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Twelve Ordinary Men

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Contrary to popular belief, we do not have to be perfect to do God's work. Look no further than the twelve disciples whose many weaknesses are forever preserved throughout the pages of the New Testament. Jesus chose ordinary men - fisherman, tax collectors, political zealots - and turned their weakness into strength, producing greatness from utter uselessness. MacArthur Contrary to popular belief, we do not have to be perfect to do God's work. Look no further than the twelve disciples whose many weaknesses are forever preserved throughout the pages of the New Testament. Jesus chose ordinary men - fisherman, tax collectors, political zealots - and turned their weakness into strength, producing greatness from utter uselessness. MacArthur draws principles from Christ's careful, hands-on training of the original twelve disciples for today's modern disciple - you.


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Contrary to popular belief, we do not have to be perfect to do God's work. Look no further than the twelve disciples whose many weaknesses are forever preserved throughout the pages of the New Testament. Jesus chose ordinary men - fisherman, tax collectors, political zealots - and turned their weakness into strength, producing greatness from utter uselessness. MacArthur Contrary to popular belief, we do not have to be perfect to do God's work. Look no further than the twelve disciples whose many weaknesses are forever preserved throughout the pages of the New Testament. Jesus chose ordinary men - fisherman, tax collectors, political zealots - and turned their weakness into strength, producing greatness from utter uselessness. MacArthur draws principles from Christ's careful, hands-on training of the original twelve disciples for today's modern disciple - you.

30 review for Twelve Ordinary Men

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    Jesus didn't choose the wealthiest, noblest, smartest, most religious, nicest, prettiest, or most athletic to be his disciples. He chose from the bottom of the barrel. The ordinary people like you and me. We can relate to all of the disciples in some way.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Wilson

    There seemed to be too much speculation and too little known facts about the majority of the disciples, but that didn't stop the author from going on and on -- I believe this book would have been better leaving out the speculation and sticking to facts. This would have meant the book would have been half it's length. Also, I noticed he used a verse to "prove" the death penalty was okay. I had to read this book for church, otherwise I wouldn't have made it through the first chapter. In There seemed to be too much speculation and too little known facts about the majority of the disciples, but that didn't stop the author from going on and on -- I believe this book would have been better leaving out the speculation and sticking to facts. This would have meant the book would have been half it's length. Also, I noticed he used a verse to "prove" the death penalty was okay. I had to read this book for church, otherwise I wouldn't have made it through the first chapter. In non-fiction, I prefer facts to speculation. I think making this into a historical fiction book would have worked better because then the different things that were thrown in as "likely" wouldn't have irritated me the way it did in something suppossedly non-fiction. To know what the preferences of the disciples were based on the culutre of the day isn't fact. Nor the way he said "He never". Just because something isn't stated in Scripture doesn't mean it didn't happen.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Dale

    First, I was shocked to discover that Mark and Luke, writers of two of the Gospels were not disciples of Jesus'. Second, this book really brings home the fact that God can and will use an imperfect man such as I. In fact, it seems to be a prerequisite of His that I be as far from perfection as possible, before I can be used of Him. I got a lot of encouragement from this book and highly recommend it for everyone.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    This book highlights each of the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus to follow him and how each one of them was "ordinary." Yet in their ordinariness, Jesus changed them and formed them into the church leaders that they eventually became. It also served as a warning of how hard-heartedness and pride, as in the case of Judas Iscariot, can cause our downfall. As far as the content of the book goes, I found it interesting how John MacArthur could create a picture of each of these apostles even with This book highlights each of the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus to follow him and how each one of them was "ordinary." Yet in their ordinariness, Jesus changed them and formed them into the church leaders that they eventually became. It also served as a warning of how hard-heartedness and pride, as in the case of Judas Iscariot, can cause our downfall. As far as the content of the book goes, I found it interesting how John MacArthur could create a picture of each of these apostles even with little being written about them in the Bible. The end of each chapter emphasized their common characteristics, but also highlighted how they impacted the early church and how many of them were martyred. Although MacArthur sometimes makes side commentary that was unnecessary in speaking to the character of these apostles, I found this book to trigger some reflection on my own character and how ordinariness can be used in spiritual growth.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Edwin

    It was based on past sermons, It is really an insight to the personalities of the Apostles. Although much speculation, it is all Scripture based and very believable

