Who Are the Twelve Disciples of Jesus Christ

A early photo taken at daybreak on the Sea of Galilee
A early photo taken at daybreak on the Sea of Galilee

They Were All Ordinary Men With an Extra Ordinary Calling

Most amazing about the twelve disciples is that Jesus selected them at all. Who are the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ? They were just ordinary men with an extra ordinary calling. Among them were fishermen, a hated tax collector and an impulsive political zealot.

Jesus deliberately passed over those who were aristocratic and influential. He chose men from the lower class of society and promised them that if they followed him, He would make them fishers of men. So, they left everything behind to follow the Lord and turned the world on its ear.

God chooses the humble, the lowly, the meek and the weak so that there will never be any question about their source of power. As their lives changed, the world changed as a result.

The twelve disciples were trained by the master (Jesus) and entered their ministries as apostles. They started the church and played a pivotal role as leaders as the church grew. They also became the channel through which the Gospel (good news) would be given to the rest of the world.

The disciples, now apostles (shaliah) were given the power and authority to heal the sick, even raise the dead as a sign of their authority in Christ Jesus. The scriptures record many of their miraculous deeds, for instance... Acts 20:7

The new Jerusalem described in Revelation 21:14 "The wall of the city had twelve foundations and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." Each foundation being made of precious stone.

The twelve disciples are listed as three groups of four, in the scriptures the same twelve men are always named in a similar order. The first name in all four lists is Peter. He stands out as the leader of the whole company of twelve. In three lists, Judas’s name appears last (he was dead by the time of the fourth list, Acts 1) along with the remark of being a traitor.

Jesus and his disciples making the miraculous catch on the Lake of Gennesaret
Jesus and his disciples making the miraculous catch on the Lake of Gennesaret

Christ's Inner Circle of Disciples Were 3 Groups of Four Men

Even a small group of twelve is too large for one person to maintain the closest involvement with each group member... Therefore there were 3 groups of four listed in descending order based on their level of closeness with Christ.

Group 1

The first group of four disciples was closest to Christ (his most inner circle). They were the first disciples Jesus called unto himself. They had been with him the longest and occupied the most trusted positions among the twelve.

Their names are Peter (also known as Simon), Andrew (Peter’s brother), James (the apostle of passion) and John (whom Jesus loved).

John was the younger brother of James and the only disciple to die of natural causes around 98 A.D. (despite being boiled in oil by those who sought to kill him). John was also the one whom was taken up by the Spirit and given the visions he describes in the book of Revelation.

Three of these four men had an early encounter with Jesus at the Lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5), before they left their business to follow Him...

Jesus was teaching a large crowd and saw at the water's edge two boats left there by the fishermen, one belonging to Simon. He asked Simon to put out a bit from the shore, then sat down and taught the crowd. Afterwards, Jesus told Simon (Peter) to put his fishing nets out in deep water but Simon answered by saying, "We've worked all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."...

They had such a large catch that they signaled their partners to bring more boats, two boats were so full that they began to sink. Simon and all his companions were astonished at the catch, along with James and John, who were partners with Simon. From that time on, they chose to follow Jesus.

These four disciples of Jesus were all fisherman from Galilee and each one became fishers of men after their anointing by the Holy Spirit, which happened on the day of Pentecost.

Group 2

The second group of disciples didn’t have as high of a profile but are significant members in the Gospel accounts.

Their names are Philip (the bean counter), Nathanael (also known as Bartholomew), Matthew (the tax collector, sometimes called Levi) and Thomas (the twin). Thomas was a pessimist, he refused to believe that Christ had risen from the dead until he could see and touch his wounds.

It’s interesting to note that the Lord uses a tax collector (tax collectors were despised out- casts because they worked for the Romans) and a moody, melancholy pessimist such as Matthew and Thomas to spread the good news of the Gospel. Christ transformed both men in the same way he transformed the others in group 1 by opening their eyes and renewing their minds in matters of "The Blessing".

Yes, the original Blessing, which Adam had before the fall. Jesus had fulfilled His mission by restoring God's Blessing to mankind at His resurrection.

These men, among others witnessed this great event and were then sent out to spread the good news of death's destruction and how whoever (you and I are a whoever) can partake and operate in the Blessing, which is a deep subject in itself.

Group 3

The final group of disciples includes James (the less, son of Alphaeus), Simon (the zealot), Thaddeus (the apostle with three names; a.k.a. Lebbaeus and Judas, son of James), then there is Judas Iscariot (the traitor).

One named Matthias was chosen by the eleven to replace Judas Iscariot, that’s all we know about him.

