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Matthew 10

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Verses 1-33

Mat 10:1-33




Matthew 10:1-33

1 He called unto him his twelve disciples.—This follows immediately Jesus’ observation of the conditions of the people as represented in the figures of the flock and shepherd, harvest and laborers. There is no break in the context and only the division of chapters marks a wider separation than the context shows. It seems that Jesus had chosen his twelve apostles before this. (Mark 3:14; Luke 6:13.) He had made a number of disciples, and from his disciples he now chooses his twelve apostles; they were to be his more intimate friends and witnesses (Acts 1:21-22), who were afterwards to become the messengers of the gospel. The name "disciple" means "learner"; Jesus was with them and instructing them. After his ascension they were to be independent teachers of others, and were called "apostles," or those sent, i.e., messengers. There were at first those who had merely followed him because they desired to learn more of him; but now these are directly and specially appointed for a particular work. They were qualified to do that which Jesus sent them to do. He gave them "authority over unclean spirits" and "to heal all manner of disease and all manner of sickness." They had power to work miracles to convince the people that they were sent of God. By working miracles of this kind they would command the attention and respect and confidence of the people; when these were had, they could teach them. God has never called and sent any one to do anything for him but that he has qualified that one to do the work; all whom he has called have in some measure been qualified to do the work for which they were called to do. We are not told here whether these twelve should use at their own discretion the power given to them or whether it would be used under the special promptings of the Holy Spirit; neither are we informed as to the limitations, if any, of the exercise of this authority; they had full authority to do that which the Lord wanted them do do.

2-4 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these.—By a careful comparison of the four different catalogs of the apostles given in the New Testament, we find that they may be divided into three groups, each group being headed by the same name, and each group including the same name, but with the lower names in each group variously arranged.

Matt. 10:2-4Mark 3:16-19Luke 6:14-16Acts 1:13
Simon PeterSimon PeterSimon PeterPeter
Andrew, his brotherJamesAndrewJohn
James, son of ZebedeeJohnJamesJames
John, his brotherAndrewJohnAndrew
James, son of AlphaeusJamesJamesJames
Lebbeus, ThaddeusThaddeusSimon ZelotesSimon Zelotes
Simon, the CanaaniteSimonJudas, son of James Judas, son of James
Judas IscariotJudas IscariotJudas Iscariot

Peter was a native of Bethsaida and was placed at the head of the list of apostles and was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Andrew was the brother of Peter and was a disciple of John the Baptist. James and John were sons of Zebedee and were grouped with Peter. Peter and Andrew, James and John were two pairs of brothers. Philip was also from Bethsaida; Thomas had two names, the other was Didymus, and signifies twin; he has been called "the doubting apostle," but this epithet conveys the wrong idea about him. Matthew is always called the publican. James, the son of Alphaeus, has been called "James the Less"; it is thought that his mother was Mary, the sister of Mary the mother of Jesus. Lebbeus was surnamed Thaddeus; he is called Thaddeus by Mark and Judas by Luke. Simon the Canaanite is the least known of all the twelve; he is not mentioned in the New Testament other than in the catalog of apostles. Bartholomew is supposed to be identical with Nathanael, mentioned in first chapter of John’s gospel. Judas Iscariot is styled by Luke as the traitor; his name is uniformly brought last because he was least respected of the apostles.

5, 6 These twelve Jesus sent forth.—Jesus sent these twelve on a limited commission; he gave them the universal commission after his resurrection. He first told them where they should not go; they were forbidden to go to "the Gentiles" and "any city of the Samaritans." We are not told why they were forbidden to go to the Gentiles and Samaritans. One road led through Samaria, and another went around through Perea. At this time they are limited to Palestine and to Israel. Jesus’ personal ministry was limited in the same way. The Samaritans had a corrupted form of worship and a traditional copy of the law. At the time Jesus was on earth the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans. (John 4:9.)

After telling them where they should not go, Jesus then tells them where they are to go—"to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." "Lost sheep" is a figurative expression that Jesus uses to show the desolate condition of the Israelites; they were like sheep without a shepherd and were wandering from the true fold. They were children of the covenant, yet their leaders had deceived them and they were not disposed to obey the voice of the shepherd. "The house of Israel" simply means the Jews of the covenant, or God’s people. The time for the Gentiles to hear the gospel would come later, but now it belongs only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

7, 8 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.—They were to announce that the kingdom of heaven, the long-looked for Messiah and King, "was at hand." This was a spiritual kingdom, hence it is called the kingdom "of heaven," in contrast to all other kingdoms which were of the earth. Their central theme was the same which John the Baptist had introduced and which’ Jesus had proclaimed. Under his preaching they had enjoyed ample opportunities to learn what this kingdom meant, what it implies; but as we see later they had misconceptions of its nature which they must correct. When they proclaimed the approach of "the kingdom of heaven," they, of course, implied the coming of the Messiah or its King. The kingdom had not appeared at this time; "at hand" simply means that it drew nigh or approached. (Matthew 21:1; Matthew 21:34; Mark 11:1; Luke 15:25.) In their preaching they did not instruct the people, but simply raised an expectancy of it, and in that way prepared the way for instruction which Jesus afterward gave.

