jesus-Called-The-Twelve

Jesus Called The Twelve – First Small Group Ministry

Small Groups Were Fundamental

When we study the structure of how the early church did ministry, we will find that small groups have indeed existed since the time of Jesus. They did not tag them as “meetings.”

When Jesus started his ministry on earth, he sought out several people. They are twelve disciples – Christ’s own brand of a small group.

Jesus gave these men the honor of being the first disciples and Jesus’ ministry. They paved the way for Christianity to be as it is now.  

In the Bible, the first mention of anything is considered monumental. The first mention of the word dictates its true context. In the same vein, Jesus introduced discipleship in the context of a small group.  When Jesus called the 12, it represented the first form of small group ministry and discipleship in the Bible.

A Small Group of Disciples to Mentor

During the first century, it was common for leaders – be this in religion, philosophy, or politics – to have a dedicated group of followers and apprentices.

In Judaism at the time, it was common for rabbis to have their own set of apprentices following after their footsteps.

Normally, interested students would approach a rabbi they admire and ask if he would mentor them. If he agrees to take them on, they will only be considered a part of the rabbi’s group.

However, Jesus did the complete opposite and chose seemingly random people with not particularly noteworthy occupations. It was common for the rabbis to mentor the brightest pupils about the Jewish faith, so having a group with many fishermen was outside this norm.

Jesus’ Small Group Had Different Personalities

At the time, there must have been plenty of men who were seemingly qualified, educated, and teachable, so there must be a reason why Jesus chose these particular twelve. Interestingly enough, they came from backgrounds various enough for us not to detect a pattern.

The first he called out were brothers Peter and Andrew. They were fishermen. Jesus called the brothers James and John next.  Jesus came across them when they were still fishing with their father.

Though their occupations were not blatantly mentioned in the Bible, Philip, James, and Thomas, there is evidence they were also fishermen since they were fishing when Jesus showed himself to them after his resurrection.  

On the other hand, Matthew was a tax collector. In that culture, Jewish people despised this profession. Jewish people considered them traitors. They believed tax collectors were corrupt. 

Meanwhile, Simon used to be a zealot, a religious sect that instigated protests and rebellions to overthrow the Roman government.

The opposing views and personalities in this group show us that Jesus did not choose them based on their credentials or righteousness.

Bible commentators can say that these disciples lived rather ordinary lives before they chose to follow him. Advanced studies of the Gospels show that none of them were especially students of the law. 

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