BibleTrack Home & Index
<< Matt 11

Matt 12 >>

<< Mark 2
Mark 3 >>
<< Luke 5
Luke 6 >>
<< John 4
John 6 >>


This is the New King James text of the passages.
Click here to return to the KJV page with full commentary.

Matthew 12:1-21; Mark 2:23-3:19   Listen Podcast
Luke 6:1-16; John 5


In this passage, we see the following events in Jesus' ministry:


Is this the Passover Feast? (John 5:1)
Here's (likely) the second Passover Feast in Jesus' ministry (see notes below).

John 5

1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

There has been considerable discussion among scholars regarding the "feast" referenced in verse 1. Is it the Passover Feast? Does it really matter? Well, it does matter if you want to track the length of Jesus' ministry. John only, of the four Gospel writers, logs the occurrences of the Passover Feasts leading up to the last one when Jesus was crucified. The first is found in John 2:13 (see notes). If we consider this feast (verse 1) the second Passover Feast, then the third is found in John 6:4 (see notes). Finally, the fourth and last Passover Feast is that day when Jesus was crucified. That being the case, Jesus' ministry lasted three full years plus those months from the time he was baptized by John (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22 - see notes) leading up to the first Passover in John 2:13 (see notes). So, three and one-half years would seem to be a reliable assessment of the length of Jesus' ministry. Now, there is one more piece of evidence that adds validity to Jesus' ministry length at three to four years found in Luke 13:1-9 (see notes). In that passage Jesus gives a reprieve to the fig tree which seems to be analogous to his ministry to Israel. That period after the reprieve just happens to be three-plus years in that passage.

If the "feast" in verse 1 is not the second Passover Feast, based upon what I believe is probably a declaration in Luke 13:1-9 (see notes) of a three-plus year ministry, then this feast would be one of the other two major feasts in the same year - the Feast of Weeks (seven weeks after the Passover) or the Feast of Tabernacles (six months after the Passover). That still leaves a three-year-plus ministry scenario intact.

Jesus demonstrates an awesome bedside manner (John 5:2-15)

John 5

2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches.
3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water.
4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.
5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years.
6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
7 ¶ The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
8 ¶ Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”
9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. ¶ And that day was the Sabbath.
10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
11 ¶ He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’ ”
12 ¶ Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?”
13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place.
14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
15 ¶ The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

The sick folks are gathered by the pool in Jerusalem waiting for the angel to stir the water - first one in afterward got healed. This sick (Greek: astheneo - meaning: sick, weak, impotent) man could never make it to the water before another because he was so weak. Jesus solves that problem in John 5:8, "Jesus said to him, 'Rise, take up your bed and walk.'" That's awesome bedside manner! Well that sets off more fireworks. This takes place in Jerusalem during the time of one of the festivals (probably Passover) when Jews are present from everywhere practicing their best Judaistic stuff. When a Jewish big wig sees the impotent man carrying his bed around, never mind that he hasn't been able to do this for the last 38 years; the big issue becomes, "Hey! you can't be carrying your bed around on the Sabbath!" Now the talk centers around who told the man he could "break the law" by carrying his bed on the Sabbath. Wow...first day out on his new wheels and he gets ticketed by the religion police! This was a sad bunch of religionists, don't you agree? On first interrogation, the man does not know to identify Jesus as the healer. Later after a meeting with Jesus in the temple, the man is able to identify him, and these Jewish religionists go at it again in an attempt to entrap Jesus.

The Pool of Bethesda

According to Dr. Larry Wade, a tour guide to Israel who has conducted nearly 70 tours, the Pool of Bethesda is one of the few Biblical sites about which there is virtually no dispute regarding its current location. The Biblical Pool of Bethesda dates back to Old Testament times; it is near the Gate of Benjamin (Zechariah 14:4), the Sheep Gate (Nehemiah 3:1,12:39), the Lions Gate (in Jesus' Time) and Stephen's Gate (the place where Stephen was martyred). The earliest reference to the UPPER POOL is from the 8th Century B.C. in Isaiah 7:3. The pools were reconstructed in 219-196 B.C. There are two pools, upper and lower, divided by a wall 20ft wide and running east to west. They are surrounded by 5 porches along the northern edge of the Temple Mount. Today (2006) archeologists are unearthing a new pool next to these two pools. This pool is most likely the much larger "Pool of Israel" constructed in the days of Herod the Great.

