What Was the Nationality of Jesus Disciples?

The nationality of Jesus’ disciples has been a topic of debate and speculation for centuries. While the Bible does not explicitly state their nationalities, biblical scholars have been able to piece together some information based on historical context and other clues found within the scriptures.

Who Were Jesus’ Disciples?

Jesus had twelve disciples that he chose to follow him during his ministry on earth. These twelve men were:

  • Peter
  • Andrew
  • James
  • John
  • 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

The Nationality of Jesus’ Disciples:

While we cannot say for certain the nationalities of each disciple, we do have some information that can help us make educated guesses.

Peter, Andrew, James, and John:

Peter, Andrew, James, and John were all fishermen from the Sea of Galilee. Galilee was a Jewish region in ancient times, so it is safe to assume that these four disciples were Jewish.

Philip and Bartholomew:

Philip was from Bethsaida, which was also in the region of Galilee. Bartholomew’s name is believed to be a patronymic last name indicating he may have been the son of Tolmai or Ptolemy.

Some scholars believe that Bartholomew may have been from Cana in Galilee or even Ethiopia. However, there is no concrete evidence to support either theory.


Matthew was a tax collector before becoming a disciple. Tax collectors were often despised in Jewish society as they were seen as working for the Roman oppressors. It is possible that Matthew was Jewish, but some scholars believe he may have been a Roman citizen due to his position as a tax collector.


Thomas’ name means “twin” in Aramaic. There is no information about his nationality, but some scholars believe he may have been of Syrian descent due to the proximity of Syria to Galilee.

James (son of Alphaeus), Jude, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot:

There is little information about these four disciples’ nationalities. Some scholars believe that James (son of Alphaeus) and Jude may have been brothers and possibly related to Jesus’ mother Mary.

Simon the Zealot was likely part of a political movement that sought to overthrow Roman rule in Israel. Judas Iscariot infamously betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.


While we cannot definitively state the nationalities of each disciple, we can make educated guesses based on historical context and other clues found within the scriptures. Despite their different backgrounds and origins, these twelve men came together to follow Jesus and spread his message throughout the world.