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For introductory notes to this chapter, see Matthew 9:35.
Parallel passages: Mark 6:7; Luke 9:1. The prayer (Matthew 9:38) is answered in the persons of those who were taught to pray. Christ establishes his new agency. And when he had called unto him. From the circle of the bystanders. His twelve disciples. Who had already been chosen to be specially with him (cf. Matthew 9:35, note; and Matthew 5:1). Twelve. To be heads of the tribes of the new Israel (Revelation 21:14; cf. James 1:1; Matthew 19:28). Observe that the office of the tribes of the covenant nation corresponded to the symbolism of the number 12 (3, Deity, x 4, world = Church). He gave them power; authority (Revised Version); ἐξουσίαν: the greater including the less. So Mark, but Luke expands to δύναμιν καὶ ἐξουσίαν. Against; over (Revised Version); simple genitive. Unclean spirits (Matthew 4:24. note). Unclean. As belonging to the unholy, non-theocratic kingdom, the realm of darkness. "Hence also unclean animals (Matthew 8:31, sqq.; Revelation 18:2) and places (Matthew 12:43, sqq.) have a kind of natural relationship with such spirits" (Kubel). To cast them out. Their authority was to ex-send to this. And to heal. Probably connected, not with ὥστε, but with ἐξουσίαν (cf. Luke). Observe that nothing is said of their receiving authority to convert. This God himself keeps. But they can remove all hindrances other than those purely subjective and spiritual, whether the objective hindrances be intruding evil spirits affecting body and mind or only bodily diseases. All manner, etc. (Matthew 9:35, note).
THE NAMES OF THE AGENTS. Parallel passages: Mark 3:14-19; Luke 6:13-16 (cf. Acts 1:13). This Commentary upon St. Luke deals so fully both with the list as a whole and with the separate names that it will not be necessary to say much here. Observe that the general agreement in arrangement points to some common basis underlying all four accounts; also that of these the one found in the Acts is the briefest, giving little more than the bare names; and that that found in our Gospel, on the contrary, is the fullest, containing, with two exceptions (vide infra), the details mentioned in one or other of the parallels, and adding two of its own. It mentions, in one instance or more, the parentage (Zebedee, Alphaeus), the relationship ("his brother … his brother"), the birthplace (Kerioth), the earlier occupation and religious standpoint ("publican … Zealot"), and, with a bare hint at the beginning (vide infra), but a clear statement at the end, the after-history ("first... who also betrayed him") of the apostles. The two omissions are the fact that our Lord added the names of Peter (parallels, but really given earlier, John 1:42) and Boanerges (Mark).
Now the names, In the parallels part of the word "names" is found as a verb, "whom also he named apostles;" i.e. the naming there refers, not to the individuals, but to their office. Is the form found in our Gospel an "accidental" rearrangement due to a reminiscence that the word "name" occurred in the earliest source, or is it possible that the two facts are connected, and that the individuals received a new name when they definitely entered on a new office? That they should have received a new name seems a priori not improbable, but the evidence is very slight. "Peter" is a clear case, for though the name was given earlier, it would receive a new application now, and perhaps was now again expressly given (cf. parallel passages); and other cases may be St. Matthew and possibly St. Bartholomew and St. Thaddaeus. Mark expressly says that the term "Boanerges" was given to the sons of Zebedee; but as there is no evidence that either St. James or St. John was afterwards known by this name, it need not have been a name in the same sense in which the others were. Observe the formal order of the first words of this verse (τῶν δὲ δώδεκα ἀποστόλων τὰ ὀνόματα ἐστιν ταῦτα). Did the author of the Gospel take them from the heading of a section that already contained the names in order? If so the δέ would probably not have existed there, and it is worth noting that the original hand of D, the manuscript that is of special value for Palestinian tradition, omits it. Of the twelve (verse 1, note) apostles (verse 5, note) are these: The first. This, perhaps, refers to the order of call, Luke 5:1 (Nosgen), but more probably to the leading position that St. Peter held among the twelve. On this leadership, cf. the fragmentary excursus by Bishop Lightfoot, printed in 'Clement of Rome,' 2. 487. Simon. His Hebrew name was Simeon, but his Gentile name (Matthew 3:1, note) was Simon, this good Greek name being chosen as almost identical in sound. It occurs frequently in the Palestinian Talmud (נומיס). Who is called Peter. In common Christian parlance (Matthew 4:18; cf. Matthew 16:18).
Bartholomew. Nathanael (John 1:45, equivalent to Theodore) was so common a name (cf. Numbers 1:8; 1Ch 2:14; 1 Chronicles 15:24; 1 Chronicles 26:4; 2Ch 17:7; 2 Chronicles 35:9; Ezra 10:22; Nehemiah 12:21, Nehemiah 12:36), that for further identification a patronymic ("son of Tolmai," Ptolemy) was used, which in this case, superseded the proper name. Thomas. "As Thomas (Δίδυμος), ' the Twin,' is properly a surname, and this apostle must have had some other name, there seems no reason for doubting this very early tradition [Eusebius, 'Hist. Eccl.,' Ecclesiastes 1:13, and probably the Old Syriac of John 14:22, et al.] that he also was a Jude". The ' Clem. Hem.,' 2.1, give Eliezer as the name of the other brother. Matthew the publican, James the son of Alphseus. And Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; and Thaddaeus (Revised Version); as also Mark, while Luke and Acts 1:13 read "Jude [the brother, Authorized Version, but better the son, Revised Version] of James," which was doubtless his proper name. If the word "Thaddaeus" (יאדּתּ) was as seems likely (for Edersheim's connexion of it with todah, "praise," is based on what is apparently a mere play of words in Talm. Bob., 'Sanh.,' 43a), originally a pet-name (Sehosskind, "Bosom-child," Weiss, Nosgen) from ידֵּתַּ, "the female breasts," it is intelligible that he or others would prefer the somewhat synonymous "Lebbseus" (בלֵ, "heart"), which might mean "child of one's heart," but more probably "courageous," found in the "Western" text. The similarity of sound would help towards this, even if another derivation that seems possible, "the Fiery" (from הבָּלִ, "kindle"), be the true one. In the latter case the appellation, "Jude the Zealot" (Old Latin), may rest on something more than a mistaken interpretation of the parallel passage in Luke. In Westcott and Herr, 'App.,' it is said that "this name [Lebbaeus] is apparently due to an early attempt to bring Levi (Δευείς) the publican (Luke 5:27) within the Twelve, it being assumed that his call was to apostleship just as in Mark 2:14 Δευείς is changed in Western texts to Ἰάκωβος, because τὸν τοῦ Ἁλφαίου follows, and it was assumed that the son of Halphseus elsewhere named as one of the Twelve must be meant. The difference between the two forms of the name would be inconsiderable in Aramaic, Lewi and Levi or Lebi or Lebbi; and Βεββαῖος might as easily represent Lebbi as Θαδδαῖος Thaddi."
Simon the Canaanite. Simon the Cananaean (Revised Version); ὁΚαναναῖος representing Kann'an or Kan-'an (נאנק), the Aramaic for "Zealot" (parallel passage in Luke; Acts 1:13), the name given to members of the extreme nationalist party founded about a.d. 7 by Judas of Gamala, a city that appears to have lain near the east coast of the sea of Galilee (vide Schurer, 1. 2.225). And Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him; delivered him up, which seems more in accordance with παραδίδωμι, for, unlike "betray," and usually πμοδίδωμι, this does not in itself connote treachery.
Parallel passages: Mark 6:7, Mark 6:8; Luke 9:2. These twelve Jesus sent forth; ἀπέστειλεν (cf. John 17:18). Till now they had formed an inner circle of μαθηταί (Matthew 9:35, note), but now they begin their work of carrying Christ's message to others. "Ἀποστέλλω corresponds with the idea of our own words 'despatch' and ' envoy,' and conveys the accessory notions of a special commission, and so far of a delegated authority in the person sent" (Bishop Westcott, on John 20:21, Add. Note). Bengel suggests (on Luke 9:1) that the twelve were not all absent at once, but were sent out in relays; but Mark 6:30 is against this opinion (cf. also Luke 22:35). On the New Testament conception of the name and office of an apostle, cf. Bishop Lightfoot's classical note in 'Galatians'. And commanded them, saying; charged them (Revised Version). Important as the charge is, its necessary subordination to the fact that they were sent is expressed by the very form of the sentence (ἀπέστειλεν … (παραγγείλας).
CHRIST'S COMMISSION TO HIS AGENTS. The connexion and development of thought in this important charge is exceedingly difficult to perceive, and has been understood in many ways. Perhaps that most generally accepted in this country is Alford's, according to which the charge is divided into three sections—the first (Matthew 10:5-15) referring to the mission to the cities of Israel; the second (Matthew 10:16-23) to the general mission of the apostles as developing itself, after the Lord should be taken from them, in preaching to Jews and Gentiles, ending with the close of the apostolic period in the narrower sense (Matthew 10:23 referring primarily to the destruction of Jerusalem); the third (Matthew 10:24-42) spoken directly of all the disciples of the Lord, concluding with the last great reward.
But this threefold historical arrangement seems to be little more than fanciful, the basis of truth Underlying it probably being that the charge in its present form is due to the writer of the Gospel (nor to our Lord directly), who desired not only to record what our Lord said at the time of this mission, but also to incorporate other sayings of his that bore upon similar work, and thus to give such a summary of our Lord's utterances as would be of special use to preachers of the gospel, irrespective of place or time.
Observe that ch. 5-7, referred to believers in their private capacity—laying stress on the relation that they were to hold to the religion of the day—while this chapter refers to them as representing Christ to the world. The original basis of the commission was addressed to men called to give their whole time to this work, but as the chapter stands it applies to all believers in their capacity of witnesses for Christ. The ministerial function of preaching committed to men selected for it is only an accentuation of one of the duties expected from all Christ's followers.
The development of thought in the chapter appears to be as follows:—
1. The external conditions of conveying Christ's message, with special reference to the immediate occasion (Matthew 7:5-15).
2. The internal conditions (Mat 7:16 -39).
(1) Matthew 7:16-23 : Though surrounded by enemies, you must conduct yourselves with calmness (Matthew 7:19); with endurance (Matthew 7:22); with wisdom (Matthew 7:23).
(2) Mat 7:24 -33: Remembering that fellowship with me in suffering is essential to fellowship with me in glory.
(3) Verses 34-39: Such fellowship with me will cost separation from the dearest on earth, yet its reward is great.
3. Final encouragement (verses 40-42).
The external conditions of conveying Christ's message, with special reference to the immediate occasion. Our Lord points out
(a) the sphere of their work (Matthew 10:5, Matthew 10:6);
(b) the substance of their message (Matthew 10:7);
(c) its accompanying signs (Matthew 10:8);
(d) the external means and methods that they should employ (Matthew 10:9-15).
Matthew only. The sphere of their work. The reasons for the limitation here expressly enforced are:
(1) That it was only right that the proclamation of the coming of Messiah should be thoroughly made to the Jews first. Had they accepted it, they would have become the great factors in the evangelization of the Gentiles (cf. Romans 11:12, Romans 11:15); as they rejected it, it was necessary that the offer should, apart from them, be made to others (Acts 28:28).
(2) The apostles were as yet in no fit state spiritually to carry the message beyond their own nation, and the facts which they were in a position to proclaim might, when proclaimed alone, have proved a stumbling-block to the after-acceptance by Gentiles and Samaritaus of a fuller and therefore truer message (cf. Matthew 28:18, sqq.; Acts 1:8). Therefore they are now bid perform their present duty without turning away from it, and, as we may add, will-out anticipating their entrance upon a wider sphere. Saying, Go not. This would be outside your course (ἀπέλθητε). In the Greek, however, the following words receive the emphasis. Into the (any, Revised Version) way of the Gentiles (εἰς ὁδὸν ἐθνῶν).
(1) These words are generally understood to mean "into any road that would lead to Gentile lands or districts." So Tyndale, "Go not into the wayes that leade to the gentyls." (For this genitive of direction, cf. Matthew 4:15; Jeremiah 2:18, and perhaps, Judith 5:14.)
(2) Weiss, 'Matthaus-ev.,' takes them as equivalent to "into any street in a heathen land," making the genitives, ἐθνῶν and Σαμαρειτῶν, both possessive. There are serious objections to these two interpretations; to the first, that the genitives are then used in different senses; to the second, that it suggests something altogether outside the Israelitish border.
(3) Is not a third interpretation possible—to consider flint our Lord had in his mind the parts of towns, otherwise Jewish, which were inhabited by heathen, just as, in the days of Omri and Ahab, such parts were assigned to Syrians in Samaria, and to Israelites in Damascus, or in modern times to Jews in Christian towns? We have not, indeed, direct evidence of Gentiles, during the time of our Lord, thus living in separate streets, but with the Jewish aversion to even letting them houses and to having more to do with them than possible (cf. Schurer, II. 1:51-56), it would seem probable that, without any formal arrangement being made, the result would be separation of this kind. It is true that ὁδός is not used elsewhere in this sense in the New Testament, but a comparison of passages in the LXX. seems to justify our so interpreting it. For תוֹצוּח, in 1 Kings 20:34, means such streets, and the LXX. for this is ἐξόδους (ἔξοδον, Luke), yet תוֹצוּח, in the sense of "streets," is often elsewhere rendered by ὁδοί (Jeremiah 5:1; Jeremiah 7:17; Ezekiel 11:6; Nahum 2:4; Nahum 3:10). Compare especially 2 Samuel 1:20, "in the streets of Ascalon," where, for the common text, ἐν ταῖς ἐξόδοις Ασκάλωνος, Lucian's reads, ἐν ταῖς ὁδοῖς Ἀσκάλωνος. The expression thus means—Go not off into any quarter inhabited by Gentiles, and (both in complete parallelism and with perfect accuracy, for Samaritans dwelt alone) into any city of Samaritans enter ye not. And into any city. In the Greek both clauses are in the same order, the verb coming last. It will be noticed that the Revised Version has transposed both for the sake of uniformity. Of the Samaritans. By descent, a mixed race, from the intermingling of the remnants of the Israelitish population more especially with the heathen colonists introduced by the Assyrians (2 Kings 17:24, sqq.); by religion, so far Israelite as to have accepted the Pentateuch, and to have maintained the observance of circumcision, the sabbath, and the annual festivals. Both sides of their connexion with Israel seem to have contributed to their being placed by the Mishna between Jews and Gentiles (cf. further, Schurer, II. 1.5, sqq.). Enter ye not. A slight turning away would sometimes bring them to Gentile quarters; but into a Samaritan town they would have definitely and purposely to enter. Observe that our Lord himself so far extended his own practice as not to refuse to take the opportunity of preaching to a Samaritan woman when it presented itself, and further followed up the work thus begun by continuing two days in her village (John 4:40). But the nature of the exception proves the rule.
But go. On your daily journeying (πορέεσθε, present). Rather. With conscious preference. To the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Thus also he describes his own mission (Matthew 15:24). The words recall Jeremiah 50:6 (Jeremiah 27:6, LXX.), "My people hath been lost sheep." Observe that our Lord implies a special relation of Israel to God (for the house has its owner) which was lacking in the case of all other nations. Yet, their proper teachers having proved faithless, they were now as shepherdless as these (Matthew 9:36). Lost. Notice here the basis of the parable related in Luke 15:4-7; cf. Matthew 18:12, Matthew 18:13 (Matthew 18:11 of the Received Text is a gloss), where the term "wandering" is not so strong (Bengel).
Parallel passages: Luke 9:2 (the twelve); Luke 10:9 (the seventy; observe that the substance of the proclamation was to be the same). And as ye go. For your journey is not to one place, but many. Preach. Aloud and publicly. Saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. That which men had so long been desiring (vide Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17) was now near. But had it not come (Matthew 12:28; Matthew 11:12)? Not in full realization. But its near realization was then a possibility, and was only not brought about because, as a nation, they rejected him who introduced it.
We have here the details of the orders summarized in Matthew 10:1. The details are not given in Luke 9:1, Luke 9:2 or Luke 10:9. Heal the sick, etc. According to the true order of these commands, solely physical ills are mentioned first in their partial (sick) and in their final effect (dead); then physical and ceremonial pollution (lepers), which forms a transition to the mention of ills primarily spiritual, even though they ultimately affect the body (devils). On the good that might be expected from their performing these miracles, cf. Thomas Scott (in Ford), "Men will never believe that we really intend the good of their souls, if they do not find that we endeavour to do them good, disinterestedly, in temporal things (John 4:15)." Freely (vide infra) ye have (omit "have," with Revised Version) received. Blessings of the kingdom, but especially authority and power for this work (Luke 10:1). Freely give. All that is needed to carry that authority into effect—whatever toil and energy in soul and body the occasion may demand. The clause comes in Matthew only, but comp. Acts 20:35. Observe, Christ's recognition of the tendency of human nature to traffic in the holiest things. Did Judas take the warning at all to heart? (For the thought, cf. Wis. 7:13; Leviticus 25:37, Leviticus 25:38.) Freely. Gratuitously (δωρεάν); comp. Revelation 21:6; Revelation 22:17; Romans 3:24 (on God's side); 2 Corinthians 11:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:8 (on man's side).
Matthew 10:9, Matthew 10:10
Parallel passages: Mark 6:8; Luke 9:3 (the twelve); Luke 10:4 (the seventy); cf. also our Lord's reference in Luke 22:35 to the mission of the twelve. Provide; get you. There is no connotation of foresight in the word itself, but only of acquisition. Observe that the apostles are not forbidden to take what they already have. Lightfoot, 'Hor. Hebr.,'shows that travellers ordinarily took with them a staff, a purse, shoes, a wallet, and sometimes a book of the Law. Neither gold, nor silver, nor brass. The brass would be the copper coinage of the Herods, which alone might be struck by them; or some of the Greek imperial coins, especially those struck at Antioch. The silver, either Greek imperial tetradrachms or Roman denarii of a quarter their weight, didrachms having fallen into disuse; only certain free cities were allowed to coin silver. The gold, as Palestine was a subject province, must have been coined at Rome, for she retained the coining of gold entirely in her own hands. In your purses; literally, girdles, which in the East often serve as purses. This prohibition may have been suggested by the last words of verse 8, but can hardly refer to them. It seems to regard the journey only (cf. parallel passages). Nor scrip; no wallet (Revised Version). At the present time, "all shepherds have them, and they are the farmer's universal vade-mecum. They are merely the skins of kids stripped off whole, and tanned by a very simple process". But they might be made even of fish-skin (Mishna, 'Kelim,' 24.11). Because of 1 Samuel 17:40, an haggada says that David's money was stamped with a staff and wallet on one side, and a tower on the other ('B'resh..R.,' § 39, in Levy, s.v. לימרת). For your journey. The clause is to be joined with "scrip" only. Neither two coats. A second for sabbaths and festivals. For the rabbinic rule insisted upon a different coat for these days from that ordinarily worn. To the objection of poor disciples, that they had but one garment for sabbath and week-day alike, R. Samlai said that they must at least change the way in which they wore it. Neither shoes. The parallel passage, Mark 6:9, has. "but to go shod with sandals" (Revised Version). This is, perhaps, a case of verbal inaccuracy, but as it is impossible to suppose that our Lord can have wished his disciples to go without the ordinary protection to the feet, or that the author of this Gospel, accustomed, on any theory, to Eastern modes of life, can have intended to credit him with such a wish, some other explanation of the verbal discrepancy must be looked for. The true explanation is probably this—The rabbis insisted so strongly on a man never appearing barefooted: "Let a man sell the beams of his house and buy shoes for his feet", that it is very possible that a second pair was often carried in ease of need. it is this that our Lord forbids. On the other hand, Jews did not carry one pair for sabbath and another for week-days (Talm. Jeremiah, 'Sabb.,' 6.2). Some commentators escape the difficulty by distinguishing between "shoes" and "sandals;" but it is very doubtful if the usage of the words is always so exact that one term excludes the other. Nor yet staves; nor staff (Revised Version). The plural, both here (Stephen) and in Luke 9:3 (Received Text), is a clumsy attempt to harmonize with Mark 6:1-56.Mark 6:8, where our Lord bids the twelve take nothing "save a staff only." The difference between the two reports of our Lord's words has been magnified by many commentators into a contradiction. But this is not the true state of the case. For it would be so extraordinary and apparently so useless an order to forbid their having a staff, that it is hard to suppose this to have been the meaning of his words as reported here. His thought in Mark 6:9, Mark 6:10 is rather that they were to make no preparation, for their wants should be supplied, and that even if they had not a staff they were not to take the trouble to procure one. St. Mark's account only so far differs that he assumes that they will st least have a staff already. Observe, however, that no stress can be placed on the difference of the verbs here and in Mark, for in this respect Mark and Luke agree.
