Why were men only chosen as Apostles?


We were going through a colouring book of bible stories with my daughter (7) and son (5). We came to a page with Jesus and the 12 apostles. My daughter asked us this question; Why did Jesus only have boys as his apostles (disciples). We thought about this and discussed with my wife and a friend who was visiting and the short answer we settled for was that it was because the man was created first. He was given the leadership role. We gave her an example of our family and how I, as the dad was the head of the family. She seemed to be satisfied with the answer and did not pursue it further. 

While Jesus was on earth he was establishing his church and by choosing only men as apostles was setting up its leadership structure. Does that mean women are inferior? Not at all. We are all equal in Gods plan of salvation but we just have different roles in executing Gods will. God had many disciples of both genders but he chose only the males because of the role that they played in the family, society and eventually in the church. The man as the material provider in the home will also lead in providing the spiritual guidance of the family and in the church.

This question also shed light on the important responsibility parents have in instilling values in their children. Children will have a lot of questions that need to be answered and we cannot brush them away. When children ask these questions they are genuinely seeking answers. As parents we should prepare ourselves to have answers. If we brush them away they will get these answers else where, at school, at the playground. The ones who are constantly supplying them with answers will hold a position of authority in that childs’ life, will gain their trust and direct their moral compass. Don’t let that position go to anyone else who may instil values that may be contrary to what you desire your child to hold on to. The process of instilling good values in our children is an exercise of repetition, discipline, and being constant in word and in deed. Train a child in the way he should go and when he grows he will not leave it (Proverbs 22 vs 6). What we say and how we live at home our kids are constantly watching and learning. In that sense children are our disciples, they are our followers, students – if we lead them in doing good they will grow in that way, if we lead them in doing bad they will follow suite, and as parents we will reap the rewards of our failure to lead and instruct.

Reminds me of a kids party I was doing photography for, they a super heroes theme and spiderman was the main entertainer. I was amazed at the attention he got from the kids, whatever spiderman said the kids did without question. I got the sense that some of those kids would listen to spiderman over their own parents. The school teacher is another authority in a childs’ life and we are constantly being challenged on certain values, concepts, opinions and facts based on what the teacher would have said – “But our teacher said this or said that…” Our kids spend more time with their school teachers so the little time we have to be a figure of authority and a moral compass for them, is to be used wisely and must be backed by setting of a good example.

After this discussion I decided to send the same question via Whatsapp, Skype & email to people in my contacts – most of who are professing Christians – to hear their views on this issue and below are some of the responses; I have divided the responses between Male and female.

Responses from Women

1. Eish, Panoda kufunga apo (need to think about that)

2. Ah! She is too bright. I actually never questioned that! Well maybe because women are mostly busy raising children so they can’t move around evangelising for a long time.

3. Eish sorry hako. I would also like to know.

4. Oh my! Good question, tough question. It could have been because of cultural norms at the time that allowed men to do more than women, move around etc maybe highlight the fact that even though women weren’t the ‘official’ disciples women still played a significant role in Jesus life even now with women’s rights and all of us being equal and all, God could ‘shock’ us and still choose an all male cast! But still highlight the fact that even in all that, Jesus still revealed and used women through out his life, death and resurrection

5. Its a good question. Girls could have been busy with house chores, boys did out door work so as he went around he only bumped into boys! Men are believed to be the head or they are… women are to be submissive to men. I believe if a woman had approached Him and asked for that blessing Jesus would’ve given her the chance to serve as His disciples. Also in discipleship there are visible servants and invisible servants.

6. Ask dad

7. Well I would say, men are naturally made stronger than women in every aspect and they are also naturally made to lead. So he chose them because they were able to walk long distances, fight, protect and run if there is a need to, remember Christianity was a secret then. While women stayed at home and looked after the children…. before only men worked. because I think we need to look at why the 12 apostles were chosen, why not 14 and at the role they had to play.

8. I probably would have told her that it was because he was a boy and he played with boys

Responses from Men

1 – Wow! The men were the ones counted so I guess thats why Jesus chose boys!

2 – The 12 were called apostles. But he had other disciples. The number 12 corresponds to the heads of the tribes of Israel. So he was establishing a new spiritual Israel. Men were the heads of tribes and not women

3. Thus a good Question with a direct answer. He wanted them to be leaders on his mission even to this day bible teaches us that men should be leaders in his kingdom to lead all people men and women.

4 – The cultural setting allowed boys to speak, be heard & followed. Unlike today were girls can speak freely, be heard and followed. He also chose them because men are the head

5 – Now thats a smart girl but a very tricky question

6 – Gods plan is that man should have authority in every aspect of leadership
7 – Aah nice one. Actually a tough one. According to God’s creation he entrusted man to lead and the work Jesus wanted his disciples to do included leadership of his kingdom thus he chose men

8 – Kids say the darnedest things! Because he was protecting girls as the job demanded physical strength. Girls would have been beaten by boys if they tried to reach out in hostile Jewish society. The next question would be why did God create man first!

9 – Yoh! I would explain how it was from the beginning that God first created a man.

10 – I’m not sure, I will tell her that I don’t know. Another cool strategy, is to deflect the question. I would ask her what she thinks. Lastly I will tell her to go ask yo mom, always works for me. I don’t claim to be a fundi, so I won’t try to answer her misleading her. Mothers know best.

