“Mission of the Twelve” complex

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In the "Mission of the Twelve" complex David Bivin and Joshua Tilton attempt to reconstruct the complete story of the apostles' healing and teaching mission.

A view of Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee from H. B. Tristram’s Scenes in the East Consisting of Twelve Coloured Photographic Views of Places Mentioned in the Bible (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1872), plate IV facing p. 17. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Revised: 12-July-2017

At some point during his public career, Jesus selected twelve of his most trusted full-time disciples and sent them out as emissaries (apostles) to Israel. These twelve emissaries were to heal and teach in his name, and proclaim the good news of the redemption of Israel by means of God’s Kingdom breaking into the human sphere.

During the stages of transmission from the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua to the Synoptic Gospels the full story of the apostles’ redemptive mission was broken apart. All three Synoptic Gospels report the sending out of Jesus’ emissaries (Luke does so in two versions), but only Luke and Mark report their return (Luke 9:10a; 10:17-20; Mark 6:30). In Luke, two additional pericopae (Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn and Blessedness of the Twelve) form Jesus’ pleased response (Luke 10:21-24). Matthew also reports these pericopae, but not in the context of the emissaries’ return. David Flusser suggested that a third pericope, Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 13:10-15; Mark 4:10-12; Luke 8:9-10), may also have formed part of Jesus’ response to the success of the apostles’ mission. In the “Mission of the Twelve” complex we attempt to reconstruct the complete story of the apostles’ mission.


Click on the following titles to view the Reconstruction and Commentary for each pericope in the “Mission of the Twelve” complex.

Yeshua's twelve apostles as depicted in an illuminated Ethiopian Bible.

 

Choosing the Twelve

 

A view of Arbel and Sea of Galilee from Horns of Hattin. Photograph by David Bivin from the collection "Views That Have Vanished: The Photographs of David Bivin."

 

Sending the Twelve: Commissioning

 

Harvest is Plentiful

Sending the Twelve: “The Harvest is Plentiful” and
“A Flock Among Wolves”

 

121cSending the Twelve: Conduct on the Road

 

Adam Elsheimer, Jupiter and Mercury in the House of Philemon and Baucis (ca. 1608). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town

 

Byzantine illustration of a man sending someone on a journey. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Sending the Twelve: Apostle and Sender

 

Return of the Twelve

Return of the Twelve

 

 

Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn

 

Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven (Recently Published!)

Sage And Students by Helen Twena

 

Blessedness of the Twelve

 


To demonstrate how the pieces of the “Mission of the Twelve” complex fit together, we have assembled our paraphrases of the Hebrew reconstructions of the individual segments below. We have also assembled the Greek and Hebrew reconstructions of the entire complex and presented them following the English paraphrase.

One day Yeshua called his disciples together and chose twelve of them to be his emissaries to Israel. Their names were Shimon Petros and Andrai (his brother), Yaakov, Yohanan, Pelipah, Talmai’s son, Matai, Tomah, Yaakov Halfi’s son, zealous Shimon, Yehudah Yaakov’s son, and Yehudah from Keriyot, who was a traitor.

Yeshua summoned his twelve emissaries to Israel and he commissioned them to drive out every demon and to heal every disease and sickness those demons had caused. Then he sent them on ahead in pairs to every city he intended to visit.

Yeshua told his twelve emissaries: “There’s a huge harvest, but a shortage of harvesters. So send word to the owner of the field to hire more workers to help them finish the job.

“Go! But beware, I’m sending you out like a defenseless flock into a pack of ravenous wolves.

“Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans. Instead, go to the lost sheep who belong to the people of Israel. Don’t take along gear for your mission, not even a walking stick, or a pack, or food, or money, or shoes, or extra clothes. And don’t greet anyone on the road.

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘May this family have peace!’ If a person who is committed to peace is there, the peace you offer will remain with him. But if no such person resides there, the peace you offered will not remain. Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they have to share, for the worker deserves his pay. Don’t hop around from family to family.

