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Twelve Ordinary Men: How the Master Shaped His Disciples for Greatness, and What He Wants to Do with You

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,902 Ratings  ·  186 Reviews
Contrary to popular belief, we do not have to be perfect to do God's work. Look no further than the twelve disciples whose many weaknesses are forever preserved throughout the pages of the New Testament. Jesus chose ordinary men - fisherman, tax collectors, political zealots - and turned their weakness into strength, producing greatness from utter uselessness. MacArthur dr ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published November 1st 2002 by Thomas Nelson Publishers (first published 2002)
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May 20, 2008 Lou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inspirational
Jesus didn't choose the wealthiest, noblest, smartest, most religious, nicest, prettiest, or most athletic to be his disciples. He chose from the bottom of the barrel. The ordinary people like you and me. We can relate to all of the disciples in some way.
Christopher Dale
First, I was shocked to discover that Mark and Luke, writers of two of the Gospels were not disciples of Jesus'. Second, this book really brings home the fact that God can and will use an imperfect man such as I. In fact, it seems to be a prerequisite of His that I be as far from perfection as possible, before I can be used of Him. I got a lot of encouragement from this book and highly recommend it for everyone.
Jennifer Short
Nov 10, 2010 Jennifer Short rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There seemed to be too much speculation and too little known facts about the majority of the disciples, but that didn't stop the author from going on and on -- I believe this book would have been better leaving out the speculation and sticking to facts. This would have meant the book would have been half it's length. Also, I noticed he used a verse to "prove" the death penalty was okay. I had to read this book for church, otherwise I wouldn't have made it through the first chapter. In non-fictio ...more
Dec 09, 2008 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book highlights each of the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus to follow him and how each one of them was "ordinary." Yet in their ordinariness, Jesus changed them and formed them into the church leaders that they eventually became. It also served as a warning of how hard-heartedness and pride, as in the case of Judas Iscariot, can cause our downfall. As far as the content of the book goes, I found it interesting how John MacArthur could create a picture of each of these apostles even with lit ...more
Once you get past the rather dry introduction chapter, things got pretty interesting. Must admit to have a marked lack of knowledge on the disciples and was always embarrassed by my lack of being able to name them. Now realize I couldn't name them b/c several of them are hardly mentioned. In any case, I learned alot - mainly his point was that the disciples were a group of really common men (thus the title) with strengths and flaws just like the rest of us. My favorite quote was on the section a ...more
This was my first book by John MacArthur, but it won't be my last. Normally, non-fiction is a very difficult genre for me, and thus I rarely read it. I'm trying to make a concerted effort to change that, at least in some areas (such as this, Christian non-fiction, that interests me!). I've finally found what works for me - reading a non-fiction in conjunction with a fiction book (before I tried to read one or the other, never both concurrently), and reading it slowly. I read this book a couple o ...more
Tom Leary
Jan 22, 2008 Tom Leary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in learning about the twelve disciples of Christ
Recommended to Tom by: Carol Long
This was a great book describing the lives of each disciple based on scripture. Dr. John F. MacArthur stuck almost exclusively with scripture and mostly relied on the gospel accounts to describe the disciples. This does provide a firm foundation, but in many cases gives very little understanding into the disciples.

In some cases there are disciples who are only known because of their name being mentioned in a list. At this point some loose connections are made to essentially create an understand
James Tamara
This book did a great job taking a deeper look into the life of the Twelve Disciples. It showed, with excellent detail, how Christ transforms ordinary people and equips them for His service. I would recommend this book to anyone that seeks to have a deeper, more complete understanding of the Gospels and the people who were involved.
Mar 06, 2011 Philip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is MacArthur at his best. While he often struggles in some of his purely exegetical works, MacArthur hits his stride in a more topical work such as this. The book traces the lives of each of the apostles and presents vignettes from various passages of the Gospels, pointing out their unique foibles and passions. The writer also helpfully concludes each apostle with a summary of early church tradition on the remainder of the apostle’s life.
The strength of this book is its focus on the twelve disciples of Jesus. MacArthur examines the Biblical references, writings (if there are any) and historical record of each apostle.

