Where Were the Disciples?

N.B. This page does not yet have a “Simplified English” version.
Automated translations are based on the original English text. They may include significant errors.

None of the Gospel writers attempts a systematic account of the disciples’ movements. However, there is sufficient evidence to form a picture of their probable whereabouts on the resurrection morning, and most of the apparent contradictions in the accounts of the resurrection morning are quite readily explained once this matter is resolved.

The night of Jesus’ arrest
When Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane, we are told that his disciples fled (Mt 26:56, Mk 14:50). Peter subsequently followed Jesus to the high priest’s house (Mt 26:58, Mk 14:54, Lk 22:54, Jn 18:15). John records that another disciple also followed Jesus, and being in some way known to the high priest, was responsible for gaining admission to the courtyard (Jn 18:15-6). This ‘other disciple,’ who crops up a number of times in John’s gospel, can be identified by comparing the various references as the gospel’s author, the apostle John.
How could a Galilean fisherman have such influence? John doesn’t tell us, except that his account implies that he was frequently in Jerusalem. However, Mark’s gospel mentions a minor detail about James and John: their father, Zebedee, was apparently wealthy enough to have hired servants working for him (Mk 1:20). A prosperous businessman might well have developed such connections in the city.
So Peter and John apparently stayed in Jerusalem on the night of the betrayal, whereas the other disciples fled. After all, with Jesus arrested, they were clearly frightened that they could be next. We know from the gospel accounts that Jesus and the disciples frequently stayed just outside Jerusalem, in Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ house at Bethany; so there is a good chance they would have gone there.
After his denial, Peter left the high priest’s house in tears (Mt 26:75 [Lk 23:62]). We aren’t told where he went: but the message to the women on the resurrection morning, ‘Go tell his disciples, and Peter,’ (Mk 16:7) implies that he was avoiding the other disciples.
Crucifixion Day
On the day of the crucifixion we are told that the disciples and many of the women watched from a distance (Lk 23:49); the only exception amongst the men being, apparently, John (Jn 19:26). But some of the women ventured closer and were subsequently watching when Jesus’ body was laid in the tomb (Mt 27:61 [Mk 15:47, Lk 23:55]). These included Mary Magdalene and Mary mother of Joses (possibly also wife of Clophas).
Resurrection Day
Some of the women, such as Mary Magdalene and Martha, probably returned to Bethany (it was their home, after all). John had apparently taken Jesus’ mother Mary back ‘to his own’ (Jn. 19:27). The expression here is idiomatic and normally means ‘to his own home’ – again suggesting that John, or his family, did have a place where they could stay at Jerusalem.

Back to main article.

Page creation by Kevin King

12 thoughts on “Where Were the Disciples?

  1. So ,at crucifixion was John. Judas Iscareotean was gone. Where was te other ten … They were cawords and ran, where? Only the two women were brave and the disciple Jesus loved the most (now we know why…) were there. And that’s a fact.

    • Hi, Simona!

      You seem to have missed the answer I gave to your question in the article above under the heading, ‘Crucifixion Day’. Luke’s gospel tells us…
      “But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.” (Luk 23:49)

      So the other 10 disciples were all there. But they were afraid of being arrested – so they watched from a safe distance. All the disciples, including John, ran away at first when Jesus was arrested. Afterwards, John and Peter turned and followed the crowd back to the High Priest’s house. John knew someone who helped them get into the courtyard. But when Peter was recognised he said that he did not know Jesus and then went away in tears.

      So it’s true that all the disciples were cowards; and I think I would have been a coward too. But not long after this they were telling everyone that Jesus was alive; and even beatings, imprisonment and death could not stop them. If they acted like cowards when Jesus was alive, how did they suddenly become so brave? By actually seeing him alive again, or by lying about it?

  2. Good morning,
    I want to understand, where were the disciples after Jesus was crucified and buried ? were they hiding, because they were afraid that they too may face the same consequences?

