twelve Apostles….or seventy….or more?

This is the third in a series on the role of apostles in the church.

Apostolic ministry is displayed by our Lord in Luke 4:16-19 and is instructive to us, as is
everything he said and did. The clue that it’s apostolic ministry is seen in the word ‘I send’, used twice in verse 18, and in the word ‘I preach the Gospel’ used once (a single word in Greek) and the word ‘I preach’ used twice. To be ‘sent’ and to ‘preach’ are uniquely the work of apostles throughout the NT.

Apostolic Ministry Defined

In this study we want to observe apostolic ministry by Jesus. We should ask: Did Jesus accomplish ministry that was unrepeatable because he is Jesus, i.e., for him alone? Or did the Apostles engage in ministry like this too? (cf. Luke 9:1-6). And did he mean to give us an example in this text for its duplication by us? (cf. Luke 10:1-12). Which is to say, did he intend this kind of faith to be building even in us as readers of Luke’s Gospel? (cf. Mark 16:17-18). Could we be sent in the same way, for our Lord said, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (John 20:21)?

Let’s look at Luke 4:18 phrase by phrase. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath
anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor.” The anointing itself is the Person of the Holy Spirit who is upon you, and giving you the ability to preach or put into words the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus. You speak to the ‘poor’ i.e. the poor in spirit, those who don’t have a very high opinion of themselves. God has a preference for the little, the least, the last, the lost, and the dead – all summed up in ‘the poor’. The Holy Spirit comes upon you as the promise of the Spirit (Luke 24:49). “He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted” – shattered hearts are everywhere. It is apostolic ministry to be sent into this. “To preach deliverance to the captives”

Now a different word for preaching is used, where Christ ‘preached’ to those held hostage to Satan a message that accomplished their freedom; ‘Come out!’ (Luke 4:35). “And (to preach) recovery of sight to the blind” – When Jesus said to a blind man, ‘Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee’ (Luke 18:42), he was preaching the ‘recovery of sight’. “To set at liberty them that are bruised” – Or, ‘to send those who are oppressed into liberty. This is that apostolic word ‘to send’, used here to free people by a word or action that sends them into freedom (Luke 8:26ff). “To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” – This is preaching that announces that, to God, this is the ‘acceptable’ or pleasing or favorable time for your deliverance (Luke 5:12ff).

Apostolic Ministry by the Twelve

Luke 9:1-6

1 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.

And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.

And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.

And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart.

And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.

And they departed, and went through the towns,

Apostolic Ministry by the Seventy

Luke 10:1-12

After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.

Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.

And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.

And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.

And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.

And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:

And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

10 But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,

11 Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

12 But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.

Notice how close these two accounts are. Both show these disciples having received power to heal (devil-driving only occurs for the Twelve in this Text), stay in the same house, take no money, eat what they have, and say that the Kingdom of God is come near, shake off the dust if it’s not being received.

The Parable of Hidden Treasure

Matthew 13:44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

Discovering, Buying, and Owning the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is for sale and all people at all times are looking to buy it. It will cost you not less than everything you own. And that is such a bargain.

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