Summary: This message looks at the 12 Apostles, how they lived and how they died.
Discover the 12
What a group. In another time and another place they would have killed one another or at least inflicted grave injury on each other. We know some of their stories and others we only know by name. But we do know who they were and even if we can’t name them all we can name some of them.
If you’ve been around Cornerstone for a while you know that sometimes Denn preaches to inspire and sometimes Denn teaches to educate and sometime you can get both in the same message. This one started off as geared toward inspiration but changed more into the education model. Mainly because as I started delving into the lives of the 12 I realized that most of us really aren’t familiar with the twelve men who Jesus picked to change the world.
This is a really, really important group of people. Remember when Jesus was crucified there were only a handful of people who were even brave enough to be seen with him at his death. That after Jesus’ death and resurrection and his return to the Father there were only 120 gathered in the upper room. That’s about half of the number of people who will worship at Cornerstone on any given Sunday. And through the efforts of the eleven remaining disciples the world was literally changed.
No I understand that God was working, and the Holy Spirit was moving but it ultimately happened because of these men. This was the group that God had chosen to accomplish his plan through. And they literally changed the world that they lived in, without television or radio or the internet, without force or violence they reshaped humanity in a matter of half a century.
So who were they? Where did they come from and what were they like? Well let’s start by saying they were people, they weren’t statues or stained glass they were people, living breathing people. With all of the faults and foibles, passion and vision that make us people.
The twelve are listed in three of the four Gospels, Matthew Mark and Luke, and then eleven of them are listed in the book of Acts, by that time they were missing Judas because he was hanging out by himself. Here is how the various accounts list the group.
Simon (Peter) Simon (Peter) Simon (Peter) Peter
Andrew James Andrew John
James (son of Zebedee) John James James
John Andrew John Andrew
Philip Philip Philip Philip
Bartholomew Bartholomew Bartholomew Thomas
Thomas Matthew Matthew Bartholomew
Matthew Thomas Thomas Matthew
James (son of Alphaeus) James (son of A) James (son of A) James (son of A)
Thaddeus Thaddeus Simon the Zealot Simon the Zealot
Simon the Zealot Simon the Zealot Judas (son of James) Judas (son of James)
Judas Iscariot Judas Iscariot Judas Iscariot Judas Iscariot
It’s interesting that some have made much ado about the fact that they aren’t listed in the same order in all four accounts. Really, I think some people have way too much time on their hands and spend that time over analyzing things.
Presbyterian Preacher J. Vernon McGee writes “I have a book called ‘Marching Through Mark’ in which I compare the lists of apostles as they are given in the four Gospels and in the Book of Acts. It is interesting to make this comparison of how they are listed and the different names that are used.”
And Dr. David Smith notes in the Wesleyan Bible Commentary “Reconciling this specific list of the disciples in Mark 3 with the others in the New Testament remains a hermeneutical puzzle.”
My advice to those who are seeking deeper meaning in the order of the lists would be; Stop it! I have two children not 12 children and sometimes I refer to them as Deborah and Stephen and sometimes I refer to them as Stephen and Deborah. It’s not rocket surgery people it’s just the way they were mentioned, stop overthinking things.
Obviously there is significance to the fact that Peter who became the ad hoc leader of the group is always mentioned at the top of the list and that Judas who is always identified as Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him) winds up at the bottom. And that makes sense. In all the lists the first five remain in the top five although in slight different orders, twice Andrew is mentioned second, and John and James each make the second spot once and Philip is always mentioned fifth. And along with Matthew and Nathanael these are the only ones whose individual’s calls are listed in the bible.
But regardless of where they are on the list these men are known as the Twelve Apostles and they were Jesus closest followers. By the way don’t know if you’ve seen this or not. . . . (Pic of Jesus and Twitter) Now the twelve weren’t the only ones to follow Christ during the three years he taught but they were the closest ones to follow him.