Twelve Plain, Ordinary, Weak Men


Paul Tautges writes on how Christ uses weak things to show Himself strong:

More often than not, God chooses to use plain, ordinary, weak men and women to do His work. This is one of the many ways we see that God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Jesus’ calling and choosing of the Twelve is a vivid example.

It was at this time that 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: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew; and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Luke 6:12-16)

After spending 8-10 hours in prayer, in the dark, Jesus chose the Twelve. He called them to Himself, for Himself, and for His purposes. The Gospel of Mark “says that this purpose was threefold: that they might be with Him (for training), that He might send them forth, and that they might have authority to cast out demons” (Herschel Hobbs). These twelve He then called “apostles,” sent ones, ambassadors, His official representatives.

But who were these men? Whom did Jesus select to be responsible to take the only saving message to the ends of the earth? Though they would go down in history as being very significant, they were insignificant when they were chosen. Christ would build His church upon them (Ephesians 2:20) and the wall of the heavenly city would forever pay tribute to them (Rev 21:14).

So, whom did Jesus build His entire church upon? Were they men with powerful speaking skills? Were they highly-educated? No. They were just common, ordinary men; men with many flaws.

  • Simon, whom He also named Peter, was a fisherman. He was a man of extremes with strong emotions, who “swayed from one position to its opposite” (Hendricksen). At times he trusted Jesus, while other times he doubted. He boldly confessed Jesus as the Christ, but when filled with great fear, denied Him three times. Nevertheless, at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit transformed this man into a powerful leader and preacher.
  • Andrew followed Jesus first. Then he brought his brother Peter to Jesus. Andrew was also a fisherman.
  • James and John were also fishermen. These two were men of fiery personality and nature. Therefore, Jesus called them “Sons of Thunder.” You could probably hear them before they entered a room.
  • Philip lived in the same town as Peter and Andrew. He introduced Nathaniel to Jesus. When faced with 5,000 hungry men, Philip lacked trust in the Lord and informed Jesus that there was no way they could find enough money to buy enough bread.
  • Bartholomew was also named Nathaniel. He was a bold man who spoke his mind. When he first heard of Jesus, Bartholomew asked Philip, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
  • Matthew was a tax collector, the type of person who was hated by most. When Jesus called him, he immediately left his lucrative business to follow Him.
  • Thomas will be forever known as “Doubting Thomas” because he did not immediately believe in Jesus’ resurrection. He was a man of great devotion, but also deep despondency. He experienced a roller-coaster of emotions.
  • James, the son of Alphaeus, was also known as “James the Less,” which some interpret as meaning “James small in stature.”
  • Simon, who was called the Zealot, was a former member of a terrorist group that spread rebellion against the Roman government.
  • Judas, the son of James, was also called Thaddeus. This Judas wanted Jesus to be more public, more in the limelight. He did not appreciate how content Jesus was to fly under the radar.
  • Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. This is the infamous Judas, the false disciple who betrayed Jesus. He was a wicked, selfish, and self-serving man. Judas was a lover of money who mocked the gracious gift of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with her perfume. Having surrendered his heart and will to the devil, Judas fulfilled the prophecies of the betrayer who would sell the Messiah for 30 pieces of silver.

Clearly, we can see that there really was nothing special about these guys. There were no “big guns” in the group. No high-society influencers. No guys showing off “power ties” at their business meetings. They were just ordinary, run-of-the-mill kind of people. More than that, they had more flaws than you could shake a stick at. But they had something else—or should I say Someone—who made all the difference.

Acts 4:13 informs us that the opponents of the gospel “observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.” Can that be said of me? Can that be said of you? Is it apparent that we have been with Jesus?

You can read Paul’s entire article here:

About savedbygrace1976

Mark Chanski (author of Manly Dominion; Womanly Dominion; and Encouragement: Adrenaline for the Soul) has labored as a full-time Pastor since 1986 in churches in Ohio and Michigan. He has been Pastor of Harbor Church in Holland, Michigan, since 1994. He has also been elected as Coordinator of the Reformed Baptist Network. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Cornerstone University, and a Master of Divinity degree from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He teaches Hermeneutics for the Reformed Baptist Seminary in Sacramento, CA. Mark is married to his wife Dianne, and has fathered their four sons and one daughter, whose ages stretch from 36 to 26 (born 1983 to 1994).
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