given the name Peter. Then come Andrew, his brother, and James the son of Zebedee and John, his brother, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector, James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.” Tradition has it that Matthew was the last disciple and is swapped with Judas in order to have Judas last on the list. When we link the Apostles with the Foundations of the New Jerusalem we will follow the order that places Matthew last on the list.
What are the qualities we can determine that is common to the twelve disciples?
Firstly, they were all seekers. The first two were disciples of John the Baptist and when he points to Jesus on the day after the baptism they leave John to follow Jesus. It is of value to consider what they heard John the Baptist say. Anyone who was spiritually awake saw that the life force of the human being rose like a serpent. This is the same image that is described in the Vedic scriptures as the rising kundalini. However, after being baptised by John in the River Jordan the experience changed and those who were baptised saw the etheric life force of the human being was changing to that of a resting lamb. Therefore, when John the Baptist says, speaking to himself after gazing on Jesus as he walks by, “see the Lamb of God” this picture had real meaning to the seeking men who followed John and had been baptised by him. They understood that John the Baptist spoke of the etheric life force of God present in a new human development. Jesus asks them what they are seeking. Their response is that they want to know where he lives – has pitched his tent (we will return to this concept in relation to Peter saying at the Transfiguration that he will pitch three tents). Then Jesus says, “follow me”.
Nathanial comes from a spiritual stream represented by the fig tree. Hence Jesus saying, “I saw you sitting under a fig tree” and Nathanial reacting to the significance of this statement. It is likely that Philip belongs to this same stream as he sought out Nathanial. It is also very possible that Andrew was of this same spiritual stream and in his seeking joined with John the Baptist.
James is described as the son of Alphaeus. But so is Matthew. They are not brothers as Andrew and Simon Peter, and the other James and John are blood brothers. It is therefore possible that ‘son of Alphaeus’ refers to a brotherhood – a spiritual brotherhood or spiritual community – rather than the father of these men (although Alphaeus was not an uncommon name and having two unrelated men having a father of the same name is very possible). Thomas is not the name of the disciple although it has been carried into Christian tradition as a first name. It is rather an Aramaic phrase that means ‘twin’ in as much is this is translated into Greek as ‘Didymus’. He is therefore not called Thomas Didymus or Thomas the Twin, but rather he is the twin (ta'oma') translated into Greek as the twin (didymus). This immediately suggests that he too is part of a brotherhood, being a twin with other men. The nature of this brotherhood is clarified by his reaction to the other disciples who see the Risen One on the first evening after the Resurrection in the upper room where Thomas is absent. Thomas says that his requirement is to investigate reality for himself with his own senses to determine its nature. This also explains Christ’s response to Thomas that his is not the only path – the path that requires sense-reality – to understanding the Risen Christ, but that people on a path that can feel or think into the Christ-reality are equally valid (“‘Blessed are those who find my power in their hearts, even when their eye does not see me.’”). It may therefore be that the grouping of disciples of Thomas, Matthew and James (the son of Alphaeus) are all part the same brotherhood of the sons of Alphaeus and therefore spiritual seekers within a community. There is also a tradition that regards Matthew as displaying characteristics of an Essene.
Simon is referred to as the Zealot and also, in his translation, by Saint Jerome, as the Cananean. It is more likely that he was at the Wedding Feast in Cana rather than Cana being his home town. Cana is significant as the place where the first manifestation of the glory of God occurs, when Jesus turned the water into wine. This is the same power of the sun that ripens the grape on the vine manifest in a human being. Connecting Simon to this recognition of an aspect of the Christ may indicate a spiritual path of seeking that he was following. Thaddeus, also known as Judas or Jude, and Simon are often referred to as the “brothers of the Lord”. It is not clear whether this means that they were the sons of Mary, wife of Joseph of the royal line of David, or that they were relatives, e.g. cousins, or that this referred to a specific brotherhood of spiritual seeking. It does, however, connect Thaddeus and Simon. Judas Iscariot is in many ways an outsider within the circle of the twelve. Yet the man to whom the lot fell to replace Judas, Matthias, has a connection to Simon, suggesting that Simon, Thaddeus and Matthias may have been connected through the same spiritual brotherhood of seeking.
Secondly, they all answer the call of discipleship; the discipline of following every step of the way.
Thirdly, they become witnesses to what they had experienced. They speak from intimate knowledge of what they had lived through with Jesus and not from hearsay. The Greek for witness is ‘martur’ from which we derive martyr. The twelve apostles are all martyrs whether this results in a martyr’s death or not. Each disciple received an apostolate – a sending – and must become the foundation on which a community of Christians can arise.
A further description of each of the Apostles, how and why they are grouped together in groups of three and how they are linked to the Foundation Stones of the New Jerusalem will be included in the twelve newsletters of 2021. This month will include a full description of Simon Peter.
Follow us on Twitter. We put reminders of events and notices on Twitter.
Send us your photos of community events.
Articles (prefaced by month number)