Disciples (of Jesus)
<<the original 12>>
These men were chosen by Jesus to be with Him: Peter and his brother Andrew, James and his brother John, Philip, Bartholomew (Nathanael), Matthew (Levi), Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon and Judas (Mt 10:1-4; Jn 6:70,71). Judas too, was chosen with God’s foreknowledge that he would betray Jesus, but his betrayal, rather than stop God’s plan for salvation, actually advanced it. With the exception of Judas they later became the apostles, the sent out ones.
Peter, James and John were the core group who were sometimes singled out by Jesus (Mt 17:1; Mk 5:37, 14:33). At the time of Jesus’ arrest it seemed, from an earthly point of view, the training He had invested into these men over 3½ years was an enormous failure – they had forgotten or ignored everything Jesus had taught them about ‘taking up their cross’ and following Him (Mt 16:24). In their sense of failure some returned for a time to their old vacation – and even this was a disaster (Jn 21:3). However, when encouraged by the Lord and empowered by the Holy Spirit, they valiantly embraced their calling and their legacy lives on today, with the church bearing witness to their impact – being recognised as “men who had been with Jesus” and were transformed into world-changers (Act 2:14-47, 4:13, 17:6).
In the Bible very little is attributed to them as individuals, as they were only the instruments or channels used, with the focus being on the message they conveyed.