Bible Question:

What jobs did all twelve disciples have before they became followers of Christ?

Bible Answer:

The Bible does not describe the backgrounds of all of the men whom Jesus asked to become His disciple. Therefore we do not know the answer to the question, “What jobs did the twelve disciples have before they followed Jesus?

The Bible only reveals the vocations of Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew. Three of the gospels tell us that Peter, Andrew, James, and John were fisherman (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11). They were partners in a fishing business. Matthew was a tax-collector (Matthew 10:3). The vocations of the rest are unknown. The names of all twelve are as follows:

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him. (NASB) Matthew 10:2-4

We do not know Judas’ vocation, but we do know that he betrayed Jesus (Matthew 10:4, 26:25, 27:3; Mark 14:10; Luke 22:48; John 6:71, 12:4, 13:2, 18:2, and 18:5). Thomas was the one who doubted Jesus (John 20:24-28). It is amazing how little we know about most of these men before Jesus asked them to be His disciples.

The men who became apostles after the ascension of Christ were Matthias (Acts 1:26) and Paul (Acts 9; 1 Timothy 1:1). We do not know the vocations of either man. It may be that Paul was a tent maker (Acts 18:2-3). However, we know that was Paul a Pharisee.


The message and the emphasis of the gospels was about Jesus Christ and not the apostles. Therefore, we know very little about them. What is even more interesting is that we know very little about Jesus’ childhood and youth. But that was the custom at the time of Jesus Christ. In those days, they judged the character of a man by the last few years of a man’s life and how he died. If he was a truly great man, they might record his birth. This is exactly what happened for Jesus. His birth, the last 3-4 years of His life, and His death were recorded. That is what the ancients would have wanted to know.

Suggested Links:

Call of the Twelve
How were the apostles chosen? — Do apostles exist today?
What is the role of an apostle today? – Who is an apostle?
How did the Twelve Apostles die? – Where did the Apostles die?