Was wondering if there is any significance in Jesus choosing two sets of brothers as the first disciples in Matthew 4:18-22. What might this tell us about God's plan for the disciples?

Matthew 4:18-22 NASB95

18 Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He *said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

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    We are not told so we do not know.
    – Dottard
    Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 19:30
  • Ah, but we ARE told that Peter and Andrew already had decided to follow him, No? (John 1) Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 23:53

4 Answers 4


The answer may lie in Jesus' previous relationship with these men. The story is told in such a way that we infer Jesus had no prior dealings with them. He simply calls them and they follow. However, Jesus lived for 30 years in the area and may well have known these fishermen already. Perhaps he had fished with them from time to time and was impressed by their teamwork and work ethic.

More directly, the Gospel of John tells us that the first set of brothers actually met him when he was baptized by John at the Jordan.

John 1:40-42

40 Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42 Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

Conclusion: if John's Gospel is accurate, Jesus met Peter and Andrew earlier and they had already recognized his messianic role. In other words, he chose them at Galilee because they had already chosen him at the Jordan. Since this appears to be the case with the first set of brothers, something similar may have happened with the two sons of Zebedee. However, the Bible gives no details about this.


According to John 1:40, the two disciples of John the Baptist who met Jesus following His Baptism should be John and Andrew. John used to make his name anonymous in his gospel, and therefore, he only quoted the name of Andrew.

These two sets of brothers knew each other. They were fishermen in the sea of Galilee. As Matthew 4:18 tells us, Simon and Andrew were a team, and going on from there, in Matthew 4:21, James and John were another team. So it was John and Andrew found Jesus earlier and believed He was the Christ, then Jesus called them and their brothers when He began His ministry.

John 1:40-41 NIV

40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus.

41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ)

John didn't mention whether he told James that he had found the Messiah. However, if he wrote that Andrew had told his brother Simon, he should have done the same for James.


We are never given a reason, but there is a logical explanation.

By choosing twelve as the first Apostles, the number is symbolic of the Twelve Tribes. Since the twelve included two pairs of brothers, at most ten tribes could be represented. Thus, the original Apostles were symbolic of both the entire nation of Israel, and the divided kingdom.

We are not given any ancestral affiliation of the twelve, so it is possible some who were not brothers were from the same tribe. Therefore the symbolism is strictly what is numerically possible. We should not conclude the original twelve actually were from ten different tribes, or only the tribes of the divided kingdom.

With the selection of Saul, the post-resurrection symbolism is more specific. The inclusion of the Gentiles was primarily a result of Saul's mission. Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin. So the Book of Acts ends with with an Apostle from the tribe of Benjamin proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a savior from the tribe of Judah. This pair is a symbolic representation of the Davidic Kingdom after the defection of the ten tribes.


If Jesus does not give reasons, it is not easy for us to guess them.

But I suggest two possible factors. Both pairs of brothers were earning their living as a team, so it would have been unfair to break up these partnerships, leaving the unchosen brother to fish alone.

Also brothers might have similar characters, and so be equally suitable for the work which Jesus intended for them.

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    Or, it might have been even more of a sacrifice for the families involved for both brothers/sons to leave the business. Or, maybe there were other brothers to run the business if they left. Speculation can run as long as our imagination.
    – David D
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 18:37

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