7 Things Christians Today Can Learn from Andrew in the Bible
- Joel Ryan Contributing Writer
- 2022 31 Mar
In the Bible, Andrew was a disciple of Jesus Christ, a fisherman by trade, and the brother of Simon Peter. Though not much is written about him, several stories in the gospels portray Andrew as a thoughtful and humble leader, eager to follow Jesus and faithful in bringing others to Christ throughout His ministry.
There’s no denying that Jesus chose an eclectic group of young men to follow in His footsteps. Prior to their encounter with the Messiah, the disciples were as common as they come. They were brothers, sons, fishermen, a tax collector, and a zealot. They were sinners in need of a savior like all of us. They were not elite. They were not highly educated. They were not prominent or influential in the eyes of the world at the time of their calling. And yet, Christ chose each of them to be His disciples and later build His church.
Andrew, however, is one disciple whose name isn’t mentioned often in the gospels. So, what do we actually know about him, and what can we learn from his character, his ministry, and the way Christ used him to advance the kingdom of God?
Who Was Andrew and What Do We Know about Him?
Andrew, whose name in Greek means “manly,” was born in a place called Bethsaida on the northwest coast of the Sea of Galilee (John 1:44). He, along with his brother Peter, grew up in the town of Capernaum nearby (Mark 1:29). Both men were fishermen by trade and likely close friends with fellow fishermen and disciples, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, and possibly Philip and Nathanael as well.
Although Andrew was nowhere near as brash or impetuous as his older brother Peter or the Sons of Thunder (James and John), it is important that we do not create a false picture of Andrew as somehow the “softer” or “weaker” brother. Their personalities, like their callings, were vastly different, but make no mistake, the rigors of their trade would have given Andrew (like most fishermen) physical strength and durability to go with his name.
Furthermore, Andrew’s spiritual zeal and resolve to bring others to Christ are not qualities one would find in a passive or timid individual. Beyond their vocation, Andrew and Peter (and possibly James and John) had also taken a keen interest in spiritual matters, becoming disciples of John the Baptist (John 1:35-42). John, however, had primed both Andrew and Peter for the arrival of Jesus Christ, promising that one greater than he would come, “the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.” (Acts 13:25).
In fact, after John had baptized Jesus in the Jordan River (John 1:29-34), it was Andrew who was the first of the twelve to be introduced to Jesus, who John had already heralded as the “Lamb of God” (John 1:36). Andrew, Scripture then tells us, immediately found his brother, Peter, saying “we have found the Messiah!” (John 1:41-42). Andrew and Peter therein became disciples of Jesus and followed Him for the duration of His ministry.
In the Bible, however, Andrew is rarely mentioned apart from his brother and other disciples. He is sometimes included with the core three (Peter, James, and John). On other occasions, he is excluded from the trio, who frequently went away with Jesus to pray, receive specific teaching, or witness certain miracles. Why was Andrew left out? We do not know. Like the rest of the disciples, he had a personal relationship with Jesus. The details of this relationship, however, are not always included in the Bible.
As the brother of Simon Peter, Andrew also tends to get overshadowed by his more outspoken and dominant sibling. This is to be expected. However, even though Andrew doesn’t feature as prominently in the Gospels as Peter or seem to have as public a ministry as his brother, in no way was Andrew overlooked or forgotten by Jesus.
Andrew knew his gifts, knew his calling and knew the role God had asked him to play in building His kingdom. He did so faithfully without ever needing to receive credit for his actions.
Where Is Andrew Featured in the Gospels?
John records three stories where Andrew is mentioned by name apart from any list and even his brother. Read together, a pattern in Andrew’s character begins to emerge.
Andrews Brings His Brother to Meet Jesus
As mentioned previously, the first story featuring Andrew involves Andrew finding and telling his brother about Jesus (John 1:35-42).
Peter, we know from the gospels, was naturally outgoing, brash, and often impulsive. He was an attention seeker who thrived in the limelight but was also a natural leader. That being said, there were many things about Peter’s character Jesus sought to refine.
Understandably, Andrew lived most of his life in his brother’s shadow.
In Andrew, however, we do not find the typical resentment or bitterness that often exists between brothers, even brothers in the Bible. Instead, Andrew immediately went to find his brother and share the good news. He then brought Peter to meet the Messiah.
Andrew Brings the Boy with the 5 Loaves and 2 Fish to Jesus
In the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand (John 6:1-14), Andrew is also mentioned by name in a similar way.
As a large crowd gathered to hear Jesus speak, Jesus looked to His disciples, namely Philip, and asked, “where are we to buy bread so that these people may eat?” (John 6:5)
Philip answered, “two hundred denarii worth of bread is not enough for them, for each to receive just a little.” (John 6:7) In pure monetary terms, Philip was correct. The disciples did not have enough money or food to feed such a large crowd.
