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Leadership selection is critical to the success of any enterprise. You must have clearly defined character qualifications and job definitions. You must both choose wisely and then provide the necessary mentoring and discipling to equip them to function in their new roles. Jesus was the Master Trainer. He wrote the book when it comes to Leadership. Here we see Jesus making the selection of the twelve key players that will serve as the foundation for the NT church.

Background: Jesus had just performed a controversial healing on the Sabbath of a man whose right hand was withered.

What stage in the ministry of Jesus did this calling of the 12 occur?

– Maybe about midway – marking a transition in his ministry

– Definitely more than year before His crucifixion

– Right before the important Sermon on the Mount


A. (:12) Prayer Preparation

“And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.”

Prayer is our #1 Strategy – because that is what prayer was for Jesus

What was Jesus praying about for an entire night? Only place in NT we see this happening

– Must have had a lot to say – was not given to just babbling and multiplying repetitious words

– Must have had some concerns – for the needs of the multitudes

– For how to develop and train His primary leaders

– Evaluating which disciples to select

– Planning His lengthy Sermon on the Mount

B. (:13) Selection Process

“And when day came, He called His disciples to Him; and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles:”

Ultimate Reality Show – ahead of His time

Why did he pick 12?

– Parallel with the number of tribes in Israel in the OT – Jesus was divine Messianic King

Matt. 19:28 “you also shall sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel”; cf. need to replace Judas so that there were still 12 going forward – Matthias (end of Acts 1)

he must be a man who had accompanied them during the whole time of Jesus’ ministry and who was a witness of His resurrection (Acts 1:21, 22).

– Good number for small group dynamics; ministry of multiplication – book Training of the 12 – Alexander Bruce, 1901

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).

How should we expect this principle of multiplication to work in our church context?

Jesus later would choose 70 others for a mission tour (Luke 10:1)

How did the others feel? Any significant ministry for them?

– Body dynamics from 1 Cor. 12; every part of the body must play its role

– No room for jealousy or envy

What would be the role of the 12 as the Apostles as distinct from the other disciples?

– special calling, privilege, charge, mission

– special authority – cf. role of ambassadors

– special authenticating signs and wonders

– special suffering and martyrdom

– several of them wrote a good portion of the NT (Matthew, Peter, James, John)

II. (:14-16) COMPOSITION OF THE 12 — 6 Groupings of 2 Apostles Each

There are four lists of the apostles: Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19, here, and in Acts 1:13.

A. “Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother;”

1. Peter: always mentioned first in list of apostles; strength, power, impetuous, impulsive, natural leadership qualities, bold; famous failure and then restored by Jesus

Jeremy Myers: Jesus takes this unstable man who always acts before he thinks, and steps into every pothole, and truly does transform him into a rock.

2. Andrew: always bringing someone to Jesus

Jeremy Myers: Andrew was content to not be the center of attention. We never see him getting resentful about the attention his brother or some of the other apostles receive. He was pleased to do what Jesus wanted him to do whether he received recognition or not.

B. and James and John; brothers and cousins of Jesus; sons of thunder

3. James: first of the 12 to be martyred

4. John: the disciple Jesus especially loved, the one to whom Jesus from the cross entrusted the care of His mother. He became the author of the fourth Gospel, of the three Johannine Epistles, and of the Book of Revelation. Apostle of Love

C. and Philip and Bartholomew = son of Tholomai [Nathanael];

5. Philip: the evangelist; deliberate; slow in arriving at decisions; earnest inquirer after truth; from the same town, Bethsaida, as Peter and Andrew.

6. Bartholomew: man of great moral excellence; pure-hearted – “in whom there is no guile” John 1:45-51; 21:2

D. and Matthew and Thomas;

7. Matthew (or Levi): tax collector

8. Thomas: doubter; slow to believe in the resurrection

Jeremy Myers: He was more of a brooder than a doubter. He had a tendency to see the negative side of things. He anticipated the worst in everything.

E. James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot;

9. James son of Alphaeus: not much known about him

10. Simon the Zealot: member of the radical political party that was known for its hatred of Rome, including those who collected taxes for Rome – now teamed with Matthew – made for interesting group dynamics; the apostles needed a team mentality; required relationship bonding and trust

F. Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”

11. Judas – son of James = Thaddeus (Mark 3:18): not much known about him

12. Judas Iscariot: always mentioned last in list of apostles – Keep your friends close and your enemies closer!

Jeremy Myers: I don’t think Judas intended to kill Christ. In many ways, Judas was just like the other apostles, including Peter. Judas wanted the Roman government overthrown. He wanted Christ to be set up as King. He wanted to gain a throne for himself also. He had originally signed on with Jesus because he thought Jesus was going to pass out glory and honor and riches. But it never happened. They just kept getting poorer and poorer. They made more and more enemies. Judas was not getting rich the way he thought he would. He began to steal a few coins from the money purse now and then. After all, it was only a little bit, and he deserved it for all of his hard work. And Jesus just wasn’t doing things right. Jesus wasn’t operating the way Judas thought he should. So Judas decided to give Jesus a little nudge in the right direction.

It was a perfect plan. Judas would hand Jesus over the religious authorities and the government. When they threatened to kill Jesus, Jesus would defend Himself, and the long awaited revolt would begin! The outcome would be that Jesus would defeat all his enemies, and Judas and the other apostles would receive their thrones. Of course, on the other hand, if Jesus ended up not defending himself, then nothing really was lost, for all Judas had done was unmask a false Messiah, and Judas would then be in good standing with the rich and powerful rulers of the day. It was a win-win situation for Judas. There was just one problem which Judas failed to see. What if Jesus truly was the Messiah, but He had not come to rule and reign, but to serve? Judas must have heard this a number of times from Jesus, but he never quite grasped it. So because Judas never grasped what Jesus had come for, Judas tried to grasp at wealth and power instead.

Surprising how little we know about many of these very significant men who formed the foundation of the NT church. – The story is all about Jesus Christ.


A. Importance of Work Ethic — but you can’t work your way into successful ministry

B. Diversity of Personalities – God loves variety – He created variety!

C. Largely a Blue Collar Group – not the elite of society – not the well-educated and the well-connected that you might expect would become movers and shakers in such a worldwide movement; cf. book by John MacArthur: Twelve Ordinary Men

D. Necessity of Commitment – these were all busy men; but at the command of Jesus, they left everything to follow Him

E. Importance of Relationships – two sets of brothers chosen

F. Redeemed and Transformed Men – Sovereignly chosen and equipped for their task – God is able to use us despite our sins and failures and inadequacies