Why Did Jesus Choose 12 MALE Apostles?

After Jesus was baptized he began his search for 12 very special disciples. Jesus personally selected 12 disciples — all of them men — to become his closest companions. The names of the 12 are listed in Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:14-19, and Luke 6:13-16.

This is the list of the twelve he sent:

Simon (they called him Peter, or “Rock”),
Andrew, his brother,
James, Zebedee’s son,
John, his brother,
Philip,
Bartholomew,
Thomas,
Matthew, the tax man,
James, son of Alphaeus,
Thaddaeus,
Simon, the Canaanite,
Judas Iscariot (who later turned on him). –Mt 10:2–4, The Message

These 12 men (excluding Judas and eventually including Matthias, Acts 1:24-26) were commissioned as apostles after intensive discipleship and following Jesus’ resurrection (Matthew 28:16-2, Mark 16:15). The men were given the mandate to advance God’s kingdom and carry the gospel message. The fact that Jesus initially chose men, appointing them as apostles, has often been used as evidence that men are the true leaders of the church.  But contrary to this line of thinking, scripture tells us that God is not partial to working with men:

Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” —Acts 10:34-35 (NRSV)

You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. —Jas. 2:8-9 (NRSV)

For God shows no partiality. —Rom. 2:11 (NRSV)

So why did Jesus choose only men — the sons of Israel? Why didn’t Jesus, in those first moments, choose a few daughters of Israel to advance God’s kingdom? Is Jesus partial to working with men? Or is something else going on? Is it possible that Jesus — through his initial choosing of  the sons of Israel — was revealing something to us?

Take note that later, Junia, a historically female name, is most likely referred to as an apostle (Rom. 16:7), that Mary Magdalene is spoken of as “Apostle to the apostles”, and there is even archeological evidence revealing women to be bishops in the early church — Bishop Theodora was a woman. However, by the 3rd century, the question of women’s leadership was  being hotly contested — more and more men questioned the validity of women leading and working by their side. Many viewed leadership (outside the home) as a “man only” arena and so within a relatively short time frame Christian women were excluded from public leadership, required to stand behind the men, their complete freedom in Christ, and not to mention the bold Spirit within them  — the very one who raised Jesus up from the dead — squelched by a mindset:

For more than two hundred years Christianity was essentially a religion of the private sphere, practiced in the private space of the household rather than the public space of a temple. Its concerns were the domestic life of its community rather than the political life of the city. But during the third century Christianity began evolving toward its eventual form as a public religion. The burgeoning numbers of adherents and the new formality and dignity of the Christian liturgies meant that Christian participation was increasingly a public event. By the fourth century Christians were worshiping in their own public temples, called basilicas. During this period the friction between the social convention about women’s place and women’s actual long-standing roles as house church leaders, prophets, evangelists, and even bishops precipitated virulent controversies.  – When Women were Priests: Women’s Leadership in the Early Church & the Scandal of their Subordination in the Rise of Christianity, by Karen Jo Torjesen, p.37

Unfortunately, Christians eventually became convinced that “men working alongside men” was the only God ordained way to work and it was more than sufficient to spread the gospel message — women’s place was somewhere else more suited to their feminine nature. The message became, men can accomplish the work alone. All of which reminds me of an inspirational yet sad book I read a long time ago about a well-known early evangelist named St. Francis and the faithful woman named Clare who wished to join him in his labors:

Clare turned her back on the conventional religious life of women, hoping that she, too, would be able to go where men and women were starved both in soul and in body and bring light and peace. Surely some way could be found in which even a woman could join this great work…. But in the thirteenth century there was no real opening for that kind of work. No one could accuse Francis of lack of originality or lack of courage, but to accept a woman into a community of men or to found an order of women evangelists was more than he could face. There was only one thing to be done: Clare must be lodged in one of the neighboring Benedictine nunneries until arrangements could be made for her to have a convent of her own…. And there she remained until her death in 1253, having by then spent over forty years without having once gone outside the monastic enclosure.  — St. Francis of Assisi by John R.H. Moorman, pg.58

 

 

The Sin of Noah

The answer regarding why Jesus initially chose 12 men just may be found within the story of Noah — specifically from Noah’s sin.  Noah’s sin stems from the issue that God commanded him to enter and exit the ark in a very specific order. First, Noah was commanded to enter the ark in the “fallen” order, meaning he was to enter with his sons at his side, followed by his wife and his son’s wives. But then, when exiting the ark, God switched things up, “Then God said to Noah, ‘Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you'” (Gen. 8:16).

So Noah went out with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. —Gen. 8:18, (NRSV)

Unfortunately, Noah didn’t exactly exit with his wife. Instead, Noah walked out with his sons. Imagine the ark with all the animals departing for the new cleansed-by-water world — two-by-two — male united with female. Bears: male and female; monkeys: male and female. The only pair that emerges differently is Noah and his family. They don’t come out two-by-two, male and female as God commanded. They come out of the ark two-by-two male united with male, and female united with female. Noah and his family came out of the waters of baptism unchanged. They came out the same way they went in.

