The New International Encyclopædia/Zealot
ZEALOT (Gk. ζηλωτής, zēlōtēs, enthusiastic follower, from ζῆλος, zēlos, zeal, from ζέειν, zeein, to boil, foam). A term applied by Luke (Luke vi, 15; Acts i, 13) to Simon, one of the twelve Apostles, probably to distinguish him from the better known Simon Peter. In the list in Matthew (x. 4) this Simon is called the Cananæan (Κανανᾶιος) , The two words zealot and Cananæan are equivalents, the former being simply the Greek translation of the Hebrew term meaning zealous. The Zealots were a more or less closely organized party among the Jews, embracing the more fanatical elements of the population, whose watchword was complete political independence of Roman control, Simon, previous to his discipleship, probably had some connection with this party. The details of their early history are unknown. It was their lawless violence that precipitated the great war with Rome (A.D. 66-70) which resulted in the destruction of the Jewish nation.