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Period of Obscurity

  1. To present the distinguishing features and unique aspects of the early days of Jesus' ministry..
  2. To describe the manner in which Jesus selected His disciples.
  3. To acquaint the student with the purpose of miracles in Christ's ministry

Content of Lecture

I. The Early Ministry of Jesus (TN1)

A. Built upon the Ministry of John the Baptist (John 1:15-34; Mat. 3:1-17; Mark 1:1-11; Luke 3:1-22). Initially, Jesus chose several of the disciples of John the Baptist John 1:35-40).

B. Selection of the Disciples

James Stewart stated that Christ chose his disciples based on their youth and diversity of character Matthew 4:18-21 describes a preliminary calling of some of the disciples. An official calling of the twelve is provided in Matthew 10:1; Mark 3:13-15; Luke 6:12-13. This account stated that the disciples were chosen by Jesus after he prayed all night. Several lists of the disciples are included in the New Testament. (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13). Their names are as follows:

  1. Simeon (Greek contraction Simon) AKA son of Jonas, Cephas (Heb.), Peter (Greek) both mug stone or rock, and native of Bethsaida. (John 1:42, 21:16)
  2. Andrew, Peter's brother (Matthew 4:18), a native of Bethsaida and a former disciple of the Baptist.
  3. James, the son of Zebedee (Matthew 4:21) and Salome (Mark 15:40) also of Bethsaida.
  4. John, the bother of James, also known as a friend of Jesus, disciple whom Jesus loved John 13:23) and, with his brother, called "sons of thunder'' for their hot tempers.
  5. Philip, a native of Bethsaida and one of the earliest disciple,
  6. Bartholomew (Bar-Tolmai), "son of Tolmai", a patronymic, proper name was probably Nathaniel.
  7. Matthew, or Levi, a customs collector of Capernaum.
  8. Thomas, or Didymus, "a twin" (John 11:16; 24:24)
  9. James, son of Alpheus, or James the Less.
  10. Judas, a brother or possibly a son of James (Acts 1:13) and surname Thaddaeus and Lebbaeus (Matthew 10:3, and Mark 3: 18) (From Hebrew, "Leb", heart= courageous).
  11. Simon the Canaanite (Mark 3:18), or Cananaean (as perhaps derived from Canaan) (Matthew 10:24), in Greek Zealotes (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13), one, probably, who before his call had belonged to the sect of zealots.
  12. Judas (called the son of Simon Iscariot = the man of Kerioth) John 6:71, 13:60) or Judas Iscariot, Simon's son John 13:2), probably native of Kerioth (Joshua 15:25), a little village in the tribe of Judah.

II. The Use and Purpose of Miracles

A. The Gospels, especially John, describes the miracles of Jesus as "signs". Miracles were a sign of Christ's divinity, his character, and the nature of his ministry. Miracles were also referred to as "wonders" because they produced astonishment and interest.

B. There were at least three reasons why Jesus performed miracles:

to meet a human need,
to show his divine nature, and
sometimes to teach some deeper truth.

All three elements can be observed in the story of Christ's first miracle.

C. The miracle of Christ turning water into wine, John 2:1-12, certainly met a human need and caused his disciples to believe (v 11). Leon Morris (p. 176) suggests that in the performing of this miracle Jesus was also teaching that His ministry would surpass the legalistic ceremonies of Judaism.

D. Healing was another type of miracle which Jesus performed open. On page 109 of Stewart's text, the author stated that healing was a common feature of Christ's ministry and in "no sense was it a side issue". Christ considered illness and disease an intruder and sought to destroy it. (Stewart p. 113) An interesting example of Christ's healing ministry can be observed in Luke 8:41-45. The woman with an issue of blood and Jairus'' daughter both are healed on the same way. The woman who touched Christ's garment had tremendous faith. The daughter of Jairus was too ill to even express her faith.


  1. Read Luke 15
  2. Read Matthew 13:1-53
  3. Read Hester pp. 147-148
  4. Read Gundry pp. 138-142

DQ Would you have been one Jesus would select to be a disciple? Why? Are you surprised by the type of people Jesus selected?

DQ Do you think some people came to see Jesus In the hope of witnessing a miracle?

DQ Do you find it peculiar that Jesus would turn water into wine?

DQ Does the New Testament record any healings where neither the recipient, nor family or friends expressed faith in Christ?



TN1 Many scholars divide Christ's ministry into three sections.

  • The period of obscurity,
  • the period of public favor, and
  • the period of opposition. (Hester 121) T

These divisions are probably best understood as three periods of time rather than literal twelve-month years.


Updated Thursday, February 24, 2000

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