Newtown Bible Church

The Called, Commissioned, and Common, pt. 1 (Matthew 10:1-4)

    In seminary they used to say, “If there is anything else in the world that you can do and be satisfied, go do it.” The reason was not to be hard, but because ministry is hard and if that is the direction at which your aiming your life you better be sure it is something that God has called you to. 
  •  Now Jesus has repeatedly laid out the demands of discipleship (cf. 8:18-22), with the result that few were willing to follow Him there. Many simply wouldn’t accept the terms. So, Jesus has essentially carried on the ministry alone, but now the need is greater greater and it would require the help of others. 
  •  Jesus has just finished telling a larger group of disciples to seek God’s face for this daunting task, and now He is going to take action: 
  • Jesus commissions His apostles to be His ambassadors of the gospel of the kingdom. 4 portraits of God’s chosen messengers that should encourage us in our own ministry. (1) Sovereignly Selected (2) Specially Gifted (3) Specifically Marked (4) Surprisingly Common 


READ: Matthew 9:36-10:4


  • Up to this point there has been a singular emphasis on the ministry of the Lord. However, as the crowds amass, the needs of the ministry intensify, and knowing that He would eventually depart, He now choses those who would be His special ambassadors to the world. Not just anybody, but those specifically chosen.  


(1) Sovereign Selection

  •  “And calling His twelve disciples to Himself” - Up to this point there had been no specific, or officially inside group. However, though  not yet named as apostles the implication behind “His disciples”  is that they already shared a unique closeness to Him in ministry. E.G: 
    • 4:18-22 [Initial call] “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men … Immediately they left their nets and followed Him”
    • 814, 23 “He came into Peter’s home … When He got into the boat His disciples followed Him”
    • 9:9, 14, 37 “He saw man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, ‘Follow Me’ and he followed Him … the disciples came to Him … He said to His disciples …”
  • (A) It was a sovereign choice: Matthew simply states: “He summoned His twelve disciples”; Mark is more specific (3:13) “He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted.” It was not a vote, Jesus did not form a committee, ask for volunteers; there was no survey, questioner to fill out, or aptitude test. It was a sovereign choice by Christ. Jesus would constantly remind them of this: 
    •  John 6:70 “Did I Myself not chose you, the Twelve”; 13:18 “I know the ones I have chosen”; 15:16 “You did not chose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit”
    •  This is a crucial part of their training, to know that they are there by God’s sovereign choice. And this is important for ever Christian worker and leader, to know that the work God has called you to is not a result of your doing, but the working of the Father in your life (mention more about that later). 
  •  God’s sovereignty is put up on the shelf and prominently displayed in the selection of His apostles, His ambassadors, and representatives. Secondly notice:


(B) It was in response to prayer: Lk 6:12-13 “He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God and when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles.” 

  • Lk then connects the command in Matt 9:38 and the commission in 10:1-4 with the example of Christ Himself. He who taught the others to pray for workers, and then Himself went to His Father and “spent the whole night in prayer.” 
    • Jesus Himself models obedience and provides a example of His humiliation; as a the God-Man He lived in total dependence and submission to the Father. (John 5:30 “I can do nothing on My own initiative …”) 
    •  Now if anyone would have not had to pray it would have been Jesus (God-Man) and yet He prayed the most. Prayer is part of God’s design through which He accomplishes His sovereign will. 
    • Jesus provides the example and an examples is to be followed. We need to take this seriously and both individually and as a church seek God in prayer for workers. God on His throne responds to those who seek His face (Acts 13:1-4).
  • FN1: Notice, in 9:38 they are commanded to pray, in 10:1-2, they are the answer to that prayer! Be ready when you pray to be the answer to the prayer. When you pray for workers, for God to send His message to certain people, for God’s mercy to someone: be ready to be the answer to that prayer; it may be you. You may be the answer to prayer in bringing the gospel to that certain person, or to start that particular ministry, or whatever. *When you and I pray we need to be willing to be God’s answer to that prayer
  • FN2: There is a time when we need to stop observing and start applying. We listen, study, learn, observe, but there is a point when we need to get up from the classroom and get out to the work. It is easy to learn and philosophize, it is something entirely different to be the one willing to and get your hands dirty, to take the risk, and make the sacrifice. 
    • It helps us to be more humble. “Armchair quarterbacks” - sometimes the most critical are those who do the least. Also, sometimes as Christians we can be get so full of Bible knowledge and theology, but never actually get off the couch to do the work of the ministry. We may speak about the glory of the gospel, the importance of serving, and the plight of the lost, but never get to doing anything. We need to be sensitive to God’s prompting in ministry and service. 
  • The point here is simply that it is God who is doing the moving and prompting in His people, and He is doing it in response to prayer. 

(C) It was the perfect will of God

  • Jesus, as the God-Man, always did what was pleasing to the Father (John 8:29), and always prayed according to the will of God; so these are the perfect will of God in answering - thought not who you would have expected. 
    • Thus, these are God’s men, God’s chosen instruments, and are an expression of God’s sovereign pleasure and wisdom. So with us, if we individually and as a church are saved and being sanctified, pursuing righteousness and seeking God’s face, then we can have confidence that God will answer according to His will.
    • This is important to lay hold of for at least two reasons: 
  • (1) Be Difficult: They are going to face many challenges along the way. Therefore, the confidence that they are there by God’s choosing and not their own doing, would help when the difficulties would come their way.
    • 10:16f they are going to be hated, delivered over to authorities, and rejected by their culture and nation. This would also be the lot for many who name Christ (10:21), but it would begin with the apostles. 
  • (2) Be Defection: They would need this reminder because one of their number would become a traitor (John 6:70; 13:18; 17:12). God chose Judas. 
    • It would be important for them to know that this is not random, but according to the perfect will of God. God is sovereign, even over the sin He allows in the church (cf. 2 Cor. 12 “messenger from Satan”). When all would seem confusing and out of control, God’s sovereign will was still on it perfect timetable. God was and is still on the throne. 
  • First, note God’s sovereign selection, in response to prayer, according to His will. 