They were not only to preach, but they were to "heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons." They were given power to do this. This is the first bestowal of miraculous power on the disciples. Their preaching was to be confirmed by miracles. The four diseases which these miracles removed were sickness, leprosy, death, and demons. They had freely received and they were to give freely; they were to sell no miracles, not to sell the gospel; no bribe could be taken for healing any one. The apostleship, the gospel, and the power were received by them without price and so they are to give without price. This implies that those who were freely blessed would be grateful and would supply such temporary needs of the apostles that would enable them to fill their mission. They were to use freely their great powers without prejudice or favor for the relief of human suffering. This would win the good will of the people, attest their high commission, and would illustrate the blessedness of the gospel of spiritual salvation.

9, 10 Get you no gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses. —They were to lean on divine care during their brief journey. Here their outfit is expressed in negative terms; they were not to take those things which would burden them on their journey; they were to go with their gospel of salvation and their miracle-working powers, and then throw themselves upon the gratitude and hospitality of the people for their bread and their transient home comforts. Gold, silver, and brass were used as money then; brass was used as money in the smaller coins as we now use copper pennies. Their "purse" was in their loose outer robe which was commonly worn by the Jews and gathered at the waist by a sash or girdle; this was drawn close in labor or traveling to keep the garment away from the feet; the hollow part of the robe over the bosom was used as a pocket to carry valuables or money. They were to take "no wallet" or traveling bag or sack large enough to carry food; it was usually made of leather or coarse cloth, and hung over the shoulders. They were not to take "two coats, nor shoes, nor staff." They were not to provide extra shoes or clothing for comforts, but were to be uncumbered; they were to go as swift messengers to arrest attention by their unusual conduct in passing through the country, so unprepared for a journey, and impress on men the truth of the near-approaching kingdom as much by their manner as their words. They were to take only one staff (Mark 6:8); this was to aid them in walking and protect them from common dangers; "for the laborer is worthy of his food." This maxim applies always to the work of the Lord. They being workmen for God to build up the people in spiritual things are justly deserving of a temporal support; it is not best for the people to receive such blessings, and not share in the support of those who bring the blessings to them; such would cultivate ingratitude on the part of the people and they would soon appreciate less the valuable blessings brought to them. The more favors received and blessings bestowed upon any one the more grateful that one should be; God declares it to be the duty of Christians to give liberally to the help of those whom he has sent to minister (Luke 10:7 1 Corinthians 9:7; Galatians 6:6); they are to be treated with due reverence (John 13:20; 1 Thessalonians 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:12).

11-13 And into whatsoever city or village ye shall enter, search out who in it is worthy.—Jesus had now limited their territory and had given them power to work miracles and had told them what to proclaim, and had in a negative way told them how they should be dressed, and now he tells them about their conduct. They were to inquire for some worthy host, that is, some good and pious Jew, a "son of peace," and hospitable. (Luke 7:4.) They were not to change their lodging from pride or luxury, nor to go "from house to house"; they were to maintain the dignity of the servants of God and prophets of God; levity and fickleness detract from the dignity of their message. They were on a swift journey through the country, villages, and cities with an important message and were to make inquiry for those citizens who were "worthy" and were to deliver their message to that house and hasten on. They were to remain in this house until they had delivered their message and then hasten on to another. "And as ye enter into the house, salute it"; they were to say, "Peace be to this house." (Luke 10:5.) It was a Jewish custom, meaning a kindly wish for the prosperity of the family, which is always most surely promoted by peace. If the house be worthy, the blessings should abide upon it; if it were not worthy, their prayers should return to them; the blessings that they had invoked, God would withhold from that house, and give it back to the messengers.

14, 15 And whosoever shall not receive you.—Jesus tells how they were to salute the house that was worthy, and then tells them how they were to treat that house that was unworthy. The underlying principle is that guilt and condemnation are measured by the light sinned against. The Jews considered the dust of a heathen country polluted (Amos 7:17) and shook it off them when entering their own land. "Shake off the dust of your feet" was a testimony against the lack of hospitality and the rejection of Jesus’ messengers and message. By this symbolical act the apostles renounced all intercourse with the obstinate Jews, and absolved themselves from all responsibility connected with their mission.

Jesus himself passes judgment upon the city that rejected his messengers: "It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city." Sodom in her moral darkness could not incur such fearful guilt as those cities at whose doors messengers of Jesus had knocked in vain. Genesis 19:1-28 describes the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah and the miraculous destruction of them; Jude informs us that the destruction of these cities was symbolic of the eternal wrath of God. (Verse 7.) The temporal fire is a visible emblem of the invisible fire never to be quenched. "It shall be more tolerable" is a phrase that Jesus uses to express the fearful condemnation that shall come upon the cities that reject him. "Day of judgment"; this is the first mention that we have of this the New Testament; the Jews believed in the coming of this day, which they called "the day of Jehovah" or the "great day." (Isaiah 13:6; Isaiah 34:8; Zephaniah 1:18; Joel 2:11.) The punishment here mentioned is in the future and has reference to the day of general judgment. The condemnation may imply a persistent rejection of the blessings of the gospel.

