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The Twelve

28 July 2022

In the New Testament
a unique group of
brothers provide the base
for the Holy City

Throughout the four Gospels we read of a group of brothers spoken of simply as “the Twelve.” This is a unique group of twelve apostles the Lord appointed when He was on the earth (Luke 6:13). This group is distinct from all later apostles, such as Paul and Barnabas, who are appointed by the Holy Spirit after the ascension of Christ (Acts 13:1, Acts 14:4).

It was these twelve who had remained with the Lord during His trials on the earth (Luke 22:28). Hence, their names will be on the twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem, as we read in Revelation, where they are called the “twelve apostles of the Lamb”:

Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
— Revelation 21:14

That is why there had to be a brother to replace Judas in this group after his apostasy, for it had to number exactly twelve, no more and no less (cf. Luke 22:3). It is also why, in choosing this brother, Matthias, Peter said that he had to be from among those

….who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us.
— Acts 1:21-22

(It should be noted that some Roman Catholic apologists use this story, of choosing Matthias to replace Judas, to support the idea of apostolic succession. That, however, is completely without merit, for three reasons. First, the replacement was not needed because Judas had died, but because he had committed apostasy [Acts 1:20]. Second, as we have said, the replacement was needed so that there could be exactly twelve apostles in this group; there is no place for anyone else to be added. And third, no one after the time of the early disciples could fulfill the requirements mentioned above.)

It seems the Lord’s special commitment to this group of apostles was to testify to the resurrection of Christ, as eyewitness to that event, for Peter next states,

…“one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
— Acts 1:22b

And indeed Peter, in his messages in the first part of Acts, strongly stressed the resurrection of Christ to the Jews:

“This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.”
— Acts 2:32

“[You] killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.”
— Acts 3:15

“Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.”
— Acts 4:10

And in the resurrection, these brothers will also have a special responsibility before the Lord, because of their faithfulness in following Him during His earthly ministry when so many others left the Lord or would not follow Him at all. Peter in his boldness could say truthfully, directly to the Lord,

“See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”
— Matthew 19:27. cf. 19:16-22

To which Jesus replied:

“Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
— Matthew 19:28

What an example and encouragement for us all to follow the Lord in the same way today! (Matt. 19:29). And no wonder these brothers, and their example, serve as the base for the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, in eternity.

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— 28 July 2022 —