How Did Jesus Choose the Disciples?

When Jesus began his ministry, one of the first things he did was choose his disciples. These were the men who would become his closest followers and carry on his message after he was gone.

But how did Jesus choose these men? Let’s take a closer look.

Background

Before we dive into how Jesus chose his disciples, it’s important to understand the context in which he did so. At the time, Israel was under Roman occupation and many Jews were hoping for a Messiah who would deliver them from their oppressors. Jesus was seen by some as a potential candidate for this role.

The Twelve Disciples

Jesus ultimately chose twelve men to be his disciples. They were:

  • Peter
  • James (son of Zebedee)
  • John (brother of James)
  • Andrew (Peter’s brother)
  • Philip
  • Bartholomew
  • Matthew (also known as Levi)
  • Thomas
  • James (son of Alphaeus)
  • Thaddaeus (also known as Judas, son of James)
  • Simon (the Zealot)
  • Judas Iscariot (who would later betray Jesus)

The Process

So how did Jesus choose these twelve men? The Bible doesn’t give us a detailed account of the process, but we can glean some insights from the text.

    The Call

    In most cases, Jesus simply called the men to follow him. For example, when he met Peter and Andrew, he said to them, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Similarly, when he met James and John, he called out to them as they were fishing with their father and they immediately left their nets to follow him. (Matthew 4:21-22)

    Personal Relationships

    In some cases, it seems that Jesus had prior relationships with his disciples before calling them.

    For example, Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist before he met Jesus (John 1:35-40). Philip was from the same town as Peter and Andrew and may have known them before meeting Jesus (John 1:44). And Matthew was a tax collector who likely had some interaction with Jesus before being called to follow him.

    Prayer

    Before choosing his disciples, Jesus spent the night in prayer (Luke 6:12-16). It’s possible that this was a time of discernment for him as he sought guidance from God in selecting the right men to join him in his ministry.

The Qualifications

What qualifications did Jesus look for in his disciples? Again, the Bible doesn’t give us a clear list, but we can make some observations. For example:

    Commitment

    Jesus expected his disciples to be fully committed to him. When one man asked if he could first go bury his father before following Jesus, Jesus replied, “Let the dead bury their own dead. But you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:60) In other words, following Jesus required a complete devotion.

    Teachability

    Jesus chose men who were willing to learn from him. Even though some of his disciples were fishermen or tax collectors with no formal religious training, they were open to his teaching and guidance.

    Character

    While the disciples weren’t perfect, Jesus likely looked for men with a certain level of character and integrity. For example, when he called Matthew the tax collector, he was criticized by others for associating with “sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13) But Jesus saw something in Matthew that made him worthy of being a disciple.

Conclusion

In choosing his disciples, Jesus demonstrated a combination of divine discernment and human relationships. He looked for men who were committed, teachable, and had good character. And ultimately, these twelve men became the foundation for the Christian faith, spreading Jesus’ message throughout the world.