VIDEO The Twelve Apostles (Full Documentary)

Aug 13, 2017

In Christian theology and ecclesiology, the apostles (Greek: lit. ‘one who is sent away’), particularly the Twelve Apostles (also called the Twelve Disciples), were the primary historical disciples of Jesus, the central figure in Christianity. During the life and ministry of Jesus in the 1st century AD, the apostles were his closest followers and became the primary teachers of the gospel message of Jesus. The word disciple is sometimes used interchangeably with apostle; for instance, the Gospel of John makes no distinction between the two terms. In modern usage, prominent missionaries are often called apostles, a practice which stems from the Latin equivalent of apostle, i.e. missio, the source of the English word missionary. For example, Saint Patrick (AD 373–463) was the “Apostle of Ireland”, and Saint Boniface (680–755) was the “Apostle to the Germans”.

While Christian tradition often refers to the apostles as being 12 in number, different gospel writers give different names for the same individual, and apostles mentioned in one gospel are not mentioned in others. The commissioning of the Twelve Apostles during the ministry of Jesus is recorded in the Synoptic Gospels. After his resurrection, Jesus sent 11 of them (minus Judas Iscariot, who by then had died) by the Great Commission to spread his teachings to all nations. This event is commonly called the Dispersion of the Apostles. There is also an Eastern Christian tradition derived from the Gospel of Luke of there having been as many as 70 apostles during the time of Jesus’ ministry. Prominent figures in early Christianity, notably Paul, were often called apostles, even though their ministry or mission came after the life of Jesus.

The period of early Christianity during the lifetimes of the apostles is called the Apostolic Age. During the 1st century AD, the apostles established churches throughout the territories of the Roman Empire and, according to tradition, through the Middle East, Africa, and India.

Although not one of the apostles commissioned during the life of Jesus, Paul, a Jew named Saul of Tarsus, claimed a special commission from the resurrected Jesus and is considered “the apostle of the Gentiles”,[Romans 11:13] for his missions to spread the gospel message after his conversion. In his writings, the epistles to Christian churches throughout the Levant, Paul did not restrict the term “apostle” to the Twelve, and often refers to his mentor Barnabas as an apostle. The restricted usage appears in the Revelation to John.

By the 2nd century AD, association with the apostles was esteemed as an evidence of authority. Churches which are believed to have been founded by one of the apostles are known as apostolic sees. Paul’s epistles were accepted as scripture, and two of the four canonical gospels were associated with apostles, as were other New Testament works. Various Christian texts, such as the Didache and the Apostolic Constitutions, were attributed to the apostles. Bishops traced their lines of succession back to individual apostles, who were said to have dispersed from Jerusalem and established churches across great territories. Christian bishops have traditionally claimed authority deriving, by apostolic succession, from the Twelve. Early Church Fathers who came to be associated with apostles, such as Pope Clement I with St. Peter, are referred to as the Apostolic Fathers. The Apostles’ Creed, popular in the West, was said to have been composed by the apostles themselves.

Trust God with your Tears

Trust God In the Storm
‘Hear my prayer, LORD, pay attention to my cry, and do not ignore my tears. I am an alien in your presence, a stranger just like my ancestors were.’ – Psalm 39:12

Trust God with your Tears

When life doesn’t seem too great, most of the time you keep your chin up anyway and carry on despite how you feel. Other days it gets the better of you and it seems the only option is to break down and cry.

Usually when just one or two things are on top of you, it is easy enough to cope with them. However, as a multitude of things start to stack up it only takes one final blow to topple the balance to knock you over the edge. Everything suddenly seems way too much to deal with and you end up in a state of despair.

Sometimes, just by thinking or chatting things through you realise that everything isn’t quite so bad after all. There may be a solution to alleviate the problem, or at least reduce it. However, often the main reason for something to deeply upset you is because you know, deep down, that there isn’t a solution.

It is often this realisation which causes us to cry.

