November 24

Text: Matthew 28:20

“.  .  .  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."  (NASB)

Today’s text concludes Jesus’ commission to eleven of the twelve disciples (Judas was dead) that we presume Jesus called to follow him on a daily basis (see Mark 3:13-15).  Note that there were many who followed Jesus, but Jesus personally picked those who taught (see also Luke 10:1).

These eleven were to represent him as they went to teach.  What they were to teach was defined by the resurrected Jesus.  They were to teach Jesus’ teachings, not their thoughts.  The result of their teaching was to produce observance of Jesus’ teachings in those who chose to be disciples.

Interestingly, where these men went after this commission is not recorded in scripture.  For a while, it seems these men were in Jerusalem (Acts 2:1; 3:1; 5:12; 8:14; 11:1; 15:4, 6, 22, 23; 16:4).  Traditions and legends (some of more substance than others) connect Peter to Rome; John to Ephesus; Andrew to Scythia; Thomas to India; Matthew to many places such as Ethiopia, Persia, and  Athropophagi; Philip to Athens; Simon the Zealot to perhaps Egypt and maybe even Britain; Bartholomew to India, Phrygia, and Armenia; etc.  Several were connected to more than one place.  Again, these are given as questionable traditions, not as facts.  The only thing to note was their association with many places outside of Israel.

Please note that the New Testament is not focused on where these men went or what they did.  The Gospels focused on Jesus’ ministry among the Jews.  Acts explained how a Jewish movement in a small country became a Roman Empire movement also converting non-Jewish people to Jesus.  Paul, the principle writer in the New Testament, was not one of the twelve.

Men like the apostles, Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Philip, Aquila and Priscilla, Timothy, Titus, Apollos, etc. were exceptions.  Most people stayed at home living their faith.  People did what they had the ability to do (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-11).

Suggestion for reflection: How should Christians live by their faith in Jesus?  (Read Romans 12:3-8.)

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