During the course of Jesus ministry He fully redefines the meaning of family. In one sense family is the collection of children fathered and mothered by the same people and bound together in a unit living in the same house. An extended family consists of those who come from a common ancestor but don’t necessary abide together. This is the picture the Old Testament gives us of Abraham’s offspring. He only has two, yet they come from different mother’s, Sarah and Hagar; Isaac and Ishmael. Isaac has twins, Jacob and Esau. But Jacob fathers twelve sons; Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulon, Joseph and Benjamin. These twelve became the Patriarchs of the entire Hebrew Nation. They are the “Fathers” of the Old Testament through whom God’s promises to Abraham were to be fulfilled. A tribe, in the Old Testament, appears to be an extended family of which there were 12 corresponding to each of Jacob’s sons. Though they came from different mothers (Leah, Bilhah, Zilpah, and Rachel), they all have Abraham’s blood flowing through their veins.

When Jesus chooses the twelve apostles it is an obvious reference to the 12 sons of Jacob, the Patriarchal fathers of the Hebrew Nation. They symbolize the twelve tribes. In the face of the unfaithful sons of Jacob, Jesus redefines “faithful Israel” by the selection and appointment of his 12 apostles. It’s no longer the blood of Abraham flowing through the veins that separates children as the family of the faithful; it is the faithful through whom the blood of Abraham now flows. Jesus reversed the process of family identity. I suspect this is what Paul means in Ephesians 3:14-15 when he says, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named…” Goddert says, “When Jesus creates family, he gathers believers indirectly related to each other. We are siblings, not by birth and natural relationships, but because we have been adopted by the same loving heavenly Father. All Christian relationships are through Jesus, God’s Son and our leader and brother (Hebrews 2:11). That is what Jesus’ redefinition of family is all about.”

God’s family of the faithful is no longer centered around the temple. It’s no longer associated with the religious leadership of Israel. It’s not based on ritual, law or tradition. It’s not based on biological connections. Faith is the blood of Abraham! In Galatians 3:6-7, Paul makes this perfectly clear when he writes, “…just as Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness… Know then that it is those of faith who are the children of Abraham.”