How Many Disciples Did Jesus Originally Have?

There is much speculation surrounding the number of original disciples that Jesus had during his time on Earth. While there is no definitive answer, there are several clues in the Bible that give us some insight into the matter.

The Twelve Disciples

The most well-known group of disciples that Jesus had were the twelve apostles. These were men who were handpicked by Jesus himself to be his closest companions and to carry on his teachings after he was gone. The names of the twelve apostles are:

  • Peter
  • Andrew
  • James
  • John
  • Philip
  • Bartholomew
  • Thomas
  • Matthew
  • James son of Alphaeus
  • Thaddaeus (also called Judas, not Iscariot)
  • Simon the Zealot
  • Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed Jesus)

The Seventy-Two Disciples?

In addition to the twelve apostles, there is a passage in the Gospel of Luke that mentions another group of disciples. In Luke chapter 10, it says that Jesus appointed seventy-two others and sent them out two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.

Some scholars believe that this group of seventy-two were additional disciples who followed Jesus, while others suggest that they may have been a separate group altogether, perhaps even a precursor to modern-day missionaries.

Other Disciples Mentioned in the Bible

Aside from the twelve apostles and possibly the seventy-two mentioned in Luke, there are several other individuals in the Bible who are referred to as disciples of Jesus. For example, Mary Magdalene is often considered a disciple of Jesus, as is the apostle Paul (formerly known as Saul).

It’s also worth noting that during his time on Earth, Jesus had many followers who were not necessarily considered disciples. These were people who were interested in his teachings and may have attended his sermons or witnessed his miracles, but they were not part of the inner circle of disciples.


While there is no way to know for sure exactly how many disciples Jesus originally had, it’s clear that he had a significant following during his time on Earth. Whether it was the twelve apostles or a larger group of seventy-two or more, these individuals played an important role in spreading Jesus’ message and carrying on his legacy after he was gone.

So next time someone asks you how many disciples Jesus had, you can impress them with your knowledge!