Jesus picked twelve normal men who had lives, families, and jobs to be His disciples. They did nothing special to be chosen by Jesus but listened, obeyed, and followed. The twelve were with Him on earth witnessing to others, doing miracles, healing the sick, got their feet washed by Him and shared in Holy Communion.
Who were the twelve men Jesus picked?
Simon was born in Bethsaida, Galilee and was one of the first four disciples chosen by Jesus. After being chosen, Jesus named him Peter. Peter was by the Sea of Galilee fishing with his brother, Andrew when he was called by Jesus to follow Him. He left everything behind to follow Jesus (Mark 1:16-18). He is the most talked about disciple in the Bible.
He is known as the disciple who denied knowing Jesus three times to avoid being arrested. Peter then cried after denying Jesus because he remembered what Jesus had told him, “Before the rooster crows this day, you will say three times that you don’t know me” (Luke 22:56-62). This happened so God could humble Peter. Peter was so full of pride that he told Jesus he would never deny Him and that He would even die with Him (Matthew 26:35).
There is no mention of his death in the Bible, but some biblical scholars believe Peter eventually did die for his faith. They believe Peter died on a cross and wanted to be crucified upside down because he felt he was not worthy to be crucified right-side up like Jesus. 
Peter is known for witnessing Jesus’ walking on water. Peter also walked on water with Jesus but began to sink after becoming afraid (Matthew 14:29). While Jesus was being arrested, Peter was the one who cut off a soldier’s ear (John 18:10).
Peter was the disciple who wrote 1 and 2 Peter in the Bible. Some scholars doubt that Peter wrote the books, but there is enough evidence to show that he did write them. 
Andrew was another of Jesus’ disciples. Andrew was Simon Peter’s brother, was born in Bethsaida, Galilee and was with Simon Peter when Jesus chose him to be His disciple. He also left everything behind to follow Jesus. He was a fisherman like his brother. The Bible does not mention a lot about him.
It does say that Andrew was with the other disciples in the upper room to pick a replacement disciple after Judas had hung himself (Acts 1:12-24). He was the first person to recognize Jesus as the Messiah in John 1:41. There is no mention of his death in the Bible. The Bible does mention that he fled with the other disciples to avoid persecution the night Jesus was arrested by the chief priests and the elders (Mark 14:50). He is mentioned as one of Jesus’ disciples in Mark 3:17-19.
James the son of Zebedee
James is part of another pair of brothers who were fishermen that Jesus called to be His disciple. He was chosen by Jesus after calling Simon Peter and Andrew. James was at the Sea of Galilee repairing nets with his brother, John and his father, Zebedee when Jesus came up to him. He was from the same city of Bethsaida as Simon Peter and Andrew.
Like Andrew, not much is mentioned in the Bible about his life. It does say that he was killed by King Herod with a sword (Acts 12:2). We also know that Jesus gave him and his brother the nick-name “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). He fled with the others disciples the night Jesus was arrested by the chief priests and the elders (Mark 14:50).
It is ironic that James fled with the other disciples the night Jesus was being arrested because he was the one who asked Jesus if he and John could sit on either side of Jesus throne in heaven (Mark 10:35-40). James was not ready to suffer the same pain as Jesus had to.
Jesus chose John to be His disciple at the same time He picked his brother James. They both were on a boat fixing their nets with their father when Jesus called them to follow Him so they could become fishers of men. John along with his brother dropped everything and immediately followed Jesus (Matthew 4:21-22). Jesus gave John the same nickname “sons of thunder” like his brother (Mark 3:17).
The Bible mentions a lot about John. He was known as the disciple that Jesus loved (John 13:23). John was faithful and was always by Jesus’ side. He did not leave Jesus while he was being crucified on the cross. He was there with Mary, Jesus’ mother, when Jesus told him to take care of her. Mary lived with John and took care of her after Jesus died (John 19:26-27).
He was with Jesus at the Last Supper and had the honor to sit next to Him (John 13:23). He also was with Jesus at the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11). John was with the other disciples in the upper room to pick another disciple after Judas killed himself (Acts 1:12-24).
Along with Andrew, John was a disciple of John the Baptist (John 1: 34-40). He also wrote the Gospel of John, 1, 2, and 3 John and the Book of Revelation. He wrote the book of Revelation while exiled on the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9). Like Simon Peter, some scholars doubt John was the writer of the Gospel of John and 1, 2, and 3 John, but there is enough evidence to show that he did write them.
Philip was from the town of Bethsaida, a town near the Sea of Galilee (John 1:44). He was another disciple that Jesus found while walking and told Philip to follow Him (John 1:43). After meeting Jesus, Philip immediately went to tell his friend Bartholomew about Jesus (John 1:45-46).