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nick Carrico

    Twelve Ordinary Men was no ordinary book. I learned a lot about the apostles lives, background, and their relationship with Jesus. It definitely cleared up wrong misconceptions that I had like the whole Simon/Peter name confusion, and that the apostle James isn’t the James who wrote the book of James. Although, some of it was speculative based upon what the Bible tells us of these men, I think that the conclusions MacArthur makes in those instances are likely accurate. It was also very Twelve Ordinary Men was no ordinary book. I learned a lot about the apostles lives, background, and their relationship with Jesus. It definitely cleared up wrong misconceptions that I had like the whole Simon/Peter name confusion, and that the apostle James isn’t the James who wrote the book of James. Although, some of it was speculative based upon what the Bible tells us of these men, I think that the conclusions MacArthur makes in those instances are likely accurate. It was also very interesting reading MacArthur try and dissect the thoughts and desires of Judas Iscariot. Would recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about these ordinary Galileans.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Once you get past the rather dry introduction chapter, things got pretty interesting. Must admit to have a marked lack of knowledge on the disciples and was always embarrassed by my lack of being able to name them. Now realize I couldn't name them b/c several of them are hardly mentioned. In any case, I learned alot - mainly his point was that the disciples were a group of really common men (thus the title) with strengths and flaws just like the rest of us. My favorite quote was on the section Once you get past the rather dry introduction chapter, things got pretty interesting. Must admit to have a marked lack of knowledge on the disciples and was always embarrassed by my lack of being able to name them. Now realize I couldn't name them b/c several of them are hardly mentioned. In any case, I learned alot - mainly his point was that the disciples were a group of really common men (thus the title) with strengths and flaws just like the rest of us. My favorite quote was on the section about John: "If you pursue anything in the spiritual realm, pursue a perfect balance of truth and love. Know the truth, and uphold it in love." Also included is a great quote by Spurgeon about the tension between divine sovereignty and human choice - too long to include - on page 185 if you ever happen to read this book...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    A great work by John MacArthur! Dig deep into studying the lives of these men - how God/Jesus took 12 ordinary men and how God used them for the glory of His kingdom and for His purpose. :) I learned a lot of things that aren't as easily "spelled out" about the disciples in the Bible as well as a lot of lessons about what God desires of us, His children and how my life can be used for His glory! :D

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    The best book I've read about the 12 disciples. This very biblically based book does an excellent job of showing the character and character flaws on the 12 disciples. I'd highly recommend it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    "The legacy of their greatness is the church, a living, breathing organism which they helped found and of which they became the very foundation stones..the church, now some two hundred years old, exists today because these men launched the expansion of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth." This book is an adaptation of a series of messages about the apostles. It gives information about each one according to what was written in the Bible by or about each apostle and includes some "The legacy of their greatness is the church, a living, breathing organism which they helped found and of which they became the very foundation stones..the church, now some two hundred years old, exists today because these men launched the expansion of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth." This book is an adaptation of a series of messages about the apostles. It gives information about each one according to what was written in the Bible by or about each apostle and includes some extra-biblical sources as well. It was an interesting book and I learned quite a bit about the apostles and saw them in a new light. However, there were a few things that took away from the content. 1. I just really struggle with MacArthur's writing tone. He comes off as authoritative, overly sure of himself and condescending of people that aren't like him (and this seems consistent in other books of his I've read). In some places, like when he was talking about Peter's leadership, the author seemed to include himself in the description of desirable qualities (saying, "some of us...") and then in other places, like talking about how boring and uptight (my paraphrase) Phillip was as more of an administrator, he seemed pretty inhospitable. It felt to me like he was more dismissive of people's weakness if their strengths were more like the author's (I could be totally reading into that, but that's how it felt). He also makes a somewhat random comment about how almost all school shooting perpetrators were prescribed Ritalin instead of being disciplined by their parents. I think it's a little more complex than that, but ok. His opinions are off-putting to me. 2. There was a lot of speculation. Like a lot. I get it. There's not a lot to go on in the Bible about these people (especially the lesser known apostles), but I'm really not comfortable with guessing at their personalities or assigning them motivations from the little that can be pieced together about them. At one point he writes, "Phillip, being the typical administrative type, probably carried around in his head a full manual of protocols and procedures. (In fact, if he was like many administrators I have known, he might have had an actual written policy manual, which he fastidiously devised and insisted on following to the letter. He strikes me as that kind of by-the-book person.)" Doesn't that sound kind of belittling (of Phillip and of administrators)? It's comments like that are a total turn off to me about MacArthur's writing. The whole chapter on Phillip (the "bean counter" according to the author) was disappointing, but almost all of the chapters had quite a bit of conjecture and unwarranted uses of "undoubtedly" and "we can be certain." 3. I think because this was a sermon series originally, each of the chapters probably needed to be about the same length. It seems like because of that, some chapters had a lot of filler in them. The author would go into great detail about kind of minor things, or give the full backstory about episodes or Old Testament references. It's not bad, it's just kind of obvious that he was trying to find ways to talk about each person that didn't really have a lot to to with that person specifically. Along with that, the author was kind of repetitive. That all being said, it was worth reading because I did learn about the apostles and I did appreciate MacArthur's emphasis that there was nothing inherently special about these men that made them prime candidates for being apostles. God chose ordinary men and equipped them for extraordinary service. MacArthur makes this point multiple times and I think it's important. Each man was different (although I definitely don't agree with the author that "there's at least one of every imaginable personality" represented in the 12; what a narrow view of personality). God used these men, weaknesses and sin and all for his great purposes and, while they're not heroes, there's a lot to admire about their service and sacrifice. We serve a great God who assembled and trained a group of men that went on to proclaim his good news so that, far down the line, someone like me could hear and believe. Praise God for his unexpected but perfect plan!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Maya

