Apostles - This is the first place where the word is used. ΑποϚολος, an apostle, comes from αποϚελλω, I send a message. The word was anciently used to signify a person commissioned by a king to negotiate any affair between him and any other power or people. Hence αποϚολοι and κηρυκες, apostles and heralds, are of the same import in Herodotus. See the remarks at the end of chap. 3.
It is worthy of notice, that those who were Christ's apostles were first his disciples; to intimate, that men must be first taught of God, before they be sent of God. Jesus Christ never made an apostle of any man who was not first his scholar or disciple. These twelve apostles were chosen.
We are not to suppose that the word πρωτος, first, refers to any kind of dignity, as some have imagined; it merely signifies the first in order - the person first mentioned. A pious man remarks: "God here unites by grace those who were before united by nature." Though nature cannot be deemed a step towards grace, yet it is not to be considered as always a hinderance to it. Happy the brothers who are joint envoys of Heaven, and the parents who have two or more children employed as ambassadors for God! But this is a very rare case; and family compacts in the work of the ministry are dangerous and should be avoided.
Now the names of the twelve apostles - The account of their being called is more fully given in Mark 3:13-18, and Luke 6:12-19. Each of those evangelists has recorded the circumstances of their appointment. They agree in saying it was done on a mountain; and, according to Luke, it was done before the sermon on the mount was delivered, perhaps on the same mountain, near Capernaum. Luke adds that the night previous had been spent “in prayer” to God. See the notes at Luke 6:12.
Simon, who is called Peter - The word “Peter” means a rock. He was also called Cephas, John 1:42; 1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:22; 1 Corinthians 15:5; Galatians 2:9. This was a Syro-Chaldaic word signifying the same as Peter. This name was given probably in reference to the “resoluteness and firmness” which he was to exhibit in preaching the gospel. Before the Saviour‘s death he was rash, impetuous, and unstable. Afterward, as all history affirms, he was firm, zealous, steadfast, and immovable. The tradition is that he was at last crucified at Rome with his head downward, thinking it too great an honor to die as his Master did. See the notes at John 21:18. There is no certain proof, however, that this occurred at Rome, and no absolute knowledge as to the place where he died.
James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother - This James was killed by Herod in a persecution, Acts 12:2. The other James, the son of Alpheus, was stationed at Jerusalem, and was the author of the epistle that bears his name. See Galatians 1:19; Galatians 2:9; Acts 15:13. A James is mentioned Galatians 1:19 as “the Lord‘s brother.” It has not been easy to ascertain why he was thus called. He is here called the son of “Alpheus,” that is, of Cleophas, John 19:25. Alpheus and Cleophas were but different ways of writing and pronouncing the same name. This Mary, called the mother of James and Joses, is called the wife of Cleophas, John 19:25.
Sometimes He taught them as they sat together on the mountainside, sometimes beside the sea, or from the fisherman's boat, sometimes as they walked by the way. Whenever He spoke to the multitude, the disciples formed the inner circle. They pressed close beside Him, that they might lose nothing of His instruction. They were attentive listeners, eager to understand the truths they were to teach in all lands and to all ages. Ed 85.1
The first pupils of Jesus were chosen from the ranks of the common people. They were humble, unlettered men, these fishers of Galilee; men unschooled in the learning and customs of the rabbis, but trained by the stern discipline of toil and hardship. They were men of native ability and of teachable spirit; men who could be instructed and molded for the Saviour's work. In the common walks of life there is many a toiler patiently treading the round of his daily tasks, unconscious of latent powers that, roused to action, would place him among the world's great leaders. Such were the men who were called by the Saviour to be His colaborers. And they had the advantage of three years’ training by the greatest educator this world has ever known. Ed 85.2
In these first disciples was presented a marked diversity. They were to be the world's teachers, and they represented widely varied types of character. There were Levi Matthew the publican, called from a life of business activity, and subservience to Rome; the zealot Simon, the uncompromising foe of the imperial authority; the impulsive, self-sufficient, warmhearted Peter, with Andrew his brother; Judas the Judean, polished, capable, and mean-spirited; Philip and Thomas, faithful and earnest, yet slow of heart to believe; James the less and Jude, of less prominence among the brethren, but men of force, positive both in their faults and in their virtues; Nathanael, a child in sincerity and trust; and the ambitious, loving-hearted sons of Zebedee. Ed 85.3Read in context »
Help Humanity as Did Christ—As He [Christ] passed through the towns and cities, He was like a vital current, diffusing life and joy wherever He went. The followers of Christ are to labor as He did. We are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and comfort the suffering and afflicted. We are to minister to the despairing and inspire hope in the hopeless.—The Desire of Ages, 350. WM 74.1
The Work Every Church Should Have Been Doing—The work of gathering in the needy, the oppressed, the suffering, the destitute, is the very work which every church that believes the truth for this time should long since have been doing. We are to show the tender sympathy of the Samaritan in supplying physical necessities, feeding the hungry, bringing the poor that are cast out to our homes, gathering from God every day grace and strength that will enable us to reach to the very depths of human misery and help those who cannot possibly help themselves. In doing this work we have a favorable opportunity to set forth Christ the crucified One.—Testimonies for the Church 6:276. WM 74.2
Sermons Cannot Do It—By personal labor reach the people where they are. Become acquainted with them. This work cannot be done by proxy. Money loaned or given cannot accomplish it. Sermons from the pulpit cannot do it.—Gospel Workers, 188. WM 74.3Read in context »
Church members are to do evangelistic work in the homes of their neighbors who have not yet received full evidence of the truth for this time. The presentation of the truth in love and sympathy, from house to house, is in harmony with the instruction that Christ gave to His disciples when He sent them out on their first missionary tour. By songs of praise to God, by humble, heartfelt prayers, by a simple presentation of Bible truth in the family circle, many will be reached. The divine [Worker] will be present to send conviction to hearts. “I am with you alway” is His promise. With the assurance of the abiding presence of such a Helper, we may labor with hope and faith and courage.... WM 70.1
My brethren and sisters, give yourselves to the Lord for service. Allow no opportunity to pass unimproved. Visit those who live near you, and by sympathy and kindness try to reach their hearts. Visit the sick and suffering, and show a kindly interest in them. If possible, do something to make them more comfortable. Through this means you can reach their hearts, and speak a word for Christ. Eternity alone will reveal how far reaching such a line of labor can be.—The Review and Herald, November 21, 1907. WM 70.2Read in context »