Read: Deuteronomy 18:15-18, Psalm 91, 1 Corinthians 4:9-15, and Luke 22:24-30
Bartholomew was one of the Twelve. In the Gospel of John, he’s known as Nathanael, which means “God has given.”. Nathanael is introduced as a friend of Philip. He is described as initially being skeptical about the Messiah coming from Nazareth, saying: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”, but nonetheless, follows Philip’ invitation. Jesus immediately characterizes him as “Here is a man in whom there is no deception.” Some scholars hold that Jesus’ quote “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you”, is based on a Jewish figure of speech referring to studying the Torah. Nathanael recognizes Jesus as “the Son of God” and “the King of Israel”.
We know little about Bartholomew’s work beyond a few verses in the Gospels. Tradition holds that after the ascension, Bartholomew, visited India and left behind a copy of the Gospel of Matthew. Later on, he is said to have visited Ethiopia, Parthia (in modern-day Iran), and Lyconium (in modern-day Turkey). Toward the end of his life, Bartholomew and Jude went to Armenia, which is located between the Caspian, Black, and Mediterranean seas, just east of Turkey. He was martyred brutally, but not before converting the king, Polymius, to Christianity. He is one of the patron saints of the Arminian Apostolic Church.
Bartholomew never wavered. Even in the face of the worst torture imaginable, Bartholomew never turned away from Jesus. He never used the excuse that he wanted to stay close to home and family, but put all aside to carry the Gospel to people of other nations and cultures. He worked tirelessly to bring people who had never heard about God the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Would you be willing to follow Jesus to death? Would you remain faithful even during the worst torment imaginable? Would you leave home and family to go to strange nations to tell others about Jesus? Will you work as hard as Bartholomew did even in your own home town? Take a few moments to pray about this. You may find the following prayer helpful:
Almighty and everlasting God, who gave to your apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach your Word: Grant that your Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.