    This is a great book about the 12 apostles, I highly recommend it! Each chapter collects all the passages we have in Scripture about each of the apostles to highlight their character and journey of faith. I loved all the historical detail that MacArthur provided, which is so helpful in understanding the context. I also liked how he highlighted historical documents about the end of the apostles' lives to give us an understanding of what they did after the last things recorded about them in Acts. This is a great book about the 12 apostles, I highly recommend it! Each chapter collects all the passages we have in Scripture about each of the apostles to highlight their character and journey of faith. I loved all the historical detail that MacArthur provided, which is so helpful in understanding the context. I also liked how he highlighted historical documents about the end of the apostles' lives to give us an understanding of what they did after the last things recorded about them in Acts. MacArthur's main point was, as the title suggests, that each of the men were quite ordinary, they struggled with sinful hearts, yet the Lord used them for His extraordinary purpose. So this book is quite an encouragement for all of us!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Reed

    This wasn’t a bad book, but only John MacArthur could write 200 pages so confidently on men that the Bible doesn’t speak much about.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Luis

    Very insightful. Great read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    This was my first book by John MacArthur, but it won't be my last. Normally, non-fiction is a very difficult genre for me, and thus I rarely read it. I'm trying to make a concerted effort to change that, at least in some areas (such as this, Christian non-fiction, that interests me!). I've finally found what works for me - reading a non-fiction in conjunction with a fiction book (before I tried to read one or the other, never both concurrently), and reading it slowly. I read this book a couple This was my first book by John MacArthur, but it won't be my last. Normally, non-fiction is a very difficult genre for me, and thus I rarely read it. I'm trying to make a concerted effort to change that, at least in some areas (such as this, Christian non-fiction, that interests me!). I've finally found what works for me - reading a non-fiction in conjunction with a fiction book (before I tried to read one or the other, never both concurrently), and reading it slowly. I read this book a couple of pages a day. That said, I really enjoyed this book. I liked what he had to say and the research and references to Scripture about each of the twelve apostles. I learned more about each of them, as much as is in the book, because there is very little known about many of them. Thus, the title and concept of what they were - plain, common, ordinary men chosen for an extraordinary purpose. I plan to go back through the book and highlight a few things, then I'm going to pick another non-fiction book to start. I have one more of MacArthur's books (Twelve Extraordinary Women), but I may wait a while before I start it. I hope that it's equally as fascinating and educational.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tom Leary

