One of the ongoing debates among biblical scholars is whether Jesus called his disciples before or after his baptism by John the Baptist.
Those who argue for the former believe that Jesus chose his disciples before his baptism, while those who argue for the latter believe that he called them after.
Arguments for Before
Supporters of the idea that Jesus called his disciples before his baptism point to several passages in the New Testament. For example, in Matthew 4:18-22, we read that Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee when he saw Simon Peter and Andrew casting a net into the water. He called out to them, saying, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
They immediately left their nets and followed him. He then saw James and John, who were also fishermen, with their father Zebedee. He called them as well, and they left their boat and their father to follow him.
Another passage cited by those who argue for this view is John 1:35-42. Here we read that John the Baptist was standing with two of his disciples when he saw Jesus walking by. He said to them, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”
The two disciples followed Jesus and spent the day with him. One of them, Andrew, then went to find his brother Simon Peter and told him, “We have found the Messiah.” When Simon Peter met Jesus, he was given a new name: Cephas (which means “Peter”).
Arguments for After
Those who believe that Jesus called his disciples after his baptism also have several passages to support their position. For example, in Mark 1:16-20, we read that Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee when he saw Simon and Andrew. He said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. He then saw James and John, who were also fishermen. They left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Jesus.
Another passage cited by those who support this view is Luke 5:1-11. Here we read that Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret when he saw two boats belonging to Simon Peter and some other fishermen. They had been fishing all night but had caught nothing. Jesus got into one of the boats and asked Simon Peter to push it out into deep water.
He then told him to let down his nets for a catch. When they did so, they caught so many fish that their nets began to break. Simon Peter fell at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” But Jesus replied, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” They then left everything and followed him.
In conclusion, while there is no definitive answer to the question of whether Jesus called his disciples before or after his baptism, it is clear that both viewpoints have some biblical support. Ultimately, what matters most is not exactly when he called them but rather the fact that they responded to his call and became his followers.