When you look at this unique group of disciples that Jesus chose, there isn’t anything special about them. Jesus invested three years into these men so they would be mature disciples.



  • They started as disciples (“students”) and became apostles (“sent out ones”).
  • It appears they were disciples before Jesus asked them to leave everything and follow him.

Steps (Luke 6:12; Mark 3:13-19)

  • Learn from him. Leave everything behind. Be with him. Be trained. Be sent out.


The Members of the 12

  • There were hundreds of disciples of Jesus, but only 12 that he called out for specific service.
  • Within the 12, they did not all experience the same level of intimacy with Jesus.
  • The number 12 was significant.
    • They mirrored the 12 tribes of Israel in the Old Testament.
    • The New Jerusalem has a wall with twelve foundations, “and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:14; cf. Eph. 3:20).
    • Heaven is described as the Lamb “standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand” (Rev. 14:1).

The 12th Apostle 

  • Judas – “He went and hanged himself” (Matt. 27:5).
  • Matthias – “The lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:26).
  • Paul – “Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas” (Gal. 1:18).

The Groups of the 12

  • Within the biblical accounts, there are two disciples with varying names.
  • The names and orders change but are always consistent in 3 groups of 4.
  • Every quartet starts with the same name in every list, indicating potential leaders.


  • Peter
    • Jesus names him Peter (“rock”), indicating the type of person he wants him to be.
    • His original name was Simon; Jesus used it when Peter acted like his old self.
    • He was the group leader and the primary preacher in the first half of Acts.
  • Andrew
    • He was initially a disciple of John the Baptist (John 1:35-42).
    • He brought his brother Peter to Jesus (John 1:40-42).
    • Andrew was the one who brought the boy with the loaves and fish to Jesus (John 6:8-9).
  • James
    • He was the son of Zebedee (his father must have been essential to be mentioned).
    • He was given the nickname (with his brother John) “Boanerges,” which means “the sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17), and he sought to call down fire on unbelievers (Luke 9:52-56).
    • He was a fisherman in business with his brother John, Peter, and Andrew.
  • John
    • He was known by the High Priest (John 18:15) by friendship, family, or business.
    • Known as the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23-25; 19:26-27; 20:1-10; 21:1-25).
    • At Jesus’ death, he entrusts his mother, Mary, to John’s care (John 19:26-27).
    • John is the only disciple who did not have a martyr’s death (John 21:20-24).
  • Philip
    • Philip was tested at the feeding of the 5000 (John 6:5-7).
    • The Greeks desiring to see Jesus came to Philip (John 12:20-22).
    • Philip desired to see the Father (John 14:8-11).
  • Bartholomew
    • Bartholomew is not a name; it means “son of Tholome;” most likely, he is Nathaniel.
    • He was originally skeptical of Jesus (John 1:45-51).
    • Jesus said of him, “An Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit” (John 1:47).
  • Thomas
    • He has a twin (John 11:6).
    • He was known for doubting Christ’s resurrection and desiring proof (John 20:24-29).
  • Matthew
    • He was a hated Jewish tax collector who left everything to follow Jesus (Luke 5:27-32).
    • He was also known as Levi, the son of Alpheus (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27).
    • With his connections, he was a constant source of bringing sinners to Jesus.
  • James, Son of Alphaeus
    • James’ father must have been important to distinguish him from others.
    • His mother’s name is Mary, and she was at the cross (Mark 15:40).
    • He is often referred to as James the Less or James the Younger.
  • Thaddaeus
    • We know that he is the son of a man named James (Acts 1:13).
    • His other name is Judas which is why they used an alternative (Luke 6:16; John 14:22).
  • Simon the Zealot
    • He was a political revolutionary.
    • Consider the dynamic between him and Matthew working together.
  • Judas Iscariot
    • He was the treasurer for the disciples and would take funds from the group (John 12:6).
    • After Satan entered him, he betrayed Jesus with a kiss for 30 shekels of silver.
    • When overwhelmed with guilt, he tried to return the money and hung himself.