12 Disciples Of Jesus: What They Were Like Before, During, And After Jesus’ Death

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Published by Kenneth Garcia


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During His time on Earth, Jesus and His preaching were frequently met with hostility and disdain. However, contrary to common belief, He was actually popular. In reality, He attracted a significant following in the years leading up to His crucifixion.

Jesus’ popularity among the people was undeniable. Many people followed Jesus because of the reports that He gave away food and goods at will (John 6:26), while others followed Him because He was said to do miracles (John 6:2). However, there were certain dedicated disciples who opted to internalize Christ’s teachings.

Twelve men accepted Christ’s call to follow Him and became His disciples. To prepare them for leadership, Jesus invested three years in teaching them. Eventually, Jesus intended for His disciples to assume leadership of His movement and continue His mission.

What Are The Names Of The 12 Disciples Of Jesus?

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew (Nathanael); Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus (James the Less), and Thaddaeus (Judas, son of James); Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him.

— Matthew 10:2–4


Peter, also known as Simon, Cephas, or Simon Peter, is widely regarded as the most prominent and devoted of Jesus’ initial disciples. At the same time, he embodies a paradoxical faith that many current Christians can identify with. He is also considered the first pope in Catholic history.

This early Christian showed great devotion to Christ. Like many of Jesus’ followers, he “left everything and followed Him,” giving up his job as a fisherman in the process (Luke 5:10). Similarly, Peter was the lone disciple to follow Jesus towards the turbulent Sea of Galilee to witness the Messiah walk on water (Matthew 14:29).

Peter had a lot of faith, yet he was also uncertain and hesitant. Despite being able to walk on the water, he eventually started to sink due to anxiety (Matthew 14:30). Furthermore, while Christ was on trial, the apostle reportedly denied it when asked if he knew him three times in one night (Mark 14:66–72).

The good news is that Peter conquered his flaws and became one of the leading figures of the early church after Jesus’ resurrection, fulfilling the prophecy of the Savior when he renamed Simon to Peter (meaning “rock”) in Matthew 16:18: “And I tell you that you are Peter. My Church shall be erected on this rock. No evil force will be able to overcome My Church.”


John was another prominent disciple, and he wrote the Gospel of John as well as the First to Third Books of John. Although some biblical historians have suggested that a separate John penned the Book of Revelation, it is possible that John wrote both books. As it stands, John is the most prolific author in the New Testament, penning more books than the rest of the disciples.

John was one of the other fishermen who abandoned their boats to follow Jesus. John, along with James and Peter, was part of the inner circle of Jesus’ ministry. John is most likely the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” cited several times in John’s Gospel, and his intimate closeness to Jesus taught him a great deal about love.

Assuming this to be true, we can infer that Christ and John shared a unique bond. From His final moments on the cross to His final moments of life, Jesus urged His beloved disciple to look after his elderly mother. He was also the first out of all the other Apostles to reach the empty tomb (John 20:3–4) as word spread that Jesus had been raised from the dead.

James (The Greater)

James the Greater is a sibling of Apostle John, not to be confused with James the Less, who had a brother named Joseph. Before being recruited for this position, he had worked as a fisherman. James, the third of the twelve apostles, was a key player and eyewitness to Christ’s most significant ministry moments.

James and his brother John were such a formidable Christian force that Jesus dubbed them “the Sons of Thunder.” Because there was already an Apostle named James, James would sometimes be referred to as “James the Greater” to tell him apart.


Andrew is Simon Peter’s older brother. He is mentioned as one of the fishermen Jesus called to leave their nets and join him in both the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 4:18–22) and the Gospel of Mark (Mark 1:16–20). The Gospel of John adds that before following Jesus, Andrew was among John the Baptist’s disciples (John 1:35–40).

At some point during the Messiah’s ministry, Andrew must have been given a special obligation among the Twelve; when Apostle Philip desired to inform Jesus that some Greeks had expressed an interest in the meeting and wanted to meet with Him, Philip first went to Andrew to discuss the matter (John 12:20–22).


The Bible mentions four distinct persons with the name Philip, so identifying the Apostle Philip can be tricky. Also, in contrast to some of Jesus’ other followers, he has a Greek first name rather than a Hebrew one.

The Apostle Philip followed Peter, John, James, and Andrew in being called to serve as a disciple of Jesus. Similar to the callings of some other apostles, the Bible says that Jesus sought out and discovered Philip just before the Messiah was about to depart for Galilee (John 1:43). Almost immediately after Philip saw Jesus, he went in search of Nathanael (typically referred to as Bartholomew) and had him meet Jesus (John 1:45–46).


Similarly intriguing is the identification of Bartholomew in Scripture. Bartholomew is named one of the Apostles in all four canonical Gospels and the Book of Acts. However, Bartholomew is omitted from John’s Gospel and replaced by Nathanael. As a result, many people assume that the same Nathanael whom Philip converted to Christianity is the apostle Bartholomew.

Bartholomew was already a nice and kind person even before he met the Savior, as Jesus described him as “a man in whom there is no deceit” (John 1:47). While he initially doubted that Jesus could be from Nazareth by asking Philip, “Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46), he was ultimately won over when Jesus divulged something to him that He couldn’t have known without supernatural revelation.


Thomas, also known as Didymus, showed great dedication to the Savior, which makes it all the more tragic that his uncertainty is his claim to fame. In John 11:16, Thomas boldly sided with Jesus when he made it clear that he intended to travel to Judea in spite of the dangers, stating, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”

However, the story of Thomas following the resurrection of the Savior is the most well-known. Even though Jesus had previously shown up for the other disciples, Thomas wouldn’t accept it until he saw the crucifixion wounds with his very own eyes (John 20:24).

Jesus Christ graciously met with the doubting Thomas and then provided the evidence Thomas had been seeking. But Jesus proceeded to say that the greater benefit was trust that did not require demonstration (John 20:27–29).


Whether or not the Apostle Matthew is the person to whom we should owe the writing of the Gospel of Matthew, as attributed by many modern scholars, he was nevertheless a significant historical character who was ready to forego a privileged life in order to obey the Holy Spirit. The Bible identifies him by the name Levi and says was a tax collector at Capernaum (Matthew 9:9).

Despite being shunned by his fellow people for cooperating with Rome, Matthew was a kind man deep down. Following Jesus’ command to “Come, follow me,” he gave up his former life as a tax collector and never wavered in his devotion to the Lord.

James (Son of Alphaeus)

James, Son of Alphaeus is also known as James the Less and the brother of Jesus. As one of the more mysterious of Jesus’ 12 Disciples, we only know that James was an apostle and witnessed Christ’s ascension in Jerusalem (Luke 24:51).

Judas (The Greater)

Judas the Greater (called Jude and Judas Thaddeus in some versions) is another obscure and inadequately understood apostle briefly mentioned in the Bible. He is said to have been present at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:17–20). He also questioned our Lord and Savior on His decision to withhold His identity from the world at large (John 14:22).

Simon (The Zealot)

Simon the Zealot has even much less information than Judas the Greater or James, Son of Alphaeus. Only while mentioning the Twelve Disciples’ names does he appear in the Scripture at all.

However, the Synoptic Gospels call him “Simon the Zealot.” We don’t know much about why he was given the title, unfortunately. Others claim that the term “zealot” here simply expresses his passion and love for Christ’s teachings, while others believe he formerly belonged to an extreme faction among the Jewish people.

Judas Iscariot

Judas’s origins remain a mystery. The Bible doesn’t mention him or his meeting with Jesus. We know he wasn’t originally from Galilee. Evidently, he committed to following Jesus and did so for three years. Despite this, Jesus realized it wasn’t enough time for him to change his heart. For thirty pieces of silver, Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus[1] (Matthew 26:15).

Although his name is known, Christians in the current day don’t have much to offer in the way of insight into what drove him. Was he merely an opportunist and robber (as John 12:4-6 implies) or seeking in vain to coerce Jesus into making a powerful revelation so that the Roman menace might be ended?

Some people believe that Judas was a fierce Jewish patriot who joined Jesus in the hopes that his nationalistic passions and ambitions would be realized through Him. In his role as the band’s treasurer, Judas stole from the common treasury on more than one occasion, a fact that cannot be denied by anybody.

Matthias took Judas’ position after Judas betrayed Jesus and eventually took his own life. Even though he was picked to replace Judas, the apostle Matthias is rarely counted among the Twelve as Judas Iscariot’s death necessitated his appointment and Jesus didn’t specifically invite him to join the disciples.

fishermen sunset boat

What Kind Of People Are The Disciples?

As the Messiah began to preach and educate a wider audience, He began to search for persons who might carry on His work. Like when Jesus approached a group of lowly fishermen on the Sea of Galilee and, with few words, persuaded them to abandon their occupation and join Him, some of these men were called in a spectacular fashion (Matthew 4:18–22; Luke 5:1–11).

Some of Christ’s disciples probably had more understated conversion experiences, while others stood out from the crowd by remarkable displays of insight, faith, or ability. They were Jews, commoners with little education, and men of faith who gave up all to follow Jesus.

By reading the biblical epistles, one can gain a deeper understanding of the theological, ethical, and pastoral concerns of the apostolic era. These letters shed light on the very nature of the early Christian community and the challenges they faced.

Christ purposely avoided choosing any of the powerful or wealthy persons of His day and instead focused on the lowest of the social castes. In God’s economy, it is and always has been the case. The haughty He brings low, and the humble He raises up.

