How Did Jesus Pick His 12 Disciples?

The selection of the 12 disciples by Jesus is one of the most significant events in Christian history. Jesus chose these men to be his closest companions, to learn from him, and to continue his work after he was gone.

But how did Jesus select these individuals? Let’s take a closer look.


Before we delve into Jesus’ selection process, it’s important to understand the context in which he chose his disciples. At the time, Israel was under Roman occupation, and many Jews were looking for a Messiah who would deliver them from their oppressors. Jesus had gained a reputation as a teacher and miracle-worker, and many people believed that he might be the one they had been waiting for.

The Selection Process

So how did Jesus go about choosing his disciples? The Bible provides some clues, but there is no definitive answer. Here are some possible factors that may have influenced Jesus’ decision:

1. Personal Relationships

Some of the disciples were already acquainted with Jesus before he called them to follow him. For example, Simon Peter and his brother Andrew were fishermen who had met Jesus earlier (Matthew 4:18-20).

James and John, sons of Zebedee, were also fishermen who had a business partnership with Peter (Luke 5:10). It’s possible that these pre-existing relationships played a role in Jesus’ decision-making.

2. Faith and Character

Jesus may have chosen individuals based on their faith and character. For example, Nathanael (also known as Bartholomew) was described by Jesus as “an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit” (John 1:47). Similarly, Matthew (also known as Levi) was a tax collector who left everything to follow Jesus (Luke 5:27-28), indicating a willingness to put his faith in Jesus above his own financial interests.

3. Diversity

Jesus’ disciples came from a variety of backgrounds and professions, including fishermen, tax collectors, and zealots (a political group opposed to Roman rule). This diversity may have been intentional, as it allowed Jesus to reach a wider range of people with his message.

The Twelve Disciples

So who were the 12 disciples chosen by Jesus? Here is a list of their names:

  • Peter
  • Andrew
  • James (son of Zebedee)
  • John (brother of James)
  • Philip
  • Bartholomew (also known as Nathanael)
  • Matthew (also known as Levi)
  • Thomas (also known as Didymus)
  • James (son of Alphaeus)
  • Jude (also known as Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus)
  • Simon the Zealot
  • Judas Iscariot

It’s worth noting that Judas Iscariot would later betray Jesus, leading to his arrest and crucifixion.

The Significance of the Twelve Disciples

The selection of the 12 disciples by Jesus was not just a practical decision; it had symbolic significance as well. In the Old Testament, Israel was comprised of 12 tribes descended from the 12 sons of Jacob. By selecting 12 disciples, Jesus may have been signaling that he was establishing a new Israel, one that would be defined not by ethnicity or ancestry but by faith in him.

Furthermore, the fact that Jesus chose imperfect individuals like Peter (who denied him three times) and Matthew (who had been a tax collector) demonstrates that Jesus came not for the righteous but for sinners (Mark 2:17). This message of forgiveness and redemption would become a central theme of Jesus’ teachings.


In conclusion, the selection of the 12 disciples by Jesus was a significant event in Christian history. While we may never know exactly how Jesus chose these individuals, it’s clear that their diverse backgrounds and personal qualities played a role in his decision-making. The fact that Jesus chose imperfect individuals to be his closest companions is a testament to his message of love and forgiveness, which continues to inspire millions around the world today.