Table of Contents



By David O. McKay
General Superintendent



"Ancient Apostles" is written as one of the series of text books prepared for use in the Sunday Schools of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its purpose is to give a simple account of the leading incidents in the lives of the chief Apostles of Christ in the Holy Land, with the view of developing faith in the hearts of the children in the principles of the Gospel, and in the divine organization of the Church.

Prominent traits of character in the different disciples are pointed out as the circumstances in the lessons permit. These should be so emphasized in the presentation to the class that the pupils will be led not only to appreciate them as commendable and emulative, but to realize that by personal exertion all these good traits may become theirs. Virtuous and honorable actions are the stones by which we build the mansion of character.

Each chapter is planned, also, to emphasize one general aim, which should be correlated with the incident or incidents with which the personality of the Apostle and his companions is associated. Since it is difficult, if not impossible to teach morality and doctrine without personality, the wise teachers will ever keep in mind that the persons, settings, actions, and conversations in this little work are only a means of teaching truths and principles of conduct that will contribute to the moulding of God-like character in their boys and girls.

The suggestive outlines and aims in the appendix are offered as helps and guides to teachers. Only a few suggestive applications are offered; but no lesson should be given, or even prepared, without the teachers attempting, at least, to devise the most efficient means of introducing into the children's daily lives the aims and ideals taught.

The sincere wish of the author is that at least part of the pleasure experienced in writing these lessons may be realized by those who prepare to teach them, and by those who read them, and that their studious efforts through the blessings of the Lord, will bring to them that peace and satisfaction which come with the realization of having helped to make better and more efficient the men and women of tomorrow.


Peter and His Associates

I. "Light-Fountains"

II. Early Life and Surroundings
John the Baptist, Andrew, John

III. A Period of Preparation
Jesus, James and John, Sons of Zebedec; Andrew

IV. A Special Witness
Names of the Twelve

V. Peter's Faith Tested

VI. Peter's Testimony

VII. A Marvelous Manifestation
Moses and Elias

VIII. Lessons in True Leadership

IX. On the Night of the Betrayal

X. Out of Gloom Into Light

XI. A True Leader and Valiant Defender

XII. Peter and John Arrested

XIII. Persecuted But Undismayed

XIV. A Special Visit to Samaria
Stephen, Philip

XV. At Lydda and Joppa
Eneas, Tabitha

XVI. The Third Imprisonment

XVII. Closing Scenes of a Righteous Ministry


XVIII. James, the Son of Zebedee
Salome, Mary Magdalene, Mary, mother of Jesus; the first martyr, Apostle

John the Beloved Disciple

XIX. With the Redeemer

XX. With Peter and the Twelve

XXI. Closing Scenes of His Ministry

Paul and His Companions

XXII. Saul of Tarsus

XXIII. Saul's Conversion

XXIV. In Another School

XXV. Special Messengers to Jerusalem
Agabus, John Mark...

XXVI. First Missionary Journey

XXVII. First Missionary Journey—Continued
At Lystia and Derbe
Timothy, Eunice, Lois

XXVIII. A Great Controversy

XXIX. Paul Begins His Second Missionary Journey
Silas, Luke

XXX. At Philippi

XXXI. At Thessalonica and Berea

XXXII. At Athens and Corinth
Aquilla and Priscilla, Crispus, Justus

XXXIII. Third Missionary Journey
From Antioch to Ephesus

XXXIV. Third Missionary Journey—Continued
Paul's farewell visit to the churches he had established

XXXV. Exciting Experiences in Jerusalem

XXXVI. Two Years in Prison

XXXVII. The Voyage to Rome

XXXVIII. The World Enriched by a Prisoner Chained








"No man has come to true greatness who has not felt in some degree that his life belongs to his race, and that what God gives him He gives him for mankind."

"If any man seek for greatness, let him forget greatness and ask for truth, and he will find both."

"Nothing can make a man truly great but being truly good, and partaking of God's holiness."

Influence of Great Men.

