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MATTHEW CHAPTER 10
Matthew 10:1-4 Christ sendeth out his twelve apostles with power to do miracles.
Matthew 10:5-15 He instructs them,
Matthew 10:16-39 and forewarning them of persecutions, suggests motives of comfort and constancy.
Matthew 10:40-42 He promiseth a blessing to those who should receive them.
Mark saith, Mark 3:14,Mark 3:15, And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils. Luke repeats almost the same words, Luke 9:1,Luke 9:2; only he saith he gave them power and authority over devils, —and to preach the kingdom of God. This was the first mission which the apostles had, much different from that given them after his resurrection; they were now sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, then they were sent to all nations. They were not called disciples as that term signified only the common hearers of Christ, but in a more emphatic sense. He chooseth out twelve, that as the twelve patriarchs begat the Jewish church, so these twelve men might be the fathers to all the gospel church. The number of twelve seems a sacred number. The new Jerusalem, Revelation 21:12, is described as having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and to have written (on the gates) the names of the twelve tribes; and, Revelation 21:14, the wall of the city is said to have had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles; the dimensions of it twelve thousand furlongs, Revelation 21:16.
The power he gave to the apostles was:
1. To preach the kingdom, that is, the gospel, which as it showeth the way to the kingdom of glory, so it was the means to gather the Christian church, which is the kingdom of grace, and to subdue men’s hearts to the obedience of Christ.
2. To cast out devils, and heal all manner of sicknesses. By which they gained repute amoungst people, confirming people that they were sent of God, doing (though not as Christ did them) things which none but God could do, by a derivation of power from him: Christ did the same things, but by a power inherent in himself.
These twelve were ordinarily to be with Christ, and to go forth (as occasion served) clothed with his power to preach and to work miracles.
Mark reckoneth up the same persons, Mark 3:16-19, with some additions, which we shall consider as we come at the persons whom they concern.
Apostles signifies persons sent; the term applied to Christ’s disciples signifies the persons that were first sent by him to preach the gospel. It was reasonable for the evangelists to set down their names, because the whole Christian church was to be builded upon their doctrine, Ephesians 2:20.
The first, Simon, who is called Peter, because the term signifies a rock, and the confession of faith which he made our Saviour declares to be a rock, on which he would build his church, Matthew 16:18. He is not here called the first because he was first called, or first believed, the contrary is plain from John 1:41; but when many are named, one must be first named. He was the son of Jonas; Christ gave him the name of Cephas, which is, by interpretation, a stone. He was called Simon Peter to distinguish him from Simon the Canaanite, afterward mentioned. So that it seems the papists are put hard to it for arguments to prove Peter’s primacy and superiority over the apostles, and headship over the church, when they are enforced to make use of this, because he is here called the first. Yet such another was brought at the disputation of Berne, 1528, when Alexius Grad, the nuns’ confessor, would prove Peter’s headship because he is called Cephas; and he had read in some dictionary, that Κεφας anciently signified a head; as if the evangelist had not interpreted it, John 1:41, Peter, or a stone. By the same argument they can from hence prove Peter the first, Galatians 2:9, will prove him the second, for so he is there reckoned, James, Cephas, and John. Andrew his brother; Simon Peter’s brother; by John directed to Christ, John 1:40; called by Christ together with his brother Peter, Mark 1:16,Mark 1:17.
James the son of Zebedee, so called to distinguish him from another of the apostles of the same name, who was the son of Alphaeus. This is he of whose death we read, Acts 12:2; he was slain by Herod.
And John his brother, viz. the son of Zebedee: this is he who was called the beloved disciple, who also wrote the Gospel of John, John 21:20,John 21:24.
Philip, and Bartholomew. Philip was of Bethsaida the city of Andrew and Peter, John 1:44, found and called by Christ, John 1:43. Of the call of Bartholomew we do not read; some think him the same with Nathanael, mentioned John 1:45,John 1:46, &c. It is some inducement to believe it, that he is here named with Philip, who was the instrument to bring him to Christ, John 1:45; but there is nothing of this certain.
Thomas, the same who was called Didymus, who was so unbelieving as to Christ’s resurrection, John 20:24,John 20:27; and Matthew the publican, he that wrote this history of the Gospel: we heard before of his call from the receipt of custom; he was also called Levi.
James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus. This James is called James the less, Mark 15:40, and so distinguished from James the son of Zebedee.