A couple of points should be made regarding this episode with the Jewish leaders. First of all, there is NO law within the Law of Moses that would have forbidden the man from carrying his bed around on the Sabbath day. The Pharisees made that one up; it was part of their oral tradition where they had embellished the Law of Moses. Secondly, notice in verses 11 and 15 how that this healed man seems to be something less than grateful to Jesus for his newly-acquired ability to walk. When questioned about his infraction, he first blames "He who made me well" for his own violation of the Jews' law; upon discovery of Jesus' identity, he then even makes a return trip back to the Jews to report that Jesus was the one responsible. Come to think of it, I've met Christians who seemed ungrateful to our Lord for the marvelous grace of God that has been extended to them through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.

It should also be noted that Jesus healed just the one man that day next to the Pool of Bethesda. That's significant because of the fact that there would have been a host of sick people next to that pool, but Jesus chose just one to heal. It is important to remember that, while Jesus had power over physical sickness, his mission was to redeem mankind from spiritual sickness by his death on the cross. These miracles of healing were necessary to establish his identity as the prophesied Messiah. Jesus framed this mission near the beginning of his ministry in Luke 4:16-21 (see notes).

The Jewish leaders just want Jesus dead (John 5:16-18)

John 5

16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath.
17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”
18 ¶ Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

Nothing matters to these Jewish leaders except that their reputations and positions were being threatened by Jesus. Jesus tells them in verse 17, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working." Subsequently, they use this occasion of healing as another reason why Jesus needs to be dead, as we see in John 5:18, "Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God." Here's the reality on this: These Jewish leaders were familiar with the prophecy of the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6-7 (see notes), "For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. " That passage clearly establishes that the Messiah will be God on earth. The problem is that the Jewish leaders were corrupt and Jesus had identified them as such on more than one occasion.

Jesus answers these Jewish leaders (John 5:19-36)

John 5

19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.
20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.
21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.
22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son,
23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
24 ¶ “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.
26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself,
27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.
28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice
29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.
31 ¶ “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true.
32 There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true.
33 You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.
34 Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved.
35 He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.
36 But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.


Greek word for love in John 5:20

The Greek word used for "loves" in verse 20 is unexpectedly φιλέω (phileo) rather than what might be expected—ἀγαπάω (agapao).

In reality, phileo seems to indicate a natural affection, while agapao (both verb forms) seems to indicate a willingness to sacrifice. Therefore, phileo makes sense in this context.

Jesus walks a fine line when speaking to the Jewish leaders, just as he always did. There would come a time when Jesus would lay down his life as he had already prophesied in John 2:19-21 (see notes) and again in John 3:14 (see notes). However, that time would be chosen by Jesus, not these hypocrites. They are looking for Jesus to say something that is clearly indisputable evidence of blasphemy. You will notice that Jesus often answers them by referring to himself in third person rather than first person, as he does here when he refers to himself as "the Son." It would have been much simpler for the Jews to entrap Jesus if he would just say "I" (first person) rather than "the Son" (third person). He follows this pattern until verse 24 when he says, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." They must have thought, "Ahhhh! We got him!" Well, maybe not. Jesus uses the personal pronoun "my," but that quotation standing alone does not give them the evidence they need to say that he called himself God. It's very clear to everyone, but in a court of law, that could be understood to mean only that he was a prophet. However, when we read that verse in the context with the whole discourse, it is obvious to those listening (and to those of us reading) that Jesus is clearly saying that he is God in the flesh. He then goes back to third-person references down through verse 29. Jesus clearly identifies himself in verse 27 as God in the flesh when he says he has the "authority to execute judgment," but he again uses third-person references so that these words can't be used as evidence of blasphemy by the Jews. As a matter of fact, Jesus refers to himself as "the Son" 10 times between verses 19 and 27.

Let's take a closer look at this reference to "the Son" that Jesus repeatedly uses in the presence of these Jewish leaders. Notice Daniel 7:13 (see notes), "I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him." No question there - that's a reference to the Messiah. However, Ezekiel refers to himself as the "son of man" 93 times in his prophecy. While Jesus is referred to as the "Son of God" 28 times in the Gospel accounts, he never uses it as a self reference. When your only interest is framing Jesus for blasphemy, one can see the nature of their frustration.

Beginning with verse 30, it's all back to first-person references, but no statement he makes stands alone as sufficient court evidence for conviction on blasphemy charges. The Jews understand it that way, but it is unusable in court. Ahhhh! Maybe verse 36 will provide sufficient evidence, "But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me." Well, I guess not. In court that could again be taken as a reference to Jesus being a prophet - no blasphemy in being a prophet. So, notice closely in this section that Jesus fully acknowledges his identity as God in the flesh, but gives them nothing to take to court because of the careful way he expresses it.

