As was brought up in another question; in so using Matthew 10:1-4, which lists the names of the 12. A response from a contributor stated the unavailability of proof in the Scripture to show that any or all(my own addition to shorten) were truely Jewish or Israelites. The belief I have found, which comes from Jesus's mouth in Matthew 28:19, "make disciples of all nations", leads me to my point. The missing facts that could tell us if the 12 disciples were Jews is irrelevant. It does not matter, that is why it is not found in the Scriptures. We do not need to know, and Jesus already said that He wanted disciples of all nations. Had the information been available stating all to be Jews, then we may find ourselves arguing, as I know I do about things anyway, except this time with Jesus's command, on whether or not a disciple should or should not be either Jewish or of Israelite lineage, or of all nations.

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    please provide a link to the other question so that readers know what you are referring to. Nov 17 '19 at 21:10

Tradition holds that all 12 were Jewish, but the Bible affirms the Jewish heritage of many of them. Their names are:

Thomas, Simon the Zealot, Philip, Simon Peter, Matthias, Matthew (aka Levi), Jude, Judas Iscariot, John, James (Son of Alpheus), James (Son of Zebedee), Bartholomew (aka Nathaniel), and Andrew.

  1. Nathaniel. Jesus labeled Nathaniel (also called Bartholomew) as Jewish. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” (John 1:47)
  2. Simon the Zealot. The Zealots were a fanatical Jewish sect, so his title confirms that he was Jewish.
  3. Matthew. Since Matthew was also called Levi, one of the tribes of Israel, this is evidence that he was Jewish.
  4. Jude and James, son of Alphaeus. The name Jude comes from Judah, the same tribe that King David came from. James was Jude's brother.
  5. Judas Iscariot. Judas also comes from Judah.
  6. Philip, Andrew, Peter. John 1:44 says, "Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida." Bethsaida was on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. In those days, its residents would have mostly been Jewish. Also, when Peter went to the Temple in Jerusalem, the authorities never punished him for desecrating the Temple for being a non-Jew, but for other reasons.
  7. John and James. They were brothers: Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. (Matthew 4:21) Since John had the same name as Jesus' cousin, John the Baptist, we know that it was a common Jewish name. Also, In Mark 1, they accompany Jesus into a synagogue. They would not likely have been welcome there if they were not Jewish.

  8. As a group. In Acts 1:6, the disciples asked this:

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

That proves that they still had a Jewish mindset, and were focused on their nation, the nation of Israel, not the world. Jesus responds with this:

7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”


If any of them were not, it wouldn't have been a controversy/new knowledge that God granted salvation unto the gentiles as well. (Acts 11:18)

  • You've got a point here, but I'd say that the bigger news was that Gentiles could be saved without converting to Judaism. So it's not out of the question that one of Jesus's disciples was a convert first.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 2 '20 at 23:23

Jew and Israelite are not the same thing. Jews are one of 12 tribes of the Israelites. The comment above is meant to purposefully convolute the topic.

Judas is Judah in Greek Koine, fyi.

  • The meaning of names changes, and by the time of the New Testament, the word "Jew" had come to refer to all the tribes of Israel (likely because it was mostly those from the Kingdom of Judah who returned from exile.) If you have evidence that this is not true please edit your post to explain.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 2 '20 at 22:58
  • Welcome to Christianity! While it's correct that "Jew" and "Israelite" are not the same thing, this does not answer the question: were the 12 disciples Jewish? Please edit your post to answer that, and see the help center to learn how this site works.
    – Null
    Nov 4 '20 at 13:21

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