The Chosen has certainly been a transformative series already, and it’s barely gotten off the ground. It has grassroots appeal and will likely grow into a larger and larger movement as time goes on. As the first multi-season Bible series to be created, it has the potential reach beyond traditional Christian audiences and transform the culture both inside and outside the church. The series’ connections with real people in a Jewish cultural context as they encounter the Messiah are its biggest assets, so here’s a helpful guide to help keep up with the core subplots we’ve seen through episode four of the first season.
***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***
The series started off with a bang as Mary’s demonic bondage was explored from multiple angles while at the same time providing key flashbacks to her character’s core motivations. Her father taught her Isaiah 43:1, which she clung to during her darkest hours. After neglecting suicide to follow a bird to her only friend’s (Sol) eating establishment, Mary encountered the Messiah, Who quoted her favorite Scripture to her before setting her free. She then set her mind to helping her friend at the hairdresser shop and re-adapting Jewish customs in her new life, including preparing Shabbat for local outcasts. It was there that she encountered Jesus again and first learned His Name.
Thus far, Mary’s storyline has intersected with Jesus and Nicodemus. She has primarily been in Capernaum.
Nicodemus’ opening scene–the journey to Capernaum with his wife Zohara–was interrupted by Quintus, a recurring magistrate character, who wanted the rabbi to assist the Roman Empire’s effort to stop fishermen who worked on Shabbat in order to avoid Roman taxes. Nicodemus is a very staunch interpreter of the Torah, which is why another Roman official asked him to cast demons out of Mary Magdalene, who was causing havoc in the Red Quarter, where she worked as a prostitute. Nicodemus reluctantly went, but his exorcism was unsuccessful. Nonetheless, Yussef, a local Pharisee, later informed Nicodemus that he witnessed Mary in her right mind, so Nicodemus paid her visit again to see for himself. He learned her true name and discovered that his work had nothing to do with her freedom. Mary told him of Jesus’ words to her, which prompted Nicodemus to wonder if his work as a rabbi was even honoring God anymore. After receiving word from the priests and rabbis of Capernaum that the radical preacher called John the Baptizer was speaking against the Pharisees and had been imprisoned by Herod, Nicodemus determined to ask the crazy man questions about the miracles he had heard about.
Up to this point, Nicodemus’ subplot has crossed over with Mary alone. He has primarily been seen in Capernaum.
As an outcast Jewish tax collector, Matthew’s closest human companion is his Roman bodyguard Gaius; he also has a stray dog for company. Matthew was shunned by his family for supporting the Roman enemy, but he appears to be nonplussed by this. He is a very conscientious accountant who challenged Quintus’ scheme to relieve Simon’s family’s taxes in exchange for his turning in fishermen who worked on Shabbat to avoid taxes. Gaius advised against Matthew’s resistance to Quintus, but Matthew ignored the social cues and faced the powerful official anyway. Quintus was impressed by his courage and ordered Matthew to follow Simon to see if the fisherman was going back on his word. As Matthew spied on Simon, he was able to witness Jesus’ massive fish miracle from afar.
At this point, Matthew has also encountered Simon and Andrew; he has seen Jesus work from a distance. Matthew’s work has primarily been in Galilee so far.
Simon, Andrew, and Eden
Simon made a deal with Roman magistrate Quintus to turn in any Jewish fishermen who fished or Shabbat to avoid paying Roman taxes in exchange for his family’s taxes being cancelled, but Simon’s brother Andrew disagreed with this plan. Simon hid his secret source of income and covert tax evasion from his wife, Eden, but she was suspicious of his unusual work hours, including his work on Shabbat. Andrew has been continually trying to keep his brother from getting into trouble with his in-laws and from using schemes to get ahead in life. However, when he was assisting the Romans one night with patrolling for Shabbat fishers, Simon changed his mind when he saw remnants of Zebedee’s work since he and his sons were friends. Later, Simon confessed to Zebedee, James, and John what he had done and begged for their help to pay off his tax debts, but they refused. In midst of the turmoil, Simon had to tell Eden what was going on after her ill mother had unexpectedly moved in with them. Eden and Simon both agreed they needed a miracle to settle their financial situation, so he set out to fish all night. Eden asked Zebedee and his sons to help, so they brought Andrew as well to assist the colorful Simon with his bind. However, after catching nothing all night, the fishermen encountered Jesus on the shore, whom Andrew had already told Simon about. Jesus used Simon’s boat to briefly teach before telling people to put out the nets one more time. This led to the miraculous catch of fish, which gave enough revenue to settle the debts. Jesus promptly called Simon, Andrew, James, and John to follow Him from there on out.
Simon and Andrew have interacted with Matthew, Zebedee, James, John, and Jesus. Eden and the brothers have only been seen in Galilee thus far.
Abigail and friends
Abigail is a young, assertive girl who accidentally discovered Jesus’ makeshift carpentry shop in a clearing of the woods near her house. During the events of the first two episodes, Abigail took her friends to see Jesus each day, and He taught them rudimentary wood-working skills and reinforced His lessons for their lives. He shared with them some of His future teachings before letting them know it was time for His work to begin.
Abigail and her friends have only crossed paths with Jesus in the outskirts of Capernaum.
James, John, and Zebedee
Zebedee and his sons James and John are fellow fishermen with Simon and Andrew who heard of the Roman scheme to arrest fishermen who worked on Shabbat to avoid tax laws when Simon confessed to his part in it. At first, they refused to help Simon, but at the pleadings of Eden, they decided to help Simon bail out his debts. In doing so, they witnessed Jesus’ miracle of the massive catch of fish, after which James and John were called to be His disciples.
Zebedee, James, and John have interconnected with Simon, Andrew, and Jesus and have only been seen in Galilee.
Other Characters and Notes
Blind man in Red Quarter: In the first two episodes, we saw other characters run into a blind man in the Red Quarter who is waiting for the Messiah to pass by, so we are likely to see this previewed storyline in a later episode.
Quintus: Quintus has been a recurring character who’s crossed paths with Nicodemus and Matthew already, so it’s possible we will see a larger role from him as the series progresses.
Gaius: Matthew’s bodyguard has the same name as the recipient of 3 John, so we may continue to see his character developed as more seasons are released.
Shmuel and Yussef: These two Capernaum Pharisees have thus far been in the background of Nicodemus’ main storyline, but it’s possible that we will continue to see more of them as their subplots break off from Nicodemus’ to play the roles of future Pharisee characters who challenge Jesus.