THE LORD'S EIGHTY TWO MEN
Probably everyone knows that the Lord Jesus called and ordained twelve men as His apostles. Matthew 3:14-15 says, “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.” They were ordained (set apart or separated) for the first purpose of being with Him. He taught them by word and by example. They were learners or disciples. In the common Romanian Bible, the translator used the word for “apprentice.” John 6:70 records that, “Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” So then, the Lord knew full well that one whom He had chosen was a lost man and would betray Him. Nevertheless, the Lord had twelve disciples who were with Him and to whom He gave power to work miracles.
Luke 10:1 tells us, “After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.” He gave them power to work miracles as well. When they returned from one such mission trip they were rejoicing over the power they had enjoyed. The Lord Jesus said to them, “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven,” (Luke 10:20). So, the Lord had a total of eighty two “ordained” or “appointed” disciples whom He empowered to work miracles.
These last (the seventy) were sent out as kind of “mini-forerunners” although they are not called that – the distinction of forerunner being given to John the Baptist. The thing we need to see is that all that the Lord did was open and well known. His visits to various places were advertised ahead of His arrival. When Paul appeared before Festus and Agrippa he spoke of Christ and His sufferings and said, “For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner,” (Acts 26:26). If this thing was not done in a corner, it was done out in the open. We may safely conclude that from the least to the greatest, poor and rich, country folk and city dwellers, common people and nobility – all in Israel knew of the Lord Jesus Christ and His forerunner, John the Baptist as well. They all knew about baptism, too, for while John himself baptized, the Lord Jesus did through His disciples.
Besides these eighty two men, there were certain women which followed the Lord and His twelve disciples. When the Lord was hanging on the tree were are told, “There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem,” (Mark 15:40-41). So besides the eighty two men the Lord had “many” women who followed Him. Luke, in 8:3 of his gospel mentions others, evidently wealthy women, “...Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.” In addition to these, there were most certainly others, three of whom were Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha who lived very near to Jerusalem.
What is the point of all this information? Several things can be gathered from these facts. Subtracting Judas from the twelve, we can identify eighty one men who were probably among the one hundred and twenty who were gathered in Jerusalem when the church there had its first business meeting in Acts chapter one. Since the qualification for Judas' replacement had to be a man that had “...companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us...,” (Acts 1:21-22) we will not be far wrong if we conclude that “Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias” were probably among the seventy ordained by the Lord Himself, (Acts 1:23).
This also affords insight as to just who was scattered from the Jerusalem congregation. In Acts 8:1 we read: “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.” There is evidence that the “all” in this instance does not mean all without exception, but rather, all without distinction. That is, all sorts of people who were members of the Jerusalem congregation were scattered – except the apostles! Loose Baptists and others try to say that this “all” requires us to believe that men without ordination preached, baptized and organized churches in various places since the twelve remained in Jerusalem. But if the sixty nine men (seventy minus Matthias who replaced Judas and was numbered with the apostles) were scattered abroad, there were plenty of men among those who were scattered - men trained and ordained by the Lord Jesus Himself.
The evidence that not all “ordinary” believers were included in the “all” that were scattered is seen in the verse that follows the last quote. Acts 8:2 says, “And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.” If all the Jerusalem church (all without exception) except the apostles were scattered, who were the “devout men” who carried Stephen's body to be buried? There must have been some men left in the Jerusalem church! Besides this there was a man named Philip who, it seems was left in Jerusalem.
And what shall we do with Philip? He “went down” which always means leaving Jerusalem which was higher in elevation. In Acts 8:5-7 it is written: “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.” We do not discount the previous ministry of the Lord Jesus in that place when He dealt with the woman at the well and others in John chapter four. But does this account of Philip's ministry not sound exactly like the ministry given to the seventy by the Lord Himself? They were given power to heal and Philip had that power. And if this is the case, then Philip was a Christ-ordained man who was also a member of the Lord's church in Jerusalem.
In Acts chapter six, when deacons (servants) were needed in the Jerusalem church, we read that the twelve said, “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business,” (Acts 6:3). The Jerusalem church had enjoyed great growth with an influx of new people – new members. Who among them would be well known as honest men and who among them would be known to be full of both the Holy Ghost and wisdom more than those sixty nine men who had been ordained by the Lord? Many of these may have by this time returned to Jerusalem – indeed some of them may never have left that city. We think it likely that of the seven deacons most or perhaps all of them may have been of this number of men ordained by the Lord.
Later in Acts chapter eight Philip was sent down to meet the Ethiopian eunuch and to baptize him. These facts may answer the questions and objections of some. We think Philip met the qualifications required to administer valid baptism. We have no reason to think otherwise! We think he was probably numbered among the seventy of the Lord's ordained and specially empowered disciples. It is a true statement that of all the people in the New Testament that baptized with a valid baptism about whom we know, each one was (1) a man, (2) a baptized man, (3) an ordained man, (4) and in good standing with a previously existing church. Those are the four requirements for a man to serve as an administrator of valid baptism. We understand, of course, that the congregation has the authority in baptism, but the actual baptism is done by one called by the Spirit and separated for the work of the ministry by the man's church. This is the pattern set for us in Acts 13:1-4 and nowhere abrogated in Scripture.
These are all conclusions in harmony with what we know of the Scriptures, the method of the Lord Jesus in His work, and the ways by which the Spirit works in the Lord's congregations. We know of no valid objections to these things. Let us rejoice that the Lord works – and that He works through His servants – unworthy though they be.
Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726