The twelve disciples, also known as the twelve apostles, were Jesus’s closest followers and companions before his crucifixion. Mary Magdalene, a female follower of Jesus, is also often referred to as a disciple but her name was not included the in list of apostles that is cited in the Gospel according to Matthew.
These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. – Matthew 10:2-4
The number twelve was a very important number to the Israelites. It represented the 12 tribes of Israel, and the great patriarch of Israel, Jacob who had 12 sons. The number 12 also represented purity or the perfection of government.
The Twelve Disciples
- Peter (originally called Simon) was a fisherman.
- Andrew, the brother of Peter, was a fisherman.
- James, also known as James the Great, was a fisherman.
- John, the brother of James the Great, is also called John the Evangelist or John the Divine. He is believed to be the author of the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation. He was a fisherman.
- Bartholomew (also known as Nathaniel)
- Matthew (originally called Levi) was a tax collector for the Roman Empire.
- Thaddaeus (also known as Lebbaeus or Jude)
- Simon is known as Simon the Zealot to distinguish him from Peter. It is believed that Simon was likely a member of a radical Jewish sect called “the Zealots” which were fanatical about the law and strongly opposed Roman rule.
- Judas is most famous for betraying Jesus, which resulted in Jesus’s crucifixion. After hearing of Jesus’s death sentence, Judas was so overcome with remorse that he committed suicide before Jesus’s execution took place. Judas is not consider one of the faithful disciples. After Judas’ suicide the eleven disciples selected Matthias to be the 12th disciple.