Q: #526. How many of the 12 disciples were directly called by Jesus?
A: This question stems from a question my wife asked the other night at Bible Study: “Did Jesus directly call Judas Iscariot?” I didn’t remember that He ever did, but if He didn’t, was Judas Iscariot the only disciple Jesus didn’t directly call? Hence, we have this question.
Actually, 7 of the 12 disciples are shown in the Gospels to have been directly called by Jesus. Let’s look at these:
(Mt 4:18-20) “Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee… (called) “Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother,” saying to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Also see: Mk 1:16-18)
(Mt 4:21-22) “Going on from there..,” Jesus then “called” “James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother.” (Also see; Mk 1:19-20)
***Note: A parallel to the above can be found in (Lk 5:1-11).
(Mt 9:9-13)(NASB) Jesus sees “a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth,” and calls him saying: “Follow Me.” (Also see: Mk 2:14, Lk 5:27)
(Jn 1:43) Jesus “found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.””
(Jn 1:45-51) Philip goes to find Nathanael, and brings him to Jesus. After Jesus supernaturally tells Nathanael things he had been doing, Nathanael declares to Jesus, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.” After this declaration, Jesus tells Nathanael that he will “see greater things than these.” Nathanael then follows Jesus.
We do not see the other 5 disciples, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the zealot), Judas (son of James), and Judas Iscariot receiving a direct call from Jesus.
In (Lk 6:12-16), we can see that Jesus had many disciples. One night, “He (Jesus) went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. (13) And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.” In other words, at this time, Jesus “officially” picked His 12 disciples. These were the 7 He had directly called earlier, along with the other 5 who were added. (Also see: Mk 3:13-19)
***Note: It should be noted that while Judas Iscariot did not receive a direct call from Jesus, Jesus chose Judas as one of the 12 so that “Scripture may be fulfilled” (Jn 13:18). Judas was prophesied in the Old Testament to betray Jesus (Ps 41:9)(Ps 109:8).
***Note: In (Jn 1:35-42), we see Jesus meeting with Andrew, Peter, and an unnamed disciple (likely John). This meeting differs from the meeting described in the synoptic Gospels (Mt, Mk, Lk). Most scholars agree that this meeting in John preceded the meeting in the synoptics. While Jesus first met Andrew, Peter, and John in John Chapter 1, He didn’t ask them to “follow him” until He saw them a second time, which is described in the synoptics.