What Can We Learn From Jesus’ Disciples?

Each of the disciples symbolizes a chance to learn and grow. Many of the characteristics of a faithful disciple of Christ may be seen by analyzing the people Jesus picked to be in His inner circle and to continue His mission.

The Faithful People Of The Bible Hoped For A Place In Heaven

According to Hebrews 11:13–16, the disciples died with unwavering faith, despite the fact that they had not yet received the promises but had seen them from a distance, been confirmed of them, embraced them, and admitted that they were aliens and pilgrims on the earth.

The 12 Disciples Left Everything To Follow Jesus And Spread The Gospel

As per Matthew 10:1–4, once Jesus had gathered His twelve followers to Himself, He granted them authority over evil spirits, the ability to drive them out, and the ability to cure any ailment or illness.

How Did The 12 Disciples Of Jesus Die?

The Bible only mentions the deaths of two apostles: James and Judas Iscariot. What little we know about the deaths of the other apostles comes mostly from early Christian literature and church tradition. Some reports imply that other apostles who weren’t killed may have died of natural causes, despite the widespread belief that only John died in this manner. In many cases, there are competing stories and popular theories of how and where they perished.


Following His resurrection and the additional instruction of His hand-picked followers, Jesus went to heaven, leaving the Christian church in the care of His successors. Peter stepped up to the plate and did what needed to be done to spread the Gospel, perform miracles, and bring together and lead the group of believers.

According to tradition, Peter was crucified upside down in Rome because he did not consider himself worthy of dying in the same manner as Jesus.


John, along with the rest of the apostles, kept leading the early Christian community. He may have been spared martyrdom, and he spent the remainder of his life teaching the Gospel and battling against wrongdoing in the Church, according to tradition.

James (The Greater)

According to the Bible, James was the only apostle to be killed for his faith (Acts 12:2). He was put to death with the sword by King Herod Agrippa I, and his head was probably cut off.

The anonymous person who arrested James and took him to the place of death was inspired by his bravery. He immediately converted to Christianity and wanted to be put to death next to James. Both individuals were executed at the same time by Roman executioners when they demanded this. Saint James Church in Compostela, Spain, is where his bones rest.


Andrew, like the rest of the apostles, devoted the rest of his life to preaching the Gospel. Depending on some accounts, Andrew’s ministry led him all the way to Eastern Europe. According to legend, Andrew died a martyr, but like his brother Peter, he asked to be crucified on a different kind of cross (an X-shaped cross, which later became known as Saint Andrew’s Cross) because he felt unworthy to die in the same way as Jesus.


According to canonical Christian accounts, he may have preached the Gospel throughout what is now Greece and a portion of Turkey. When it comes to Philip’s death, legends are hazier. Some say he lived to a ripe old age, while others say he was stoned, decapitated, or crucified upside down.


Batholomew’s demise has been described in a variety of ways, from being skinned and then decapitated to being drowned or crucified.


Thomas was spared to death in Mylapore, India, according to The Acts of Thomas. According to Syrian Christian tradition, this happened on July 3, 72 A.D.


There is a lot of disagreement over how Matthew died; some say he died naturally, while others say he was martyred by being burnt, decapitated, stabbed, or stoned.

James (Son of Alphaeus)

Tradition holds that James, Son of Alphaeus, continued his ministry in Egypt. It’s possible that he was crucified at the city of Ostrakine, or that he was forced from the highest point of the temple where he was preaching and then beaten to death.

Judas (The Greater)

After the Lord’s Ascension, Judas the Greater’s activities are unknown, however, tradition holds that he might have preached throughout Mesopotamia and Persia. The use of an ax in his murder is also possible.

Simon (The Zealot)

Simon’s death is portrayed differently depending on the legend you read, with some saying he died of old age and others saying he was sawed in half as a martyr.

Judas Iscariot

Whatever his motivations may have been, Judas Iscariot swiftly came to regret betraying Jesus and, according to both biblical versions of his death, he took his own life as a result of his guilt over the crime.

church glass stain disciples and jesus


The world saw Jesus’ twelve disciples as typical men: hardworking but not particularly devout. And yet, Jesus always picked the most qualified people to do His work: those who were meek, open to correction, and trustworthy.

Despite their flaws, Jesus sought men who could relate to the hardships of everyday life, such as low self-esteem and financial hardship. Jesus emphasized loyalty throughout His teachings.

God picks each of us for a unique purpose, just as Jesus chose His 12 Disciples. It makes no difference if we’re illiterate, unloved, or deceived; our lives aren’t doomed. God’s ultimate goal is to renew us by infusing us with His strength. As Jesus calls upon you, are you willing to accept Him?

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