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The Four-fold Gospel by J. W. McGarvey

XLI. After Prayer Jesus Selects Twelve Apostles.

(Near Capernaum.)

^A Matt. X.2-4; ^B Mark III.13-19; ^C Luke VI.12-16.

^c 12 And it came to pass in these days, that he went out into the mountain ^b 13 And he goeth up into the mountain, ^c to pray; and he continued all night in prayer to God. [It was a momentous occasion. He was about to choose those to whom he was to entrust the planting, organizing, and training of that church which was to be the purchase of his own blood. Jesus used such important crises, not as occasions for anxiety and worry, but as fitting times to seek and obtain the Father's grace and blessing.] 13 And when it was day, he called his disciples: ^b and calleth unto him whom he himself would; and they went unto him. ^c and he chose from them twelve [We can not think that the number twelve was adopted carelessly. It unquestionably had reference to the twelve tribes of Israel, over whom the apostles were to be tribal judges or viceroys (Luke xxii.30), and we find the tribes and apostles associated together in the structure of the New Jerusalem (Rev. xxi.12-14). Moreover, Paul seems to regard the twelve as ministers to the twelve tribes, or to the circumcision, rather than as ministers to the Gentiles or the world in general (Gal. ii.7-9). See also Jas. i.1; I. Pet. i.1. The tribal reference was doubtless preserved to indicate that the church would be God's new Israel] , ^b 14 And he appointed twelve, that they might be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, 15 and to have authority to cast out demons: ^c whom also he named apostles [The word apostle means |one sent.| Its meaning was kindred to the word ambassador ( II. Cor. v.20), the messenger whom a king sent to foreign powers, and also to our modern word missionary, which also means |one sent.| Christ himself was an apostle (Heb. iii.1), and so sent them (John xx.21). The word apostle is translated |messenger| at II. Cor. viii.23 and Phil. ii.25. The apostles were to be with Jesus, that they might be taught by his words, and that they might become teachers of that word and witnesses as to the life and actions of Jesus. A necessary condition, therefore, to their apostleship was this seeing of Jesus and the consequent ability to testify as to his actions, especially as to his resurrection (Acts i.8, 21; I. Cor. ix.1; xxii.14, 15). They could therefore have no successors. All the apostles were from Galilee save Judas Iscariot]: ^a 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these [Mark and Luke give the names of the apostles at the time when they were chosen, but Matthew gives them at the time when they were sent out]: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, ^c whom he also named { ^b surnamed} Peter [For the surnaming of Simon, see John i.41, 42. Peter, by reason of his early prominence, is named first in the four lists. His natural gifts gave him a personal but not an ecclesiastical pre-eminence over his fellows. As a reward for his being first to confess Christ, he was honored by being permitted to first use the keys of the kingdom of heaven; i. e., to preach the first gospel sermon both to the Jews and Gentiles. But after these two sermons the right of preaching to the Jews and Gentiles became common to all alike. That Peter had supremacy or authority over his brethren is nowhere stated by Christ, or claimed by Peter, or owned by the rest of the twelve. On the contrary, the statement of Jesus places the apostles upon a level (Matt. xxiii.8-11). See also Matt. xviii.18; xix.27, 28; xx.25-27; John xx.21; Acts i.8. And Peter himself claims no more than an equal position with other officers in the church (I. Pet. v.1, 4), and the apostles in the subsequent history of the church acted with perfect independence. Paul withstood Peter to his face and (if we may judge by the order of naming which is made so much of in the apostolic lists), he ranks Peter as second in importance to James, the Lord's brother (Gal. ii.11-14, 9). See also Acts xii.17; xxi.18. Again, James, in summing up the decree which was to be sent to the church at Antioch, gave no precedence to Peter, who was then present, but said, |Brethren, hearken unto me . . . my judgment is| -- words which would be invaluable to those who advocate the supremacy of Peter, if only it had been Peter who spoke them. So much for the supremacy of Peter, which, even if it could be established, would still leave the papacy without a good title to its honors, for it would still have to prove that it was heir to the rights and honors of Peter, which is something it has never yet done. The papal claim rests not upon facts, but upon a threefold assumption: 1. That Peter had supreme authority.2. That he was the first bishop of Rome.3. That the peculiar powers and privileges of Peter (if he had any) passed at the time of his death from his own person, to which they belonged, to the chair or office which he vacated]; ^a and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; { ^b the brother of James;} and them he surnamed Boanerges, which is, Sons of thunder [This selection of brothers suggests that the bonds of nature may strengthen those of grace. Why James and John were called sons of thunder is not stated, but it was probably because of their stormy and destructive temper (Luke ix.51-56; Mark ix.38). The vigor of the two brothers is apparent, for it marked James as a fit object for Herod's spleen (Acts xii.2), and it sustained John to extreme old age, for Epiphanius says that he died at Ephesus at the age of ninety-four, but Jerome places his age at a hundred. No change is noted in the nature of James during the brief time which he survived his Lord. But the gracious and loving character of the aged John showed the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. But even to the last this son of thunder muttered in portentous strains against Diotrephes (III. John 9, 10), and his denunciations of sins and sinners is very forceful, including such epithets as |liar,| |antichrist,| |deceiver,| |children of the devil| (I. John i.6; ii.4, 22; iii.15; II. John 3-11). It is also worthy of note that except in this verse in Mark, which applies the name |Son of thunder| to John, neither the word |thunder,| nor any of its derivatives is found anywhere in the New Testament save in the writings of John, by whom it and its derivatives are used eleven times, a fact which causes Bengel to remark, |A son of thunder is a fit person for hearing voices of thunder.|] ^a 3 Philip, and Bartholomew [as noted on page 111, Bartholomew is usually identified with the man whom John calls Nathanael, in which case his full name would be Nathanael Bar Tolmai]; Thomas, and Matthew the publican [Thomas is also called Didymus, the first being the Aramaic and the second the Greek word for twin. Matthew calls himself the publican. None of the others apply that term of reproach to him. Matthew doubtless assumes it in remembrance of the riches of Christ's grace toward loving him while he was yet a sinner. Exposing the sin of his own past life, he is silent as to the past lives of the others, not even noting that the first four were humble |fishermen|]; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; { ^c Judas the son of James,} [Matthew's father was also named Alphæus, but it was another Alphæus. This was a very common name. In its Hebrew form it may be pronounced Alphi or Clephi. In its Arimæan form it is Chalphai. So in the New Testament we sometimes find it Alphæus, and again Cleopas, or Clopas. The apostle James is thought by some to be our Lord's brother, and by others to be his cousin; but he is probably neither. This apostle was also called James the Less (Mark xv.40); probably because he was younger than the son of Zebedee. He must not be confounded with James the Lord's brother, who, though called an apostle by Paul, was not one of the twelve apostles (nor was Barnabas -- Acts xiv.14). James the Lord's brother is mentioned at Matt. xiii.55; I. Cor. xv.5-7; Gal. i.19; ii.9, 12; Acts xv.6-9 and xxi.18. He wrote the epistle which bears his name, and his brother Jude (who also must not be confounded with Judas Thaddæus, the apostle) wrote the epistle which bears his name. We do not know the James who was the father of Judas, and of Judas himself we know very little. He seems to have been known at first by his name Thaddæus, possibly to distinguish him from Iscariot, but later (for Luke and John wrote later than Matthew and Mark) by the name Judas -- John xiv.22.] ^a 4 Simon the Cananaean, ^c who was called the Zealot [Cananæan means the same as zealot. It comes from the Hebrew word kana, which means zealous. The Zealots were a sect or order of men much like our modern |Regulators,| or |Black Caps.| They were zealous for the Jewish law, and citing Phinehas (Num. xxv.7, 8) and Elijah (I. Kings xviii.40) as their examples, they took justice in their own hands and punished offenders much after the manner lynchers. It is thought that they derived their name from the dying charge of the Asmonæan Mattathias when he said, |Be ye zealous for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of your fathers| (I. Macc. ii.50). Whatever they were at first, it is certain that their later course was marked by frightful excesses, and they are charged with having been the human instrument which brought about the destruction of Jerusalem. See Josephus, Wars, IV., iii.9, v.1-4; vi.3; VII., viii.1. Simon is the least known of all the apostles, being nowhere individually mentioned outside the catalogues], ^a and Judas Iscariot, ^c who became a traitor; ^a who also betrayed him. [Judas is named last in all the three lists, and the same note of infamy attaches to him in each case. He is omitted from the list in Acts, for he was then dead. As he was treasurer of the apostolic group, he was probably chosen for office because of his executive ability. He was called Iscariot from his native city Kerioth, which pertained to Judah -- Josh. xv.25.]

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