“If you enter a town where they receive you, heal the sick who are there and say, ‘God’s redeeming reign is here!’ But if you enter a town where they won’t receive you, leave the town and shake the dust off your feet as a sign that makes them face up to their inhospitable treatment toward strangers. Yes! It will go easier for Sodom on the day of reckoning than for a town that fails to show you hospitality.

“If anyone receives you, it is as if he has received me, and if anyone receives me, it is as if he has received the one who sent me. But if anyone rejects you, it is as if he has rejected me, and if anyone rejects me, it is as if he has rejected the one who sent me.”

The twelve emissaries returned to Yeshua full of excitement and they told him about everything they had done. “Lord!” they said, “even the demons submit to us in your name.”

Yeshua told them, “I saw Satan expelled from heaven like a flash of lightning from the sky. Look, I have given you power to step on snakes and scorpions and over all the enemy’s might: Nothing will hurt you. But don’t get excited about that, instead be excited that your names are recorded in heaven in the Book of Life.”

At that very moment Yeshua was filled with joy through the Holy Spirit, and he said, “I give thanks to you, my Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because although you hid these mysteries from the wisest of the wise in former generations, you have now revealed them to my own simple followers. Yes, Father, I thank you because this act of grace is what you desire.”

Then Yeshua said to his emissaries: “God has permitted you to experience the mysteries the Kingdom of Heaven had in store. But until now those mysteries were only hinted at through the symbolic language of the prophets, for ‘no eye could see, and no ear could hear, and no heart could understand’ beforehand the full scope of redemption the Kingdom of Heaven would bring.

“How privileged you are because of what you are witnessing. Yes! I want you to know that many of God’s messengers would have given anything to experience what you are experiencing, but were not so fortunate as you.”

Greek Reconstruction

καὶ ἐγένετο ἡμέρα καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐξελέξατο ἀπ᾽ αὐτῶν δώδεκα οὓς ἐποίησεν ἀποστόλους Σίμων Πέτρος καὶ Ἀνδρέας ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ καὶ Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωάνης καὶ Φίλιππος καὶ Βαρθολομαῖος καὶ Μαθθαῖος καὶ Θωμᾶς καὶ Ἰάκωβος Ἁλφαίου καὶ Σίμων ὁ ζηλωτὴς καὶ Ἰούδας Ἰακώβου καὶ Ἰούδας Ἰσκαριώθ ὃς ἐγένετο προδότης

καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τοὺς δώδεκα ἀποστόλους αὐτοῦ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν ἐπὶ πάντα τὰ δαιμόνια ὥστε ἐκβάλλειν αὐτὰ καὶ θεραπεύειν πᾶσαν νόσον καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν καὶ ἀπέστειλεν αὐτοὺς δύο δύο πρὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ εἰς πᾶσαν πόλιν καὶ πόλιν οὗ ἤμελλεν αὐτὸς ἔρχεσθαι

καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς ὁ μὲν θερισμὸς πολύς οἱ δὲ ἐργάται ὀλίγοι δεήθητε οὖν τοῦ κυρίου τοῦ θερισμοῦ ὅπως ἐκβάλῃ ἐργάτας εἰς τὸν θερισμὸν αὐτοῦ ὑπάγετε ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω ὑμᾶς ὡς πρόβατα εἰς μέσον λύκων

εἰς ὁδὸν ἐθνῶν μὴ ἀπέλθητε καὶ εἰς πόλιν Σαμαρειτῶν μὴ εἰσέλθητε πορεύεσθε δὲ μᾶλλον πρὸς τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου Ἰσραήλ μὴ βαστάζετε μηδὲν εἰς τὴν ὁδόν μήτε ῥάβδον μήτε πήραν μήτε ἄρτον μήτε ἀργύριον μήτε ὑποδήματα μήτε δύο χιτῶνας καὶ μηδένα κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν ἀσπάσησθε