For the workman; labourer (Revised Version); thus connecting the utterance closely with Matthew 9:37, Matthew 9:38. Is worthy of his meat. The disciples may therefore expect that it will be provided for them by those to whom they minister (Luke 10:7, of the seventy), and indirectly by the Master whom they serve (Matthew 9:38). Meat; food (Revised Version). In all but most highly organized systems of society, this is an important (frequently the most important) part of the day labourer's wages. Hence not unnaturally "wages" is found in the form of the sayings given by St. Luke (Luke 10:7) and St. Paul (1 Timothy 5:18). Probably our Lord's words became a current proverb in Christian circles, the original word "food" being modified to suit the more general circumstances of life. Clem. Romans, § 31, recalls the Matthaean form, "The good workman receiveth the bread of his work with boldness.'' Epiphanius gives a kind of confla-tion, containing the further thought that if the workman receives his food he must be content: "The workman is worthy of his hire, and sufficient to him that works is his food." Resch connects this form of the saying with the practice of giving only food to the travelling "apostles" and prophets of the sub-apostolic age ('Did.,' § 11.). Professor Marshall (Expositor, IV. 2.76) suggests that if our Lord's original word was הדָיץֵ, it would explain the origin of both Matthew and Luke; but it seems very doubtful it' it really ever means "wages.'' Two patristic remarks are worth quoting: the first from Origen ('Cram. Cat.'), "In saying τροφήν, ('food') he forbade τρυφήν ('luxury');" the second from St. Gregory the Great (in Ford), "Priests ought to consider how criminal and punishable a thing it is to receive the fruit of labour, without labour."
Parallel passages: Mark 6:10; Luke 9:4 (the twelve); Luke 10:5-8 (the seventy). Matthew alone mentions the command to inquire who is worthy. And into whatsoever city or town; village (Revised Version); cf. Matthew 9:35, note. Ye shall enter, inquire; search out (Revised Version). Much more is implied than merely asking some chance passer-by (cf. Matthew 2:8). Who in it is worthy; i.e. equivalent by moral rate (ἄξιος)—in this case to the privilege of your lodging with him; elsewhere to the offer of peace (Matthew 9:13), to the favour of an invitation (Matthew 22:8), to walking with Christ clothed in white (Rev 3:1-22 :47, to punishment (Revelation 16:6). And there abide till ye go thence; go forth (Revised Version); i.e. finally (Revelation 3:14). The object of this command, which was reckoned so important as to be recorded in all three parallel passages (vide supra), is to prevent; partly favouritism and rivalry, partly waste of time. For "when a stranger arrives in a village or an encampment, the neighbours, one after another, must invite him to eat with them. There is a strict etiquette about it, involving much ostentation and hypocrisy; and a failure in the due observance of this system of hospitality is violently resented, and often leads to alienations and feuds among neighbours. It also consumes much time, causes unusual distraction of mind, leads to levity, and every way counteracts the success of a spiritual mission"; cf. St. Luke's "Go not from house to house" (Luke 10:7). It is, on the other hand, quite unnecessary to see here, with Meyer and Weiss, a prohibition to go to the synagogues or indeed to anywhere else where they could gain a hearing during their stay. Our Lord is referring only to lodging and food (Luke 10:7).
Matthew 10:12, Matthew 10:13
Parallel passage: Luke 10:5, Luke 10:6 (the seventy). Your very entrance is to be an occasion of imparting spiritual blessing if the house be receptive of it.
And when ye come; and as ye enter (Revised Version), synchronous with the moment of your entrance (cf. Luke 17:12). Into an house; the house (Revised Version); i.e. of him who is worthy. Salute it. With the usual greeting of "Peace" (Judges 18:15; 1 Samuel 25:5, 1 Samuel 25:6). Observe that Christ practised what he preached (John 20:19 [Luke 24:3]).
And if the house. Not the householder alone (Matthew 10:11), but he and his family as a whole. Be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. It is tempting to see in these words a promise that your activity shall at least issue in increased blessing on yourselves, but it can hardly be pressed so far. It rather means that failure to impart blessing shall not bring spiritual loss to yourselves. "The dove returned to the ark again when it found the earth under water" (cf. Gurnall, in Ford).
Matthew 10:14, Matthew 10:15
If rejected, bear your solemn witness to the fact, for to reject you brings awful consequences.
Parallel passages: Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5 (the twelve); Luke 10:10, Luke 10:11 (the seventy). And whosoever shall not receive you—on your formal request as heralds of the kingdom—nor hear your words (Matthew 7:24, note), when (as, Revised Version, Luke 10:12, note) ye depart (go forth, Revised Version) out of. At the moment of going out (cf. Luke 10:12), ἐξερχόμενοι ἔξω (Matthew 21:17; Acts 16:13), in this case finally. That house or (that, Revised Version) city. "The house," rightly further defined by "that" in English, comes in Matthew only; "that city" comes also in the parallel passage, Luke 9:5, and therefore belongs to the source used by St. Matthew. Shake off the dust of your feet. Treating it as a heathen place, whose pollution must be shaken off. For the very dust from a heathen land was to be reckoned as polluting, since, as Rashi says on Talm. Bab., 'Sabb.,' 15b (cf. Lightfoot, 'Hor. Hebr.,' in loc.), "It may be doubted, of all the dust of a heathen land, whether it were not from the sepulchre of the dead." (For the apostolic fulfilment of our Lord's injunction cf. Acts 13:51 and Acts 18:6; see also Nehemiah 5:13.)
Parallel passage: Luke 10:12 (the seventy). Similar words are used by our Lord in his apostrophe of Capernaum (Matthew 11:24, where see note). The combination in Luke 10:11, Luke 10:12-15 of both the contexts is an instructive warning against accepting the present position of our Lord's sayings as the final indication of the occasion upon which they were delivered. Verily. (For the idea of acquiescence that always underlies this word—even in the case of so solemn a matter as the present—comp. Matthew 5:18, note.) I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha. Whose inhabitants were the typical example of the worst of sinners (Deuteronomy 32:32; Isaiah 1:10; Ezekiel 16:46; Revelation 11:8). "The men of Sodom have no part in the world to come" (Mishna, 'Sanh.,' 10.3). In the day of judgment. Luke has "in that day;" cf, Matthew 7:22. In the only two passages in the LXX. (Proverbs 6:34; Isaiah 34:8) where, as it seems, our phrase occurs, it refers, not to the judgment of all, good and bad alike, but to that of the wicked alone. So also in 2 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 3:7; and possibly also in Matthew 12:36, but not in 1 John 4:17 (the only passage where it is not anarthrous). Than for that city. Observe that this verse implies that the wicked dead are still in existence, and are waiting for their final judgment; also that in the judgment of the wicked there will be degrees of punishment.
The internal conditions of conveying Christ's message. The subdivisions of this section are after Matthew 10:23 and Matthew 10:33 (cf. Matthew 10:5, note).
You will be in the midst; of foes, and simplicity must be accompanied by prudence (Matthew 10:16, a summary of all); you will be ill-treated publicly (Matthew 10:17, Matthew 10:18), but must conduct yourselves with calm faith that you will be guided in your defence (Matthew 10:19, Matthew 10:20), with endurance of family and universal enmity. (Matthew 10:21, Matthew 10:22), with common sense in avoiding unnecessary danger, for wherever you go you will find work to be done (Matthew 10:23).
Parallel passage: Luke 10:3 (the seventy); 16b, Matthew only. Behold. He calls their attention. I send you forth. I (ἐγω), with the full consciousness of all that will befall you; I, whose message you will carry, whose character you will represent. In this I lies the germ of verses 40-42. As sheep in the midst of wolves. The 'Midrash' on Esther 8:2 uses the same phrase of the position of Israel amidst a hostile world (cf. Edersheim, 'Life,' 1.645), adding, "How great is that Shepherd who delivers them and vanquishes the wolves?" 'Clem. Romans,' it. § 5, has an interesting addition, "The Lord saith, Ye shall be as lambs in the midst of wolves. But Peter answered and said unto him, What then, if the wolves should tear the lambs? Jesus saith unto Peter, Let not the lambs fear the wolves after they [the lambs] are dead." Be ye therefore. Prove yourselves to he (γίνεσθε). Wise. Prudent (φρόνιμοι). As serpents. )*,with Ignat., 'Polyc.,' § 2, has the singular, perhaps taking it generically, or perhaps not without reference to the phrase in Genesis 3:1, "The serpent was more subtle," etc. (ὁδὲ ὄφις ἦν φρονιμώτατος κ.τ.λ.). The prudence of the serpent is specially apparent in the quickness of its perception of danger and the rapidity with which it escapes from it. Kubel gives Matthew 22:23, sqq., 34, sqq.; John 2:24; John 11:9, John 11:10, as examples of this proper prudence in the ease of our Lord. And harmless as doves. Harmless; rather, simple, with Revised Version margin, for ἀκέραιος is literally "unmixed, unadulterated'' (cf Bishop Lightfoot, on Philippians 2:15), and emphasizes the idea of simplicity of character. It is thus not active, but passive. Comp. 'Shir. R.' (Song of Solomon 2:14), "With me they [Israel] are simple [מימימת; of the (Etz Ya‛akob, which refers to Hosea 7:11 as doves, but among the nations of the world they are subtle as serpents" (cf. Matthew 3:16, note).
Matthew 10:17-22 are remarkable as being practically identical with Mark 13:9-13, to which the parallels are Luke 21:12-19 and Matthew 24:9-14. It is hard to resist the conclusion that St. Matthew
(1) has incorporated into the present address of our Lord's on missionary work warnings actually given in his great address at Jerusalem on the fall of the city and the end of the world; and
(2) to some extent repeats these warnings in their proper place. But beware. Apparently in contrast to being only "dove-like"; but it is no wonder that the connexion with verse 16 should be rather harsh if the passage be really taken from a later speech. Of men. Generically (τῶν ἀνθρώπων), regarded.as one hostile body (cf. Meyer). The culminating point of that opposition to God which is innate in fallen humanity is found in the deification of the Roman emperors (cf. Bishop Westcott's essay on the Two Empires, § 3, in his Epistles of St. John). For they will deliver you up to the (omit "the," with the Revised Version) councils (εἰς συνέδρια, Matthew 5:22, note); "Synedria, uhi proceres conveniunt; synagogae, ubi etiam populus" (Bengel). And they will scourge you in their synagogues (the order of the words is reversed in the Revised Version). With this compare Matthew 23:34, where our Lord says, "Therefore, behold, I send [ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω: cf. Matthew 23:16, note] unto you prophets.., and some of them ye shall scourge in your synagogues, and (cf. Matthew 23:23, infra) persecute from city to city." Is our present passage a reminiscence of this also? For the fulfilment of this prophecy of. Acts 22:19 (Acts 26:11). Farrar thus summarizes the enactments on Jewish scourging as recorded in the Mishna ('Makkoth'): "Even a single Jewish scourging might well entitle any man to be regarded as a martyr. Thirty-nine blows were inflicted, unless, indeed, it was found that the strength of the patient was too much exhausted to admit of his receiving the full number. Both of his bands were tied to what is sometimes called a column. but which was in reality a stake a cubit and a half high. The public officer then tore down his robe until his breast was laid bare. The executioner stood on a stone behind the criminal. The scourge consisted of two thongs, one of which was composed of four strands of calf's skin, and one or two strands of ass's skin, which passed through a hole in a handle. The executioner, who was ordinarily the Chazzan of the synagogue, could thus shorten or lengthen them at will, so as not to strike too low. The prisoner bent to receive the blows, which were inflicted with one hand, but with all the force of the striker, thirteen on the breast, thirteen on the right and thirteen on the left shoulder. While the punishment was going on, the chief judge read aloud Deuteronomy 28:58, Deuteronomy 28:59, 'If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, the Lord thy God; then the Lord will make thy plagues ["strokes"] wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed.' He then read Deuteronomy 29:9, 'Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all ye do;' and lastly, Psalms 78:38, Psalms 78:39, 'But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away. and did not stir up all his wrath.' If the punishment was not over by the time that these three passages were read, they were again repeated, and so timed as to end exactly with the punishment itself Meanwhile a second judge numbered the blows, and a third before each blow exclaimed, 'Hakkehu' ('strike him') The severity of the pain may best.be estimated by the brief addition, ' If the criminal die under the infliction, the executioner is not accounted guilty unless he gives by mistake a single blow too many, in which case he is banished.'"
And; yea and (Revised Version); καὶ … δέ. Ye shall be brought. Transposed in the Revised Version with the following words, because the stress of Christ's saying lies, not on his followers being brought to trial, but on the high position of their judges. This marks both the extreme importance that their enemies will attach to them, and the lengths to which these will go. Before governors; i.e., probably, representatives of others in supreme power. Such were Felix and Festus, the praetors at Philippi (hardly the politarchs at Thessalonica, for this was a free city), and Gallio at Corinth. But perhaps ἡγεμών is here used in the narrower sense of procurator, in which case of the above names only the first two ought to be mentioned, for Gallio was a proconsul (ἀνθύπατος). And kings. The supreme authorities themselves. So especially Nero (2 Timothy 4:16), and even Herod Agrippa II. (Acts 25:13, sqq.), for he was autocratic in his kingdom, save that he owed allegiance to the power that gave it to him. For my sake (Matthew 5:11, note). St. Peter ("for the Lord's sake … king … governors," 1 Peter 2:13, 1 Peter 2:14) possibly refers to this utterance, but by using the singular, "king," recalls more definitely the one political organization with which his readers would be brought into contact in Asia Minor, the Roman emperor and his representatives. For a testimony against (to, Revised Version) them and (to, Revised Version) the Gentiles. Them. Not the Jews (Bengel, Meyer, and perhaps also the Revised Version), but the governors and kings. For (a) the parallel passage, Mark 13:9, omits "the Gentiles;" (b) the parallel passage, ch. 24:14 (vide supra), runs, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world [possibly, too, the word employed, οἰκουμένη, has special reference to the Roman empire] for a testimony unto all the Gentiles." Both passages show that the Lord is not here thinking of the Jews, but only of the Gentiles and rulers from among them. Against; to. A witness to these Gentile rulers of what the gospel really does for men, and of their consequent responsibility; cf. Matthew 8:4, note; also the parallel passage, Luke 21:13. Eusebius, referring to out' Lord's words, gives a striking illustration in his 'Mart. Pal.,' 6.
Matthew 10:19, Matthew 10:20
For these two verses, compare Luke 12:11, Luke 12:12, with which there is doubtless a common basis. As the two verses do not seem to have in Luke 12:1-59. a very close connexion with their context, it is probable that there also, as here, they are taken from a speech of later date. But when they deliver you up, take no thought; be not anxious (Revised Version); Matthew 6:25, note. So also Luke 12:2; but Luke 21:14 goes further, and forbids the disciples to "meditate beforehand how to answer." Bengel says here, Usa, non curandi, cura sit. How or what. The general direction or the actual matter. Ye shall speak—i.e. in defence, as defined in Luke 12:11; Luke 21:14—for it shall be given you in that same (omit "same," with the Revised Version) hour what ye shall speak. And if in similar extraordinary circumstances, the Christian may expect similar extraordinary help. The omission of this clause by some Western authorities is probably due to the fact that the next verse also begins with "for," and contains a promise that much resembles this. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you (cf. Genesis 41:38). Observe:
(1) The thoughtful reminder, "your Father," whose children you have become (Matthew 5:16, note), and whose protection you may look for.
(2) It is not said that the Father, but that the Spirit speaks (cf. Acts 4:8; Acts 13:9; and, for Christ speaking, 2 Corinthians 13:3).
(3) The phrase is quite compatible with, but would hardly have then been understood as expressing, the personality of the Holy Spirit.
(4) Though the promise would doubtless hold good, and that in a special degree, for the most important of all "defences," the writing of Holy Scripture, yet even there it did not preclude the use of human means (Luke 1:3).
The persecutors shall be found among those most closely connected with you by blood and natural affection. Observe that our Lord does not mention this until he has reminded them that they are connected by still deeper family ties with One above. The thought and partly the language of Matthew 10:21, Matthew 10:22 comes in 4 Esdr. 6:24, 25, "Et erit in illo tempore debellabunt amici amicos ut inimici … et erit, omnis qui dcrelictus fuerit ex omnibus istis quibus praedixi tibi, ipse salvabitur et videbit salutare meum et finem saeculi mei. [5. 1. vestri]." The author is speaking of the signs of the cud of the world. It seems probable that he was acquainted with some form of the original discourse of our Lord in Mark 13:12, Mark 13:13. (For other references somewhat similar of. Schurer, II. 2:155.) And (δέ). In contrast to the preceding encouragement (Kubel). The brother. The omission of the article by the Revised Version throughout this verse is justified, not only by grammar, but also by the consideration that it thus becomes less possible to interpret the phrase of a false "brother" in the Church. And the father the child. Philip It. of Spain is reported to have said of the Protestants, "If it were my own son, I would bring the faggot." And the children shall rise up against their parents. The verb (ἐπαναστήσονται) is perhaps a reminiscence of Micah 7:6, other words of which arc quoted below (verse 35). The plural suggests the plurality of cases. And cause them to be put to death; put them to death; but perhaps through the agency of others. Observe that more direct cruelty is predicated of the children than of the brothers and fathers. Past kindness received will go for nothing.
And ye shall be hated. For no little time (ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι). "Suffering sometimes becomes as a reward for doing. You read of the heifers which brought home the ark out of the Philistines' country, that, when they brought the ark home, the Israelites took the heifers and offered them up to God, as a sacrifice (1 Samuel 6:14). 'Why so?'saith one. 'It is an ill requital to the heifers.' No; the heifers could not have so high an honour put upon them (Philippians 1:29; Acts 9:16; Acts 21:13)" (Wm. Bridge, in Ford). Of all men (Matthew 10:17, note). As with the old Israel, so also with the new (cf. Kubel). For my name's sake (Matthew 6:9, note). But he that endureth to the end (Revised Version adds, the same) shall be saved (so Matthew 24:13). The emphatic insertion of οὗτος points out both the absolute necessity of endurance and the certainty of blessing to him who shows it (of. 2 Timothy 2:11). To the end (εἰς τέλος); i.e. not to the end of the time during which persecution shall last (εἰς τὸ τέλος), but to completeness in the endurance required (of. John 13:1 [Bishop Westcott's note]; 1 Thessalonians 2:16). Shall be saved. In the fullest sense (cf. the parallel passage, Luke 21:19).
