This study describes the sending forth of the twelve apostles to preach. They were chosen and commissioned to this work by the great Head of the church. They had been ministered to by Christ, now they were sent to minister to others. They must have been ready for the task or else the Lord would not have sent them. Unlike many modern-day ministers, they were not untried, unproved and inexperienced. Jesus entrusted them with the highest calling a person can receive.
Two by two
“And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats” (Mark 6:7-9).
Only Mark mentions that the Lord sent the apostles out two by two. We have a proverb which states, “Two’s company, three’s a crowd.” Jesus knew that His ministers needed company since the work would have its highs and lows, and so such company would be an encouragement and support. They could talk to each other about the great things being accomplished in the name of Christ, and also comfort each other in times of trial and difficulty. “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
It is extremely rare to find one man working alone in the book of Acts, for the principle established by Christ was carried on in the early church. We are called to be co-workers for the cause of the Kingdom, “Workers together with Him” (2 Corinthians 6:1). In working for the Lord we are not to neglect assisting each other along the way, for in doing so each of us become stronger in Christ. “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17). It is hardly possible for a believer to exist in isolation, for as the Body of Christ we need each other for spiritual and moral support. “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). “But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you” (1 Corinthians 12:20-21).
The apostles were not to be burdened with the affairs of life as they preached God’s word. If they worried about money, food, clothes and accommodation they would never get the job done. How many so-called ‘big evangelists’ will not minister to small crowds, want to stay in plush hotels, were designer suits and request huge offerings? The apostles were not like that, they trusted God for their daily needs. If they took with them more than was necessary their listeners might think that coming to Christ would make them wealthy. They were sent out in the most frugal of circumstances, yet as Christ’s representatives they were endued with His power.
“And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city” (Mark 6:10-11).
Here is the reason why companionship is needed. The apostles would encounter people and towns that would reject them and the message they brought. It would be easy for a single man to become dejected and give up the ministry. The towns that received them would be richly blessed, but those who did not would come under the wrath and judgement of God. To hear the Gospel and not believe it is the worst sin that a person can commit. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). Rejection of God’s free gift of salvation will “sink a man to the lowest place in Hell” (J. C. Ryle). The apostles were to accept whatever lodgings that were offered to them rather than shop around for better accommodation. The message must never be compromised by the fleshly desire for luxury, comfort and ease.
We live in a nation that has largely refused to accept Christ and His word. The cesspool of sin and iniquity that the United Kingdom is wallowing in will one day drown her completely. Unless we have a revival this once blessed nation will be cursed by God and experience His judgements. This land is far more guilty than those God destroyed in the past, for if they had heard the Gospel of Christ, they would probably have repented and turned to God. As believers we are the light in this land (Matthew 5:14), but though we love our country, we are called to shake off its dust from our feet if it rejects the message we bring (see Acts 13:51, 18:6).
“And they went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them” (Mark 6:12-13).
It was a plain and simple message that the apostles were to take to the lost. They preached the necessity of repentance to every man, woman and child before they could be made right with God. They knew that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and needed to be “born again” (John 3:3). Nothing less than this can save a person from their sin and bring them to Heaven, therefore nothing less than this ought to be pressed upon the sinner’s mind by the preacher. Miracles would accompany the preaching of the word, but the apostles did not hold ‘Miracle and Healing’ campaigns to attract the lost to Christ. It was always the word of God first. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).
We claim to be the successors of the apostles, but do we minister for the Lord as they did? Do we preach the same message they took into the world? There will be no impenitent people in Heaven, therefore we are commissioned to call the land God has placed us in to repentance.