Andrew, however, stepped forward with an offering: “there is a boy here who has five barely loaves and two fish; but what are these for so many people?” (John 6:9)
Andrew wasn’t stupid. He knew five loaves and two fish weren’t enough to feed the crowd, let alone the twelve of them. He brought the boy with his small offering to Jesus anyway.
Andrew Brings Inquiring Greeks to Jesus
On another occasion, a group of inquisitive Greeks sought an audience with Jesus (John 12:20-26). Unsure of what to do, Philip told Andrew, who swiftly told Jesus.
John MacArthur again concludes, “Andrew was not confused when someone wanted to see Jesus. He simply brought them to Him. He understood that Jesus would want to meet anyone who wanted to meet him.” (68)
Therefore, the pattern we see in Andrew’s character involves a willingness to be used by Jesus, no matter how small the task, and a desire to bring individuals to Jesus without hesitation.
7 Things Christians Today Can Learn from Andrew
Jesus Christ is at the center of the gospel and must be understood as the hero of the story, now and always. However, there are things we can learn from the character of His disciples, both good and bad, particularly the qualities Christ transformed for His glory. Andrew is no exception.
1. Christ Doesn’t Call the Qualified
The remarkably ordinary lives and common occupations of the disciples have been noted. However, what is important for us to remember is that Jesus didn’t call the disciples for their occupation or influence, or qualifications. By His grace He called common men He wished to qualify and equip for the sake of the gospel, demonstrating how, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.” (1 Corinthians 1:27)
2. Individuals are Often Introduced to Christ Through Others
As Christians, we expect gifted speakers, evangelists, and prominent pastors to lead others to Christ from the pulpit. They often do. But as we see through Andrew, individuals are also and often led to Jesus by those they know. Personal transformation and the power of relationship are sometimes as effective if not more effective than any sermon or altar call.
That isn’t to say that sermons and public evangelism aren’t essential. They certainly are. However, this was not Andrew’s gift or calling. Nothing in the Bible leads us to believe that Andrew ever spoke in front of large crowds, wrote any letters, or founded any churches as Peter did. That didn’t matter. Andrew had a role to play in the kingdom of God, and God filled Andrew with the Holy Spirit to bring individuals to Christ.
3. No Gift is Too Small for God to Use
In the events leading up to Jesus feeding the five thousand, the disciples focused on the impossible. They saw five thousand mouths to feed and limited resources to go around. Andrew saw Jesus and an opportunity for a miracle. Where the others saw a massive crowd, Andrew saw a small boy with a small gift who could be used in mighty ways. Perhaps he could relate. No gift, therefore, is too small for Christ to use for His glory.
4. Even Disciples Need Forgiveness
Although the gospels feature Andrew in a mostly positive light, it’s important to remember that Andrew, like his brother and the rest of the disciples, abandoned Jesus on the night He was arrested and later crucified. That being said, no sin or betrayal was too great for Christ to forgive. The same is true for Christ’s disciples today.
5. Good News Must Be Shared
Though Andrew was the first to encounter Jesus, the news of Christ’s arrival was simply too good for Andrew to keep to himself. He had to tell those he loved, namely his older brother, about Jesus.
Bringing individuals to Jesus was a trait Andrew would exhibit on more than one occasion. As the apostle Paul writes, “how then are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed? How are they to believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? But how are they to preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’” (Romans 10:14-15)
Andrew seemingly understood this even before Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).
6. There Is a Cost to Following Jesus
During His ministry, Jesus warned His would-be disciples that, “if anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)
Like the rest of the apostles, Andrew accepted the cost of discipleship and suffered greatly for the sake of the gospel.
After Jesus ascended into heaven, Andrew would go on to become a leader in the early church next to his brother and other apostles. History tells us that he carried the gospel into parts of Greece and Asia Minor. 7th-century historian, Eusebius, also writes of Andrew traveling as far north as Scythia, north of the Black Sea.
It is believed Andrew was martyred in Achaia by crucifixion on an X-shaped cross.
7. Prominence is Not as Important as Faithfulness
Apostles like Peter and later Paul would go on to have very prominent and public ministries. This was their calling. They would speak in front of multitudes and lead thousands to Christ. However, many more ministers of the gospel have labored in relative obscurity and gone on to receive a crown of glory for their faithfulness as well. Andrew was one such disciple.
His name may not be well known. Stories written about him may be few. But in serving without seeking recognition, leading individuals (not crowds) to Christ, and allowing God to use His gifts as He pleased, Andrew demonstrated humility, compassion, and confidence in Christ that Christians today would be wise to emulate.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Brian A. Jackson
Joel Ryan is a children’s book author, writing professor, and contributing writer for Crosswalk, Christianity.com, Stand Firm Men’s Magazine, and others. He is passionate about telling great stories, defending biblical truth, and helping writers of all ages develop their craft. Joel discusses, analyzes, and appreciates the great writings of the past and present on his website, Perspectives off the Page.