by Glen H. JonesBy all human standards the movement that Jesus established had no chance of succeeding. But He was no ordinary person; He was God in the flesh. The method He chose to propagate His message was to choose those who would follow Him and do His bidding. Who were the ones He chose? They weren't brilliant. They weren't charismatic leaders. They weren't rich, and they certainly didn't have political influence. Nor were they considered religious. John MacArthur gives us a fresh look at the Twelve. He divides them into three groups according to their closeness to Jesus. The first group was composed of Peter, James, Andrew and John. This was the inner circle that we see most often with Jesus. It is not surprising that we know the most about them. Peter was their natural leader. His brother Andrew was content to remain in the background in deference to his brother. Two other brothers-James and John-complete this inner circle. We know very little about James except that Herod killed him in the early days of the church. John was called "the disciple whom Jesus loved." John wrote the Gospel of John, the three Epistles of John and the Revelation. During the ministry of Jesus, James and John were known as the "sons of thunder" because of their stormy temperament. The second group was not so close to Jesus. Philip had a Greek name although we do not know his exact Greek connection. The apostle Philip was not the same person as Philip the deacon, who led the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ. Jesus called Nathaniel the honest, sincere Israelite. Matthew, the author of the Gospel bearing his name, was a tax collector. The Jews especially despised tax collectors, but Matthew seems to have introduced many of his profession to Jesus. Thomas, also known as "the Twin," was the pessimist of the group. But in the end he remained faithful to his calling. The third group contained rather obscure individuals. We know almost nothing about James the Less, except possibly that he was short of stature. Simon (not Peter) belonged to the political Zelots, a group that forcefully opposed the Roman government. The last person of this group was Judas (not Iscariot). He was also nicknamed Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus. The loner who belonged to none of these three groups was Judas Iscariot. He was the greedy treasurer of the group who finally betrayed Jesus. Despite their disparate personalities, these apostles possessed a common thread. With the exception of the betrayer, they were ordinary people who chose to allow Jesus to use their strengths and transform their weaknesses for His glory.