16-18 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.—Here Jesus expands his instruction from the view of the present limited mission so as to include the warfare and sufferings of their entire service as apostles. He draws a vivid picture of the perils which they must encounter;they are as innocent, helpless sheep "in the midst of wolves." They are innocent, helpless sheep "in the midst of wolves." They are helpless, unarmed, undefended, to all appearances, and doomed to destruction. Their enemies shall be as eager to destroy them as wolves are to destroy sheep; only by their prudence and innocence will they be kept from such enemies; they are to be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." The serpent by his cunningness has found a place in the east as an example of wisdom and prudence; only the shrewd wisdom and prudence of the serpent are commended here, not its deceitful cunningness. The dove is a symbol of innocence and purity. His disciples are to be as innocent as sheep and as guileless as doves, yet not stupid and silly as those animals. Their prudence must not degenerate into guile, their simplicity must go hand in hand with the serpentine prudence. The serpent is the bodily emblem of Satan, and the dove is the bodily emblem of the Holy Spirit; Jesus’ apostles must be shrewd like Satan, yet pure like the Holy Spirit.

Next, Jesus instructs his apostles about the character of some men; he warns them against such; "for they will deliver you up to councils, and in their synagogues they will scourge you." "Councils" mean the smaller courts in Palestine, yet including the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. Scourging is mentioned as a punishment in the law. (Deuteronomy 25:13.) The victim was laid upon the ground and scourged with a whip of three lashes, so that thirteen blows would inflict thirty-nine stripes. This was the forty save one which Paul received. (2 Corinthians 11:24.) The syngogue was the ordinary place of the Jewish courts of justice. (Mark 13:9; Acts 22:19.) They should be brought before Roman officials such as Pilate, Felix, Festus, Herod, Agrippa, and the Roman emperor; two classes are mentioned here, governors and kings; Paul was brought before both classes as also was Jesus. This would give them the opportunity to testify for Jesus before these Gentile officials. In testifying for Jesus, they testified against those who were persecuting them. To testify in behalf of Jesus before those who are persecuting Jesus is to testify against the persecutors. This intimates that the gospel will be spread to distant lands and to other nations than the Jews.

19, 20 But when they deliver you up, be not anxious how or what ye shall speak.—The apostles would be delivered through treachery and betrayal by their own countrymen to the heathen powers;this would be done suddenly and through treachery; hence they would not have time to prepare their defense, and they need not make any preparation for defense, as it should be given to them "in that hour what ye shall speak." They would use all their natural powers, but were not to depend upon them only as aided and overruled by the Holy Spirit. They were to place themselves in the care of God and depend on divine aid as they were faithfully serving God. Jesus wanted his apostles to know in the outset the worst that would befall them. The Holy Spirit would guide them and aid them to win a way into the hearts of their hearers or defend them against temptations and persecutions which they could not bear. The Holy Spirit would give to them such language as would please God in their defense; they were to rely wholly upon God for his protection; they were to trust him for all things necessary to fill their mission.

21-23 And brother shall deliver up brother to death, and the father his child.—The persecution that should be brought against the apostles would also be waged against the disciples of Jesus; persecutions in which all natural ties should be disregarded were predicted and fulfilled; brother would give information to the magistrate or governor against brother, and father against child, and children against parents. This is a frightful description of persecution, when children shall accuse their parents of being Christians and cause them to be put to death. The hatred of the heathen and their persecutions of Christians have made the early accounts of the church one of the darkest pages in human history. It was soon discovered, first by the Pharisees and afterward by the pagan philosophers and rulers, that Christianity was an entirely new element in human society, and must either be crushed or it would triumph over everything else. Hence, the violence, the hostility to it in the minds of the people, the severe laws and persecutions of it by governors and emperors. The strife between truth and error invaded the sacred retreats of home, and everything which is here foretold by Jesus has repeatedly occurred.

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.—All classes of evil men, Jews, Gentiles, wise and ignorant, rulers and subjects, all have hated Christianity and persecuted those who faithfully lived it. Jesus knew that this would occur; he knew the long and eternal warfare between right and wrong, truth and error, the lovers of God and the lovers of wickedness. Only those who should endure to the end would receive the blessing. The endurance of persecution and the abhorrence of error was neither a fiery fanaticism nor a vain superstition; the early Christians endured this for the sake of Jesus; they suffered for truth, for Christ, and for God. To have once put faith in Christ is not the full condition of salvation; faith and perseverance of faith to the end are the complete conditions. One may renounce the faith as some did in the early days; the Savior once accepted may be afterward rejected;apostasy may forfeit the reward.

But when they persecute you in this city, flee into the next. —The apostles and early Christians were not necessarily cowards; they were obeying the command of Jesus when they fled from persecution. Heroism such as the world admires is not what Jesus required;his disciples who acted from the spirit of opposition, or the love of glory, were very apt to apostatize in time of danger. The true martyr never sought death, never made a display of heroism, and never failed, when reposing faith in Christ, to meekly suffer for his sake. Jesus says that work of bearing witness for him and suffering for him will not have been finished "till the Son of man be come." It is not clear just what is meant by "till the Son of man be come"; it would take place before all the cities of Israel should be evangelized, hence it would mean the coming of Christ to destroy the Jewish nationality. Commentators differ widely in their interpretation of this expression. It has been referred to the judgment day, or second advent of Christ; it may have a primary fulfillment in the limited mission of the apostles and finally an ultimate fulfillment in the second advent of Christ. Some think that it belongs to the destruction of Jerusalem; the most obvious meaning is that with the speediest circuit the disciples would not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man be come, or that he would immediately follow them to those cities.

