Harmony of the Gospels

 Harmony of the Gospels

-AD 28-
Near Capernaum
(16) Twelve Apostles Selected After a Night of Prayer
Mark 3:13-19, Luke 6:12-16

Up to this point large crowds had followed Jesus, and among them was a group of men whom He called to discipleship.  The disciples were at least seventy in number, because it says in Luke 10:1, “After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.”  Now, He will choose and ordain twelve to be His apostles.

-Mark-

And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. (Mark 3:13)

The new people of God, like the old, are called or chosen.  He does the choosing.  Whether you like it or not, He chooses you; you do not choose Him.  “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” (John 15:16)  It is a real comfort to me, and I don’t think it is irreverent to say, that since He chose me, He is responsible for me.  He will not let me down.  He will be right there with me all the way to the end of my life, and then He will receive my soul.  Notice also, that when He calls, they respond.

And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: And Simon he surnamed Peter; (Mark 3:14-16)

There may be some significance to the number of disciples, because there were twelve tribes that made up the nation Israel.  The call here is to apostleship.  The word apostle means, “Those who are sent”.  Here is where they actually became apostles, and here is where they are sent out on a ministry, set apart for Him.  This is a special group, that He will later call “friends”.  Matthew records the message and method that Jesus instructs them to use at this time.  “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.  Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.  And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.  And when ye come into an house, salute it.  And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.  And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.  Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.  Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.  But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.  But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.  For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.  And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.  And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.  But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.  The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.  It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?  Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.  What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.  And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.  Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.  But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.  Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.  And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.  He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.  He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.  He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.  He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.  And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:5-42)

Note the difference between the disciples and apostles.  The disciples were a large group that was called by Him.  The twelve apostles were chosen by Him from among the disciples.  He commissioned the twelve to preach and He gave them the power to heal diseases and to cast out demons.

And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite, And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house. (Mark 3:17-19)

Verses 17-19 give the names of the apostles.  I would like to give you some trivia about a few of them.  There were four fishermen and two pairs of brothers; Peter and Andrew, and James and John.  James was slain by Herod.  The one called James the Less was not Jesus’ brother.  Simon Zelotes was a member of the insurrectionary party who were eager for revolt against Rome.  These men were diverse types of individuals which foreshadowed His appeal to men of all conditions and circumstances.

-Luke-

Some of the disciples were introduced to Jesus, while He was in Jerusalem.  He did not call them at that time.  Later, walking by the Sea of Galilee, He called them to follow Him.  They did for a brief period, but returned to fishing.  Then He called them again and the Bible tells us, “And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.” (Luke 5:11)  Now out of an unspecified number of disciples He chooses twelve to be His apostles.

And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.  And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor. (Luke 6:12-16)

Jesus prayed all night before choosing the twelve men to be His apostles.  One was a traitor, and one would deny Him.  On the night that He was arrested, they all ran and hid.  However, all but Judas repented.  The important thing to see here is that God’s men are always chosen.  With the appointment of the twelve, He turned from debate with the Pharisees to teaching those that had been receptive to His announcement of the Kingdom.

Paul gives the three criteria for an apostle in 1 Corinthians.  In chapter 9 and verse 1, he wrote, “Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?”  And in chapter 15 and verse 8, He wrote, “And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.”  There were three requirements.  First, it must be a man.  Second, they had to accompany Jesus and the other disciples during Jesus’ ministry.  Third, they had to be a witness to His resurrection.  Also it says in Acts 9:15, “And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)”.  And it says in Galatians 1:15-16, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, “To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:”  Paul is saying that the apostles were given a commission.  They were witnesses and leaders chosen by God, just as God had chosen the twelve tribes of Israel.

God is still calling together a people of faith through whom He can bless all the peoples of the earth.  God gave a similar promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”  Sometimes God calls people with unique gifts, which He uses for specific tasks.  David and Paul were gifted men that God used to accomplish great tasks: David brought greatness to Israel and Paul took the Gospel to the gentiles.  However, most of the time God calls people who don’t discover their gifts until after they set about the task or they exceed in spite of apparent shortcomings.  Moses and Peter were this type of man: Moses was raised in the Egyptian culture, but wrote the first five books of the Bible; Peter though uneducated wrote several books of the Bible and preached the first great sermon of the New Testament. 

Election is a topic that is ignored by many churches today.  Other churches wrongly apply the doctrine of election, and as a result the Gospel doesn’t go forth and everything is put into God’s hands.  I believe that scripture clearly presents election as the call by God to salvation that He applies through the Holy Spirit.  However, God doesn’t force salvation on anyone.  We either accept or reject His call.  It is true that no man comes to God unless He calls him.  But not every man that He calls will accept Christ as Savior.  God has always given man a choice.  Mankind made a decision in the Garden of Eden.  God did not force Eve to eat the forbidden fruit.  Peter, Andrew, James and John were called the first time to be disciples, but returned to fishing.  They made that decision.  Many men set under sound preaching and hear the Gospel every week.  They wrestle against the call to receive Christ for years, and some never yield.

It is Christ who did the work of salvation.  We can add nothing to what He did.  But salvation is available to all; to anyone who will turn to Christ in faith and repent of their sins.  Our part is to accept what Jesus did for us on the cross.  We must accept or reject Him.  Everything hangs on that one decision.

 

 

 

 

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