(2) Specially Authorized 

  • “He gave them authority over unclean spirits so to cast them out and to heal every disease and all sickness” - They would act as His ambassadors; they represented the king, they came in the name of the king, and in the power and authority of the king.  
  • (A) Derived Authority: -All authority, among both the believing and unbelieving has its source in God (John 19:10-11; Rom. 13:1f). Matthew has already established the Lord’s authority displayed throughout His ministry (7:29; 8:9; 9:6[8]; cf. 21:23; 28:18). He is now conferring a measure of this authority to the disciples; it something that is “given” by Him “to them” - not to all the disciples, but to this select group of twelve.  
    • He would other times extend this beyond the 12 (LK 10:17). However, this was essentially and apostolic gift (1 Cor. 12:22 - will mention later). In the book of Acts it is most pointedly in the ministries of Peter and then Paul (Acts 3:1f; 14:8-11; 19:11)
    • This would also make clear that this is not a universal promise or authority given to the church at large (i.e. Each individual), or the church through the ages. This promise is limited to the historical setting and persons of the apostles. 
  • (B) Limited Authority: He limits it to those He has specifically commissioned with a specific work to do; specifically the authority “over unclean spirits and to heal every sickness and every kind of disease.”
    • Luke 10:19 (cf. Mk 16) picks up on an additional promises of protection against the harmful and dangerous elements they may encounter in ministry and relates to “authority.” 
      • Here it appears as though the Lord is simply acknowledging His protection of them as they would travel about (Acts 28:3-6). It obviously is not a promise of protection against the wrath and harm of man (cf. Matt. 5:10-12)
    • They cannot stop winds, nor do they have authority to forgive sins, though later He would confer on them them the representative role of pronouncing one forgiven or not based on their true or false reception of the gospel (Matt. 16:19; 1 Cor. 5:3-5). This authority would later be transferred to the church (Matt. 18:18f)
  • (C) Submitted Authority
  • (1) Submitted to the Lord’s Purpose: It is not like getting some super power that you can now use for your own pleasure (like a superman suit), but are submitted to the Lord’s will, discretion, and purpose (2 Cor 16 “Authority which the Lord gave for building you up”).  
  • (2) Submitted to the Lord’s Provision: simply God’s authority granted for a specific mission (cf. Acts 3:6, 12). For example, Paul notes in (2 Tim. 4:20) “Trophimus I left sick at Miletus”).
  • No servant of Christ has their own authority, but it is a derived authority, limited to the ministry of the Word, and submitted to the Lord’s will in building up the church. It is authority only in as much as it is faithful to Christ’s commission. 

(3) Specifically DistinguishedThe twelve apostles” - there is a distinct shift between verses 1-2 in identifying the twelve; verse 1 “disciples,” in verse 2 “apostles.” 

    • The term maqhta»ß means most simply: “a learner.” This can include both the true and the false; the saved and the unsaved; regenerate and unregenerate. Many of those following the Lord who are called disciples, left Him when the going got tough (John 6). Perseverance is what proves true faith (1 John 2 “went from us …”)
    • The term aÓposto/lwn carries with it the basic meaning of “sent one”  “a word that does not barely speak a messenger, but such a messenger as represents the person of him that sends him.” 
      • Used of others who are not here named among the twelve (Acts 4:36 “Barnabas” [cf. 9:27]; Gal. 1:15 “James”; Heb. 3:1 of Jesus Himself). However, the overwhelming usage of the term is in reference to the twelve and later to the apostle Paul. 
      • Rom. 16:7 and the naming of “Andronicus and  Junias” as “apostles” is debatable. NASB has “among,” ESV “well known to,” HCSB “noteworthy in the eyes of”’ However, as also noted by Murray, the term may be used in the more general sense as in Phil. 2:25 and 2 Cor. 8:23. (Didache 11:4-6).
      • Yet they were still a clearly distinguishable group in the early church (Acts 15:4; 1 Cor. 15:4;).
  • (A) Mandate: The twelve were specifically mandated, or commissioned by Jesus Himself (John 20:21). It was not a self appointed position, something one trained or prepared for, but was bestowed on an individual, by the direct activity of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
  • The number 12 corresponds to the tribes of Israel, though that is not to say they are a “New Israel.” Matt. 19:27-30 “Sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” This is in the MK, not the ES. God has a specific purpose in that.  
    • FN: What about Paul? 12th or 13th? After the betrayal and death of Judas the number of the apostles went to eleven. After the ascension of the Lord (Acts 1:9-11), the apostles felt the need to make up the lost position, prayed, chose lots, and appointed Matthias (Acts 1:26)
    • However, nothing is heard of Matthias from this point on, although the apostle Paul is specifically noted as being called as an apostle by the Lord (Gal. 1:1f - as noted above). It is entirely possible that the apostle Paul and not  Matthias is the true twelfth apostle, chosen by the Lord. (HAD TO END HERE)
Read More