There is a distinction between the different groups of people who surrounded the son of the carpenter. They were not all a homogenous bunch with different titles. They had distinct roles and distinct training.
The core group of apostles was hand-picked by the Master. They were Andrew, his brother Simon Peter, James and John Zebedee, Nathaniel and Phillip, Matthew the tax collector, Simon the Zealot, Judas and James Alpheus, Thomas and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.
These men were not the sons of noblemen or wealthy politicians. They were not the upper class academics or powerful sons of the priest-class. They were ordinary working-class men. These men were required to give up everything to follow in the service to the Kingdom of Heaven.
The modern church divides the workers into categories of pastors, deacons, worship leaders and an assorted staff of ushers, administrators, cell group leaders, prayer group leaders, Sunday school teachers, musicians, multi-media support, program leaders and security and maintenance.
The main three groups of Joshua’ ministry consisted of ambassadors, students and recruiters – that is apostles, disciples and evangelists. Judas was treasurer and Peter acted as spokesman for the group and also took the role as the main preacher.
The apostles were ambassadors of the kingdom and as such were held to a higher standard of behavior. A soft word turns aside wrath is truly the watch word of an ambassador. The Greek word used in the New Testament is apostolos which means one who is sent out. An ambassador is someone trained in diplomacy, tact and the social skills necessary to interact with people of diverse cultures, nations and ethnicities.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all thatI have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
When Joshua gave the apostles these instructions you will notice that he commanded them to make disciples of all nations; teaching them to observe all that he had commanded. He did not tell them to convert people to Christianity or make them members of a church. He exhorted them to make students and teach them.
In the Book of Mark, we find the Master exhorting his apostles to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation which begs the question what gospel? The gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven which Joshua had been elaborating on for over three years was the basis of the teaching which the apostles were required to impart to their new-found students.
An ambassador for a nation must be broad-minded and highly educated. In our increasingly complex world an ambassador must have a good working knowledge of politics, economics, trade, culture and social customs. It is very difficult to succeed in evangelism unless you have a good understanding of the culture you are witnessing to or if you are tactless and unsympathetic to their questions and concerns.
The apostle Paul was a Roman and a Jew so he not only spoke Hebrew and Latin but he also knew Greek and was well-educated and familiar with the Greek philosophies of the time.
So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him.
Joshua was also quite familiar with the languages and customs of the day – he was no doubt conversant in Hebrew, Aramaic and also Greek as that was the common language of scholarship at that time. Joshua was extremely skillful in deflecting and defusing confrontations due to his sagacious and diplomatic choice of words.
Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.
-Sir Isaac Newton