In the Fulness of Time/Part 55

By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2007
Why did Jesus give special powers to the Apostles? Who were the disciples? Dr. Figart gives a brief description of the Twelve.

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The Messiah/King’s Commission and Instructions. Matthew 10:1-23

The Authority and Identity of the Apostles— Matthew 10:1-4

Their Authority. 10:1

Matthew 10:1 “And when he had called him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.”

Jesus gave His twelve Apostles the “power” (exousia) or authority to perform the same miracles as He did, including raising the dead (v. 8), casting out demons and healing diseases. Only God could impart such authority as this; this in itself proves Christ’s deity, as well as His Messiah/Kingship.

At this point it is appropriate to summarize the qualifications of apostleship, which is listed in Ephesians 4:11 as the highest conferred spiritual gift from God:

Apostles were endowed with miraculous powers mentioned here in Matthew 10:1-8. These are called “signs of an apostle” in 2 Corinthians 12:12. And described there as “signs” (semeioi), “wonders” (terasin), and “mighty deeds” (dunamesin). These were given specifically to authenti­cate both the messenger and the message as from God (Acts 14:1-3; Hebrews 2:3-4). Now that we have the completed New Testament, such authentication is unnecessary.

Apostles were chosen directly by Christ in Matthew 10:1-4, and later directly by the Holy Spirit in Acts 9:6; 13:1-2. Paul and Barnabas are definitely called “apostles” in Acts 14:14.

Apostles were required to be eyewitnesses of the resurrection of Christ, according to Acts 1:22; 10:38-43; 2 Corinthians 9:1; 15:8.

Apostles were part of the foundation of the Church (Ephesians 2:20), not the superstructure. Thus the gift of apostleship was not passed down from that first generation to succeeding gen­erations; foundations are not laid on top of foundations! Thus, it is not possible to be an apostle today.

Their Identity. 10:2-4

Matthew 10:2-4 “Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: the first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, his brother; James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew, the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname is Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas, who also betrayed him.”

In addition to this listing, there are parallels in Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:13-16 and Acts 1:13. Matthew gives a series of pairs probably because they were sent out two by two (Mark 6:7).

Simon Peter is the impulsive one. He is called “first” because he was their leader. He is mentioned more often than any of the Twelve, and is the author of 1 and 2 Peter.

Andrew is the witness (John 12:20-22). He, along with his brother Peter, were fishermen by trade (Matthew 4:18-20).

James was called a son of thunder by Christ in Mark 3:17 and was aggressive, desiring to call fire from heaven upon the Samaritans (Luke 9:52-54).

John, also called a son of thunder, was just as aggressive as his brother James, and with him, wanted to be seated on the right and left hands of Jesus in His kingdom (Matthew 20:20- 21). He must have mellowed in his later years, emphasizing the love of God in his three Epistles; still, retaining his aggressiveness in his thunderous approach in the book of Revela­tion! Both brothers were fishermen.

Philip was the practical one. He was from Bethsaida (not to be confused with Philip the evangelist in Acts 6, 8). He must have known “the Law and the Prophets” (John 1:45) concern­ing Messiah. He asked Jesus to show them the Father (John 14:8); in John 6:5 he asked where they would find food enough for the 5,000.

Bartholomew (Nathanael) was the guileless Israelite; he was the genuine one, full of faith that Jesus was the Son of God and King of Israel (John 1: 47-48).

Thomas was the doubter (John 20:25), but he went from doubt to real devotion when he recognized Jesus as “My Lord and my God” (Matthew 20:28).

Matthew was humble calling himself the publican (Matthew 9:9). His Gospel is the greatest account of Jesus as the Messiah, King of the Jews!

James the Less, Mark 15:40, given this title because he was younger than the other James (the son of Zebedee).

Thaddaeus (Lebbaeus, or Judas, not Iscariot) He was a background man, his only recorded words are: “Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us and not unto the world?” (John 14:23-24).

Simon was a Zealot (Luke 6:15): this comes from “Canaanite” which is qanna or zealot (in Aramaic). He may have been zealous for the Kingdom to come.

Judas was the betrayer (Matthew 26:14-16). Iscariot, or from Kerioth, a town in Judah. He was not a believer; Jesus called him “diabolos” or devil (John 6:70).

In the fulness of time, Judas revealed his true character, and went “to his own place” (Acts 1:25) even hell itself!

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