Matthew only; but even this verse is not free from what appear to be reminiscences of the words recorded in Matthew 24:14, Matthew 24:16). But when they persecute you in this city. Act wisely (Matthew 24:16); flee to another city; you will find work there. Flee ye (cf. Matthew 23:34, and supra, Matthew 23:17, note) into another; into the next (Revised Version); εἰς τηραν. There are occasions when the duty is rather to spread the message than to seal it with death or to have one's lips closed by imprisonment. But only "he that is spiritual" (1 Corinthians 2:15) will be able to understand which course of action the special circumstances require. Our Lord's example (Matthew 12:15) was followed by Christians in the earliest (Acts 8:1; Acts 9:25, Acts 9:30; Acts 14:6; Acts 17:10, Acts 17:14) and in later times. Codex Bezae and some Western authorities, including Tatian's 'Diatess.,' add, "And if out of this they persecute you, flee into another;" but this is a not unnatural gloss upon the true text. For verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over; through (Revised Version); οὐ μὴ τετέσητε: literally, hare completed, like the harvest (Ruth 2:23). The cities of Israel (cf. Matthew 24:6) till the Son of man (Matthew 8:20, note) be come. The mere fact that there was no persecution of the kind just spoken of until after our Lord's death in itself refutes the opinion that these words refer to his rejoining his disciples on their mission (Matthew 11:1; cf. Luke 10:1). They may, perhaps, refer to his coming in the fall of Jerusalem, but rather look forward to h is complete return in his second advent, as apparently Agathangelus, in Resch, loc. cit., understands them. The cities of Israel are named because work among the Jews lay at the basis of the commission. If an exact fulfilment of the words is demanded, it is perhaps to be seen in tile fact that there will be some Jews unconverted until the Lord's return.
Fellowship with me in suffering is essential to fellowship with me in glory.
(1) Fellowship in suffering (Matthew 10:21-31).
(2) The result of confessing or of denying Christ (Matthew 10:32, Matthew 10:33).
(1) Fellowship in suffering (Matthew 10:24-31).
(a) You must not expect better treatment than your Master (Matthew 10:21, Matthew 10:25).
(b) But opponents are not to be feared (Matthew 10:26-28), because
(α) they are powerless to really injure (Matthew 10:26-28);
(β) there is a greater Object of fear (Matthew 10:28).
(γ) Who cares minutely for all his creatures, and much more for you (Matthew 10:29-31).
Matthew 10:24, Matthew 10:25
Matthew only; but comp. John 13:16 and John 15:18-21; the latter passage is a commentary. In Luke 6:40 there is close verbal similarity, but the thought is completely different. For there our Lord means that a disciple shall not escape the moral loss that his teacher incurs; on the contrary, when fully instructed, he shall be as his teacher is, in the same evil state. But here he is giving encouragement—whatever treatment a disciple receives he is, if his Teacher received it also, not to count it a strange thing (1 Peter 4:12).
The (a, Revised Version) disciple. The absence of the article lays more stress on the man's position as disciple. Is not above. The emphasis of the sentence is upon the denial of such a possibility (οὐκ ἔστιν ὁμαθητής). His master; teacher; διδάσκαλον. Nor the (a, Revised Version) servant above his lord.
It is enough (ἀρκετόν); Matthew 6:34, note. It will quite content him; it is sufficient for his aims and wishes (Hebrews 13:5 : John 14:8). So Talm. Bab., 'Berach.,' 58b, R. Ula comforts Rub Hisda for the desolation of a friend's house which he formerly knew in its prosperity, by reminding him that the temple too is in ruins, and "It is sufficient for the servant that he be as his master (וברך אהיש דבעל ויד)." For the disciple. Here (unlike Matthew 6:24) pictured before the mind. That he be. Eventually (ἵνα γένηται). (For the weakened relic force of ἵνα here, cf. Ellicott on 1 Corinthians 4:3.) As his master, and the servant as his lord. That the pronoun was added to "lord" in Matthew 6:24 was perhaps due to the unconscious desire on the part of the reporter to, avoid any possible ambiguity arising from the familiar phrase ὁκύριος: in these two clauses the insertion of the pronoun is rather due to the fact that "disciple" and "servant" are both defined by the article. If they have called. A typical example of the treatment his disciples will sometimes receive—complete rejection of their message, with deliberate accusation of the worst of crimes. Observe that it is implied that the opprobrious term had already been used of our Lord, although St. Matthew has not yet related it (Matthew 12:24). (On Matthew 9:34, cf. note there.) Called. By no mere chance expression, but by purposely giving him the title (ἐπεκάλεσαν); cf. Hebrews 11:16. The master of the house. Hebrews 3:2-6 may be compared, even though not Christ but God is there probably spoken of as the owner of the house. Beelzebub; "Gr. Beel-zebul; and so elsewhere". The original meaning of the title was probably "Lord of flies" (zebub, 2 Kings 1:3), or possibly "of bees"; but there cannot but be here a play upon the sense, "Lord of the dwelling" (zebul, e.g. Isaiah 63:15), and probably a further reference to the similar sound zebel, Neo-Hebr. for "dung" (cf 2 Kings 17:12, and Wetstein's curious note in Delitzsch, on Job 30:12).
Parallel passage: Luke 12:2-9, where it follows the warning against the leaven of the Pharisees. A similar saying to Luke 12:26 (parallel passage: Luke 12:2) is also found in Mark 4:22 (parallel passage: Luke 8:17). Though the two sayings are probably distinct, yet it is very possible that one may have been modified from the other in being reported. Fear them not therefore. These words are in Matthew only. Therefore. Since the Master bore such treatment. For. Hardly—Fear them not, for your secret disloyalty wilt one day be known; but—Fear them not so as to conceal your faith and principles, for these are of supreme importance; inner character is everything. This connexion seems to be more close than to read into the words a reference to the ultimate success of the gospel or to the unreality of those things that now terrify you. There is nothing. Even your own relation to me (cf. verse 32). Covered, that shall not be revealed; uncovered. The cloak over it shall be drawn back. And hid, that shall not be known. It shall not only be stripped of its disguise, but also itself be brought out to light and its true character perceived.
The parallel passage, Luke 12:3, is verbally similar, but of reverse meaning. In Matthew it is a charge to the disciples to proclaim publicly what Christ tells them privately; in Luke it is a statement that what they say privately shall be proclaimed publicly. St. Luke gives only another side of the preceding verse; St. Matthew, a fresh point. The connexion with verse 26 is—Do not cover up your relation to me, but say out bravely the message that I give you. What I tell you. There is no limitation to the time. Those who believe in the present life of Christ and in the reality of present communications from him cannot fail to see here both the true source of their messages as preachers and the necessity of faithfulness to those messages. Observe that the stress is not upon the personality of the Speaker, but upon the communication (λέγω, not ἐγὼ λέγω). In (the, Revised Version) darkness … in (the, Revised Version) light. Both are pictured to the mind. And what ye hear in the ear (εἰς τὸ οὖς). Possibly a reference to the habit of Jewish rabbis sometimes whispering their teaching in the ear of an "interpreter," who repeated it aloud for all to hear (cf. Lightfoot, 'Hor. Hebr.'), but more probably only the common figure of speech for secret instruction; cf. Talm. Bab., 'Berach.,' 22a, "Nahum of Gamzo, whispered it to. R. Akiba, and R. Akiba whispered it to Ben Azai, and Ben Azai went out and taught it to his disciples in the street." Compare also the Old Testament phrase, "uncover the ear" (1 Samuel 9:15, used of God; 1 Samuel 20:2,1Sa 20:12, 1 Samuel 20:13, used of man). That preach ye; proclaim (Revised Version); κηρύξατε. Upon the house-tops. Lightfoot ('Hor. Hebr.') thinks that this is an allusion to the minister of a synagogue blowing a trumpet on the roof of a high house to announce the sabbath; but that was a mere signal of a fact (σαλπίζω), not the articulate expression of a communication (κηρύσσω). The phrase much more probably alludes to the fact that the roofs in Eastern cities are the common place for conversation, and to the rapidity with which an announcement there made spreads throughout the town.
And. Restating Matthew 10:26 from a different point of view. Fear not; be not afraid of (Revised Version); μὴ φοβηθῆτε ἀπό. So Westcott and Herr, with B (sic) and two or three other authorities. The Revised Version (cf. Authorized Version parallel passage, Luke 12:4) expresses the greater difference from Matthew 10:26 and Matthew 10:28 (φοβηθῆτε ἀπό with genitive, a Hebraism expressing avoidance, shrinking, cowardly dreas; φοβηθῆτε with accusative, concentration of regard) at the expense of the lesser (φοβηθῆτε, general command, or perhaps "never once fear;" φοβεῖσθε, "ever fear," habit). Them which kill the body. So R. Akiba refused to give up studying and teaching the Law when it was forbidden on pain of death (Talm. Bab., 'Berach.,' 61b). But are not able to kill the soul (Matthew 6:25, note). But rather fear. Always (φοβεῖσθε). Fear; yes, but the right object (φοβεῖσθε δὲ μᾶλλον, not μᾶλλον δὲ φοβεῖσθε), and that intensely (vide supra). Him which is able (τομενον). Mere power; but in the parallel passage in Luke, authority. The reference is, of course, to God (cf. James 4:12). To destroy (ἀπολέσαι). The class of words to which this belongs denotes "utter and hopeless ruin; but they convey no idea whether the ruined object ceases to exist or continues a worthless existence" (Professor Agar Beet, in Expositor, IV. 1.28). Professor Marshall, in Expositor, IV. 3:283, thinks Luke's variant, "to cast," indicates that our Lord originally used an Aramaic word that properly meant "to set on fire." Both soul and body in hell (Matthew 5:22, note).
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? The form of the saying in Luke 12:6 is practically equivalent ("Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings?"); for sparrows are so common and cheap that if a man buys two farthings' worth he gets one thrown in. "At the present day the markets of Jerusalem and Jaffa are attended by many 'f owlets,' who offer for sale long strings of little birds of various species, chiefly sparrows, wagtails, and larks. These are also frequently sold ready plucked, trussed in rows of about a dozen on slender wooden skewers, and are cooked and eaten like kabobs". A farthing (ἀσσαρίου). This might either be one of the coins of the Herods (Luke 12:9, note), or, as it seems, a "second brass" Antiochene as. And one of them shall not fall—and not one of them shall fall (Revised Version, more idiomatically)—on the ground. Dead. In the parallel passage in Luke, more generally, "Not one of them is forgotten in the sight of God," even in life. Origen and Chrysostom read, "fall into the snare" (cf. Ames Luke 3:5). Without (ἄνευ). Χωρίς would deny merely physical connexion (cf. John 15:5), and the sentence would then imply that God causes their death; ἄνευ is only negative, and the sentence implies that their death is not outside of his knowledge and care. In Amos 3:5 the thought is that for every event there is a cause; here that every event is taken notice of by God. Sennacherib's boast (Isaiah 36:10) contained a truth other than he intended. Your Father. For this and nothing less is God's relation to you. There is a Talmudic tale told in various forms, of which the earliest seems to be that R. Simon ben Jochai, after hiding thirteen years in a cave, saw from the entrance of it a fowler snaring birds, but that these could not be taken if the Divine voice (Bath Qol) said, "Released" (dimus, dimissus). "A bird," said the rabbi, "perishes not without God, much less a man," and he returned to the city (Talm. Jeremiah, 'Shebiith,' 9.1).
But the very hairs of your head. "Your" emphatic, in contrast to the care bestowed on sparrows. (For the thought, compare not only the parallel passage, Luke 12:7, but also Luke 21:18; Acts 27:34.) Are all numbered. Perhaps long since (ἠριθμημέναι εἰσίν). When Job complained the Lord answered him, "Many hairs have! made on man, and for every single hair its own pit, that not two hairs should draw their sustenance from one pit … shall I make no mistake about this, and vet make a mistake in thy name and spell it not Ijob (Job, בוי)), but Ojeb (enemy, ביו))?" (Talm. Bab., 'Baba Bathra,' 16a).
The minuteness of this care forbids you to fear; it is clear from it that you are worth more than even many sparrows. Fear ye (the Revised Version omits ye) not. The absence of ὑμεῖς lays all the more stress on the verb. Therefore. As the hairs of your head are all numbered; the following words are thus epexegetic. Ye. Emphatic here; ye who are God's sons. The thought is stronger than even that of the "faithful Creator," in 1 Peter 4:19. Are of more value than many sparrows. So, too, any man than a sheep (Matthew 12:12).
Matthew 10:32, Matthew 10:33
(2) The result of confessing and of denying Christ. (Cf. Matthew 10:24, note.)
Whosoever; every one … who (Revised Version); Matthew 7:24, note. Therefore. Summing up the thought of Mat 7:24 -31, that he who suffers with Christ is only receiving such treatment as he ought to expect, and is never forgotten. Shall confess me (ὁμολογήσει ἐν ἐμοί). Ὁμολογεῖν ἐν occurs only in this verse (twice) and in the parallel passage, Luke 12:8 (cf. Bishop Westcott, on 1 John 2:23). Though the exact phrase is doubtless due to Hebrew influence, yet its choice here is determined by an instinctive feeling that it expresses the union of him who confesses with him who is confessed, while the plain accusative makes no such implication, but only sums up the confession. Bishop Westcott quotes Heracleon's comment on Luke 12:8. "With good reason Christ says of those who confess him in me (ὁμολογήσει ἐν ἐμοί), but of those who deny him me (ἀρνήσηταί με) only. For these even it' they confess him with their voice deny him, since they confess him not in their action. But they alone make confession in him who live in the confession and action that accords with him; in whom also he makes confession, having himself embraced them, and being held first by them". Before men (τῶν ἀνθρώπων); Luke 12:17, note, and Matthew 6:1, note. Him. Not in any position of emphasis in the Greek. Will I confess also (cf. Revelation 3:5) before my Father. Not merely "the Father," but him who is in the closest relationship to me; the thought is of salvation as well as of creation. Which is in heaven. In nature, love; in position, majesty and omnipotence.
Besides the parallel passage, Luke 12:9, cf. the similar thought in Mark 8:38 (parallel passages: Luke 9:26; Matthew 16:27). But whosoever shall deny me before men. Kubel compares St. Peter's words, "I know not the man" (Matthew 26:74). Him will I also deny. The emphasis is on "deny" (cf. 2 Timothy 2:12; Ign., 'Smyrn.,' § 5). Before my Father which is in heaven.
Fellowship with me will involve separation from the dearest upon earth, yet the reward is great. (Cf. Matthew 10:5, note.) The progress of thought in these verses seems to be as follows: Do not be surprised at the contradiction that appears between my teaching and the immediate result; I allowed for this when I began my work (Matthew 10:34). There will, indeed, be separation in the closest earthly ties (Matthew 10:35, Matthew 10:36). But my claims are paramount (Matthew 10:37, Matthew 10:38). And on your relation to them depends everything hereafter (Matthew 10:39).
Parallel passage: Luke 12:51. Think not. Christ here removes another mistaken opinion (Matthew 5:17, note). There the mistake was about his relation to the Law; here about the immediate result of his coming. The Prince of Peace did not come to cast in peace as something from outside. It would show itself eventually, but from within outwards. That which he cast from without was fire (Luke 12:49), a sword (infra). Chrysostom ('Hem.,' 35.) points out, among other illustrations, that the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel was better than the peace which preceded it, and itself produced a better peace. That I am come; that I came (Revised Version); cf. further, Matthew 5:17, note. To send peace (βαλεῖν εἰρήνην). The verb was probably chosen because in the other form of the utterance Christ had already said πῦρ βαλεῖν, where the figure is of throwing a firebrand (Luke 12:49). By a natural transition, that phrase led to the thought of "throwing" peace or a sword. St. Luke, on the contrary, softened the metaphor to δοῦναι. On (the, Revised Version) earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
Parallel passage: Luke 12:53 (cf. supra, Luke 12:21, Luke 12:22). For I am come; I came (Revised Version). Notice the threefold ἦλθον. Christ would leave in his hearers' minds no room for thinking that he was ignorant of what the immediate result of his coming would be. To. A mere infinitive, not even with τοῦ, much less ἵνα with subject. The result is not in any sense the final cause of his coming. Set a man at variance against (διχάσαι … κατὰ). By the preposition is implied enmity, by the verb complete severance. For relation to God is the great line of cleavage, and that not only in God's sight, but in outcome of character. His father. From this word till the end of Luke 12:36 our Lord adopts Micah's (Micah 7:6) description of a general time of distrust for his own picture of the discord introduced by his coming. The wording is hardly taken from the LXX.
No parallel passage in the Gospels. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household (καὶ ἐχθροὶ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οἱοἰκιακοὶ αὐτοῦ). Ἐχθροί is predicate. His very household (not to be limited to servants) turns against him.
Matthew 10:37, Matthew 10:38
Parallel passage: Luke 14:26, Luke 14:27, where the saying is spoken to the multitudes—presumably its original occasion. Verse 37: A man must place me before his nearest tics. Verse 38: Yea, must receive his cross (however it is brought to him), and with it follow after me. Observe the shadow of the cross upon our Lord's mind.
He that loveth. Natural and spontaneous love (ὁφιλῶν), father … mother … son … daughter. No mention of wife, brothers, sisters, as in the parallel passage in Luke, perhaps because not mentioned in our verses 35, 36. Is not worthy of me. And of all that I can be to him. Observe Christ's consciousness of his own worth. And he that loveth son, etc. A separate clause, because of the difference between the love of child to parent and that of parent to child. The latter is the stronger. The clause is omitted in B*, D, and two or three lesser authorities, but probably through homoioteleuton.
Besides the parallel passage, Luke 14:27 (vide supra), of. also (for verses 38, 39) Matthew 16:24, Matthew 16:25. and he that taketh not; doth not take (Revised Version), which calls attention to the change to the more definite mode of expression (ὃς … λαμβάνει). Taketh. Receives in submission when given him; contrast ἀράτω, "take up from the ground" (Matthew 16:24), and βαστάζει, "bear" (Luke 14:27). His cross. A reference to the custom (vide Meyer) of criminals carrying their cross before they were crucified upon it. If, therefore, the figure may be pressed, the reference here is to the bearing of trials, even though they are such as point forward to greater trials in the future. Observe the torture and the ignominy of the trials that Christ expects his followers to be prepared for. And followeth after me. For Christ's journey ended in nothing less. Is not worthy of me. "And having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded: for God proved them, and found them worthy of himself" (Wis. 3:5). Compare the reply of St. Thomas Aquinas to our Lord in vision after he had completed his "Summa:" "Thoma, bene scripsisti de me; Quam recipies a Me pro rue labore mercedem? Domine, non nisi Te" (Archbishop Vaughan's 'Life of St. Thomas,' frontispiece).
Besides Matthew 16:25 and parallel passages (vide supra), cf. also Luke 17:33 and even John 12:25. Observe that in our chapter John 12:37, John 12:38 arc equivalent to Luke 14:26, Luke 14:27; verses 38, 39 to Luke 9:23, Luke 9:24; Luke 9:39 to Luke 17:33. A comparison of the various passages leads to the inference that the original occasion of Luke 17:37, 38 was that of Luke 14:26, Luke 14:27, and the original occasion of verse 39 was that of Matthew 16:25. Thus our passage is a compendium, and Matthew 16:25 is either a modification by our Lord of an earlier thought, or, more probably, another "setting" of the utterance in place of something that corresponded to it. Luke 17:33, on the other hand, may be a modification by our Lord, or an insertion made in the process of the composition of the Gospel. He that findeth; found; ὁεὑρών: but unnecessarily, the statement is timeless, and the inherent thought of completion is contained also in our present tense. Findeth; after expenditure of trouble, and so Matthew 16:25 with parallel passages, "wish to save," and Luke 17:33, "seek to gain." Observe also the idea of acquiring for personal use common both to εὑρίσκειν and περιποιεῖσθαι (Luke). The phrase, "find the soul," occurs only here (twice) and Matthew 16:25; of. Hebrews 10:39. His life (Matthew 6:25, note). As the full develop-merit of personality in true independence and energy is the aim and the promise for hereafter, so its shrinking and weakening by sin ends in loss of moral independence and mental worth. Shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. He shall acquire that personality of Iris with all its inherent germs of power fully developed. In Talm. Bab., 'Tamid,' 32a, Alexander the Great asks "the elders of the south" ten questions, among them," What shall a man do that he may live?" They answer, "Let him put himself to death." "What shall a man do that he may die?" "Let him make himself alive." But though there is so much verbal similarity, it may be doubted whether Rashi is not right in explaining the passage as a merely worldly wise warning against provoking the envy of others by pride and ostentation.
