Who Were the Disciples Before Jesus Called Them?

Have you ever wondered who the disciples were before Jesus called them? They are often depicted as humble fishermen and tax collectors, but there is more to their stories than meets the eye. In this article, we will take a closer look at who these men were and what led them to follow Jesus.

The Twelve Disciples

Before we dive into each disciple’s background, let’s first list the twelve men that Jesus chose to be his closest followers:

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

Peter, Andrew, James, and John: The Fishermen

Peter and his brother Andrew were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. They were partners with James and John, who were also fishermen. When Jesus called them to follow him, they immediately left their nets and boats behind.


Peter was originally named Simon and lived in Bethsaida. He was married and had a brother named Andrew.

Peter is often portrayed as impulsive and outspoken in the Gospels. He was also one of Jesus’ closest friends.


Andrew was Peter’s brother and also a fisherman from Bethsaida. He is known for bringing his brother to meet Jesus and for being a bridge between the Greek and Jewish communities.

James and John:

James and John were brothers, sons of Zebedee. They were fishermen from Capernaum.

They were also known as the “Sons of Thunder” due to their fiery personalities. James was the first apostle to be martyred for his faith.

Matthew: The Tax Collector

Matthew (also known as Levi) was a tax collector. He was despised by the Jews because he worked for the Roman government, collecting taxes from his own people. When Jesus called Matthew to follow him, he left behind his lucrative career to become a disciple.

Philip: The Skeptic

Philip was from Bethsaida and is often portrayed as quiet and introspective in the Gospels. He is known for questioning Jesus’ ability to feed the five thousand with just five loaves of bread and two fish.

Bartholomew: The Mysterious One

Bartholomew (also known as Nathanael) is one of the lesser-known disciples. He is often paired with Philip in the Gospels. Some scholars believe that Bartholomew may have been from Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle.

Thomas: The Doubter

Thomas (also known as Didymus) is best known for doubting Jesus’ resurrection until he saw him with his own eyes. He is often portrayed as skeptical and cautious in the Gospels.

James (son of Alphaeus), Jude, Simon: The Lesser-Known Disciples

These three disciples are not mentioned as much in the Gospels compared to the others. James (son of Alphaeus) is sometimes called “James the Less” to distinguish him from James (son of Zebedee).

Jude (also known as Thaddaeus) is often paired with Simon the Zealot in the Gospels. Simon was a member of the Zealots, a political group that opposed Roman rule.

Judas Iscariot: The Betrayer

Judas Iscariot is infamous for betraying Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. He was one of Jesus’ closest friends and was in charge of the disciples’ money.

In Conclusion

The twelve disciples were a diverse group of men from different backgrounds and walks of life. They were not perfect, but they were chosen by Jesus to be his closest followers and to spread his message to the world. By understanding who they were before Jesus called them, we can gain a deeper appreciation for their faith and commitment to their Lord.