    This was a great book describing the lives of each disciple based on scripture. Dr. John F. MacArthur stuck almost exclusively with scripture and mostly relied on the gospel accounts to describe the disciples. This does provide a firm foundation, but in many cases gives very little understanding into the disciples. In some cases there are disciples who are only known because of their name being mentioned in a list. At this point some loose connections are made to essentially create an This was a great book describing the lives of each disciple based on scripture. Dr. John F. MacArthur stuck almost exclusively with scripture and mostly relied on the gospel accounts to describe the disciples. This does provide a firm foundation, but in many cases gives very little understanding into the disciples. In some cases there are disciples who are only known because of their name being mentioned in a list. At this point some loose connections are made to essentially create an understanding of the disciple in question without convincing facts to back up the understanding. That being said, there is a clear message that even in the lesser known disciples, they were all ordinary people just as we are today. They had faults and were used because of those faults. The descriptions are engaging and will provide some solid background when discussing the disciples in a group.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    This is MacArthur at his best. While he often struggles in some of his purely exegetical works, MacArthur hits his stride in a more topical work such as this. The book traces the lives of each of the apostles and presents vignettes from various passages of the Gospels, pointing out their unique foibles and passions. The writer also helpfully concludes each apostle with a summary of early church tradition on the remainder of the apostle’s life.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chrissy

    This book gave such amazing insight on each disciple by piecing together all the verses that talk about each person. It gives great encouragement to all of us in our faith since it is absolutely amazing that Christianity spread at all with such disciples as these. I loved this look at the character and personality of the disciples.

  18. 5 out of 5

    James Tamara

    This book did a great job taking a deeper look into the life of the Twelve Disciples. It showed, with excellent detail, how Christ transforms ordinary people and equips them for His service. I would recommend this book to anyone that seeks to have a deeper, more complete understanding of the Gospels and the people who were involved.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I really enjoyed this book. I read it as my daily Bible study and so I made time to look up all the references. The author was so thorough in his information about each disciple- giving us examples of the same story in different books of the Bible. It was so interesting to see how the stories all correlated but each had slightly different details that related back to each other.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    I loved this book. I love the stories of the disciples, and MacArthur brings a lot of helpful insight into the lives of these men. There are a few personal caveats here and there, but the meat of this book provides valuable information about the men who followed Jesus. It's a great resource for teaching or personal study.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Luis

    Great book to read. Gives insightful information in the characteristics of the disciples of Jesus Christ. learned that God doesn't want to make you exactly the same as any other individual, but is in the business of making the christian more like the image if his son Jesus Christ in the heart.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lu

    Interesting how we all have personalities that Jesus can deal with, with His unconditional love. He created us and still loves us so much that He would do anything for us, obviously since He gave His life, but He even has our picture on his frig and brags about us still!!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    Great book emphasizing that God chooses the foolish to lead the wise. God's kingdom is an upside down kingdom where the last is first; the servant is the greatest; and you die to live.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Boyd

    While I liked a lot about this book, there were problems with it, too. The main concern is the endless speculation the author does. He states as fact things that were simply his own conjecture, such as his analysis of the personality traits of the apostles. We can know for sure about some of them, but certainly not all of them and yet the author makes many "guestimates" about the lesser known apostles based on no evidence whatsoever. I did love that MacArthur told us: These men were filled with While I liked a lot about this book, there were problems with it, too. The main concern is the endless speculation the author does. He states as fact things that were simply his own conjecture, such as his analysis of the personality traits of the apostles. We can know for sure about some of them, but certainly not all of them and yet the author makes many "guestimates" about the lesser known apostles based on no evidence whatsoever. I did love that MacArthur told us: These men were filled with the Spirit and they preached the Word. That is all we really need to know. The vessel is not the issue; the Master is. So true. The church grew and thrived under the work of the Spirit. I've heard that from numerous sources but it is always nice to see it affirmed. One thing I did find troublesome is that in the section on Judas Iscariot the author insisted that "the rest of the apostles had begun to catch on slowly that the true Messiah was not what they at first expected". The argument was that Judas alone did not realize the kind of kingdom Jesus was building. And yet, Acts 1:6 tells us: Then they (the apostles) gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Clearly, after spending time with the resurrected Christ they were still expecting an earthly king. Judas was the one who caught on first that Jesus was not the militant, kingdom of earth building leader they had hoped for and took what would have been to a Jewish believer in Torah the appropriate response to a false Messiah: He turned him in to the priests. I in no way believe that was right or good but an understanding of that does change how we view his behavior. It was not just seeking monetary gain but he was genuinely seeking the Messiah. He just wanted a different one than the one God sent. Which would explain why he spent three years with Jesus, years in which the threat of death from the established order was often eminent. He had truly hoped Jesus was the Christ but was blind to the signs of what God had promised through the prophets. He had the Christ in front of him, but the path Judas desired to salvation didn't reconcile with the path the Lord provided. A tragic story that all of us today should also heed.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Bessey

