We read this fine meaty book with our KJV and NIV open our our laps, my Mother and I. It was a great way to meet the Apostles, in all their Humanness and yet touched by Gods hand and used to mightily to serve Him.
A lot of us never knew why each Gospel lists the Twelve men with slightly different names and this book was really helpful in understanding that some of the men had two different names, Like Matthew was also called Levi.
We had to make notes in our Bible as to who was who!!! The thing dearest to me about Dr. MacArthurs book is the Rich Tapestry of Scripture he weaves. He hunts throughout the whole Bible for every things that he needs to explain a difficult passage in context. For example, Why Did James and John want to Call down fire on the people in Luke 9 verse Fifty Four? When Dr. MacArthur points out that they were remembering how Elijah as recorded for us in Two Kings Chapter One, had called down fire upon the arrogant pagan army captain (who was coming to arrest him) and his men in the same area hundreds of years before and they wanted to do the same, then we understand.
I really love the way Dr. MacArthur does this, bringing Scripture from all the Bible together to illuminate the text he is working on. Dear Peter, the brash, bold young man who chopped an ear off the man who was going to arrest and hurt his Lord. This same Peter would write the wonderful letters of One and Two Peter!!! And then, according to tradition, he would die by Crucifixion, crucified upside down because he was unworthy of His Lords Death. The Way that each mans story ended with his death was perfect- I always think that it is perfect when a Christians story ends in Death, because for Us that is the Step into Gods Presence. As Doctor MacArthur said, Thomas was speared to death in India. How Fitting was this Death for the Man who had not Believed His Lord was Risen until he Touched the Spear mark in JESUS side, and it was a Fitting death for a Man who longed to be back with His Lord again. This Book is going to my 16 year old cousin this Christmas, because I want Him to know that God uses young, Bold, Brave, Immature men. God wants those years of their life. Do not present the years of your youth to idleness or idols. Give them to God and He will use you now, and God will make you conformed into the Image of Christ. God Bless you!!!
We're using this book in conjunction with the companion workbook as a study guide for our Adult Bible Fellowship. The material Dr. MacArthur provides is very thorough and rock solid. Using the combination of books along with God's Word gives our ABF participants a chance to thoroughly prepare ahead of time and contribute to the class discussion from an informed perspective.
John MacArthur has provided insightful looks into the lives of the twelve men chosen by the Christ to be His closest disciples. The key word is "ordinary," because Jesus did not select those of unique ability or special privilege to follow Him for three-plus years and to whom He would hand over the task of establishing His Church. The largest group of the twelve were fishermen and they covered a spectrum of backgrounds and personalities. To imagine this group being gelled harmoniously into a unit seems difficult at best, and yet that is precisely what our Lord patiently did with them. MacArthur does an excellent job of describing these men by searching the biblical text. Where the Bible is silent, he draws from other historical sources (notably Josephus and Eusebius), although more complete referencing and annotation would have been helpful for the student seeking to dig still deeper into the lives of the disciples. Early in the book, the author suggests that there were three sub-groupings of four disciples each, a plausible but unprovable hypothesis. The chapters move along smoothly and freely, beginning most naturally with Peter and ending with Judas. I was somewhat disappointed that a chapter was not devoted to every disciple. For example, Matthew and Thomas rather awkwardly share a chapter, as do James the Less, Simon the Zealot, and Judas (not Iscariot), although an equally less-known Nathanael has a chapter of his own. The concluding chapter on Judas Iscariot is a fitting ending, although a brief summary chapter with personal challenge ("with which disciple do you most readily identify and why?") would have been even more effective. I recommend this book for both personal and small group study. A very helpful read.
Studying this book as a small group and the men in my group and have found this book to be excellent. We've had many great conversations arising out of the text. While I've enjoyed each of John MacArthur's books that I've read, I've found this book to be an easier read that his other offerings and so more suitable to read for enjoyment rather than as an academic/theological exercise.