εἰς ἣν δ᾿ ἂν οἰκίαν εἰσέλθητε πρῶτον λέγετε εἰρήνη τῷ οἴκῳ τούτῳ καὶ ἐὰν ἐκεῖ ᾖ υἱὸς εἰρήνης ἐπαναπαήσεται ἐπ᾿ αὐτὸν ἡ εἰρήνη ὑμῶν εἰ δὲ μή γε ἐφ᾿ ὑμᾶς ἀνακάμψει ἐν αὐτῇ δὲ τῇ οἰκίᾳ μένετε ἔσθοντες καὶ πείνοντες τὰ παρ᾿ αὐτῶν ἄξιος γὰρ ὁ ἐργάτης τοῦ μισθοῦ αὐτοῦ μὴ ἐξέρχεσθε ἐξ οἰκίας εἰς οἰκίαν καὶ εἰς ἣν ἂν πόλιν εἰσέρχησθε καὶ δέχωνται ὑμᾶς θεραπεύετε τοὺς ἐν αὐτῇ ἀσθενεῖς καὶ λέγετε αὐτοῖς ἤγγικεν ἐφ᾿ ὑμᾶς ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν εἰς ἣν δ᾿ ἂν πόλιν εἰσέλθητε καὶ μὴ δέχωνται ὑμᾶς ἐξερχόμενοι ἀπὸ τῆς πόλεως ἐκείνης καὶ τὸν κονιορτὸν ἀπὸ τῶν ποδῶν ὑμῶν ἀποτινάσσετε εἰς μαρτύριον ἐπ᾿ αὐτούς ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἀνεκτότερον ἔσται Σοδόμοις ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ ἢ τῇ πόλει ἐκείνῃ

ὁ δεχόμενος ὑμᾶς ἐμὲ δέχεται καὶ ὁ ἐμὲ δεχόμενος δέχεται τὸν ἀποστείλαντά με καὶ ὁ ἀθετῶν ὑμᾶς ἐμὲ ἀθετεῖ καὶ ὁ ἐμὲ ἀθετῶν ἀθετεῖ τὸν ἀποστείλαντά με

καὶ ὑποστρέψαντες οἱ ἀπόστολοι πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν μετὰ χαρᾶς διηγήσαντο αὐτῷ πάντα ὅσα ἐποίησαν λέγοντες κύριε καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια ὑποτάσσεται ἡμῖν ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί σου εἶπεν δὲ αὐτοῖς ἐθεώρουν τὸν σατανᾶν ὡς ἀστραπὴν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πεσόντα ἰδοὺ δέδωκα ὑμῖν τὴν ἐξουσίαν τοῦ πατεῖν ἐπάνω ὄφεων καὶ σκορπίων καὶ ἐπὶ πᾶσαν τὴν δύναμιν τὴν τοῦ ἐχθροῦ καὶ οὐδὲν ὑμᾶς οὐ μὴ ἀδικήσῃ πλὴν ἐν τούτῳ μὴ χαίρετε ὅτι τὰ πνεύματα ὑμῖν ὑποτάσσεται χαίρετε δὲ ὅτι τὰ ὀνόματα ὑμῶν ἐγγέγραπται ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς

ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἠγαλλιάσατο ἐν τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἁγίῳ καὶ εἶπεν ἐξομολογοῦμαί σοι πάτερ κύριε τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ τῆς γῆς ὅτι ἔκρυψας ταῦτα ἀπὸ σοφῶν καὶ συνετῶν καὶ ἀπεκάλυψας αὐτὰ νηπίοις ναὶ ὁ πατήρ ὅτι οὕτως εὐδοκία ἐγένετο ἔμπροσθέν σου

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν ὅτι ὑμῖν δέδοται γνῶναι τὰ μυστήρια τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν τοῖς δὲ λοιποῖς ἐν παραβολαῖς ὅτι βλέποντες οὐ βλέπουσιν καὶ ἀκούοντες οὐκ ἀκούουσιν οὐδὲ συνίουσιν