    I thoroughly enjoyed John MacArthur's "Twelve Ordinary Men" ("TOM"). My expectations were that TOM would be a mixture of scriptural, historical, and narrative references made for each apostle; however to my surprise each apostle's chapter was well balanced between scriptural and historical references. I'm not always a fan of narratives due to the subjective nature and had genuine concerns that MacArthur would stretch each chapter using narrative form. The opening chapter and introduction to the I thoroughly enjoyed John MacArthur's "Twelve Ordinary Men" ("TOM"). My expectations were that TOM would be a mixture of scriptural, historical, and narrative references made for each apostle; however to my surprise each apostle's chapter was well balanced between scriptural and historical references. I'm not always a fan of narratives due to the subjective nature and had genuine concerns that MacArthur would stretch each chapter using narrative form. The opening chapter and introduction to the book offered insight and perspective to the overall outline and message of the book, the main theme related to how God uses ordinary people to accomplish His Plan and Purpose. From there the chapters are organized in the order in which the apostles appear throughout the gospels. Chapters 8 & 9 he incorporated multiple apostles into a single chapter since there is not much scriptural or historical information available. I can also appreciate that MacArthur is careful to infer too much about each apostle. I would say that he was careful in every respect except when it came to Judas Iscariot. The final chapter on Judas was filled with characterizations that I felt were generalizations and strong opinions on Judas. Overall, this was a great overview and impressive lesson on the lives of the apostles. My only complaint would be that the book could've used a conclusion or final chapter that summarized the book's contents, maybe even taking a portion from the introduction. With the last chapter being on the most notorious apostle (Judas) in addition to MacArthur's strong, yet negative writing on Judas, it was a dark and depressing chapter to finish the book on. The Workbook that serves as a companion to TOM had an additional chapter at the end that asked questions and provided lessons on the book as a whole, with supplemental stories and scriptural references. Pros: an excellent and concise overview of the lives of the apostles, with strong foundational evidence and life application. Cons: having a conclusion or closing chapter would have been nice. Bottom line: highly recommend for anyone interested in the lives of the apostles and great for small group discussion.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jason Marianna

    I'm almost hesitant to admit it, but it's true. While I regard John MacArthur as the greatest Christian leader since Charles Spurgeon and I'm deeply grateful for his immeasurable contributions to the church, I am not a big fan of his books. That is not to say they are not worth reading. A few have deeply impacted me, but more often than not I find his writing to be "not my taste". However, Twelve Ordinary Men kept me turning pages and taking notes, and was one of the more enjoyable books I’ve I'm almost hesitant to admit it, but it's true. While I regard John MacArthur as the greatest Christian leader since Charles Spurgeon and I'm deeply grateful for his immeasurable contributions to the church, I am not a big fan of his books. That is not to say they are not worth reading. A few have deeply impacted me, but more often than not I find his writing to be "not my taste". However, Twelve Ordinary Men kept me turning pages and taking notes, and was one of the more enjoyable books I’ve ever read from him. This is John MacArthur at his literary finest. Most biographies seek to inform and educate. While this book is certainly informative and educational, that is not its primary focus. Instead MacArthur takes the small amount of information we have on each apostle and turns it into twelve thumbnail sketches. He focuses not what these men did or where they lived, but who they were as people. It takes unique insight to read about the facts of a situation, study the background, and understand the personality at work in it all. Yet, despite the difficulty, MacArthur found this insight and communicated it very well. The result is a book in which you feel as if you've met the apostles. His point, of course, is to show the Apostles were not superhuman but were instead “ordinary men” formed and shaped by Christ Himself. In typical MacArthur style, the main goal is to give God the glory for the abilities, talents, and achievements of these great men. Indirectly, he also teaches that it doesn't take great men and women to make an impact in the church. MacArthur leads us to a place where we can almost hear the call to ordinary people to do great things. I will cherish this book for a long time. No, not because it contains some secret formula for success or because it holds uniquely valuable information. In fact, most of his information is admittedly speculation. Rather, I will cherish this book because in his sketches, I was reminded of the ordinary people in my life. I saw a lot of John in my Pastor. Andrew sounded a great deal like my Mom. I've worked alongside a Phillip or two, and tried to disciple a few young men like James. I saw much of myself in Thomas. When I closed the book I came away inspired. Refreshed. The archetypes MacArthur builds made me love the church more than I did before. It made me appreciate what I have in those around me and to see that what the world (and often I) see as flaws or shortcomings -as weakness- are the very things God will make perfect and use for His glory. Eleven of these Twelve men were faithful and true. They overcame obstacles, including each other and themselves to be used mightily of God. Those are indisputable facts, and we didn't need MacArthur to know them. Yet he brought much more to the table. His contribution isn't to remind us of what they did, where they came from, or how important they were. No, his contribution was to remind us that these men defined mundane; and to show us again that God choose the weak and foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and turn the world upside down. May we be so boldly ordinary.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Since beginning this book, I've found out about some of the truly terrible things MacArthur has said about women in the church and women in general. There's the recent scandal with the baseless and vindictive words about a beloved female Bible teacher, plus he's preached some pretty misogynistic stuff and would do well to reread some of his own words about prejudice contained in this book. Anger and disappointment aside, this is a mediocre book at best. There are some good nuggets in here that Since beginning this book, I've found out about some of the truly terrible things MacArthur has said about women in the church and women in general. There's the recent scandal with the baseless and vindictive words about a beloved female Bible teacher, plus he's preached some pretty misogynistic stuff and would do well to reread some of his own words about prejudice contained in this book. Anger and disappointment aside, this is a mediocre book at best. There are some good nuggets in here that did prompt worthwhile discussion, and it was interesting to read more about the lives of the disciples, though MacArthur makes a lot of speculations (which, to be fair, is the most you can do about people who lived 2000 years ago). However, his ideas were repetitive from chapter to chapter, and I found myself annoyed at the amount of times he would use phrases like "of course" or "obviously" when stating his interpretations. It came off as arrogant. Also, there were a few passages and comments throughout that were kind of...yikes...that I hope he has had time to reconsider since the publication of this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cigno

