Matthew 10


‘Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. ‘Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. ‘I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.’ Matthew 10:1-16

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve

Jesus’ ministry is well and truly underway and by this time He had already chosen the twelve, Luke 6:13-16. Here Jesus gives the twelve the authority to work miracles in the lives of anyone they met.

And notice that they received this power before the events of Acts 2 when they were baptised with the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:1-5. What Jesus is doing here is giving them this power in order that their preaching could be confirmed as true, Mark 16:20 / John 20:30-31.

Jesus often sent His disciples out alone, Mark 6:7 / Luke 9:2. Notice during this time they weren’t to go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, Matthew 15:24 / John 4:9, but here they are instructed to go only to Jewish towns and villages.

It wasn’t until after Jesus’ ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles in Acts 2, that they are instructed to go into all the world, Matthew 28:19 / Mark 16:15.

We need to remember that Jesus sent the disciples out on many preaching trips during His ministry in order to prepare the way for the cross and establishment of His kingdom’s reign.

Notice the message they were given to proclaim, ‘the kingdom of heaven has come near’, Matthew 3:2 / Matthew 4:17 / Mark 9:1 / Luke 10:9.

‘Come near’ means it’s about to be established and as we know, Jesus isn’t speaking about an earthly kingdom but a spiritual kingdom. Through His preaching and the preaching of the twelve, Jesus was preparing Israel for His kingdom reign from heaven that would be the fulfilment of prophecy, Daniel 2:44 / Daniel 7:13-14.

Jesus tells the twelve, ‘freely you have received; freely give’. This should be one of the basic principles of Christian living. In the context, here, Jesus was referring to they’re freely receiving the power to heal the sick. In other words, they weren’t to heal for money, they were to use the free gift of healing in a generous manner.

Remember after they received power from the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, they would remember this principle, and so, they would freely impart the ‘miraculous gifts’ to all by the ‘laying on of their hands’, Acts 8:18.

The miraculous gifts don’t exist today because no apostles exist to ‘lay their hands’ on us, but we do recognise that God has freely given His grace, therefore we should freely proclaim it to others.

Notice also that they were to take no extra possessions that would burden their trip, they were to take only the clothes they wore and no staff. Luke 9:3.

Wait a minute, Mark 6:8 says, ‘Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.’

Is this a contradiction? Were they to take a staff or not? Matthew and Luke seem to agree that Jesus prohibited the disciples from taking a staff on their journeys, while Mark appears to give them permission to take one.

Furthermore, although Luke doesn’t record Jesus’ command regarding sandals, some have concluded that Matthew and Mark also contradict each other on this point.

The differences between Matthew and Mark are explained easily when we understand that the writers used different Greek verbs to express different meanings. In Matthew, the word ‘provide’, N.K.J.V., the root Greek word comes from ‘ktaomai’, which means to ‘procure for oneself, acquire, get’.

Based upon these definitions, the N.A.S.V. used the English verb ‘acquire’ in Matthew 10:9. ‘Do not acquire’, instead of ‘provide’ or ‘take.’

In Matthew, Jesus is saying, ‘Do not acquire anything in addition to what you already have that may tempt you or stand in your way. Just go as you are.’ As Mark indicated, the apostles were to ‘take’, ‘airo’ what they had, and go.

The apostles weren’t to waste precious time gathering supplies, extra apparel, staff, shoes, etc. or making preparations for their trip, but instead were instructed to trust in God’s providence for additional needs. Jesus didn’t mean for the apostles to discard the staff and sandals they already had, rather, they weren’t to go and acquire more.

It’s obvious from a comparison of the verses in Matthew and Luke, that they are recording the same truth, that the apostles weren’t to spend valuable time gathering extra staffs, only they are using different words to do so.

‘Provide ‘ktaomi’ neither gold nor silver, nor staffs. Matthew 10:9-10

‘Take ‘airo’ nothing for the journey, neither staffs.’ Luke 9:3

Luke didn’t use ‘ktaomi’ in his account because he nearly always used ‘ktaomi’ in a different sense than Matthew did. In Matthew’s account, the word ‘ktaomai’ is used to mean ‘provide’ or ‘acquire,’ whereas, in the Books of Luke and Acts, Luke used this word to mean ‘purchase, buy, or earn.’

The point is simply this, Jesus wanted them to go as quickly as possible to proclaim the message that the Messiah had arrived but at the same time, they needed to learn to trust God to take care of their everyday needs, Matthew 6:11 / Matthew 6:25-34.

Please note the word, ‘worry’, ‘merimnao’, comes from the Greek root word, ‘merimna’ which means ‘distraction’, in other words, don’t let your everyday needs distract you from putting God first.

Jesus tells the twelve, ‘the worker is worth his keep.’ In other words, those who minister spiritual things are worthy of physical things. Hence why it’s Biblical to pay a ‘full-time’ evangelist. This has always been a principle among God’s people, Luke 10:7 / 1 Corinthians 9 / Galatians 6:6 / 1 Timothy 5:17-18.

Why would Jesus tell them to stay in one house? They weren’t to live from house to house in the towns and cities because this may have been interpreted as them searching for material blessings.

Also, when we think about it today, if we go somewhere on a trip, we don’t book several places to stay, we book one place and use that place as a base.

And notice they were to greet the owner of that household, not the house itself, Luke 10:5-8. The idea behind the greeting and saying peace was based on the thought that the household that received the messengers was in agreement with and wanted to fellowship the message of the messengers.

But what does dust shaking the dust from your feet mean? This was a Jewish custom that demonstrated to the inhospitable their lack of hospitality and acceptance of the messenger and his message, Nehemiah 5:13 / Luke 10:10-11 / Acts 13:49-51.

Here in Matthew, Jesus is saying that those who would receive the messengers of Jesus were receiving Jesus. Matthew 12:41 / John 15:18-27. If they didn’t receive Jesus and what He taught, they would be rejected in the judgment of God.

Why were the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah less inexcusable than the sins of cities and villages that rejected the apostles?

Simply because they sinned in ignorance, whereas the cities of Jesus’ day sinned against the light, the Messiah, they should have known better. You can read all about Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 and Jude 7.

What does ‘shrewd as snakes’ mean? It simply means the disciples are to exercise great wisdom in their work for the Master, Ephesians 5:15 / Colossians 4:5, the serpent was symbolic of carefulness, craftiness and wisdom.

The serpent was considered a symbol of wisdom among the ancients, especially the python. The girl at Philippi who followed Paul and Silas was said to have had a ‘spirit which could predict the future’, Acts 16:16, but the Greek word denotes that she had a python!

What does ‘innocent as doves’ mean? The dove was symbolic of peace, innocence and purity, Matthew 3:16. The dove as a symbol of harmlessness and innocence derived significance from Noah’s use of it as a messenger in the ark. Genesis 8.

The brutal and vicious dangers to which the apostles would be exposed weren’t concealed by the Lord. Their mission was dangerous and filled with countless perils.

The words ‘sheep in the midst of wolves’ are very appropriate and expressive. Ask any farmer, what would a wolf do to his flock? One wolf in a flock of sheep is a source of incredible slaughter and destruction.

And so, in venturing into the dangers of their journey, the disciples must maintain their innocence in an environment of evil. In order to do such, they must exercise great wisdom on their journey, Philippians 2:14-16.

‘Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.’ Matthew 10:17-20

From this point on, Jesus now begins to inform His disciples of the upcoming persecution they are likely to receive.

They need to be on their guard because they will be handed over to local councils and flogged in the synagogues, Matthew 23:34 / Acts 5:18 / Acts 5:40 / Acts 9:16 / Acts 12:1 / Acts 22:19 / Acts 26:11.

They will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles, Acts 5:18 / Acts 12:1.

This will happen because they follow Christ and when they get arrested, they aren’t to worry about what to say or how to speak because the Holy Spirit Himself will speak through them, Mark 13:11 / Luke 12:11-12 / Luke 21:14-15 / John 14:26 / John 16:13-14 / Acts 4:8 / Acts 13:9.

‘Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.’ Matthew 10:21-23

Here we read that when times of persecution come, even their own family members will turn against them. Their physical families will even go to the extent of having them put to death, Matthew 10:34-36 / Micah 7:6 / Luke 21:16.

Jesus tells them that everyone will hate them because they follow Christ, Matthew 24:9 / Luke 21:17 / John 15:18, but they must stand firm to the end in order to be saved, Matthew 24:13 / Mark 13:13 / 1 Corinthians 13:7 / Revelation 2:10 / Revelation 3:11.

Jesus tells them when they are persecuted in certain places, they are to move on to another place so that they will save themselves from the persecution.

He tells them that they won’t be able to finish their mission before He returns, which appears to be a reference to the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

‘The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household! “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.’ Matthew 10:24-26

Jesus reminds them that the teacher must be respected more than the servant, Luke 6:40 / John 15:20. It’s not enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters.

In other words, if the teacher is going to suffer and be persecuted, his students shouldn’t expect anything less than the same, John 13:16 / John 15:20.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Can any man who pretends to be a scholar or disciple of Jesus Christ expect to be treated well by the world? Will not the world love its own? and them only? Why then so much impatience under suffering, such an excessive sense of injuries, such delicacy? Can you expect anything from the world better than you receive?’

Beelzebul was the Philistine god who was called the lord of flies, 2 Kings 1:2-3, in the New Testament, he is called the prince of demons, Matthew 10:25 / Matthew 12:24-26 / Mark 3:22 / Luke 11:15 / Luke 11:18-19.

If Beelzebul is the head of the house, then those who belong to his household will be the ones who persecute the apostles.

Jesus tells them not to be afraid of them, Luke 12:2-9 / Romans 8:31 / Romans 8:37 / Philippians 4:13, because everything, whether concealed or hidden will be openly revealed.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This meant that the persecution and opposition of the Pharisees would not succeed in hiding the truth but would result in its being published. Persecution actually provided then, as always, the following benefits for the thing, doctrine, or person persecuted. 1. it intensifies the zeal of the persecuted party, 2. arouses sympathy for the underdog, 3. If intense enough, multiplies centres of dissemination for the hated truth. All these results were clearly observable in the history of the early church.’

‘What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.’ Matthew 10:27-28

Jesus tells them that whatever He had taught His disciples in the dark, that is, privately, they must speak in the daylight, whatever He taught them when He whispered teachings in their ear, that is, quietly, they are to proclaim from the rooftops, that is, openly and boldly, Acts 5:20 / Romans 1:16 / Romans 16:25.

They are not to be afraid of anyone who can kill the body but can’t kill the soul, Luke 12:4 / 1 Peter 3:14. If they have to fear anyone, it is God Himself, Isaiah 8:13 / Luke 12:5 / Hebrews 10:31, because He is the only one who can destroy both soul and body in hell, Matthew 25:41 / 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.

‘Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.’ Matthew 10:29-31

Here we read that Jesus was the first person to introduce, the buy one, get one free slogan concerning the sparrows. The point is that even though many people look at sparrows and think they are worthless, God notices them and He cares for them.

Just as He knows the sparrows, He certainly knows us all on a personal level, even to the point of knowing how much hair we have on our heads.

We shouldn’t worry because mankind is worth far more than the sparrows, that is, God will certainly take care of us if He takes care of the sparrows, Matthew 6:25-30 / Romans 8:31-39.

‘Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.’ Matthew 10:32-33

These statements are made when He was advising the twelve before sending them to preach throughout the land of Israel where they would experience some hostility, but He predicts much greater hostility which came after the ascension, Matthew 10:5-42.

Jesus plainly tells us that we must acknowledge Jesus before others, and by doing so, He will acknowledge us before the Father, Matthew 16:17-18 / Romans 10:9-10 / Revelation 20:15 / Revelation 21:27.

There is also a warning involved if we disown Jesus, He will disown us before the Father, Luke 9:26 / John 12:42 / 2 Timothy 2:12.

‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.’ Matthew 10:34-37

It seems out of place to think that the Prince of Peace, was bringing a sword, Isaiah 9:6 / Ephesians 2:14. This sword, that is, the Gospel message would have a devastating effect on our close relationships with our family members, it will divide, Luke 12:49.

A sword should be identified with Christ in any sense as a warning of the severity which is one characteristic of His glorious nature, Romans 11:22.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The sword of Christ is, 1. a sword of separation, 2. the word of God, Ephesians 6:17 / Hebrews 4:12, 3. the sword of civil authority, Romans 13:1-8, 4. the sword of judgment, Genesis 3:24, 5. the sword of correction, Revelation 2:16, and 6. the sword of victory, Revelation 19:13. Even Mary, the mother of Jesus, was acquainted with that sword. ‘Yea and a sword shall pierce thine own soul,’ Luke 2:55.’

It appears that even our own family members would struggle with us loving Jesus more than them and if we give into them and love them more, we won’t be counted worthy of Jesus, Genesis 29:31 / Luke 14:26.

One who obeys Christ despite family or parental opposition feels the edge of that sword. A young woman who maintains her ideals and purity in an office where low standards prevail soon feels that sword in her heart. All who live for Christ and bleed inwardly when His name is profaned or His word denied have felt it.

These verses show us that lines of cleavage between Christ’s followers and the world cut sharply through the dearest and most intimate relationships on earth, Matthew 10:35. In every church, almost in every household, there are scars caused by this sword.

Jesus is talking about the indirect result of His work and that of His followers, Matthew 10:36. Anyone who promotes good and denounces bad will gain enemies and have problems. Sometimes this happens even within families.

The Gospel produces inner peace, and peace with God, but the believer will experience resentment from the enemies of the Gospel even though the Gospel is good because they prefer evil.

So, the indirect result of the Lord’s good work is trouble from enemies of the Gospel even when they are members of one’s own family, the alternative is to not accept the truth. In such situations, the choice will be, to follow Jesus or give in to the family.

‘Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.’ Matthew 10:38-39

Jesus plainly explained what was required to become His disciple. He said that you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him, Matthew 16:24 / Mark 8:34-9:1 / Luke 9:23 / Luke 14:27. These requirements are demanding, a person doesn’t naturally deny himself, rather, he usually does what he wants.

Death to self is painful, but that is exactly the meaning of taking up one’s cross. The cross was an instrument of death, to take it up would be to die to oneself and one’s own desires in order to serve Christ.

There is no profit in gaining the entire world, only to lose one’s soul in the transaction. It’s worth everything to submit to God’s stringent requirements for discipleship.

Jesus highlighted the requirements for being a disciple because it’s so easy to imagine that you are a follower of Jesus when, in fact, you aren’t. Discipleship isn’t mere church membership or moral living, it’s total devotion to Jesus Christ. It’s to die to self and live 100% for the Lord.

The confession that Jesus demands isn’t a simple statement in our mouths that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God. It’s a confession that we make with our whole life that is totally committed to Him, Galatians 2:20.

Everyone who would seek to be a disciple of Jesus must commit himself to follow Jesus above all things of this world, Matthew 6:24 / Matthew 10:32-33 / Romans 1:16. The reward of doing so will certainly be worth it, Matthew 16:25 / Luke 9:24 / Luke 17:33 / John 12:25 / Revelation 2:10.

‘Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” Matthew 10:40-42

Jesus tells the disciples that whoever welcomes them, welcomes Jesus, that is, anyone who welcomes the disciples and accepts their teaching, is really welcoming Jesus and His teaching, John 13:20 / Acts 16:15 / Galatians 4:14 / 2 John 9. The prophet here isn’t used in reference to foretelling the future but in terms of teaching God’s Word.

Gill, in his commentary, says the following.

‘By ‘a prophet’ is meant, not one that foretells things to come, but a preacher of the Gospel, for as prophesying sometimes signifies preaching, so a prophet designs a minister of the word, and to ‘receive’ him, is not only to embrace his doctrine, but to entertain him in a kind, and generous manner, and he that does this, ‘in the name of a prophet’, not as coming in the name of another prophet, but upon this account, and for this consideration, because he himself is a prophet.’

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Note the limitation, ‘in the name of a disciple’, equivalent to ‘for my sake’ in Matthew 10:39. All spiritual blessings are of and through Christ, and unless related to him, the best of good works must fail of any heavenly reward. On the other hand, the least of good works, even a cup of cold water, ‘in his name’, is sure of eternal acceptance and credit. This was the forerunner of the doctrine of ‘binding and loosing’ set forth in Matthew 16:19. The utmost heavenly concern for the apostles and their message is seen in the fact that even a single cup of cold water given to them shall not lose its reward.’

The little ones are a reference to the disciples of Christ, and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to them, will certainly not lose their reward in heaven, Matthew 25:40 / Mark 9:41 / Hebrews 6:10.

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