The Lord’s brother, Galatians 1:19; that is, as some think, his kinsman, judging him not the son of Alphaeus who was the father of Matthew, but another Alphaeus, the husband of Mary the wife of Cleophas, John 19:25. But this appeareth not from Scripture. Instead of Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus, Luke saith, Luke 6:16, Judas the brother of James (he that wrote the Epistle of Jude, as appeareth by Jude). Mark, Mark 3:18, mentions not Lebbaeus at all, which makes some think that the words are transposed, and should be Thaddaeus the son of Lebbaeus; for Thaddai in the Syriac is the same with Judas.
Simon the Canaanite; Luke calls him Simon Zelotes, Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13. We must not understand by Canaanite a pagan, (for Christ sent out none but Jews), but one of Cana, which by interpretation is Zelus, from whence it is that Luke calleth him Zelotes.
And Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. There are many guesses how Judas had the name of Iscariot, whether from Kerioth, supposed to be his town, or on some other account: the guesses of the best are but uncertainties, nor is it material for us to know. It here distinguishes him from the other Judas. Of his betraying his Master we shall hear afterward. Christ altered the name of Simon, whom he called Peter, Mark 3:16. He added to the names of James and John, calling them Boanerges, that is, The sons of thunder, Mark 3:17. Thaddaeus is called Judas, and by Matthew also Lebbaeus. These were the twelve first apostles, to which were added (after Christ’s ascension) Matthias, (instead of Judas Iscariot), Paul, and Barnabas; but these conversed with Christ, and were the first sent out by him. We shall now hear the instruction he gives them.
Here Christ limiteth their ministry to the Jews. The apostle tells us, Romans 15:8, Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to conform the promises made unto the fathers; and the apostle tells the Jews, Acts 13:46, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you. Therefore in this his first mission, he restrains his apostles from going to the Gentiles, to whom they had afterwards a commission to go, Matthew 28:19, and did go, but not before the Jews had judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life, Acts 13:46, by rejecting and blaspheming the gospel, and persecuting the ministers of it. They are also commanded not to go
into any city of the Samaritans. The Samaritans were partly Jews apostatized, and partly heathens, descended from those whom the king of Syria sent thither, when the ten tribes were carried into captivity, 2 Kings 17:6, and from some Jews left in the land. You shall read of their religion there, 2 Kings 17:31-41. They were perfectly hated by the Jews, and as perfect haters of them, as may be gathered from Luke 9:52,Luke 9:53; Job 4:9. Our Lord, partly in regard they also were no better than Gentiles, and so hated as they were of the Jews, would not suffer these his first ministers to go and preach amongst them. Not that they were forbidden (if some particular persons, whether Gentiles or Samaritans, came to them) to preach to them, but only not to make it their work to go into their country or cities; the time was not yet come for this great light to shine upon the Gentiles.
But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. By Israel he here meaneth the two tribes that clave to the house of David, for the ten tribes ever since their captivity (2 Kings 17:6) had lost their share in that name. He calls them lost sheep in the sense that Jeremiah speaks, Jeremiah 1:6, My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray. So that lost sheep here signifies wandering sheep, for want of proper guides. The Jews at this time had miserable teachers, so as they wandered as lost sheep. And this comporteth with what we had in the last verses of the former chapter. There was a great harvest and but few labourers; he is therefore providing them labourers, shepherds that should gather those scattered sheep into one fold.
In these words he gives them power,
1. To preach the gospel.
2. To confirm the doctrine they preached to be of God by miraculous operations, healing the sick, cleansing lepers, raising the dead, casting out devils.
He bids them
go preach, Khrussete, Cry like heralds; something like Isaiah’s commission, Isaiah 58:1, Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet. He teacheth them what should be the sum of their sermons,
The kingdom of heaven is at hand; the same thing which John Baptist preached, Matthew 3:2, which Christ preached, Mark 1:15, and which he directed the seventy to preach, Luke 10:9; not that they were to use no other words, but that all the words they used were to have this tendency, to declare that the time was now come, when God had fulfilled his promise of the Messiah, who was setting up his kingdom in the world, and to whose laws they were to be obedient. This doctrine they were to confirm by miracles, which he gives them a charge they should work freely, without receiving any reward for them, that the miracles being used to their private profit, might not lose their end, which was the confirmation of their doctrine.
