How Many Disciples or Closest Followers Did Jesus Have?

Many people are curious about the number of disciples or closest followers Jesus had during his time on Earth. While there is some variation in the numbers reported in different sources, most agree that Jesus had twelve main disciples, also known as apostles.

The Twelve Apostles

The twelve apostles were Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John (brothers), Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew (also known as Levi), Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus (also known as Judas, son of James), Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot.

These apostles were chosen by Jesus himself to be his closest companions and to spread his message after his death and resurrection. They traveled with him during his ministry, witnessed his miracles and teachings, and were present at the Last Supper.

The Number of Disciples

While there is some debate about the exact number of disciples Jesus had beyond the twelve apostles, it is clear that there were many others who followed him and believed in his message. In fact, in Luke 10:1 we read that Jesus appointed seventy-two others to go out and preach in pairs.

There were also women who followed Jesus and supported him financially. Mary Magdalene is one such example; she was present at the crucifixion and was one of the first witnesses to the resurrection.

Significance of Twelve

The number twelve has significant meaning in Judeo-Christian tradition. It represents completeness or perfection; there were twelve tribes of Israel in the Old Testament and twelve gates to the New Jerusalem described in Revelation.

Therefore, it is significant that Jesus chose twelve apostles as his closest followers. It symbolizes a new covenant with God through Christ and reflects the completion or perfection of God’s plan for salvation.


In summary, while there were many who followed Jesus during his time on Earth, he had twelve main disciples who were chosen to be his closest companions and spread his message after his death and resurrection. The number twelve holds great significance in Judeo-Christian tradition and reflects the completeness of God’s plan for salvation through Christ.