Question:

Good Day,

My question concerns the number of Jesus's disciples. I read your answer addressing 12 disciples, but isn't there additional biblical evidence that there were somewhere around 70 disciples?

Please clarify.

Thanks.


Answer:

The word "disciple" simply means a student or follower. When people talk about the twelve disciples, they are referring to the twelve men Jesus picked.

"And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans" (Matthew 10:1-5).

But this doesn't mean the twelve were the only students. People have a bad habit of assuming "only" when a specific is stated, even though it is not implied. John mentions, "Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John" (John 4:1). Their numbers aren't mentioned, but the implications are that the number of disciples was quite large.

There was a time that Jesus sent seventy disciples ahead of him to prepare towns for his visits. "After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go" (Luke 10:1). We are also told about the women who support Jesus during his ministry (Mark 15:40-41). Then in Acts, we read about a gathering of 120 disciples (Acts 1:15). And Paul mentioned that after Jesus' resurrection Jesus had appeared to over 500 disciples at one time (I Corinthians 15:6).

Okay.

Thanks Jeff! God bless!