Our Saviour having in the last verse commanded them to give freely, they might reasonably be thinking that they had need to provide well for their journey. No, saith our Saviour,
Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass, & c. That this was but a temporary precept, the will of God concerning them for this short journey, appeareth from Luke 22:35,Luke 22:36, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip, & c. They were to finish this journey in a short time, and much provision would have been a hinderance to their motion. Besides, our Saviour designed to give them an experience of the providence of God, and to teach them to trust in it; as also to teach people that the labourer is worthy of his hire, and that God expects that his ministers should not live of their own, but upon the altar which they served; so as at once he taught his apostles not to be covetous, nor overmuch solicitous, and people to provide for those who ministered to them in things spiritual. I pass over what others have critically observed concerning the words, that being not my proper work. Mark saith, Mark 6:8,Mark 6:9, that he commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: but be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. From whence is plain that the staves forbidden in Matthew were either staves for defence, or to bear burdens upon, not merely travellers’ staves. The sum is, in this their first journey, which they were soon to despatch, he would have them trust God for protection and sustenance, and load themselves with nothing more than necessary.
Our Lord had before set them their limits, and appointed them their work, and directed them as to their accoutrements for their journey; here he directeth them their methods. Luke hath much of the same instructions, Luke 10:4-6, but applied to the seventy, not to the twelve. Mark hath something of them applied to the twelve, Mark 6:10,Mark 6:11.
And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. The method Christ set them was, when they came into any of the cities of Israel, to inquire if there were any worthy persons in it, and thither to go, and there to abide (if they did not find they were mistaken) until they left that place; and when they came into a house to salute it, wishing all peace and happiness to it; if they found themselves welcome, to preach to it the gospel of peace. But if they found themselves unwelcome, and discerned that the people of the city, or of that house, did not care for their company, and refused to hear them, they should not make themselves or the gospel a burden to them, but show their contempt of those who contemned the gospel, and the ministry of it, by shaking the dust off their feet as a testimony against them. Then he concludes, telling them, that the Lord would so grievously at last revenge such contempt, that the condition of the men of Sodom and Gomorrah, who were destroyed by fire and brimstone, Genesis 19:24, would at the last day be more tolerable than theirs. This is the sum, by which our Saviour doth obviate the solicitous thoughts which might from his former words arise in their minds. How shall we live, going amongst strangers, if we carry nothing with us? Saith our Saviour, When you first come into a town or city, do not inquire for the inns that entertain strangers, but who is worthy, worthy of such guests; so Hebrews 11:38; a son of peace, Luke 10:6; who are accounted the most pious and religious persons in that town or city, or best affected to the gospel. (He hereby hints, that John the Baptist and his ministry had had such success, that in most places there were some such persons.)
Worthy doth not in our ordinary discourse signify always a meritorious person, but a person excelling, either in religion or knowledge, or moral virtue. Such persons our Lord presumes would entertain those who came upon so kind an errand to their houses. He commands them to go, and when they came to a house to salute it, to say, Peace be to this house; which was the Jews’ ordinary salutation; under the notion of peace they comprehended all good. But,
let your peace come upon it (I conceive) comprehends more, viz. preach the gospel of peace unto it; or, my peace shall be upon it, I will bless that house. But if you find you are misinformed, or mistaken, your peace shall return unto you; you have done your work, and you shall have your reward. If they will
not receive you, nor hear your words; if they declare any contempt of you, and will not hear the glad tidings of the gospel;
when ye depart out of that house or city,
shake off the dust of your feet. This was more than a sign of contempt of them; we read of Nehemiah 5:13, that he shook his lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labour, that performeth not this promise. We have but one instance of this practice of the apostles, Acts 13:51. Mark adds, for a testimony against them: a testimony of God’s despising them who despised his grace, and of the vengeance of God that should come upon them for that contempt. For he adds,
it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, the last judgment, than for that city: their condemnation will be more dreadful, as having sinned against greater light, and fairer offers of greater grace, than ever they had.
Our Lord having hitherto instructed his twelve apostles as to the places whither they were to go, the work they had to do, and the methods he would have them observe, now comes to arm them against their difficulties, and the temptations they were like to meet with.
I send you forth (saith he)
as sheep in the midst of wolves. It is most probable that our Saviour speaks this with reference to what they were like to meet with when he should be taken from them, for we do not read of any great opposition which they at present met with.
