A photo capturing a serene beach at sunset, with twelve seagulls gracefully perched on rocks, symbolizing the twelve apostles mentioned in the Bible.

How Many Apostles Are In The Bible? A Detailed Look At Christ’S Disciples

The apostles play a central role in Christianity as the followers personally chosen by Jesus to carry on his mission. But just how many apostles were there? If you’re looking for a quick answer, tradition holds that there were 12 original apostles plus the Apostle Paul.

However, the actual number of apostles named in the Bible is considerably larger than just 13.

In this comprehensive guide, we will take an in-depth look at every apostle named in the New Testament. We’ll examine the original 12 disciples, the Apostle Paul, the 21 apostles commissioned by Jesus, and others referred to as apostles.

By the end, you’ll have a complete understanding of just how many apostles there were and the critical purpose they served in establishing the early Christian church.

The 12 Disciples/Apostles

Simon Peter

Simon Peter, also known as Cephas, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. He was a fisherman by trade and was originally named Simon or Simeon.

Jesus gave him the name Peter, meaning “rock” in Greek, referring to Peter being the rock on which Jesus would build His church.

Peter was part of Jesus’ inner circle along with James and John. He witnessed many of Jesus’ miracles and teachings.

After denying Jesus three times during His trial and crucifixion, Peter repented and went on to become a pillar of the early church.

He helped lead it and spread the gospel to Jews and Gentiles alike. According to church tradition, Peter served as bishop of Antioch and later bishop of Rome, where he was martyred by being crucified upside down during the reign of Emperor Nero. His feast day is June 29.


Andrew was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus and the brother of Simon Peter. He was originally a disciple of John the Baptist before leaving to follow Jesus.

Andrew was one of the first disciples called by Jesus. He then went and brought his brother Simon Peter to meet Jesus.

The Gospel of John tells how Andrew introduced some Greeks to Jesus, showing his missionary spirit.

According to tradition, Andrew preached in Asia Minor and Greece and was martyred by crucifixion in Patras. He is the patron saint of Greece and Russia. The Apostle Andrew’s feast day is November 30.

James son of Zebedee

James was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, traditionally considered a son of Zebedee and brother of the Apostle John. The Synoptic Gospels mention James as one of the first disciples called by Jesus.

Together with Peter and John, James was part of Jesus’ inner circle and witnessed His transfiguration. James is also known as James the Greater to distinguish him from James the son of Alphaeus.

According to Acts 12:1-2, James was martyred by King Herod, becoming the first of the Twelve to be martyred. His feast day is July 25. He is the patron saint of Spain and laborors.


John, son of Zebedee and brother of James, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. Along with James and Peter, John belonged to the inner circle of Jesus. Traditionally, John is identified as the “one whom Jesus loved” mentioned in the Gospel of John.

He is also credited with writing the Gospel of John; the letters 1, 2, and 3 John; and the book of Revelation. John outlived the other apostles, living until about AD 100.

According to tradition, he later settled in Ephesus. John emphasized love and fellowship in his writings.


Philip was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. He came from the same town as Peter and Andrew – Bethsaida. The Gospel of John recounts Philip’s calling as a disciple of Jesus. He then brought Nathanael to Jesus.

At the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus questioned Philip about where to buy bread for the crowd. Philip figures in the Last Supper, asking Jesus to show them the Father.

After Pentecost, Philip preached in Asia Minor and Greece. Tradition holds he was martyred by crucifixion in Hierapolis.

His feast day is May 3.


Bartholomew, also known as Nathanael, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He came from Cana in Galilee and is likely the Nathanael mentioned in John’s Gospel. Upon meeting Jesus, Nathanael recognized Him as the Son of God.

After witnessing the resurrection, he and the other apostles received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Tradition holds that Bartholomew preached in India, Mesopotamia, Persia and Egypt where he was martyred. He is the patron saint of Armenia. His feast day is August 24.


Matthew, also known as Levi, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. He had been a tax collector before answering the call to follow Jesus.

The Gospel of Matthew is attributed to him. As a former tax collector, the vocation of Matthew emphasizes the universal call to discipleship.

After Pentecost, legend states that Matthew preached in Ethiopia, Persia and the Levant. He is considered a patron saint of accountants, bankers and tax collectors. His feast day is September 21.


Thomas, called Didymus, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. He is best known for doubting Jesus’ resurrection when first told of it, hence the term “Doubting Thomas.”

According to John’s Gospel, Thomas was skeptical but, after seeing and touching the wounds of the risen Christ, proclaimed “My Lord and my God!”

Thomas later took the gospel message to Persia and India. He is considered the patron saint of India. The ancient Mar Thoma church in Kerala, India traces its origins to Thomas. His feast day is July 3.

James son of Alphaeus

James son of Alphaeus was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. He is also known as James the Lesser or James the Younger. This James is referred to only a few times in the New Testament.

Little is known about his life apart from being one of the Twelve. He is the patron saint of pharmacists. The feast day of James the Less along with the apostle Philip is May 3.


Thaddaeus, also known as Jude, Judas or Lebbaeus, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ.

He should not be confused with Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus. Along with the other apostles, Thaddaeus was sent out by Christ to preach the gospel.

The Gospel of John also records a question of his at the Last Supper. Tradition states he later preached in Syria, Mesopotamia and Persia where he was martyred. His attribute is a club and his feast day is October 28.

Simon the Zealot

Simon was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ with the epithet “the Zealot.” The Zealots were a radical political party of the 1st century which sought to overthrow Roman rule.

Little else is known about Simon from the Bible other than being one of the Twelve.