24, 25 A disciple is not above his teacher.—According to many Jewish proverbs, the pupil of the rabbi was far his inferior; if the master undergo indignity, still deeper insult must a servant accept. So if Jesus must suffer persecution and even death, his disciples may not hope to escape great sufferings. The teaching of Jesus here takes a broader range; the circumstances lead him to contemplate the Christian life as to violent persecution. His disciples should bear bravely and joyfully after Jesus had suffered and died. As they abused the master, the enemy would much more seek to intimidate his followers; "if they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household!" "Beelzebub" is the Greek form of the name "Baalzebub," the Philistine god worshiped at Ekron, and signified "the lord of flies" (2 Kings 1:2); it is claimed that the Jews changed the name into "Beelzeboul," as it is in the Greek New Testament, lord of dung, or of idols, by way of throwing contempt on idolatry; the Jews gave this title to the prince of demons or unclean spirits, as he is the great patron of idolatry. Men have feared names of opprobrium in the mouths of prejudiced persons; such names have the force of condemnation or a curse. We are to fear God and hold to the truth, no matter what harsh names are hurled against us; think of the evil names now in use to impede the truth and persecute the Lord’s people! Christians should gird their minds by this instruction of Jesus and do the right though others may hurl epithets against them;they called Jesus "Beelzebub."

26-28 Fear them not.—The disciples of Jesus are not to fear any of their enemies; they are not to fear any of the enemies of Jesus. There is no place for a coward in his service; there is nothing that is "covered that shall not be revealed." Persecution manifests itself in different forms, and it was beginning now to work in secret against Jesus; the usual policy of evil is to persecute the exponents of that which is good; evil attempts to make good appear bad; the enemy will not punish men as good men, but will attempt to make it appear that they are bad and deserve punishment; this requires that the reputation be blackened by falsehood; hence, Jesus admonishes that his disciples fear not their calumny, for it shall all be revealed or made clear; the truth will surely come to light, and your commission is to reveal truth. All the words and deeds of darkness and violence will be exposed in the light of God’s judgment.

What Jesus taught his disciples privately they were to teach publicly; "and what ye hear in the ear, proclaim upon the housetops." They were not to allow persecution to suppress the word, but they were to carry it forth from privacy to publicity. The pupil of the rabbi held his ear intent to receive the utterance of his master; he is to proclaim to all who will hear that which he learns from his master. We are told that it is still a custom in the East to make public proclamation to the city from a housetop; the public crier ascends the highest roof at hand and lifts up his voice in a long-drawn call. The enemies at their worst could only "kill the body," but could not "kill the soul." The disciples of Jesus were not to fear persecutors, but fear God; the persecutors can only kill the body; they cannot harm the soul. God is able to destroy both body and soul in hell. The destruction which persecutors bring upon the body is of small account when compared with the destruction of the soul; no word can portray the destruction of soul and body in hell. A fear of God’s judgment, as well as reference for his majesty is the proper attitude to take toward God; to suffer meekly whatever persecutions may be brought upon Christians is the proper attitude to take toward the enemies of Christ.

29-33 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?—This is the usual form of a question when an affirmative answer is expected. Sparrows abound in Palestine; they are still sold in the market, and are cheap because of their size and abundance. Luke has five sparrows for two farthings, the price being varied according to the number purchased, or "two pence." (Luke 12:6.) A sparrow is a small, insignificant bird and is used here to show that God takes notice of them; not even the least thing shall escape the observation of God over his people. God knows all of his preachers and provides for their wants. If the hairs of the head are all numbered, how much more does he know all our thoughts, feelings, and wishes. If a sparrow shall not fall without his notice, how can a Christian be persecuted and die without his seeing it? God cares for the sparrows and has numbered the hairs of the head;surely he will not forget his disciples. He who fills immensity with his presence and glory, who built the heavens and holds all the stars in his hand, yet marks every falling sparrow and counts the very hairs of our head will care for his disciples! Are these words very strong? The truth they set forth is yet stronger. If God numbers the hairs of the head, much more does he number the heartthrobs of our pain and measure the nerve twinges of all human suffering; if not a sparrow falls to the earth without him, then never a tear drops from the eye but in his sight; never a hope, dear to our heart, is withered; never a care can burden or a labor can weary us, but it touches the heart of our Father.

Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.—The great number of objects present in no wise forbids a just estimate of their relative worth; the pain of the tiniest sparrow God does not despise, but what can measure the tenderness of sympathy with which he enters into our frailties and griefs and trials? How much comfort and encouragement should the disciples of Jesus gather from these statements!

Based on his tender care for his disciples, Jesus gives encouragement to all "who shall confess me before men." The promise is that Jesus will also confess them before the Father who is in heaven. To confess Jesus is to make him the object of our faith and life; it is to own him as a Savior; it is to honor him in the life; it is to espouse his cause and to face opposition and reproach for his sake. Those who do this he will honor as his friends before the Father. Jesus has just described the persecution and sufferings that one must endure in order to be his disciple; hence to confess him means to be willing to suffer for him and rejoice in the suffering. Those who understand the sufferings and refuse to confess Jesus because of persecution and hardships, he will disown them to the Father. It costs something to uphold the life of Jesus in our lives. To deny Jesus is to disown him as a Master for fear ofman; he will disown them as his disciples in the judgment, unless, like Peter, one repents of the denial. Jesus represents himself here as the great judge of life and death. All who sincerely profess Christ unto the end he will own before the Father; all who deny him for any cause and continue in this attitude toward him to the end he will deny before the Father. The confession of Jesus which is made at the beginning of the Christian life is not directly alluded to here, but may be included in what is said here.

