from WL Worcester (H Blackmer, ed.), 
The Sower.  Helps to the Study of the Bible in Home and Sunday School
(Boston: Massachusetts New-Church Union, n.d.)

Table of Contents


Lesson 5

Mark 3:13-35: Twelve Apostles Chosen

The Story


Afterwards the Lord went up into a mountain and stayed there all night praying, and when the morning came He called His disciples to Him. Many people had learned to love the Lord and they followed Him about from place to place listening to His teaching and seeing the many wonderful things that He did. All these loving followers are called disciples. From these He chose twelve who should be especially His, who should in a way share His work. He could send them to preach. He could give them power to cast out evil spirits. These twelve He called apostles, and among them were the five about whom we have already learned. (It would be well to learn the names of the other seven.) It must have been a great honor to be one of the chosen twelve! But really each one of us is called by the Lord, and is sent out to do some work for Him. Disciple means "learner," and apostle means "one sent forth."

At this time the crowd that followed the Lord was very great, but the scribes and Pharisees were more bitter against Him than ever. They even said that the power the Lord had to cast out devils was from the prince of evil. This the Lord said could not be forgiven; for they did not say it because they knew no better, but because they knew and hated the Divine Spirit which did the mighty works.

Then His mother and brothers came calling Him, not understanding the great work that the Lord had come into the world to do. They were related to the earthly part of the Lord; but He told the people about Him that, "whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister, and mother." These were related to what was Divine in Him.


Climb with me to the top of the mountain which looks down on the plain of Gennesaret. What a charming, beautiful place! Look off over the meadows, and the green hills, one here and there crowned by a little town. Far in the north, overlooking all the rest, is the snowy Hermon. And here at our feet is the rugged gorge by which we came; the lovely plain lies along the shore, in the old time so green and so full of busy life. And the deep blue water stretches away to the purple eastern shore, with two or three white sails to remind us of the many fishing-boats of long ago. It is a peaceful, sunny place up above the busy world. We can think of the Lord coming alone into this mountain to pray. We can think of His leading the people up into this quiet place to teach them about heavenly things.

Here also He called about Him His disciples and chose twelve to be His special messengers and helpers. Have we heard of some of these men before? Simon, named Peter, and Andrew his brother. Remember how the Lord called them from their nets. James and John; both were in the ship with their father when the Lord called them. Some of these had seen the Lord earlier, at the Jordan, at the time of the baptism. Philip had joined them as they turned from the Jordan into Galilee; and what was his home? (John 1:43, 44) Bartholomew was probably the same as Nathaniel; where was he when Philip called him? What town was his home? (John 1:45; 21:2) Matthew: who was he? Besides these whom we already know, there were Thomas, another James, Simon called the Zelot or the Cananaean (both names meaning that he was of the party of Israelites who were eager to throw off the Roman power), Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot (which means that he was from Kerioth, a town of Judaea). These twelve the Lord chose "that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils."

1. What does "disciple" mean? What does "apostle" mean?

2. How many apostles did the Lord appoint? What ones do you remember?

3. What was to be the apostles' work?

4. Who did the Lord say are His brother and sister and mother?

Spiritual Study


Let us write down in a column the names of the twelve apostles and in another column let us write so far as we can the apostles' homes. In still another column note what writings the different apostles have left us. Matthew and John, the Gospels which bear their names. (John 21:24) By whom was the Revelation written? (Revelation 1:9) You find epistles by John, James (which James is perhaps doubtful), Peter and Jude (Judas the brother of James; see Jude 1).

How many apostles were chosen? Does it mean that there is need of only twelve men to go on the Lord's work? No, but the twelve stand for all, and the Lord chose men of such characters that they might represent all people who will serve Him, or all the heavenly elements in any heart. Do you remember in the Old Testament a case where twelve stand for all the Lord's people? The twelve tribes. And in Revelation 7:4 is it meant that only a certain number can be saved? (A. 3858; E. 430) As we go on in our study we shall learn what particular elements of a heavenly character some of the apostles represent.

The disciples came to the Lord in the mountain, in this peaceful place above the noise and confusion of daily affairs; He was at the same time lifting up their minds to higher things; to think of heaven and of the motives which are within and above everyday life. He was leading them into a mountain naturally and spiritually also. Do you think of other places where a purer, more heavenly state of nearness to the Lord is spoken of as a mountain? (Isaiah 2:2, 3; Psalm 24:3, 4) It means especially a state in which love for the Lord lifts us above worldly distractions and opens our hearts to perceive the interior blessedness of the ways of heavenly life. (E. 405)

There are spiritual relationships of common interest and purpose, which are stronger and more enduring than natural ties. The Lord tells us that we may have such spiritual relationship to Him as we do the will of God. It is a wonderful thought, and brings us very near to Him. (A. 2159; E. 46)

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