Everybody likes to read and to hear about great men. Children, and grown people, too, delight to learn how the leaders of men in the past have made the world better and happier by their noble deeds. And when, after many years have passed, people still see how much good those leaders of men did in the world, worthy aspirations are awakened, and boys and girls of today desire to emulate the lives of these heroes of the past; for, as the poet Longfellow says:

"Lives of great men all remind us
  We can make our lives sublime;
  And, departing, leave behind us
  Footprints on the sands of time."

Boy's Ideals.

Every boy has somebody who becomes his ideal. Or perhaps there are more than one who form this ideal—one man, for instance, might be a good athlete, and the boy wishes to be just like him; another is a good violinist, and the boy feels that he, too, would some day like to be a musician; another is an able speaker, and the boy desires some day to be a great orator. But, sometimes, boys, and girls, too, for that matter, choose bad men for their ideals. This happens when young folks read trashy books or associate with trashy or evil-minded men. How unfortunate that little boy is who happens to read or to hear about some highwayman or robber, and has awakened in his young mind a desire to be like that bad man! How unfortunate for the boy who chooses for his ideal a man who smokes, and drinks and swaggers through life in idleness!

Sign Posts.

Thus we see that the lives of men become sign posts to us, pointing the way along roads that lead either to lives of usefulness and happiness or to lives of selfishness and misery. It is important, then, that we seek, both in life and in books, the companionship of the best and noblest men and women. Carlyle, a great English writer, says that "Great men taken up in any way are profitable company. We cannot look, however imperfectly, upon a great man, without gaining something by him. He is the living 'light-fountain,' which it is good and pleasant to be near."

Secret of Greatness.

If you will study the lives of these great "light-fountains" of the world, you will learn of at least one thing that has made their names endure. It is this: Each one has given something of his life to make the world better. They did not spend all their time seeking only pleasure and ease, and a "good time" for themselves alone, but found their greatest joy in making others happy and more comfortable. All such good deeds live forever, even though the world may never hear of them.

How Some Have Failed.

There is an old, old story that a man from another planet was permitted to visit this earth. From a high mountain peak, he looked down upon the busy towns and cities of the world. Millions of men, like ants, were busy building palaces of pleasure, and other things that would not last. As he left to go back, he said, "All these people are spending their time in building just birds' nests. No wonder they fail and are ashamed."

How the Truly Great Have Built.

All the truly great men of the world have built something besides "birds' nests." Out of the deep longing of their minds and hearts, they have brought forth gems of truth that have made the world richer. They have wrought deeds of love and sacrifice that have inspired millions. In so doing, they might have suffered; many indeed have met untimely death; but all who thus gave their lives, saved them. That which we do for God and our fellowmen lives forever; that which we do just for ourselves cannot endure.

"To have sown in the souls of men
  One thought that will not die—
  To have been a link in the chain of life
  Shall be immortality."


When we hear anything about a great man we want to know everything about him—where he was born, who his parents were, where he lived, how he played, with whom he played, in what kind of house he lived, where he went in swimming, where he fished, etc., etc. Such things about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, for example, are always interesting. What boy is there who doesn't like to hear about the poor boy Lincoln in the little log cabin in the backwoods of Indiana; to picture him there among the bears and other wild animals; to picture him sitting by the fireplace learning to cipher by using a piece of charcoal on a wooden shovel because he had no slate, no paper or lead pencil! Abraham Lincoln was a great and good man, and we want to know everything about him even when he was a boy, partly to help us become somewhat like him; for, as Lincoln wrote,

"Good boys who to their books apply,
  Will all be great men by and by."

Little Known of Apostles' Boyhood.

Unfortunately, we know very little about the boyhood days of the Ancient Apostles, about whom we shall read in this little book. It is true we can partly judge of what kind of boys they were by the kind of men they became; but the little incidents of childhood and youth, which tended to mould their character, and in which we now would be so interested, though nineteen hundred years have passed, were never written, and may never be known. They grew to manhood before the opportunity came for them to render that service to the world which has made their names immortal.

Most Favored Men.

In one respect, however, they were the most favored men the world has known, because they had the privilege of associating daily—almost hourly, for about two and one-half years, with the Savior of the world. No wonder, then, that they became great, when they had such an example of true Greatness constantly before them. As soon as they learned to love Jesus, they desired to be like Him, and so remembered His teachings, and tried to do as He said. Surely it will be good for us to get acquainted with such men.


