The Preeminence of the Twelve Apostles

A Continuation of Excerpts from the Book “Truly the Signs of An Apostle”

This special group lost one of the original members whose name most of us are familiar with — Judas Iscariot.  That reduced The Twelve to eleven. Yet a replacement was chosen to maintain this designated group – “The Twelve”.

In Acts 1:15-26 we see the selection process that replaced Judas and reaffirmed the special designation of these Twelve. Peter explains that Judas’ replacement needed to meet certain criteria. The disciple selected needed to have been a personal witness of the earthly life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. He should have been with the Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry along with the other eleven Apostles from the time Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist until His resurrection.

So, it is pretty clear that The Twelve were distinctive from generic apostles and had a novel relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. This was demonstrated in the initial selection by the Lord Jesus  and affirmed later in the selection of a replacement for Judas.

The Twelve Elevated

 These Twelve have a level of importance in the Scripture that is often underestimated.  For example, it is evident that Jesus Christ endowed these men with special abilities. He also gave them special authority and promised that The Twelve are going to rule over the tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28, Luke 22:30)

It is obvious that the Twelve Apostles had special significance to the Lord and were given special honor. These men were especially chosen by the Lord Jesus for a special role in the foundation of the church. (Ephesians 2:20) As such, they should be highly regarded.

However,  a word of caution is in order at this point. Though these men should be highly respected, nowhere in Scripture do we see anyone ever praying to them, venerating them or directing petitions to them. We do not witness, either before or after they died, any sort of deference to them that might even remotely be considered worship. That kind of adoration is reserved for Deity alone. God is the only One Who is to be prayed to, petitioned, meditated upon or adored.

The believers in the early church, including the Twelve Apostles, were sinners saved by the grace of God, just like any other believer who places their faith and trust in Christ today. The apostles, whether generic or special, had a profound sense of their own unworthiness.  In fact, when folks tried to direct worship toward them, their reaction was intense against such behavior. (Acts 14:14-15)

They certainly deserve our respect as the caretakers of the early church and as those endowed with a special commission from the Savior! Next we shall discuss the special promise they received from the Lord Jesus Christ.

(c) 2011, Frank I. Snyder, “Truly the Signs of An Apostle”

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