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Matthew 10:1 . He called to him his twelve disciples. Jesus chose twelve that they might sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Luke 22:30. And that they might be the twelve foundations and gates of his church. Revelation 21:12-14. But this preference to the twelve did not hinder the extraordinary powers of the Spirit from being conferred on other apostolic men. And who would have thought, when they left their nets, that they should fill eternal thrones? Believer, take courage; thy small beginning will come to a throne and a crown in the issue. God never yet deceived a soul that simply trusted in his word. Our Lord had now been through a great part of the country, and had called whom he would for the work. They had no concern in their call and elevation: it was the Lord who drew them from the treasures of his providence, and gave them talents and powers to do the work required of them.
Matthew 10:2-4 . Now the names of the twelve apostles are these. In Hebrew, shallokim, messengers. Our Gothic and Saxon ancestors, having no names of office which answer to those in the gospel, called the apostles “knights,” and afterwards “thanes.” But thane implied dignity, added to knighthood, being often connected with lieutenancy over a county, or a district, for the king. The Romans sometimes called them “legates.”
The first, SIMON, surnamed Peter, after his glorious confession of faith. Matthew 16:18. See the Introduction to his first epistle.
The second, ANDREW, Peter’s brother. The name is Greek, and designates a man by way of eminence, distinguished for wisdom and virtue.
The third, JAMES, son of Zebedee, to distinguish him from James the son of Alpheus. He was the first of the twelve that received the crown of martyrdom, being beheaded with the sword by the command of Herod Antipas, the third of that name. Acts 12:2.
The fourth, JOHN, the beloved disciple.
The fifth, PHILIP, or Philippus, as in Latin; another gentile name, denoting a lover of horses. The jews we find had adopted many heathen names.
The sixth, BARTHOLOMEW, that is, Bar Talmai, the son of Talmai, or the son of him who suspended the waters. Bartholomew carried the gospel to the Indians, where report says he suffered martyrdom. Bartholomew, in this list, falls in exactly as Nathaniel does in the first of John; hence the two names are thought by many to belong to the same person.
The seventh, THOMAS, surnamed Didymus. Baronius says that he travelled to India, where he suffered martyrdom.
The eighth, MATTHEW, whom Mark puts the seventh, but through modesty he puts Thomas as his senior.
The ninth, JAMES, son of Alpheus, often called James the less. He was thrown from a battlement of the temple, and his brains beaten out with a club, by the command of Ananias the highpriest. Joseph. Antiq. book 20. chap. 8. See the Introduction to his epistle.
The tenth, LEBBEUS, surnamed Thaddeus in the Syriac, the better to distinguish him from Judas the traitor, Jude being his first name.
The eleventh, SIMON the Canaanite, or Cananæus, because some say he was a native of Cana in Galilee. But Grotius derives it from the Hebrew surname, קנא , which Luke properly renders Ζελωτης , Zelotes, because of his zeal and piety.
The twelfth, JUDAS, surnamed Iscariot, that is, traitor, after he had betrayed the Lord. We find the like surnames among heathen writers.
Matthew 10:5 . Go not into the way of the gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; for that would have obstructed their admission into the synagogues. The jews would regard them as unclean. Besides, the jews having the promises, had the first claims. For the present, the lost sheep of the house of Israel afforded them an ample sphere; he who attempts too much does nothing well. To this caution St. Paul agrees, it being meet that the jews should first hear the word of life. Acts 13:46.
Matthew 10:8 . Heal the sick. Confirm your mission and doctrine by those divine and gracious works which shall command assent, till men can more leisurely search the scriptures, and examine the superior grace and glory of the new covenant.
Matthew 10:9 . Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass, in your purses. The ancients wore belts or girdles round their flowing robes; and in those ζωνας , zones or belts, they carried their money. Nearly all the critics pause at this restriction, the former times being dissimilar to the modern. There were then synagogues and devout persons like Gaius and Lydia, who received the servants of the Lord. But who now can trust the Lord for bread? We are now forced to send out missionaries at great expense, there being no synagogues to take them in. We pray for native preachers to be raised up in India, and in Africa, who shall go out on the primitive plan, in the spirit of Elijah, and of the holy apostles, and illuminate the dark recesses of the earth with the light of the knowledge of the Lord.
Matthew 10:10 . Neither two coats. Two tunics, or upper-coats, as they would encumber the messengers on their journies; for the king’s business requires haste. Ministers of the heavenly world should not be encumbered with earth.
Matthew 10:11 . Enquire who in it is worthy. Who is of good report, and whose door sometimes opens to religious men. The rulers of the synagogues generally received public charities. To go to a bad man’s house would give an ill savour to the cause. The blessings of peace resting on that house, and comprising all covenant mercies, will be a full reward for the favours of hospitality. God still blesses the house of Obed-Edom because of the ark, and the descendants of that family shall also be blessed. See Isaiah 44:3. The workman in the harvest day is worthy of his meat.
Matthew 10:12-13 . When ye come into a house, salute it. Erasmus says that some old copies of the Greek had the adjection, “peace be to this house;” and that other copies had the words in the margin. The next words, And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it, indicate that the sense is incomplete without it. This, Erasmus adds, is the old Hebrew salutation, shalom lecho, peace be to thee. If this salutation were received with an open countenance, the disciple would know that the Son, the prince of peace, was there.