Why Apostles Are Known.

Just think! The only reason the world knows anything about them is because having met the Savior, they made Him their guide in life. If they hadn't, nobody now would know that such men had ever lived. They would have lived and died and been forgotten just as thousands of other men in their day lived and died and nobody knows or cares anything about them; just as thousands and thousands are living today, wasting their time and energy in useless living, choosing the wrong kind of men for their ideals, turning their footsteps into the road of Pleasure and Indulgence instead of the road of Service. Soon they will reach the end of their journey in life, and nobody can say that the world is any better for their having lived in it. At the close of each day such men leave their pathway as barren as they found it—they plant no trees to give shade to others, nor rosebushes to make the world sweeter and brighter to those who follow—no kind deeds, no noble service—just a barren, unfruitful, desert-like pathway, strewn, perhaps, with thorns and thistles.

Not so with the disciples who chose Jesus for their Guide. Their lives are like gardens of roses from which the world may pluck beautiful flowers forever.



Early Life and Surroundings

"It is with youth as with plants, from the first fruits they bear we learn what may be expected in future."

The "Dead Sea" of America.

Flowing north from Utah Lake through part of the Great Basin, and emptying into the Great Salt Lake, the Dead Sea of America, is the river Jordan. Utah Lake is fresh water and abounds in fish; Salt Lake, as its name suggests, is so briny that no fish can live in its waters. To President Brigham Young and the worthy band of Pioneers, the Salt Lake Valley with the "Dead Sea" reflecting the glorious rays of a July sun, was indeed a "promised land."

The "Dead Sea" of the Holy Land.

Away across the Atlantic Ocean, stretching along the east shore of the Mediterranean Sea is another salt sea, another river Jordan, and another fresh water lake, and the river flows through the "Promised Land," or the Land of Canaan. However, if you will refer to a map of that country, you will see that the relative position of this lake, river and sea are just opposite in direction from these in Utah. In the Holy Land the fresh water lake is in the north, and the Jordan river flows south into the Dead Sea.

The land that contains these three important marks in history has several names. As given above, it is called The Holy Land; also The Land of Canaan; also the Land of the Hebrews, or the Land of Israel, because Jacob's children once settled there; also the Land of Judah, after one of Jacob's sons; also Palestine, probably after the Philistines, who lived, as you know, in the days of the shepherd boy David.

Size of Cannan.

Salt Lake is eighty miles long and about forty miles wide. The Land of Canaan is about twice as long and twice as wide; or in extreme length about one hundred seventy miles, and its width about eighty. The City of Dan was in the northern part, and Beersheba in the southern part; so when you hear the expression "from Dan to Beersheba," you will know that it once denoted the entire length of the land of Canaan.

Sea of Galilee.

The fresh water lake, of the Holy Land, also has several names. It is known generally as the "Sea of Galilee;" but it is also called "Sea of Tiberias," "Lake of Gennesareth," "Lake of Tiberias," and the "Sea of Cenneroth." It is about sixteen miles long and six miles wide. "The waters of this lake lie in a deep basin, surrounded on all sides with lofty hills, excepting only the narrow entrance and outlet of the Jordan at each extreme. * * * The appearance of this sea from the town of Capernaum, which is situated near the upper end of the bank on the western side, is extremely grand; its greatest length runs nearly north and south. The barren aspect of the mountains on each side, and the total absence of wood give, however, a cast of dullness to the picture, which is increased to melancholy by the dead calm of its waters."

On the west side of this lake was one of the important divisions of Palestine, called Galilee. One ancient writer says that at one time this province "contained two hundred and four cities and towns, the least of which contained fifteen thousand inhabitants."[1]


Somewhere in this province, probably very near Capernaum, was a little town called Bethsaida. There was another town by this name on the north-eastern shore, but it is the Bethsaida, near Capernaum, in which we are now most interested. To must have been near the lake, because many of the men who lived there made their living by fishing, not with poles and hooks and lines, as the boys fish for trout in our mountain streams, but with nets, which they let down from their boats, and with which they dragged the lake until they would entangle the fish, which they then hauled to shore.


