Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Twelve

Luke 6:12-16 (ESV)
In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. [13] And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: [14] Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, [15] and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, [16] and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Jesus spends a night in prayer, the whole night. He found seclusion on the mountain side, where he could be left undisturbed. This wasn’t about communing with nature. This was about removing himself from distraction. It isn’t a bad idea for our own lives. Remove distraction and pray. It’s good for the soul. Only after the night of praying does he call the twelve apostles, lay the foundation of the church (Eph 2:20). He calls 12, 1 for each tribe of Israel. Israel is reborn. Membership will no longer be determined by birth to one of the 12 tribes, all of whom still had representatives in Judah at this time. The tribes were never “lost.” The certainly did not come over in the world’s first submarines…. Everyone knew where the captives went when the Assyrians led them away as casualties of war, they even were able to send priests back to take care of the lion problem. But the truth is, many from those tribes of pious bent, came to live as sojourners in the land of Judah, that they could worship at the temple, long before the Assyrians carried off their brothers and sisters. But even so, now the church will be Israel, and it will be built on the foundation of the Apostles.
I’m always a bit curious as to what happened to the other apostles. Most of them don’t seem to have a whole lot happening but to get their name printed here. What they did after Pentecost goes almost completely unrecorded. For some of them you can find details in Eusebius and other early church sources. Funny, none of this stuff happened in a vacuum, and when you dig, you can find all sorts of corroborative evidence. Most people don’t bother. They just run with 19th century myths that intentionally ignored evidence in order to write sexy doctoral dissertations.
Jesus calls them apostles, there were more disciples, but these were his apostles. Today, we think this is a religious title. We give almost no thought to what it meant in the first century. The word has meaning outside scripture. It was used of a person who had been given full power of attorney to speak on your behalf. This is where “Red Letter” Bible’s sort of miss the point. When ever an apostle was speaking or writing about Christ, the doctrine and practice of the church and so on, it is Christ speaking. This goes for all issues. This especially true, not only because he declared them apostles, but because he also promised to give them the Holy Spirit as an aid in these endeavors. So it is that only those works were regarded as authoritative in the early church as could verify their apostolic provenance. Which is still the attitude of Lutherans toward scripture, we might be the last one’s standing on that. Everyone else thinks they can make something scripture by fiat. But we are happy about this. Jesus gave us apostles, and blessed them with the Holy Spirit, that we could have a sure and certain witness to our salvation and God’s love for the world in Christ Crucified.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

"Jesus calls them apostles....." Authorized...
Who knew that 'apostles' meant that...very interesting point!

Sue J in NJ