Why only 12 apostles?

Apostles and Patriarchs

Matthew 10:1-4

The ambassadors of Jesus

40 Blogs of Lent: Day 3

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: 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 Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Matthew 10:1-4 ESVUK

Christ_and_the_Twelve_Disciples

Chosen for a purpose

Jesus chose 12 disciples. By this time Jesus had many disciples who were all at different levels of commitment, only 12 were chosen for the task of going out and spreading the word, casting out of spirits and healing people. He started small, 6 groups of two were manageable. Later, when these twelve were trained, Jesus would send 72 out. There is an exponential growth pattern here. The twelve, in six groups of two, each have care for their own twelve, 72, the next stage (which did not happen as far as I know) would be for the 72 (36 leadership pairs) to each send their 12, 432. Pastoral care is better done in small numbers. Churches when they reach a certain size often need to overhaul their leadership structures to grow, there is a maximum size to any given pastoral model.

Different roles

Not that there was anything wrong with the faith and commitment of many of the other disciples who did not make the twelve. These twelve were chosen to take the Gospel out and to cast spirits out and to heal. Paul in his letters makes it clear that there there are lots of different roles within the church. If you are an administrator it does not make you inferior to the evangelists. Different roles keep the church operating, get adminning.

Jesus saw that the role was too big for himself alone, so he delegated.

Moses had the same problem in the desert. People were coming to him to discern God’s will and it was taking all day to hear them. On the advice of his father-in-law Jethro, Moses delegated all but the most difficult cases on to people chosen for the task.

I the church, a model where the pastor is available to all the congregation works for up to 200 people. After that, you need a different model or church plant.

New Israel

The other reason for 12 disciples is also a statement that Jesus is doing something new. Jesus had not come to refresh Judaism bet to build a new Israel, 12 disciples is a parallel for the 12 tribes of Israel. More about that in tomorrow’s blog.


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