This one unsolvable problem is quite possibly the trigger for all the other problems. Similarly to standing up a line of dominoes – as soon as the first domino falls so do all the others after it. What we had built has all fallen down all at once, leaving us confused and upset.

It is at this point that we realise we cannot solve the problem alone. We need help. We need help from someone who knows what we need more than we do ourselves. We need someone with powers beyond our own and those around us.

‘He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him…’ – Hebrews 5:7

Offer it to God. Hand it over. Tell Him why you are upset and that you don’t know what to do. Cry to Him, for God hears our cries and responds, as He has proved over and over again. Also, I’m sure it will be of some comfort just to speak to God about it.

I read a quote the other day which went along the lines: A problem shared is a problem halved, so tell it to Jesus twice! I loved this idea – it seemed so simple yet meaningful. We should speak to Jesus more often. He cried to God in His suffering to save us, so why are we so reluctant to cry to Him?

‘In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears.’ – Psalm 18:6

Crying is okay. It means we know we need to stop and reassess where we are heading. God will listen, but only if we speak. God will help, but only if we cry out for it. For God loves us, and doesn’t want us to be upset.

‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ – Revelation 21:4

Trust God with your tears, and just maybe things will get better.

Look Again and Consecrate

If God so clothes the grass of the field…, will He not much more clothe you…? —Matthew 6:30

A simple statement of Jesus is always a puzzle to us because we will not be simple. How can we maintain the simplicity of Jesus so that we may understand Him? By receiving His Spirit, recognizing and relying on Him, and obeying Him as He brings us the truth of His Word, life will become amazingly simple. Jesus asks us to consider that “if God so clothes the grass of the field…” how “much more” will He clothe you, if you keep your relationship right with Him? Every time we lose ground in our fellowship with God, it is because we have disrespectfully thought that we knew better than Jesus Christ. We have allowed “the cares of this world” to enter in (Matthew 13:22), while forgetting the “much more” of our heavenly Father.

“Look at the birds of the air…” (Matthew 6:26). Their function is to obey the instincts God placed within them, and God watches over them. Jesus said that if you have the right relationship with Him and will obey His Spirit within you, then God will care for your “feathers” too.

“Consider the lilies of the field…” (Matthew 6:28). They grow where they are planted. Many of us refuse to grow where God plants us. Therefore, we don’t take root anywhere. Jesus said if we would obey the life of God within us, He would look after all other things. Did Jesus Christ lie to us? Are we experiencing the “much more” He promised? If we are not, it is because we are not obeying the life God has given us and have cluttered our minds with confusing thoughts and worries. How much time have we wasted asking God senseless questions while we should be absolutely free to concentrate on our service to Him? Consecration is the act of continually separating myself from everything except that which God has appointed me to do. It is not a one-time experience but an ongoing process. Am I continually separating myself and looking to God every day of my life?

by Oswald Chambers

When Jesus Invites Himself Over

Jesus Zaccheus
To our Savior, there was no such thing as an unlovable person, and the same should be true of us.

No one in Jericho felt bad about the way Zaccheus was treated. He was a chief tax collector who had gotten rich by swindling the poor. And since he collaborated with the Romans, it had become a source of civic pride to despise him. Hence, he was ignored, grumbled against, and ostracized. He had not been welcome in the synagogue for some time and was never invited to participate in the community’s celebrations. His only friends were fellow tax collectors. That is, until Jesus strolled into town.

Luke tells us that Jesus sees Zaccheus up in a sycamore tree, hanging on to one of its sprawling branches. Perching up there is a humiliating thing for someone with Zaccheus’s position and wealth to do, but as a short man, it’s his best option for getting a glimpse of the man who’s been causing such a stir.

For His part, Jesus does what no one else is willing to do. He speaks to Zaccheus with kindness and respect. He also does something that is found nowhere else in the Gospels: He invites Himself over. From where He stands on the ground, He calls up to Zaccheus, “Hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house” (Luke 19:5). Jesus has been the guest of notorious sinners, of self-righteous Pharisees, and of faithful supporters, but only here do we read of Him initiating the invitation.

At this point in His public ministry, Jesus is popular. In a few days, the crowds will turn on Him and demand His blood—but for now, they’re coming out in droves to witness miracles and hear Him teach about His Father’s kingdom. Jesus could stay with anyone in Jericho, but He chooses the most despised man in town.

Unlikely Friends

The friendship between Jesus and Zaccheus did not develop out of a mutual appreciation. As far as we know, they shared no interests, no hobbies, and no common acquaintances. Jesus and Zaccheus were on opposing paths. While Jesus was headed to Jerusalem—where He would be betrayed, arrested, tortured, and crucified for a world of sinners—Zaccheus was on a path of power and prosperity. Jesus had emptied Himself of the glories of heaven and come to earth to rescue those who would shout for His death. Zaccheus had enriched himself by taking advantage of his neighbors.

C. S. Lewis once wrote, “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .’” Yet when the Lord spies Zaccheus up in that tree, there is no “What! You too?” moment. Instead, Jesus reaches out to the chief tax collector precisely because they have nothing in common and because loving the unlovable is at the core of His life and ministry.

By this time, Jesus has long carried the epithet “friend of tax collectors and sinners” (7:34), but rather than trying to shed such an insult, He wears the label proudly. The kind of friendship Jesus offers the tax collector is a snapshot of the larger story that’s been unfolding since Genesis 3.

Though we were created in God’s image, that image has been distorted and broken. In our sin, we have nothing in common with a holy God—no basis for friendship whatsoever. And as people who “did not honor Him as God or give thanks” and who “exchanged the truth of God for a lie” (Rom. 1:21, 25), we, too, are far from lovable. Yet God reached out to broken people—invited Himself over, as it were.

This is what we see take place in Zaccheus’s home. There are no words of warning or condemnation on Jesus’ lips, no encore of the Sermon on the Mount. There isn’t even an acknowledgement of Zaccheus’s crimes against his fellow man or his God. Instead, God comes close. Zaccheus knows he’s a sinner, and in Jesus’ presence, his heart is changed.

Recognizing who Jesus is, and in awe of the fact that He would stoop low to enter a wretched man’s home, Zaccheus turns from his life of sin: “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much” (Luke 19:8). A fourfold payback was the Law’s requirement for theft (Ex. 22:1), so with that statement, the tax collector places himself under God’s authority, something he had flouted for years. And without another word—no discussion of doctrine, no sinner’s prayer—Jesus announces plainly what Zaccheus’s heart already knows: “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham” (Luke 19:9).

In the same way, God made the first move toward each of us: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). He did this so we could be saved and become members of God’s family, sons of Abraham. And because God acted first, we can accept His invitation to friendship.

A New Kind of Friendship

When the Pharisees and other religious leaders called Jesus a “friend of sinners,” they meant it as an insult. However, Jesus embraced the title, saying, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). And now He calls us to do the same.

Jesus commanded His first followers to go out into the world—to people who were worse than tax collectors and sinners in the minds of devout Jews—and make true disciples of them (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). Jesus wants something akin to this scene with Zaccheus to play out in every culture.

As missionaries and evangelists can attest, these kinds of friendships are often uncomfortable and rarely easy. A coworker once told me of a mission trip to South America during which he was served a stew that contained a hearty portion of monkey brains. He didn’t want to insult his host by refusing, so he ate every single bite. Whether or not monkey brains are part of the equation, the fact remains: Jesus calls us to friendships that are sometimes bumpy and challenging.

But Jesus doesn’t leave things there. Though the two men had little in common when they first met, by the end of the visit, He calls Zaccheus a brother, and they share a bond more significant than any that could be formed over sports, politics, or a common fence.

Friendships where Christ is the center have the power to be the most meaningful and the most enduring. When we invite ourselves into the life of someone wholly different than us, the goal is never that we stay wholly different but that we become brothers and sisters. This kind of friendship is possible only because of the new life that’s available to us in Christ.

