Who Were the Disciples James, John and Andrew?

James, John, and Andrew were three of Jesus Christ’s most trusted disciples, each with their own significance in Biblical scripture.

May 26, 2024By Ryan Watson, MA History, BA History

disciples james john andrew


The disciples of Jesus Christ were a dozen men who were consistently with Jesus during His earthly ministry and continued His ministry and mission after His ascension. The twelve disciples were Peter, James (Jesus’ brother), John, Andrew, Philip, Judas Iscariot (who betrayed Jesus, and was replaced by Matthias), Matthew, Thomas, James, the son of Alpheus, Bartholomew, Judas Thaddeus; and Simon the Zealot. In this article we take a closer look at the two “sons of thunder,” James the Greater and Saint John, (named by Jesus for their fiery temper) along with Peter’s brother, the equally tenacious and determined apostle Andrew.


James the Greater

Saint James the Greater by Guido Reni, 1575. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Saint James the Greater by Guido Reni, 1575. Source: Wikimedia Commons


James “the Greater” (called so as he was the elder James among the disciples) was called by Jesus Christ to be a disciple early in Jesus’ ministry.  Not long after Jesus was tempted in the desert by Satan, He came to the Sea of Galilee and encountered first Peter and Andrew, and the brothers James and John:

“And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” Matt4:21-22 ESV

James would go on to play a prominent role in Jesus’ ministry both before and after His death, burial, and resurrection.  James was present, along with John and Peter, at the transfiguration, and followed Jesus in to the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before the Crucifixion. Following Jesus’ Ascencion, James would go on to be the first of the Apostles to be martyred.  Herod Agrippa would have James executed by the sword sometime around 44 CE. Traditionally, it is held that James’ body was transported and buried in Galicia, Spain.


St John the Apostle

St John the Apostle by El Greco, 1605. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
St John the Apostle by El Greco, 1605. Source: Wikimedia Commons.


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John the Apostle’s fate was nearly opposite that of his brother, James.  While James was the first disciple of Jesus to be martyred, John would be the last to die, possibly in exile on the aisle of Patmos.  John is credited for having written the Gospel of John, three epistles (letters – I, II, and III John), and the book of Revelation. John apparently had a special relationship with Jesus, being “the disciple whom Jesus loved” and sat next to Him at the last supper.  He was present at most major events during Jesus’ ministry, and stood before Him while Jesus was on the cross and entrusted the care of Mary to John. Following the ascension, John may have wound up in Ephesus, and had among his pupils Polycarp of Smyrna. It is believed he was the last of the disciples to die, traditionally held of old age rather than martyrdom.


St Andrew the Apostle

Statue of Andrew, Archbasilica of St. John Lateran by Camillo Rusconi (1713–1715). Source: Wikimedia
Statue of Andrew, Archbasilica of St. John Lateran by Camillo Rusconi (1713–1715). Source: Wikimedia


According to the New Testament scripture, Andrew the Apostle was a fisherman, along with his brother Simon Peter, who he later also introduced to Jesus Christ. Jesus is said to have called upon the two brothers, to become “fishers of men.” Andrew stands out as the first named apostle of the twelve, as called by Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John:

“One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).” John 1:41-41 ESV

Originally a disciple of John the Baptist, Andrew quickly recognized Jesus as the Messiah and became his loyal confidant. Although he was considered more closely attached to Jesus than some of the other disciples, and was present during the Last Supper, Andrew has a minor role in the remainder of the Gospels, and, following Jesus’ ascension, traditionally is held to have traveled north. According to Eusebius, Andrew preached in Scythia, along the Black Sea, in Kiev and Novgorod. He is also credited with beginning the church in Byzantium (modern day Istanbul). It is believed he may have been martyred around 60 CE, and traditionally was crucified on an X-shaped cross in Patras, a city in Achaea, Greece.

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By Ryan WatsonMA History, BA HistoryRyan Watson is a husband, father, underwriter, writer, and reseller. He graduated with a Bachelor's and Master's in History from Louisiana Tech University in the early 2000s. He focuses on Biblical, post-Biblical, and medieval history with occasional dabblings in other arenas.