Matthew and Thomas, James the [son] of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes,Luke 6:15
We do not have much information given to us about Simon the Canaanite (Matthew 10:4) who is also called Simon the Zealot (Zelotes). In fact, we must speculate as to the reason behind his given names.
We know that all the Apostles of Jesus Christ were Jews. Therefore, when Simon is called a Canaanite it cannot be referring to his nationality. One possibility is that he lived in Canaan. The other possibility is that he was of an order of zealots called the “Kanaites.”
As far as his zeal is concerned, that question is still unanswered as well. If he was part of the Zealots, then before his conversion, he was a very rigorous enforcer of the law even to the point of pain and death for offenders. This group also consider any submission to Rome to be a rejection of God as lord. He is perhaps listed this way just like Matthew is listed as “the Publican” even though he repented of his sins. The title stays with them to remind us that we are all sinners saved by the grace of God.
Some believe the order of Kanaites was not around until after the time of Christ. Therefore, Simon could not be part of this group.
The other possibility for the term “zealot” is his character before and after conversion. If this is the case, then we have a most delightful name for Simon! He was zealous for the Lord and His kingdom!