Final encouragement. The evangelist takes the main idea of these verses from our Lord's words to the seventy (Luke 10:16), but moulds it in the form of his later saying, Matthew 18:5. He further adds (verse 42) other words also spoken later. In these verses the discourse returns to the immediate occasion, the mission of the disciples. Christ shows his personal interest in their work; his messengers' cause is his. He says, "I reckon treatment of you as treatment of me; ay, and he that sent me reckons it as treatment of himself" (verse 40). This principle as to the treatment of representatives holds good throughout. Not every one can be a prophet, but those who help him shall share his reward. Not every one shall acquire the technical name of "righteous," but those who help such a man shall share his reward (verse 41); even the smallest kindnesses shall not be unrewarded (verse 42).
He that receiveth you receiveth me. "A man's messenger is as himself" (Mishna, 'Berach.,' Matthew 5:5). Yet, as Bengel says, "Non mode tantundem est, ac si me reciperet.'sed severn me recipit." Ford quotes from Tertullian ('De Orat.,' § 26), "A brother that hath entered into thine house, dismiss not without prayer. 'Thou hast seen,'saith he, 'thy brother; thou hast seen thy Lord.'" The same legion is found twice in Clem. Alex.. (For an extension of the thought to bishops, cf. Ign., ' Ephesians,' § 6.)
Matthew only. The whole verso recalls Jewish Christianity; it was hardly likely to have been remembered outside Jewish Christian circles. He that receiveth a prophet. One upon whom the mantle of the old prophets might in any sense he said to have fallen. The saying was probably recorded with special thought of the Christian peripatetic "prophets," who are brought before us so vividly in the 'Didache.' In the name of a prophet (εἰς ὄνομα προφήτου). In late Hebrew and in Aramaic the word for "name" passed into little more than a preposition, just as the word for "face "had already passed. Here, however, this is hardly the case, the word appearing to retain its idea of both name and corresponding position. The preposition may mean either receive him into the position of a prophet, i.e. into the treatment with which a prophet should be received; or, simply, receive him at the rank and standing of a prophet (Acts 7:53). Anyhow, it is in contrast to receiving him out of mere human compassion or ordinary friendliness. The reception is to have regard to that which the name implies, for the sake of the cause that the prophet represents. Shall receive a prophet's reward; i.e. shall share in the reward of that work in which by his kindness to the prophet he so tar takes part. Thus the widow of Sarepta shared in the blessing given to Elijah (1 Kings 17:10; cf. also 2 Kings 4:8, sqq.). (On reward, see Matthew 5:12, note.) Observe that not the action, but the motive for the action, is made all-important. It is a matter of faith, not of works (cf Nosgen). And he that receiveth a righteous man. A righteous man; i.e. one who is punctilious in performing all the details of the revealed will of God (Matthew 1:19, note; Acts 22:14; James 5:6). This word also is used in a quasi-Jewish sense, and points back to the time when Jewish Christians performed, not only the law as expounded in the sermon on the mount, but also those external rites and observances which had been commanded them as Jews (Acts 21:20). Among such Jewish Christians some would he especially noticeable for their regard to these things (e.g. James the "Just," or "Righteous"), and it is to one of these that the epithet here refers.
Parallel passage: Mark 9:41, where it will be observed that the following verse is parallel to Matthew 18:6 and Luke 17:2 (cf. supra, verse 40). One of these little ones … a disciple. It is evident, from a comparison of verse 41, that the two titles refer to one and the same person. Christ, using his own term, calls his followers "little ones;" using the term of others, he calls them "disciples." Little ones. Partly a word of personal endearment (cf. Matthew 25:40); partly a comparison with those mentioned in verse 41. He is now speaking of one who is not distinguished from other believers by the reception of extraordinary Divine gifts, or by special zeal and holiness, but is only an ordinary disciple. In Matthew 18:6 the term is used directly of children, but in Luke 17:2, and probably in Mark 9:41, Mark 9:42, it is used metaphorically. A cup of cold water only. Observe that "if the ' cup of cold water' is not to lose its reward, it must be proffered when he who gives it has nothing better to give". In the name of a disciple (Mark 9:41, note). Verily I say unto you, He shall in no wise lose his reward (cf. Hebrews 6:10). Lose (ἀπολέσῃ). Does the Western reading, "His reward shall in no wise perish," indicate the unending duration of heavenly bliss, or is ἀπόληται, there a synonym for the πταίσῃ of Ecclesiasticus 2:8? Observe that if the original Aramaic were הירגא דבַייֵ, it might be understood in either way (cf. references in Levy, 'Chald. Worterb.,'s.v. דב)).
The mission of the twelve.
I. THE CALL.
1. The number, lie called unto him his twelve disciples. He had many more. He called these twelve. There seems to be a symbolical meaning in the number. We see plainly in the Book of the Revelation that twelve is the number of the Church. Three is the signature of God; four of the world; twelve, the product of three and four, points to God as entering into relations with the world, making a covenant with the Church which he hath called to himself out of the world. Twelve was the number of the Jewish Church, the Church of the twelve patriarchs; it is the number of the Christian Church, the Church of the twelve apostles. Then there is a meaning in the number; it seems to imply that God was entering into a new covenant with mankind—a covenant which was to find its consummation in the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God, which hath twelve gates, twelve angel-guardians, twelve foundations; the length and breadth and height of which are each twelve thousand furlongs. Twelve implies a covenant; the chosen disciples were the ministers of that covenant, "able ministers of the New Testament." Thus the very number of the apostles reminds us that we are brought by the grace of Christ into very close relations with God, into a new covenant with God.
2. The name. They had been disciples, now they became apostles. It is the first occurrence of that higher title in St. Matthew's Gospel. The Lord sent them forth; they became his ambassadors, his messengers, his missionaries. They had been disciples for some time; they had been called on various occasions; the calling of five out of the number has been already related by St. Matthew. They did not cease to be his disciples, his pupils. We learn of him all our life long; he hath the words of eternal life; we can never learn enough. But now they were to go forth to preach in his Same. It was a solemn mission. Before sending them (Luke tells us) "he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." We should learn from his example to pray long and earnestly for those who are to be ordained to any holy function in his Church. But as yet this mission was preliminary only, and confined within narrow limits. The apostles did not receive their full commission till the Lord had risen from the dead; it was sealed by the descent of the Holy Ghost on the great Day of Pentecost. But from this time they were apostles, the messengers, the angels of Christ upon earth; as the holy angels are the messengers of our Father which is in heaven. His ministers must have the like credentials now. "How shall they preach, except they are sent?" It is from him that the mission comes; he gives the zeal, the energy, the love. His ministers must stir up the gift of God that is in them, remembering always the solemn responsibilities of 'their high and holy calling.
3. The gift of Power. The Lord gave his apostles power over evil spirits, and power to cure diseases. The age of miracles has passed away, but still he giveth power. Christianity is not a mere republication of the moral law; it is a religion of power, because its living centre is not a theology, but a Person, the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, who gives the sacred gift of the Holy Ghost to his chosen. The gift of the Holy Ghost is a gift of power—power to overcome the wicked one in our own hearts, power to preach with energy and burning zeal, power to cast out evil spirits by word, by holy example, by earnest preaching, by the ministration of the holy sacraments.
II. THE LIST OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES.
1. They were sent out two and two. Christ would have his servants work together; it is not good to be alone. Christian sympathy, communion with like-minded friends, help the Christian warrior in his daily strife against sin. Christians need that mutual help. Even St. Paul, who lived so very near to Christ, who could say, "To me to live is Christ," longed always for sympathy, and felt loneliness a great and bitter trial.
2. The order of the twelve. They were equal, though we notice a certain gradation of order. St. Peter is first in all the lists; yet when St. Paul was admitted into the apostolic college, though he spoke of himself as the least of the apostles, one born out of due time, he claimed equality with the first chosen twelve; he was not, he said, a whir behind the very chiefest of them; he withstood even Peter to the face. Three of the twelve were very highly favoured—Peter, James, and John; they only witnessed the first miracle of raising the dead and the glory of the Transfiguration; they only attended Christ in the great agony of Gethsemane. Of the three, John was the most loved of the Lord, yet Peter was in some sense first; perhaps his character, perhaps the Lord's choice, brings him again and again to the front. There must, for the sake of order, be some subordination among the servants of Christ, but the truest distinction is that of holiness. "Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;" "He that shall humble himself shall be exalted." The lowliest here shall stand nearest to the Lord in heaven. There is a true and noble ambition; it is the ambition to please God the best. to follow closest to Christ, to be first in humility, in self-sacrifice, in holy, self-denying love.
3. Some of them are well known, some unknown. Some of them exhibit to us a clear, distinct personality; of some we know very little; one or two are names to us, and nothing more. All are known to God. He "knoweth them that are his;" "I know mine own, and mine own know me; even as the Father knoweth me, and I know the leather.'' God's saints, happy in that knowledge, sock not to be known of men. God's providence orders their circumstances. They may be as a city set on a hill, known of all men; they may be hidden from the sight of men in the quiet corners and byways of life. It matters little; whether their outward life is private or public, their soul liveth with God. For a time the Lord Jesus was the central figure in the Holy Land. "The world is gone after him," the Pharisees said. But he had lived during the far larger portion of his earthly life unseen and unknown to the world, a poor man in an obscure town. That obscure life was very beautiful and noble in the sight of God and the holy angels; for it was a life of perfect holiness and self-sacrifice. The hidden saints of God may be among his holiest, his best beloved; "unknown, and yet well known." They fill no space in the world's history; their very names are forgotten here. But they are not forgotten in heaven; they are written there in the Lamb's book of life. It is good to be unknown here. It must be very hard in the high places of life to preserve a clear, calm spirit; to walk humbly with God; in the world, but not of the world. Some can do it by the grace of God; with God all things are possible. Some men in high place are by his grace more lowly minded than those who rank far beneath them; the danger is great, but the grace of God is greater. Simon Peter had great faults; but he may have been more lowly in heart than the unknown Simon the Canaanite; he may have illustrated in his life his own lesson, "Be clothed with humility."
4. One was a traitor. They were only twelve; the Lord had chosen them to be with him. They had the unspeakable privilege of his teaching, his example, his society, living always in familiar intercourse with him. One would think it almost impossible to cherish selfish thoughts and motives in the presence of that unearthly goodness. But in that little company there was a traitor. Outwardly, he was very near to Christ; inwardly, there was a great gulf between them. The heart of man is deceitful above all things; in the midst of spiritual privileges it may be wholly estranged from God. In the visible Church the evil are ever mingled with the good. There was one traitor among the chosen twelve; there will sometimes be worldly and wicked men in the ministry of the Church, sometimes in its highest places. We must not be offended; it is what we are taught to expect.
1. The Lord sends forth his servants; they must remember that their mission is from him, and look to him for wisdom and for power.
2. They must not seek great things for themselves, but be lowly, like their Lord.
3. The sacred office has its own temptations; sometimes they are very great. Spiritual fellowship with Christ is the one only safeguard.
The Lord's charge to his apostles.
I. DIRECTIONS FOR THEIR IMMEDIATE MISSION.
1. It leas to be confined to the house of Israel. This was a temporary limitation; it was wholly removed at the ascension. The Lord himself entered into the city of the Samaritans; lie healed the daughter of the Syro-Phoenician woman. But for the present the apostles were to preach only to the Jews; it was necessary that the gospel should be first offered unto them; they were the covenant people, the children of the kingdom. The Holy Land was to be the centre from which the light of the gospel was to be diffused throughout the world. The light must be kindled at the centre first; a Church must be formed in the birthplace of the faith; then the messengers of Christ were to go forth for the evangelization of the world. The gospel must be preached at home first; then comes missionary work. Each disciple must be a witness for Christ; first in his own immediate circle, then let him enlarge his efforts. There are lost sheep at home, in our own households, among our own friends and neighbours. God's providence has placed them nearest to us; our first duty is to them.
2. Their preaching. "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." It had been first the announcement of John the Baptist, then of the Lord himself; now his apostles were to re-echo the solemn message. The kingdom was at hand, not yet fully organized, only in its infancy; but it was in the world. The heavenly King was come; his kingdom was close at hand; men who would share its blessings must press into it.
3. Their power. The Lord had given them power to work miracles or' mercy; they must exercise it. We must care for men's bodily wants as far as God gives us the means, not only for their spiritual needs. The apostles had received freely, without price, the gift of power from Christ; they must, give, as they received, freely, without price. St. Peter obeyed the Lord's commandment when he refused to receive money from Simon the sorcerer in exchange for spiritual power.
4. No provision needed for their journey. The workman is worthy of his meat; the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. The apostles were to be supported by those to whom they ministered the bread of life; but they were to look for no more than that daily bread for which the Lord encourages us to pray. They were to trust in God for the supply of their daily needs; they were not to provide money; they were to go lightly clad, without the encumbrance of baggage. The Lord gave different rules afterwards (Luke 22:36). The directions here were of temporary force; to require literal obedience to them would savour of the fanaticism of the scribes and Pharisees. But in the spirit they are of perpetual obligation. Christ's ministers must be disinterested; they must labour not for the sake of earthly rewards, but for the love of souls, for the love of Christ; they must cast all their care upon Christ, knowing that he careth for them.
II. DIRECTIONS FOR THEIR SOJOURNING IN THEIR VARIOUS STATIONS.
1. They were to choose pious households. They must begin in each town or village with those who were most likely to listen to their message. A pious household would be a fit centre from which the good tidings might spread throughout the neighbourhood. There they should remain. They were not to wander from house to house in search of pleasant places; they were to be content to stay where God's providence had first directed them.
2. They were to bring the message of peace. "Peace be unto you!" was the common formula of Oriental salutation. The Lord would not have his servants neglect the ordinary courtesies of social life. "A servant of the Lord," Stier writes, "is truly courteous, for he has learned to be so in the high court of his King." But the salutation becomes a Christian blessing in the mouth of the Lord, or of his servants speaking in his Name; its brings peace to the household that is worthy of peace. Words of blessing do no good to the unbelieving and the unworthy. But they are not lost; the blessing returns upon him who utters it in faith and love. Christian love is very precious; every deed and word and thought of love are registered in heaven; not one is lost. If there are some who harden their hearts and will not receive the benefit, it returns in multiplied blessing upon the faithful servant of the Lord.
3. The danger of rejecting the gospel message. The Jews were accustomed to shake off the dust when they returned from foreign journeys; the dust of heathen countries defiled the Holy Land. The apostles were to do so when they left households or towns which refused to receive them and to hear their words. The action was symbolical; it was to be done in sadness, not in anger; it implied separation; it was the last solemn appeal, a warning of the coming judgment. Still Christ's ministers must observe their Lord's injunction—not, indeed, in the letter, but in the spirit; still they must announce to the wicked the Lord's most awful warning, "O wicked man, thou shall surely die." If they speak not to warn the wicked, he must die; but his blood will be required at their hand. The Lord himself ratifies the awful sentence. He looks forward to the judgment of the great day. It shall be more tolerable then, he says, for Sodom and Gomorrha than for those who have heard the gospel and rejected it. There are degrees or' guilt, and there are degrees of condemnation. Sin against light is far more guilty than the sin of ignorance; the greater the light, the greater the guilt, if when we have the light we come not to the light, but walk still in darkness, loving with a strange perversity darkness rather than light.
1. Do not neglect home duties; care first for the souls which God has put within your influence.
2. Christ's ministers must seek souls, not riches; his people must give freely to supply their needs.
3. Christians must he courteous in their intercourse with one another.
4. The message comes from God; those who reject it incur a most awful danger.
The future mission of the apostles.
I. THE COMING PERSECUTIONS.
1. The Lord warns his apostles beforehand. "Behold, I send you forth." He looks forward to their future work in the world when they should have received the full apostolic commission; he prepares them for the dangers of their office; he reminds them of its dignity, of the source from which the commission comes. "I send you." The pronoun is emphatic: "It is I, the Lord, who send you." This thought should strengthen his servants in trials and difficulties. Their mission came from Christ. "I send you." The word reminded them of their apostleship; of its dignity and its duties. They were sent by Christ. But they would be sent into the midst of dangers; they would be like sheep in the midst of wolves—as harmless, as helpless. Their task seemed hopeless. A few weak men were sent to grapple with all the might of the heathen world. Their case seemed desperate; success seemed impossible. But it was the Lord who had sent them; here was their hope and strength.
2. He tells them how to conduct themselves. They were not to court martyrdom. They were to be wise, prudent, careful not to give unnecessary offence. Their lives were precious; they were to preserve them by all lawful means. St. Paul's conduct in heathen countries was regulated by this precept of the Lord's. The town-clerk at Ephesus said of him and his companions that they were not robbers of temples nor blasphemers of the Ephesian goddess. They did not put themselves into unnecessary danger by shocking the prejudices of the heathen. But they were to copy the wariness, not the guile, of the serpent. They must be harmless as doves; or rather, as the word means, simple, sincere, pure as doves. They must be genuine, truthful, free from the mixture of selfish motives. Such should be the conduct of Christ's ministers now. They need prudence in dealing with men—zeal without discretion often interferes with the success of their work; but they must always be truthful and single-hearted.
3. The sufferings that awaited them. They would be scourged by the Jews; they would be brought before Gentile governors and kings. The Lord began early to prepare his disciples for persecution. It is what no earthly teacher would have done—only the Son of God. The crown would indeed be theirs, but the cross must come first. Their sufferings would be a testimony, proving to Jew and Gentile the depth, the reality of their faith, the power of God which strengthened them. Christian patience, Christian meekness, show the mighty influence of the grace of God. They testify for God far more effectively than words.
II. THEY MUST TRUST, AND NOT BE AFRAID.
1. They were not to be anxious to prepare their defence. Christ does not forbid thoughtfulness. He uses the same word here which he used in the sermon on the mount: "Take no thought for the morrow." They must not be anxious; they must not allow their minds to be distracted with care about the matter or the manner of their answers. The Christian must be always trustful; he is in the hands of God. He must keep his heart free from distressing anxieties; the peace of God should dwell there.
2. The reason. The martyrs of the Lord would have the promised help of God the Holy Ghost. He would strengthen their heart in the hour of danger with his most gracious presence, lie would teach them what to speak; nay, he would so fill their inmost being, that the words which seemed to be uttered by his servants would be in truth the words of God. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit removes distracting cares, and fills the heart with joy and peace in believing. He inspired the saints and martyrs in the olden times. He cleanses the hearts of the faithful by his holy inspiration now, and gives them words when they are called to speak for the glory of God and for the good of souls. God's ministers are not apostles; they must give time and thought and study for the preparation of their sermons. We must not offer to the Lord our God that which hath cost us nothing. Still, they must look for the help of the blessed Spirit. He will teach them (if they come to him in the earnest prayer of humility and faith) what they ought to speak; and that the more, the nearer they walk with God.