I send you, ( saith he),
as sheep, which are feeble creatures in themselves, and without any natural armour to defend themselves,
in the midst of wolves, which are rapacious creatures, and have a particular enmity to sheep: amongst enemies who will have as great an inclination from their malice to devour you, as wolves have from their nature to devour sheep.
Be ye therefore wise as serpents. It is said of the serpent, Genesis 3:1, that he was more subtle than any beast of the field. Naturalists observe, yet, a great natural sagacity in the serpent, which they note in several particulars. It is hard to say that Christ aimed at this or that particular thing wherein the sagacity of serpents appeareth; he only proposes the serpent as a pattern of subtlety, and commendeth prudence to them so far as it consisteth with innocency, for it followeth,
harmless as doves. Amongst the beasts of the field there is none more innocent than a sheep; amongst the birds of the air none more innocent than a dove; to both these our Lord compares his disciples.
This text teacheth us:
1. That wisdom may dwell with prudence.
2. That all true prudence must be attended with innocency.
The last word, Gentiles, maketh it plain, that our blessed Lord is not here arming his disciples so much against any opposition they were like to meet with upon this their first going out, for they were not to go to the Gentiles, as those they should meet with some years after his ascension; yet not excluding what they should meet with from the Jews, for what is said about delivering up to the councils and scourging in the synagogues seemeth to have a particular reference to the Jews. This scripture was most eminently fulfilled, as to the apostles, Acts 4:1-3 &c Acts 5:27; Acts 6:12; and as to being brought before governors and kings, there are instances enough in the Acts, more in ecclesiastical stories. Neither do I think our Saviour hath in these words any reference to the distinction of their councils amongst the Jews; he only designed to let them know the time would come, when, for their owning him, and preaching his gospel, they should be brought before all sorts of magistrates, and in all kinds of courts. That phrase,
and they will scourge you in their synagogues, hath mightily perplexed some, especially such as have dreamed religious synagogues too holy places for such offices: but there is no need that we should take the term synagogues here for the places of their worship, it doth as well signify, in their conventions; and there are some that think that they had, adjoining to their synagogues, a place in which they punished offenders upon the account of religion; certain it is, 2 Corinthians 11:24, that Paul was five times scourged by the Jews according to their law, Deuteronomy 25:3. For a testimony against them and the Gentiles: a testimony for me, that is expressed in those words, for my sake; and against them, whether Jews or Gentiles. A testimony against them in the day of judgment, εις μαρτυριον, hence our terms of martyr and martyrdom, the one signifies a witness, the other a testimony.
Mark hath much the same, Mark 13:11; so hath Luke, Luke 11:11,Luke 11:12. The apostles being men but of an ordinary education before Christ called them, he might reasonably suppose that they would not appear before councils, and kings, and governors without some abashment, having not been accustomed to such presences; he therefore arms them in these words, wherein he doth not prohibit ordinary thoughts, which every man hath before he speaketh, but anxious thoughts beforehand, for, ( saith he),
it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. The Lord seemeth to speak here as he did to Moses, Exodus 4:12, complaining he was slow of speech, and of a slow tongue: Exodus 4:11, Who hath made man’s mouth? It shall, ( saith Christ), be given you from God.
For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you; that is, not you from yourselves only: the Holy Spirit shall influence your thoughts as to the matter, and suggest that to you, and it shall influence your tongues, giving you a freedom of speech. This was verified in Stephen, Acts 6:10, and hath been eminently verified in a multitude of martyrs. We may observe from hence, that the influence of the Spirit is not to be confined to the will and afflictions. It hath also an influence upon our words in the service of God: not that we can conclude, that whatsoever Christians so speak, either in their confessions or other duties, is from such immediate assistance; but there is such an influence, though the Spirit in this, as in other operations, like the wind, bloweth where and when it listeth.
Luke speaketh much the same, Luke 21:16,Luke 21:17, though as spoken upon another occasion. Our Saviour here tells them, that the persecutions would reach even to death itself, and that the malice of the world against him and his gospel should proceed so far, as to extinguish all natural affection, between brethren, and parents, and children, and that they would meet with a multitude of enemies (for that is here meant by all, not every individual man, as in a multitude of other scriptures). The root of all persecution is hatred.