Verse 31 is a little puzzling to us unless we carefully stick to the context that we've been developing here; that's the context of courtroom evidence. Jesus says here, "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true." In a courtroom scenario, one would be required to have additional witnesses beyond one's own witness. Jesus is making the point that, while his testimony of himself may be disregarded as unreliable in a court of law, he has the additional witness of God himself.

The two resurrections Jesus mentions in verse 29 are not new concepts to these Jews. Daniel 12:2 (see notes) says, "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. "

Let's take a look at the collective resurrections that take place in scriptures:

Jesus: enough about me; who are you? (John 5:37-47)

John 5

37 And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form.
38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe.
39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.
40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
41 ¶ “I do not receive honor from men.
42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you.
43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.
44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?
45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust.
46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.
47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

Jesus has just finished telling them all about himself in verses 19-36, now it's time to identify these Jewish leaders for exactly who they are.

Notice the itemization that Jesus gives of their standing before God.

Well, that pretty much sums up the real position of these Jewish leaders before God. After hearing this, you know they're fumed - all that verbal abuse without a thing to take to court! But Jesus had issued them a challenge in verses 39-40, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life." Just as Isaiah had prophesied in Isaiah 53 (see notes), they rejected Jesus.

The Old Testament prophets frequently prophesied the coming Messiah. Had these Jewish leaders carefully studied those prophecies, they would have recognized that Jesus was the one. But when did Moses prophesy concerning the Messiah? The answer is Deuteronomy 18:15-22 (see notes). The Jews of Jesus day understood that passage to be prophetic concerning the Messiah. For more information, see the article entitled, "Moses prophesied the Messiah."

Hey! you can't pick that grain! (Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5)

Matthew 12
Mark 2
Luke 6

1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.
2 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”
3 ¶ But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him:
4 how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?
5 Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?
6 Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple.
7 But if you had known what this means, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.
8 For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

23 ¶ Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain.
24 And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”
25 ¶ But He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him:
26 how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?”
27 ¶ And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
28 Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”

1 Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grainfields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands.
2 And some of the Pharisees said to them, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?”
3 ¶ But Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him:
4 how he went into the house of God, took and ate the showbread, and also gave some to those with him, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat?”
5 And He said to them, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”

Plucking grain out of the fields for personal consumption on the Sabbath day - "No! No!" said the Pharisees and demanded an explanation. Jesus refers them back to I Samuel 21:3-6 (see notes) when David and his men were fed by the high priest from the loaves of consecrated bread. In that passage, there was no indication that God was at all displeased with this action. Furthermore, the Pharisees were overly embellishing the law of reaping on the Sabbath. The disciples weren't reaping; they were only taking advantage of the provisions of the law based upon Deuteronomy 23:25 (see notes), "When you come into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not use a sickle on your neighbor’s standing grain." Reaping would have been "using a sickle" upon the grain. And then here's that "Son of man" phrase again in Mark 2:28, "Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath."

The KJV renders this "grain" as "corn." I should point out that this "corn" for the Greek noun "stachus" might be a little confusing to those who know the history of our American corn. The "corn" in this passage is the 17th-century description of grain. The actual product in the fields would have been wheat or barley, not our American maize (aka corn).

Matthew records a second example by Jesus to these Pharisees in Matthew 12:5-6 - the fact that the Mosaic Law assigns priests in the tabernacle/temple duties that they are required to perform on the Sabbath as seen in Numbers 28:9-10 (see notes). Both of these examples are designed to show the Pharisees that their oral additions to the Law of Moses were not capturing its essence; these Pharisees were missing the mark. Jesus then quotes from Hosea 6:6 (see notes) in Matthew 12:7, "But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless." Hosea prophesied during the time when the Northern Kingdom fell. His point then and that of Jesus on this occasion is that they had missed the real point of the Law of Moses. Keeping the law in its deviated form had become their object over an actual relationship with God. Incidentally, Jesus had quoted Hosea 6:6 (see notes) on a previous occasion back in Matthew 9:13 (see notes).

When men are treated worse than animals (Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11)

Matthew 12
Mark 3
Luke 6
9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue.
10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him.
11 ¶ Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?
12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other.
14 Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.
1 And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand.
2 So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him.
3 And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.”
4 Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent.
5 And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.
6 Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.

6 ¶ Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered.
7 So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him.
8 But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Arise and stand here.” And he arose and stood.
9 Then Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?”
10 And when He had looked around at them all, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.
11 But they were filled with rage, and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.

