This is a Bible study on Mark 3:7-19, Mark 6:7-13 and Matthew 10:1-15.

6 pages.

Mark 3:7-19; 6:7-13 - Four Lessons for Christian Service

Read Mark 3:7-19; Mark 6:7-13 and Matthew 10:1-15.


Do you ever wish that you had lived in the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry? Do you ever wish that you could have been a part of the apostolic band?

Mark tells us that Jesus went up onto a mountain, away from the crowds, and He chose twelve men to join Him; to be with Him, and to receive His divine authority (Mk. 3:13-14). Wouldn’t it have been great to be numbered among that original apostolic band?

But that was all so long ago. We were not alive back then, and no one is called to be an apostle today. What do we have in common with those twelve men? Is there anything we can learn from this teaching Jesus addressed to His apostles?

The apostles were unique: in being with Jesus, in being commissioned by Jesus; but you and I as Christians are not completely left out of the picture.

The twelve apostles are also identified as disciples (Matt. 10:1-2). As Christians, we too are called to be disciples. In giving the Great Commission, the Lord Jesus instructed His original apostles, “Go, therefore, and make disciples from all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).

As we consider Jesus’ instruction and commission to His twelve apostles—the original disciples—we can learn valuable lessons for our own Christian service.

Faithfully Fulfill Your God-Given Assignment (Matt. 10:5-6)🔗

Jesus defines for His disciples their assignment, their sphere of service. In their case, He specifically charges them to confine their ministry to the house of Israel; they are not to extend themselves to the Gentiles or the Samaritans at this time. There were already clear indications that the gospel was also intended for the Gentiles, note Matthew 8:11,

Jesus said to His disciples and to the crowd, 'I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.'

Following the accomplishment of the work of redemption, that time would come. As noted in the Introduction, in giving the Great Commission, the Lord Jesus instructs the apostles, “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).

But prior to that time there existed a spiritual wall of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles. Ephesians 2:14 speaks of the spiritual wall separating Jew and Gentile, the spiritual counterpart to the physical walls of the temple court that served to separate the Jew and the Gentile. That wall of separation was demolished by means of the Messiah’s atoning work upon the cross of Calvary:

[Christ] is our peace, [he is] the one who made the two [become] one and who destroyed the dividing wall [that served as] a barrier. With his flesh he destroyed the [source of] enmity. Eph. 2:14

“The [source of] enmity” is a reference to man’s sinfulness, which created enmity between ourselves and the LORD, causing a separation between God and man, and causing God to keep His redeemed people separated from the influence of the unregenerate Gentile world at large. By taking upon Himself, in His flesh, the punishment due His people, the Lord Jesus Christ satisfied the justice of God and thereby removed “the [source of] enmity” on behalf of all who believe in Him, both Jew and Gentile.

A first valuable lesson for us to learn from Jesus’ instructions to His original disciples is this: faithfully fulfill your God-given assignment. That assignment first and foremost is to be a faithful Christian husband or wife, father or mother, son or daughter, brother or sister. In addition, it may include the assignment to serve in some capacity in Christ’s church, perhaps as a Sunday School teacher, or elder, or deacon, or trustee, or member of some committee, or singer in the choir, or prayer warrior. Perhaps it may be a special assignment: to care for an elderly parent, or to encourage a brother in need, or to bear a burden of pain or loss, or to undertake a special gospel ministry.

Let us not neglect our God-given assignment because it may seem to be “too routine,” or “too insignificant,” or “too hard.” Let us not neglect our present God-given assignment by daydreaming about possible future assignments or by overextending ourselves with other lesser tasks. Note the Apostle Paul’s admonition to Archippus: “Tell Archippus, ‘See to it that you fulfill the ministry you have received from the Lord’” (Col. 4:17). Let us bear in mind the words of our Lord Himself:

His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your master’s joy!'Matt. 25:21

Whoever is faithful with a very little will also be faithful with much; but whoever behaves in an unrighteous manner with a very little will also behave in an unrighteous manner with much. Lk. 16:10

Carry Out Christ’s Ministry of Mercy and Grace (Matt. 10:7-8)🔗

The assignment Christ entrusts to these twelve disciples is to carry out the same ministry that He Himself has been doing: preach the gospel, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.

There is a distinction between the original apostles/disciples and ourselves: we have not personally received the divine authority to perform miracles, although we do have access to the Lord who can perform mighty works, and when it is His will He does so in answer to the prayers of His people.

But there is also a similarity between their God-given ministry and ours, that similarity being first the presentation of the gospel as first priority and of greatest importance. In giving His apostles/disciples their assignment, the preaching of the gospel is listed first as being the foremost priority: “preach [the message that] the kingdom of heaven is about to come. 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons” (Matt. 10:7-8).