For my name’s sake; for preaching or professing of my gospel, and living up to the rule of it, Acts 4:18; Acts 5:41. This is that which Peter calleth suffering as a Christian, 1 Peter 4:16. And by this phrase he doth not only admonish them of their duty, to see that they suffered for his name’s sake, but also encourage them from the honourable cause of their suffering, it was for his name’s sake. He also addeth another argument: But he that endureth to the end shall be saved. There shall be an end of these sufferings, if they end not in your lifetime they will end with your lives, and if you continue to the end you shall be saved. It is neither true patience, nor will it be profitable, if it holdeth not out to the end, Mark 13:13; 1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 3:6.
Whether this text at all warrants ministers’ flight in a time of persecution I doubt; it seemeth to be a special command given to the apostles, that they might have a time before the coming of Christ, here spoken of, to preach the gospel over all the cities of Israel. But that in some cases it is lawful to flee I do not at all doubt, though I do question whether it be to be warranted from this text. What those cases are is largely discoursed, particularly by Mr. Torshell. Generally it is said, wherever the glory of God, or the good of others, calls to us for such a flight. But what may be judged such cases is a more particular question. Augustine to Honoratus speaketh well in the case. Ministers ought not to flee rashly, nor out of cowardice, nor that they might live elsewhere lazily, nor when their flight will betray the church of God: not where the persecution is general; but where the persecution is particular, against some of them, and there will be enough left for the care of the church in their absence, and with the consent of the church, they may flee. But this is too large a case to be spoken to here; especially considering (as I said) that I do not think that any flight is to be justified from this text, the precept being particular for special reasons.
Till the Son of man be come. There is a wonderful variety of interpreters’ senses of this text, founded upon the various comings of Christ mentioned in holy writ. He was already come in the flesh, so as it, speaking of a time to come, could not be meant of that: nor can it be understood of his second coming to judgment, for they have gone through the cities of Israel long ago. Christ is therefore said in Scripture to come, when he appeareth in some great work of providence, whether of judgment or mercy. This makes some interpret it of the destruction of Jerusalem; in which sense some think the coming of Christ is mentioned, Matthew 24:1-51. Some, of the resurrection of Christ, from whence they say Christ’s epocha commenced. Others understand it of the effusion of the Spirit in the day of Pentecost; this they ground on John 14:17,John 14:18, where they think Christ’s coming, promised John 14:18, is the coming of the Spirit, promised John 14:17. Undoubtedly, in the general, our Saviour means, till the time be accomplished when you must leave preaching to the Jews and go to the Gentiles, and my kingdom shall be further extended than it is at present; which dispensation of God may for aught I know be called the coming of Christ, being an eminent act of God’s providence, by which Christ was more showed to the world, and his kingdom further extended.
As much as if he had said, "Think not much if you meet with persecutions: I am your Lord and Master, you are my servants and household; you have no reason to look for better measure from the world than I your Lord meet with; it is honour enough for you to be used as well as I am. You know they have persecuted me, they call me Beelzebub, saying that I cast out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. Why should you expect better?" Our Saviour used the same argument, Luke 6:40.
Beelzebub was the idol of Ekron, 2 Kings 1:2. The word signifies, the lord of flies; either because they invoked his help against the flies, or (as others say) the name was in derision to that idol given by the Jews to the prince of the devils, because the places herein they sacrificed to it were infested with flies, which they say God’s temple at Jerusalem never was, notwithstanding the multitude of sacrifices which were there killed. Certain it is they understood by it the prince of devils.
This is a proverbial speech, used by our Saviour upon more occasions than this, Mark 4:22; Luke 8:17; Luke 12:2. As to his present use of it, the sense is, "Though my gospel be now covered and hid, yet it shall be revealed and made known." Or, "Though your innocency be hid and covered, yet God shall bring forth your judgment as the light, and your righteousness as the noonday." Or, "Though your enemies’ rage and malice be hid, and their vengeance seemeth to sleep, yet it shall be revealed." The first seemeth most probable, from what followeth in the next verse, which he seemeth to speak as a means to it.
The candle of the gospel, which God hath by John the Baptist and me lighted up, is not to be hid; though therefore you have it from me in private, yet do you publish it. I do as it were whisper it in your ear by private discourses, and in a private converse, but it shall be made as public as if it were published to the greatest advantage; and do you contribute what you can unto it, do you publish my gospel as it were upon the house tops.