    • We aren’t told exactly where the disciples went after Jesus’ crucifixion. But they certainly were trying to hide from the Jewish authorities. I explained above where they were most likely to have been staying during this time. But as I also explain in ‘Why Were the Disciples Surprised?‘, although Jesus had told the disciples in advance that he would be killed and then resurrected, they never really believed this until they had actually seen him alive again(see Mt 16:21-3 & John 20:19-29). Their idea of the Messiah was of a conquering hero who could not possibly die. So when they saw Jesus killed this seemed to be proof he had been a false Messiah; and that the Jewish and Roman authorities had won and would be coming after them next. They probably wanted to get away from Jerusalem as soon as possible. But long journeys carrying any luggage were forbidden on the Sabbath; so they could not risk setting out until the first of the crowds began leaving Jerusalem on the following day.

  3. Hi Admin, thanks for all of your answers, most especially by even putting supporting verse with it for better understanding as well…we really appreciate it. It’s really helpful. May God bless you even more and beyond measure…

  4. As Jesus was tried et crucified publicly, why did he resurrect secretly since resurrection is the base of Christian faith? How do you explain that Marks évangile ends undoubtedly with ch. 16.8 whereas the rest 16.9-12 is generally believed as having been added later by convinced believers somewhat not keen with transmitting genuine original truth ? Again how can one believe the disciples hiking to Emmaus wit Jesus in company without recognizing him, since only 3 days earlier they shared a most commemorable diner together and at last, why ascension of Jesus did not occur with more publicity to make matters easier for doubtful believers?
    Please help! Cariolan

    • Good questions, Cariolan! Some of these points have already been discussed in more or less detail, elsewhere in the History Maker series; and it might be more appropriate to discuss them in more detail on those pages, where others might be more inclined to look. So, if you don’t mind, I plan to cite and respond to your remarks on those pages and include a link to them from here. Due to a work deadline, I won’t get around to this till next week: but will respond ASAP.

    • Hi, again, Cariolan!

      I decided that giving a proper answer to your first and last questions necessitated going well beyond the scope of the original series (which was simply about the historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection) to a more detailed examination of what Jesus actually taught; and why. So for that reason, I decided that it was best to make them the subject of a separate post, which can now be found in the Discussions section by clicking this link: “Why Wasn’t the Resurrection More Public?

      Your other two queries are already discussed in the “History Maker” series under the title, “Early Encounters around Jerusalem.”

      Mark’s gospel is briefer than any other; and you are correct in stating that Mark’s original account ends at 16:8. But that is after he has already affirmed the facts about the empty tomb and the angel’s announcement of Jesus’ resurrection. I suspect that your remark about ‘believers somewhat not keen with transmitting genuine original truth’ comes from someone who was simply trying to cast doubt on the testimony of the other Gospel writers. If you click on the first comment by Ivan I. Deer, our cartoon heckler, under the heading, ‘Peter’s Private Audience‘ you’ll find a further discussion of this particular issue.

      It is doubtful whether either of the 2 disciples on the Emmaus road was one of the 12 apostles who were present at the last supper. One, Cleopas, definitely wasn’t. The very last person they expected to meet was Jesus. And it is very possible that the clothing, general appearance and even voice of the resurrected Jesus seemed significantly more imposing than the Jesus they had last seen. Again, see Ivan’s comments under the heading, ‘The Emmaeus Road.’ I have also touched on this issue briefly in my new post.

      Hope this helps.

  5. i want to know, the two disciples that was on the way to Emmaus, to do what actually there because they left the others behind , ?

    • They were probably heading home. We only know the name of one of them, Cleophas; but neither of them were part of the inner group of 12 apostles. We know this because Judas was dead and the other 11 were still in Jerusalem (see Luke 24:33). They had obviously heard the women’s reports about the angels at the tomb, and the fact of the missing body: but, not surprisingly, they couldn’t believe that Jesus really was alive. Culturally, women’s testimonies weren’t considered reliable. But what they did know was that the authorities had killed Jesus, and were probably after his followers too: so Jerusalem was a dangerous place to stay.


Leave a Comment

You can also use the comment feature to ask a personal question: but if so, please include contact details and/or state clearly if you do not wish your identity to be made public.

Please note: Comments are always moderated before publication; so will not appear immediately: but neither will they be unreasonably withheld.

Name (optional)

Email (optional)