Topical Studies

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What the Bible says about Disciples, The
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Sometimes we give the disciples too much credit. Though they knew enough to follow Jesus, and their understanding was growing, they still did not have the benefit of the Holy Spirit to any great degree. They were still very much in the unlearning process—that is, unlearning the false teachings they had received all their lives. It would be akin to asking an American to believe that individual rights, capitalism, baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie were evil, and that an uneducated man from the backwoods knew a better way.

The disciples' thinking was still based on the typical Jewish understandings promoted by the Pharisees and Sadducees. They had never known any other way of life, and they were proud of their strictness in following it (Acts 10:14; Galatians 1:14; Philippians 3:4-6). Even years after they both had received the Holy Spirit, Paul corrected Peter for the tendency to fall back on his Jewish upbringing (Galatians 2:11-21).

For all that, however, they knew Jesus was special. A short while before, when many of Jesus' disciples deserted Him because of misunderstanding His teaching, He asked the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" (John 6:67). Peter's answer for himself and the others is insightful:

Then Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (verses 68-69)

This shows that they had this one fact firmly in hand. However, they were still not totally ready to swallow everything Jesus told them right away. Peter went so far as to rebuke Jesus for even mentioning that He would suffer crucifixion and rise from the dead (Matthew 16:21-22). To Peter, the Messiah should not have to endure such a thing! Even the transfiguration, crucifixion, and resurrection did not completely persuade them to accept the outworking of God's plan. Before Christ ascended to heaven they asked Him, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6).

In reality, though the disciples had at least recognized Him as Messiah, they were still in their spiritual infancy. They had a long and arduous work before them, and God found it expedient to kindle their faith with a raw dose of His Son's once and future glory—the Transfiguration.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Why the Transfiguration?

Related Topics: Disciples, The


Matthew 16:15-18

Christ had not yet built the church of God when this episode took place, though its formation had begun in that it had its Head, who had chosen and begun preparing a number of trainees, including the twelve apostles, to become part of it. Another year or two would pass before it would be prepared to begin carrying out its responsibility to preach the gospel to the world.

The epistle to the Hebrews did not exist when Jesus suffered a horrific beating and then was mercilessly crucified. Nor did it exist seven weeks later when Jews from all over the Mediterranean observed Pentecost in Jerusalem, and God gave a highly visible and audible demonstration of His awareness of this massive injustice while giving His Holy Spirit to those already loyal to our Savior.

The church did not officially exist until this last act, as God connected each of His chosen children with a truly holy, spiritual bond. Only then did the apostles and others began to fulfill their assignments from Jesus of preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God to the people of Jerusalem. Then the church began to grow significantly in purpose, numbers, and unity.

On that Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2:40-41, “with many other words [Peter] testified and exhorted them, saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation.' Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” After God healed a man's crippling affliction at the Temple, one he had suffered since birth, Acts 4:4 reports, “many of those who heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.” In Acts 6:1, Luke writes that the number of disciples within the church was multiplying, and the internal organization to care for the brethren was taking shape. The church, with a dramatic growth spurt, was actively coming into being, demonstrating to the unconverted Jews that it was a spiritual force to be reckoned with.

All this vital activity within the tiny organization named “the church of God” took place within about six months and changed the course of world history. It all occurred within a small, second-rate province of the mighty Roman Empire. Considering this thin slice of history, we know that the Creator God engineered this spiritual activity as He moved to reveal His creative purposes to more than just a few Jews within the Jerusalem area.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Four)

Luke 5:4-11

Jesus takes the opportunity of this miracle to call His disciples into a Teacher - student relationship with Him. He figuratively catches Peter in His net before commanding him to "catch men" for the Kingdom of God. Immediately, Peter, Andrew, James, and John leave their boats and nets behind and follow Him. They now understand that Jesus is more than capable of supplying their every need.

We are to apply this lesson in our own lives. When Christ speaks, it is always about obedience to God's way of life. In this case, His teaching affected the disciples' livelihoods. Worship and work form major parts of our lives, too, and in both we must consistently maintain righteousness.

Had Peter failed to obey Christ's command, he would have failed to experience both the miracle and the resulting blessing. No one serves God without being compensated for his service. When we serve, sacrifice, testify, or stand for Him, He will suitably reward our efforts. When God asks us to invest our time, effort, talent, or anything else, we must not resent the opportunity. No one pays dividends on an investment as abundantly as God does - "good measure, pressed down, and running over will be put into your bosom" (Luke 6:38).

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: The Great Catch of Fish

John 8:31

Abide means "to continue in" or "to remain in." Thus, "If you remain or continue in My Word, then you are My disciples indeed." A disciple is a learner. Jesus is telling us that a person who merely begins walking down the road of Christianity is not really a disciple. A true disciple is one who not only begins but also continues on the way and abides in it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Awesome Cost of Salvation

John 8:31

He says a similar thing in John 18:37: "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed." Those who hear the voice of Christ, those who hear His truth, will then submit to it. That is what will separate them from the world.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Truth (Part 1)

John 21:1

On at least three occasions, Jesus directs His disciples to meet Him in Galilee after His resurrection (Matthew 26:32; 28:7, 10; Mark 14:28; 16:7). Galilee is the location of the first fishing miracle of Luke 5, where He called His first disciples: Peter, John, James, and Andrew. Not only does it invite a natural comparison between the two miracles, but it also provides a sense of completion—of coming “full-circle.” Galilee is the disciples' home, and their fishing boats are docked there. Moreover, just as in the first fishing miracle, the Sea of Galilee—also known as Lake Tiberias or Lake of Gennesaret—allowed for an intimate gathering away from the masses while providing a feeling of solace and comfort following their Savior's crucifixion.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: A Second Large Catch of Fish (Part One)


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