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Mark - Who is Christ?
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to MARK
PART 4 - Jesus' Great Miracles in Galilee and its Surroundings (Mark 3:7 - 8:26)

2. The Calling of the Twelve Apostles (Mark 3:13-19)

MARK 3:13-19
13 He went up into the mountain, and called to himself those whom he wanted, and they went to him. 14 He appointed twelve, that they might be with him, and that he might send them out to preach, 15 and to have authority to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons: 16 Simon, to whom he gave the name Peter; 17 James the son of Zebedee; John, the brother of James, and he surnamed them Boanerges, which means, Sons of Thunder; 18 Andrew; Philip; Bartholomew; Matthew; Thomas; James, the son of Alphaeus; Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot; 19 and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. He came into a house.

Jesus called everyone to repentance. He opened the way to God to every man, and forgave men their sins entirely on the cross.

How astonishing! Only a few of them heard him and understood God’s design for them. They came to the Savior to obtain his salvation. Apparently, many followed Jesus. They call themselves “Christians”. Those who are born again, lead the life of humility and joy of Christ.

Jesus knew the hearts, and the future of each individual. He chose individuals out of the multitudes of his followers and called them to him that he might train and send them to carry his gospel to the world. Preaching and spreading the gospel of salvation is a privilege bestowed on each Christian. But, dear reader, do not try to serve God as an office, but wait for your Lord’s calling. You cannot overcome Satan’s tricks by your own power. Only those whom the Lord helps to sacrifice their lives and suffer for his name are called to serve in his kingdom, according to his eternal plan.

Christ’s apostles are like the messengers who offer the gospel of salvation to all men. They do not philosophize about Christ, nor defend their faith with arguments, but offer God’s salvation in Christ freely to all. He who hears hears, he who accepts accepts, and he who hardens his hearts and puts himself above the Son of God destroys himself by himself.

Jesus did not only authorize his chosen disciples to communicate his words, but also gave them the power to overcome empty laws, to take away dead philosophies, and to cast out unclean spirits that it might become evident that the kingdom of God had now come. The ruler of this world is cast out not with science, money, or intelligence, but with the simple preaching of the gospel, and the proclamation of the living Crucified One who is the saving power of God to those who believe in him.

Jesus chose twelve apostles that they might be with him, as a symbol of his will to shepherd his people with their twelve tribes. Number 12 is composed of (3 X 4). 3 indicates the Holy Trinity, and 4 points to the four directions, i.e. points of the compass, so that 12 signifies this coming together of God and men.

He, who studies the names of the twelve apostles, becomes astonished at this gathering. In all probability, 4 or 6 of them were fishermen who were accustomed to hard work, and 3 were from Bethsaida at the mouth of the Jordan on the coast of the Sea of Tiberias. The first six disciples knew each other, having repented and become disciples at the hand of John the Baptist. The Lord did not call his apostles from all the tribes and centers of godliness, but had the first half from the surrounding small villages of fishermen.

The first three were composed of the inner circle. They accompanied Jesus at all times. Simon, whom Jesus called Peter, “the Rock”, was probably the strongest. He used to speak hastily, and was more courageous than the others. He was not always wise and clever, but right, emotional, and prepared for repentance and faith. His ready acceptance of the divine revelation did find in him the emblematic testimony about Christ, which became the foundation of the church. After Jesus’ ascension to heaven, he was the foremost among the apostles.

James and John must have contributed a spirited and headstrong element to Jesus’ band of follower, because Jesus called them, “Sons of Thunder”. On one occasion, when a Samaritan village refused to accept Jesus, the two asked Jesus to call down fire in revenge.

However, Jesus made out of the young John the man of God’s love who recognized Jesus’ nature in his depth. As the other evangelists wrote down Jesus’ miracles, words, and works, John recognized Jesus in himself and described his glory.

After the Son of God’s ascension, John became one of the three original elders in Jerusalem. And after the death of Peter and Paul, and the destruction of Jerusalem, he moved to Ephesus, and ministered to the central church there, where the Lord Jesus gave him in his exile the revelation about the end of the world and his Advent.

We do not know anything about James the son of Zebedee, except that he was one of the three who were present at the Lord’s transfiguration, and at the Garden of Gethsemane during the Lord’s agony, and was present at the raising of Jairus’ daughter to life by Jesus. He became the first in the circle of the twelve, to suffer martyrdom at the hand of King Herod Agrippa, who killed him to please the Jews.

Thus, the chief disciples were Peter, James, and John. The second circle around them was composed of Andrew, Philip, and Nathanael.

Andrew was Peter’s brother, who led Peter to Jesus, and was the first to confess Jesus as the Christ (John 1:14).

Philip was a native of Bethsaida, the city of Peter and Andrew. He was a good man, a preacher, and an economic planner, sincere in aim (John 1:43, 45; 6:5; 12:20; 14:8; Acts of the Apostles 1:13).

