7625 - Twelve Selected

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God has a plan for all of us, and today we look aat His choosing of 12 men and His plans for them.

In our study of Luke’s Gospel, today we study about Jesus appointing twelve disciples to be apostles.

Listen as I read Luke 6:12-16.
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Matthew, Mark and Luke all give a list of the names of the twelve men Jesus appointed to be apostles. The first chapter of Acts also has a list.

This is an awesome act in history. First we find the Son of God, in perfect fellowship with His Father, setting aside twelve men to be trained for the task of being used to establish and nurture the Church — the body of Christ — and to be leaders in this first century work of God.

True to His nature, Jesus spent the night conversing with Father God before this momentous act. In the book of Acts we’re told (10:38): “...God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good...because God was with him.” The Trinity was constantly interacting while Jesus carried on His ministry here on earth.

The term apostle means “one sent with a special message or commission.” Each of these men were with Jesus from his baptism (Acts 1:21-22) These twelve were mentored by Jesus during the remaining months of His earthly ministry. They ate with Him, slept near Him, walked with Him. They listened as He taught on numerous occasions. They observed His miracles. Later they were empowered by Jesus and sent out to minister by twos. They sometimes worked miracles themselves. They experienced the power of the Holy Spirit.

Some are mystified by the inclusion of Judas in this number. But do not be deceived, God makes no mistakes. His betrayal fulfilled prophecy and helped to bring Jesus to the cross. The cross opened the way to salvation. Jesus knew from the start that Judas Iscariot was an agent of the devil (John 6:70-71).

Even after these months of close relationship with Jesus they did not have a high understanding of His spiritual mission. After His resurrection, just before his accent into heaven, they asked again: “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? (Acts 1:6)”

Jesus was their leader until He was crucified. Then the Holy Spirit swept through at Pentecost and the Church was born, and leadership came initially through these men. With the coming of the Holy Spirit as a permanent, indwelling power, the apostles became changed men, testifying boldly to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

All but Judas were involved in ministry in some way after Pentecost but records are limited and sketchy.

The Bible give us some information about seven of these men before the time of their appointment: James and John, Peter and Andrew, Philip and Nathanael (also called Bartholomew), and also Matthew are introduced. Of the other five we have no record prior to their selection. Secular records tell us that five of the eleven died as martyrs. These are Peter, Andrew, James, Thomas and Bartholomew.

There is no known information regarding the death of Matthew, James the less, Simon the Zealot, and Judas (called Thaddeus).

It is recorded that Philip met his death in Syria, but no other information is available.

That leaves John who lived to great age. Although under Domitian he was placed in boiling oil, he emerged unhurt. There is no information regarding his end.

Of course, God added other leaders to the early Church as needed. The power of God guarded and nourished the body of Christ.