As I told you before, you will in the publication of my gospel meet with opposition from men. Now that it is preached as it were in darkness, and whispered in men’s ears, there is no great noise made in the world; but the case will be otherwise when it cometh to be publicly revealed, and published upon the housetops. But consider, the enemies can only kill the bodies of my disciples: you have souls as well as bodies; they have no power over your souls; but he that hath sent you to preach, and called you to the owning and profession of the gospel, hath a power over your souls as well as over your bodies, and to punish both in hell. We have the same Luke 12:4,Luke 12:5. There is nothing so effectual to drive out of our hearts a slavish fear of man in the doing of our duty, as a right apprehension of the power of God, begetting a fear of him in our souls.
Besides, consider, there is a God that governs the world, and by his providence influences and watcheth over the most minute and invaluable beings in it, and preserveth and upholdeth them; it extendeth to the very hairs of your head, and to a sparrow (two of which are sold ordinarily for an assarion, the tenth part of a Roman penny): these little birds fall not when they are shot, without the notice of him who is your heavenly Father, and he will much more regard even your bodies, for you are of more value than many sparrows. Our Lord here,
1. Asserts the providence of God to extend to the most minute things, not to be restrained to things in heaven, or some greater and more noble creatures.
2. He teacheth his disciples to take courage from the consideration of it, as being assured that their greatest enemies should not be able to steal or wrest them out of God’s hands. But if they should die in their testimony, it should be by God’s ordering.
As this is a time for you publicly to own me, so there will be a time (in the day of judgment) for me to confess and publicly own you, before the angels of God (which Luke addeth to this sentence, Matthew 12:8): as men deal with me in this life, so I shall deal with them in that day. Our Saviour speaketh much the same thing, as repeated by Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; only there instead of whosoever shall deny me, it is, whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words. Christ requireth of us not only a believing on him, but an external profession: nor that only, but a confession of him, which signifieth a profession of him and his gospel in the face of opposition and enemies: see Romans 10:10; 2 Timothy 2:12. It is dangerous, either through shame or fear, to withhold our public owning and acknowledgment of Christ, and his truths, when we are called to it; much more to deny them; but the guilt is greater when it is through shame, for where fear is the cause the temptation is more high. This text must be understood of those who persist in such denial, for Peter denied his Master, yet was graciously upon his repentance received by him.
Luke hath much the same with Matthew 10:34, in Luke 12:51. As the Jews were much mistaken in their notion of the Messiah, as if he were to be a temporal prince, to restore the kingdom to Israel, and as the kingdom, so a peaceful kingdom; so many persons think still that where true religion comes, there must be forthwith peace and union. And indeed so it should be, and so it would be if the gospel were cordially and universally received. It is impossible that a system of laws should be compiled better fitted to human society, or conducible to peace, the great end of it, than the laws of the gospel are: but eventually it is not so, nor was such a civil peace the end of Christ’s coming. Accidentally, through the corruption of men’s hearts, the consequent of Christ’s coming into the world, and of his gospel coming into and prevailing in any part of the world, is (as Luke phrases it) rather division, which is here called a sword. Through men’s fondness of their idolatry, superstition, and lusts, and madness on them, their impatience of being outdone in religion and righteousness of conversation, the event of Christ’s coming was division, wars, variances, like the times prophesied of by Micah, Micah 7:6; God either stirring up wars to revenge the contempt of the gospel, (as it happened to the Jews), or men taking up arms to compel all others to their idolatries and superstitions. And that natural antipathy which men have to holiness, setting them at variance with those who, embracing the gospel, live a life as becometh the sgospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, worketh so far, that men will have no respect to their nearest relations.
Not of the household of faith, which showeth that it is not the gospel, but men’s corruptions, which causeth division. Those, who truly receive the gospel agree well enough, at least break not out into open feuds; but the tie of no natural or moral relations will hold together the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. This doth not always happen, but very ordinarily, and therefore there was need that Christ should forewarn his disciples of it.
Luke seemeth to speak higher, Luke 14:26, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. But the sense is the same, for by hatred there is only meant displacency, and a setting them in his esteem below Christ and his commands. Christ doth not command or encourage want of natural affection, but only by this saying he reduces it to order, and showeth that our first love and homage is due to God; and where we cannot show what love and affections our father, or mother, or son, or daughter call for, without failing in that duty which we owe unto God, or violating some Divine precept, we must acknowledge our heavenly Father, even by disobeying our earthly parents. Instead of
is not worthy of me, Luke saith, cannot be my disciple, which expounds this term. He is not worthy of my favour, of the name of my disciple, or the reward I intend my disciples.
