Bible Study Lessons

The Twelve Disciples: Part 2


When inventor Will Stemphord found out that he only had three years left, he decided to use them to prepare a team of people who could spread his ideas around the world after he was gone. He decided twelve would be the perfect number, and selected one of his press releases to make the announcement. From the crowd of enthusiasts who were present, Will called twelve names to join him on stage. These twelve men, he announced, were to be with him and learn everything he knew so that they could share it with others. When the media got over the surprise of the announcement (he hadn't leaked his diagnosis or intention to anyone), they started looking into the guys he'd picked. That was the real shock. His strong leadership abilities would certainly be put to the test. Take a look at the list: One of the guys was a wealthy gang member - the type who collected "protection money" from the local businesses. Four of them worked in the local plant. One was a professor at the local seminary. Another was so shy nobody could find out anything about him (even his address was unlisted). An eighth had associations with an anarchist group. And the last guy, named as treasurer, was an accountant with questionable references. The other three apparently had unremarkable backgrounds because no one gave more than their name and picture in the news stories. From an earthly perspective, the group of disciples Jesus called was in some ways similar to Will's, but most of Jesus' disciples didn't stay as they had been for long. Learn about each of the twelve disciples as you study Mark 3:16-19.



Ask the Lord to let you see more of Him and more of you as you study His Word so that you can get closer to Him. But you have to really mean it!

Read Focus Verses

Read Mark 3:16-19 and notice who these verses are about.


These verses will make more sense in their context - Mark 3:13-19.

What's Going On?

What is going on in these verses?

Keywords - Jesus Christ

Marking the references to Jesus in today's passage reminds us that He's the main character in this book.

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Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ

Mark the words referring to Jesus in Mark 3:16-19.

Keywords - Disciples

Mark the disciples' names so they'll stand out as the theme of these verses.



Mark the disciples' names in Mark 3:16-19.


Who is the first disciple named in today's passage?


What did Jesus rename him?


Which two are next?


Whose sons are they?

New Name

What name does Jesus give them?


What does that name mean?


Which disciples are named in verse 18?


Which disciple is named last?

That One

How is this last disciple identified?

What's Next?

What happens after Jesus calls the twelve disciples?


Part 1

The study plan for the three verses right before today's passage, "The Twelve Disciples: Part 1," helps us understand why Jesus called these men and what their role was.


The first of the men mentioned is Simon Peter. In Mark 1:16-18 we find that one of the other men is his brother.


Who was Simon's brother?

First Time

That wasn't actually the first time these brothers met Jesus. Read about that in John 1:29-42.

Come Meet the Messiah!

Who brought Simon to Jesus?

The Call

Luke 5:1-11 gives us more detail about the call of Simon and Andrew (and about the next two on the list - James and John).

Simon's Reaction

What is Simon Peter's reaction to seeing Jesus' power?


What did Jesus initially call Simon, Andrew, James, and John to do and how do they respond?

Simon's House

We often find Jesus at Simon and Andrew's house in the Gospels. Notice Him there in Mark 1:29-31.

Family Status

What do we learn about Simon's family status in this verse? (Hint: to have a mother-in-law you must have a what?)

Natural Leader

We already see Simon serving as spokesperson for the disciples in Mark 1:32-39.

Good Words

Sometimes Peter's eager words are from God and bring him great blessing like the time in Matthew 16:15-18 when Peter rightly confesses who Jesus is and is told that on that truth about Jesus the church will be founded. Can you imagine being named by Jesus after one of the best moments in your whole life?

About Jesus

What does Simon say about Jesus in these verses which reveal why Jesus is the cornerstone of the church?

How Did He Know?

How does Jesus say Simon knew this about Jesus?

New Name

What is the new name Jesus gave to Simon in these verses?

Bad Words

Just a few verses later, we see Peter's mouth getting him in trouble in Matthew 16:21-23.


We see Peter's boldness (and his weakness) in Matthew 14:22-33.

Walking on Water

What does Peter get to do in these verses that none of the other disciples got to do because they didn't ask?