    Overall this book was a great read. John MacArthur’s knowledge, wisdom, and practical application of Scripture and stories are relevant and thought provoking. MacArthur does a good job unpacking as much as possible about each disciple from Scripture as well as some extrabiblical sources. He gives descriptive contextual details which add to the story but which are not known from simply reading the Bible. These extra details provide extra insights that enrich the story and lesson being taught. My Overall this book was a great read. John MacArthur’s knowledge, wisdom, and practical application of Scripture and stories are relevant and thought provoking. MacArthur does a good job unpacking as much as possible about each disciple from Scripture as well as some extrabiblical sources. He gives descriptive contextual details which add to the story but which are not known from simply reading the Bible. These extra details provide extra insights that enrich the story and lesson being taught. My only criticism is that at times it seemed like his “reading between the lines” was being presented as factual. The language was inconsistent in this area. Sometimes he would qualify statements by saying “this suggests that...” which would be perfectly acceptable. Whereas at other times he would just state something outright that is not specifically stated or explained in the Biblical texts. Only those familiar with Scripture would know when this was happening, those unfamiliar would incorrectly assume it was communicated in the Bible. But again, despite my personal criticism I thoroughly enjoyed it, found it beneficial, and would recommend it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chad Warner

    An enlightening look at Jesus’ twelve disciples, drawing out lessons that can be applied to any ordinary Christian. It starts by looking at the disciples as a group, then delves into each disciple individually, discussing their personalities and actions. The book drives home how ordinary the disciples were, yet how God used them for such great good. It shows how God can use our imperfect efforts too. The book mentions several times Jesus’ foreknowledge and predestination of all things that An enlightening look at Jesus’ twelve disciples, drawing out lessons that can be applied to any ordinary Christian. It starts by looking at the disciples as a group, then delves into each disciple individually, discussing their personalities and actions. The book drives home how ordinary the disciples were, yet how God used them for such great good. It shows how God can use our imperfect efforts too. The book mentions several times Jesus’ foreknowledge and predestination of all things that occurred in His life and in all of history. It also points out prophecies that foretold events in Jesus’ life. It’s informative and interesting; I learned several facts and considered new concepts. Author John MacArthur is a conservative evangelical who believes that Jesus is God and that the Bible is inspired and infallible. The book is packed with supporting verses. There were a few times where I thought the author read too much into the text or went too far in his assumptions about the disciples' lives, thoughts, and attitudes. But, I don't feel that it detracted greatly. Disciples in general “Disciples” means “learners, students.” “Apostles” means “messengers, sent ones.” “Not one of the men he chose came from the religious establishment. The choosing of the twelve apostles was a judgment against institutionalized Judaism.” “It was not because they had extraordinary talents, unusual intellectual abilities, powerful political influence, or some special social status. They turned the world upside down because God worked in them to do it. God chooses the humble, the lowly, the meek, and the weak so that there’s never any question about the source of power when their lives change the world.” What did Jesus mean when he said in Mark 9:1 that “there some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God?” The answer is in the next verse: the transfiguration, which happened 6 days later. “It appears that all the apostles, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, were to some degree already true seekers after divine truth before they met Jesus. They were already being drawn by the Spirit of God.” “[The apostles’] shortcomings and weaknesses show up more often than their strengths.” Even the acts that are recorded highlight their imperfections (Mark 9:14-29). The Gospel doesn’t portray them as heroes until after Jesus ascended and the Holy Spirit empowered them. Even