These twelve disciples of Jesus lived with him for three years, yet they didn’t gain full understanding of Christ or his kingdom until after he rose from the dead. They were truly converted after receiving the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

Later, after Jesus ascended into heaven, a man named Saul, who breathed murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples was confronted by Jesus. Saul was stricken blind while on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). Saul became known as the Apostle Paul who was commissioned by Christ to preach the Gospel to the gentiles. A number of books in the New Testament are accredited to Paul, such as Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and Thessalonians.

The apostles are still gathering souls into the body of Christ (the church) by casting their nets into the sea of humanity through their testimony in the Gospels and their epistles.

Read more about John the Apostle

Character of the Disciples

We can get an idea from the scriptures of the type of personalities or characteristics of the twelve disciples, before they were anointed with the Holy Spirit. They were a varied group of individuals. Their transformation in itself can be considered proof of Christ's Resurrection, because nobody will endure persecution, prison, torture and even death for a lie.

Apostle Paul

A Human Common Thread

The one common thread all these men had (except Judas Iscariot) was a willingness to acknowledge their own sinfulness and look to Christ for forgiveness. Does this thread run through you?

Christ met these twelve disciples with mercy, grace and forgiveness, transforming their lives into lives that glorified Him. And in doing so, he opened the door for all who trust in him to live an abundant life eternally.

After all is said and done, the ministry of Jesus (the Anointed One) as explained in the beginning by the original twelve disciples of Jesus Christ through the counselor (Holy Spirit). These teachings can be found in the Holy Bible. There lay the keys to understanding God's perfect will for our lives. A will of God that all human beings take hold of the keys to God's kingdom and learn how to function in love, because eternity is a very long time. The best thing about this opportunity is this... all you have to do is ask! Now that is a golden opportunity, wouldn't you agree? Jesus is the perfect example and all those who believe in Him will be as He is.

Peter, the rock
Peter, the rock

Peter, Leader of the Twelve

Jesus gave Simon the name “Peter” (meaning rock or stone). Peter seems to be an aggressive, bold, inquisitive, outspoken and self- confident type of person. He has the characteristics of a leader and Christ (anointed one), Jesus molded him into the type of leader he was designed to be, which became a reality on the Day of Pentecost.

Peter was the rock on which Christ built his church. The church being the body of Christ, consisting of those whom are indwelt with the Holy Spirit also known as the Spirit of Christ and the third member of the Holy Trinity.

Although it is "kingdom of heaven" principles that are the foundation of our Lord's teaching, the church started with the twelve. Peter being number 1, the Rock. When he addressed the crowd on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-41), about three thousand were saved that day.

At times he spoke out before thinking. He is the only Apostle to rebuke Jesus (Matthew 16:22). When Jesus rebukes Peter, he calls him Simon. On the other hand Jesus called him Peter when commending him.

For instance, in Luke 22:31 (the last supper) Jesus says “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat but I have prayed for you”… Peter replies, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and death.” Jesus answers, “ Truly I tell you that before the roster crows today, you will deny me three times.”

Another instance, which shows the character of Peter, is in Gethsemane (the garden) when Jesus is arrested. There were hundreds of battle ready Roman soldiers in and around the garden that night. Peter decides to draw his sword and strike the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. I’m sure he tried to decapitate the man but missed. What was Peter thinking? Was he going to slay an entire detachment of Roman soldiers? Jesus healed Malchus’s ear and told Simon to put away his sword. “Put your sword in its place for all who take up the sword will parish by the sword.”

Matthew 14: 26, describes the time Jesus walked out on the water to meet up with the disciples in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, as they were in their boat. Peter was out of the boat walking on the water while the others were clinging to their seats.

The Lord put Peter through three years of tests and difficulties, giving him a lifetime of experiences a true leader must endure.

Peter’s wisdom of divine principles can be found in his epistles (1 peter 3 commentary). He grew in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter learned (as did the rest of the twelve) that a true leader loves and serves those he leads. He was a great leader of the early church holding the keys to the kingdom.

Scripture doesn’t record the death of Peter but the early church testimony of Clement indicates that Peter was crucified. Peter pleaded to be crucified upside down because he wasn’t worthy to die as his Lord did.

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Comments 19 comments

Christy 3 years ago

The rock that the church is built upon is the answer to the question that Jesus ask Peter, 'who do ye say that I am?' Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God.'

Michael Jon profile image

Michael Jon 3 years ago from St. Louis Author

I agree shofarcall, Jesus is the foundation on which His church is build. I'll have to pay closer attention to my choice of words.

shofarcall profile image

shofarcall 3 years ago

Michael Jon,

Glad to have come by your hub page.

I was captivated by the way you described and told the story of the disciples, their natures and that they were truly only born again by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. From that moment on, they were changed men. All of them.