[There is a confession of Christ taught in the New Testament. (Matthew 10:32-33; Luke 12:8.) This referred to the apostles and those already Christians confessing Christ. The apostles and disciples confessed him unto salvation. Those who refused to confess him did it to their condemnation. Some rulers "did not confess it, lest they should be put out of the synagogue." (John 12:42.) Thus confession meant an obedience to him in life. All, in the church and out of it, desiring to be saved must confess him by a life of obedience to him. These did not do it because "they loved the glory that is of men more than the glory that is of God." (Verse 43.) Jesus Christ had witnessed this confession before Pontius Pilate. (1 Timothy 6:13.) This was for faith in Jesus Christ, not a formal question to become a disciple.]

Verses 1-42

Mat 10:1-42

Section VII.
First Commission of the Apostles, Matthew 9:35 to Matthew 10:42

J.W. McGarvey

Occasion of the Commission, Matthew 9:36-38

36. moved with compassion.—The masses of the people in Galilee had now been deeply stirred by the teaching and miracles of Jesus, but they knew not as yet what direction was to be given to this popular movement. Jesus very aptly compares them, in their bewildered state, to a flock of sheep without a shepherd, scattered over the hills, and faint from fright and running. He has compassion on them, and is moved by this to provide for their relief by appointing twelve men who shall assist him in teaching them now, and shall be shepherds to them hereafter. Men are still like sheep—they must have shepherds to lead them.

37. The harvest.—The figure is here changed from that of a flock to that of a harvest. The condition of the people, as represented in the previous comparison, rendered them like an abundant harvest ready to be gathered in for the master’s use. But as Jesus contemplates it, he laments the absence of laborers, as he has lamented the want of a shepherd. Shepherds to gather them into the fold, and laborers to reap an abundant harvest, are two figures to represent the one want of the unhappy people.

38. pray ye.—When any want is realized, the first impulse of a worshiping soul, and rightly so, is to pray. Jesus here teaches us to pray for more laborers to reap the world’s great harvest, and so long as the laborers continue to remain few in proportion to the harvest, the disciples must continue to offer this prayer. Our compassion should be moved, like his, toward a scattered and distracted world. Like him, too, we must not be content with praying, but we must act. Having told his disciples to pray that laborers be sent, he proceeded in the same discourse to command them to go. (Matthew 10:5-7.) It is in vain that we pray God to send laborers unless we go ourselves, or co-operate in finding and sending those whom God makes willing to go.

Names and Endowment of the Twelve, Matthew 10:1-4.

(Mark 3:14-19; Mark 6:7; Luke 6:12-19; Luke 9:1)

1. his twelve disciples.—This does not mean that the twelve were his only disciples; for we learn from Luke (Luke 6:13) that "he called to him his disciples, and of them he chose twelve." They are here called his twelve disciples because of their subsequent conspicuity as the twelve apostles.

he gave them power.—The object of the miraculous powers now bestowed on the apostles, was to enable them to prove the divine authority of their mission, and, in doing so, to prove the divine authority of Jesus, by whom these powers were bestowed.

2. The first.—The term "first" is not used in the sense of preeminent, but it is employed numerically to indicate that here the enumeration of the twelve begins. Peter’s conspicuity is indicated, however, by the fact that his name is numerically the first in all the catalogues of their names, and it was doubtless placed first on account of the preeminence which he subsequently attained. (See Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13; and comp. Matthew 16:19.)

3. Matthew the publican.—Notwithstanding the reproach attached to the name publican, and the long period since Matthew had ceased to be a publican when his narrative was written, he still writes himself, "Matthew the publican." It is probable that the old name still adhered to him in popular speech, and that this led to its perpetuation in his narrative. He does not attach the term fishermen to the names of the first four.

Lebbaeus.—On this name, see note on Mark 3:18.

4. Simon the Canaanite.—The form in which the term Canaanite is spelt, has led many English readers to suppose that Simon was either a descendant of the original Canaanites, or a citizen of the town of Cana; neither of which suppositions is true. The original is the Syro-Chaldaic name of a sect among the Jews, who took into their own hands, without process of law, the punishment of flagrant offenses. They acted the same part in Jewish society that those bands of men sometimes called "Regulators" perform in American society at the present day; and they justified their conduct by the example of Phinehas, who, in the time of general corruption about Baal-peor, executed summary vengeance on Zimri and Cozbi. (See Numbers 25.) Luke translates the name into Greek, and calls this apostle Simon Zelotes, or Simon the Zealot. (Luke 6:15.)

Judas Iscariot.Iscariot designates Judas by his former place of residence It means a man of Kerioth, a town in the tribe of Judah. (Joshua 15:25.)

