The twelve disciples, also known as the twelve apostles, were Jesus's closest followers. Disciple is a Biblical term meaning learner or pupil.
They were men who travelled with Jesus and learned from him. The twelve and Jesus ate together at the Last Supper on the night before Jesus was executed. After Jesus's death, they separated and began to spread his teachings.
Disciple was also used to refer to other followers of Jesus - but the 12 apostles were Jesus's closest companions before his crucifixion.
There is some disagreement among Biblical scholars as to who exactly should be counted as an apostle. Paul of Tarsus called himself an apostle. He was active in the early Christian church but did not meet Jesus while he was alive - but Paul argued that he received revelation from the risen Jesus directly. Mary Magdalene, a female follower of Jesus, is often referred to as a disciple. She is also sometimes called the apostles' apostle.
This article uses the names listed in the Gospel of Matthew, of the 12 main followers of Jesus during his lifetime. More on The twelve disciples
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