III. THE CRUELTY OF THE IMPENDING PERSECUTION.
1. The breaking of family ties. The preaching of Christianity would introduce a new element of division into the world. Households would be divided; natural affection would be overpowered by fanatician. Christians would be the objects of universal hatred, and that for his Name's sake. The teaching of Christ—holy, heavenly, severe—would excite the intense hatred of the worldly and the self-indulgent. The presence of Christ upon earth would stir up the evil one to a wild fury of hatred; he would let loose all the wicked passions of men, to destroy, if it were possible, in blood and fire the Church which Christ was come to establish. It was a strange prospect for the Founder of a new religion to set before his followers. Only he who is the Truth would have drawn such a picture, so dark, so unattractive to poor, weak human nature.
2. The reward of faithfulness. "He that endureth to the end shall be saved." He that abideth faithful amid the storm of popular hatred, he that flinches not in danger, in agony, in the fear of death, he shall be saved from sin, from everlasting death; he shall be brought safe through trials, persecutions, suffering, into the blessed Paradise of God. This was the hope of the martyrs of the Lord. It is our hope now in sorrows, in bereavement, in pain of body and anguish of soul—the high and holy hope of everlasting life with God in heaven.
3. Flight in persecution sometimes a duty. The flight of the holy family into Egypt was necessary For the salvation of mankind. Flight from present danger sometimes preserves God's servants for other and more successful work. They were not to court martyrdom unnecessarily. Their harvest was the world. If they could work no longer safely in one place, there was work to be done for God elsewhere. It might be needful for the good of the Church that they should continue in the flesh. Let them be willing to die or live as best might please the Lord, as best might help on the great work of winning souls. They need not tear that the work would be marred by their flight. ]t was long and toilsome, not to be wrought out in a few years. They themselves (the apostles, to whom the Lord was speaking) would not have gone over all the cities of Israel till the Son of man should come, to end the old dispensation, and to establish the new, in the destruction of Jerusalem. Their successors would not have preached the gospel through all the kingdoms of the earth tilt he should come again in power and awful majesty to judge the world. There is always work for Christian men to do. Then work while there is time; work wherever the Lord calleth you. He is the Lord of the harvest; he appoints to every man his work.
1. Let the ministers of Christ in all their trials remember their mission. It is he who sent them; he will give them strength.
2. They should be prudent; they must be sincere and truthful.
3. Let them expect opposition; Christ hath warned them.
4. They must not be over-anxious how to speak; they must trust; they must look for the promised help of the Spirit.
5. They must work where God's providence sends them. They must bear the cross now, looking onward to the crown.
General rules for all the Lord's disciples.
I. THE CONFLICT.
1. They must be patient, looking unto Jesus. He is our Example, our Master, our Lord. He is in all things above us immeasurably and beyond comparison—in his Divine power and majesty, in his transcendent holiness, in his perfect love. "He was despised and rejected of men." His people must expect the like. We are his disciples, his servants. The great aim of our life should be to be like him; to draw nearer and nearer, though always at an infinite distance, to that Pattern of exalted goodness. We must not look for the high places of the world, when the Lord endured the cross. We must not look for praise, when he was so cruelly insulted. We must expect our best deeds to be misrepresented. Men ascribed the Lord's miracles of love to the agency of Satan. It is enough for the disciple that lie be as his Master. It is good for Christians to be blamed, to be despised, to be slandered. It is a discipline of meekness; it leads them to look into their hearts, to see their own sins and shortcomings; above all things, it makes them like their Master; it brings them, if they take it patiently, into nearer relations with their suffering Lord.
2. The duty of holy boldness. Suffering becomes a blessing if it makes men like their Lord; therefore they must not fear. "Fear not" is the Lord's commandment, his word of gracious encouragement.
(1) Fear not the misrepresentations of men. In the great day the secrets of men's hearts will be revealed: the falsehood, the malice, the hypocrisy, the wickedness, of the persecutors; and. the faith, the purity, the gentleness, the charity, of the Christian. Men will be seen then as they really are. The mask will be torn from the hypocrites; unreality of every kind will be exposed. "Therefore," the Lord says, "be real; be true to your God and to yourselves; speak out, and fear not." The Lord had prepared them for their work in private, in a little corner of Palestine. They were to make his teaching public. He was to teach them secretly, in their hearts, by the guidance of his Spirit leading them into all truth; they were to proclaim openly and fearlessly the gospel message for the conversion of the world.
(2) Fear not them which kill the body. An agony of persecution was at hand; the Lord prepares his servants for it. "Fear them not," he says; "they cannot hurt the soul; their power cannot reach beyond the grove." But there is a holy fear, a fear which is the beginning of wisdom, a fear which casts out all other fears—the fear of God. The power of the persecutors is but for a moment. His is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever and ever. They can kill the body only; fear them not. He can destroy both soul and body in hell; fear him. This is not the fear which hath torment. It is not a slavish fear; it is that deep, loving reverence which gives true dignity to the Christian life; which leads the believer to try always to realize the awful presence of God, to fear to displease him, to walk before him in lowly, reverential obedience. This fear is not cowardice; it is the highest courage. It strengthened the martyrs of the Lord in their cruel trials, in torture and in death. It strengthens true Christians now.
3. The duty of trustfulness. God's mercy is over all his works. He cares for all his creatures, even the smallest, the most insignificant. Much more does he care for those precious souls for which the Redeemer gave himself to die. The smallest circumstances of our lives are not beneath his notice. The very hairs of our head are all numbered. All the little trials, difficulties, vexations, of our daily lives are known to him. Therefore let us trust in that almighty Protector who notes the fall of every little sparrow. "Fear not," saith the Lord. Fear not persecutions; fear not sickness, pain, death; none of these things can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Right dear in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
II. THE END OF THE CONFLICT.
1. The recognition of the conquerors. It cost much to confess Christ before men in the days of fiery trial; even now it is not always easy. It is to own him as our Master and our Lord; not as the many who say to him, "Lord, Lord," but as the few who confess him in their lives. The whole life—both the outward life of word and deed, and the inward life of thought and motive—must be ordered by the obedience of Christ. Both are alike open to the searching eye of God; both must evince the confession of the heart that Christ alone is Lord. The whole life must draw round him as its Centre; it must own him by ready, cheerful submission to him as its only King. The reward is great; such men he will confess before his Father. In the glory of the great day, before the assembled universe, the almighty Judge, the most holy Saviour, will own them as his true sheep, his chosen, his redeemed. It is a lofty hope; may it be ours!
2. The rejection of the disobedient. Those who deny him, he will deny; not those who, like Peter, having once denied, have repented in true contrition, but those who deny him in their lives, though they may profess that they know him; those who show no obedience, no love, no self-denial—those he will deny. Their profession may be loud, their display of religion may be great, but he will deny them before his Father. He knoweth their hearts; they are not his.
3. The conflict will be bitter. The Lord is the Prince of Peace; the angel-anthem that celebrated his incarnation dwelt on the gift of peace. But "glory to God" came first. "Glory to God in the highest," says Slier, "necessarily precedes ' peace upon earth.' The second cannot be attained but through the first, and the conflict which secures it." Peace on earth was the object of the Lord's coming; but the sword was to come first. "The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable." The purity of Christ's holy teaching, its absolute originality, its utter difference from the established modes of faith and worship, would excite a violent opposition. The zeal of Christians would arouse the zeal of persecutors; there would be sharp divisions even in the family circle. Sometimes it is so now; it is a bitter trial.
4. Christ must be first in our love, whatever the cost. He set nothing above our salvation; we must set nothing above his love. Human love is very precious, but not so precious as the love of Christ; all other loves must be subordinated to that one highest love. In truth, they love their earthly friends the best, who, loving Christ above all, love mother, or wife, or child in Christ and for Christ according to his will. But the whole heart must be given to Christ, who gave himself for us. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart." It is the first of all the commandments, the deepest and the holiest.
5. The cross. For the first time we meet with that great word—that word once so hateful, now so sweet and holy. The Lord looks forward in prophetic vision; he sees himself bearing the cross; he sees his faithful followers, each with his cross, moving onwards in long procession to the glory-crown. His words must have seemed very dark and strange. The apostles looked up to him with the utmost reverence; and now he, their King, spoke of the cross, that thing so utterly loathsome. He said that they must take it up; he called it their cross. He implied that he himself would bear it. They could not have understood him then; they knew afterwards. We know his meaning. There is no crown without the cross; no heaven without self-denial for Christ's sake.
6. The true life. This life is dear to us; the life to come should be dearer far. Our present life is continued in the life beyond the grave. Our personality is one; our life here and hereafter is one life under two very different forms. Here is the Christian paradox: he who finds loses, he who loses finds. He who sets his love upon this earthly life and takes not up his cross loses that higher life. His life continues itself, but it becomes death, utter death, to all that makes life worth living. He who loses finds; he who counts all things else as dross that he may win Christ, finds Christ, and finds in him the true life, the life that dieth not.
1. The dignity of the apostolic office.
(1) They were the ambassadors of Christ. They represented him; they carried his message. More than that, the Lord was ever with them. Therefore to receive them in Christian love and hospitality was to receive the Lord Christ himself. He cometh with his true servants; he fills their hearts, he inspires their words. Therefore let us receive them in love, that, receiving them, we may receive into our hearts him who sent them. He himself is the Apostle and High Priest of our calling. "He that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me."
(2) So are prophets and righteous men. All Christ's true servants bear witness for Christ, some by their words, some by the silent eloquence of a holy life; all bring a blessing with them to such as are worthy. They who receive a prophet because he is a prophet, and so speaks for God; they who receive a righteous man because he is righteous, a servant of the Lord, shall receive the reward of the prophet, or righteous man. In honouring them, they are honouring God; in helping their work, they are helping the work of God. How these words of Christ ought to stimulate us to assist all faithful missionaries, all earnest, self-denying men of God! When we help them with our alms and prayers, we are sharing their work, making it in a measure our own work; and (the Lord himself tells us) we shall share their reward.
2. The dignity of all Christians. All belong to Christ—not only apostles and prophets and righteous men, but also the little children whom the Lord Jesus loved so well, whom he took up in his arms and blessed, whom he bade us bring to him. They are his; therefore the gift of love given to them because they belong to Christ shall not lose its reward. The smallest deed of holy love is precious in the sight of him who is love. Let us care for the little children; let us tend the sick and forsaken; let us teach the ignorant. Orphanages, children's hospitals, Sunday schools, are good- and Christian institutions. They who help the little ones because they belong to Christ shall not, the Lord hath said it, lose their reward.
1. We must be content to be despised as the Master was despised; the disciple is not above his Master.
2. Fear God; fear nothing else; be bold in bearing witness for the truth.
3. God cares for us all in our little trials; we should bring them all before him in trustful prayer.
4. What must be the unutterable blessedness of those whom Christ will confess in the last day? Confess Christ now.
5. The cross is the very emblem of our religion; we must take it up, looking unto Jesus.
HOMILIES BY W.F. ADENEY
The twelve apostles.
The commission of the twelve follows immediately on the expression of our Lord's compassion for the forlorn flock without a shepherd, and his more cheering view of the multitude as a ripe harvest-field only waiting for the reapers. They were the first response to the prayer for more labourers.
I. GOD WORKS THROUGH HUMAN AGENTS. The Old Testament had its prophets, the New its apostles. The sheep are scattered if true pastors are wanting; the harvest is unreaped if labourers are not forthcoming. Even the Incarnation did not dispense with a various human agency. Although the Word was now made flesh and dwelt among us, even this human brotherhood of Christ did not make the mission of apostles superfluous. Christ trained twelve men to carry on his work after his brief earthly life was over—nay, to help him while he was on earth himself, preaching the gospel, and healing the sick. To-day Christ seeks for apostolic men to spread his kingdom through the world.
II. CHRIST'S DISCIPLES MUST BECOME APOSTLES. First the twelve were learners, then they became teachers. He who sits at the feet of Christ must listen to the Master's word that bids him rise up and go forth to minister to others. The true Christian is at heart a missionary, and his evangelic spirit will be seen in his active life. If Christ calls any to himself, it is that he may send them forth for the good of the world. Christ lived for men; apostles lived like him for others. So should all Christians live.
III. THE APOSTLES MUST RECEIVE THEIR COMMISSION FROM CHRIST. The twelve were selected from among the followers of Christ. They followed him before they went forth from him. We must come to Christ ourselves before we can be sent out by him. The missionary must be a Christian. Moreover, the closeness of our personal following of Christ is the measure of our power for his service. They are his truest apostles who walk most closely in his footsteps. In the special mission of Christian work it is necessary to be authorized by Christ. All are not called to the highest office, but all are called to some service, and even the lowest ministry in the kingdom is not possible to those who have not listened for the voice of Christ and endeavoured to obey him.
IV. THE SERVANTS OF CHRIST ARE ENDUED WITH POWER FROM ABOVE FOR THEIR MINISTRY. Christ gave a miracle-working faculty to the twelve, so that if they were to do his work they might have some of his power. It would be cruel to send a soldier to the wars without supplying him with ammunition. We do not receive the miraculous gifts, 'rod we do not need them, because our circumstances and our commission differ from those of the apostles. But some grace is needed for every Christian work; without it the ablest and most devoted would fail. Therefore he who gives the command supplies the grace. Christ has now ascended up on high to give gilts unto men (Ephesians 4:8-12), and to different men different gifts—as to the twelve, who were variously gifted, yet each of whom had some power for his special mission.—W.F.A.
The lost sheep of the house of Israel
When our Lord first sent forth his apostles, he directed them to confine their ministry to their fellow-countrymen. Their very number, twelve, would suggest a relation to their people, as though one were chosen for each tribe. Let us consider the significance of this arrangement.
I. SPECIAL PRIVILEGES WERE GIVEN TO THE JEWS. This is not a delusion of their own national pride; it does not depend on their claim to a leading place; it is manifest in history. The fact is apparent in the very existence of the Old Testament; in the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem, a Jew among the Jews; in the appointment of twelve Jews to be the pillars of the Church; in the preaching of the kingdom first among the Jews; in the formation of the first Christian Church of Jewish members, and in the city of Jerusalem. Plainly Israel was favoured, as St. Paul himself asserts (Romans 3:2). There are many favoured people in the present day. All Christendom has privileges from which the heathen are excluded by their ignorance. England is a highly favoured land. Nevertheless, God is no respecter of persons, because
(1) privilege is given for the sake of service, and
(2) at last each will be judged according to his light.
II. CHRIST DESIRES THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL. Undoubtedly the work of the apostles was directed in the first place to saving the Jews. We are thereby encouraged to carry on Christian missions among the Jews. To each race some especial gift is allotted; to Israel is given in a pre-eminent degree the genius for religion. Failure, disappointment, oppression, and, in some cases, wealth and worldly prosperity, seem to have buried the talent. Yet it is Israel's natural heritage. If it could but be brought forth and used, the Jews might yet develop into the missionaries of the world.
III. CHRIST SEEKS THE RECOVERY OF THOSE WHO HAVE FALLEN AWAY FROM EARLY PIETY. They are lost sheep to whom the apostles are sent, The most degraded Israelites are to be the chief objects of the mission. In the past God showed wonderful patience with Israel; even now at the eleventh hour he yearns over the nation, hungering for its salvation. They who have once known God are never forgotten by him. Fallen Christians are not cast off by their Master. Though they have wandered far from him, he has gone out into the wild to seek them. None are so wretched as lost sheep; none so guilty as those who have known the privileges of the fold and yet have forsaken it. Still, even to such the gospel is preached; nay, to them it comes first of all. Christ most earnestly longs for the recovery of fallen Christians.
IV. CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY WORK SHOULD BEGIN AT HOME. Jesus, a Jew, first sought the blessing of Jews. He wept over Jerusalem, and longed to save the great city of his people (Luke 19:41). London is our Jerusalem, England is our holy land. Our first duty is to raise the fallen in our midst. We cannot forget "Darkest England'' while we rightly send missionaries to "Darkest Africa." No claims on the Church are so imperative as those of her own home missions. It is a shame and a scandal that any such missions should be needed in the Christendom of these late ages; but while the heathen swarm around our very doors, living ever within the sound of church bells, our first duty is to these unhappy people, our near brothers and sisters. The recovery of lost sheep at home will not hinder missionary work; it will check that paralysis at the heart which is the most deadly foe of foreign missions.—W.F.A.
Serpents and doves.
No two creatures are more opposite to one another in nature. The serpent eyes the dove with greedy desire; the dove looks at the serpent with the fascination of horror. The serpent is the symbol of the evil spirit; the dove is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, each has exemplary lessons to teach, and the most dove-like soul will be imperfect if something of the serpent is lacking.
I. ALL THE WORLD IS FULL OF EXAMPLES FOR CHRISTIAN CONDUCT. We must be struck with our Lord's freedom in the use of materials for illustrating his teaching. Seeing truth clearly, and living in a spiritual atmosphere of purity, he was in no danger of being misled by the errors and evils around him; he was able to find the good in everything—even to suck honey, so to speak, from the deadly nightshade. The truer and loftier our soul is, the wider will be the range from which we can derive a wholesome diet. It is only the sick man who must be shut up in a hospital, and it is only the sick soul that craves conventual seclusion for the preservation of its purity. Jesus could even go beyond the darker side of nature and find emblems in evil men. tie compared himself to a thief (Matthew 24:43, Matthew 24:44). He bade his disciples imitate an unjust steward (Luke 16:2, etc.). But we want the Christ-spirit to see "good in everything," and to extract the soul of goodness from things evil without carrying away some of the evil. A degraded nature sees evil everywhere—contrives to obtain the poison of the asp even from the innocent dove, finds Delilah in a Madonna.
II. THE SERVANT OF CHRIST NEEDS VARIED GRACES.
1. The wisdom of serpents. In Egyptian symbolism, which gives us serpents coiled about the throne of a sovereign, and, indeed, in the practices of nations in all quarters of the globe, we see the repulsive reptile regarded as of threefold significance—as the emblem of eternity, as the representative of guile, and as the incarnation of evil. It is the second of these characteristics that our Lord here selects. We know that he never encourages deceit. But mental alertness, keenness of observation, and nimbleness of thought are invaluable gifts even for Christian work. We should consecrate intelligence in the service of Christ. There is no virtue in dulness. Stupidity is not sanctity.
2. The harmlessness of doves. This is a negative quality. But it is not less important than the positive intelligence. The shaft of wit may wound where no unkindness is intended. A serpent-like subtlety of mind is a most dangerous faculty. It is valuable; but it is only safe when it is balanced by a dove-like gentleness of disposition.
3. The combination of varied graces. The point of our Lord's recommendation is in the union of two very different characteristics. The common danger is that we should select one to the neglect of the other. There are men of mind who lack heart, and there are affectionate creatures who weary us with their senseless ineptitude. The serpent is an awful ideal if it is selected by itself. Its prophet is Machiavelli, and its hero Mepifistopheles. But the dove alone will not suggest the most perfect saint; its gentleness may be feeble. Yet too often people choose one or the other as their ideal of perfection. Christ blends the two in himself; he is skilful in confounding the clever scribes by keen replies, and he is meek and gentle, harmless and undefiled.—W.F.A.
What to fear.
Fear has a place in the economy of life, but the common mistake of people is to put it in the wrong place. We have dangers, but not where we commonly look for them. There is a needless fear which should be discouraged, am! there is a necessary fear which has to be cultivated.
I. THE DISCOURAGEMENT OF NEEDLESS FEAR.
1. In what it consists. This is the fear of man. The apostles were sent out as sheep among wolves. The gathering opposition of the authorities of Israel against their Master was likely to turn against them also if they showed themselves zealous in advocating his cause. The fear of the disciples under these circumstances would be a type of worldly fear. With us this is not the dread of martyrdom; it is a horror of ridicule, a terror of being despised by fashion.
2. Why it is stimulated. There was real danger to the apostles. Men can kill the body, and Christ does not deny this obvious fact. He does not offer his disciples a smooth course; on the contrary, he distinctly affirms that he has come to send a sword (Matthew 10:34).
