Bartholomew is not a given first name, but a distinguishing second.
Bar (son), Tholomew, or Tolmai, therefore, Son of Tolmai.
He is presumed to be Nathanael (meaning,
“God hath given”), a native of Cana of Galilee (
Jn.21:2). Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus (Jn.1:43-51), and in
the lists of the 12, Philip and Bartholomew always appear together.
Nathanael is also listed with the disciples at Jesus' Galilean
Appears only as Nathanael in John, and Bartholomew in all other locations:
Nothing is known of Bartholomew in the New Testament. Only his name is given.
Assuming he was Nathanael, John gives some insight into his character:
» Due to his own indication of his knowledge of Bible prophecy,
we can assume he gave much time to Scriptural study. (
» By his position when Philip found him (
Jn.1:48) we can assume he gave much editation and prayer. The fig tree was known
as a private place for this type of activity. Usually found by the entrances of homes, their
low hanging branches provided both shade and privacy for this endeavor (Barclay, p. 110).
» Jesus' own testimony to his character: "no guile," or deceit, or evil intention in him whatsoever! (
Some believe him to be the unnamed disciple on
the road to Emmaus (
Lk.24:13). Because of the comparison of
Acts 7:56, others identify him as Stephen. All of this, of course,
He was the first to call Jesus King. (
Tradition links him to the lineage of Absalom, David's son (Jerome, early historian). He is said
to have preached in: India and Phrygia, where Philip (his friend) was martyred in Hierapolis;
also in Armenia where he is noted as the father of the Armenian Church.
The extra-Biblical writing, The Gospel Of Bartholomew, has some very interesting details regarding his life.
His martyrdom (crucifixion after being beaten) is said to have occurred at Albana (now Derbend).