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Disciples Part 2: John, James, Bartholomew/Nathanael

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

Jesus chose 12 men to be his first disciples. They were normal people, with normal jobs, but God had a special plan for them. Jesus taught the disciples many things while on Earth. Last week we studied Andrew, James and John. Click HERE to read about these three disciples. Today, let’s look into John, James, and Bartholomew.

The Call: Matthew 10:2-4- 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.


John was another fisherman like Andrew and Peter. When John heard of Jesus, he decided to leave his father Zebedee and his job fishing to follow Jesus full-time. John along with Peter and his brother James was in Jesus’s inner circle. John witnessed many miracles and healing from Jesus as a part of being in this circle. John had a special relationship with Jesus. The Bible refers to John as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. This is not to say that Jesus did not love the other disciples, but he was extra close to John.

After Jesus ascended to heaven, he put the responsibility of ministry in his disciples’s hands. John himself had many disciples and led many people to Jesus. The fruits of his ministry have lasted long after his death because much of what he wrote is in the Bible. John wrote the gospel of John, the letters 1, 2, 3 John, and the book of Revelation.

An interesting fact about John is that he is thought to be the only disciple to die a natural death. The rest of the disciples were killed because of their faith in Jesus. John did suffer persecution though. People tried to kill him by dropping him in a pot of boiling oil but he was unharmed. He was eventually exiled to the island of Patmos where he grew old.


James was the third and final person that belonged to Jesus’s inner circle. He and his brother John were nicknamed “the sons of thunder” for their zealous attitudes. This name is believed to come specifically from an event recorded in Luke 9:52-56 where James and John ask Jesus if they want them to call fire down from heaven. The brothers also asked Jesus if they could sit at his right and left hand in the kingdom of heaven, but Jesus only promised them that they would share in his suffering.

Even though James was in Jesus’s inner circle, his faith remained fairly weak until after the resurrection. Once James saw the resurrected Jesus, he fully believed that he was the son of God and this is evident by the way he spent the rest of his life. However, his faith in Jesus led to him being killed by King Herod (he was one of the first disciples to be martyred). We learn that following Jesus can be hard and we may suffer persecution but there are eternal rewards for his followers in heaven.


The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) call him Bartholomew, the gospel of John calls him Nathanael, but they are more than likely referring to the same person. It was normal in biblical times for people to go by more than one name.

Another disciple (Philip), told Bartholomew about Jesus. At first, Bartholomew was skeptical about Jesus being the Messiah but very soon he declared that Jesus was the son of God. This is recorded in John 1:45-49.

Besides this early account, we do not know much about Bartholomew. After Jesus’s resurrection, it is thought that he helped spread the gospel and eventually die a martyr’s death.

Key Takeaways:

  • We are called to be disciples of Jesus

  • Have Big Faith

  • Jesus is the son of God

  • Everyone Needs Jesus

Parents, 3treesKIDS will also be learning about John, James, and Bartholomew/ Nathanael this Sunday, both in-person and online. Be sure to check out their lesson at

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