When I was a theology student, I learned about how Jesus had a large following. I remember reading about the 12 disciples he originally chose and the 72 that followed after that.
This led me to the question, “How many followers did Jesus have?”
The Bible records Jesus having a different number of followers at different times. At some point, he had 4000, 5000, and even larger numbers just mentioned as crowds. From the biblical perspective, the size of a crowd is unknown, but some scholars estimate it to be in the thousands. This suggests that Jesus had a huge following during his ministry that stretched to several thousands of people, with some of his followers undocumented.
In this article, I will shed light on what the Bible mentions regarding the followers of Jesus. Join me in this exploration and discover why some people think that Jesus had 500 followers.
Keep reading to find out the number of followers Jesus had after his resurrection and much more!
Does the Bible mention how many followers Jesus had?
The Bible does not mention the exact number of followers that Jesus Christ had; however, it has given several instances that can be used to estimate the number of followers that Jesus Christ had.
The first followers of Jesus Christ were his 12 disciples. They are mentioned in the gospels. They include; Simon peter, his brother Andrew, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Phillip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, son of Alpheus, Thaddeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot.
These are the first followers that Jesus amassed at the beginning of his ministry. They played a critical role in ensuring that Jesus moved to various places conveniently while expanding his ministry. The 12 are mentioned in Matthew 10:2-4.
The second batch of followers of Jesus Christ is mentioned in Luke 10 from verse 1. This was the time when Jesus appointed 72 more disciples to go out and spread the word while performing miracles.
Jesus sent them out two by two to different towns he was supposed to visit. They were going to prepare the way for him in the said towns.
While commissioning them, Jesus gave them several instructions and gave them the power to perform miracles. They came back with the great news that the demons had surrendered in the name of Jesus.
Luke 9:12-17 tells the miracle of Jesus feeding over 5000 followers with five loaves of bread and two fish secured from a young boy in the crowd.
Luke 9:16-17 says, “Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.”
This was during one of the major miracles that Jesus had performed.
The Bible notes that there were 5000 men at that place when the miracle was performed. Some scholars have concluded that Jesus fed more than 5000 people on that particular day.
The 5000 noted were only the men, as the Bible suggests.
Since the people were not following Jesus for meals but because of his teachings and miracles, so they are considered his followers. This verse suggests that in some settings, Jesus had to deal with over 5000 followers, which is a huge number of people to talk to in one sitting.
Matthew 15:29-39 tells of the miracle of Jesus feeding over 4000 followers with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. After walking with them for three consecutive days, they were hungry.
Matthew 15:36-39 reads, “Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.”
Christ performed this miracle of feeding them out of compassion. The Bible records that the 4000 mentioned were only men. Women and children were also present at the time, but their numbers are not mentioned.
Their numbers could have been higher than that of men. This could have pushed the numbers of the crowds at Jesus meetings towards tens of thousands.
The Bible verses above have given hints about the approximate number of followers that Jesus had. Spending with him over three days before being dismissed was a sign that Jesus had made strides in ensuring he had a loyal following enjoying the great deeds of God.
The number might not be definite, but the scriptures suggest the numbers trickled to tens of thousands of followers.
Why do some people think Jesus had 500 followers?
When Jesus was raised from the dead, he made several special appearances to some of his staunch followers. Mary Magdalene was the first person Jesus appeared to, so she was the first to witness the Resurrection.
Three other women saw him, too, before he made an appearance to his disciples. It is then recorded that Jesus also appeared to more than 500 brothers at once, who seemingly were his followers too.
This is quoted in Corinthians 15:6, “Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.”
This verse has been misinterpreted by some Christians who think that the only people who witnessed the Resurrection of Jesus were his followers.
Although Jesus appeared to his followers after his Resurrection, he did not make an individual appearance to each one. Some biblical scholars have tried to explain that Jesus would have visited more of his followers after the Resurrection.
However, the will of God was for the number of witnesses to be around the 500 figure.
Therefore, appearing to the 500 does not mean that the disciples of Jesus were limited to this number; rather, it was the will of God that those specific people witnessed the Resurrection of Jesus.
How many followers did Jesus have at the peak of his ministry?
The peak of the ministry of Jesus was the time when he was approaching his death, and huge multitudes were on his neck day and night.
This was when he had performed most of his miracles and proven that he was indeed the true son of God. This means that Jesus was amassing many people to his meetings at the time.
The Bible does not record the exact number of followers Jesus Christ had. However, these numbers can be estimated from the crowds that followed him before his final days.
The miracle of feeding the 5000-plus men proved that Jesus had thousands of followers. Every miracle and good deed made him even more popular, meaning that Jesus might have had over ten thousand followers by his peak.
How many followers did Jesus have after his Resurrection?
The number of followers that Jesus had after his Resurrection is not recorded in the Bible. The only record in the Bible is that of the followers he appeared to in his resurrected body.
Mary Magdalene, the three women, the apostles, and the 500 brothers were favored enough to witness Jesus Christ after the Resurrection. This made some Christians estimate that by the time of his Resurrection, Jesus only had 500 plus followers.
Some biblical scholars have estimated that the Resurrection of Jesus added him more followers since this was a rare occurrence. By his death, he already had thousands of followers loyal to him and his ministry.
Although many went silent during his persecution, the Bible has not recorded them denouncing Jesus Christ. Some of them followed his case and comforted him by the cross.
If, by the peak of his ministry, Jesus had over ten thousand followers, imagine how the numbers increased after his Resurrection. The numbers might have massively grown deep into thousands.
This can be supported by the number of people saved during the Pentecost day, 3000.
Despite the Bible not being precise about the number of followers Jesus had after his Resurrection, we can only assume that the numbers swelled due to the great miracle.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.