In one of these fishermen's homes, probably a few years before the Savior's birth, was born one day, a little baby boy whom his parents named Simon or Simeon. He had a brother named Andrew.[2] Their father's name was Jonas or Johanna, but very little is known about him, and nothing about their mother.

Simon's Home and Boyhood.

Nothing definite is known about either Simon's childhood or his boyhood. However, we are safe to conclude from what we know about the customs, beliefs, and practices of the Jews of his time that he lived in a small, flat-roofed house containing very little, if any, furniture; that either at home or at school, perhaps at both, he learned all about the prophets in what is now our Old Testament; that he observed the Sabbath day strictly; and what is most important of all, he learned to look forward to the day when the Savior of the world would come to His people.

In fancy, we can picture Simon and Andrew and their playmates amusing themselves on the shore of Galilee; but it is only in imagination that we can see any of the incidents in Simon's childhood. "We may think of him," writes George L. Weed, "as a useful boy, helping his mother in the labors of the house—carefully bringing the little red clay lamps for trimming, or the corn to be parched, or the fish his father had caught, or the charcoal on which it was to be cooked, or the bread from the oven, and the oil and honey-cakes to be eaten with it, or water from the stream that flowed from the hill behind their home into the lake, or filling the water-jars at the door. Was he not his mother's joy when for the first time he shook the olives from the trees and brought them to her as a part of their frugal meal; or when he spread the maize and hemp to dry on the flat roof in the summer sun? Was he not his father's pride the first time he handled the oar, and dipped it aright in the wave, and helped to spread the net, and counted the fish they had caught? He watched the flight of the sparrows and gathered the flowers—poppies, daisies and anemones—like those from which the Great Teacher, whom now he knew not, would teach him lessons of wisdom and love. Childlike, he gathered shells upon the seashore, and dug in the white sand of the beach with a rude stick, with delight equal to that of the boy of today with his finished toy-shovel and little painted pail."

None of the fishermen who saw Simon with his playmates scampering around the nets and boats ever suspected that he would grow up to be among the greatest men of the world!

Some writers tell us that the Galileans were generally brave and fearless, and loved liberty. The men made good soldiers for they were "bold and intrepid." The boy, Simon, as he grew to manhood must have admired the brave, bold men around him, for he, too, became a man of strong character, as we learn from the first recorded instance of his life.


Simon Hears John the Baptist.

Soon after Simon had grown to manhood there came a man from the wilderness of Jordan, clothed only in camel's hair and a leathern girdle about his loins, but preaching with such mighty power that people from "Judea and all the regions round about" came to hear him. This great preacher was John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ. Among those who came to hear him was Simon, who, no doubt, rejoiced to hear this preacher of Repentance declare that the Son of Man was about to come to the earth. Simon, Andrew and some of their friends believed what the Baptist taught.

One day, when, with some of his followers, John was near Bethabara (a word which means "a place of crossing") he saw Jesus coming toward them, and said:

"Behold the Lamb of God."

"Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man who is preferred before me." Again, the next day, probably about 10 o'clock in the morning, John was standing talking with two of his disciples. They were Andrew, Simon's brother, and John. Walking a short distance from them was the same man whom John had pointed out the day before as the Lamb of God "And looking upon Jesus as He walked, John saith, Behold the Lamb of God. And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus."



Simon's Brother Believes in Jesus.

Accepting the invitation of Jesus to go with Him to the place where He stayed, these two men remained with Him, listening to His words all the rest of the day. When they left, they believed that Jesus was the King of Israel, the Savior of the world. Thus they became, in that day the first two, beside John the Baptist, to believe in Jesus.

Whenever we have anything which is really good, we always desire to share it with one we love. It was so with these two brothers. They no sooner felt the divine influence that radiated from the Savior than they were filled with a desire to bring those whom they loved under that same influence. Andrew went out to find his brother Simon, and John to find his brother James. Andrew found Simon first, and said:

"We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ."

Simon is Called "Cephas."

