Did Jesus Ordain His Disciples?

Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, is believed to have ordained his disciples to carry out his mission of spreading the gospel and establishing the Church. But what does it mean to ordain someone

Is there any evidence that Jesus actually ordained his disciples Let’s explore these questions in more detail.

What Does It Mean to Ordain Someone

The word “ordain” comes from the Latin word “ordinare,” which means “to order, arrange, or appoint.” In a religious context, ordination refers to the process by which a person is appointed or authorized by a religious organization to perform certain duties or functions within that organization.

In Christianity, ordination typically involves the laying on of hands by a bishop or other clergy member who has been authorized to perform this sacrament. The person being ordained may be given specific responsibilities within the church, such as preaching, administering sacraments like baptism and communion, or providing pastoral care.

Did Jesus Ordain His Disciples

While there is no explicit biblical account of Jesus ordaining his disciples in the way that we understand it today, there are several passages that suggest he may have conferred authority upon them in some form.

  • In Matthew 10:1-4 and Mark 3:13-19, Jesus gathers his twelve disciples and gives them power over unclean spirits and diseases. He also sends them out to preach the message of repentance and prepare the way for him.
  • In Luke 10:1-20, Jesus sends out seventy-two of his followers on a similar mission. He instructs them to heal the sick and proclaim that “the kingdom of God has come near. “
  • In John 20:21-23, after his resurrection, Jesus appears to his disciples and tells them, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

    He then breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. “

These passages suggest that Jesus gave his disciples some measure of authority or power to carry out his mission. However, it’s important to note that this authority did not necessarily involve formal ordination in the way that we understand it today.

What About the Apostles

The term “apostle” is often used interchangeably with “disciple,” but it typically refers specifically to the twelve men whom Jesus chose as his closest followers. These apostles played a special role in establishing the early Church and spreading the gospel throughout the world.

There is some evidence to suggest that these apostles may have been formally ordained by Jesus or by other early Christian leaders. For example:

  • In Acts 1:15-26, after Judas Iscariot’s betrayal and death, the remaining eleven apostles choose Matthias to take his place. They pray over him and lay hands on him in a manner reminiscent of ordination.
  • In Acts 13:1-3, we read that certain prophets and teachers at the church in Antioch were fasting and praying when the Holy Spirit told them to set apart Barnabas and Saul (later known as Paul) for a special mission. They laid hands on these two men and sent them off.

These examples suggest that some form of ordination or commissioning was taking place within early Christian communities. However, it’s important to remember that this was a fluid and evolving process, and the precise nature of these rituals may have varied from place to place.


While there is no clear evidence that Jesus formally ordained his disciples in the way that we understand it today, there are several passages that suggest he conferred some measure of authority upon them. The formal rites of ordination as we know them today developed over time within the Christian tradition, as communities sought to establish order and structure within their churches.

Ultimately, what matters most is not whether or not Jesus ordained his disciples, but the message that he entrusted to them and the mission that they carried out. As Christians today, we continue to proclaim that same message of love, forgiveness, and redemption, seeking to follow in the footsteps of those first disciples who were empowered by Christ to change the world.