In Mark 14:27-50 we see Jesus warning Peter, inviting him to watch with Him, Peter's initial efforts at defense (another of the Gospels identifies Peter as the one with the sword), and then his failure.

Darkest Hour

Matthew 26:69-75 recounts the darkest hour of Peter's life.


That isn't the end of Peter's story. After Jesus' resurrection, read about a special encounter in John 21:15-19.

Jesus and Peter

What do we learn about Peter and about Jesus in these verses?

Church Leader

In Acts, Peter serves as the leader of the new church as he leads in obedience (Acts 1:15-26), preaching (Acts 2:14-41), performing miracles (Acts 3:1-11; 5:12-16), exhibiting boldness in face of persecution (Acts 4:1-31), correcting (Acts 5:1-11), forging new frontiers (Acts 10-11), and even writing Scripture (1 and 2 Peter). Read Peter's response to the men who had killed Jesus and now had arrested and imprisoned him and John in Acts 4:8-12.

Peter's Message

What was Peter's message and source of strength in Acts 4:8-12?

James and John

The next two on the list are also brothers. Read about Jesus calling them in Mark 1:19-20.


What was James and John's occupation before Jesus called them to follow Him?

Close to Jesus

Along with Peter, these two were given special time with Jesus. Read about one of those times in Mark 5:35-43.


Another of these special times is found in Mark 9:2-9.

Sons of Thunder

Today's passage tells us that Jesus also gave them a new name. We don't have a record of the giving of this new name, but we get a hint of its appropriateness in Luke 9:51-56.


Matthew 20:20-28 tells us a little more about these two men.

James' Death

We see James had the honor of being one of the first martyrs for Christ in Acts 12:1-2.


John, on the other hand, according to traditions which aren't from the Bible, was the longest living of the twelve. In John 13:23-25 we read about the special closeness young John had to Jesus.

A Special Charge

Read what special responsibility Jesus gave to John while Jesus was hanging on the cross in John 19:26-27.

First to See

John 20:1-8 tells us John was the first of the twelve disciples to see inside the empty tomb.


John 21:20-25 follows right after the story of Jesus forgiving and recommissioning Peter which you read earlier, and identifies the author as John.


What title does John use for himself (by inspiration of the Holy Spirit) in the Gospel of John?

Other Books

John also wrote the Bible books 1, 2, and 3 John and Revelation. If you're familiar with those books, what do they tell you about John?


We've already seen a little about Andrew. Read about the key role he played in one of Jesus' most famous miracles in John 6:1-13.

Gentiles Seek Jesus

We see Andrew mentioned again in John 12:20-22.

Philip and Bartholomew

John 1:43-51 tells us about the next two disciples in the list - Philip and Bartholomew (called Nathaniel in John - many figures in New Testament times went by both a personal name and a surname like Bartholomew which means "son of Tolmai.").

Philip's Question

You've already read about Philip's quick calculation before Jesus fed the 5,000 and about the time he went and got Andrew when the Gentiles asked to see Jesus. Listen to (or read) John 14 and hear the questions three of the disciples, including Philip, ask Jesus - pay attention to Jesus' wonderful answers.

Jesus' Words

How does Jesus tell us we can get to God and get to know God in John 14?


The next man on the list, Matthew, also went by two names - Matthew and Levi. Read about him and his call from Jesus in Luke 5:27-32.


What was Matthew's occupation before Jesus called him?


Tax collectors, also called publicans, were Jews who collected taxes for the Roman government and made a living off of the extra fees they charged at the same time. Their dishonesty and alliance with Rome made them objects of hatred and they were despised by most Jews. What does it say about Jesus that He called a tax collector to be one of His disciples?


The next man on the list is Thomas. You've already heard his question in John 14. Now look at his boldness and dedication to Jesus in John 11:16. As you read it, keep in mind that the Jews in Judaea were trying to kill Jesus and He was about to go back to that region to raise Lazarus from the dead.

Doubting Thomas

John 20:19-31 tells the story for which Thomas got his nickname "doubting Thomas" despite his earlier faith.


What glorious confession of Christ does Thomas make in John 20:28?

