Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Matthew 10:1–4

Matthew 10:1–4 (ESV): The Twelve Apostles


This is a very short passage. Jesus calls the twelve Apostles, giving them “authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction” (verse 1 (ESV)).

The twelve Apostles are:

  • Simon (also called Peter)
  • Andrew (Simon’s brother)
  • James the son of Zebedee
  • John (James the son of Zebedee’s brother)
  • Philip
  • Bartholomew
  • Thomas
  • Matthew (the tax collector)
  • James the son of Alphaeus
  • Thaddaeus
  • Simon the Cananaean
  • Judas Iscariot (the Judas, who betrays Jesus)


I should probably mention that this passage introduces the term Apostle, whereas the term disciple has been used for most of the book of Matthew. That’s because an Apostle is something more specific than a disciple. A disciple is simply a follower/student/believer of Jesus. Anyone who believes in Jesus is a disciple—but in the history of the world, there have only ever been fourteen Apostles: The twelve mentioned here, Matthias (who was chosen to replace Judas in Acts 1:12–26 (ESV)), and Saul/Paul, who was sort of a “special” apostle.

The only reason this is important is because of passages that talk about the Apostles being the foundation of the church. (e.g. Ephesians 2:19–21 (ESV), Revelation 21:9–14 (ESV), Matthew 16:13–20 (ESV) and especially 17–20 (ESV)—it’s believed that when Jesus tells Peter that he will build his church on “this rock” that he doesn’t mean on Peter, specifically, but that Peter is a representative of the Apostles. Which he is; as stated in the ESV Study Bible,

Peter heads all the lists of the Twelve (cf. Mark 3:16–19 (ESV); Luke 6:13–16 (ESV); Acts 1:13 (ESV)) and serves as their spokesman. Peter, along with James and John, made up Jesus’ inner circle.

You might be a disciple, but you’re not an Apostle, and neither is anyone in your church, and neither is anyone who has lived since these fourteen men died. They laid the foundation for the Church; now that it’s laid, everyone else for the last two thousand years has been building on that foundation.

The other thing I have to mention about this passage is that it’s interesting how the names of the twelve Apostles aren’t more prevalent in the New Testament. Maybe other people who were raised in the Christian church know these twelve names off by heart, but I know I don’t. Simon/Peter is mentioned a lot in the Gospels and wrote a couple of letters in the New Testament; the first James mentioned and his brother John get a lot of mention, and both wrote letters in the New Testament; Matthew wrote the Gospel we’re looking at right now; obviously Judas is pretty [in]famous. But the others don’t get much mention at all—and yet the Church is founded on them!

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