We have much the same in Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; It is not he that maketh not, but
he that taketh not his cross; that is, he that doth not willingly, and cheerfully, and patiently bear and undergo those trials, and afflictions, and persecutions, which God in the way of his providence shall lay upon him, and bring him into, for my sake and my gospel, is not worthy of the name or reward of my disciples. Our Saviour calls all such trials, the cross, either with reference to the Roman last punishment, by crucifying, or signifying what death he should die, and with reference to his own cross.
John 12:25, giveth us a commentary upon these words thus, He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. He in this text is said to find his life, who thinks that he hath found, that is, saved it, who is so much in love with his life that, rather than he will lose it, he will lose God’s favour, deny the Lord that brought him, deny the most fundamental truths of the gospel. The man that doth thus (saith Christ) shall lose it; possibly he shall not obtain the end he aims at here, but if he doth he shall lose eternal life. When, on the contrary, he that is valiant for the truth shall sometimes be preserved, notwithstanding his enemies’ rage; but if this happens not, yet he shall have life eternal, his mortality shall be swallowed up in life.
He that receiveth you receiveth me, &c.; we have the same Luke 10:16, only there it is, he that heareth you heareth me; and there is added, and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me. In John 13:20, it is, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. As great princes account what favour is shown to their ambassadors, who represent their persons, shown unto themselves, and whatsoever indignities or affronts are done unto them as done to themselves, so doth Christ.
Receiving is a general term, and capable of a large interpretation. That hearing is one branch of it, Luke tells us. The scope of the context, and the words that follow, do manifest that a giving entertainment to them in their houses is another thing here meant. There is another more inward, receiving of their doctrine by faith and love, to which undoubtedly there will be a great reward. But whether it be here intended, I doubt. Our Saviour was sending the twelve out, he had commanded them to take with them no gold, silver, nor brass, no scrip, &c.; but when they came into any city, to inquire who there were in that city who were worthy men, favourers to the gospel, and ready to entertain strangers, and to go to their house or houses, saluting them, and to abide there till they left the place. He furnisheth them here as it were with a ticket, or bill of exchange. He gives them an assurance, that whatsoever kindness should be done to them, he would account it as done to himself. And further hath assured both them, and all the world, that if any should come to them to reveal the will of God, (for that the term prophet signifieth), if they give him an entertainment upon that account they should be rewarded. What is here meant by the term, a prophet’s reward, is variously guessed, whether it be,
1. The reward which God hath appointed for such as entertain his prophets; or;
2. Such a reward as such a prophet shall himself receive; or;
3. The reward which the prophet; will give him or them, viz. prayers and instruction.
That which appears to me most probable is, that no more is meant than a liberal reward, for such shall be the reward of those who turn many to righteousness, Daniel 12:3. Those words, in the name of a prophet, are both exclusive of those from the benefit of this promise who receive and entertain the ministers of the gospel upon any other account than this, that they are the Lord’s prophets; and also encouraging to those who may discern they have been mistaken in their acts of charity of this nature; if they have been sincere in their designs and actions, they shall not lose their reward, though the pretended prophet so entertained prove but an impostor.
And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, he shall in no wise lose his reward. Christ will not only reward those who show love to his prophets, but those who show kindness to his members, whom the world counts contemptible, and calleth little ones; nor shall those only be rewarded who give them great entertainments, and make them great presents, but (if it be proportionable to what they are able to do) though it be a kindness of the most minute consideration, but a cup of cold water, they shall be rewarded. God rewards the love we show to him, and the good actions that flow from it. Here are three persons mentioned, for whose entertainment and reception God hath provided in this promise; a prophet, a righteous man, a little one: and a threefold reward promised; the reward of a prophet, the reward of a righteous man, and his reward. How to distinguish the righteous man and the little one I cannot tell, unless we understand by the righteous man one more perfect, more eminent in holiness; and by the little one, one that is sincere, though we cannot judge him so grown in grace and the knowledge of Christ. I should understand no more by the threefold rewards, than God’s more particular value for his ministers, and for such as are more perfect in holiness; while in the mean time he will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax; and that every one shall be rewarded according to his works; which shall not be measured by the quantity of the gift, but by the obedience, and affection, and ability of the giver, Luke 21:2,Luke 21:3; Hebrews 6:10.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Matthew 10". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12