The Apostle Paul declared the ministry of the gospel to be of foremost importance when he reminded the Corinthians, “what I received I passed on to you as of first importance; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). He gives this instruction to the Philippians:

Do all things without grumbling and arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without blemish, in the midst of a perverse and depraved generation, among whom you shine like stars in the universe, 16firmly holding the word of life.Phil. 2:14-16a

Note: The Greek verb, EπEXω, has the primary meaning, “to firmly hold onto;” but, according to the United Bible Societies’ Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the N.T., this verb may also have the meaning, “to offer.” This latter sense of the word seems to better fit the context of Phil. 2:13-14 and is in harmony with the admonition of the Apostle Peter: “always prepared with an answer for everyone who asks you for an explanation concerning the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15b).

Another similarity between the ministry of the original disciples and Christians of all subsequent generations is the practice of deeds of mercy and kindness. We cannot heal the sick, but we can visit them. We cannot raise the dead, but we can console the bereaved. We cannot cleanse the lepers, but we can befriend the outcast. We cannot cast out demons, but we can combat evil with good:

You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Matt. 5:43-45

Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but allow God to express his wrath, for it is written, 'Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay,’ says the LORD.' 20But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for by doing so you shall heap coals of fire upon his head. 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 
Rom. 12:19-21

Note: The reference to “heaping coals of fire upon his head,” is not speaking about an act of vengeance, which would be contradictory to the whole exhortation of the Apostle’s admonition; rather, it is speaking of the conviction that the enemy may experience when he finds himself to be the recipient of kindness and mercy from the very person against whom he has expressed hatred or whom he has wronged. Such conviction would itself be merciful since it may lead to his repentance.

Yet another thing we have in common with the original disciples is the ministry of grace. The original disciples are reminded, “You have received without charge, give without charge” (Matt. 10:8). Likewise, we, too, have been the recipients of grace and we are called to also be the dispensers of grace: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).

Depend upon the Lord to Meet Your Needs (Matt. 10:9-10)🔗

Jesus charges the twelve apostles to go forth on this preaching tour without money and without supplies: “take no wallet along on your journey; neither take two tunics, nor [extra] shoes, nor staff” (Matt. 10:10). The apostles were not to calculate in advance what this preaching expedition would cost, and then make sure that they had the needed funds and supplies before they embarked on their ministry.

Note: Whereas the instructions of Matthew 10:10 are to take no wallet, nor shoes, nor staff; the instructions of Mark 6:8 are to take only a staff: “he charged them to take along no provisions for their journey: no bread, no wallet, no money in their belts, only a staff.” However, the context of Matthew 10:10 indicates that what is being referred to is the provision of extra shoes and staff, as seen by the instructions not to take two tunics, plus the fact that the literal carrying out of the command to take no shoes would have meant that the apostles would go barefoot on their journey. Thus, Mark is emphasizing that the disciples were only to take what was absolutely necessary, namely, a walking staff.

We should understand these instructions to be a specific charge to these twelve men on this particular excursion, intended to impress upon them the fact that they could depend upon the Lord to meet their daily needs. Jesus immediately adds to His instructions His reason for giving them, namely, the fact that “the laborer is worthy of his food.” In effect, Jesus is telling His apostles, “You do not have to worry about paying your own expenses. You are being employed, sent out, by Me; it is My responsibility to meet your needs, and you can trust Me to do so.”

The basic lesson also applies to us: complete, even radical, dependence upon the Lord is the norm for the Christian life. As the Psalmist testifies, since the LORD is my Shepherd, “I shall not be in need;” [i.e. I shall not lack the things that I need.] (Psl. 23:1) Consider the counsel the Apostle Paul gives to the Philippians:

6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God... 19And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6,19

Make Friends with God’s Children (Matt. 10:11-15)🔗

In Matthew 10:11 Jesus lays out the procedure His disciples were to follow: in each city they entered they were to locate a worthy household and make that home their temporary headquarters until they left that city.

Then in verses 12-15 He outlines the procedure His disciples were to use in locating such a household. When they arrived in a city, the disciples were to go door to door, introducing themselves and their mission. When they found a household that welcomed them, they were to make it their base of operations. Note how this same mode of operation was employed by Paul and Silas in their ministry at Philippi:

When [Lydia] and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. If you consider me to be a believer in the Lord, she said, come and stay at my house. And she persuaded us. Acts 16:15

A basic lesson we may learn from these particular instructions Jesus gave His original disciples is for us to make friends of God’s children. We are to develop Christian friendships: “pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). A Christian friend will support and build our Christian faith; he will not tear it down. A Christian friend will point us to Christ; he will not draw us away from Him. A Christian friend will know what is right, and tell us when we are wrong.

Not only are we to seek faithful Christian friends, we are also to be such a true friend to fellow Christians. We should be the kind of friend Jonathan proved to be to David: “And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God” (1 Sam. 23:16). We may prove ourselves to be true Christian friends to one another in Christ by heeding the admonition of Hebrews:

Keep loving each other as brothers... 3Remember those in prison [i.e. those who have been imprisoned for the cause of Christ] as if you were fellow prisoners with them, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Heb. 13:1-3

Compare the Lord’s words recorded in Matthew 10:10, “The laborer is worthy of his food,” with His word recorded in Luke 10:7, “Stay in that house [where they accept you], eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages.” The point is that the Lord Jesus often times provides for His servants through the ministry of His people. In Luke 10:17 Christ’s people are those who receive His apostles and their message and put their faith in the Lord who sent them out.