And he brought him to Jesus, and when Jesus beheld him, He said, "Thou are Simon the son of Jonas: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone" (or The Rock).

In those days the Jews spoke the Hebrew language; but the new Testament was written in the Greek language. Now, in Hebrew "Cephas" means "rock;" but in Greek the word for "rock" is "Petras," or "Peter." So from that time, Simon was known as Simon Peter, or "Simon, the Rock."

When we think of this wonderful world in which we live, of its great division of land called continents; that in the eastern continent there are the countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa; that in one little corner of Asia, there is a strip of land only about twice as long and twice as wide as our Salt Lake; that in that strip of land was a division, like one of our counties, called Galilee; that in this province were over two hundred cities, and in each city several thousand people, among whom one day was born a little baby whose parents were unknown; that this baby boy grew to be a man of such strong character that Jesus named him "a Rock," and for nineteen hundred years now he has been known and honored by millions and millions of people—when we think of all these things we must surely realize, even in our youth, that a humble birth is no hindrance to greatness.


1. Josephus.

2. John 1:42-43.



A Period of Preparation

"Oh, be my friend, and teach me to be thine."

"Great souls by instinct to each other turn,
  Demand alliance, and in friendship burn."

Home in Capernaum

Peter's Views of the Messiah.

From the moment Peter met Jesus, his views of life were changed. Up to that time, he had looked for the coming of the King of the Jews as an event the indefinite future. With other Jews, he had anticipated that the Savior's coming would be marked by wonderful manifestations, and that, clad in purple robes, and attended by many angels. He would come in mighty power, and in one divine expression of His wrath, strike the Roman shackles from the conquered Jewish nation.

But now, Peter had met the Messiah—a lone man on the banks of the Jordan! Only about five men knew of His claim to the Messiahship. There were no legions of heavenly hosts accompanying Him! He wore no purple robes! He possessed no visible means at hand with which to break the Roman yoke! Was He, indeed, the Messiah that was to come, or should Peter look for another?

Jesus' Influence Over Peter.

These and a hundred other thoughts, undoubtedly crowded Peter's mind, as he left the wilderness of Jordan to return to his fishing in Galilee. Andrew and John, on that memorable visit, seemed to have received a testimony of the divinity of Jesus' mission, and they bore that testimony to their brothers when they so joyously exclaimed, "We have found the Messiah!" But Peter—impetuous Peter, who, we shall learn, was naturally outspoken, had not yet so far as we know, expressed such assurance. However, he was deeply impressed; for had not Jesus, at first sight, read his character? Had He not penetrated into his inmost nature? and had He not radiated a spirit that so completely enveloped Peter that from its influence the fisherman never more desired to go?

Peter's Home.

Peter at this time was a married man, and was perhaps the father of a little boy. He had moved from his old home in Bethsaida, and lived with his wife's mother, or she with him, in Capernaum. With him were also Andrew and their two faithful companions and friends, James and John, the sons of Zebedee.

Peter's home became the most distinguished home in all Capernaum, and later one of the most memorable spots in all the world. Here, undoubtedly, Jesus stayed whenever He was at Capernaum! Indeed after Jesus had been so ruthlessly rejected by His own townsmen in Nazareth, He made Capernaum His "own city;" and it is supposed that much of the time, the honor fell upon Peter to entertain in his home the Savior of the world. How every word, every act on the part of his worthy guest must surely have increased Peter's confidence in Jesus as the Messiah!

A Lesson in Obedience

On Shores of Galilee.

One beautiful morning, several months after the events narrated in the previous lesson, and a short time following His rejection from Nazareth, Jesus was preaching to a multitude on the shores of Galilee. Peter and Andrew were busy near-by washing their nets, after having spent all night on the lake in a futile attempt to catch some fish.

"And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon Jesus to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Gennesaret,

"And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.

"And He entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And He sat down, and taught the people out of the ship."[1]

First Recorded Instance of Peter's Obedience.

When Peter complied with Jesus' request "to thrust out a little from the land," he performed the first recorded instance of his obedience to Christ's word. Now, however, followed a command obedience to which was directly contrary to the fisherman's judgment. When Jesus had finished speaking to the people, He said to Peter,