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How Many Apostles Did Jesus Have (2024) 🐟👣

How many Apostles did Jesus Have

Twelve, Thirteen counting Matthias, 14 Counting Paul.

How Many Apostles Did Jesus Have – Named in the New Testament, the original twelve apostles were Simon Peter, James (son of Zebedee), John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot. Each of them played a crucial role in the foundation of the early Christian Church.

How Many Apostles Did Jesus Have

Dive into an in-depth exploration on the pivotal question, “How many apostles did Jesus have?” From biblical contexts to theological debates, gain a comprehensive understanding of the role and number of apostles in Jesus’s ministry.

If you’ve ever found yourself pondering the question, how many apostles did Jesus have? you’re certainly not alone. This question has ignited centuries of theological debate, fostering rich discussions that delve deep into the heart of Christian history and doctrine. This article will serve as your guide to understanding the complexities behind this seemingly simple question.

How Many Apostles Did Jesus Have?

The New Testament of the Bible, specifically the Gospels, serve as the primary source of information regarding the apostles of Jesus. According to these accounts, Jesus had twelve apostles, hand-picked by Himself to learn from His teachings and to carry His message forward.

But, here’s the kicker: Is it just about the numbers? The answer is a resounding no. The subject is indeed more intricate than it first appears.

How many Apostles did Jesus Have

Understanding the Title “Apostle”

The term “apostle” originates from the Greek word “apostolos,” which translates to “one who is sent out.” This title was bestowed upon the disciples chosen by Jesus, the ones tasked with spreading His message. It’s crucial to remember that not all disciples were apostles, but all apostles were disciples. In short, the apostles were the crème de la crème of Jesus’s followers.

The Original Twelve Apostles

Named in the New Testament, the original twelve apostles were Simon Peter, James (son of Zebedee), John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot. Each of them played a crucial role in the foundation of the early Christian Church.

However, after the infamous betrayal of Jesus, Judas Iscariot was replaced by Matthias, as mentioned in the Book of Acts.

Sure, here’s a list of the twelve apostles as mentioned in the New Testament of the Bible and the regions they were traditionally believed to be from:

ApostlePlace of Origin
1. Peter (Simon Peter)Bethsaida, Galilee
2. Andrew (brother of Peter)Bethsaida, Galilee
3. James (son of Zebedee)Bethsaida, Galilee
4. John (brother of James and son of Zebedee)Bethsaida, Galilee
5. PhilipBethsaida, Galilee
6. Bartholomew (also known as Nathanael)Canan in Galilee
7. Matthew (Levi)Capernaum, Galilee
8. Thomas (also known as Didymus)Probably Galilee (exact location unknown)
9. James (son of Alphaeus)Unknown, possibly Galilee
10. Thaddaeus (also known as Lebbaeus or Judas, son of James)Unknown
11. Simon the ZealotUnknown, possibly Galilee
12. Judas IscariotKerioth, Judea

It’s worth mentioning that the exact birthplaces of many of the apostles are not stated explicitly in the Bible. As a result, the locations provided are either those places they are most associated with or traditional conjectures.

How many Apostles did Jesus Have

Here’s a list of the professions of the twelve apostles before their callings to follow Jesus, as mentioned in the New Testament of the Bible:

ApostleProfession
1. Peter (Simon Peter)Fisherman
2. Andrew (brother of Peter)Fisherman
3. James (son of Zebedee)Fisherman
4. John (brother of James and son of Zebedee)Fisherman
5. PhilipUnknown (not explicitly stated in the Bible)
6. Bartholomew (also known as Nathanael)Unknown (not explicitly stated in the Bible)
7. Matthew (Levi)Tax Collector
8. Thomas (also known as Didymus)Unknown (not explicitly stated in the Bible)
9. James (son of Alphaeus)Unknown (not explicitly stated in the Bible)
10. Thaddaeus (also known as Lebbaeus or Judas, son of James)Unknown (not explicitly stated in the Bible)
11. Simon the ZealotPossibly a Zealot, a member of a Jewish political movement, before his conversion (not explicitly stated in the Bible)
12. Judas IscariotUnknown (not explicitly stated in the Bible)
  1. Peter (Simon Peter): Peter, also known as Simon Peter, was one of the most prominent and influential of Jesus’ twelve apostles. He was the first disciple chosen by Jesus and is often considered the leader of the twelve. He was a fisherman by trade and was known for his boldness, which led to him being the first to recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
  2. Andrew: Andrew was Peter’s brother and the second disciple chosen by Jesus. He was also a fisherman and was known for his loyalty and enthusiasm. He was the one who brought his brother Peter to meet Jesus.
  3. James (son of Zebedee): James was the brother of John and the son of Zebedee. He was known for his fiery temperament and his dedication to Jesus. He was one of the three apostles closest to Jesus and was present at some of Jesus’ most important moments, such as the Transfiguration.
  4. John (son of Zebedee): John was the brother of James and the son of Zebedee. He was known for his deep faith and loyalty to Jesus. He was one of the three closest apostles to Jesus and was present at some of Jesus’ most important moments, such as the Transfiguration.
  5. Philip: Philip was a Greek from Bethsaida who was known for his inquisitiveness and enthusiasm. He was the one who brought Nathanael to meet Jesus.
  6. Bartholomew (Nathanael): Nathanael, also known as Bartholomew, was a man from Cana in Galilee. He was known for his skepticism towards Jesus, but eventually came to believe in him after Jesus revealed he knew Nathanael’s past.
  7. Thomas: Thomas, also known as Didymus, was a man from Galilee. He was known for his doubt and his questioning of Jesus, which led to the famous saying “doubting Thomas”.
  8. Matthew (Levi): Matthew, also known as Levi, was a tax collector from Capernaum. He was called by Jesus to be his disciple and was also the author of one of the four Gospels.
  9. James (son of Alphaeus): James, also known as the Less, was the son of Alphaeus. He was known for his humility and his devotion to Jesus.
  10. Jude (Thaddaeus): Jude, also known as Thaddaeus, was the son of James and the brother of James the Less. He was known for his loyalty and his willingness to spread the gospel.
  11. Simon the Zealot: Simon was a Zealot from Cana in Galilee. He was known for his zeal and enthusiasm for the cause of Jesus.
  12. Judas Iscariot: Judas was the betrayer of Jesus and one of the original twelve apostles. He was known for his greed and his betrayal of Jesus.
  13. Matthias: Matthias was chosen by the apostles to replace Judas Iscariot after his betrayal. He was known for his faithfulness and loyalty to Jesus.
  14. Paul (Saul of Tarsus): Paul, also known as Saul of Tarsus, was a former persecutor of Christians who became an ardent follower of Jesus after his conversion on the road to Damascus. He was known for his zeal and his missionary work, which took him to many places in the ancient world.
How many Apostles did Jesus Have

It should be noted that the Bible does not provide specific details about the professions of many of the apostles before they were called to follow Jesus. As a result, the exact occupations of many of the apostles remain unknown.

Christian Tradition where the Apostles Spread the Word

Christian tradition and historical accounts provide some information about how and where the apostles spread the word of Christ after His ascension. However, it’s essential to remember that some of these accounts aren’t found in the Bible and their historical accuracy may vary. Here’s a summary:

ApostleAccording to Tradition
1. PeterPeter preached in various regions, including Judea, Antioch, and eventually Rome. He is considered the first Bishop of Rome, or Pope.
2. AndrewAndrew is believed to have preached in Scythia, Byzantium, Thrace, and Greece.
3. James the GreaterJames is traditionally believed to have preached in Spain. His remains are said to be in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Spain).
4. JohnJohn is said to have ministered in Ephesus, and later was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he received the visions recorded in the Book of Revelation.
5. PhilipPhilip reportedly preached in regions like Phrygia, in present-day Turkey.
6. Bartholomew (also known as Nathaniel)Tradition says Bartholomew preached in places like India, Armenia, Ethiopia, and Southern Arabia.
7. MatthewMatthew is traditionally believed to have preached in Persia and Ethiopia.
8. ThomasThomas is famously believed to have traveled to India to spread the Gospel. Christian communities in India today, called St. Thomas Christians, trace their origins to him.
9. James the LesserJames the Lesser is traditionally believed to have preached in and around Jerusalem and was its first bishop.
10. Judas Thaddeus (also known as Lebbaeus or Jude)Tradition suggests he preached in areas including Mesopotamia, Libya, Beirut, and Edessa.
11. Simon the ZealotSimon is traditionally believed to have preached in Persia, and some accounts suggest he traveled with Judas Thaddeus.
12. Matthias (replaced Judas Iscariot)Little is known about Matthias’s mission, but some traditions suggest he preached in Ethiopia or in regions of the Caucasus.

This table provides an overview based on various traditions. It’s important to remember that the New Testament itself does not provide detailed accounts of the individual missionary journeys of most of the apostles.

The Controversial 13th Apostle: Paul

While the original twelve apostles are widely accepted across Christian denominations, the status of Paul as an apostle often fuels heated discussions. Paul, originally known as Saul of Tarsus, never physically met Jesus during His time on Earth. However, he claimed to have received a vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus, which transformed him from a persecutor of Christians into one of its most influential leaders.

Despite never being officially named an apostle by Jesus, Paul referred to himself as an “apostle of Jesus Christ” in several of his letters (epistles). His significant contributions to the spread of Christianity, particularly among the Gentiles, lead many to accept him as a legitimate apostle.

That’s just the initial part of the article. I’ll continue to write the rest in subsequent posts. To ensure a high-quality article, I’ll delve deeper into the roles and significance of each apostle, delve into theological debates around apostleship, and address commonly asked questions on the topic. This way, the reader will gain an extensive understanding of the question: “How many apostles did Jesus have?”

Analyzing the Roles and Influence of the Apostles

Let’s shift gears and delve deeper into the roles and influence of each apostle. This exploration will not only provide you with a historical understanding but also shed light on the profound impact each apostle had on the shaping of Christianity.

Simon Peter: The Rock

Simon Peter, often simply referred to as Peter, is one of the most recognizable apostles. He’s often depicted as the spokesman of the apostles and the one who frequently interacted directly with Jesus. His faith, albeit wavering at times, was so significant that Jesus once declared, “Upon this rock I will build my church,” referring to Peter.

James and John: The Sons of Thunder

James and John, brothers and sons of Zebedee, were part of Jesus’s inner circle alongside Peter. They earned the nickname “Sons of Thunder” from Jesus Himself. Both were present during critical events in Jesus’s life, such as His transfiguration and His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The Rest of the Original Twelve

The other apostles also made significant contributions to the early Christian Church, even if they weren’t as prominent in the Gospels. For instance, Andrew, Peter’s brother, is known for bringing people, including his brother, to Jesus. Thomas, often dubbed “Doubting Thomas,” is remembered for his initial skepticism about Jesus’s resurrection. His subsequent encounter with the resurrected Jesus served to affirm the truth of the resurrection for future generations.

Matthew, formerly a tax collector, is traditionally believed to be the author of the Gospel of Matthew. The rest of the apostles, though less prominently mentioned in the scriptures, were vital in establishing and spreading the teachings of Christianity.

Paul: Apostle to the Gentiles

Paul’s impact on Christianity is immense. He authored several of the New Testament’s books and was instrumental in expanding Christianity beyond the Jewish community. Despite his controversial apostleship status, his influence on the Church’s development is undisputed.

Theological Perspectives on Apostleship

The debate over the number of apostles isn’t merely a question of numbers—it’s a debate about the nature of apostleship itself. It ties into larger theological discussions, exploring the definition of an apostle and the scope of apostolic authority.

Criteria for Apostleship

Most traditional Christian denominations agree on the criteria for apostleship: being directly chosen and commissioned by Jesus, witnessing His resurrection, and performing signs and wonders. These prerequisites solidify the authority of the apostles and their unique role in Christian history.

Apostolic Succession: An Unbroken Chain

Some Christian denominations, such as the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican Churches, uphold the belief in apostolic succession. This doctrine asserts that the apostles passed on their spiritual authority to successors through the laying on of hands. This unbroken chain of succession, they argue, grants their clerical authorities legitimacy and divine sanction.

Modern Apostles: A Different Take

On the other hand, some Christian groups, particularly within Pentecostal and Charismatic circles, believe in the ongoing gift of apostleship. They argue that apostles didn’t cease with the original twelve (or thirteen, including Paul). Modern apostles, according to this belief, are those God has divinely chosen to lead the Church and perform miracles.

In the next section, we’ll tackle frequently asked questions about the apostles and provide a wrap-up that brings it all together. The deep dive into the number and roles of Jesus’s apostles truly offers a rich exploration into the foundations of the Christian faith.

Examples of Biblical Number Twelve (12)

The number 12 is considered a significant number in the Bible, often representing completeness or God’s power and authority. Below are some examples of its occurrence in the Bible:

Biblical ReferenceSignificance
1. Twelve Tribes of Israel (Genesis 49)These are the twelve sons of Jacob (who was renamed Israel by God). Each son became the progenitor of a tribe, thus forming the “twelve tribes of Israel,” which is a central theme throughout the Old Testament.
2. Twelve Spies Sent to Canaan (Numbers 13)Moses sent twelve spies, one from each tribe, to survey the land of Canaan. Their report upon return deeply impacted the Israelites’ conquest of the land.
3. Twelve Stones of the High Priest’s Breastplate (Exodus 28:21)The high priest’s breastplate had twelve stones, each representing one of the tribes of Israel.
4. Twelve Cakes of the Showbread (Leviticus 24:5-6)In the Tabernacle, and later in the Temple, twelve cakes of bread (showbread) were set out every week, again symbolizing the twelve tribes.
5. Twelve Apostles of Jesus (Matthew 10:1-4)Jesus chose twelve apostles, symbolically representing a new beginning for the twelve tribes of Israel.
6. Twelve Baskets of Leftovers (Matthew 14:20)After the feeding of the 5,000, the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of leftover pieces, often seen as representing God’s provision and abundance.
7. Twelve Gates of New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:12-14)The New Jerusalem in John’s vision had twelve gates, each with the name of one of the tribes of Israel, and twelve foundations, each with the name of one of the apostles. This represents the complete people of God, both Jewish and Gentile believers.
8. Twelve Stars on the Woman’s Crown (Revelation 12:1)The woman in John’s vision in Revelation had a crown of twelve stars, thought to symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel.

Remember, the symbolism attached to biblical numbers can vary and is often understood through the context in which it is used in the Scriptures. The number twelve in the Bible typically symbolizes completeness or divine authority.

Deaths of the Apostles

While the Bible does not record the death of all the apostles, there are traditional accounts and early historical references that provide some information. However, the accuracy of these accounts varies and some details may be more rooted in tradition than historical fact. Here is a summary:

ApostleDetails of Death According to Tradition
1. PeterCrucified upside-down during the reign of Emperor Nero in Rome because he felt unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus.
2. AndrewCrucified on an X-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. He reportedly preached to his executioners until his death.
3. James the GreaterBeheaded by King Herod Agrippa I in Jerusalem around 44 AD (Acts 12:1-2).
4. JohnDied of natural causes at a very old age in Ephesus, making him the only apostle who did not die a martyr’s death.
5. PhilipCrucified in Hierapolis, Phrygia.
6. Bartholomew (also known as Nathaniel)Reportedly flayed alive and then crucified in Albanopolis in Armenia.
7. MatthewStabbed to death in Ethiopia according to one tradition.
8. ThomasSpeared to death in Mylapore, India while praying.
9. James the LesserBeaten to death with a club after being crucified and stoned.
10. Judas Thaddeus (also known as Lebbaeus or Jude)Clubbed to death according to tradition.
11. Simon the ZealotCrucified in Persia (modern-day Iran) according to one tradition.
12. Matthias (replaced Judas Iscariot)Stoned and then beheaded in Jerusalem according to tradition.

These details are largely based on early church tradition and extra-biblical historical references, not direct biblical accounts. It’s important to approach these traditional accounts with a critical mind, understanding that the historical evidence varies for each apostle’s story.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Apostles

As we further explore the captivating topic of Jesus’s apostles, it’s worth taking time to address common questions that often arise in this context.

1. Why did Jesus choose twelve apostles?

In biblical terms, the number twelve carries significant symbolism, primarily representing completeness. The twelve apostles symbolized the twelve tribes of Israel, indicating that the gospel was for all of Israel.

2. Who was the first apostle called by Jesus?

The Gospel of John records that Andrew was the first apostle called by Jesus. After his encounter with Jesus, Andrew immediately went to find his brother, Simon Peter, and brought him to Jesus.

3. Which apostle is often referred to as Jesus’s favorite?

The Gospel of John refers to an unnamed disciple “whom Jesus loved.” Christian tradition often identifies this disciple as John, one of the sons of Zebedee, hence suggesting that John was particularly close to Jesus.

4. Who replaced Judas Iscariot after his betrayal?

After Judas Iscariot’s betrayal and subsequent death, the remaining eleven apostles chose Matthias as his replacement, as recorded in the Book of Acts.

5. Are the apostles and disciples the same?

While all apostles were disciples, not all disciples were apostles. The term disciple, meaning a student or follower, applies to anyone who followed Jesus and learned from His teachings. However, apostles were those chosen by Jesus to have a special role in spreading His message.

6. Why is Paul considered an apostle?

Despite not being one of the original twelve, Paul is considered an apostle due to his significant contributions to the spread of Christianity. He claimed to have received a vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus and referred to himself as an apostle in several of his epistles.

7. What happened to the apostles after Jesus’s death?

Most of the apostles continued to spread the teachings of Jesus after His death, often traveling far and wide to do so. Many of them faced persecution and martyrdom for their faith.

8. Which apostle lived the longest?

John, the son of Zebedee, is traditionally believed to have lived the longest among the apostles. He is said to have died a natural death at an old age in Ephesus.

9. Which apostles wrote the New Testament?

Several of the New Testament books are traditionally attributed to the apostles. Matthew is believed to have written the Gospel of Matthew, John the Gospel of John, and Peter the two Epistles of Peter. Paul, though not one of the original twelve, is credited with at least 13 of the New Testament’s Epistles.

10. Are there any female apostles in the Bible?

The term apostle is traditionally reserved for the twelve chosen by Jesus and Paul. However, Romans 16:7 mentions a person named Junia, who is “outstanding among the apostles.” While some scholars argue that Junia was a female apostle, this claim is not universally accepted.

11. What is the significance of the apostles in Christianity today?

The apostles, as the primary witnesses to Jesus’s life, teachings, death, and resurrection, serve as vital links between Jesus and the Church. Their teachings, recorded in the New Testament, continue to shape Christian doctrine and practice today.

12. Are there modern-day apostles?

This depends on one’s theological perspective. Some Christian denominations believe in the ongoing gift of apostleship, asserting that God continues to raise apostles to lead the Church. However, other denominations limit them to the original.

How to be saved according to the Bible    In order to understand how to be saved, we first need to understand what salvation is. Salvation is when God forgives our sins and gives us eternal life. It's a free gift from God that we can't earn on our own. So how do we receive this gift? The Bible tells us that there are six steps: hearing, believing, repenting, confessing, repenting again, and believers baptism. Let's break each one of these down.     Hearing - The first step is hearing the gospel. The gospel is the good news that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again. This news must be heard in order for us to believe it.     Believing - Once we hear the gospel, we must believe it. This means that we trust that Jesus is who He says He is and that He can save us from our sins.     Repenting - Once we believe the gospel, we must repent of our sins. This means that we turn away from our sin and start living for God.     Confessing - After we repent of our sins, we need to confess them to God. This means that we tell God all of the sinful things we have done and ask Him for forgiveness.     Believers Baptism - The final step is believers baptism. This is when a person who has already believed and repented is baptized in water as an outward sign of their inward decision to follow Christ. Baptism doesn't save us, but it's an important step of obedience for every Christian.     Discipling others -  Finally, once we have received salvation through these steps, it's important that we continue to grow in our faith and share the gospel with others so they too can be saved.      These are the six steps required for salvation according to the Bible: hearing, believing, repenting, confessing, repenting again, and believers baptism. If you have never done these things or if you're not sure if you've done them correctly, I encourage you to talk to a pastor or other Christian friend who can help guide you through these steps. Salvation is a free gift from God, but it's one that we need to take intentional steps to receive. Don't wait another day - start your journey towards salvation today!

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  • Greg Gaines

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