Later tradition states Simon preached in Egypt and then joined the Apostle Jude in Persia where they were martyred together. His feast day is October 28.

Judas Iscariot

Judas Iscariot was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is infamous for betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

His name Judas may relate to the Hebrew word for “praise” but his surname Iscariot likely refers to his hometown of Kerioth. Judas was the Apostle who carried the money bag.

After the Last Supper, Satan entered Judas who then went on to betray Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, identifying him to the soldiers with a kiss.

Overcome by guilt after the crucifixion, Judas committed suicide. He was replaced as apostle by Matthias after Jesus’ resurrection.

A black and white photo capturing Luke's Gospel, open on a table, while a pair of hands reverently hold a small wooden cross, symbolizing Luke's profound relationship with Jesus.

Matthias, the Replacement Apostle

Circumstances of Judas’ Betrayal and Death

Judas Iscariot was one of the original twelve apostles chosen by Jesus. However, Judas later betrayed Jesus by identifying him to the soldiers who arrested him in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The Bible records that Satan entered into Judas’ heart, prompting him to accept 30 pieces of silver in exchange for turning Jesus over to the Jewish leaders (Luke 22:3-5).

Shortly after Jesus was condemned and taken away to be crucified, Judas felt intense regret and tried to return the betrayal money to the chief priests and elders.

When they refused to accept it back, Judas threw down the coins in fury and went out and hanged himself (Matthew 27:5).

Choosing Matthias to Replace Judas

After Judas’ shocking betrayal and suicide, there were only 11 remaining apostles. In Acts 1, during the days between Jesus’ ascension into heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter decided that Judas must be replaced so that there would again be 12 apostles, in accordance with Old Testament prophecy (Psalm 109:8).

The 11 apostles proposed two candidates who had been disciples of Jesus from the beginning: Joseph known as Barsabbas (possibly the same person named Justus) and Matthias.

After praying, the eleven apostles cast lots to determine that Matthias would take Judas’ place as the twelfth apostle.

The inclusion of Matthias restored the symbolic twelve apostles, who became the foundation stones of the early church (Ephesians 2:20). While nothing more is recorded about Matthias in Scripture, church historians believe he preached the gospel in Judea and then possibly in Cappadocia and toward the Caspian Sea.

According to tradition, Matthias lived for roughly 30 more years as a faithful apostle before being stoned to death for his teachings.

His story is an inspirational one of a little-known apostle handpicked by God to carry on Jesus’ mission after Judas’ monumental betrayal.

The Apostle Paul

Paul’s Dramatic Conversion

The Apostle Paul, originally known as Saul of Tarsus, underwent one of the most dramatic conversions in the Bible. As a zealous Pharisee, Saul fiercely persecuted the early Christians and played a role in the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7:58).

However, on the road to Damascus, Saul encountered the risen Christ and was dramatically converted (Acts 9:1-19).

Blinded by the light of Christ, Saul heard the Lord ask him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4). Trembling and astonished, Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” to which Jesus replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5).

Saul was instructed to go into Damascus where he fasted and prayed for three days, blinded by the light. The disciple Ananias was sent by the Lord to lay hands on Saul to regain his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Saul emerged a changed man, ready to boldly preach Christ in the synagogues proclaiming, “He is the Son of God!” (Acts 9:20). What an astounding transformation!

Paul’s Missionary Journeys

After his radical conversion, Paul embarked on three extensive missionary journeys to spread the gospel throughout Asia Minor and Europe (Acts 13-21). On his first journey, Paul and Barnabas traveled to Cyprus and Galatia, preaching in synagogues and establishing churches throughout the region.

His second journey brought him to Philippi, where God opened the heart of Lydia and she and her household were baptized (Acts 16:13-15).

Paul also preached the gospel in Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth. His third journey was spent strengthening and encouraging the churches he had planted.

Everywhere Paul went he preached that Jesus was the Christ, the Savior who was crucified and rose again according to the Scriptures (1 Cor 15:3-4). Paul made disciples and established churches filled with the Holy Spirit wherever he traveled.

According to Acts, Paul’s tireless missionary work spread the gospel across the Roman world.

Paul’s Letters to the Early Churches

Aside from the book of Acts, which details Paul’s faith journey and missionary activity, much of the New Testament consists of the Apostle Paul’s letters to various churches and individuals.

Scholars agree that Paul is the author of at least seven of the New Testament epistles: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon.

These letters provided pastoral guidance, theological clarity, and encouragement to the early churches. For example, Paul wrote Romans to explain the doctrine of justification by faith and give a systematic presentation of the gospel to the church in Rome.

1 Corinthians addresses issues like divisiveness, immorality, marriage, and orderly worship. Galatians champions salvation by faith alone, not works of the Law.

Ephesians unfolds the cosmic plan of salvation in Christ as well as practical instruction for Christian living.

The pastoral epistles (1 & 2 Timothy, Titus) offer wisdom for church leadership. Philemon makes a personal appeal to a slave owner to welcome back his runaway slave Onesimus as a brother. Paul’s letters shaped so much of the theology and ethic of the early church and provide rich spiritual wisdom still applicable today.


As we have seen, the actual number of apostles named in the Bible expands far beyond the original 12 disciples and Paul.

While the 12 and Paul are certainly the most prominent apostles and authors of much of the New Testament, Jesus commissioned dozens more followers to preach the gospel.

In total, the New Testament names over 80 apostles when including the 12, Paul, the 70 commissioned disciples, and others referred to as apostles. While the exact number is uncertain, what is clear is that all the apostles played instrumental roles in spreading Christianity throughout the ancient world.

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