μακάριοι οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ οἱ βλέποντες ἃ βλέπετε καὶ τὰ ὦτα τὰ ἀκούοντα ἃ ἀκούετε ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πολλοὶ προφῆται καὶ βασιλεῖς ἐπεθύμησαν ἰδεῖν ἃ βλέπετε καὶ οὐκ εἶδαν καὶ ἀκοῦσαι ἃ ἀκούετε καὶ οὐκ ἤκουσαν

Hebrew Reconstruction

וַיְהִי הַיּוֹם וַיִּקְרָא לְתַלְמִידָיו וַיִּבְחַר מֵהֶם שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה שְׁלִיחִים שִׁמְעוֹן פֶּטְרוֹס וְאַנְדְּרַיי אָחִיו וְיַעֲקֹב וְיוֹחָנָן וּפְלִיפָּה וּבַר תַּלְמַי וּמַתַּי וְתוֹמָה וְיַעֲקֹב בֶּן חַלְפִי וְשִׁמְעוֹן הַקַּנַּאי וִיהוּדָה בֶן יַעֲקֹב וִיהוּדָה אִישׁ קְרִיּוֹת שֶׁהָיָה מָסוֹר

וַיִּקְרָא לִשְׁנֵים עָשָׂר שְׁלִיחָיו וַיִּתֶּן לָהֶם רָשׁוּת עַל כֹּל הַשֵּׁדִים לְהוֹצִיאָם וּלְרַפֵּא כֹּל מַדְוֶה וְכֹל חֳלִי וַיִּשְׁלַח אוֹתָם שְׁנַיִם שְׁנַיִם לְפָנָיו אֶל כֹּל עִיר וָעִיר אֲשֶׁר הוּא הִקְרִיב לָבוֹא שָׁמָּה

וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם הַקָּצִיר מְרֻבֶּה וְהַפֹּעֲלִים מְמֻעָטִים לְפִיכָךְ בַּקְּשׁוּ מִבַּעַל הַקָּצִיר שֶׁיּוֹצִיא פֹּעֲלִים לִקְצִירוֹ לְכוּ הֲרֵינִי שׁוֹלֵחַ אֶתְכֶם כַּצֹּאן לְתוֹךְ זְאֵבִים

אֶל דֶּרֶךְ הַגּוֹיִם אַל תֵּלְכוּ וּלְעִיר הַשֹּׁמְרֹנִים אַל תִּכָּנְסוּ אֶלָּא לְכוּ לַצּאֹן הָאֹבְדוֹת שֶׁלְבֵית יִשְׂרָאֵל אַל תִּשְׂאוּ כְּלוּם לַדֶּרֶךְ לֹא מַקֵּל וְלֹא תַּרְמִיל וְלֹא לֶחֶם וְלֹא כֶּסֶף וְלֹא מִנְעָלִים וְלֹא שְׁנֵי חֲלוּקוֹת וְאִישׁ בַּדֶּרֶךְ אַל תִּשְׁאֲלוּ בִּשְׁלוֹמוֹ

וּלְאֵי זֶה בַּיִת שֶׁתִכָּנְסוּ אִמְרוּ תְּחִילָה שָׁלוֹם לַבַּיִת הַזֶּה וְאִם יֵשׁ שָׁם בֶּן שָׁלוֹם יָנוּחַ עָלָיו שְׁלוֹמְכֶם וְאִם לָאו עֲלֵיכֶם יָשׁוּב וּבְאוֹתוֹ הַבַּיִת שְׁבוּ אוֹכְלִים וְשׁוֹתִים לָהֶם כִּי כְּדַי הַפּוֹעֵל לִשְׂכָרוֹ אַל תֵּצְאוּ מִבַּיִת לְבַיִת וּלְאֵי זוֹ עִיר שֶׁתִכָּנְסוּ וִיקַבְּלוּ אֶתְכֶם רַפְּאוּ אֶת הַחוֹלִים בָּהּ וְאִמְרוּ לָהֶם הִגִּיעָה עֲלֵיכֶם מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם וּלְאֵי זוֹ עִיר שֶׁתִכָּנְסוּ וְלֹא יְקַבְּלוּ אֶתְכֶם צְאוּ מִן הָעִיר הַהִיא וְאֶת הָאָבָק מֵעַל רַגְלֵיכֶם נַעֲרוּ לְעֵדָה בָּהֶם אָמֵן אֲנִי אוֹמֵר לָכֶם נוֹחַ יִהְיֶה לִסְדוֹם בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא מֵהָעִיר הַהִיא

