As the central figure of Christianity, Jesus Christ is believed to have handpicked his disciples, also known as apostles, to spread his message and teachings to the world. But did Jesus really choose his disciples himself or was there a different process involved Let’s explore this question further.
The Biblical Account
The Bible tells us that Jesus chose twelve men to be his closest followers and apostles. These men were: Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew (also known as Nathanael), Matthew (also known as Levi), Thomas (also known as Didymus), James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus (also known as Judas, son of James), Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot.
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all mention Jesus calling these twelve men by name. Matthew 4:18-22 says:
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Similarly in Mark 3:13-19:
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
While the biblical account makes it clear that Jesus personally chose his disciples, some scholars argue that there may have been more to the process than what is described in the Gospels. For example:
- Jesus may have known some of his disciples before he called them: Some scholars suggest that Jesus may have already had relationships with some of his disciples prior to calling them to follow him. For example, Peter and Andrew were brothers who were already familiar with Jesus before he called them (John 1:35-42).
- The disciples may have been part of a larger group: It’s possible that Jesus had a larger group of followers from which he selected his twelve closest disciples. Luke 10:1 mentions that Jesus sent out seventy-two other individuals on a mission in addition to his twelve apostles.
- The selection process may have been gradual: Some scholars suggest that Jesus’ selection of his disciples may not have happened all at once but rather over a period of time as Jesus came into contact with different individuals.
In conclusion, while there is some debate among scholars about the exact process through which Jesus selected his disciples, the biblical account is clear that he did personally choose twelve men to be his closest followers and apostles. These men went on to play a critical role in spreading Jesus’ message and teachings to the world.
As Christians, we can look to the example of these disciples who left everything behind to follow Jesus and dedicate their lives to sharing his message with others. Their commitment and sacrifice serve as an inspiration for us today.