What Do You Know About The Disciples?


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

The words and works of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ are throughout the New Testament, from the early chapters of the gospels through the book of Acts, and then in the epistles (letters) that they wrote to believers in the early church. Some of Jesus's disciples are only briefly named in the gospels, their words and deeds largely a mystery to us. Others became legendary. A notable example of the latter is Peter, now known as St. Peter to Roman Catholics. He rose from being an unschooled fisherman, quick to speak and rash in action, to the "rock" upon which Christ founded his church.

How much do you know about these men who left their everyday lives to follow Jesus? You probably know which one betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. But do you remember the controversial former profession of the disciple Matthew? Or which of them is considered to be the first Pope? How about the name by which "Nathanael" in the gospel of John is called in the other three (synoptic) gospels?

There's a lot to dig into here. Our quiz will test you pretty thoroughly on your knowledge of Jesus's first followers -- so try your luck now! Is it cheating to have a Bible at hand while you take it? That's between you and the Man Upstairs!

How many disciples were there?

It seems clear that Jesus had more than twelve devotees -- like the siblings Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, who loved him and believed his teachings. But twelve are marked as special in the gospels; they are the ones who received the "Great Commission" (see Matthew chapter 10).


Which of the following terms is used almost interchangeably with "disciples"?

Don't laugh about "sons of thunder." Mark 3:17 refers to "James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder)." However, 'apostles' is the name the disciples are commonly called by when referring to their time spreading the word of Christ after his resurrection.


Which of these was NOT one of the 12 disciples?

Interestingly, the writer of the gospel of Mark, which is seen as predating the other Synoptic Gospels of Matthew and Luke, was not one of the twelve. He is believed to be John Mark, a young follower of the apostle Peter, who wrote down the stories of Christ's teaching.


Peter, Andrew, James and John were all _____.

These are believed to be the first four disciples Jesus called, after his temptation in the desert. They left their work to follow him, taking nothing -- an example to future Christians.


Which of these names is shared by two disciples?

One of the fishermen who left his work for Jesus is "James son of Zebedee"; the other James is known as "James, son of Alphaeus." Meanwhile, the famous Simon is the one renamed Peter, while the lesser-known is Simon the Caananite. Finally, there is a disciple called Thaddaeus in some gospels, and Judas in others (including the book of Acts); the other was Judas Iscariot.


What was the profession of the disciple Matthew?

As a tax collector, he was considered "sinful" by the Jewish religious authorities (presumably because his activities served the Jews' conquerors, the Romans). Jesus defended his choice of Matthew as a follower by saying, "I have come not to call the righteous but sinners."


Which disciple is identified in the book of John as "Nathanael"?

The gospel of John differs from the other three Synoptic Gospels on many points, including this one. The other three gospels refer to a disciple named Bartholomew, whom many scholars believe is "Nathanael" in John.


Why is the disciple Thomas sometimes called Doubting Thomas?

John 3:25 has Thomas saying he will not believe until he sees the wounds himself. By right, Thomas should be the Patron Saint of skeptics and paranormal debunkers, but he is instead the Patron Saint of India, where he is said to have traveled to preach.


Is John the Baptist one of the disciples?

Though vitally important to the ministry of Jesus -- John is said to have prepared the way for him -- John the Baptist is not counted among the twelve.


Which disciples witnessed the Transfiguration?

If it could be said there was a 'core group' of disciples -- given that the 12 themselves were already a core group --, it would be Peter and the brothers James and John. They went up a mountain with Jesus and saw him transform into a figure glowing with dazzling light.


When Jesus sent the disciples into the world, he gave them power over what?

Casting out unclean spirits or demons was an important part of Christ's own ministry. It's likely that what these people were suffering from, in modern terms, was some form of mental illness. So casting out spirits can be seen as another form of healing.


Jesus told his disciples, "I am sending you out as ____________."

The Great Commission, in Matthew 10, contains some of the Bible's most beautiful writing. Jesus says "I send you out as sheep amidst the wolves; therefore, be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. ... What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops."


Jesus told his disciples to do what to towns that did not welcome them and accept his teachings?

The exact significance of the gesture is not clear, but the general meaning is: they are "washing their hands" of that town, or leaving it firmly behind.


Which disciple is only named in lists of the twelve apostles?

Not much is known about this quiet disciple. This is why he is often called "James the Less" or "James the Minor."


Jesus ate a Passover meal with all his disciples just before his arrest. What is this event now commonly called?

At the Last Supper, Jesus tells the disciples that one of them will betray him. They all ask, "Is it I, Lord?" -- even Judas, who has already set his betrayal in motion.


Which of the disciples betrayed Christ?

Judas Iscariot led the high priests to the garden of Gethsemane and kissed Jesus on the cheek, to identify him. This gave rise to the term "Judas kiss" for a kind or affectionate gesture that is, in fact, not.


