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How Many Disciples Did Jesus Have In All (12 or 82)

 When we talk of Jesus and his ministry, we often think of the twelve disciples who were his closest companions and followers. 

But did you know that Jesus had many more disciples than just the twelve? 

In fact, the Gospels mention at least 70/72 disciples who were sent out by Jesus to preach and perform miracles. 

To me, I think if we're talking about the 12 known disciples of Jesus, it is better to address them as the 12 major disciples or Apostles. 

So, how many disciples did Jesus really have, and who were they? Let's take a closer look.

How many disciples did Jesus have
How many disciples did Jesus have in All

How many disciples did Jesus have? 

The Twelve Disciples of Jesus Christ 

Let's start with the twelve major disciples or Apostles that are most commonly and always seen with Jesus. They were:

Matthew 10:1-4: "Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 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."

  1. Simon Peter (also known as Peter or Cephas)
  2. Andrew (Peter's brother)
  3. James son of Zebedee (also known as James the Greater)
  4. John (James' brother)
  5. Philip
  6. Bartholomew (also known as Nathanael)
  7. Matthew (also known as Levi)
  8. Thomas (also known as Didymus)
  9. James son of Alphaeus (also known as James the Less)
  10. Thaddaeus (also known as Judas, son of James or Lebbaeus)
  11. Simon the Zealot (also known as Simon the Cananaean)
  12. Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed Jesus)

The twelve disciples above  were the ones chosen by Jesus to be his closest or major disciples and to carry on his mission after his death and resurrection. 

They traveled with Jesus, witnessed his miracles and teachings, and were trained to continue his work after he ascended into heaven.

Each of the twelve disciples had their own unique personality and background. 

For example, Peter was a fisherman from Galilee who became a leader among the disciples and was often the spokesman for the group. 

James and John were brothers who were known for their fiery temperaments and were sometimes called the "Sons of Thunder." 

Matthew on the other hand was a tax collector who had been despised by his fellow Jews, but was called by Jesus to follow him. 

Thomas was a doubter who needed proof of Jesus' resurrection before he would believe. etc. 

Throughout the Gospels, we see these twelve disciples interacting with Jesus and each other, learning from Jesus' teachings and witnessing his miracles. 

They were far from perfect, and often struggled to understand Jesus' message and to follow his example. 

But despite their flaws, Jesus loved them and saw their potential as leaders in his kingdom.

The Seventy Disciples of Jesus 

Luke 10:1-3: After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

Apart from the twelve disciples, the scripture also mention at least 70 other disciples who were sent out by Jesus to preach and perform miracles. 

NOTE: some other Bible versions shows 72 disciples. Whatever the case may be, what we are after is that there are other disciples that serve Jesus during his days. 

This group is referred to as the "seventy" in some translations, or the "seventy-two" in others. 

The names of the seventy disciples are not given in the Gospels, but we know that they were sent out in pairs of two to preach the message of the kingdom of God. 

Jesus gave them specific instructions, telling them to travel light, to greet no one on the road, and to rely on the hospitality of those they met.

The significance of the seventy disciples lies in their role as representatives of Jesus' message to a wider audience. 

They were not just passive followers, but active participants in the mission of Jesus. 

They were called to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God, to heal the sick, and to cast out demons. 

In this way, they are progenitors to the spread of the Gospel throughout the world before, after Jesus' death and resurrection.

Other Disciples of Jesus 

Beyond the twelve and the seventy, there were other followers of Jesus who are mentioned in the Gospels. 

Luke 8:1-3: "After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means."

As an example, there were the women who supported Jesus' ministry and were present at his crucifixion and burial, such as Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Salome. 

There were also other men who followed Jesus, such as Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead.

While these followers may not have been considered "disciples" in the same way as the twelve and the seventy, they were still important participants in Jesus' ministry. 

They supported Jesus financially and provided him with a place to stay, and they bore witness to his teachings and miracles.

What is the difference between the 12 Apostles and the 70 disciples? 

Acts 6:1-4, Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. "But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
The main difference between the 12 disciples and the 70 is their number and their specific roles. 
The 12 were chosen by Jesus to be his closest followers and were specifically appointed as apostles. They were given authority to perform miracles, teach, and spread the gospel. 
The 70, on the other hand, were chosen by Jesus to be additional laborers in the harvest, to go ahead of him to the towns he planned to visit, and to proclaim the kingdom of God. 
While they were also given authority to heal and drive out demons, their role was more focused on preparation and outreach rather than leadership and teaching.

Stephen is not among the twelve, yet is a typical example of disciple who was filled with Holy spirit and performed many signs and wonders. 


So, how many disciples did Jesus have? The answer is not entirely clear, but we know that there were at least 82 named followers of Jesus in the Gospels, including the major twelve, the seventy or seventy-two, and others. 

Each of these disciples had their own unique role to play in Jesus' ministry, and together they formed a diverse and committed community of believers.

The disciples were not perfect, but they were willing to follow Jesus and to learn from his teachings and example. 

Through their witness and their work, they helped to spread the message of the kingdom of God and to prepare the way for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

As we reflect on the disciples and their importance in the life and ministry of Jesus, we are reminded of our own calling as disciples of Christ too. 

Like the disciples, we may have our own doubts and struggles, but we are called to follow Jesus and to share his message with the world. 

May we have the courage and the faith to answer that call, just as the disciples did so many years ago.