The Early Church – The Work of the Apostles

The choosing of the twelve apostles

The choosing of the twelve apostles

This lesson looks at the time after the life of Jesus, from the year 30AD to 100AD. When Jesus was on the earth, he chose twelve men to be his disciples. A disciple is a person who follows someone. If we follow Jesus, then we are his disciples.

These twelve men went with Jesus everywhere during his time on earth, and they learned all about him and his Father, God in heaven. Jesus was killed when he was 33 years old, and three days later, God made him alive again. He came to his disciples, and sent them out to tell everyone about the good news of the coming Kingdom of God. Now these twelve men were no longer called disciples, but they were called Apostles – an old English word that means a person who is sent.

Lesson 39

Lesson 39 read out in full

Disciple: a person who follows a leader
Apostle: a person who is sent to do a job

So the 11 apostles started to tell everyone about Jesus – about his life, and about his teaching.

What happened to the 12th disciple? This was Judas Iscariot – he betrayed Jesus and led the Jewish rulers to where Jesus was. After the rulers had decided that Jesus should be killed, Judas was so upset at what he had done, that he killed himself.

Forty days after Jesus came back to life, Jesus went into heaven to be with God his Father. When Jesus went into heaven, the apostles were told that he would return to the earth. While they waited, they would receive power from God to help them tell other people about the message of Jesus.

God gives many people various powers

A few days later, one hundred and twenty followers of Jesus met together. There was the sound of a great wind, and then a flame appeared above each person’s head. This was the power of God that had come upon them – it was called the Holy Spirit. The apostles and disciples had great power to make people well, and they could understand all kinds of languages, so that they could tell everyone about the good news of Jesus. You can read about it in Acts 2:1-4.

There were people from all over the Roman world worshipping at Jerusalem that day, and they were amazed to see these men speaking many languages which they had never learned.

Peter, the chief apostle told the people about Jesus. He told them that the Jewish rulers had killed the Son of God – Jesus. You can read what Peter said in Acts 2:14-41. After hearing Peter’s words, three thousand people believed in Jesus.

The Apostles were also able to make people well, that is, to do miracles, just like Jesus did. You can read of some of the miracles that the Apostles did:

The disabled man at the Temple Gate: Acts 3:1-10
Peter and the lame man

This man sat at the door of the Temple asking people for money. In those days if you had no money, you had to beg. Peter and John, two of the Apostles, came by, and the man asked them for money. Peter had no money, but he gave to this poor man what he needed: strong legs!

Of course, all the people of Jerusalem were amazed at what had happened. Peter told them how it was the power of Jesus that had made the man well. It was not their own power. Peter and John were arrested and had to go before a Jewish court. The court told them that they must stop speaking about Jesus. But Peter and John replied that they had to obey God rather than men.

Other miracles: Acts 5:12-16 and Acts 9:32-35

Dorcas made alive again: Acts 9:36-43

Dorcas was a kind person who helped the poor people in her town. She became sick and died. Peter came and made her alive again.

But while these were wonderful miracles, the Jewish rulers wanted to destroy the Apostles and those who followed Jesus. A young disciple called Stephen was stoned to death for speaking to the people about Jesus (Acts 7:55-60). It was very sad, and after this, many of the followers of Jesus had to move away from Israel, or else they would be killed. Acts 8:1 and 3.

Soon after this, Peter had a dream in which God told him that he should tell people who were not Jews about Jesus. Up to this time, the Apostles and disciples had only spoken to Jews. But now, everyone was to learn about Jesus. As people moved away from Israel, they started to tell people who were not Jews (called Gentiles) about Jesus.


There were many things that happened during this time, and you can read about them in the book of the Bible called Acts. One important person who appears in the Acts is Paul. Paul did more than any other to take the message of Jesus around the Roman world. We shall look at Paul in another lesson.