The Commission Given, Matthew 10:5-8

5. Gentiles... Samaritans.—There are two good reasons why the apostles under this first commission should be prohibited from going among Gentiles or Samaritans, and be restricted to the Jews. In the first place, the Jews alone were prepared for that which was to be preached—the speedy coming of the kingdom of heaven. It was proper that the laborers be sent only into that part of the harvest which was ready for the sickle. Again, the time was limited, and not even the entire land of Israel could be traversed ere the mission would end. (Matthew 10:23.)

6. to the lost sheep.—Jesus still has in mind the simile with which the discourse was introduced (Matthew 9:36), and as the people are like sheep without a shepherd, he sends the twelve as shepherds to hunt up the lost sheep.

7. preach, saying.—Observe, they were not to preach Jesus now, but they were to preach, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand;" thus echoing the words of John and of Jesus.

8. freely.Without price (δωρεν). It applies not to their labor as a whole, for they were to receive wages for this (Matthew 10:10); but to their miracle working. The power to heal the sick, to cleanse lepers, and to cast out demons, might have been made a source of great gain, had the apostles been allowed so to employ it; but this would have robbed the power of its dignity and turned it into an article of merchandise; hence in no age of the world did the true prophets of God accept fees for the exercise of their miraculous powers.

Their Means of Support, Matthew 10:9-10.

(Mark 6:8-9; Luke 9:3)

9, 10. Provide neither.—The prohibition is against procuring the articles mentioned before starting, and at their own expense. They were to thus procure neither money to pay expenses; nor a scrip (provision bag) which would enable them to carry cold provisions; nor two coats, nor two pairs of shoes, so that one might replace the other when worn out; nor were they to carry more than one staff, seeing that a second one which was used only for carrying a pack across the shoulder, would be superfluous. The reason for the prohibition is not that they would have no need for the articles mentioned, but that "the workman is worthy of his meat," and they were to depend on the people for whose benefit they labored, to furnish what they might need. This passage is alluded to by Paul when he says, "The Lord ordained that they who preach the gospel shall live of the gospel." (1 Corinthians 9:14.) The prohibition in the text was removed preparatory to the second commission (Luke 22:35-36), because under it the apostles would go out among the Gentiles, who Bad not learned, like the Jews, to provide for the wants of religious teachers, and they would often be compelled to provide for themselves.

Their Mode of Dealing with the People, Matthew 10:11-15.

(Mark 6:10-11; Luke 9:4-5)

11. who in it is worthy.—That is, worthy to entertain a preacher of the gospel. The house at which a strange preacher lodges, on entering a town or city, has often much to do with his influence and success.

and there abide.—An unnecessary change of one’s lodging-place, while temporarily laboring in a town or city, is attended with many slight disadvantages, as every experienced evangelist can testify, and the Savior exhibited a wise foresight in forbidding it during this hurried mission of the twelve.

12, 13. let your peace return.—The form of salutation on entering a house was, "Peace to this house." The apostles are told to salute each house, and are assured that the peace prayed for shall return to them it the house is not worthy; that is, they shall receive, in this case, the blessing they pronounce on the house.

14. shake off the dust.—According to Mark (Mark 6:11), shaking off the dust from the feet was intended as "a testimony against" those who would not receive the preachers. It testified that they were rejected by Him whose messengers had been rejected by them. It is twice recorded of Paul that he complied with this precept. (Acts 13:51; Acts 18:6.)

15. more tolerable.—It is a fixed principle in the divine government that men shall be judged with reference to their opportunities. Though the sin of these Jews in rejecting the apostles was not of so gross a character as the sins of Sodom and Gomorrha, it was more inexcusable on account of their superior opportunities.

Persecutions Predicted, Matthew 10:16-23

16. as sheep in the midst of wolves.—At this point in the discourse, Jesus passes from the first to the second mission of the apostles; for all of the persecutions enumerated were encountered under the latter. They were to be like sheep in the midst of wolves, because they were to be visited with cruelties, and they were to bear these without resistance. Under these circumstances they were to be as wise as serpents, whose only wisdom is displayed in escaping from danger (comp. note on Matthew 10:23), and as blameless (ἀκραιοι) as doves. Being blameless, they would encounter no merited severity; and, being wise as serpents, they would escape all danger that could be avoided without dereliction of duty.

17. councils... synagogues.—The councils (συνδρια) and synagogues here mentioned were Jewish powers. It seems from this verse that synagogue rulers exercised the power of scourging men for minor offenses. (See also Matthew 23:34; Acts 22:19; Acts 26:11,

18. governors and kings.—These are Gentile powers. This appears both from the fact that even the governors and kings who ruled in Judea were appointees of the Roman government, and from the statement of the text that the apostles were to be brought before these "for a testimony against them and the Gentiles." Paul’s arraignment before such men as Lysias, Felix, Festus, Agrippa, and Nero, was in fulfillment of this prediction, and it resulted in testimony against them because they rejected the gospel which was thus providentially forced upon their attention.

19. take no thought.—Here we have the same word in the Greek, as in Matthew 6:25, and the meaning is the same, "be not anxious". We learn from Mark (Mark 13:11) that they were not, under such circumstances, even to "premeditate;" and the promise, "It shall be given you, in that same hour, what you shall speak," saved them from both premeditation and anxiety.