3. How it is discouraged. Various considerations prove this to be a needless and even an unworthy fear.
(1) The example of Christ. He is ill used. Why should the disciples complain if they receive the same treatment as their Master (Matthew 10:24, Matthew 10:25)?
(2) The future revelation. Hidden things will be made manifest. Then the true life which seems to end in darkness will be brought to light and fully vindicated. It is hard to die under false opprobrium; but this is not the end. There will i.e. a final declaration and justification of the wronged (Matthew 10:26, Matthew 10:27).
(3) The limit of man's power. He can kill the body, but he cannot touch the soul. Epictetus's master cannot destroy his slave's liberty of soul. The Christian's persecutor may rob him of his brief bodily life, but not of his eternal spiritual life.
(4) The merciful care of God, who sees every sparrow that falls and counts the very hairs of our head, watching the least-valued creatures, observing the least minutiae of his children's condition (Matthew 10:29, Matthew 10:30). This we must take on faith; for the sparrow falls in spite of God's watchfulness. But Christ, who knows God, assures us that it is so; and if God is infinite it must be so.
(5) The guilt of cowardice. Dare we shrink from confessing Christ for fear of man? Such conduct will merit his rejection of us (Matthew 10:32, Matthew 10:33).
II. THE CULTIVATION OF LEGITIMATE FEAR.
1. The object of this fear. This is the awful destroyer of souls—he who goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. There is a childish fear of the devil that haunts the minds of superstitious people—a terror that sat like a nightmare on the people of the Middle Ages. Such a fear is but physical. But that which Christ would inculcate is moral—the dread of sin. Our great enemy is the spirit of evil, and he attacks us whenever we are tempted. Christ wants us to have a horror of doing wrong.
2. The grounds of this fear.
(1) Soul-destruction. Man can but kill the body; sin kills the soul. This is the peculiar effect of wickedness. If it only brought pain, the infliction might be a merciful chastisement, leading us to repentance. But it does far worse; it kills the soul. The wages of sin is death; the broad road leads to destruction; evil conduct paralyzes our better self, saps our higher energy, robs us of our faculties, blinds, crushes, deadens the life within.
(2) Future ruin. The power of man only appertains to earth; the results of sin are seen after death. Therefore we do well to be on our guard, not with abject terror, but seeking security in Christ.—W.F.A.
Christ sending a sword.
Jesus Christ came as the "Prince of Peace," and his advent was heralded by angels, who sang of "peace on earth." When one of his disciples drew a sword to defend him, he bade the man put it back in its sheath, saying, "They that take the sword shall perish with the sword" (Matthew 26:52). His kingdom is not of this world, and because it is not, he told Pilate that his servants would not fight (John 18:36). How, then, can he speak of sending a sword?
I. HISTORICALLY, THE ADVENT OF CHRIST PROVOKES OPPOSITION. We know that swords were drawn against the disciples of Christ. James the son of Zebedee heard a warning in these words of Christ that was subsequently verified in his own person—though as yet he knew it not—when Herod slew him with the sword, and he became the first martyr-apostle. Our Lord foresaw persecution and predicted it. But this was not contrary to his peace principles. His disciples did not fight; and neither he nor they provoked antagonism by showing a quarrelsome spirit. The sword was wholly in the hands of the enemies of the new faith. It was not a sword of equal warfare, but a sword of cruelty, tyranny, persecution. Yet Christ did not draw back from the prospect of it, nor did he permit any compromise on the part of his disciples. Truth must be spoken, errors must be exposed, sin must be denounced, at any cost. Let the Christian be prepared for opposition. If all men speak well of him, let him search his conduct to see whether he has been faithful, or whether perchance he may have been speaking smooth things for the sake of ease and comfort.
II. SOCIALLY, THE COMING OF CHRIST STIRS UP DISCORD. This is a sad picture of the sword cutting into the home and separating child and parent (verse 35). We know that no family is so united as a truly Christian family. Christ consecrates and strengthens home-life. He does not require us to renounce home-ties in order to follow him. How, then, does he come to describe the hideous picture of family quarrels brought about by his coming? We know that his words came true in many a Jewish home where a son or a daughter confessed Christ. They are applicable to-day in Hindoo families that have been reached by missionary influences. Even in England a true, brave confession of Christ may bring great trouble in a worldly home, the habits of which are distinctly unchristian. The explanation is that Christ must be first, and that no domestic claim can excuse us for disloyalty to him. In order that the home may be ultimately glorified as the dwelling of Christ, it may have to be firs; of all saddened as the scene of discord. The larger society is broken and disturbed by Christian influences, and the trouble must go on tilt society is Christian.
III. SPIRITUALLY, THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST BRINGS A SWORD. The Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). The gospel of peace first brings warfare into the soul. It cuts through old habits; it opposes darling sins; it sets nil a new standard at variance with what was loved in the past. The old Adam will not die without a struggle; he fights against the new man. Thus the heart of the Christian becomes a battle-field. To refuse to resist temptation for the sake of peace and quiet is to be unfaithful to Christ, who only gives peace through a faithful endurance of conflict.—W F.A.
Jesus concludes his charge to the twelve on the eve of their mission with words that have more reference to others, with a promise of blessing to those who shall give a good reception to the apostles. Earlier he said that if any rejected the messengers of Christ they were to shake off the very dust of their feet as a testimony against the inhospitable people; and now he concludes his address by cheering words on the other side, generously recognizing a friendly reception of his disciples. Local and temporal as was the immediate occasion of our Lord's remarks, they are evidently of lasting application.
I. THE BROTHERHOOD OF CHRIST LEADS HIM TO REGARD KINDNESS TO HIS DISCIPLES EXACTLY AS THOUGH IT WERE OFFERED TO HIMSELF. He is not the Oriental monarch treating his subjects as a race of slaves. He is completely one with his people. Whatever hurts them hurts him; whatever cheers them pleases him. There is a Christian solidarity. The benefit or injury of one member affects the whole body (1 Corinthians 12:26). But if other members of the body are thus affected, much more will the Head, which is in direct communication with the whole, be affected.
1. This is meant as a great encouragement for the servants of Christ. They are not deserted by Christ; he is in all their work, and he feels keenly every kindness or unkindness offered to them.
2. This suggests how we may all have the unspeakable privilege of receiving Christ. Not only a prophet or an apostle, but a little child, may bring Christ to our home. Receiving the least of Christ's disciples for his sake, we receive him.
II. THE CONDITION OF RECEIVING CHRIST IS RECEIVING HIS DISCIPLES IN HIS NAME.
1. Receiving Christ's disciples. He does not speak here of indiscriminate hospitality, nor of the neighbourly love which he elsewhere commends. Here is a specially Christian action. Much is made in the New Testament of brotherly love—love to fellow-Christians. It is a great privilege to be able to help one of Christ's own little ones.
2. Receiving them in Christ's Name. Thrice does our Lord refer to the conditions of "the name"—"the name of a prophet," "the name of a righteous man," "the name of a disciple." This points to a set purpose in the hospitality. The prophet is received as a prophet because we wish to honour prophets; the righteous man as a righteous man because we desire to help the righteous; the Christian disciple as a disciple, for Christ's sake. This is more than mere kindness; it is a distinct recognition of the claim of Christ. We are encouraged to show kindness for Christ's sake, that we may please him—receiving the envoy for the sake of the King.
III. THEY WHO THUS RECEIVE CHRIST'S DISCIPLES ARE DOUBLY REWARDED.
1. In receiving, Christ. They are treated just as though they had shown hospitality to the Lord Jesus Christ himself. But the reward of such hospitality is in the very coming of Christ. When he entered the house of Zacchaeus salvation came there. To have Christ within us is to have a better blessing than could be got out of all the wealth of the Indies or all the joy of a Christless paradise.
2. In receiving God. This thought is nearly akin to the teaching of the Fourth Gospel (see John 14:9, John 14:10). We do not merely receive Christ as a brother-man. Beneath the veil of the humanity of Jesus the very glory of God enters the soul. Thus he who receives a child lop Christ's sake is blessed by having God in his heart, and then his heart becomes a heaven.—W.F.A.
HOMILIES BY P.C. BARKER
The "commanding" of the twelve.
This was a grand historic occasion indeed. The honoured but ever-comparatively feeble and now dimmed, dying, or dead schools of the prophets are to be succeeded by a scion of Christianity that marks at one and the same time its noblest and most amazing human institution, and Heaven's most condescending gift and human trust. Now begins "the great company of preachers" of the New Testament. They began with twelve;. they very soon grew to seventy; and authorized provision was made by him who first called them, and first "gave them commandment" for their indefinite, "innumerable" increase, by the one method of prayer, their prayer to the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his "great" harvest. With what sublimest of simplicity is it said in the first verse of the following chapter, "When Jesus trod made an end of commanding his twelve disciples"! The commandments were not ten, and, whatever their number, neither were they like those ten master-instructions of the old covenant, and of all time, till time shall end. These commandments breathed the very breath of love, of sympathy, of help. They were charged with trust, and that trust nothing short of Heaven's own-confided trust. The endowments of mighty powers of gift and of grace were enshrined in them. A glorious honour gilded them with deep, rich light. But throughout them, without a break, there ran the "commandment" that meant caution, warning, an ever-present dangerous enemy, thick dangers through which to thread the way. For this necessity, protection and even the very essence of inspiration were the promises vouchsafed. In some analysis of this "commanding of his disciples" we notice—
I. FIRST OF ALL, CHRIST'S PARAMOUNT AUTHORITY IN REGARD OF THE PERSONS WHOM HE COMMISSIONS. Once "he called" them; now "he calls them to him;" he "sends them forth;" and before they go, he "commands" them, and he gives them power." Of this authority two things must be said, and unhesitatingly. First, that what it seemed and what it was to these original twelve disciples, such it ever has been since, and still is, toward those who are their true successors, whether they are the successors of such as Peter and John, or of such as Judas Iscariot. Secondly, that the authority in question is one unshared and undivided, except as it is shared and divided, in whatever mysterious way and in whatever unknown proportion, with those very persons themselves, who either first pushed in to volunteer the solemn responsibility, or put themselves in the way to court it and to consent to accept it. The ordination of Judas Iscariot is not less a fact than that of St. Peter; and so has it likewise travelled down the ages of Christendom to this hour. Before this phenomenon we justly quail, and just are we dumb; but we cannot deny it.
II. CHRIST'S PARAMOUNT AUTHORITY IN RESPECT OF THE PRINCIPLES UPON WHICH THOSE HE COMMISSIONS ARE TO FULFIL THEIR ALLOTTED WORK. These are such as follow: Firstly, absolute independence of any supposed dictation on the part of those to whom their mission is. Secondly, absolute undoubting reliance on himself for guidance and protection, and in the last resort for all that is necessary for "life." Thirdly, the exclusive use and encouragement of moral influence over and among those who are to be visited and preached to, and whose spiritual and bodily sicknesses and diseases are to be ministered to. A most interesting and significant exemplification of this same principle is to be observed in the direction given to the disciples to accept hospitality; not only this, but to lay themselves open to the offer of it; nay, to inquire for it, but never to force it. And this exemplification is perhaps yet more powerfully established in the external symbolic, but still moral condemnation, directed to be expressed towards those who refused to "receive them," as also to "hear their words." Fourthly, throughout all that might seem to merely superficial observation special and artificial and supernatural—a religious and grateful obedience to what wise nature and true reason must dictate. They are sent forth "by two and two". This is
(1) for the manifest and natural advantages of conversation and mutual support; as also for the yet greater gain of complementary support; that is, that where the characteristics of one lay in one direction, those of the other lying in another direction, would contribute largely to the whole stock. So Bunyan, in his great Master's track, herein sets off his two pilgrims, and they remain together to the end—men of the most diverse character and most diverse Christian adaptabilities. And
(2) for the almost creating, but at any rate the setting high honour on the observing of the relation so novel then—spiritual brotherly affection, Christian brotherly affection. How many causes and motives may unite, have united, men together "by two and two"! How rare this once was! how grand has been its career since! What diverse ages—age itself with youth itself; what diverse characters the gentlest and meekest with the strongest and impetuous—the enumeration were almost endless—has Christian work, the simplest work "for Christ's sake," bound together in alliance as indissoluble as sacred! Fifthly, the practical memory of the fact, that as Christ's supreme, final ministry has for its achievement the redemption of soul and body, so that of his apostles, follow it however humbly, at however great a distance, is for the healing of the sicknesses of the body as well as of the sin of the soul. Perhaps it may be said that in nothing has the career of Christianity more vindicated its worthiness than in this—in that, without a "miracle" worked by human intervention for eighteen centuries, those institutions, and that individual charity, that come of the very breath of Christ's own Spirit, have achieved a stupendous mass of mercy for the body of men down those centuries bereft of literal miracle, that leaves far, far behind all the glories of the miracle age. Sixthly, that there should be an order, however inscrutable for its method, and however inscrutable for its justification (as men would be sure to say or to think), according to which the nations of the world were to be visited with the proclamation of the "kingdom of heaven nigh at hand," and with the priceless blessings of that kingdom. Note how facts have been bearing this out in complete harmony with it all the time, since those words fell on the ears of the disciples, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not." The enfranchising word has, it is true, gone forth in one respect to the very opposite effect now. It went forth round the whole world as Jesus ascended. But what a history to muse, to wonder over, "to be still and wait," and to pray over—the sure but unknown growth and devious spread of the kingdom! The "way" of that kingdom as it travelled after the "beginning at Jerusalem," past and present, and perhaps for long yet to come—it must be said even of it, as of him, who only knows and who only governs it, "Thy way is in the sea, thy path in the mighty waters, thy footsteps not known." Our voice, our mission, our commission, is, beyond one inglorious doubt, to all the world; but who is it teaching and constraining and compelling the order of our doings and of our goings in this grand enterprise? Surely an order there is. We do not stumble on in guilty darkness; we do not hurry on by mere "good luck;" neither do we march on as an army in its strength and in our own strength. We are practically as surely bound by the unseen hand that guides and threads our way over the world as were the first disciples by this spoken word. We ought, after praying to know it, to follow the one as implicitly as the disciples did the other. Seventhly, the principle distinctly laid down that spiritual work is worthy of its reward. St. Paul (1 Corinthians 9:11-18) enlarges on this very principle. The ministers of Christ were to hold that it was the duty of the people to support them. What must be the deeper departure from right of those who rob, or would wish to rob, what has been given, and given from age to age, cannot be imagined; this is not even contemplated here. Let it be distinctly asked on what ground, on what authority, the spiritual labourer is "worthy of his meat" at the hands of that world which does not in the ordinary sense ask his labour or for long time value his works, the reply is that it is on the ground of the paramount authority, the authority of Christ. But the dictum of Christ on this thing must especially apply to those who "are worthy," who would wish to rank themselves among "the worthy," and profess to belong to his kingdom. Eighthly, the highest sanction of the principle or' unstinted, ungrudging "freeness of giving," in what they have to give, on the part of the ministers of Christ, who themselves undeniably have received so freely.
III. CHRIST'S FOREKNOWLEDGE OF THE COURSE OF HIS CHURCH AND KINGDOM; AND THE HOSTAGES HE GIVES HEREIN OF HIS OWN ABSOLUTE AND INTRINSIC AUTHORITY, BY THE BOLD AND FULL DESCRIPTION OF THAT COURSE, AS IN THE FULLEST SENSE THAT OF A DEEP REVOLUTION, A REVOLUTION THAT WOULD REND TO THEIR FOUNDATIONS Tile STRONGHOLDS OF HUMAN SOCIETIES, HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS, WITH ALL THEIR LONGEST CUSTOMS AND FIERCEST PREJUDICES.
IV. THE CALM, IMMOVABLE INTREPIDITY OF ATTITUDE AND OF SOUL THAT IS TO MARK THOSE WHO SHALL SEEM THE CHIEF ACTORS IN THIS MORAL REVOLUTION. This is to rest upon: Firstly, the forearmedness of forewarnedness. Knowledge of themselves, of the enemy, and of him who fights by them, in them, for his own grand works; and who will not fail to fight for them, by himself, and all necessary unseen power. Secondly, the confidence that the Spirit of the Father shall be with them, and speak in and for them at each time of need. Thirdly, in memory of that Master, who is "above the servant "—a memory that has often shown itself so omnipotent an impulse and source of strength, Fourthly, with ever-present memory of the infinite disparity between the ultimate sanctions involved, viz. that of those who can kill the body but can no more, and of him who indeed can kill both, but of whom it is in the same breath said—He notices the fall of a sparrow, and counts the hairs of the head of his servant. Fifthly, that noblest incentive of the safest ambition that was vouchsafed in the words of incredible condescension, "He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me." This for some and all. And sixthly, also for some and all the words of tenderest promise, "Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." Thus forewarned, thus forearmed, thus taught, thus given to fear with godly fear, and stimulated thus with promise and present assurance, it might well be that human "weakness" should be, as it was, as it often is, "made perfect in strength."—B.
HOMILIES BY J.A. MACDONALD
Christ's charge to his apostles.
After a night spent in prayer, Jesus called his twelve disciples and constituted them into an apostolic college. With his commission he gave them his charge. Notice—
I. THE PERSONS COMMISSIONED AND CHARGED.
1. They were twelve in number.
(1) Perhaps in correspondence to the twelve tribes of Israel, to whom they are first to preach (cf. Matthew 10:6; Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30).
(2) As the sons of Jacob were the fathers of Israel according to the flesh, so are the twelve apostles the fathers of Israel after the Spirit.
(3) Twelve is a remarkable number in relation to the things of Christ (see Revelation 7:4; Revelation 12:1; Revelation 14:1; Revelation 21:12, Revelation 21:14). It has, therefore, been distinguished from the "number of the beast" as the number of the Lamb.
(4) In this number the apostles of Christ ever remained. For Paul (not Matthias) filled the place forfeited by Judas. The election of Matthias took place before the outpouring of the Spirit, and of the apostleship of Matthias we read no more (see Introduction in Mosheim).
2. Their names are given in order.
(1) Peter stands first in the lists. He was the first called to a constant attendance upon Christ, though Andrew had seen Jesus before Simon (cf. Luke 5:3-10; John 1:40, John 1:41). But he had no authority over his brethren, or it had surely been mentioned; neither had he any authority over the Church in which his brethren did not share. James the son of Alphaeus presided in the council at Jerusalem (see Acts 15:19). The New Testament gives no countenance to the papal claims.
(2) In the groups we find brothers together. Peter and Andrew; James and John; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbeeus, or Jude. "God here unites by grace those who were before united by nature." Nature must not be deemed a hindrance to grace.
(3) Last in the lists is the name of Judas Iscariot. He has the unenviable distinction of "the traitor." Unworthy persons may be found in the holiest societies on earth.
II. THE CHARGE.
1. As to the apostles preaching.
(1) To whom were they to go?
(a) Not to the Gentiles.
(b) Not to the Samaritans.
(c) They were to limit their preaching to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel"
(cf. Isaiah 53:6; Jeremiah 1:1-19.Jeremiah 1:6; Matthew 12:1-50; Romans 9:1-4). The gospel must first be preached to the Jews (cf. Matthew 15:24; Romans 15:8). The restriction, however, was temporary (see Acts 1:8; Acts 3:26; Acts 13:46).
(2) What gospel were they to proclaim?
(a) The gospel of the "kingdom." Its spiritual nature. Spiritually, as well as literally, they were to "heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils."
(b) Its near approach. "At hand," viz. when the Spirit should be given on the Day of Pentecost.
(c) Therefore the need of preparation for it, viz. by repentance.
2. As to its authentication.
(1) To this end miraculous powers were conferred upon the apostles. These were to continue with them. Unless in the spiritual sense, neither did they raise the dead nor cleanse the leper until after the resurrection of Christ.
