Synaxis of the Twelve Apostles
This ikon presents the twelve apostles. Peter, Andrew, James (son of Zebedee) John, Phillip, Bartholomew, James (son of Alphaeus) Thomas, Matthew, Simon, Mark, Thaddeus and Paul who replaced Judas in ikonographic portrayal.
Of the apostles, Peter, Andrew, James, John, and possibly Philip were commercial fishermen. Much has been said of these that Jesus chose "poor fishermen", but this isn't borne out by archeology. Far from being poor, it is quite probable that Peter, Andrew, James and John were in fact wealthy men. To be a commercial fisherman in 1st Century Israel meant that they would have had at least one boat, possibly more, and each boat would have needed an employed crew of at least nine. Archeology has determined that commercial fishing boats were large vessels crewed by eight oarsmen. This meant that they would have been navigated by one other and possibly had yet others to work the catch. This makes Peter, Andrew, James and John well off business men with a social status far higher than many have attributed to them. This explanation at least accounts where much of the money came from which Jesus and the disciples needed to conduct their mission.
In the same vein, Jesus, being a carpenter and the son of a carpenter, was also far from being a poor man. Carpenters in the First Century were the engineers of society. It were carpenters who built and repaired houses, synagogues, bridges etc. These were skilled people and far from just making the odd door or bowl, Jesus and Joseph would have been able to command a good income from their work.
Neither Jesus nor the apostles were a ragged rough rag-tag & bob-tailed crew of "rude mechanicals" as many would have us believe. Their social status was pretty high amongst their contemporaries, Middle Class even, and this was necessary because Jesus need to have people around Him to whom other people would pay attention.
The author of Mark's gospel (quite possibly Peter) describes how Jesus called 'Levi the son of Alphaeus' to His side, and he is described as a tax collector. After this entry Levi is never heard of again, and no explanation is given why he disappears. The same writer later introduces Matthew and James as being both sons of Alphaeus, though it isn't clear if this is the same Alphaeus or not. The author of Matthew's gospel makes the point that Matthew was also a tax collector, which seems dubious but does resolve "a little difficulty" leaving the rest of us to assume Levi and Matthew were one and the same. Tax Collectors, though they held a social status within the hierarchy of the Roman State, were however despised by their own people. The reason for this is simple. Rome decided how much money they wanted from the Tax Collectors and left it up to these individuals themselves how they collected it and how much they took from the people. If they extracted more than Rome wanted they could keep the surplus. Rome wasn't interested if there was a little corruption going on, just as long as they got the money they decided was their due.
Simon the Zealot belonged to a group of political activists and agitators who were intent upon inciting the Israelites into open and bloody revolt against the Romans. The Zealots were a small but vocal group who alongside the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Essenes, (of which it is fairly certain that much of Jesus thinking was influenced by the Essenes) formed the main groups which influenced Jewish society at the time. The most violent of the Zealots were called the Sicarii, who not only were violent towards Romans, but also fellow Jews whom they believed were collaborators. In time they were to take a leading role in the AD 66 Jewish Revolt which, for four years, held power over Jerusalem till Titus Flavius retook the city and destroyed the Temple. We are not told what qualities Simon had that attracted Jesus to invite Simon into his inner circle, but there is plenty of scope for speculation, but whatever the reason behind it we can be sure it wasn't an arbitrary whim.