20. not you that speak.—Of course, the physical act of speaking was theirs, but it was not theirs to determine how or what they should speak (Matthew 10:19). Both the manner and the matter were to be supplied by the Spirit of God. There could not be a more explicit declaration of the complete verbal inspiration of the apostles on such occasions.

21. shall deliver up.—The statement is not that brother shall put brother to death; but that he shall deliver him up to death; that is, deliver him up to those who would put him to death. This was done by giving testimony, and acting the part of an informer.

22. hated of all men.—The apostles always had some friends; hence we are to understand that the term all here is used hyperbolically.

to the end.—To the end of life: for it is persecution unto death (Matthew 10:21) that is to be endured.

23. flee ye into another.—This is a specification under the more general precept, "Be ye wise as serpents (Matthew 10:16); and the special reason for fleeing so promptly from a city where they were persecuted, is, "Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man be come." What coming of the Son of man is meant, has been a matter of dispute. But it is a coming which was to take place before all the cities of Israel should be evangelized, and hence the reference must be, we think, to the providential coming to destroy the Jewish nationality. The apostles were to make no delay, even under their first commission, in cities that would not receive them, and were to promptly flee when, under the second commission, they should be violently persecuted; because by their labors under both combined they would not evangelize all the Jewish cities before the time set for their desolation.

Motives to Endurance, Matthew 10:24-33

24, 25. enough for the disciple.—The argument here is, that the disciple should expect exemption from no hardship endured by his teacher (master here means teacher), nor the servant from any endured by his lord. As Jesus, then, was to suffer, his disciples and servants must not expect to fare better than he, but it is enough for them to escape with no more than he suffered. When a disciple suffers and feels like complaining of his hard lot, let him think, Who am I, to complain of suffering, when my Lord and Master suffered so much more than this for me!

26, 27. that shall not be revealed.—Here is another motive to endurance. Disciples often suffer from injustice that is so covered up from the eyes of the world as to appear like justice, and there is nothing more disheartening than this. But Jesus assures them that no hidden or covered up iniquity shall escape exposure, and urges that no truth shall be allowed to remain in obscurity through fear of danger in proclaiming it: hence they are to preach "on the housetops" all that they hear from him, even what he had whispered in their ears.

28. fear not them who kill.—The fear of men who would kill them, as previously predicted, was calculated to deter the apostles from the mission on which they were about to be sent. Should they yield to this fear they are reminded that they must, as an alternative, encounter "Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Let the danger, then, of going be as great as it might be, the danger of refusing to go, or of turning back, is still greater. As a mere choice of evils, the most cruel persecution is to be patiently endured in preference to neglect of duty to God.

destroy.—Materialists are wont to catch at the word destroy in this place, as proof that the soul can be annihilated. But in doing so they ascribe to the term destroy a sense which it does not bear, and they overlook the fact that this passage utterly refutes the doctrine that the soul dies with the body. Jesus Bays, "Fear not them who kill the body, but can not kill the soul;" but if the soul dies with the body, then he who kills the body kills the soul too, and can not avoid killing it. To destroy, is not to annihilate, but to bring to ruin; and the soul and body are brought to ruin when they are cast into hell.

in hell.—As the body and soul both are to be destroyed in hell, hell (γεννα) can not belong to the intermediate state, but to that state which follows the reunion of body and soul at the resurrection. Hell, then, lies beyond the final judgment.

29-31. ye are of more value.—Another motive to endurance—the tender protection which God extends to those who endure. If a sparrow, of so little value that two of them are sold for a farthing (ἀσσαριον = 1½ cts), does not fall without your Father, and if all the hairs of your head are numbered, why should you, who are of more value than many sparrows, be afraid to serve God rather than man? Here is an incidental affirmation of special providence in its most minute manifestations, and an assurance that even if we fall by the hand of man, God is with us in the fall, and this makes it a blessing instead of a calamity.

32, 33. shall confess... shall deny.—Here is the fifth and last motive to endurance. The time was coming when the disciples would often be questioned concerning their faith, and when life or death would depend on the answer. They are encouraged to confess Jesus on these and all occasions, by the assurance that if they do so he will confess them before the Father in heaven, and that if they deny him he will deny them. The confession before the Father in heaven is doubtless an approving recognition of the person as a faithful disciple, and the denying is the reverse of this. A denial like Peter’s, followed by immediate repentance, is not here included. The confession of Jesus which is made at the beginning of the Christian life is not directly alluded to, but what is true of this is true of the later confessions more especially the subject of remark, seeing that there is the same temptation to be overcome, and often the same danger to be encountered.

Persecutions Intended as a Test, Matthew 10:34-39

34. not to send peace.—In one sense Jesus came to send peace—peace among those who would receive him, and between them and God. So sang the angels at the time of his birth. (Luke 2:14.) But between his friends and those who would persist in being his foes, he came to send not peace, but a sword. He knew that the existence and activities of the Church would cause the sword of persecution to be drawn, and in ordering the establishment of the Church he assumed the responsibility of indirectly sending that sword into the world.

35, 38. at variance against his father.—In nearly all quarrels, except those about religion, the members of the same family stand together, but in religious feuds the family circle is often broken, and its parts arrayed against each other. When a man abandons the religion of his ancestors his own kindred feel more keenly than others the shame which the world attaches to the act, and are exasperated against the supposed apostate in a degree proportionate to their nearness to him. Jesus came to set a man thus at variance with his kindred, because this evil is unavoidable in saving some.