(2) These they were to exercise freely, without restriction and without reward (see 2 Kings 5:15, 2 Kings 5:16, 2 Kings 5:26). Herein they differed from the exorcists mentioned by Josephus ('Ant.,' lib. 8. c, 11).
3. As to their maintenance.
(1) This they were to receive from those to whom they should minister (Jude 1:9-12; see also 1 Corinthians 9:1-27.; Galatians 6:6; 1 Timothy 5:17). They must be under no necessity otherwise to earn their living.
(2) Where hospitably entertained their peace was to come. "Peace be to this house" was their salutation (see Luke 10:5). "Great is peace," say the rabbins, "for all other blessings are comprehended in it" (cf. John 14:27; Philippians 4:7)..
(3) When inhospitably treated they were to "shake off the dust of their feet," viz. as a witness against them before God (see Nehemiah 5:13; Acts 13:51; Acts 18:6). See that you refuse not the gospel message, for the case of the rejecter is fearful.
1. This sin is worse than that of the men of Sodom (Ezekiel 16:48, Ezekiel 16:49). Who sin against the clear light of revelation are more guilty than those who offend against the dim light of tradition.
2. The full judgment upon sin is reserved to the last great day.
(1) The men of Sodom have yet to appear before the judgment-seat of Christ. The severest temporal judgments upon sinful men do not satisfy the claims of the offended justice of God.
(2) Terrible as their case will be, it will be more tolerable than that reserved for the rejecters of the gospel, of Christ.—J.A.M.
Sheep and wolves.
The charge of Christ to his evangelists is here continued. Though addressed in the first instance to the twelve, it is by no means limited to them. We may learn—
I. THAT THE DISPOSITION OF THE WORLDLING TOWARDS THE CHRISTIAN IS WOLFISH.
1. It is a disposition of hostility.
(1) The wolf is the natural enemy of the sheep. The carnal mind is enmity against God. So is it enmity also against what is Godlike.
(2) Hence the hatred of the world against Christ (John 15:25). A heathen philosopher in commending virtue said, "Were it to become incarnate, such would be its loveliness that all the world would worship it." The experiment was tried. Instead of worshipping, they murdered Christ.
(3) So for Christ's sake (Matthew 10:22) the wolfish world has also hated Christians. It appears by the Apologies that the ancient Christians were liable to be condemned by those who were wholly ignorant of their principles or manners (Tertullian, 'Apol.,' c. 3.; cf. 1 Kings 18:17; 1 Corinthians 4:13).
2. Its hostility is nerved by cruelty.
(1) The hostility of the wolf to the sheep is relentless. Its eyes, teeth, talons, and muscles are fitted to destroy, and its feet are "swift to shed blood."
(2) With cruelty the wicked pursued Christ. Herod (see Matthew 2:13, Matthew 2:16), Pharisees, and rulers plotted his destruction. With the utmost cruelty they executed their purpose. Witness the scourge, the thorn, the cross.
(3) So likewise did the wolves pursue his disciples. Paul, who had scourged others, was himself five times beaten in the synagogues (cf. Acts 22:19; Acts 26:11; 2 Corinthians 11:24). The disciples had also to stand before "governors and kings" (see Acts 23:11; Acts 25:1-27.; Acts 26:0.). In the prediction that these humble men should ever stand before proconsuls and kings tributary to the Romans, we see a miracle of prescience.
3. The cruelty is aggravated by treachery.
(1) "Beware of men," viz. who have the wisdom of the serpent and not the harmlessness of the dove. "Men," viz. more venomous, cunning, and deadly than serpents.
"O shame to men! devil with devil damn'd
Firm concord holds, men only disagree
Of creatures rational; though under hope
Of heavenly grace; and, God proclaiming peace,
Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife
Among themselves, and levy cruel wars,
Wasting the earth, each other to destroy!"
(2) "Brother shall deliver up brother," etc. (verse 21). Unnatural was the treachery of Judas. Yet was he the type of the nation whose name he bore. And men, disguising the venom of the serpent and the rapacity of the wolf under the blessed name of Christ, have been the treacherous foes of his true sheep.
(3) This treachery has used the synagogue—the pretext of religion. It has used the civil court—the pretext of justice. "The secular arm" was the weapon of the wolf disguised in fleece (cf. Ecclesiastes 3:16).
II. THAT THE DISPOSITION OF THE CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE SHEEP-LIKE, BUT NOT SHEEPISH.
1. The sheep is the Christian's type.
(1) The sheep is an emblem of innocence. The Christian is innocent, being justified in the blood of Christ. He is, moreover, sanctified by the Spirit of Christ.
(2) The sheep is also an emblem of patience. The Christian has his perfect Example in Christ. The "Lamb without spot or blemish;" the "Lamb of God." Brought "as a lamb to the slaughter," and "as a sheep before her shearers."
2. To the innocence of the sheep he must add the wisdom of the serpent.
(1) The serpent is a symbol of wisdom. Not because the animal is pre-eminently sagacious. It is not so. But because the devil enshrined his subtlety in a serpent (see Genesis 3:1). The devil was that (שחגה) certain serpent which was "more subtle than any beast of the field"—the animal serpents not excepted.
(2) We need the sagacity of devils to cope with their subtlety. Paul displayed this (see Acts 23:6, Acts 23:7).
(3) Christ is our grand Exemplar here also (see Matthew 21:24, Matthew 21:25; Matthew 22:15-22).
3. To the wisdom of the serpent we must still add the simplicity of the dove.
(1) The dove is an emblem of the Holy Spirit of grace and truth. Noah's dove resting on the ark was a figure of the Holy Spirit resting upon Christ. So likewise upon the believer taking refuge in Christ, viz. from the floods of judgment.
(2) The harmlessness of the dove saves the Christian from that cunning of the serpent by which he is wise to destroy. The dove must influence when the serpent directs. The "wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable" (James 3:17).
III. THAT THE SHEEP OF CHRIST ENJOY THEIR SHEPHERD'S PROTECTION.
1. They go forth under his commission.
(1) To preach the gospel of the kingdom (verse 7). A glorious mission. A mission in some form entrusted to every true disciple. "Ye are my witnesses."
(2) To gain valuable experience. Experience in patience, stability, endurance (verses 21, 22). The active graces may be cultivated in sunshine. Passive graces are developed in clouds and storms. In the passive graces Christian character is perfected (cf. Hebrews 2:10; James 1:4).
2. They go forth with his Holy Spirit.
(1) That Spirit was their Counsellor in the streets. As the wisdom of the serpent leads him adroitly to shun danger by quickly retiring into his hiding-place, so were the disciples counselled to avoid the persecutor by passing on to another city. Note:
(a) The vain spirit which courts cheap martyrdom is discouraged here. It is prudence and humility to avoid persecution when charity and righteousness oblige not the contrary.
(b) There is no countenance here given to the spirit of the hireling who for love of life or property would abandon the flock of Christ to the wolf. Christ's soldiers may quit their ground, but not their colors.
(2) The Spirit of Christ is also their Counsellor in the civil courts (verses 19, 20). If the twelve had plenary inspiration giving them words for their personal defence before judges, how much more so when writing the Scriptures]
(3) The Spirit of Christ is with his servants working miracles (verse 8). Moral miracles are the "greater works" which still attend the Word.
3. They are encouraged by the promise of reward.
(1) The Son of man shall come (verse 23). He shall come in judgment upon the nation. He shall come in judgment upon the world. The former is a presage of the latter.
(2) He shall come quickly. So quickly that nothing is gained by remaining in a city to contend with persecutors. Jerusalem was destroyed before all the cities of the land were visited by the twelve. So is life too short to overtake all the work to be done in the world. The gospel of the kingdom shall only be preached as a witness before the end of the present dispensation (cf. verse 18; Matthew 24:14).
(3) Then shall the faithful be "saved" (verse 22). At the destruction of Jerusalem the Christians, by their flight to Pella, were saved. So at the last day the Lord will take them to himself.—J.A.M.
The Christian is Christ's witness. He has to testify for Christ of his Person, offices, and work. He has to testify for the salvation of the believer; to the condemnation of the rejecter. To the rejecter the testimony is unpalatable and rouses resentment. This is often fierce and deadly. To face this resentment requires courage. In the text the witness has the encouragement, viz.—
I. THAT THE POWER OF THE WICKED IS LIMITED.
1. They have the disposition to destroy.
(1) This was evident When they called the Master of the house Beelzebub. This was in the highest possible degree to call good evil.
(2) It was further evident when they crucified the Just One. In so far as they were able they murdered God.
(3) "The disciple is not above his Master." He has no reason to expect a different treatment from the wicked.
2. But their power reaches only to the body.
(1) So far as killing the body, they prevailed against Christ. So far they prevailed against his martyrs.
(2) "But they are not able to kill the soul." Unless the soul consents to its own injury, it cannot be harmed. The soul is killed only by being separated from God. No power can pluck us out of the hand of God.
(3) Note: The soul does not sleep when the body dies.
3. Therefore God only is to be feared.
(1) He can kill the body as certainly as the wicked can. He can, moreover, kill the soul as certainly as the wicked cannot. He can destroy both in Gehenna; and so destroy as to perpetuate punishment (see Psalms 90:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:9). "Men think that death is an end of their troubles, whereas it is only the beginning of them. It is the lot of the wicked that they live in death, and suffer as it were a continual death" (Philo).
(2) God is to be feared still by those who love him. It is not hell-fire we are to fear, but God. The love of God redeems from slavishness his fear.
(3) Those who fear God truly need not fear man. The fear of sinning arms us against the dread of sinners. Even the heathen could nobly set a tyrant at defiance, saying, "You may abuse the case of Anaxarchus; you cannot injure Anaxarchus himself." Seneca undertakes to make it out that you cannot hurt a wise and good man, because death itself is no real evil to him.
(4) It is enough that the disciple be as his Master. The honour of suffering with Christ is glorious (Matthew 5:10; Romans 8:17; Rom 13:5; 2 Corinthians 12:10; Philippians 1:29; Jas 1:12; 1 Peter 2:19, 1 Peter 2:20; 1 Peter 3:14; 1 Peter 4:14). Wakefield renders Juvenal thus:—
"If ever call'd
To give thy witness in a doubtful case,
Though Phalaris himself should bid thee lie,
On pain of torture in his flaming bull,
Disdain to barter innocence for life;
To which life owes its lustre and its worth."
II. THAT THE FAITHFUL ARE UNDER THE PROTECTION OF A SPECIAL PROVIDENCE.
1. The providence of God is everywhere.
(1) It is behind all mechanical forces. Gravitation brings the sparrow to the ground; but it does not fall without our Father. The statement is not that the sparrow does not fall without his notice, but that it does not fall without him. Without the constant active presence of God in nature there would be no gravitating force.
(2) It is behind all living forces. If the sparrow descends to the ground for food, it is because God is there to provide the food, and also to give the creature the power of volition (cf. Matthew 6:26; Luke 12:6).
2. It is specially concerned for the servants of Christ.
(1) He who feeds his sparrows will not starve his saints. Man, in the estimation of his fellow, is of more value than many sparrows. But how enormous is the contrast between the farthing that will purchase two sparrows and the price paid by God for the redemption of one human soul!
(2) But amongst men the believer engages a peculiar loving care of God, and most of all when he is faithfully witnessing for Christ. "The very hairs of your heads are numbered" (cf. Matthew 10:30; Luke 21:18).
(3) How different is this doctrine of Christ from that of Pope, who says—
"He sees with equal eyes, as God of all,
A hero perish or a sparrow fall"!
Or of Hume, who says, "In the sight of God every event is alike important; and the life of a man is of no greater importance to the universe than that of an oyster"!
3. What, then, has the servant of Christ to fear? "Nothing can harm us"—even the killing of the body—"if we be followers of that which is good."
III. THAT THE FAITHFUL SHALL BE EVERLASTINGLY REWARDED.
1. There is a coming day of revelation.
(1) "There is nothing covered that shall not" then "be revealed." In the day of judgment the malignity of the hypocrite who called the Master of the house Beelzebub will come out to the day (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
(2) So will the fidelity of Christ's slandered witnesses. Already, even in this world, those who once were counted the offscouring of all things are justified and revered. What an anticipation this of the honour of the saint before an assembled universe!
2. The day of revelation will be a day of retribution.
(1) The confessor will be confessed. The confession will be the prelude and passport to the bliss of heaven.
(2) The denier will be denied. The truth itself will condemn those who dishonour it. The denial of the wicked will be the prelude to his destruction in both soul and body in Gehenna.
3. Therefore let the witness for Christ be fearless.
(1) What Christ tells him in the darkness of parable, that let him speak in the light of clear testimony. What he hears in the ear of privacy he is to proclaim as from the house-top, publicly and openly. The trumpet should have a certain sound.
(2) What the apostles delivered they received. They received it in privacy, not for themselves, but as "stewards" to dispense "the mysteries of God" (Ephesians 3:1-12; Hebrews 2:3). "We preach not ourselves."—J.A.M.
The mission of the gospel.
These verses conclude the charge which Christ gave to his disciples when he commissioned them as evangelists. Having instructed them how they were to behave (Matthew 10:5-15), warned them of the hostility they should encounter (Matthew 10:16-23), and encouraged them to be fearless (Matthew 10:24-33), he now enlightens them concerning the mission of their message.
I. IT WAS DESTINED TO DISTURB THE OLD FOUNDATIONS OF SOCIETY.
1. The family is the foundation of old Adam's kingdom.
(1) The distinction of sex is everywhere. It exists in man; also in animals; in plants. In the poles of magnetism; in the dualities everywhere present in nature, principles analogous to sex appear.
(2) The offspring of sexual union stand in natural relationships. Thus the household or immediate family is expressed in the terms "parents and children," and "brothers and sisters." This is the first circle, and within it are close endearments.
(3) In the multiplication of families grow up communities, nations, and races. The aggregate of these constitutes the one vast family of man.
2. Sin has demoralized this institution.
(1) By the first transgression the current was poisoned at the fountain. The family is infected in its birth. The race is universally depraved.
(2) Out of the depraved heart rises the demoralized life. First come disintegrations through individual selfishness and ambition; then confederations of evil.
(3) From the family these strifes work outward, giving rise to litigations and violence, heartburnings and revenges. Standing armies are at length maintained by a grinding taxation to wage destructive wars.
3. In grappling with these frightful evils the gospel stirs up new strifes.
(1) It sets up a new rallying-point. It asserts the paramount claims of Christ. He claims a love superior to that which is nourished in the family (Matthew 10:37). He imperiously requires in homage to his love the sacrifice of all selfish interests.
(2) Those who rally round Christ are naturally opposed and hated by those who cleave to the old evil traditions. And the battle begins in the household. The unconverted father is against the converted son, the unconverted mother is against her converted daughter, and so the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law. The battle of principles comes into closest quarters in the house; so a man's bitterest foes are those of his own household.
(3) The hostility rages there even when it is not intended. "The father," says Quesnel, "is the enemy of his son, when through a bad education, an irregular love, and a cruel indulgence, he leaves him to take a wrong bias, instructs him not in his duty, and fills his mind with ambitious views. The son is the father's enemy, when he is the occasion of his doing injustice in order to heap up an estate for him, and to make his fortune. The mother is the daughter's enemy, when she instructs her to please the world, breeds her up in excess and. vanity, and suffers anything scandalous or unseemly in her dress. The daughter is the mother's enemy, when she engages her to comply with her own irregular inclinations, or to permit her to frequent balls and plays. The master is the enemy of the servant, and the servant that of his master, when the one takes no care of the other's salvation, and the latter is subservient to his master's passions."
(4) But the sword is also cast upon the earth (Matthew 10:34). For what are the broad principles of "liberty, equality, and fraternity," properly understood, but noble Christian principles? Yet in the hands of vicious visionaries and atheistical theorists they are so prostituted as to become the motives to insurrections, revolutions, and the fiercest wars. Wars of religion and wars of ideas!
II. IT WAS DESTINED TO RECONSTRUCT SOCIETY UPON' A NEW' AND PERMANENT BASIS.
1. Of this new world Jesus is the Head.
(1) In respect to this he is styled the" second Adam;" "the Beginning of the [new] creation of God;" "the Firstborn of every creature," viz. in this "new creation."
(2) Coming under his blessed influence we are constituted "new creatures." He is the Archetype of the new world as Adam was of the old. So "as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."
(3) But while the principle of union with Christ is as real as that of natural families, its essence is different. It is individual and spiritual. Hence Jesus never married. In his kingdom there is neither male nor female. In the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be given in marriage, but they shall be as the angels of God.
(4) The kingdom of Messiah shall last for ever.
2. The principle of the new world is love to Christ.
(1) He has a right to our supreme love as our Creator and Redeemer and King. Who but God could justly use such language as "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me"? (Matthew 10:37; cf. Deuteronomy 33:8, Deuteronomy 33:9).
(2) He claims to be loved in his representatives. "He that receiveth you receiveth me." The treatment shown to an ambassador is in fact shown to his sovereign.
(3) This love to Christ, who is himself the Impersonation of love in truth, is the reversal of all selfishness. It requires the lifting of the cross (Matthew 10:38). The cross here is whatever pain or inconvenience, even to the sacrifice of life, cannot be avoided but by doing some evil or omitting some good. The figure is used in prophetic anticipation of the manner in which he should die (cf. Romans 6:6; Galatians 5:24).
3. Hence the promises of the kingdom are to the loyal.
(1) "He that findeth his life shall lose it." Love is life. The love of self and the world is the life of the unregenerate. The love of Christ is the life of the new birth. He that allows self-love to role in his heart must lose the love of God, which is the life of heaven. He that saves his life by denying Christ shall lose it eternally (see John 12:25). Tertullian notes that when the heathen judges would persuade Christians to renounce their faith, the terms they commonly used were "Save your life;" "Do not throw your life away."
(2) "He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." What a man sacrifices to God is never lost, for he finds it again in God. The Lord never permits an evil to befall us unless to prevent a greater, and to do us good.
(3) "He that receiveth a prophet"—one who teaches the truth—"shall receive a prophet's reward." He receives truth in the love of it, which is its own reward. The prophet shall pray for him (see Genesis 20:7; 1 Samuel 7:5; Job 42:8; James 5:14-18). The hostess of Elijah was rewarded in her meal and oil. The rabbins say, "He that receives a learned man or an elder into his house is the same as if he had received the Shechinah."
(4) Even a cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple to the humblest follower of Christ will be rewarded. Love cannot be willed into existence; but it may be wrought into existence. If we give God obedience he will give us love. Love is heaven. Heaven is love.—J.A.M.
HOMILIES BY R. TUCK
The power to impart power.
"He gave them power." It does not strike us as remarkable that, being what Jesus was, he should have power over sickness, disease, disability, and even death. But it certainly is unusual, remarkable, and most suggestive, that our Lord was able to give his power to others, and enable others to do the healing work that he did. There have been men with a genius for magic. They had it, but they were never able to impart it. There have been men with a strange and mysterious gift for healing disease. They had it, but they have never been able to impart it. No master ever yet gave his power to his disciples. He can teach them, guide them, and even inspire them. He cannot give himself to them. But this is precisely what Jesus could do and did.
I. THE LIGHT THIS THROWS ON CHRIST'S DIVINE NATURE. It may be fully argued and illustrated that "power belongeth unto God," and can only come to man directly from him. Man's gifts are Divine gifts; man's endowments are Divine endowments; man's genius is Divine inspiration. It is an accepted truth that God only can "forgive sins;" it should be an equally accepted truth that God only can "impart power." But here we have Jesus doing as simply as possible what we feel is alone in the power of God to do. We say he has the trust of miraculous gifts; but that is only half the truth. He has the gifts in such a way that he is able to give the gifts, in trust, to others. No argument for the essential Deity of Christ ("God manifest in the flesh") could be so effective as this impression produced on us by the fact that he had "the power to impart power."