With the Others

In John 21:1-14 we read that Thomas was with some of the other disciples when He appeared to them during their fishing trip. (Jesus restoring Peter which you already read is in the next verses.)

James the Son of Alphaeus

We know very little about James the son of Alphaeus. This article distinguishes him from the other Jameses in the New Testament.

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Thaddaeus is another disciples with a few names. He is hardly mentioned beyond this call to be one of the twelve. You already heard his question in John 14 - his only recorded words in the Bible. This article tells a little more about him if you have an extra minute.

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Simon the Zealot

Luke 6:13-16 tells us something about the other Simon.


The zealots were Jews who were trying to overthrow the Roman government - many (not all) of them were violent and some members employed tactics that make some historians consider it an early terrorist group. What can we learn about how dramatically Christ changes those He calls from learning that He called both Simon a zealot and Matthew a tax collector?

Judas Iscariot

John 12:1-8 tells us about Judas' role among the twelve and his primary vice.


Matthew 26:13-16 shows us where Judas' greed led him. (Note: In Matthew, the last story you just read in John and this story are back to back.)


In Luke 22:2-6 we see that Judas was not a believer - Satan used him by playing into Judas' greed.


What warning should we take from these passages about the sins that particularly tempt and trouble us?

Jesus Knew

John 6:64 tells us Jesus knew right from the beginning the truth about Judas.

The Disciples Didn't Know

But John 13:21-30 shows us that Judas put on a pretty good show because the other disciples were clueless.

About Jesus

What does it tell us about Jesus that He chose and loved Judas in such a way the other disciples didn't know Judas was different?

About Judas

If one of the men who had spent three years with Jesus Himself could reject Him, how can parents, pastors, and other leaders take comfort from the story of this traitor?

A Warning

If Judas could put on a good enough act that the disciples (who were always judging each other and comparing themselves with each other) didn't see through it, how does this serve as a warning to us?

The Offer

In Matthew 26:47-50 we see Jesus offer friendship and forgiveness at the very end.

Jesus' Power

John 18:1-9 shows us that Jesus demonstrated His power again to challenge them to reconsider - Judas was with them.


What should we learn from Jesus' example of offering friendship and forgiveness even after Judas had irretrievably betrayed Him?

False Repentance

We read about Judas' incomplete and ineffective repentance in Matthew 27:3-5. To better understand the difference between this kind of hopeless, unbelieving regret and true, saving repentance check out the study plan on James 4:6-10 called, "Does God Feel Far Away?"

Judas' State

Acts 1:25 confirms Judas' state as an unbeliever.

As You Read

What are some of the things you'll keep in mind about the disciples individually and as a group that will help you understand the Bible better as you read it?

By This They'll Know

You've seen how diverse a group these disciples were. Notice what Jesus says in John 13:34-45 will identify them as His followers.

Like Me

What are Christians supposed to do as Christ's disciples, which identifies them as different than the world?

Once More

Read about Jesus calling the twelve disciples again in Mark 3:13-19 in light of everything you've seen about them.

About Jesus

What do we learn about Jesus' love for people from every background and His power to transform lives from this group of men He chose and led?

About Them and Us

What do we learn about the kinds of people God can use? How does that encourage and challenge you?


Are You Following?

Are you a follower of Jesus - one who has turned away from your sin and following the things of the world and trusted in Him alone? As you saw today, Jesus chose people from every walk of life - and He wants you.

Be Warned

Are you, like Judas, putting on a good show for your own gain - whether financial, social, or personal - and claiming to be a Christian but not truly submitting to Christ? If so, won't you repent and turn to Jesus like Peter instead of following destruction like Judas?

Love Each Other

If you are a Christian, God wants you to love other Christians even though you may have entirely different backgrounds and stories. What specific thing is God challenging you on today - something you need to do or say (or stop doing or saying) to show love to other Christians which will glorify God? How will you hold yourself accountable to obey in this area? Be specific.



We hope this study has helped you understand the twelve disciples better and has challenged you to follow Jesus - not for selfish gain like Judas Iscariot, but genuinely and with true love for other Christians.


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