1. Matthew 10: 1-4 – The Twelve Disciples
The Twelve Apostles
1 And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.
The last 3 verses of the previous chapter provides the proper introduction to the Mission of the Twelve disciples. We read in Matthew 9: 36-38 “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary[a] and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
The 12 disciples has been for some time called by the grace of God, and were already the disciples of Christ. They had sat down at the his feet, and had received of His words; they had heard His doctrines and seen His miracles and in a sense being trained by Christ for public work. But until this moment they had not yet been called and sent to enter such a service. Now that they are ready and being properly instructed, and the time has arrived for a large number of souls to be converted, Christ called them together privately and gave them a commission to preach the Gospel, and ordained them as ministers of the word and installed them in the office of apostleship.
Christ gave them power against all unclean spirits, to cast them out, or in other words authority “over all devils”. It was quite common for the Jews to call a demon or a devil an “unclean spirit”. They were given this title because of their nature, being unclean and being the cause and means of defiling others, and delighting in impure persons, places and things. There were many of these spirits, who through the widespread practice of magic arts among them, had at this time taken possession of a great number of people. But Christ used this opportunity to give a proof of His deity, of Him being the Messiah, the seed of the woman, that should bruise the serpents head and by Him casting them out and confirming the mission of His disciples, and establishing the doctrine preached by them, by giving them power and authority over them, to cast them out also: and also where various diseases frequently followed as a result of such possessions, he like wise gave them power to heal all manner of diseases, as He Himself had done.
So not only were the disciples commissioned to cure the souls of people but they were also empowered to heal the diseases of their bodies. In other words Christ qualified them and authorized them.
2. Matthew 10:5-15 – Sending out the Twelve
Sending Out the Twelve
5 These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead,[c] cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9 Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 10 nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.
11 “Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. 12 And when you go into a household, greet it. 13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!
Christ has ordered the disciples to take the gospel to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. At first this seems in direct contrast to what Christ had said in earlier chapters, where he spoke of those who should come from the east and the west to sit down with Abraham and Issac and Jacob in the kingdom of God and also the fact that Jesus had already taken His disciples into a city of Samaria, and told them that there also were fields ready for the harvest (John 4:35 “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for the harvest!”). At this point the fill time for preaching the gospel to the Gentiles had not yet come. It was proper to preach the gospel to the Jews first, the ancient covenant people of God, and the people among whom the Messiah was born. We see later on in the book of Matthew, that He gave the disciples charge to go into all the world and preach the gospel, Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”
We also see Christ commanding the disciples not to enter into any city of the Samaritans. The Samaritans occupied the country formerly belonging to the tribe of Ephraim and half tribe of Manasseh. This region was situated between Jerusalem and Galilee; and so the disciples would have had to pass through Samaria. The people here were formerly composed of a few of the ten tribes and a mixture of foreigners. When the ten tribes were carried away into captivity to Babylon, the King of Assyria sent people from Cutha, Ava, Hamath and Sepharvaim to inhabit their country instead of the children of Israel (mentioned in 2 Kings 17:24 and Ezra 4:2-11). These people at first worshiped the idols of their own nations. But due to large amount of the country being inhabited, there was a great increase in the number of lions in the area , but the people living there saw it as a curse from God, because they had not honored the God of the country. So, a Jewish priest was therefore sent to them from Babylon to instruct them from the Jewish religion. They were instructed partially from the books of Moses, but still retained many of their old rites and idolatrous customs and embraced a religion made up of Judaism and idolatry, 2 Kings 17:26-28 “The nations whom you have removed and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the rituals of the God of the land; therefore He has sent lions among them, and indeed, they are killing them because they do not know the rituals of the God of the land.”
The difference between the 2 nations were the following:
- The Jews, after their return from Babylon, set about rebuilding their temple. The Samaritans offered aid to them. The Jews, however perceiving that this offer was not from a love of true religion, but that they might obtain a part of the favors granted to the Jews by Cyrus, rejected their offer of help. The consequence of this was a long and bitter animosity arose between the Samaritans and the Jews.
