How Many Original Disciples Did Jesus Have?

Many people are curious to know about the number of original disciples that Jesus had. The Bible mentions several names of people who followed Jesus during his lifetime.

However, the exact number of his disciples is still a matter of debate among scholars and theologians. Let’s explore this topic in more detail.

What is a Disciple?

Before we dive into the number of Jesus’ original disciples, it’s important to understand what we mean by the term “disciple.” In biblical times, a disciple was someone who followed a religious leader or teacher and learned from them. The term disciple comes from the Latin word “discipulus,” which means student or learner.

The Twelve Disciples

The most well-known group of Jesus’ disciples is “the twelve.” These were twelve men whom Jesus chose to be his closest followers during his ministry on Earth. Their names are:

  • Peter
  • James (son of Zebedee)
  • John
  • Andrew
  • Philip
  • Bartholomew (also called Nathanael)
  • Matthew (also called Levi)
  • Thomas (also called Didymus)
  • James (son of Alphaeus)
  • Thaddaeus (also called Judas, son of James)
  • Simon the Zealot
  • Judas Iscariot

These twelve men were chosen by Jesus to be with him, learn from him, and carry on his teachings after he was gone. They are often referred to as apostles, which means “sent ones,” because they were sent out by Jesus to preach the gospel to others.

Other Disciples

In addition to the twelve, there were many other people who followed Jesus during his ministry. Some of these disciples are mentioned by name in the Bible, while others are not. For example, Luke 10:1 mentions that Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples and sent them out ahead of him to prepare the way.

The Debate

So how many original disciples did Jesus have? The answer depends on how you define “disciple.”

If you include only the twelve apostles, then the answer is clear: Jesus had twelve original disciples. However, if you include all those who followed him during his ministry, then the number is much higher.

Some scholars argue that the number of Jesus’ original disciples was closer to seventy or even one hundred. They base this on passages such as Luke 10:1 and Acts 1:15, which mention large groups of followers.


In conclusion, while we may never know for sure exactly how many original disciples Jesus had, we do know that he had a significant following during his lifetime. The twelve apostles were his closest followers and were chosen by him to continue his teachings after he was gone.

However, there were also many other people who learned from Jesus and followed him during his ministry. Regardless of the exact number, we can all learn from their example and strive to be faithful disciples of Jesus ourselves.