The group of the Twelve is mentioned 28 times in the Synoptic Gospels. However, the Evangelists were not familiar with the historical role of the Twelve. Even the pre-Easter origin of Matthew 19:28/Luke 22:30 is debatable. On the other hand 1 Corinth 15:3b-5 provides a solid basis for the assumption of a pre-Easter origin of the Twelve. They functioned as a group representing the twelve tribes of Israel as the eschatological people of God. Reaffirmed in this role by the risen Lord they had for a short time a leading role in the early Christian community in Jerusalem. But their importance soon declined because after a short time the twelve former disciples from Galilee could no longer be representative of a rapidly expanding community. In the last decades of the first century the Twelve got a new importance on the literary level of the Gospels.
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