What was Judas's payment for betraying Jesus?

There is no way to estimate how much value those 30 pieces of silver had in the Judea of that time. We are left to assume, though, it must have been a substantial amount, as some accounts say Judas later bought a field with it.


Which of the disciples denied knowing Jesus on the night of his arrest?

It couldn't have been Judas, because he clearly demonstrated that he knew Jesus, by leading the authorities straight to him. No, the denier was Peter, one of Jesus's most trusted followers.


Jesus told Peter he would deny him three times before what happened?

Peter did, in fact, hear a rooster crow just after denying Christ the third time. Realizing that the prophecy had come true caused him to weep.


Peter, James and John were with Jesus when he prayed before his arrest. Where did this happen?

Once again, we see the core group of Peter, James, and John alongside Jesus at a vital time. They fell asleep as Jesus prayed, and Jesus chided them for not having the discipline to stay awake.


To which disciple did Jesus, while on the cross, entrust the care of his mother?

This is a particularly lovely moment in the story of the crucifixion. Jesus saw his mother standing close to John, and said, "Woman, here is your son," and to John, "Here is your mother." The gospel of John tells us that from that day, John took Mary into his own home.


Who was the young man who "ran away naked" after the authorities grabbed his cloak on the night of Jesus's arrest?

He is only identified as "a certain young man." Some Biblical scholars believe that he was John Mark, author of the book of Mark, the only one in which the incident is mentioned.


Which of the disciples gave his tomb for Jesus's resting place?

The tomb was donated by Joseph of Arimathea. Christian tradition says that he later spread the gospels to the British Isles.


Which of the disciples saw the angel roll back Jesus's tombstone?

Mary Magdalene and a woman identified as "the other Mary" both saw the empty tomb first and met the risen Christ first. He greeted them as they were hurrying to tell the disciples what they'd seen at Jesus's resting place.


How did Judas Iscariot die?

There are contradicting stories about this. One says he hanged himself immediately after betraying Christ. The other (and more gruesome) says he bought a field with the money he got for helping the high priests and died of a fall there; it was so violent that his bowels fell from his body.


Who was the disciple who replaced Judas?

After Judas's betrayal and death, the disciples prayed to be shown God's will and then cast lots to choose his replacement. The lot fell on Mathias. However, some Christians believe that this was not truly God's will -- that the apostle Paul, who soon after received a vision on the road to Damascus, was God's true choice for the new apostle.


Is the author of the gospel of John also the author of the Revelation?

The author of the gospel of John, the apostle John, and the writer of the final book of the Bible may be three different people. It's more like an article of faith among Christians that these are the same person, but Biblical scholars cast doubt on the idea.


Which disciple is known as the "rock" on whom Christ built his church?

A little Greek goes a long way here. "Petra" is Greek for "rock," and it was Jesus himself who gave the former Simon the similar name %0D"Petros."


Which disciple had a name meaning "the twin"?

James and John were brothers, but there's no indication they were twin brothers. Thomas is sometimes called "Didymus," or "the twin." A non-canonical account of Jesus's life has him calling Thomas his own twin; obviously, this seriously conflicts with the accounts of the virgin birth in the canonical gospels.


Which of the apostles raised the widow Dorcas from the dead?

You might notice that Peter is getting the lion's share of questions in this quiz and it's not favoritism on our part! Peter, who first appears as an uncouth fisherman who speaks and acts impulsively, matures into the apostle whose preaching and works dominate early church history.


Which apostle is known as "Santiago" in Spanish?

While many names are similar in English and Spanish -- "John" becoming "Juan" -- the name "James" is almost unrecognizable. Of course, it's useful here to remember that the names we English speakers knew the apostles by are different from their Hebrew or Greek names in the first place. At any rate, "Santiago" is particularly important because James is the patron saint of Spaniards.


Which of the disciples was the first Christian to be martyred?

Stephen is described in Acts as "full of grace and power." After he speaks eloquently to a council of elders about his faith, they are angered and stone him to death -- laying their coats at the feet of Saul, who is about to become the apostle Paul.


Which of these was the first of the apostles to be killed for his faith?

James's death is mentioned, though without detail, in Acts 12, which notes that King Herod "had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword." Peter was arrested at the same time but escaped jail with the help of an angel of the Lord.


Which of the disciples is believed to have been crucified upside down?

Tradition holds that Peter died in Rome, where he was crucified upside down. This is said to be his choice, as he felt unworthy to die in the same way as Jesus did.


Which apostle is considered to be the first Pope?

Peter is given this honorary title because he was the "rock" on which Jesus built his church. He is also symbolically the first Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church because, in early days, it and the Roman Catholic Church were the same.


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