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New Testament | Key Figures

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Key Figure Description
Jesus/Jesus Christ Jesus is the main figure whose life story is told in each gospel. He is identified as the Son of God and as the Christ or Messiah (a Hebrew term that means "anointed one") whose arrival was promised in the Hebrew Bible. Read More
God God appears in the New Testament as the Father of Jesus and the creator of the universe who first established a covenant relationship with the people of Israel. Read More
Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit, sometimes also called the Spirit of God or the "paraclete" (advocate), is a divine being who works with the Father (God) and the Son (Jesus). Read More
John the Baptist John the Baptist is a prophet like Elijah. He preaches the repentance of sins and baptizes people, including Jesus, in the Jordan River. Read More
Mary the mother of Jesus Mary ("Miriam") is the mother of Jesus. Her pregnancy is said to be from the Holy Spirit, and her son is also the Son of God. She is also a follower of Jesus's teachings and seems to be present for some parts of his ministry. The fullest account of her story is given in the Gospel of Luke. Read More
Paul (formerly Saul) Paul is the author of New Testament letters and an important early follower of Jesus, even though he did not meet Jesus during Jesus's earthly life. Read More
Herod Herod the Great is a Jewish ruler, a client king subject to the Roman imperial forces that control the Roman province of Judea. His successor and son Herod Antipas is sometimes also simply called Herod. Herod Agrippa I and Agrippa II are mentioned in Acts of the Apostles. Read More
Pontius Pilate Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor in the province of Judea who conducted the trial of Jesus and condemned him to death by crucifixion. Read More
The Twelve disciples or apostles The Twelve are the core group of Jesus's followers, also identified as apostles (Greek for "one who is sent") and disciples (Latin for "students"). Although the list of their names varies slightly from gospel to gospel, the Twelve are usually treated as a unit who learn from Jesus and participate in his mission of teaching and healing. Read More
Simon/Simon Peter/Cephas Simon, a fisherman, is the brother of Andrew, another of Jesus's apostles. Simon is one of the first called to follow Jesus. Together with James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon is frequently chosen to accompany Jesus in a select group to key events or places (for example, the transfiguration and the garden at Gethsemane). Read More
Gospel writer(s) The gospel accounts are traditionally attributed to apostles or other early Christ-believers. Mark was a follower of Peter, Matthew was a tax collector and one of The Twelve, Luke was a physician and traveling companion of Paul, and John was identified with the Beloved Disciple of Jesus. Read More
Andrew Andrew is one of the first people called to follow Jesus. He and his brother Simon (later called Peter) are fishermen who leave their livelihood behind to become disciples.
Apollos Apollos is a Jewish Christ-believer from Alexandria who is preaching and baptizing in the same regions of the Mediterranean world as Paul. The Acts of the Apostles reports that Apollos taught in Ephesus, and Paul also mentions his ministry in 1 Corinthians. In the epistle, it seems there was some conflict in the community between followers of Apollos and followers of Paul.
Aquila and Prisca (or Priscilla) Aquila and his wife Prisca are Christ-believers connected to the Pauline mission. In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes a personal greeting to Aquila and Prisca and says there is a church in their household. They are also mentioned in Acts of the Apostles, where they accompanied Paul on a journey from Corinth to Syria.
Elizabeth Elizabeth is the cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Her story is told only in the Gospel of Luke. She and her husband, Zechariah, thought they were too old to have a child, but the angel Gabriel foretold the birth of their son, John the Baptist.
Gabriel This angel is a heavenly messenger from God who appears to Zechariah and to Mary the mother of Jesus in Luke's Gospel to foretell the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, respectively.
James and John, sons of Zebedee These two brothers are fishermen who are among the first called to follow Jesus. They are frequently chosen as members of a select group with Simon Peter to accompany Jesus at key moments (the transfiguration; the garden at Gethsemane). John is sometimes identified as the Beloved Disciple and author of the Gospel of John, though this cannot be confirmed.
