“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: 24-February-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 (in preparation)

Sage And Students by Helen Twena


Blessedness of the Twelve



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