In many ways those original twelve apostles were unique; but, if we look closely, we will also find that we have something in common with them: like them, we, too, are called to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

With that common bond between the two of us, the original twelve and we who are disciples in the twenty-first century, we can learn valuable lessons for our own Christian lives and Christian service as we consider Jesus’ instructions to them:

  • Faithfully fulfill your God-given assignment, (whatever assignment the Lord has given to you personally);
  • Carry out Christ’s ministry of mercy and grace;
  • Depend upon the Lord to meet your needs; and,
  • Make friends with God’s children, those who are fellow believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Discussion Questions🔗

  1. In what way were the twelve whom Jesus called unique in their calling? Note how Luke identifies them (Lk. 6:13). What was unique about the apostles? Note 2 Cor. 1:1a; 12:19b/13:3 In what way are we like the twelve in their calling to be Christ’s disciples, what is a disciple called to do? See Lk. 6:40,

And when it was day, he called his disciples [to him]; and from them he chose twelve whom he also called apostles... Lk. 6:13

1:1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ... 12:19In the sight of God, we speak by Christ... 13:3...Christ speaks by me... 2 Cor. 1:1; 12:19; 13:3

The disciple is not above his teacher; but everyone when he is perfected shall be like his teacher. Lk. 6:40

The apostles spoke the word of Christ as they were carried by the Holy Spirit; as disciples, we are called to receive Christ’s word in faith and obedience.

  1. When He sent out the twelve, what charge did Christ give them? See Matt. 10:5-6 Does this mean that the good news of salvation is only for the Jews? See Matt. 28:18-19 Why were they sent only to the “house of Israel” on this initial mission? Note Rom. 1:16 What privilege is given to us who also believe in Him? See Matt. 8:11; 1 Pet. 2:9-10,

These twelve Jesus sent out and charged them, saying, Do not go among the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Matt. 10:5-6

Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying... 19Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations... Matt. 28:18-19

...I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first, but also for the Greek. Rom. 1:16

As the covenant people from whom the Savior would come, to them was given the privilege of being the first to receive Him.

And I say to you that many will come from the east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. Matt. 8:11

Writing to Gentile believers, the Apostle Peter gives the assurance that we share the same spiritual identity and calling as Jewish believers:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people appointed to be [God’s] own possession, so that you might display the virtues of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10Formerly, you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; [formerly] you were those who did not receive mercy, but now you are those who have received mercy.1 Pet. 2:9-10

  1. What further instruction does Christ give the twelve? See Matt. 10:7-8a In what way was their calling unique, when compared to ours? In what ways are we called to carry out a similar ministry? Note Phil. 2:15-16; Lk. 10:30, 33-34, 36-37,

And as you go, preach [the message that] the kingdom of heaven is about to come. 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You have received without charge; give without charge. Matt. 10:7-8

...become blameless and pure, children of God without blemish, in the midst of a perverse and depraved generation, among whom you shine like stars in the universe, 16holding forth the word of life... Phil. 2:15-16

30Then Jesus answered and said: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead... 33But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him... 36So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves? 37And he said, 'He who showed mercy on him.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Go and do likewise.' Lk. 10:30, 33-34, 36- 37

  1. As they go forth, what does Christ command the twelve not to do? See Matt. 10:10a Why does He give them these instructions? Note Matt. 10:10b As the Lord Jesus expected the twelve to confidently rely on Him to meet their needs, so He expects us to do the same. See Phil. 4:19/Matt. 6:31-33 As a Christian, is your life filled with worry, or with confidence in Christ your Savior? Note 1 Pet. 5:6-7,

...take no wallet along on your journey. Neither [take] two tunics, nor [extra] shoes, nor staff; for the laborer is worthy of his food. Matt. 10:10

My God will meet all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19

Therefore, do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.Matt. 6:31-33

The “these things” of which our Lord speaks are the basic necessities of life.

...humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God... 7by casting all your cares upon him, because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:6-7

  1. What final instruction does the Lord Jesus give to the twelve? See Matt. 10:12-13 What is an example of a household that was worthy? See Acts 16:15 What lessons can we learn from our Lord’s instructions given to the twelve? Note 2 Tim. 2:22; 1 Cor. 15:33,

As you enter a house, give it your greeting; 13and if that household is worthy, let your peace rest upon it. But if it is unworthy, let your peace return to you. Matt. 10:12-13

And when [Lydia] and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, 'If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.' And she constrained us.Acts 16:15

Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Tim. 2:22

Do not be deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals. 1 Cor. 15:33

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