How Did Jesus Select the 12 Disciples?

When Jesus walked the earth, he had a core group of followers known as the 12 disciples. These men were handpicked by Jesus himself to spread his message and carry on his teachings after he was gone.

But how did Jesus select these 12 men? Let’s take a closer look.


Before we dive into the selection process, it’s important to understand the context in which it took place. Jesus had been traveling throughout Israel, preaching and performing miracles.

As his popularity grew, so did the number of people following him. However, not everyone who followed Jesus was considered a disciple. The term “disciple” referred specifically to those who were chosen by Jesus to be his closest companions and carry out his mission.

The Selection Process

According to the Gospel accounts, Jesus spent an entire night in prayer before selecting his disciples. This shows that he took the decision very seriously and sought guidance from God before making a final decision.

After praying, Jesus called together all of his followers and began to choose the 12 who would become his inner circle. It’s worth noting that these men were not chosen based on their social status or education level – in fact, many of them were simple fishermen or tradesmen.

Criteria for Selection

So what criteria did Jesus use when choosing his disciples? We can glean some insights from the Bible:

  • Faithfulness: Throughout the Gospels, we see that Jesus valued faithfulness above all else. He wanted disciples who would remain loyal to him even in the face of persecution and hardship.
  • Teachability: The disciples needed to be willing to learn from Jesus and grow in their understanding of God’s kingdom.
  • Spiritual maturity: While the disciples were not expected to be perfect, they needed to have a certain level of spiritual maturity in order to effectively carry out Jesus’ mission.
  • Commitment: Following Jesus was not an easy path, and the disciples needed to be fully committed to his cause.

The Final Twelve

After careful consideration and prayer, Jesus selected the following 12 men as his disciples:

  • Peter: Often considered the leader of the group, Peter was a fisherman from Galilee.
  • Andrew: Peter’s brother and also a fisherman.
  • James: The son of Zebedee, James was also a fisherman and one of Jesus’ closest companions.
  • John: James’ brother and another close friend of Jesus. John would later go on to write several books of the New Testament.
  • Philip: A native of Bethsaida who became one of Jesus’ earliest followers.
  • Nathanael (also known as Bartholomew): A friend of Philip’s who was skeptical at first but became a faithful disciple.
  • Matthew (also known as Levi): A tax collector who left his job to follow Jesus.
  • Thomas: Often remembered for his doubt, Thomas nevertheless remained committed to following Jesus even when he had questions.
  • Judas (not Iscariot): Little is known about this disciple other than his name. He is sometimes referred to as Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus in other parts of the Bible.
  • James (son of Alphaeus): Another disciple about whom little is known.
  • Simon (the Zealot): A member of a political group known as the Zealots, which opposed Roman rule.
  • Judas Iscariot: The most infamous of the disciples, Judas would later betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.


In selecting the 12 disciples, Jesus chose a diverse group of men who came from different backgrounds and had different personalities and skills. But they all shared a common commitment to following Jesus and spreading his message to the world. Today, we can learn from their example and strive to be faithful, teachable, spiritually mature, and committed in our own walk with God.