Nathanael was a critical seeker after the truth, who was sometimes called Bartholomew. Jesus saw him during his meditation and praying under the fig tree, and testified that he was an Israelite indeed. Nathanael was the first to call Jesus “the Son of God”, and “the King of Israel” (John 1:46-49; 21:2).

Around those six disciples there was an outer circle including the rest of the disciples: Matthew, Thomas, the other James, Thaddaeus, the other Simon, and Judas Iscariot.

We do not have many reports about the evangelist Matthew, except concerning his calling as a tax collector who was rejected by society, and his seventh degree in the lists of apostles. Like John, he did not want to draw attention to himself beside the exceptional person of Jesus. It is to be mentioned that he, with Paul, John, and Luke, were the greatest Christian writers of all time. In his gospel, he presented to us an essential, comprehensive, principal report about Jesus. The lack of information about him in his own Gospel tells us something about his great, important, personality (Matthew 9:9-11; Mark 2:14; Luke 5:28).

The doubtful pessimistic Thomas is a symbol of the modern man who believes in the revealed truth, and yet does not believe without a proof in his hand. Thomas became an example to many European scholars and God-seekers who seek the truth by themselves and rarely find it (John 11:16; 14:5; 20:24-29).

After the names of Matthew and Thomas, there come three names of apostles who are almost unknown to us. However, before becoming a disciple of Christ, Simon the Cananite, or “the Zealot” was a member of the fanatically patriotic party of Zealots who were in favor of the immediate building of the kingdom of God by violence. Jesus called him, taught him, and changed him. And he followed Jesus humbly in the way of meekness.

Jesus also called Judas Iscariot, who was the only Jewi among the twelve disciples. All the others were from Galilee. Judas was a thief, lover of money, and desirous of authority at any price, who became so increasingly hardened towards Christ that the devil dwelt in him. He appeared to be a saint, but with his heart filled with grudges, he betrayed God; not only he, but also most of the disciples expected a political Christ of Jesus. Yet, they changed their ideas and accepted Jesus as he was, except Judas the disobedient. And when Jesus disclosed his intents, Judas betrayed him in revenge and hatred. Yet, how astonishing! In his fright at recognizing the end of Jesus, he presented his great testimony about the innocence of Jesus, before his suicide. Jesus had tried to guide him gently and severely at the last supper. He did not curse him when he kissed him, but called him “friend”.

He who studies the characters of the twelve apostles, feels that Jesus called different people to him, and there must have been troubles in their fellowship, as well as pride and haughtiness. But the Spirit of Jesus changed the minds of all, except one. He made them lambs in the love of the Holy Spirit, those who followed the way of the Lamb of God to the end.

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus, you are our King. You called your apostles with clear sight and insight to spread the kingdom of your kindness in your name. Forgive our sins and pride that we may not prevent you from calling us to follow you. Free us from ambition for honor, authority, fame, and especially the love of money that we may not betray you, but love you, and give our life for you a living sacrifice acceptable to you. Amen.


  1. Who are the twelve disciples? What is the characteristic of each?


Dear Reader,
If you have carefully studied this first booklet on the Gospel of Christ according to the Evangelist Mark, you will have gained an everlasting treasure. At the same time, you will be able to answer the following questions easily:

  1. Who is Mark, and who were his fellow-laborers?
  2. What is the main source of the Gospel of Mark?
  3. For whom did Mark write his gospel? At what time?
  4. What is the meaning of the word “Gospel”?
  5. What is the meaning of the name “Jesus”?
  6. What are the most important meanings in the title of “Christ”?
  7. What are the main principles of the statement “the Son of God”?
  8. Why did the evangelist Mark open his gospel with these words?
  9. What is the content and aim of the message of John the Baptist?
  10. How did the Holy Trinity appear?
  11. Why did the Holy Spirit lead Jesus first to the wilderness to be tempted by Satan?
  12. What is the meaning of the statement “the kingdom of God”?
  13. What is the meaning of Jesus’ call: “Come after me, and I will make you become fishers of men”?
  14. How did Jesus free the demon-possessed? How does he free those that are affected by unclean spirits today?
  15. How did the evangelist Mark portray Christ in his gospel?
  16. What is the comprehensive will of God?
  17. How did Jesus show his power to forgive sins?
  18. What is the meaning of Jesus’ sitting with tax collectors and sinners?
  19. Why did Jesus’ disciples not fast?
  20. Why was the disagreement between Jesus and the Jews centered on keeping the Sabbath?
  21. Why did Jesus become angry and sad at the strict teachers?
  22. From which regions did the multitudes come to Jesus?
  23. Who are the twelve disciples? What is the characteristic of each?

If you answer 75% of the above questions exactly and sufficiently, we will send you the next booklet of this series. Please write your full name and address clearly, and send your answers to the following address:

Waters of Life
P.O.Box 600 513
70305 Stuttgart

Internet: www.waters-of-life.net
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