II. THE LIGHT THIS THROWS ON CHRIST'S CONTINUING WORK. We may be helped in our endeavour to understand that work by seeing that he still has the "power to impart power," and that he is actually imparting power to his people. Christ gives soul-healing from the diseases of sin; Christ quickens life from the death of trespasses and sins. He is come that we might "have life, and have it more abundantly." We can partly apprehend his work in souls by watching his work in bodies when he was here. But see how much more vivid and forcible the illustration becomes when we see that he can repeat his power, tie can give life to men in such a way as will make those men what he himself is—life-givers. Quickening men so as to make them healers and saviours is Christ's continuing work.—R.T.
Representative Christian characters.
No doubt the number twelve was chosen by our Lord because twelve had been the number of the tribes of Israel. Very possibly a critical estimate of those two sets of twelve would bring to view this very interesting fact—the heads of the twelve tribes represent the different types of ordinary humanity, they classify human character; and the twelve apostles represent the different types of Christianized humanity, or of human character as influenced by Christian principles and the Christian spirit. This line of thought would yield some fresh and striking results. In the lists of the apostolate there is an evident division into three classes, each containing four persons. The late T. T. Lynch gave, in a very suggestive way, the marked characteristic of each class or group; but the individuality of some of the apostles is not strongly enough marked, in the gospel narrative, for us to make a more precise analysis of character with any confidence. Those gifted with unusual powers of insight into character may differentiate the individuals from the slight hints that remain, but we may only venture to estimate the groups.
I. THE BORN LEADERS. Simon, Andrew, James, John. Two sets of brothers, and the only brothers in the apostolic company. Natural leaders, for it is evident they were master-fishermen, managers of their business. Their gift of leadership Christ took over for service in his kingdom. Simon was more prominent than Andrew, and the fact that James was the first martyr suggests that he. was more prominent than John; and so we get this conclusion—two, Simon and James, were leaders by force of character; two, Andrew and John, were leaders by gentleness of character. Those two kinds of leaders are always found.
II. THE BORN DOUBTERS. Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew. The Gospels give illustrations of their questioning, critical disposition. They could not receive anything without well looking round it, and seeing it on all sides. Such men have their mission in the world. Faith is always in danger of becoming superstition, and the born doubters are always compelling us to look to the grounds of our faith.
III. THE BORN WORKERS. James, Thaddaeus, Simon the Canaanite, Judas Iscariot. These were good "seconds;" men who could carry out, in all practical detail, what was arranged by the leaders. Not thinkers, and so not doubters; men who wanted something to do, and found themselves satisfied with the doing. Such men are still among us.—R.T.
"Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not." We may find reason for this limitation of the sphere of the apostles in the fact that this was strictly a trial-mission, in which they were to learn how to fulfil the larger mission which would be entrusted to them by-and-by. When the war-ship is nearly ready for sea, it is required to make a trial-trip; but then its course is strictly defined and limited. But there is something more than this suggested. Our Lord really taught, by these limitations, that every man's work is strictly defined. He should spend his strength on work within his bounds; and neither worry himself, nor let any one else worry him, by pressing claims outside his bounds. One of the great sources of Christian fretfulness is the pressure of claims on men beyond their proper spheres. The man who is only a popular preacher is worried by people because he does not teach. The man whose gift is teaching is worried because he does not preach the gospel, and save souls. The truth is that every man has his limited commission. Each one has no business with Gentiles or Samaritans. Each one has his proper sphere with his Israel, and he is wise if he keeps to it.
I. CHRISTIAN COMMISSIONS ARE LIMITED. The honour of doing a whole thing was never given to a single Christian yet. No man ever yet either sowed or harvested God's entire field. Parts of work are given to individuals. Pieces of the field are given to each. We are seldom, if ever, wise when we go stepping over our borders, breaking down the fences that hedge round our particular work. Within our limits there is sphere for all our powers.
II. CHRISTIAN COMMISSIONS ARE VARIED. These particular men were to go to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel;" but other men were to go to the "Gentiles;" and yet others to the "Samaritans." These were to go and preach; others following them would have to teach. Some have just to live for Christ; some have to sing for him, to write for him, to suffer for him. Happy they who can say, "This one thing I do."
III. CHRISTIAN COMMISSIONS ARE UNITED. In the Divine thought and plan they fit into each other, like the strangely shaped puzzle-pieces, and make up the great whole of service for Christ. This workman and that should be doing well his own piece of work, and so the building will be surely growing into a "holy temple of the Lord."—R.T.
The free use of freely given powers.
"Freely ye have received, freely give." Some of our Lord's directions were suitable only for the occasion, and only after much forcing can they be made illustrative of permanent principles; but our text gives succinctly the absolute law on which Christian work must be done and always done. We are monuments of mercy; we must be dispensers of mercy. We are saved by grace; we must be ready to save and help others, "hoping for nothing again," "without money and without price." St. Paul is the most striking after-instance of this law. He was, if we may so say, jealous, in quite an exaggerated way, of the freeness of his gospel service. It was with difficulty he could be persuaded to receive a gift; he never did receive a payment. And our Lord most resolute!—refused to associate his acts of grace and power with money matters. Foreshadowings of this feeling may be found in Elisha, who utterly refused to take any acknowledgment of his cure from grateful Naaman. It is not necessary to controvert the doctrine that "the labourer is worthy of his hire," or that "they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel," or that they "who are ministered unto in spiritual things should minister in carnal things." The point is that if a man becomes conscious of any gift or power unto edification which has come to him by sovereign grace, that man will find his true joy in using his gift freely, "not seeking a reward."
I. OUR GIFTS ARE NOT OURS. This is the point which needs to be brought home to us. Men have no possession in their abilities. They have no right to trade with them for their own benefit. Our gifts are trusts. We trade with them for our Master, and the products of the trading should be such spiritual things as honour him. "What hast thou that thou hast not received?"
II. OUR GIFTS COST US NOTHING. Reference is to spiritual gifts. God distributeth to every man severally as he will. One talent, two, or ten, according as he pleases. No man can purchase, or earn, or win, a spiritual gift. This Simon Magus learned by a most severe rebuke.
III. OUR GIFTS MUST BE USED FOR NOTHING. Our characteristic spiritual power, to help, heal, inspire, or comfort others must never be sold.—R.T.
Matthew 10:13, Matthew 10:14
The responsibility of opportunity.
This direction may be stated in a plain way thus: "Give every man a chance, and let it rest with him whether he takes advantage of it." Moral work can never be done by force. Persuasion of will there should be; constraint of will there should never be. The gospel is to be preached, proclaimed, heralded, to all nations, but it must rest with men themselves whether it shall prove to them a "savour of life unto life, or of death unto death." Here our Lord gives a great missionary law. Keep men's responsibility for moral decisions. Put the truth before them. Speak the message to them. Use all persuasion with them. But if they will not receive your words, pass on to those who will.
I. EVERY MAN HAS HIS MORAL OPPORTUNITY, Just as every man, sooner or later, gets his life-chance. This is enshrined in the familiar Shakesperian sentence about "a tide in the affairs of men." In business matters we often say, "He lost his chance." The story of heart-experiences would probably reveal that every man, once at least in his life, stood on the very threshold of the kingdom, and decided whether he would or would not step across. Men's condemnation is this—the gate of the kingdom was opened for you, and you would not enter in.
II. IT IS OUR DUTY TO PROVIDE MORAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUR FELLOWS. This we do by preaching the gospel to them; by personal influence and persuasion. God makes man his agent, "co-worker together with him," in making supreme moral opportunities for his children. This is the responsibility of the regenerate.
III. THE MAN HIMSELF MUST DEAL WITH THE OPPORTUNITY. As is illustrated in the passage, the apostle may come to a man's door, and his asking hospitality may be the man's opportunity; but the man must decide whether he will let the apostle in. There must be no dealings with men which even seem to weaken the sense of personal moral responsibility. A common saying illustrates this—
"If you will not when you may,
When you will you shall have nay."
IV. OUR OBLIGATION IS ENDED IN PROVIDING THE OPPORTUNITY. We are responsible for skilfully providing it; for wisely following it up, and for persistently renewing our effort to present it. But we are not responsible for results following. The man must bear them.—R.T.
The law of safety for Christian workers.
It is a law which regulates their own conduct. "Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." Living creatures are recognized figures of moral qualities. How the serpent comes to be the figure of wisdom, with the peculiar characteristic of subtlety, is a subject for dispute. Yah Lennep, writing concerning Asia Minor, says, "The serpent has not the reputation of being ' cunning' or ' wise,' nor are such characteristics suggested or sustained by any facts known in Western Asia. Nevertheless, its subtlety has passed into a proverb, doubtless by reason of the Mosaic account of the fall of our first parents, and this is now as generally current among both Christians and Moslems as it was among the Hebrews in the days of our Lord." There is a kind of paradox in thus associating the serpent and the dove, which is designed to be suggestive and inspirational.
I. OUR SAFETY DEPENDS UPON OUR GUILEFULNESS. This sounds bad. Guilefulness, in the sense of "hypocrisy," receives Christ's most withering denunciations. No such guilefulness can be commended here. But there is a guilefulness which is really "prudence," and this may very naturally be suggested by the quiet, gliding motion of the serpent. There is a simplicity which is foolishness. There is a simplicity which is prudent, watchful of occasions, skilful of adjustments, knows when to act and when to refrain, when to speak and when to keep silence. That "guilefulness" is the practical skill of ordering wisely our life. A company of hermits discussed which of the virtues was most necessary to perfection. One said chastity, another humility, another justice. St. Anthony said, "The virtue most necessary to perfection is prudence; for the most virtuous actions of men, unless governed and directed by prudence, are neither pleasing to God, nor serviceable to others, nor profitable to ourselves." in doing God's work opposition is often needlessly provoked by our imprudence.
II. OUR SAFETY DEPENDS UPON OUR GUILELESSNESS. The dove is the emblem of innocence, artlessness. It has no schemes, no under-intentions, no reserve. What it is you know. All its ways are transparent. If the apostles acted so as to produce the impression that they had ends of their own to serve, they would have set people on the watch lest the apostles should take advantage of them. St. Paul says, "We seek not yours, but you." Prudence and simplicity, guilefulness and guilelessness, can therefore go together, hand-in-hand.—R.T.
The mission of religious persecution.
In warning the apostles that their mission would involve persecution, our Lord clearly showed that such persecution was in the Divine plan, and, if in the Divine plan, it had its mission; it would prove to be a blessing; it was indeed a "blessing in disguise." The calamitous and distressing side of religious persecution has been so often dwelt on that it may be well to "turn the shield," and look on the brighter side. Religious persecution has its important uses and ministries; in one form or other it has been found in every age, and the Church of every age has been the better for it. This does not excuse persecutors or relieve their guilt; but it does bring to us a fuller sense of the Divine overruling of even evil things. The forms that persecution took in the early Church may be illustrated. Tacitus tells us that "the Christians were convicted of enmity to the human race."
I. RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION HAS ALWAYS BEEN A TEST OF SINCERITY. It finds out those who only profess, and those who profess because they possess. Only the men in earnest abide the stress of persecution. A man must care about a thing if he is willing to suffer for its sake. Persecution is a natural process of separating tares from wheat. How many unworthy ones would be in Church relations if religion involved no strain! There is testing social persecution nowadays.
II. RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN AGENT IN CLEARING DOCTRINE. All sorts of ideas, good, indifferent, and bad, are being constantly taught. They would grow into doctrines if they were not subject to some clearing process. A man will suffer for what are deep convictions, but a man will not readily suffer for his fanciful notions. Many an error has been cleared away in times of persecution, but no truth was ever then lost.
III. RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE GREAT INCENTIVE TO ZEAL. Ages of peace too often become ages of ease and indifference. Aggressive Christianity is found in vigour only in persecuting times. Strikingly illustrated in Madagascar. Enterprise, energy, faith, flourish in times of pressure and peril.
IV. RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION HAS ALWAYS PROVED A GREAT HELP TO BROTHERHOOD. The sufferings of some, the perils of all, throw each upon the other's keeping. The story of persecuting days is a delightful record of sweet charities and loving helpfulness in the Christian brotherhood.—R.T.
The common lot of master and servant.
Point out the connection in which this text stands. Christ illustrated what was his claim on men, and what was involved in becoming citizens of his kingdom, by sending out his apostles on a trial or model mission. He corrects certain wrong impressions and false expectations in this passage. Those apostles will not meet with all the success they anticipate. They will repeat his own story of thankless labour and reproach.
I. THE IDEA OF A TRUE LIFE IS LIVING OVER AGAIN THE LIFE OF CHRIST. The disciples of Christ are expected to reproduce their Master's ideas, principles, and even actions; but their own personal stamp is to be quite plain on all their reproductions. A worthy servant does, both consciously and unconsciously, what he sees his master do. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Master in such a sense as makes him our ideal of what the true and noble life is. Reproducing him may be said to involve:
1. Looking at life in the light in which Christ looked at it. It is not for self, it is not for any earth-ends. It is for God, and for God as the Father-God. The true imitation of Christ is the sway in our lives of those principles that ruled his. Wherever we may be, the Christly spirit may be in us, and may be glorifying all our relations.
2. Uttering the Christly spirit by lip and life as he did. Loving words and loving deeds expressed Christ's loving thought and purpose. While motive is the most important thing, it can never be separated from fitting action.
3. Bearing the earthly disabilities of a Christly life as be did. The same, or similar, disabilities come to Christians in every age as came to Christ. The variations we notice are on the surface, and belong only to forms and features. "The light shines in darkness," and is similarly affected by the bad atmospheres. Misunderstandings, reproaches, persecutions, abound still. "If reproached in the name of Christ, happy are ye." Take St. Paul's life, and show how his troubles repeat Christ's, with characteristic variations.
II. THIS IDEA OF LIFE TRUE HEARTS WELL FIND EVER-SATISFYING. The feeling of the Divine worth and beauty of that blessed life of Jesus will ever grow on us as we come into spiritual communion with it. And to reproduce it, to work it out in our own lives, will engage all our thought, and use up all our faculty, in a delightful way What is the fact? Do men learn of Christ from our Christ-likeness?—R.T.
The Lord of the sparrows.
The connection of this illustration should be noticed. Our Lord bids the first missionaries stand even on the house-tops, and freely speak out his message; but he, in effect, adds, "In doing this you will meet with dangers not a few. You will meet with enemies, some of whom will not stop short—if only their power will reach so far—of bloody issues. But fear not. You are watched and protected at every step, and come life, come death, you are safe." Van Lennep tells us that the edge of the house-top is the favourite station for the sparrows. "There they sit, or hop about and chirp, sharpen their little bills, or carry on their little quarrels; and when the coast is clear in the yard below, down they fly in a body to pick up any crumbs or scraps of food they may chance to find." Sparrows are sold at the smallest price fetched by any game. It was also the smallest living creature offered in sacrifice under the Mosaic dispensation. It was the gift for the poor leper.
I. GOD'S TENDER MERCY IS OVER ALL HIS WORKS. "His way is to look at the lowliest creatures and things as carefully, as paternally, as to the noblest and highest. To him there is nothing great, nothing little. He has a record of all the birds that fly. Sparrows on the earth are as numerous as stars in heaven, 'and not one of them is forgotten before God.' They build their nests in his sight; they hatch their young, and send forth their families every year; and God knows each one—whither it flies and where it rests; and not one of them falleth to the ground by shot of fowler, or spring of cat, or cold of winter, nay, one of them shall not hop down on the ground (so some understand the meaning of the term) without your Father" (Dr. A. Raleigh).
II. GOD'S TENDER MERCY IS OVER ALL HIS CHILDREN. It is an argument from the less to the greater which is suggested. We see it and feel its force at once when we apply the argument in our common home relations. If the house-mother tends so carefully the canary bird in the cage, how much more will she tend carefully and lovingly the child in the cradle! If we are of more value than many sparrows, we may have the fullest confidence that God's dealings with us fit to our value.—R.T.
He that knows Christ will confess him.
In these days there are many among us who are, at heart, disciples of the Lord Jesus, but who shrink from confessing him before men. Their character and conduct have been long watched by those about them, and the signs of Divine change and renewal have been recognized. And vet they remain but "secret disciples." Like one who is introduced to us by St. John, who chose the quiet night hour, when the city hum was stilled, and only a stray traveller passed along the street, and he could hope to be unrecognized. There are many who have to be classed with Nicodemus. Quiet, timid souls, half afraid of their own thoughts, they seek Jesus, as it were, by night. To such this text appeals. To confess Christ would be the very thing to help them realize their condition. Confessing ought not to be a difficult thing. No man need hesitate to acknowledge that he loves the loveliest and serves the holiest.
I. IN WHAT WAYS DOES CHRIST EXPECT YOU TO FULFIL THIS DUTY?
1. Whatever form or order Christ's Church may take, it always has some way in which open and public confession can be made. In that way the duty comes home to us, according to the Church to which we belong. Somehow Christ must be openly and publicly acknowledged before witnesses.
2. You must help in Christian service, and so confess Christ's Name. If you are made "a new creature in Christ Jesus," be sure that he has some work for you to do, some place for you to occupy, some mission for you to accomplish.
3. You must live such a godly life as shall of itself constantly confess Christ. If you do not check the movements of heart-piety, you will find it wants to push out into the light and show itself in holy living. When the spring is purified, all the rivulets that run from it flow clear and pure. When the leaven is put in the meal, it will not keep still until the whole is leavened. Let religion have as much room and power as it may please. Do not let timidity, any more than sin, or passion, or evil habit, check it from its natural and befitting expressions.
II. BY WHAT HINDRANCES MAY YOU BE KEPT FROM OBEDIENCE?
1. The sense of responsibility attaching to making public profession. But that is to forget that responsibility ennobles a man.
2. A sense of personal unworthiness because Christian experience seems so limited.
3. A fear of the possibility of dishonouring Christ by backsliding and sin. But that is to mistrust God's power to keep you unto the end.—R.T.
Confusion of mind is caused by associating this figure with our Lord's crucifixion, or with the fact that he was required to carry his cross to the place of crucifixion. It cannot be too clearly pointed out, that our Lord used the figure to illustrate his teachings before his disciples had formed the faintest idea that he was to be crucified; and yet he must have meant them to understand him. They did understand. Cross-bearing was a commonly used figure of the day, and stood for "doing a thing that was disagreeable to do, or bearing a thing that was painful to bear, because it was right." In that sort of sense Christ used it in our text. "Christian duty, sometimes painful, involves crucifixion of self, sacrifice of natural feelings." Dean Plumptre says, "These words would recall to the disciples the sad scenes which Roman rule had made familiar to them—the procession of robbers or rebels, each carrying the cross on which he was to suffer to the place of execution. They would learn that they were called to a like endurance of ignominy and suffering." It is, however, better to preserve the familiar proverbial character of our Lord's allusion.
I. EVERY CHRISTIAN MAN HAS HIS CROSS. Every individual has his cross. We all have to say, again and again, "Things will not be according to my mind." Becoming a Christian may alter our crosses, but it is pretty certain to multiply them. The more active and enterprising a Christian is, the more, and the weightier, will be his crosses. They will always be marked by their demand on the Christian to do what he ought rather than what he likes. A cross is that which puts a man on self-restraints and self-denials.
II. EVERY CHRISTIAN MAN IS REVEALED BY THE WAY IN WHICH HE DEALS WITH HIS CROSS.
1. He may spurn it.
2. He may leave it.
3. He may lift it.
He is disloyal if he spurns it. He is negligent if he leaves it. He is true-hearted if he lifts it. This leads on to the thought that if "cross-bearing" is discipline, and may even be stern discipline, it is always sanctifying. Cross-bearing may even be figured as the "highway of holiness."—R.T.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Matthew 10". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18