C. S. Lewis was right. There is something absolutely wonderful about relationships that start with a “What! You too?” moment. But there’s another, more difficult road to friendship—the one Jesus Himself trod. And though all the signs that mark this path warn of rejection and social stigma, it’s the Jesus way. The way of love.

Illustration by Jeff Gregory

by John Greco

Look, Behold the man


John 19:1-15

John 19:1-3

Even as Isaiah had prophesied: “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” An old writer says, concerning this shameful spitting, “What couldest thou have found on earth more vile and loathsome in order to thy abasement than that man should spit on thee? and this, moreover, with such railing and insult, as though thou wert the pest of mankind, a blasphemer and an outcast unworthy of the merest decencies of life! What, Lord, was there in thee to be loathed? Why, then, do they thus contemn and spit upon thee? Oh, my God, it is my due, not thine! Truly do I, Lord, deserve to be spitted on by every creature, as a vile and harmful thing, a wretched sinner, unworthy to live; but thou, Infinite Mercy, dost promote me to honour, dost spare me, and, for my sake, dost yield up the majesty of thy person and thy divine countenance to be humbled by such loathsome affronts and insults!”

John 19:4, 5

A spectacle which ought to have broken their hearts, and melted them to pity. Can we look on our suffering Lord and not love him? If so, we are as base as they.

John 19:6, 7

They first charged him with a civil, and then with an ecclesiastical offence. They cared not how they compassed his death so that they could be rid of him.

John 19:8

The mention of so august a claim as that of being Son of God cooperated with his wife’s dream to arouse his fears.

John 19:12

Now they come back to the old charge. When men hate Jesus and his religion they will say anything; a wicked tongue is never short of arguments.

John 19:13-15

What a sarcasm was that! “Shall I crucify your King?” It was clear as noonday that he was no dangerous rival of Cæsar, for how could he be really a temporal king of the Jews when the Jews themselves were clamouring for his execution?

Are any of us; like these Jews, rejecting the kingship of Jesus? We may be doing so practically, and that will be as fatal to our souls as if we did so in words. Lord Jesus, thou art our King, reign over us and in us, that we may one day reign with thee.


A Prophetic Voice

Speak every man truth… that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:25, 29)

The Christian minister cannot deny that God has called him to be a prophet to his own generation, for the Church is God’s witness to each generation and its ministers are its voice. Through them, the voice of God becomes vocal!

The true minister, therefore, should know what he means when he says that he preaches “the truth.” It is not enough that the man of God preach truth—suppose he recites the multiplication table? That is also truth. A church can wither as surely under the ministry of soulless Bible exposition as it can where no Bible is given at all. To be effective, the message must be alive—it must alarm, arouse, challenge; it must be God’s present voice to a particular people.

To preach the truth, the prophet must be under the constant sway of the Holy Spirit. He must be driven to God for wisdom. Otherwise, he will not pierce the conscience of each listener as if the message had been directed to him or her alone. Further, it is necessary that the man of God know the people’s hearts better than they themselves do!


A Change of Name

“And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali; for I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.” Hosea 2:16, 17

That day has come. We view our God no more as Baal, our tyrant lord and mighty master, for we are not under law, but under grace. We now think of Jehovah, our God, as our Ishi, our beloved husband, our lord in love, our next-of-kin in bonds of sacred relationship. We do not reverence Him less, but we love Him more. We do not serve Him less obediently, but we serve Him for a higher and more endearing reason. We no longer tremble under His lash, but rejoice in His love. The slave is changed into a child, and the task into a pleasure.

Is it so with thee, dear reader? Has grace cast out slavish fear and implanted filial love? How happy are we in such an experience! Now we call the Lord’s Day a delight, and worship is never a weariness. Prayer is now a privilege, and praise is a holiday. To obey is Heaven; to give to the cause of God is a banquet. Thus have all things become new. Our mouth is filled with singing, and our heart with music. Blessed be our heavenly Ishi for ever and for ever.