In Christianity, the disciples were the students of Jesus during his ministry, which sometimes means only the Twelve Apostles, but the gospels speaks of different numbers of disciples. In the Book of Acts, the Apostles themselves have disciples. The word disciple is used today as a way of self-identification for those who seek to learn from Christianity.
The term disciple comes from the Ancient Greek language word "μαθἡτἡς"., coming to English by way of the Latin discipulus. Disciple should not be confused with apostle, meaning ""messenger, he that is sent"". While a disciple is one who learns from a teacher, a student, an apostle is sent to deliver those teachings to others.
Disciples of Jesus of Nazareth[change | change source]
The four[change | change source]
Both the gospels of Mark (1:16–20) and Matthew (4:18–22) include passages where Jesus initially calls four fishermen from among those at the Sea of Galilee. These are Simon (later called "Rock" or Peter) and his brother Andrew, and the brothers James and John (later called the "Sons of Thunder" or Boanerges). A very similar report in the Gospel of Luke 5:1–11 does not speak of Andrew. John 1:35–51 also includes an initial calling of disciples, but these are: an unnamed disciple, Andrew, Simon, Philip and Nathanael.
Since the Gospel of Luke does not include Andrew, and through various passages in the four gospels where Simon Peter, James and John are called to meet with Jesus separately from the twelve, they are commonly termed "the three." The usage of "the four" over "the three" is still a point which some Christians debate, but never as an essential doctrinal point.
The twelve[change | change source]
Most of the attention in the gospels is given to a specific group of disciples called by Jesus on the top of a mountain and commissioned by him as the Twelve Apostles. These men are:
- Simon, called Peter
- Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter
- James (called the son of Zebedee by Mark and Matthew)
- John (Mark and Matthew identify him as the brother of James, son of Zebedee)
- Bartholomew, named Nathanael in John
- Matthew (whom the Matthew evangelist identifies as a publican), named Levi in Luke and Mark
- James, the son of Alphaeus
- Simon, called a zealot in Mark, Matthew, and Luke
- Judas Iscariot
- Jude Thaddaeus, called Thaddaeus by Mark, Lebbaeus Thaddaeus by Matthew, and Judas, brother of James by Luke
- Paul became an apostle after Jesus' death and resurrection.
The Gospel of John refers to one disciple as the one whom Jesus loved. Since the apostle John, unlike the other twelve, is never named in that gospel, the "beloved disciple" is assumed to be him.
Great crowd and the seventy[change | change source]
The number of or persons among Jesus' disciples is not always given in the gospel accounts. A much larger group of people is identified as disciples in the opening of the passage of the Sermon on the Plain that begins in Luke 6:17.
Additionally, seventy (or seventy-two, depending on the source used) people are sent out in pairs to prepare the way for Jesus (Luke 10). They are sometimes referred to as "the Seventy" or "the Seventy Disciples". They are to eat any food offered, heal the sick and spread the word; that God's reign is coming, that whoever hears them hears Jesus, whoever rejects them rejects Jesus and whoever rejects Jesus rejects the One who sent him. In addition they are granted great powers over the enemy and their names are written in heaven.
Road to Emmaus[change | change source]
Cleopas is one of the two disciples to whom the risen Lord appeared at Emmaus (Luke 24:18). Cleopas, with an unnamed disciple of Jesus' are walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the day of Jesus' resurrection. Cleopas and his friend were discussing the events of the past few days when a stranger asked them what they spoke of. The stranger asked to join Cleopas and his friend for the evening meal. There the stranger revealed himself, after blessing and breaking the bread, as the resurrected Jesus and then disappeared. Cleopas and his friend hastened to Jerusalem to carry the news to the other disciples, where Jesus subsequently appeared to them as well. The incident is without parallel in Matthew, Mark, or John.
Women[change | change source]
In Luke (10:38–42), Mary, sister of Lazarus is contrasted with her sister Martha, who was "cumbered about many things" while Jesus was their guest, while Mary had chosen "the better part," that of listening to the master's discourse. John names her as the "one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair" (11:2). In Luke, an unidentified "sinner" in the house of a Pharisee anoints Jesus' feet. Any pre-existing relationship between Jesus and Lazarus himself, prior to the miracle, is unspecified by John. In Catholic folklore, Mary, the sister of Lazarus, is seen as the same as Mary Madgalene.
Luke refers to a number of people accompanying Jesus and the twelve. From among them he names three women: "Mary, called Magdalene, ... and Joanna the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources" (Luke 8:2-3). Mary Magdalene and Joanna are among the women who went to prepare Jesus' body in Luke's account of the resurrection, and who later told the apostles and other disciples about the empty tomb and words of the "two men in dazzling clothes". Mary Magdalene is the most well-known of the disciples outside of the Twelve. More is written in the gospels about her than the other female followers. There is also a large body of lore and literature covering her.
Other gospel writers differ as to which women witness the crucifixion and witness to the resurrection. Mark includes Mary, the mother of James and Salome (not to be confused with Salomé the daughter of Herodias) at the crucifixion and Salome at the tomb. John includes Mary the wife of Clopas at the crucifixion.
Related pages[change | change source]
- Great Commission, which includes the clause "and make disciples of all nations"
- Pillars of the Church