12 disciples of Jesus

Palm Sunday in the Jerusalem Jesus riding on donkey

Who Are The 12 Disciples Of Jesus?

The duration of the Public Ministry of Jesus is a mystery: some say one year, others three. For his journey, he selected his 12 disciples very carefully. He required persons, who he could trust to proclaim his message.

The word disciple means ‘follower’ or ‘learner.’ The word apostle means, “One who is sent out.” Jesus selected 12 disciples or apostles. These chosen twelve followed Jesus and received his guidance and training. After his death and resurrection, Jesus sent out his disciples to be his witnesses and preach the word. They were the twelve apostles.

The apostles of Jesus are:


He was the brother of Peter and one among the 12 disciples of Jesus. Before Jesus called him, he was a fisherman in Capernaum and

Bethsaida. At first, he was a disciple of John the Baptist, but he brought his brother, Peter to Jesus. He is the patron saint to three nations: Greece, Scotland, and Russia. He is believed to have preached in Asia Minor and Greece. His efforts were focused on bringing more followers to Christ. Andrew met his death by crucifixion on an X-shaped cross as he did not regard himself worthy to die as the Lord on the regular cross. This X-shaped cross is his apostolic symbol and is called St. Andrew’s cross.

Bartholomew Or Nathaneal:

He lived in Cana of Galilee, and his symbol is three parallel knives. He was the only Apostle with noble or royal blood. There is very less information about him, but he is reputed to have been a great scholar and missionary. He was active in Phrygia and Armenia. He is considered as a martyr and founder of the Armenian Church. He was killed with knives.

James The Elder:

He is the brother of the Apostle, John. He was a fisherman residing in Jerusalem and Capernaum. He preached in Judea and Jerusalem and was beheaded by Herod. He was a member of the Inner Circle of Jesus. He is pictured to be strongly attached to his brother John. He was the first Apostle to die as a martyr. His symbol is three shells standing for his pilgrimage by the sea.

James The Younger Or Lesser:

Brother of Apostle Jude, he lived in Galilee. As per tradition, he authored the Epistle of James, spread the good news in Egypt and Palestine and died a martyr by crucifixion in Egypt. He is less-known among the Apostles, and some regard him as the brother of Mathew, the tax collector. After the crucifixion, he was sawed in pieces, so his symbol is the saw.


He was the son of Salome and Zebedee and brother of James, the Apostle. He is reputed to be the ‘beloved disciple’ of Jesus. He was part of the Inner Circle. He was the author of John I, John II, John III and Revelation. He spread the good news in Asia Minor. He died a natural death in the Island of Patmos. He is referred to many times in the New Testament. He was a man of action, impulsive and impatient. He and James came from a better off family than the rest of the Apostles. He worked closely with Apostle Peter. John mellowed with time. He is said to have been subject to a murder attempt by a chalice of poison but was spared by God. Hence, his symbol is a chalice with a snake inside.

Judas Iscariot:

He was the traitor, who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and later on hanged himself with remorse. He remains an enigma as it is quite a surprise that someone, who closely experienced the wonderful works of Jesus, could ever betray him. He was a Judean while the other apostles were Galilean. It is believed that he was a violent Jewish nationalist who was waiting for an earthly revolution to free the Jews from the Romans. He also used to pilfer money from the common purse of the Apostles. His symbol is a hangman’s noose or a bag with pieces of silver flowing out of it.

Jude Or Thaddeus

Brother of James the younger and less well known, he preached in Persia and Assyria and died as a martyr in Persia. He has three names: Jude, Thaddeus, and Lebbeus. He was also called as Judas, the Zealot. He wanted Jesus to be a great ruler and not a suffering saviour. Today, he is regarded as an intercessor for impossible needs. His symbol was a ship as he was regarded a fisherman.

Mathew Or Levi:

He lived in Capernaum and was a tax collector or publican one from the 12 disciples of Jesus. He authored the Gospel in his name. He met his death as a martyr in Ethiopia. The other name of Mathew was Levi. James the lesser may have been his brother. He was hated like all tax collectors were along with sinners and gentiles. He was the only Apostle, who could use a pen and authored his Gospel in the Hebrew language. He is a symbol of the grace obtained by the most despised of men.


He was a fisherman and one from the 12 disciples of Jesus, who preached as far as Babylon. He was the central figure in the Inner Circle and was the writer of the Epistles that bear his name. As per historical accounts, he died by being crucified head downward. His Greek name was Simon, meaning rock. He was the leader of the Twelve Apostles. He interacted closely with Jesus. Though he often fell from grace, he always recovered his integrity and courage. His symbol is an upside down cross which had crossed keys.


Philip is one among the 12 disciples of Jesus. As per tradition, this disciple reached as far as Phrygia and met his death as a martyr in Hierapolis. He was a native of Bethesda like Andrew and Peter. He gains prominence in the Gospel of John. He was a simple man with profound faith in Christ. His symbol is a basket standing for the basket that fed a five thousand people.

Simon The Zealot:

A lesser known apostle from Galilee, he is said to have been martyred by crucifixion. He was a member of the Zealots who were obsessed with hatred for Romans. Yet, he was a person of faith and could endure Mathew, the tax collector. His symbol is a fish placed on a Bible standing for his origin as a fisherman.

Thomas Didymus:

He was constantly beside Jesus from the raising of Lazarus to the meeting in the Upper Room. He is called as “doubting Thomas” as he refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead till he, himself saw the wounds of Jesus. He was killed with a spear in Madras, India where he preached the Gospel. His symbol is a group of arrows, spears, and stones.

These are the 12 disciples of Jesus, who lived with him and learned to proclaim the word of God. All of them were dedicated to Christ and willing to lay down their lives for his sake.