Who Were The 12 Disciples or Apostles of Jesus Christ?

by David Peach · Print Print · Email Email

The 12 closest friends of Jesus are called the 12 disciples or apostles. The word disciple means someone who is a student or pupil of someone else. The biblical sense of the word is that the person is not just a learner, but an adherent of the teacher’s doctrines. Apostle means that the person is a representative, ambassador or delegate of someone else. Practically there is little difference between the way these two words are used in the Bible. However, there is one small distinction. Not all disciples are called apostles in the Bible. But all apostles are disciples (that somewhat depends on how you define Paul the Apostle).

Let’s take a quick look at the original 12 apostles of Jesus Christ. Here they are in alphabetical order with a summary of each one.


Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist before he joined with Jesus (John 1:35-40). His brother is Simon Peter, whom he brought to Jesus. They were both fishermen. Jesus met them on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 1:16-18).

12 Disciples of JesusBartholomew or Nathanael

Bartholomew Nathanael was praised by Jesus as being a Jew without guile (John 1:47). Though he was cautious in accepting Jesus as the Christ, it took little time to convince him that Jesus was the Son of God (John 1:49). Tradition says that he was a missionary in Armenia and India.

James the Elder (or James the Great)

James is one of the two sons of Zebedee. Also known as the sons of thunder. Peter, James and John made up the three closest friends of Jesus. While James seems to be a prominent figure in the personal life of Jesus, we know little about him. When he is mentioned in the Bible, he is always mentioned along with his brother John. He was beheaded by Herod (Acts 12:1, 2).

James the Younger (or James the Less)

This James was the son of Alphaeus (Mark 3:18). He lived in Galilee and was the brother to the Apostle Jude. Matthew the tax collector may have been their brother. This is the James who probably wrote the Epistle of James (though that is disputed).

John the Beloved

John is the brother of James the Elder and son of Zebedee. He was known as the beloved disciple. He wrote the books of John, First John, Second John, Third John and Revelation. He was the last of the apostles to die. Though there were attempts to martyr him, he lived into old age.

Judas Iscariot

Judas was the treasurer among Jesus and His disciples. He was also the traitor who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16; John 12:5, 6). Judas was from Judea whereas the other disciples were from Galilee.

Jude or Thaddeus

He was the brother of James the Younger and the author of the book of Jude. He was known by several names. One is “Judas, not Iscariot.” (John 14:22) Very little is known about him.


Matthew, unlike the other disciples who were fishermen, he was a tax collector, also known as a publican. He is sometimes called Levi in the Bible (Mark 2:14). He wrote the first book of the New Testament which bears his name.


Simon Peter was the brother to Andrew. He was the most outspoken of the disciples. Along with the brothers James and John, he made up the third of the inner circle of Jesus’ closest disciples. He probably wrote 1 and 2 Peter. His Greek name, Simon, and Aramaic name, Cephas, both mean rock.

After Jesus’ ascension to heaven, Peter became the dominant leader of the disciples. Throughout the first part of the book of Acts he is the fiery preacher among the Jews. The last part of the book is dominated by Paul and his outreach to the Gentiles.


Like the other disciples (except Matthew), Philip was a fisherman. He was from the city of Bethsaida (John 1:44). He seemed to have a missionary heart. He preached boldly to large crowds in Samaria but was willing to be led into the desert to preach to one Ethiopian man and lead him to Christ (Acts 8).

Simon the Zealot

This is the other Simon (besides Peter) who was a disciple of Jesus. He was a Caananite (Mark 3:18). Though we don’t know much about him we know that the Zealots were a fanatical Jewish nationalist group. They hated Roman rule and were devoted to Jewish law.


Today sometimes called Doubting Thomas was also known by his Greek name Didymus. He is known as Doubting Thomas because of his proclamation that he would not believe that Christ had risen unless he could place his fingers in the nail prints of Jesus’ hands and side. Jesus did not criticize Thomas for this. However, Jesus pointed out that though Thomas had the chance to see and touch Jesus, there would be many who would come after Thomas who would believe though they could not see Jesus in the flesh (John 20:24-29).

Other Disciples?

There were many other men and women who followed Christ in the Bible. There were also disciples of some of the disciples. Of the four writers of the beginning books of the New Testament, called the Gospels, Matthew and John are in the list above. Mark was a follower of Peter and Luke was a disciple of Paul.

