A black and white photo capturing a serene scene at the Sea of Galilee, depicting Jesus standing on the shore, while Peter, his first disciple, kneels before him in reverence.

Who Was Jesus’S First Disciple?

The identity of Jesus’s first disciple has been debated for centuries. If you’re looking for a quick answer – Simon Peter is traditionally considered to have been the first disciple that Jesus called. However, as we’ll explore in this article, there are also good arguments for other candidates like John or Andrew.

In this approximately 3000 word article, we will dive into the details around Jesus’s early ministry and various accounts in the Gospel to analyze who was the first to be called as his disciple. We’ll review the biblical basis for different viewpoints and discuss the merits of arguments made by Bible scholars over the years regarding the likely sequence in which the Apostles were called.

Simon Peter as the First Disciple

Jesus’s Calling of Simon Peter and Andrew

The Gospels provide accounts of Jesus calling his first disciples, with a focus on the calling of Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. According to Matthew 4:18-20, Jesus saw Simon Peter and Andrew fishing, and said “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Mark 1:16-18 and Luke 5:1-11 also recount this story, with Jesus inviting them to follow him and become fishers of people.

This story marks the beginning of Simon Peter’s discipleship, as he and Andrew immediately left their nets and followed Jesus. Though Peter and Andrew knew little about this rabbi named Jesus, they demonstrated great faith in leaving everything behind to follow Him.

Jesus promised that He would make them fishers of men, calling them to the mission of spreading the gospel.

The Special Status Afforded to Peter Among the Disciples

While Peter was not the only disciple called by Jesus, the Gospels afford him special status and prominence among the Twelve. Peter’s name is mentioned more than any of the other disciples in the Gospels, highlighting his level of involvement and intimacy with Jesus.

Specific examples include:

  • Peter was selected as one of the inner circle disciples along with James and John, who were present for key moments like the Transfiguration and time in Gethsemane (Matthew 17:1, 26:37).
  • When Jairus’ daughter was resurrected, only Peter, James, and John were allowed to enter (Mark 5:37).
  • During the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He told Peter: “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me” (John 13:8 ESV). This indicates Peter’s special position.

Jesus even prophesied a leadership role for Peter, stating: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18 ESV). The Aramaic word for Peter is “Cephas,” meaning “rock,” highlighting that Peter would be the rock upon which the church would be built.

John’s Account Specifically Names Peter as the First Disciple

While the Synoptic Gospels focus on Peter’s calling, the Gospel of John provides the clearest indication that Peter was the first disciple called by Jesus. John 1:35-42 recounts that Andrew was originally a disciple of John the Baptist.

Andrew then went and got his brother Simon Peter, declaring: “We have found the Messiah” (v. 41). He then brought Peter to meet Jesus.

This account shows that Peter was the first disciple who met Jesus, even before Andrew properly followed Him. Andrew met Jesus first, but then immediately went and declared to Peter that they had found the Messiah. Andrew knew that Peter was destined to have a special connection with Jesus.

Thus, Simon Peter was the first disciple who was called to and met the Messiah.

John’s Gospel also highlights Peter’s special status. In John 21, the resurrected Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him, paralleling Peter’s earlier three denials. Jesus then commissioned Peter with a special pastoral role, telling him to tend and feed His sheep.

John as a Candidate for First Disciple

John’s Gospel Account Puts the Calling of John Before Peter

The Gospel of John provides some evidence that John may have been Jesus’s first disciple. In John 1:35-42, John the Baptist sees Jesus and says “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36). After this, two of John the Baptist’s own disciples began to follow Jesus.

One of these disciples was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. The other disciple is not named, but most scholars believe this is a reference to John himself. If this interpretation is correct, then John placed himself as a disciple of Jesus before bringing Simon Peter into the fold.

This account suggests John may have responded to Jesus before Peter did.

John’s Close Relationship with Jesus

John seemed to have a very close relationship with Jesus. Along with Peter and James, John was part of Jesus’s innermost circle of disciples. These three alone were present for key moments in Jesus’s ministry, like the raising of Jairus’s daughter (Mark 5:37), the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1), and Jesus’s prayers in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37).

John refers to himself in his gospel as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7,20). This close bond implies that John may have been one of the first to follow Jesus.

According to early church tradition, John was the youngest of the twelve main disciples. His young age may also point to him being an early follower who joined Jesus’s ministry from the beginning.

Counterarguments Against John as First Disciple

However, there are also arguments against John being the first disciple. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) record Peter’s calling before John’s (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11).

The Synoptics do not mention John at Jesus’s baptism, but say Andrew introduced Peter to Jesus (John 1:40-42). So the Scriptural evidence is mixed regarding whether John or Peter was called first.

Some also point out that Peter seems to be the leader and spokesperson for the twelve disciples in the Gospels. This leadership role implies Peter had seniority. But John’s intimacy with Jesus suggests he still may have responded early on, even if Peter became leader later.

Andrew – Peter’s Brother and the One Who Brought Peter to Jesus

Jesus Meeting Andrew Early On

The Gospel of John tells us that Andrew was one of the very first disciples called by Jesus, along with the Apostle John (John 1:35-40). Andrew was originally a disciple of John the Baptist, but when John pointed out Jesus as the “Lamb of God” to Andrew and the Apostle John, they immediately started following Jesus instead.

This shows Andrew’s seeking heart – he was looking for the Messiah and was ready to change course when he realized Jesus was the One.

Andrew Bringing Peter to Jesus

The first thing Andrew did after meeting Jesus was to find his brother Simon Peter and bring him to Jesus, saying “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41). Andrew was so excited about finding the long-awaited Savior that he rushed to tell his brother the good news.

And when Jesus met Simon, he gave him the name “Peter” which means “rock”, prophesying his future foundational role in the early church.

This small act by Andrew ended up having huge historical significance! Andrew was directly responsible for the Apostle Peter, who became one of Jesus’s closest companions and greatest leaders, coming to faith in Christ.

Andrew’s Continued Evangelism Beyond Peter

The passion Andrew had for bringing people to Jesus continued beyond leading Peter. Later in John 12:20-22, we see Andrew bringing a group of Greek seekers to speak with Jesus when they were interested in meeting him. Andrew seemingly never stopped connecting people to Jesus.

Church tradition holds that Andrew traveled extensively as a missionary to share the gospel, primarily around the Black Sea in what is now southern Ukraine. He saw many converted to Christianity before finally being martyred by crucifixion on an X-shaped cross.

His willingness to suffer and die for preaching Christ showed the depth of his faith.

So while Andrew may not have ended up as famous as his brother Peter, he played a pivotal role through his personal evangelism and disciple-making. Over two thousand years later, every believer who traces their faith back to Peter is also indebted to the early witness of Andrew, Peter’s brother and Jesus’s first homegrown disciple!


While there are reasonable arguments made for several of the Apostles being the ‘first disciple’ based on different interpretations of Scripture, the traditional view of Simon Peter holding this distinction makes a compelling case.

Most Scripture points to Peter as part of the innermost circle of Jesus’s followers, and he was certainly the first leader of the early Christian church after Christ’s ascension.

Ultimately the Gospels seem more focused on the message Jesus brought than constructing a perfect chronology of the calling of the Twelve. But the debate continues on regarding who first answered the call to ‘Come, follow me.’

Similar Posts