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A few other people and I at my church have decided to do a detailed study on the 12 Apostles. This got me thinking about the order the apostles were called to follow Christ. We know Simon Peter and Andrew were called first, but the rest are harder to discern.

So, in what order were the 12 Apostles called?

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5 Answers 5

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The word “disciple” refers to a learner or follower. The word “apostle” means “one who is sent out.” While Jesus was on earth, his twelve followers were called disciples. After his resurrection and ascension, Jesus sent the disciples out to be His witnesses (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). They were then referred to as the twelve apostles. However, even when Jesus was still on earth, the terms “disciples” and “apostles” were used somewhat interchangeably.

The original twelve disciples/apostles are listed in Matthew 10:2–4: “These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.”

The Bible also lists the twelve disciples/apostles in Mark 3:16–19: “He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”

Here is the list of the original twelve in Luke 6:13–16: “And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”

A comparison of the three passages shows a couple of minor differences in the names. It seems that Thaddaeus was also known as “Judas, son of James” (Luke 6:16). Simon the Zealot was also known as Simon the Canaanite (Mark 3:18). The Gospel of John uses the name “Nathanael” instead of “Bartholomew,” but Nathanael and Bartholomew were undoubtedly the same person. Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, was replaced in the twelve apostles by Matthias (see Acts 1:20–26).

Luke 6:12-13 shows the 12 were all called by Jesus on the same day. Jesus spent the night in prayer prior to selecting his 12 apostles from his disciples.

Edit: John 1:35-50 sheds some light on the order in which Jesus first met his disciples. Andrew (son of John) first met Jesus then called his brother Simon (Peter) and said "we have found the Messiah." Then Philip (also a fisherman from Bethsaida) meets Jesus and tells Nathaniel (or Bartholomew).

Matthew, Mark and Luke mention James and John (sons of Zebedee) and Mark and Luke mention Levi, son of Alphaeus, the tax collector (Matthew)

That leaves Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus (or Judas the son of James) and Simon the Zealot (Simon the Canaanite) unaccounted for. Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, is mentioned in John 6:71.

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  • John's gospel sheds some light on the order in which Jesus first met his disciples. Andrew (son of John) first met Jesus then called his brother Simon (Peter) and said "we have found the Messiah." Then Philip (also a fisherman from Bethsaida) meets Jesus and tells Nathaniel (or Bartholomew).
    – Lesley
    Mar 2, 2018 at 15:54
  • Matthew, Mark and Luke mention James and his brother John, and Mark and Luke mention Levi (the tax collector). John 6:60-71 says how many of Jesus' disciples left, but not Simon Peter or Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. That accounts for 8 out of 12
    – Lesley
    Mar 2, 2018 at 15:58
  • Also, the list is not a list of the order in which they were called, since Peter is always listed first and Judas last, but the names in between vary. Protos, found in Matthew's list, can also mean chief, i.e. first in rank. Especially when considering that only Matthew records the inaugeration of Christ to Peter to the position of 'prime minister' of His kingdom in Matthew 16 (cf. Isaiah 22:21-23). May 26, 2018 at 12:05
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Forgive me but there seems to be a flaw in your study due to the fact that you did not take into account the customs of that time. When we come to the study of the Bible, we must employ several hermeneutical principles (rules of interpretation) that help in rightly dividing God's Word. One of the common hermeneutical principles is that a text must be considered literally unless it poses a contradiction. It is then to be seen as figurative. If we were to look at Matthew 10:2, Mark 6:30, Luke 6:13, 9:10, 11:49, 17:5, 22:14, 24:10, Acts 1:2, we would see that they are using a common figure of speech called prolepsis.

Dictionary.com defines "prolepsis" as: "the assigning of a person, event, etc., to a period earlier than the actual one; the representation of something in the future as if it already existed or had occurred."

Let me demonstrate what that figure of speech means in an example. If I were in a conversation with you about how I met my wife, I might say to you, "I met my wife during college." Chronologically speaking, I went to college from August 2004 to May 2010. I did not marry my wife until after I had graduated from college in July 2010. Am I caught in a chronological contradiction? No. I am assigning my spouse to a period earlier (in college from 2004 to 2010) than the actual one (when I was actually married her in July 2010). The Bible writers employ this figure of speech frequently throughout Scripture such as Genesis 3:24 and 1 Peter 3:18-21.

The gospel writers were assigning these disciples the title of apostles in their gospel accounts during the personal ministry of Jesus because they were looking at it from a futuristic standpoint, pointing to the future work these men were to perform in spreading the gospel to all the world.

Paul indicates in his letter to the Ephesians that the gift of apostleship was not given until after the ascension of Jesus (Ephesians 4:7-16).

The gospel writers were assigning these disciples the title of apostles in their gospel accounts during the personal ministry of Jesus because they were looking at it from a futuristic standpoint, pointing to the future work these men were to perform in spreading the gospel to all the world.

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    – agarza
    Nov 14, 2023 at 14:33
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Here is the order.

Two of John's disciples heard John call Jesus the lamb of God. They followed Jesus. One was named Andrew.

Andrew got his brother Simon Peter.

Next was Philip.

Philip finds Nathaniel who also follows Jesus.

Jesus actually calls Andrew and Simon who follow Jesus (Mt. 4:18-19)

Jesus also calls James and John sons of Zebedee (Mt 4:21-22).

Jesus calls Matthew (Levi son of Alphaeus) (Mt 9:9).

By Mt 10:2-3, all are called and named, although not in the order chosen.

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;

Luke 6:13-16 tells us that Jesus calls apostles from His disciples.

Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.

But the order of calling is found elsewhere at least for the first half.

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In what order were the 12 Apostles called?

The Apostles of the Lord were called in the following order:

  • Peter
  • Andrew (Brother of Simon Peter)
  • James
  • John
  • Philip
  • Bartholomew
  • Matthew
  • Thomas
  • James (Son of Alphaeus)
  • Thaddeus or Judas (The Greater)
  • Simon
  • Judas Iscariot

The calling of the disciples is a key episode in the life of Jesus in the New Testament. It appears in Matthew 4:18–22, Mark 1:16-20 and Luke 5:1–11 on the Sea of Galilee. John 1:35–51 reports the first encounter with two of the disciples a little earlier in the presence of John the Baptist. Particularly in the Gospel of Mark, the beginning of the Ministry of Jesus and the call of the first disciples are inseparable.

Gospel of John

In the Gospel of John the first disciples are also disciples of John the Baptist and one of them is identified as Andrew, the brother of Apostle Peter:

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!" When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus… Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah".

Peter is called the Protokletos or "first-called".

The gathering of the disciples in John 1:35–51 follows the many patterns of discipleship that continue in the New Testament, in that those who have received someone else's witness become witnesses to Jesus themselves. Andrew follows Jesus because of the testimony of John the Baptist, Philip brings Nathanael and the pattern continues in John 4:4–41 where the Samaritan woman at the well testifies to the town people about Jesus.

Gospels of Matthew and Mark

The Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Mark report the call of the first disciples by the Sea of Galilee:

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him.

Gospel of Luke

The Gospel of Luke reports the call by the Sea of Galilee too, but along with the first miraculous draught of fishes. In all Gospel accounts, this episode takes place after the Baptism of Jesus.

The following may be of interest to some:

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In regards to Apostle Brian, the disciples were the original 12 (plus Matthias after Judas Iscariot) that Jesus called to Him. We are apostles as we have been discipled by someone other than Jesus. I completely understand your point, but Aramaic is at play

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