Why 12 apostles?

Have you ever wondered why Jesus specifically chose 12 apostles (Luke 6: 12-16)? Why didn’t he choose 7, 20 or 43?  

Through Jesus, the Kingdom of God intersects the kingdom of this world and a movement is birthed. If I were Jesus, (obviously I’m not, no eye-rolls, please) I think I would have started with as many apostles as possible.

The more the merrier, right?


Come on! 12 men barely makes up a football team and that’s with guys playing both ways. These men are going to fulfill the redemptive plan not only to their friends and family, but to the entire WORLD! It would have been a good idea to increase the odds of success by adding a few more bodies in case of flakiness, disease, inability and martyrdom.

Some have suggested that he chose 12 men because it is a number of completion like 7 and 40. To read more on this simply Google, “Why were there 12 apostles?” It may be a number of completion, but I think there were clear values in choosing 12 that are worth looking at.

-- a way of life was caught as much as it was taught --

The group of 13 (including Jesus) spent a lot of time together. They traveled, ate, prayed, and learned together. They experienced success, conflict, grief and misery …together. Their relationship with Jesus was hands on and interactive. Jesus would ask them to do specific tasks that would arise out of the ordinary progression of the day. Because of this, a way of life was caught as much as it was taught.

Conversations were natural and flowed out of real time events and activities. They could be walking down the road and Jesus would teach them a profound kingdom principle. They could be getting water from a well and miraculous ministry would take place.

The best part of a small group of 12 is that it allowed for everyone to know one another. They came to learn one another’s strengths and weakness. Everyone knew that Peter was the guy with the big mouth and quick temper (MTT 16:16 and 26:51). They knew that John loved to simply hang out with Jesus (John 13:23 NLT). The relationships were personal, authentic and intimate.

A seed of great potential was planted in that small group of guys that would produce an eternal harvest worldwide in spite of their differences of background, profession, income, and education.

Here’s the question we should ask ourselves. If Jesus spent so much time hanging out in a small group, should we do the same? Would being a part of a small group of Jesus focused people where we are truly known help us to realize our potential as his disciple? Would others benefit from you initiating a small group where Jesus’ principles and ideas could be caught?

At the Sanctuary, there are two types of small groups:

  1. Life Groups are inclusive small gathering of individuals from The Sanctuary and their friends, who meet regularly around a specific common interest. Their purpose is to promote healthy relationships, which empower us to fully embrace God’s love and truth. Visit our website for more on Life Groups.
  2. Growth Groups are a group of two or three people of the same gender who meet together regularly in a team effort to mutually grow mature lives and fulfill their God-given purposes. For more on Growth Groups, see our website.

Jesus’ rag-tag small group of 12 changed the world. What could be done not only in us, but through us to change our world because we are sharing life in small groups?  

Who are your 12?

- Pastor Zack Totten