Related Articles:


King James Version Bible, (KJV)

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

claris January 22, 2013 at 7:52 am

am a sunday school superintendent (AFM) if you have anything to facilitate this programme you would be of great help!


Dereje Gerba January 29, 2013 at 9:01 am

Thank you, for your posting about the disciples of Jesus Christ!
Please, if possible try to send me the book which contains their full life story except on the Holy bible.
Thank you!
from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.


Aileen Rodriguez March 10, 2013 at 2:49 pm

hi! from AZ


Bulus G.A.Galadima March 28, 2013 at 2:34 am

It’s a nice write up. But who was the first Pope.


E May 20, 2013 at 8:42 am

The first Pope, was the Apostle Peter.


Alan Heath November 17, 2018 at 12:40 am

Peter could not have been a pope because he was married. Also, there is no authority for the position of Pope. In fact, Jesus denounced the use of religious titles in Matthew 23:8-10.


Rosie April 8, 2013 at 7:54 pm

I wanted the names of the 12 Apostles, but you only list 11. Paul isn’t mentioned above. Why?


Lydia April 14, 2013 at 9:12 am

There are 12 there an Paul isn’t in the list because he didn’t join the disiples until later, after Jesus had died and then rose again


Begee August 18, 2013 at 11:37 am

Where in the Bible does it tell what happened to Judas Iscariot after he betrayed Jesus.


elish May 18, 2013 at 1:46 am

God bless you… I appreciete the gift of God in you.


ruth May 25, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Be blessed.Am from kenya.


ruth May 26, 2013 at 4:36 am

which disciple married?


David Peach May 27, 2013 at 12:56 pm

We know that Peter was married according to Matthew 8:14. At least he had a mother-in-law. Why would someone take a mother-in-law without also having a wife? 🙂

We are not told which of the other disciples (or apostles) were married, but apparently others were according to 1 Corinthians 9:5.


Rick May 29, 2013 at 4:50 am

Very helpful, thank you kindly


andrew June 23, 2013 at 11:24 am

Awesome to know kingdom issues


Ayomide July 26, 2013 at 8:05 am

Thank you all


Don & Nancy Brewer November 26, 2013 at 4:09 am

Can you ” Email ” me the information on the 12 disciples so I can share with family and my Bible study group? Thanks.


Robert Downing December 10, 2013 at 1:45 am

The Philip that preached to the Ethiopian eunuch was not Philip the disciple but Philip the deacon.


Deborah April 16, 2015 at 8:20 pm

Sorry, but in John 1:47 Jesus said, “Behold, and ISRAELITE in whom is no guile. All true Jews are Isarelites but not all Israelites are Jews. Nathanael called Jesus the King of ISRAEL.
John the Baptist said, John 1:31, “I did not recognize Him, but in order that he might be manifested to ISRAEL, I came baptizing in water. Pilate, a heathen, is the one to call Jesus King of the Jews to provoke them. Study with a heart open to truth revealed by the Holy Spirit.


nkosilathi ndlovu February 7, 2016 at 7:15 am

hello i have a question why were all disciples of Jesus men without women?


Jack Wellman February 7, 2016 at 8:16 am

Thank you for your question. Why did Jesus choose only men for disciples? Because that is who God decided to choose. I don’t know why but I only know that Jesus did the choosing and we can’t question Him.


Margy August 27, 2016 at 8:42 pm

The first Pope was actually Constintine


Janie April 20, 2017 at 11:57 am

Hi , if Apostle Peter was the first Pope, do you mean the Peter that was married in the first group of apostles? Also someone mentions Constantine is the first Pope.. so which is it? The married apostle Peter or Constantine ?


Jack Wellman April 20, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Hello Janie. In truth, the Bible never says there will be a Pope. Peter was not that rock upon which Jesus’ build His church but upon the profession of Peter’s previous statement. Jesus is the Head of the Church, so the Bible says, and no man is. Humanly speaking, Constantine is the first Pope but is not the Head or Vicar of Christ. Jesus is over His own church.


Lato Sensu April 7, 2018 at 9:43 am

Smith Wigglesworth
Lester Sumrall
Howard Carter January 1891 – 22 January 1971
Howard Carter (died 28 July 1992)
Are these men not evangelist, Missionaries


DIEUDONNE LOUZOLO April 27, 2018 at 4:24 am

Why were eleven of them from Galilee, only one from Judea and none from Samaria?


Jack Wellman April 27, 2018 at 8:46 am

I do not know that my friend. Great question. God calls whomever He desires to call.


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