37. He that loveth father.—In this verse is clearly indicated the providential purpose of these family alienations: they would put the disciple to the test by showing whether he loves earthly relatives more than he loves Jesus, and whether, therefore, he is worthy of Jesus.

38. taketh not his cross.—The cross, on account of its use in the execution of the basest criminals, was a symbol of dishonor. The dishonor attached to being a disciple of Jesus is here graphically symbolized by taking a cross on one’s shoulder and following Jesus. Perhaps there is also, as Alford suggests, an allusion to his death on the cross—an allusion which, at the time, must have escaped the notice of his disciples, because it preceded all of his predictions on that subject.

39. findeth his life shall lose it.—Here is a play on the word life, which is used alternately for temporal life and eternal life. He that finds it is he who saves his present life by shrinking from duty: he shall lose the eternal life. He who loses the present life for the sake of Jesus, finds life eternal.

Kind Treatment of Disciples to be Rewarded,

Matthew 10:40-42

40. He that receiveth.—By a very natural transition Jesus now passes from the persecutions awaiting his disciples to the kind treatment which they would receive from the hands of others, and he encourages such treatment by the assurance that he will accept it as if extended to himself.

41, 42. in the name.—"In the name of a prophet" is a Hebraism for "because he is a prophet." (Alford.) He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet, or a righteous man because he is a righteous man, or who gives a drink of water to a disciple because he is a disciple, distinctly recognizes the person’s relation to God as the ground of the act; and to that extent God is honored by the act. Not so, however, with him who performs a similar act in the name of humanity, or because the recipient is a man.

a prophet’s reward.—A prophet’s reward is not synonymous with final salvation; for while it is true that in heaven we will have full reward for all the good we do on earth, we will have infinitely more than this, and our admission into heaven is a matter of grace, and not of reward. So, then, the promise of the text does not imply the salvation of all that receive a prophet, etc., but simply that he shall be rewarded. If he be a pardoned man, he may receive his reward in heaven; if not, he will receive it only on earth.

Argument of Section 7

In this section, Matthew has exhibited the compassion of Jesus as the moving cause which led to the first mission of the twelve; he has furnished the names and stated the miraculous endowments of the twelve; and he has shown the foreknowledge of Jesus by his predictions concerning the disciples, and his honesty by his fair dealing with them in reference to their own future. In this last particular, there is a contrast between Jesus and the originators of earthly enterprises, whether secular or religious. It is the custom of the latter to paint in glowing colors the brighter prospects of the causes they plead, and to conceal from both themselves and others the darker side of the picture. But Jesus presents faithfully before his disciples all of the hardships and sufferings which await them, not omitting death itself—and death, it may be, on the cross. The foreknowledge displayed is proof of his divinity, while the compassion and the candor which accompany it are such as we would expect in the Son of God.

It is worthy of note, as indicating Matthew’s peculiar method as a historian, that he closes this section on the first mission of the twelve with oat a word about the labors of the apostles under this commission. Mark mentions the latter subject, though but briefly. (Mark 6:12-13.)

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve - Matthew 10:1-42

Open It

1. How might a parent feel sending his or her child off to school for the first time?

2. What activity or responsibility absolutely terrifies you?

3. Why do you think certain people are antagonistic to the gospel?

Explore It

4. What kind of authority did Jesus give His twelve disciples? (Matthew 10:1)

5. What were the names of the twelve men with Jesus? (Matthew 10:2-4)

6. To what audience did Jesus command these men to go? (Matthew 10:5-6)

7. What last-minute ministry instructions did Jesus give His disciples? (Matthew 10:7-10)

8. What sort of accommodations were the disciples to seek in their travels? (Matthew 10:11-13)

9. How were the disciples supposed to respond to those who rejected them? (Matthew 10:14-15)

10. To what kind of animal did Jesus compare His disciples? (Matthew 10:16)

11. What warnings of danger or hardship did Christ give His disciples? (Matthew 10:17-23)

12. Why did Jesus predict trouble for the disciples? (Matthew 10:24-25)

13. What kinds of things did Jesus say to bolster His disciples’ courage? (Matthew 10:26-31)

14. Why did Christ tell His disciples that it was important for them to take a stand for Him? (Matthew 10:32-33)

15. What surprising comments did Jesus make about the goal of His ministry? (Matthew 10:34-36)

16. What radical requirements did Christ make of those who would follow Him? (Matthew 10:37-38)

17. What did Jesus promise those who obeyed Him fully? (Matthew 10:39-42)

Get It

18. Where specifically do you think Jesus wants you to minister?

19. What things act as security blankets in your life and keep you from stepping out in faith?

20. How can you be shrewd and innocent in your dealings with non-Christians?

21. How do you react when someone makes jokes about your faith or when people treat you harshly?

22. How has Jesus created division in your family?

23. In what ways have you been putting human relationships before your relationship with Christ?

24. What do you think it means to lose your life for Christ’s sake?

Apply It

25. In what specific situations do you need to rely more on the Holy Spirit to give you the right words to say?

26. What promises from this chapter can you meditate on this week to make you a more effective minister for Christ?

27. What are three or four concrete ways you can be more bold in standing up for Christ this week?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Matthew 10". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/matthew-10.html.
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