These Jewish leaders (consisting of scribes, Pharisees and probably a few Sadducees sprinkled in) anticipate that Jesus is about to heal a man on the Sabbath day. They're just licking their chops - another chance to perhaps collect enough evidence on Jesus to prosecute him for blasphemy before the Roman courts. Jesus knows what's on their minds, but heals the man's withered hand anyway. Jesus points out that none of them would object to rescuing an animal on the Sabbath, so why not a human? From their perspective, who cares about consistency? Certainly not these highly-esteemed religious leaders. They immediately seek out the Herodians to tell what has just taken place. The Herodians formed a religious party akin to the Sadducees, but were also sympathetic to the Roman government and it's laws. Moreover, they were also supportive of the kingship of the Herods who reigned in the region. These views were not shared by the Pharisees. Hmmmm...Pharisees and Herodians in cahoots with one another - they must really hate Jesus. For more detailed information on the Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians, click here.

Incidentally, Mark is the only one who reports the attitude of Jesus in verse 5 of his account when he says of Jesus, "He had looked around at them with anger." The word "anger" there comes from the Greek word "orge." This word is often translated "wrath" and is so used in John 3:36 (see notes), Romans 1:18 (see notes), Ephesians 5:6 (see notes) and Colossians 3:6 (see notes) in the term "wrath of God." The wrath of God comes upon hypocrisy.

One more thing: There was no Old Testament passage that forbade healing on the Sabbath. The Pharisees made that one of many laws that appended to the Mosaic Law.

This Jesus movement has really caught on! (Matthew 12:15-21; Mark 3:7-12; Luke 6:17-19)

Matthew 12
Mark 3
Luke 6
15 But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all.
16 Yet He warned them not to make Him known,
17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
18 “Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen,
My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!
I will put My Spirit upon Him,
And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.
19 He will not quarrel nor cry out,
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
20 A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench,
Till He sends forth justice to victory;
21 And in His name Gentiles will trust.”
7 ¶ But Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the sea. And a great multitude from Galilee followed Him, and from Judea
8 and Jerusalem and Idumea and beyond the Jordan; and those from Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they heard how many things He was doing, came to Him.
9 So He told His disciples that a small boat should be kept ready for Him because of the multitude, lest they should crush Him.
10 For He healed many, so that as many as had afflictions pressed about Him to touch Him.
11 And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, “You are the Son of God.”
12 But He sternly warned them that they should not make Him known.

17 ¶ And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases,
18 as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed.
19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.

After the healing of the man with the withered hand, a great crowd gathers around Jesus, and he heals them all. We see from the passage in Mark that the crowds that follow are not just Jews, but Gentiles as well (from Tyre, Sidon, Idumaea). Matthew cites this reach toward the Gentiles as a fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy in Isaiah 42:1-4 (see notes).

Jesus ordains his apostles (Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16)

Mark 3
Luke 6
13 ¶ And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him.
14 Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach,
15 and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons:
16 Simon, to whom He gave the name Peter;
17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom He gave the name Boanerges, that is, “Sons of Thunder”;
18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Cananite;
19 and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. And they went into a house.
12 ¶ Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:
14 Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew;
15 Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot;
16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.

We are well into the second year of Jesus' ministry. It's now time for Jesus to pick out 12 men from among his disciples who will become his 12 apostles. The apostles were a subset of his disciples. Any follower of Jesus was a disciple, but the 12 men that Jesus chose from among them were, from this time forward, to be special "messengers" of Jesus. The Greek word "apostolos" means "messenger." By the way, Simon the Canaanite was a full-fledged Jew just like the others. The title "Canaanite" here is a translation of a Syriac word transliterated to Greek, which was a tag given to those who were members of a particular Jewish political party of the day. Simon was all Jew all the time.

We find the whole list of the twelve in Mark 3:16-19 and Luke 6:14-16; they are as follows:

  1. Peter
  2. James (Son of Zebedee and brother of John)
  3. John
  4. Andrew
  5. Philip
  6. Bartholomew
  7. Matthew
  8. Thomas
  9. James (Son of Alphaeus)
  10. Thaddaeus
  11. Simon the Canaanite
  12. Judas Iscariot (the "traitor")

We also find a list of the twelve in Matthew 10:2-4 (see notes).

It is interesting that Mark notes in verses 14 and 15 that these twelve were given special "power" (Greek: ἐξουσία/exousia - meaning authority) "to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons."