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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Matthew 10

Verse 1

10:1 His twelve disoiples. Jesus had many disciples, but he selected twelve out of the group to be his apostles. In Mar 3:14 it is stated that these men were designated as the ones who should "be with him." This was to be one of the qualifications required of the original apostles. (See Act 1:21-22 ) These men were to be "laborers" sent forth into the harvest as was asked by the Lord in the preceding chapter. Since they were to be separated at least at short intervals from him, they would need to be qualified to back up their work by miracles of various kinds. Power is from EXOUSIA which also means "authority." With the appointment that Jesus made they were given the right and ability to execute the mission

Verse 2

:2-4 There are three accounts or lists of the twelve apostles; here, in Mark and in Luke. The men are the same ones but the names of some of them are not the same, and the three accounts do not give them in the same order. For the purpose of identification I shall number the list as given by Matthew from 1 to 12 consecutively, using it as a schedule for the other two. The list given by Mar 3:16-19 should be numbered as follows to correspond with these in Matthew as 1, 3, 4, 2, 5, 6, 8, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12. Number the list in Luk 6:14-16 as follows==> 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 7, 9, 11, 10, 12. All of the men with the same number are the same regardless of the name. Who also betrayed him is said to distinguish the traitor from the brother of James who has the same name in one list, although the betrayal had not taken place when this was written.

Verse 5

10:5 This and the following verses through 5 constitute what is familiarly known as the first commission. It was limited as to the territory or people to whom they were to go. All people who were not full blooded Jews were regarded as Gentiles. Samaritans were distinguished from the Gentiles because they were a mixed race, part Jew and part Gentile, both in their blood and in their religion. This history of their origin is recorded in 2 Kings chapter 17, and explained in volume 2 of this Commentary.

Verse 6

10:6 Lost sheep. The Jewish nation had been imposed upon and neglected by the leaders for generations, hence they were compared to sheep who were lost in the wilderness, deserted by their shepherd. That is why Jesus had compassion on them and thought of them as being "scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd" (Mat 9:36).

Verse 7

10:7 At this time the kingdom of heaven was at hand, which shows it was near but not yet in existence as a fact. Hence we know that John the Baptist (who was then dead) did not set up the kingdom as some people teach today.

Verse 8

10:8 These apostles were able to perform the same kind of miracles that Jesus did, and that included the power to raise the dead. Pretended miracle workers today refuse even trying to raise the dead on the ground that the early disciples were restricted to miracles on the living. The present passage disproves their doctrine and exposes their hypocrisy. Freely received, freely give. The aspostles received all their power from Jesus--it was not a natural trait--hence they should pass its benefits to others.

Verse 9

10:9 These metals refer to the coins used in those days. The reason they were not to provide themselves with them will be explained in the next verse.

Verse 10

0:10 A scrip was a provision bag, used in the same manner as the modern lunch basket. They were also told not to take any extra clothing besides what they wore as they started. The reason given is that the workman is worthy of his meat. They were to be supported by the people among whom they labored. Since those people were Jews, and hence already disposed somewhat in their favor, it would be reasonable to expect some returns for their work. Later, when they were to go among the heathen, and especially as they would be without the immediate support of Jesus, they were to "look out" somewhat for themselves. (See Luk 22:35-38.)

Verse 11

0:11 Inquire is from EXETAZO which Thayer defines, "To search out; to examine strictly, inquire." This would require the apostles not merely to ask some person whom they might meet as to what house it would be well to enter, but they were to take whatever means would be necessary to obtain reliable information. After finding a house worthy of their visit they were to confine their work in that town to that house. The reason for this restriction is shown in verse 23.

Verse 12

0:12 The inquiry mentioned above would include the added information they would receive through the attitude manifested by the residents of a house upon entering it. A house might be selected temporarily because of some apparently favorable indications, and the test would be concluded after meeting the people on the inside. This would be introduced by an act of courtesy in the form of saluta- tion. That word is from ASPAZOMAI and Thayer defines it at this place, "To salute, greet, wish well to."

Verse 13

0:13 After the investigation has been completed, if the house is found to be worthy, their peace or good wishes was to be bestowed upon it. That would be accompanied with their delivering of a message of good news of the kingdom. If the house was found to be unworthy, their peace was to return to them, and that means their good wishes would be recalled.

Verse 14

0:14 A group of citizens that were such as to be regarded as unworthy, would be the kind that would reject the offered blessings of the apostles. Shake off the dust of your feet. People traveled on foot and thus picked up the particles of soil on the way. This act was purely a symbolic one, for there would be no contamination in the dust due to the character of the people. It meant that all responsibility for their fate was to be left at their own door, seeing they would not receive the favors offered them by their good visitors.

Verse 15

0:15 Be more tolerable in popular language would mean to "stand a better chance." Sodom and Gomorrha were very wicked cities, yet their opportunities for knowing better were far less than those of the cities to be visited by the apostles. These conditions made them less responsible and hence less to answer for. It should be noted that the difference was to be made in the day of judgment. That is, in making up the verdict as to the eternal fate of people, the Judge will consider these facts as to their opportunities. After the day of judgment nothing is said about any difference.

Verse 16

0:16 If a sheep had to be put into the midst of wolves he would not escape being attacked but by the best kind of behavior. He should not make any unnecessary movement toward one of these beasts for that would attract his attention. Instead, he should go about his search for food or whatever he was seeking, using his good judgment and not doing any harm to the interests of the beasts. The simple lesson was that the apostles were to be discreet in their dealings with the people they met.

Verse 17

0:17 The councils were the san-hedrins, the highest courts the Jews were permitted to have at that time, and the synagogues were the buildings where they met for religious purposes. (See the description of them at Mat 4:23.) The object in forcing the apostles into these places was to persecute them from both the secular and religious standpoints as far as their authority permitted.

Verse 18

0:18 Not being satisfied with what they could accomplish in their own assemblies, the Jews would drag the apostles before the rulers of the Roman Empire where they would hope to obtain some decrees against them. For a testimony does not mean the persecutors would hail the apostles into those courts for the purpose of hearing the testimony against themselves. Jesus meant that such a circumstance would give them an opportunity thus to speak against them and all the sinful men of the nations.

Verse 19

0:19 This verse is in line with the comments on the preceding one, that the calling of the apostles before the various courts was to be turned into an opportunity for speaking the truth. They were not to be worried as to what kind of speeches they were to **lake, for they would be furnished with the necessary material for the speech. In that same hour indicates that the subject matter would be adapted to the circumstances of the occasion when it arrived.

Verse 20

0:20 This verse states the means by which the apostles were to speak, that they would be guided by the Spirit of their Father.

Verse 21

0:21 The same oposition to truth that would bring the apostles into the courts, will also divide between the members of families. This prediction is made specifically in Luk 12:53 where Jesus is speaking of the results of his teaching.

Verse 22

0:22 Hated . . . name's sake. Because of their loyalty to the name of Jesus, men would hate the apostles wherever they labored. Endureth to the end means those who hold out faithful to the end of the persecutions will be saved or divinely blessed.

Verse 23

0:23 To endure persecution does not mean that one must needlessly expose himself to possible death. If he can escape without compromising any truth or evading any duty, he should do so and thus be able to do good elsewhere. The apostles would have plenty of places in which to preach, therefore when their work was rejected and their lives endangered in one city, they were to flee into another. Even then they would not have time to visit all the cities in Israel until their period for working would be ended. That was the reason for the restrictions mentioned in verse 11.

Verse 24

0:24 The word above means the disciple and servant are not any better than their master and lord, or any more entitled to escape persecu- tion than they.

Verse 25

0:25 Enough to be as. It should be regarded as a favor not to be any more liable to persecution than they. Since the master of the house has already been virtually called Beelzebub (Mat 9:34), the servants may expect the like treatment.

Verse 26

0:26 The persecutors perform their evil deeds often in an underhanded and cowardly manner. But their works will finally be exposed and all false charges disproved.

Verse 27

0:27 Darkness and light are used figuratively, and have the same meaning as the next clause. Jesus taught his apostles many things while they were alone with him, and they were then expected to tell them to others publicly. The housetops were fiat in those times and used very much in the same manner a& our verandas or sidewalks. (See Deu 22:8; Mat 24:17; Act 10:9.) That would give the apostles an opportunity to preach to the people in a public manner.

Verse 28

0:28 Mere human beings can cause us to die physically, but Jesus teaches that they cannot go any further in their work of destruction while someone else can. All this proves that death as we use that term does not end it all, hence the materialists are shown to be teachers of false doctrine. God is the One who can destroy (cast) our whole being in hell, therefore we should fear or respect Him. See the note at chapter 5:30 for the lexicon explanation of hell.

Verse 29

0:29 God's care for his creatures is the point in this verse. A sparrow was of such little commercial value that two of them could be bought for a farthing, one of the smallest of coins; yet every time one of them is brought down God sees it.

Verse 30

0:30 Before finishing the subject of the sparrow, Jesus makes direct reference to the value of the human being. Numbered is from the Greek word ARITHMEO, and Thayer defines it with the one word only that we have in our Authorized Version. Robinson defines it, "To number, to count." The meaning is that each hair is counted or considered.

Verse 31

0:31 Did not Jesus know these men would immediately begin to spread the report of their wonderful recovery? They would have been the most unnatural and ungrateful persons in the country to have received such an unspeakably gracious blessing and then not tell anyone about it. But Jesus did not want the public to think he was doing miracles just for the sake of fame. Should anyone accuse him of it, there would be plenty of witnesses to deny the accusation because they had heard him ask the favored ones not to make an ado about it.

Verse 32

0:32 The fear of persecution might cause some to deny Christ, so this verse is properly placed in the midst of that subject. Confess is from HOMOLOCEO, and I shall give Robinson's definition of the word because it is more condensed: "To speak or say together, in common, i. e., the same things; hence to hold the same language, to assent, to accord, to agree with." To confess one, then, means to admit being in agreement with him and endorsing his teaching. Of course Jesus will not need to agree with the teaching of his disciples except to acknowledge that the disciples had accepted the teaching given them by the Lord.

Verse 33

0:33 The relief sought was granted although the fact is not stated except to take it for granted. It was the man that was dumb, not the devil, for when it was cast out the man spake. It was never so seen in Israel. This was the remark of the uninspired multitudes but it was true, for it was not contradicted by even the Pharisees.

Verse 34

0:34 The Pharisees could not deny the fact of the casting out of the devil, but tried to rob Jesus of due credit by attributing his power to Satan. This subject will be dealt with in Mat 12:22-32.

Verse 35

0:35 The conditions described in this verse are the opposite of the specific definition of "peace" in the preceding one. These relatives will be set at variance with each other because some of them will accept the teaching of Christ and some will not.

Verse 36

0:36 Not only will distant relatives be opposed to each other, but right in a man's household there will be members who will become his personal enemies because he is determined to accept Christ's teaching.

Verse 37

0:37 The only way to prevent the above difficulty is to reject the doctrine of Christ. If one does that it proves that he loves his earthly relatives more than he does Christ, in which case he becomes unworthy of his Lord. That will put him in the class mentioned in verse 33 and he will be rejected at the last day.

Verse 38

0:38 The cross is used figuratively in this place. The original word is defined by Thayer simply, "A cross." However, the same author cites us to some history that explains the language of Jesus as follows: "The judicial usage which compelled those condemned to crucifixion themselves to carry the cross to the place of punishment, gave rise to the proverbial expression [about bearing the cross], which was wont to be used of those who on behalf of God's cause do not hesitate cheerfully and manfully to bear persecutions, troubles, distress,--thus recalling the fate of Christ and the spirit in which he encounters it."

Verse 39

0:39 The key word in this verse is life which comes from PSUCHE in both cases. The word has been rendered in the Authorized Version by heart 1 time, life 40, mind 3, soul 58. Among the phrases in Thayer's long definition are the following: "Breath; the vital force; life; that in which there is life; the soul; the seat of the feelings, desires, affections; the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death." From the above information we may learn that man has an outer and an inner life. Expressed in another way, he has a physical life and an inner life that can be saved spiritually. Both kinds of life must be considered in this verse which will make it read as follows: "He that findeth [or is working for] his earthly life shall lose his spiritual life." Of course the last half of the verse means just the opposite, but we may extend the language and say that if a man actually loses his earthly or outer life (verse 28) for the sake of Christ, he will gain eternal life.

Verse 40

0:40 Jesus and his Father are one in purpose, and both were upholding the apostles who had been chosen. Of necessity, then, the attitude of the people towards any one of the three would count for all of them.

Verse 41

0:41 The apostles were classed as prophets under the new order of things under Christ. To receive one of these in the name of a prophet means to receive him because he is a prophet of the Lord. Prophet's reward means the reward such as a prophet can bestow. The same principle applies to receiving a righteous man for his reward.

Verse 42

0:42 These "little ones" are the same disciples referred to in earlier verses of the chapter. Kindness of ever so little a character shown to them is the same as doing so to Jesus and will be rewarded in due time. This is the same lesson that is taught in Mat 25:40.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Matthew 10". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.