I remember reading somewhere that there has been some confusion regarding Peter being the Rock that the church was built on.

Jesus is the Rock, our Rock. It was something to do with incorrect Hebraic or Greek translation. I shall try to relocate the information again.

A great hub, well written with an easy style of writing. Thank you. God Bless.

Pastor Imafidon Ik. 4 years ago

You are well informed and inspired for this acticle. May God bless you.



Ebenezer 5 years ago

I love these, it's inspiring & has bless me.more enlighten teaching for knowledge

michael jon 5 years ago

Bishop Paul,

Thanks for the blessing. I hope you fair well. When you say "let do work together", I'm not quite sure what you have in mind.

I do know a bit about Pakistan and I must say, you have courage in preaching the gospel of Jesus the Christ, which no doubt comes from Christ himself.

Bishop I. Paul 5 years ago

Greetings in Christ.I am Bishop I Paul.We are working with 32 Pastors and 50 Evg(mail & femail), and Reg in Pakistan from 2000.We are praying for you please remember us in your prayers, as you know about our country through media. Let do work together to returns back begotton lives and make the new followers of Christ.

God bless you

waitng for your reply

Michael Jon profile image

Michael Jon 5 years ago from St. Louis Author


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 5 years ago from Southern Minnesota

Good article on the twelve disciples. I enjoyed how you organized them in groups. I have noticed that when reading the scriptures.

Their living and dieing truly was testimony to all that salvation has been procured for all who would be willing to be cleansed from their sin and live for Him no matter what the personality type.

Michael Jon 5 years ago

Yes ddad, I think you're right. The twelve disciples didn't make the connection between the miracles that Jesus Christ preformed and His deity until they became empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The disciples witnessed miracles such as the feeding of 5 thousand, healing of the sick, the dead raised, the blind gaining their sight and other miracles. They even watched Jesus walk on water (rough seas, I might add), yet they still didn't make the connection until pentacost.

It's the same today as it was then, it is the Holy Spirit, which reveals the deity of Christ to all. Without the Spirit of truth and understanding we too are just ordinary men.

ddad 5 years ago

they were truly converted after the holy spirit came at pentacost. that's a leap in belief and understanding.

Thapa Navin Kumar 5 years ago

After the reading of opinion given in the goggle website

I enjoyed much and the analyzer had analyzed his own idea/opinion on the web page that make sense to some one in some extent. After much study study and prayer and with the help of the Holy Spirit one can find a new insights and expresses his own thoughts.

michael jon 6 years ago

That's a good question Marcus, assuming that there are other gospels of Jesus Christ. The best answer I can give you is this... The 4 gospels you are referring to are basically historical accounts of when Jesus was with us in the flesh.

In my opinion, the real meat (food for thought) are Paul's letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and the Thessalonians. They speak of the meaning and philosophy of Christ's message. In other words, how we are to live as Christians. God's plan of redemption for mankind.

There are 23 other books besides the four gospels you mentioned in the New Testament. Everything we need to know is there.

Marcus 6 years ago

In the new testament, there are only 4 gospels.

What do you think happened to the other gospels?

Michael Jon profile image

Michael Jon 6 years ago from St. Louis Author

"The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1Corinthians 2:12- 16

Hebrews 9:27 states, "It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment." My friend, if you haven't trusted Jesus as your savior, I pray that you will do so. Ask him to forgive your sins and surrender your life to his control.


jc 6 years ago

i don't understand it

Michael Jon profile image

Michael Jon 7 years ago from St. Louis Author

The definition of the word disciple according to Webster is: One who accepts and assists in the spreading of a doctrine.

The disciples mentioned in this hub are the original disciples, who became apostles of Jesus Christ. During Christ’s ministry there were hundreds of disciples, many fell away and many continued to follow the teachings of Jesus.

Today, in modern times there are thousands of disciples who continue to spread the word and enlighten millions more in the understanding and knowledge of the Gospel.

I'd like to mention a few of these disciples who have enlightened me through the radio (BOT radio network), television (TBN) or books they have wrote;

John MacArthur, Grant Jeffrey, Jack Van Impe, Joel Osteen and Billy Gram.

I would suggest to anyone who wishes for a deeper understanding of God’s word to read a book wrote by anyone of these disciples or listen to them preach. They all amplify the original messages of the Twelve Disciples of Christ.

The lessons these men teach are always backed by the scriptures and for good reason. A lesson, when not backed by scripture… is most likely false.

Judah's Daughter profile image

Judah's Daughter 7 years ago from Roseville, CA

I enjoyed this ~ such a reminder of the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem! Praise God, we continue to build up and grow the body of Christ through the gospel of truth and the power of His Holy Spirit until He comes again :-)

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