The Appointment of the Twelve

At this juncture in our Lord’s ministry, it is easy to discern two responses to His presentation of Himself
as Messiah. One response involved opposition and rejection; the other involved faith, not only in Israel,
but in the surrounding nations. It was in this setting Christ chose the Twelve from among the multitude
of His disciples in order to commission them as apostles. “Apostle” denotes one sent with authority.

The growing work demanded more organization and training. The Twelve were to be with Him at all
times and in all places, companions in His travels, witnesses of all His work, students of His doctrines,
fellow-laborers in His practical school of experience, and finally to become in reality as now in name,
commissioned apostles of His world-wide campaign for the establishment of His church as witnesses and
ambassadors. From this time on their training would occupy a large part of the time and attention of their

The Twelve Apostles

  • Peter/Cephas (Simon)
  • Matthew (Levi)
  • Andrew
  • Thomas
  • James
  • James the Son of Alphaeus (James the Less)
  • John
  • Simon the Zealot (the Canaanaean)
  • Philip
  • Judas the brother of James (Thaddaeus)
  • Bartholomew (Nathanael)
  • Judas Iscariot (from Kerioth, Judea)

Jesus never wrote on paper; He left no printed book; instead He wrote His message upon men, and these
men were the apostles. They were His one great hope of reaching the world. Our Lord in taking this
decisive step consulted not with men but with God. After a night of prayer with His Father, He appointed
the Twelve (Luke 6:12). They were the men the Father had given Him (John 17:9). He called them
friends rather than servants (John 15:15). They were family (Matthew 12:50).

The number twelve (like the twelve sons of Jacob) suggests the nucleus of the new people of God — the
Church. With one exception, the apostles were Galileans. This very fact put a stamp upon them from the
beginning. All the prejudice that men of Judea held toward this northern community—due to difference
in dialect, occupation, attitude toward pagan life and thought, failure to produce a prophet—meant that
these disciples as well the Master they served were viewed with suspicion.

Training of the Twelve.

“Disciple” denotes a learner, a pupil. In the NT, disciple refers to one who strives to measure up to
the demands of Jesus Christ in terms of sacrificial devotion. Jesus summarizes the conditions of
discipleship in Luke 14:26-27, 33. Mere numbers meant little to Jesus. What is needed is a devoted,
intelligent following. Peter affirmed that the Twelve had made this commitment to Jesus (Luke 18:28).

Having left their various occupations, they were without a means of livelihood. But so was the Master.
He had left the carpenter shop behind even as they had left their jobs. His example taught them to be
grateful and content with such things as came to them for their daily provisions. They learned to count on
the divine preservation of their lives so that future dangers would not shake their courage and faith. How
could they ever forget the lesson of that memorable evening on the Sea of Galilee when the sudden squall
threatened to engulf their ship and sent them to the bottom? They marveled that even the wind and wave
were subject to His command. Observe in the Gospels the ways Christ formally and informally trained
His disciples.

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