then, the biblical record is sparse. “The legacy of their true greatness is the church.” Jesus “Instead of taking the populist route and exploiting His fame, [Jesus] began to emphasize the very things that made His message so controversial. At about the time the crowds reached their peak, He preached a message so boldly confrontive and so offensive in its content that the multitude melted away, leaving only the most devoted few (John 6:66-67).” In Matt 26:52, Jesus “affirmed the equity of capital punishment as a divine law.” The feeding of the 5,000 showed that Christ can use so little to accomplish so much. “No gift is really insignificant in His hands.” He could have created food from nothing, but the way he fed the crowd illustrates how God works. “He takes the sacrificial and often insignificant gifts of people who give faithfully, and He multiplies them to accomplish monumental things.” Peter Rather than criticizing Peter for his lack of faith when walking on water, give him credit for having the faith to leave the boat in the first place. Also, although he denied Christ, only he and one other disciple followed Jesus to the high priest’s house (John 18:5). Thomas • Don’t be too hard on Thomas. The other disciples didn’t believe in the resurrection until they saw Jesus either (Mark 16:10-11, 13, John 20:20). • “Thomas made what was probably the greatest statement ever to come from the lips of the apostles: ‘My Lord and my God!’ [John 20:28] Let those who question the deity of Christ meet Thomas.” Simon the Zealot Simon was a Zealot, a group who worked to overthrow Roman occupation through terrorism and violence. Simon “had to associate with Matthew, who was at the opposite end of the political spectrum, collecting taxes for the Roman government.” Truth and love “Zeal for the truth must be balanced by love for people. Truth without love has no decency; it's just brutality. On the other hand, love without truth has no character: it's just hypocrisy. Many people are just as an unbalanced…only in the other direction. They place too much emphasis on the love side of the fulcrum… In each case, truth is missing and all they are left with his error, clothed in a shallow, tolerant sentimentality. It is a poor substitute for genuine love. They talk a lot about love and tolerance, but they utterly lack any concern for the the truth. Therefore even the 'love' they speak of is a tainted love. Real love 'does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.' (1 Corinthians 13:6).” God’s sovereignty and human choice Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon Sovereign Grace and Man's Responsibility, said, “That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is just the fault of our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one place that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other. These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the mind that shall pursue them farthest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.”

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ernest

    I like MacArthur. I have benefitted from his preaching and writing for years, but this book drove me nuts. I finished it simply due to the fact that I hate not finishing a book I’ve began. The pros: it will give you a better understanding of Jesus’ ministry, the role and work of the disciples, and there are GREAT chapters on Peter and on Judas Iscariot. Cons: WAY TOO MUCH SPECULATION. I hate using all caps. I rarely give a bad review. This book was infuriating because there was so much speculation I like MacArthur. I have benefitted from his preaching and writing for years, but this book drove me nuts. I finished it simply due to the fact that I hate not finishing a book I’ve began. The pros: it will give you a better understanding of Jesus’ ministry, the role and work of the disciples, and there are GREAT chapters on Peter and on Judas Iscariot. Cons: WAY TOO MUCH SPECULATION. I hate using all caps. I rarely give a bad review. This book was infuriating because there was so much speculation on top of speculation with some speculation on the side. There just isn’t enough information on many of the disciples yet MacArthur makes assumptions, sometimes stated, sometimes not, and he just builds a whole chapter on them at times. It was incredibly frustrating. Conclusion: I recommend grabbing this book from a library or friend and reading those two chapters but passing on the rest. MacArthur is a legend and has all my respect but this just isn’t a great book.

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