Philip was the disciple that introduced the Greeks to Jesus. Some of the Greeks who came to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration went to Philip to ask him if they could meet Jesus (John 12: 20-21). Philip was also with Jesus during the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus tested Philip by asking him where they should buy bread to feed the crowd of the five thousand (John 6:5–7). He was with other disciples in the upper room to pick a replacement disciple for Judas (Acts 1:12-24).
Bartholomew or Nathanael was a friend of Philip. He was from the town of Cana in Galilee (John 21:2). Bartholomew met Jesus because of Philip’s invitation for him to come and meet the one Moses and the prophets wrote about in the Old Testament (John 1:45–46). He asked Phillip, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip answered, “Come and see” (John 1:46).
He is another disciple that is not mentioned much in the Bible. He was with the other disciples in the upper room to choose a replacement disciple after Judas killed himself (Acts 1:12-24). He is mentioned in a list of Jesus’ disciples in Mark 3:17-19.
Thomas was also known as Didymus. He was from the city of Cana located in Galilee (John 21:2). He is known as the disciple who was a doubter. He got the reputation because he doubted the other disciples claim to see Jesus after He was risen. Thomas would not believe them without proof. He wanted to see and feel with his own eyes and hands Jesus’ scarred hands (John 20:25). Once he saw Jesus, he believed Jesus was risen. Then Jesus told Thomas, “You believe because you see me. Those who believe without seeing me will be truly blessed” (John 20:29).
Thomas was with Jesus and the other disciples when Jesus comforted them in John 14:1-6. He reminded them before being arrested to be crucified that He was leaving them and that should not be troubled because they knew where He was going. Thomas asked Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. So how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered Thomas by saying, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father, too. But now you do know him, and you have seen him.”
Matthew was a tax collector in the city of Capernaum. He was the son of Alpheus (Mark 2:14). His other name was Levi. Jesus was walking along when He noticed Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. Jesus told him to follow Him. Matthew got up, left his booth, and followed Jesus (Matthew 9:9).
Matthew is another disciple that is not mentioned a lot in the Bible. There is little known about him, except he had a big dinner for Jesus at his house with other tax collectors and all the other disciples (Luke 5:29). Matthew was present with the other disciples when choosing a new disciple to replace Judas (Acts 1:12-24). He is mentioned in a list of Jesus’ disciples in Mark 3:17-19. Like the other disciples, he fled when Jesus was being arrested by the chief priests and the elders (Mark 14:50).
Matthew wrote the Gospel of Matthew. Some scholars doubt he wrote it but there is enough evidence to show that he did. 
James, the Son of Alpheus
James, the Son of Alpheus is the second disciple named James. This James was known as “the less” meaning he was probably younger or little in statue (Mark 15:40). He is only mentioned a few times in the Bible. We know his mother was Mary (Mark 15:40). He was also with the other disciples in the upper room to pick a replacement disciple for Judas after his death (Acts 1:12-24). He also fled like the other disciples when the chief priests and the elders were arresting Jesus (Mark 14:50).
Jude is known in the Bible by many different names. Some of his other names are Lebbaeus, Thaddaeus, Judas, and the son of James (Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, Acts 1:13). The Bible does not talk about him much either. He is mentioned in Acts 1:12-24 and was one of the disciples who was in the upper room to pick a replacement for Judas who had killed himself. His name is also mentioned in the list of Jesus’ disciples in Mark 3:17-19.
Simon the Zealot
There is not much mentioned about Simon in the Bible. He was a Canaanite and known as a Zealot (Matthew 10:4). He is mentioned as another disciple that was in the upper room to pick a replacement disciple for Judas after his death (Acts 1:12-24). He is also listed as one of Jesus’ disciples in Mark 3:17-19.
Judas Iscariot was the son of Simon Iscariot the Cananaean (John 6:71, Matthew 10:4). He was the treasurer for Jesus and the other disciples. He is also known as the disciple who betrayed Jesus with a kiss and turned Him over to the chief priests and the elders for thirty pieces of silver (Luke 4-6). Jesus knew Judas was going to betray Him. During the Last Supper Jesus told the disciples that one of them will betray Him. He then turned to Judas and said, “What you are about to do, do it quickly” (John 13:27).
After realizing the chief priests and the elders made plans to kill Jesus, Judas felt bad and tried to return the silver. They did not want the money back because it was “blood” money paid to have Jesus killed. Judas threw the money into the Temple and hung himself (Matthew 27:4–5).
William Steuart McBirnie, PH.D. (1973). The Search For The Twelve Apostles. Tyndale Momentum ↩︎