Now the names of the twelve apostles are these
This is the first time these disciples are called "apostles", they were learners before; now being instructed, they are sent forth to preach publicly, and therefore are called apostles, or messengers, persons that were sent: so the elders of the priesthood are called (Nyd tyb) (yxwlv) , "the apostles", or messengers "of the sanhedrim" F14, to whom the high priest were delivered, before the day of atonement. So six months in the year, (Myxwlv) , "apostles", or messengers, were sent by the F15 sanhedrim, throughout all the land of Israel, and to the captive Jews in other parts, to give notice of the new moon; in allusion to which, the disciples might be so called. It was proper to give the names of them, for the truth of the history, and confirmation of it; for the sake of the persons themselves, and the honour done them; and for the exclusion and detection of false apostles.
The first, Simon, who is called Peter;
his pure Hebrew name was (Nwemv) , Simeon, as he is called, ( Acts 15:14 ) but in the then Jerusalem dialect, and in Rabbinical language, this name is frequently read and pronounced (Nwmyo) , "Simon", as here: we often read of R. Simon, and of R. Juda bar Simon, in both Talmuds F16. This apostle is also called Peter, to distinguish him from Simon the Canaanite, and which signifies a stone, or rock, in allusion to the object of his faith, and the steadiness of it. He is said to be the "first"; not that he was the head of the rest of the apostles, or had any primacy, dominion, and authority over them; but because he was first called, and was the first that was to open the door of faith to the Gentiles: but chiefly he is said to be so for order's sake; for, some one in the account must be named first, and he as proper as any:
and Andrew his brother;
who was called at the same time with him, and therefore are put together. This name is also to be met with in the Talmudic writings; (See Gill on Matthew 4:18).
James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
these two were called next and together, and therefore are placed in this order: the former is so called, to distinguish him from another James, the son of Alphaeus, after mentioned; and the latter is the beloved disciple; these were surnamed "Boanerges", that is, "sons of thunder".
F14 Misn. Yoma, c. 1. sect. 5.
F15 Misn. Roshhashana, c. 1. sect. 3. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.
F16 T. Hieros. Shekalim, fol. 46. 4. Bab. Sabbath, fol. 55. 1. & Bava Kama, fol. 47. 2.