Matthew 10:14-15 . And whosoever shall not receive you, coming with peace, coming with an extra mission, to announce the approach of the Messiah’s kingdom, shake off the dust of your feet against that house, or that city; for if they shall renounce that hope, there is no other hope. It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, the souls that once inhabited the plain, than for that city in the day of judgment, or the day of retribution, when the Roman armies shall come and burn the city and temple of the Lord.
Matthew 10:16 . Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be aware that the whole world lieth in the wicked one. Notwithstanding the power of conscience, notwithstanding all their engaging airs of politeness, and all the restraints of covenant grace, when the spirit of persecution is once roused, they will be to you what the wolves are to the sheep. Therefore being weak and defenceless as sheep, be harmless as doves, of which no birds are afraid. Join also to innocence of manners, the wisdom and prudence of the serpents, which in times of danger cover their heads, or retreat and hide themselves in rocks and thickets. Let prudence keep you from parties, let your tongue be unpolluted with slander, and be the fathers and the friends of all committed to your care. The eagle and the serpent are famed for acuteness of sight.
tam cernis acutum Quàm aut aquila aut serpens. EPIDAURIUS.
We must also be as bold as lions, which in ranging the forests and plantations fear no danger, and never turn away in battle. Thus ministers must carry the gospel, and boldly testify the truth, so as to commend themselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. They must neither rashly expose themselves to danger, nor decline the testimony of Jesus when brought before magistrates. See Psalms 58:4.
Matthew 10:17 . Beware of men. Beware of the scribes and jewish teachers, who will bring upon you every evil in their power, through enmity of heart, and through the eclipse of their honour. You have therefore the more need of prudence. The same spirit induced the papist bishops to burn the protestant martyrs.
Matthew 10:21 . The brother shall deliver up the brother to death. Such shall be the bigotry and enmity against the christian religion, as was exemplified in the treatment of the early christians, Acts 8:4; and more widely so in all the papal persecutions of the reformed churches. Our books of martyrs should still be studied, and often read. But the words that follow are the consolation of the church. The hairs of your head are all numbered: Matthew 10:30. See more on Mark 8:34.
Matthew 10:25 . Beelzebub. See on Numbers 32:38. The Greek is, Beelzeboul. The Greeks altered foreign names to agree with their own language.
Matthew 10:26 . Fear them not. In this most instructive charge, after preparing the minds of the disciples for the work, our Lord next prepares them to meet danger. This is by faith in God, to whom futurity is without a veil, and who will suffer nothing to happen to his prudent servants but for good. He will develope the plots of their enemies, and number the hairs of their head. How calm is that mind at the worst of times, which can trust and not be afraid. Let ministers often read this admirable code of divine instructions; let them weigh and amplify all the expressions, that fully entering into the Saviour’s views, they may be prepared to do the whole of his blessed will. The reward is temporal and eternal life, both to the preacher and to the good man who receives him. Thus our Lord preserved the lives of his disciples by flight when Jerusalem was taken; while the wary jews who believed on Jesus, but did not confess him openly for fear of the synagogue, were enclosed and perished in the siege. So it shall be with all those ministers and hypocrites who assume and retain a profession of religion for secular interest.
Matthew 10:27 . What ye hear in the ear, as a whisper, preach ye on the house- tops. The roofs in the east being generally flat, they often addressed people in the street from the roof or balcony of their houses. By this we learn, that ministers must not shrink from the arduous duties of declaring the whole counsel of God.
Matthew 10:29 . Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing, a vile price paid by the poor for sin-offerings. Yet not one of them is taken in the snare without your heavenly Father. He will then take more care of you than of sparrows.
Are you aware, oh sanhedrim, forming a semicircle in the temple, discussing traditions, and the accession of proselytes, that your time is short? Are you aware, oh Romans, seated as gods in the senate, and grasping at universal empire, that the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, has begun to break in pieces all the iron power of Rome. “He has chosen the things that are not, to bring to nought things that are.”
He has commissioned twelve young men, without asking your counsel and approbation; holy men, without money, without staff or scrip, to “turn the world upside down.” These men shall travel through the world, and preach without deceit. They openly call the nations to faith and repentance, to embrace the truth, and believe with the heart unto righteousness. They shall form a new empire to fill the earth. They declare that their Master’s coming and kingdom are at hand. Oh rulers, you have but a moment, a short space for repentance. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry with you, and ye perish quickly from the way. Go and greet the ambassadors of peace on the tops of the mountains. Make haste, fall down and worship before the Lord your maker.
If otherwise, prepare war against them; pursue them with fire and sword, and throw them in all places to the lions. He that sits in the heavens shall laugh you to scorn: the Lord shall have you in derision. You will enlarge his kingdom by the dispersion of his flock, and hasten the recoil of war on your own heads. Shortly he will open the sixth seal, Revelation 6:12, and all the bloody fury of civil wars shall drive you to hide in dens and caves of the earth, and call for rocks and mountains to cover you.
Go on, then, oh blessed heralds of Immanuel. Be discouraged at no opposition, neither be afraid of those who kill the body: the martyr’s crown is before you. Your commission is from the throne of the Highest; your endowments are divine; your Master’s presence is with you. Other warriors engage in the uncertainty of battle; yours is the assurance of victory, an assurance confirmed by the conflicts of past ages, which are the pledges of future success. Go on; labour and faint not. The kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ. Lift up your heads with joy, for after all your tears, and toils, and fights, you shall yet sing with St. Paul, “Thanks be to God which always causeth us to triumph in Christ Jesus, and hath made manifest by us, the savour of his knowledge in every place.” To whom be glory and dominion for ever.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Matthew 10". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent