Who were the first
disciples of Jesus?

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Who were the first disciples called by Jesus to not only follow him but also be his special witnesses of what he said and did?

The apostle John records who were the first five people called to follow Jesus. John and Andrew were the first two people called to be disciples by Christ (John 1:35 - 39). Then came Peter (also called Simon or Simon Peter, verses 40 - 42), followed by Philip (verses 43 to 44) and then Nathanael (Bartholomew - verse 45). The book of Matthew then records that James (a son of Zebedee and brother of John) was called (Matthew 4:21 - 22) followed by Matthew's own calling (Matthew 9:9). It is Biblically unclear in what order the remaining five of the twelve disciples were specially called (Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Judas brother of James, Simon the Canaanite (Simon the Zealot) and Judas Iscariot).

The twelve apostles appear to have been called in at least seven distinct time periods. Andrew and John were called together. Peter was then called after his brother Andrew told him about the Messiah. Philip was called to be a disciple the day after Peter. Nathanael (Bartholomew) was called after Philip told him about the Lord. James (son of Zebedee and John's brother) was called as he was mending nets inside a boat on the Sea of Galilee. Matthew received his calling as Christ was leaving Capernaum. Then the remaining disciples were called at another time.

Amazingly, out of the original twelve apostles there were three sets of brothers. They were Peter and Andrew, James and John (the sons of Zebedee) and James the son of Alphaeus, Judas brother of James (also called Lebbaeus or Thaddaeus) and Simon the Canaanite (Simon the Zealot). This means that seven out of the twelve disciples had a close relative who was ALSO a close follower of God!

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Several of the apostles were known to live in or very near Capernaum. Jesus moved from Nazareth to the city when he began his public ministry (Matthew 4:13 - 16). The disciples who lived near each other were were James, John, Matthew, Andrew, Peter and Philip.

Saint Francis by Fra Carnevale

It is also interesting to note that in the New Testament there are four separate lists of Jesus' original twelve disciples. Three of these lists are found in the Gospels (Matthew 10:1 - 4, Mark 3:13 - 18, Luke 6:12 - 16) while the fourth list (which excludes Judas Iscariot) is found in the book of Acts (Acts 1:12 - 13).

Renamed

Here is a good Bible trivia question. Who were the three disciples that Jesus PERSONALLY renamed? Only four people total in the New Testament got renamed.

Jesus gave Simon the son of Jonah a new name (John 1:40 - 42). His original name, Cephas, is a Syriac word which means the same as the Greek word for Peter. Jesus also gave James and his brother John a collective new name when he stated, with no doubt with a little humor, "James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom He gave the name Boanerges, that is, 'SONS OF THUNDER'" (Mark 3:14 - 17).

The fourth person renamed is Saul, who sometime after his conversion became the apostle Paul (Acts 13:1 - 2, 6 - 10).

What do the names of the disciples of Jesus MEAN? Andrew's name means 'a strong man', John means 'the grace or mercy of the Lord' and Peter's original name of Simon the son of Jonah means 'one that hears or obeys' and 'a dove.' The name of James means 'that supplants, undermines, the heel.' Philip's means 'warlike, a lover of horses.' Nathanael's name means 'the gift of God.'

Matthew's means 'given or a reward,' Thomas means 'a twin,' Simon the Canaanite means one 'that hears or obeys.' Judas means 'the praise of the Lord or confession.' Iscariot, the last name of the person who betrayed Jesus, means 'a man of murder; a hireling.'

Additional Study Materials
How did the Apostle John DIE?
How and where did apostle Paul DIE?
How did the mother of Jesus DIE?
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