הַמְּקַבֵּל אֶתְכֶם אוֹתִי מְקַבֵּל וְהַמְּקַבֵּל אוֹתִי מְקַבֵּל אֶת הַשּׁוֹלֵחַ אוֹתִי וְהַמּוֹאֵס אֶתְכֶם אוֹתִי מוֹאֵס וְהַמּוֹאֵס אוֹתִי מוֹאֵס אֶת הַשּׁוֹלֵחַ אוֹתִי

וַיָּשֻׁבוּ הַשְּׁלִיחִים אֶל יֵשׁוּעַ בְּשִׂמְחָה וַיְסַפְּרוּ לוֹ אֶת כֹּל אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ לֵאמֹר אֲדוֹנֵנוּ אַף הַשֵּׁדִים מִשְׁתַּעְבְּדִים לָנוּ בְּשִׁמְךָ וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם רָאִיתִי אֶת הַשָּׂטָן כְּבָרָק מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם נֹפֵל הֲרֵי נָתַתִּי לָכֶם רָשׁוּת לִדְרֹךְ עַל נְחָשִׁים וְעַקְרַבִּים וְעַל כֹּל גְּבוּרַת הָאֹיֵב וְלֹא יַזִּיק לָכֶם כְּלוּם אַף בְּזוֹ אַל תִּשְׂמְחוּ שֶׁהָרוּחוֹת מִשְׁתַּעְבְּדוֹת לָכֶם אֶלָּא שִׂמְחוּ שֶׁשְׁמוֹתֵיכֶם כְּתוּבִים בַּשָּׁמַיִם

בְּאוֹתָהּ הַשָּׁעָה שָׂשׂ בְּרוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ וַיֹּאמֶר אוֹדְךָ אָבִי אֲדוֹן שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ כִּי הִסְתַּרְתָּ אֵלֶּה מֵחֲכָמִים וּנְבֹנִים וְגִלִּיתָ אוֹתָם לִפְתָאיִם הֵן אַבָּא כִּי כֵּן רָצוֹן הוּא לְפָנֶיךָ

וַיֹּאמֶר לָכֶם נִתַּן לָדַעַת אֶת רָזֵי מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם וְלִשְׁאָר בִּמְשָׁלִים כִּי רָאוֹ לֹא רָאוּ וְשָׁמוֹעַ לֹא שָׁמְעוּ וְלֹא הֵבִינוּ

אַשְׁרֵי הָעֵינַיִם הָרֹאוֹת מַה שֶּׁאַתֶּם רֹאִים וְהָאָזְנַיִם הַשֹּׁמְעוֹת מַה שֶּׁאַתֶּם שֹׁמְעִים אָמֵן אֲנִי אֹמֵר לָכֶם הַרְבֵּה נְּבִיאִים וּמַלְאָכִים הִתְאַוּוּ לִרְאֹת מַה שֶּׁאַתֶּם רֹאִים וְלֹא רָאוּ וְלִשְׁמֹעַ מַה שֶּׁאַתֶּם שֹׁמְעִים וְלֹא שָׁמְעוּ


 

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David N. Bivin

David N. Bivin
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David N. Bivin is founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., Bivin has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew…
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Joshua N. Tilton

Joshua N. Tilton

Joshua N. Tilton grew up in St. George, a small town on the coast of Maine. For his undergraduate degree he studied at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, where he earned a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies (2002). There he studied Biblical Hebrew and…
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