James, the brother of Jesus According to the Acts of the Apostles, James, the brother of Jesus emerged as a leader among early Christ-believers in Jerusalem and participated in the Jerusalem Council. The Letter of James is also traditionally attributed to him because the author identifies himself as "James" (actually "Jacob" in Greek; the author shares a name with the Jewish patriarch in Genesis 22–35) in the letter prescript, the opening lines that name the sender and addressees. Traditionally, this James has been identified with the brother of Jesus who is mentioned by Paul (Galatians 1:19) and is described as the leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13).
John of Patmos John of Patmos is the author of Revelation. He was on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea when he received and recorded a series of heavenly visions related to the end of time.
Joseph of Arimathea Joseph of Arimathea is identified as a prominent Jew and a wealthy man who is sympathetic to Jesus's teachings. After Jesus's crucifixion, Joseph obtained the body from Pilate and buried Jesus in his own tomb.
Joseph the carpenter Joseph the carpenter is the earthly father of Jesus, though the Gospels of Matthew and Luke point out Mary was pregnant because of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, various figures in the text refer to Joseph as Jesus's father. According to Luke, Joseph is descended from the line of King David.
Judas Iscariot Judas ("Judah") Iscariot is one of the Twelve apostles or core followers of Jesus. He hands Jesus over to the Jewish authorities, which eventually leads to Jesus's crucifixion and death.
Jude Jude ("Judah") is a Jewish Christ-believer who is traditionally identified as a brother of Jesus named in the Gospel of Mark. One of the Catholic Letters is attributed to Jude.
Lazarus Lazarus is the brother of Martha and Mary who lives at Bethany. He is Jesus's friend, and in the Gospel of John raises him from the dead after he has already been in the tomb for four days.
Lydia Lydia is a wealthy woman from Philippi (modern-day Filippoi, Greece) who becomes a Christ-believer and patroness after hearing the gospel from Paul.
Mary and Martha Mary ("Miriam") and Martha are friends of Jesus. They live in Bethany, a city outside Jerusalem, and according to the Gospel of John they are the sisters of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead.
Mary Magdalene Mary ("Miriam") Magdalene is one of the most important female followers of Jesus. According to certain gospel accounts, she was present at the foot of the cross when other disciples had fled. She is also present at the tomb to discover that Jesus has been raised from the dead, and in John's Gospel she is the first to encounter the risen Jesus.
Michael Michael is an angel of God who leads the divine military forces (an army of angels) in a battle against the dragon and his angels in the book of Revelation.
Satan Satan is a spiritual being and former angelic figure who fell from heaven and became an adversary of God, Jesus, and Christ-believers in the New Testament. Revelation describes how Satan will ultimately be punished in a lake of fire at the end of time.
Stephen Stephen is a Christ-believer in the city of Jerusalem who is appointed to serve as a deacon in the Acts of the Apostles. Because he publicly accuses Jews of killing Jesus like they killed God's prophets in the past, Stephen is accused of blasphemy and stoned to death. His attitude toward death and toward those who execute him is forgiving, echoing the death of Jesus on the cross. He is identified as a proto-martyr (first person to die for his Christian faith).
Timothy Timothy is a follower of Paul and the addressee of two letters in the New Testament. The Acts of the Apostles introduces Timothy as one of Paul's traveling companions and missionary partners. Various Pauline letters mention Timothy as a valued partner and even figurative child of Paul. The letters 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus assume Timothy is in a position of church leadership in Ephesus.
Titus Titus is a traveling companion of Paul, named in the Acts of the Apostles and in a Pauline letter addressed to him. He is a leader in the early church.
The whore of Babylon The whore of Babylon, a female figure from the book of Revelation, is a villainess aligned with Satan and the various beasts who oppress the Christ-believers. It is likely she is a symbol for the city and empire of Rome, and her "whoredom" represents unfaithfulness to God, or idolatry.
The woman clothed with the Sun The woman clothed with the Sun, a female figure from the book of Revelation, is threatened by the evil dragon, but she and her child are protected by God. It is likely she is a symbol for either Mary the mother of Jesus or for the whole church of the Christ-believers, and her rescue represents God's care for God's people.
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