Jesus Christ had many disciples through His ministry. As the Son of Man, He shared the message of the Gospel throughout Jerusalem. His life showed the grace and mercy of God to all that He touched. Jesus loved on the most detested people of His day, including the tax collectors and prostitutes. Though many people followed Jesus, only a few were in His inner circle. Jesus called very specific people to accomplish His mission on earth.
Jesus chose twelve disciples to follow Him, learn from Him and preach the gospel (Mark 3:14-19). After His resurrection, Jesus appointed to His twelve disciples the mission of spreading the Word of God to all nations (Matthew 28:16-20). These twelve disciples of Jesus became known as the apostles.
The twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ
The twelve ordinary disciples helped set the foundations of the church. In Revelations 21:10-14, twelve is a number of significance:
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
God has put importance on the twelve apostles. These men turned the world upside down through their lives. The names of the twelve disciples are:
James the son of Zebedee
John the brother of James
James the son of Alphaeus
Simon the Canaanite
The disciples are named in Mark 3:14-19 King James Version (KJV):
And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: And Simon he surnamed Peter; And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite, And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house.
Simon Peter, the son of Jonas, was a fisherman from Bethsaida and Capernaum. He was known as Simeon, Cephas, or Simeon. The Arabic meaning of Cephas is rock. Peter authored two of the New Testament epistles which bear his name. Peter was crucified in Rome under Emperor Nero. He requested to be crucified with his head downward because he was not worthy to die as Jesus did.
Peter had many faults, including denying Jesus three times before the rooster crowed (Matthew 26:34). But his saving grace was his loving heart. Peter was the first to confess that Jesus was the Son of the living God. He was also with Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration.
James the son of Zebedee
James, son of Zebedee and Salome, was a fisherman who lived in Bethsaida, Capernaum and Jerusalem. He is often referred to as James the Elder. James and John were brothers. Their names often appear together.
James was the first of the apostles to be martyred. He was beheaded by Herod in AD 44 as he preached in Jerusalem and Judea. He was a man of faith, courage, and forgiveness.
John the brother of James
John, the son of Zebedee and Salome, is the brother of James. He is known as Boanerges, which means son of Thunder due to his explosive temper. He was a fisherman from Bethsaida, Capernaum and Jerusalem. He wrote the Gospel of John, I John, II John, III John, and Revelation.
John was a man of action. John and James came from family of fisherman, and they had hired servants to run their fishing business. John preached to the churches of Asia Minor. He was spared an attempt made on his life, and later died of natural causes.
Andrew was Peter's brother, and a son of Jonas. Andrew was a fisherman. He was originally a disciple of John the Baptist. In Mark 1:16-20:
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,”Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Andrew was a connector. His primary purpose was to introduce people to the Lord. Andrew died a martyr when he healed and converted Governor Aepeas' wife to Christianity. He was crucified on an X-shaped cross, because he did not feel worthy to be crucified in the same manner as Jesus.
Philip is from Bethsaida, same as Peter and Andrew. In the Gospel of John, Philip was seen as one of the first to be addressed by Jesus. Philip immediately told Nathanael of Jesus.
He was a man with a kind heart. He was a person who did all he could do. He died in Hierapolis by hanging. He told them to wrap his body is papyrus for he was not worthy to be wrapped in linen like Jesus was.
Bartholomew Nathanael is the son of Talmai. He was a missionary in Armenia. He was the also the only disciple was is born from nobility.
There is very little information about him in the New Testament. The Armenian Church claims him as its founder. He was also said to have preached in India, where he died a martyr. He was flayed to death with knives.
Matthew is the son of Alpheus. He is known as Levi. He was a tax collector. He wrote the epistle in the New Testament that bears his name. He is also known as Levi.
Matthew's name means "a gift of God". Matthew was deemed the lowest of the low by the Jews. Tax collectors were hated as criminals. They were classified along with the Gentiles and sinners.
Matthew knew how to write, and he presented an account of the teaching of Jesus to the world. He died a martyr in Ethiopia.
Thomas was from Galilee. His Hebrew name was Thomas, and Didymus was his Greek name. Sometimes, he was called Judas. He was known as Doubting Thomas because in John 20:25:
So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Thomas was a pessimist. Yet when Jesus rose, He invited Thomas to put his finger in the nail prints in his hands and in his side. Then in John 20:28-29:
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Thomas was commissioned to build a palace for the king of Indea. He was killed with a spear as a martyr.
James the son of Alphaeus
James is the son of Alpheus. He is known as James the Lesser or Younger. He was the brother of Jude Thaddaeus. Some scholars also believe he was the of Matthew. Very little is known about James.
He preached in Palestine and Egypt. He was a man of strong and fiery character. He was killed in Egypt.
Thaddaeus, the son of Alpheus or Cleophas and Mary. He is also known as Jude or Lebbeus. He preached in Assyria and Persia.
He was known as Trinomious, which means a man with three names. He was an intense man with bigger dreams. At the last supper, he asked Jesus:
"But Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?"
Thaddaeus was intent on making Christ known in the world as king. He was killed by arrows in Ararat.
Simon the Canaanite
Simon the Canaanite lived in Galilee. The New Testament told very little about him except that he was a Zealot. Zealots were nationalist who regarded suffering as purification for their faith. The Zealots hated the Roman overlords.
Simon abandoned his hatred and exchanged for love and faith. He was said to have died as a martyr.
Judas Iscariot is famously known as the traitor. He betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. He died by hanging himself afterwards.
Judas was a Judean while the rest of the disciples were Galileans. He was the treasurer of the band. He was covetous in his role as treasurer and stole from the purse.
Judas is the engima. People cannot understand how someone who was a witness to Jesus' miracles would turn against him. Worse yet, instead of repenting, Judas' shame lead him to taking his own life.
Matthias replaced Judas
Matthias replaced Judas in Acts 1:18-26:
(With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
“For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms:
“‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’
“‘May another take his place of leadership.’
Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
Matthias was with Jesus since His baptism until the resurrection. He spread the gospel in Caspian and Cappadocia.