The weakness of this work is that he builds enter personality profiles on the basis of one or two verses as we get to the lesser known men. This means a good portion of the book is somewhat fluffy "creative license".

It is an easy read of moderate interest, so I did finish it. But it lacks the scholarly gravitas of
A great work by John MacArthur! Dig deep into studying the lives of these men - how God/Jesus took 12 ordinary men and how God used them for the glory of His kingdom and for His purpose. :) I learned a lot of things that aren't as easily "spelled out" about the disciples in the Bible as well as a lot of lessons about what God desires of us, His children and how my life can be used for His glory! :D
Brian Manville
One of the important things to remember that the Gospel is for everyone and that no one is too far or beyond the reach of God's saving grace. Jesus came to earth to seek and to save the lost and reconcile them to Him. Since He was only going to be on earth for a few years - and a ministry of even fewer - it was essential that He train and equip men who would carry His message into all the world.

The book that John MacArthur writes uses as his thesis that all people can be worthy to carry the Gos
Jul 10, 2013 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I read it as my daily Bible study and so I made time to look up all the references. The author was so thorough in his information about each disciple- giving us examples of the same story in different books of the Bible. It was so interesting to see how the stories all correlated but each had slightly different details that related back to each other.
Dec 20, 2007 Chrissy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian-growth
This book gave such amazing insight on each disciple by piecing together all the verses that talk about each person. It gives great encouragement to all of us in our faith since it is absolutely amazing that Christianity spread at all with such disciples as these. I loved this look at the character and personality of the disciples.
Mar 14, 2010 Luis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book to read. Gives insightful information in the characteristics of the disciples of Jesus Christ. learned that God doesn't want to make you exactly the same as any other individual, but is in the business of making the christian more like the image if his son Jesus Christ in the heart.
Aug 21, 2009 Lu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting how we all have personalities that Jesus can deal with, with His unconditional love. He created us and still loves us so much that He would do anything for us, obviously since He gave His life, but He even has our picture on his frig and brags about us still!!
Brian Hinde
Mar 12, 2014 Brian Hinde rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent Book. A must read for anyone with a interest in the story of Jesus Christ, there is a work book that goes with it, skip it. You only need the book, a quick easy read. Know of course the facts are scarce, there is only so much information about the 12, but Pastor John makes a great case for each, and really makes it so that you'd love to go back in time just to see the dynamics of the group, and the cliques. I can only imagine the hard times Matthew received from Simon the Zealot and Ju ...more
Jan 25, 2008 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best book I've read about the 12 disciples. This very biblically based book does an excellent job of showing the character and character flaws on the 12 disciples. I'd highly recommend it.
Diane Mayernik
May 30, 2014 Diane Mayernik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book a lot, and it taught me several things I did not know about the apostles. The pastor's perspective on them being "ordinary men" and therefore able to be molded and worked by Jesus into the men he wanted them to be was wonderful. Our savior is perfect in knowing who choose to follow him, and to carry on his legacy. He chose fisherman, zealot's and tax collectors-ordinary and even despised men to follow him! The author's account of Judas in the last chapter was particularly gre ...more
Jun 13, 2008 Larry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book emphasizing that God chooses the foolish to lead the wise. God's kingdom is an upside down kingdom where the last is first; the servant is the greatest; and you die to live.
Jun 12, 2012 Edwin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was based on past sermons, It is really an insight to the personalities of the Apostles. Although much speculation, it is all Scripture based and very believable
It is definitely a good read and I would recommend it to others with caution. Read it along with scripture so as to separate fact from speculation. There is too much speculation given as fact. Words like "seems" are used too often. There are many things we can assume based on the stereotypes of careers and culture, but not everyone fits into those molds. Also, Scripture only tells us what we need to know. We cannot assume things from Scripture that simply aren't there. It's hard to get full pers ...more
Nancy Garbe
Feb 02, 2016 Nancy Garbe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
This was very difficult to read for several reasons. First it it filled with repetition. I found it annoying to read the same information again and again. Second, there is apparently not enough information available to write about the apostles so the author filled in with extraneous information from the Bible, or random movie characters, or even personal opinions. My final issue was with one of those personal opinions regarding children diagnosed with ADD or ADHD who are prescribed medication to ...more
Joel Huffstutler
Great study on the Twelve Disciples