11 – Tough one. Well, perhaps you could have told her that during that time men mostly did the hard work and women stayed behind at home looking after their children so men were easily available.

12 – I would have said Jesus was training these boys to lead the church because men are supposed to be leaders in church. He did not forget the girls because at the cross he told the women that they should take care of their children. If men lead in all churches & women teach children in all homes then everyone will live holy lives.

13 – In the Old Testament, woman was a special creation. After sinning in the Garden of Eden, woman was told that she must be subject to her husband. Still, women were respected in God’s arrangement. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner (1 Tim 2:13 -14) Paul taking a reference (Gen 3:16 – To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labour you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. (Instruction not to eat the tree was given to Adam to take a lead but he did not follow. Men are to take the lead: In the husband/wife relationship, man is to be the head.(Ephesians 5:22–24, 33; 1 Peter 3:1, 5). Men are to be the leaders in the church; the Spirit-given qualifications eliminate women from the key position of elder (“husband of one wife”). Men are to provide the leadership in worship. (1 Corinthians 14; 1Timothy 2). God designed males from creation to be leaders in their families and churches. In front of God both males and females are equal but our roles are different. (1 Cor 11:3 – But I want you to realise that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.)(Gal 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus)

14 – Very brilliant question, man was created first before women

15 – Jesus was a man and most of his friends where men so hence the many man disciples

16 – I think woman from creation were created as our helpers and God always considers the man to do His work. Woman are not to take a leading role.

17 – Wisely those are the ones he wanted to walk with.

18 – I’d say because he was also a boy. Men were fit for the mission at hand. Besides, women have a greater responsibility at home, taking care of the kids, household etc… so for a woman to leave all this and follow Jesus, it would be difficult. Because these men didn’t have time to get back home, it was just going from one place to the other

19 – I think culture played a massive role. The spirit functions working the spirit, we being created hence the need for law and rules. Gods laws and rules. I think the culture at the time made it easier for man to have consolidated one area focus function. I.e mothers knew how to bake bread at the time so their calling was in growing the flock that way. By being the moulders of beings capable of creating a culture the spirit of God would be able to function easier. These when not just boys or man. They had somewhat grow in their own lives that they could be able to provide a service to Christ. I.e the fisherman had boats. Always remember that they had to say yes to his request. The rich man refused to follow Christ because he wouldn’t give up everything. And lastly and most important. In Gods Kingdom. The man is the head of the house. He fights for everyone and breaks new ground. On both a spiritual and physical level. So it was as per the order of things in heaven. The man spearheads and makes it easy for a woman to do her work and duties.

20 – Serious? Tell her because women had to stay home and look after children

21 – Its an example he was setting for us that men will have the leadership role in the church

22 – Custom that men help position of authority.

23 – From the beginning men have been given such roles of leading, teaching or providing for the women and in the case of Jesus I guess he chose men simply to clarify on the fact that men should take lead in the assembly and anything women needed to know or learn or help with in the assembly would be from the authority of men.

24 – Many of Jesus disciples were women. Scriptures such as Joel 2:28, 29 prophesied that women would become disciples. We see the fulfillment of that in Acts 2:1-4, 16-18 and Acts 21:8, 9. In the case of Jesus choosing the 12 Apostles he chose only women because of the headship arrangement that is spoken of in the scriptures. Only men were appointed to take the lead in congregations. Since the Apostles were to take the lead in congregations men were chosen. 1 Corinthians 11:3-10 talks about the headship arrangement that God established. 1 Corinthians 14:32-35 speaks of how God is a God, not of disorder, but of peace. As such the arrangement is that women should not teach in congregations.

25 – God is sovereign, some of the decisions he makes cannot be rationalised from a human perspective. From the beginning God chose man to lead and chose to create him ahead of the woman.

26 – It was a job for men

27 – I don’t know why. I think she will never forget any answer you give her so a lie wouldn’t be the best option.

28 – The story of creation, the man was first, he will lead the church so Jesus wanted to get men to be his disciples so they can lead in church and in the start of Christianity at the time

29 – Although one might never get to understand the reason(s) behind Jesus’ selection of only male disciples, we can still come up with various arguments. I would argue that when Jesus selected his disciples he knew the frequent traveling that was involved hence he had to take men while women stayed at home looking after their families.

30 – Because there were no women around

31 – Because women have a responsibility to look after the kids, cook for the sick. The men could be able to walk long distances and it was dangerous for ladies because he had enemies who would often attack him.

We would like to thank the following for contributing to this survey; Joshua Mukusha, Chipo Longwe, Richard Rungano, Ndosa Siyalusiya, Jonah Mfothe, Cynthia Manjoro, Collins Mutyinya, Tsungai Muswerakuenda, Lambda Chetse, Angela Mhlanga, Jameson Nyirenda, Pfungwa nyamukachi, Nunu Kari, Misheck kabeta, Archibald Mathibela, Dzikamai Phiri, Tonderai Matema, Bruce Goredema, Rodrick Longwe, Yemurai Mafi, Beullah Matekudure, Bob Bamu, Oswald Matiza, Temba Gwena, Desmond Munemo, Nation Nkomo, Learnfirst Manzvera, Tafadzwa Tarumbwa, Tatenda Jeche, Simbarashe Chitanda, Brighton Mutumha, Tamuka Moyo, Haselton Chirenda, Ryan Chokureva, Garikai Chirinda, Frank Matenda, Given Makoko, Pius Phiri