Baptism = Restoration

The choreographed escape of Noah and his family through water is our template for restoration. Why? Because Peter describes this epic journey of Noah and his family as being a symbol for the upcoming baptism of Christ:

  • God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  —1 Pet. 3:20-21 (NRSV, bold added)

During the days of Noah, God came up with an enormous plan to bring about a universal restoration. Through the waters of “baptism,” God would save humanity and replenish the world with righteousness, restoring everything that had been lost through the onslaught of sin — and this included restoring the relationship between men and women. But, sadly, things went wrong (as they tend to do) because of sin.

You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. —Jas. 2:8-9 (NRSV)

Complete restoration did not take place for Noah or for those after him because Noah chose to stand with his sons instead of his wife. Noah chose to exit the waters of baptism two-by-two, male and male.

After Noah made his choice — from this point forward — the order of the new world was set and so God actually blessed “fathers and sons” not with dominion which was the blessing initially given to Adam and Eve. Instead, father and sons received something that would include “fear and dread”… domination:

  1. Noah and Sons’ Blessing: Domination

God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered.” —Gen. 9:1-2, italics mine (NRSV)

  1. Adam and Eve’s Blessing: Dominion

God blessed them [man and woman], and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” —Gen. 1:28 (NRSV)

The Flood of Noah Reveals the Heart of Humankind — Partiality — But Jesus Reveals  the Heart of God — Release the Workers Male and Female!

If Noah and the flood is an earthly foreshadowing of true baptism, then we should ask ourselves: Do we see the continued example of male united with male working through the New Testament? After all, it is in the New Testament where the spiritual reality of baptism finally takes place.

Picture Jesus, he is the image of the invisible father (Col. 1:15 ), the one who said “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9). Now imagine Jesus coming out of the waters of baptism and then going off to choose his intimate twelve apostles — the sons of Israel. After teaching them and anointing them with some authority Jesus then begins to send them out into the fields to work. Notice how he sends them:

He called the twelve [men] and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. —Mk 6:7; bold and additions mine.

why did jesus choose male apostles?
The Seventy Apostles

After these things the Lord appointed seventy others [“others” meaning heteros, plural masculine] also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. —Lk 10:1-2, NKJV; bold and additions mine

(It is possible that women were part of the 70. However, most ancient lists include primarily men.)

Only Half the Work Force Was Initially Released Due to Noah’s Sin

With only a small portion of the Christian population working the fields, certainly it was true — the laborers were few! (Also, the women were missing.) Consequently, the original mandate that was given to man and woman in the garden to “be fruitful and multiply and have dominion” (fruitful meaning: growing in the fruit of the Holy Spirit; multiply meaning: creating new disciples; dominion meaning: having full authority over sin) could not be completely achieved without women by their side. And Jesus was well aware of this.

Jesus has no intention of leaving men trapped with the lesser blessing of domination which was originally brought into the world through Noah and his sons. Jesus is working to bring about dominion. However, in order to establish dominion the sin of partiality must first be dealt with.

Jesus is working to bring about dominion. However, in order to establish dominion the sin of partiality must first be dealt with.
 A Story of Hope and Prophecy

Noah’s story is one of hope. The hope Noah’s father Lamech had when his wife gave birth to their first son: “This one will bring us relief from work!” (Gen. 5:29)

Lamech’s hope was that through his son, Noah (his name actually means “rest”) all men might find relief from laboring in the fields — and thanks to Noah — yes, this did happen (in the natural). After all, just after God blessed Noah and his sons with domination, God then allowed the people to hunt and fish: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything” (Gen 9:3). Before the flood, the people were vegetarians. Adding this additional food source gave some relief to the people (fish would have been particularly abundant at this time due to the flood waters).

So imagine, as Noah and his sons left the ark — they were now fishermen embarking into a completely new lifestyle. But take note, to the men who were chosen to follow Christ, the words they heard when Jesus approached them were, “Come, I will make you fishers of men!” A new harvest field was suddenly introduced; working in this new environment, as you may imagine, was still an awful lot of work. And Jesus’ answer was, “If you want help, you are going to have to pray for additional workers to be released.”

But Noah’s story is also one of prophecy. Noah came out of the waters of baptism without woman by his side; and without the “help” of woman, the work is too great. Woman is anointed to be the “helper.” This is not a word that designates woman as a mere subordinate or assistant. This word helper “ezer” means “the one who comes to the rescue.” In other words, when things get overwhelming, when things have gone wrong, when, finally, you cry out for help, woman will come to your aid. Eve is the revelation of Eliezer (el-ezer), “the God of help.” She will be the partner that stands with you to get the work done — woman is the missing spiritual revelation to the universal redemption that must take place before Jesus returns:

Now it’s time to change your ways! Turn to face God so he can wipe away your sins, pour out showers of blessing to refresh you, and send you the Messiah he prepared for you, namely, Jesus. For the time being he must remain out of sight in heaven until everything is restored to order again just the way God, through the preaching of his holy prophets of old, said it would be. — The Message, Acts 3:19–21, bold added

Woman is the missing spiritual revelation to the universal redemption that must take place before Jesus returns.

GO TO: The Sin of Noah

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