We went through this study with some of the men in our church as a part of a year long Bible study. I personally profited from the in depth look at each disciple and the material provided a lot of helpful discussion. The workbook does not follow the book close enough, and I probably would not recommend the workbook as highly. It has some good points, like the prayers at the end of each chapter, but the questions could use some editing and further thought.
Chad Warner
Sep 20, 2015 Chad Warner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chad by: Andy Tabisz
An enlightening look at Jesus’ twelve disciples, drawing out lessons that can be applied to any ordinary Christian. It starts by looking at the disciples as a group, then delves into each disciple individually, discussing their personalities and actions.

The book drives home how ordinary the disciples were, yet how God used them for such great good. It shows how God can use our imperfect efforts too. The book mentions several times Jesus’ foreknowledge and predestination of all things that occurr
Mar 10, 2014 Trish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first John MacArthur book I have read. It is well written and I thoroughly enjoy his style. It is comfortable and casual enough to be easy to read, yet the content is deep. He made me think. He brought out details and things I wouldn’t have seen as a lay person. He does make assumptions, but he validates his reasoning and makes it clear that when and why this is the hypothesis he is using. He uses valid historical documents through early historians such as Josephus and Eusebius. Ther ...more
Jun 12, 2013 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is inspirational, you cannot put it down, the book gives you a sense that you to are part of the 12

Chances are you can't name the 12 apostles, I know at first I couldn't. Disconcerting, no? These twelve, who most Chistians think they know, took the teachings of Jesus and changed the world by establishing the Christian church.

They were chosen from among hundreds of "disciples" (meaning learners or students) of Jesus to be apostles: "messengers, sent ones". Who were they, why were they c
Aug 22, 2012 Abigail rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

En nuestra vida de servicio tendemos a sentirnos inútiles o poco preparados para la labor que tenemos delante, al leer este libro recordé que Dios no elige a los capacitados, El capacita a los elegidos.
Jesús selecciono a sus doce no por sus habilidades extraordinarias o su superioridad espiritual; mas bien parece que en forma deliberada escogió a hombres que se destacan por su sencillez. Ellos eran hombres comunes y corrientes a quienes el Maestro fue perfecciona
Michael Auer
Apr 11, 2013 Michael Auer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Twelve Ordinary Men is a fantastic book, a true gem in the plethora of books to choose in our society. The main point of this book, as conveyed by John MacArthur is that Jesus' twelve disciples were just twelve ordinary men, as stated by the title. This book does a great job in informing the audience of the qualities that made these men so ordinary and why Christ chose them .

The book itself is very well structured and ordered as it is divided into twelve neat and tidy sections, one for each disc
Dec 09, 2015 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written, researched, theologically grounded, and enlightening. Some speculation, but it's always clear what is speculation and what is Biblical interpretation. Regardless of whether one agrees with the finer (or larger) points of MacArthur's theology, this is a great book for gaining insight and perspective on the disciples of Jesus. I find it particularly rewarding to see how many weaknesses are evident in their personalities, and how those transformed weaknesses were just as vital to mini ...more
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John F. MacArthur, Jr. is a United States Calvinistic evangelical writer and minister, noted for his radio program entitled Grace to You and as the editor of the Gold Medallion Book Award winning MacArthur Study Bible. MacArthur is a fifth-generation pastor, a popular author and conference speaker and has served as pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California since 1969, and ...more
More about John F. MacArthur Jr....

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“There's a third element of the raw material that makes a true leader: involvement. True leaders are always in the middle of the action. They do not sit in the background telling everyone else what to do while they live a life of comfort away from the fray.” 1 likes
“A dozen men under the power of the Holy Spirit are a more potent force than the teeming masses whose initial enthusiasm for Jesus was apparently provoked by little more than sheer curiosity.” 1 likes
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