- While Nehemiah was engaged in building the walls of Jerusalem, the Samaritans used every art to thwart him in his undertaking (Nehemiah 6:1-14)
- The Samaritans at length obtained leave of the Persian Monarch to build a temple for themselves. This was erected at “Mount Gerizim”, and they strenously contended that, that was the place designated by Moses as the place where the nation should worship . Sanballat, the leader of the Samaritans constituted his son-in-law, Manasses as high priest. The religion of the Samaritans thus became perpetuated and an irreconcilable hatred arose between them and the Jews (John 4:20 “Our fathers worshiped at this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
- Afterwards Samaria became a place of resort for all the outlaws of Judea. They received willingly all the Jewish criminals and refugees. The violators of the Jewish laws, and those who had been ex-communicated, betook themselves for safety to Samaria, and greatly increased their numbers and the hatred which subsisted between the two nations.
- The Samaritans only received the 5 books of Moses, and rejected the writings of the prophets and all the Jewish traditions. From these causes arose and irreconcilable difference between them, so that the Jews regarded them as the worst of the human race (John 8:48 “Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”), and had not dealing with them (John 4:9 “Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?”)
Notice, that the gospel was to be preached to the Samaritans afterwards (John 4:6-26), and the apostles imitated His example. We read in Acts 8:25 “So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans. The gospel was however preached first to the Jews.
Christ also gave His disciples power to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and cast out devils. These were the signs to prove that their mission was a divine mission and their doctrine is from heaven.
Christ also said, “Freely you have received, freely give”. This refers to both the working of miracles, and preaching the gospel. As they had seen miraculous gifts freely imparted to them by Christ, so they were to freely make use of these wonderful powers that they had possession of, and insisting nothing in return.
3. Matthew 10:16-26 – Persecutions are Coming
Persecutions Are Coming
16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
21 “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! 26 Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.
By the reference to being sent out as sheep in the midst of wolves, Christ is saying I send you weak and defenseless among a wicked, cruel and persecuting people. Christ is really bringing the disciples back to reality. After enabling the disciples with great power to heal the sick, raise the dead and drive out demons, it is quite reasonable to think that they were flattering themselves with the hopes of great honor and acceptance wherever they came. But Christ is saying that this is not the case, but rather they would be despised, persecuted and delivered up into the hands of public justice and punished as evil doers. Our Lord is therefore fore-warning them of these things, made them large promises of divine aid and gave them directions with respect to their conduct in every circumstance.
Therefore be as wise as serpents – Genesis 3:1 says “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast which the LORD God has made…” The serpent is a very sharp sighted, cunning creature and uses various strategies for its own preservation and especially of its head, and so in a similar fashion to be imitated by the followers of Christ, as to make use of all proper methods to preserve themselves from the insults and rage of men, and not to expose themselves to unnecessary dangers: and to avoid all snares and traps that are laid from them. But at the same time maintain the innocence and harmlessness of the dove, being free from all wicked cunning and craftiness, without malice and wrath, not fixed on seeking revenge, but meek and humble, leading inoffensive lives, and walking in the course of their calling.
So the followers of Christ will be hated by all peoples for His names sake. This was particularly directed at the apostles themselves, but he that endures to the end will be saved. This suggests that the tribulations and persecutions of the disciples of Christ, though the hatred of wicked men against them shall not last always and that there will be an end to them.
Next, the disciple is not above his master, which means that you must expect the same treatment which Christ received. They have called our Master and Teacher Beelzebub, the prince of devils and so we must also expect the name calling that Christ recieved. Beelzebub was a god of the Ekronites. The word literally means the “god of flies”, and was so called because the idol was to protect them from the numerous swarms of flies which that country had. In fact the correct reading of the name is “Beelzebul” and not “Beelzebub”, and Aramean form of the word meaning the “god of dung” or “filth”. The name thus altered by the Jews by changing a single letter and was given to Satan the name of a pagan god, to express their sense of the character of Satan. By giving the name to Christ, they poured upon Him the greatest possible abuse and contempt.
Finally do not fear them. Christ encouraged them by the assurance that God would protect them and that their truth and innocence should yet be vindicated. They were then to be willing to be unknown, despised, persecuted for a time, with the assurance that their true characters would be understood and their sufferings appreciated.
3. Matthew 10:27-31 – Jesus Teaches the Fear of God
Jesus Teaches the Fear of God
27 “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Christ is saying, that the doctrines of the gospel which is delivered in private and in obscure parables, preach plainly and openly without the fear of man, in the audience of all. And what you hear in your ear, as through whispered, proclaim publicly as though you addresses multitudes from the housetops. There are two Jewish customs alluded to here. A Doctor used to whisper in the ear of their disciples what they were to pronounce aloud to others, and as their houses were low and flat roofed, they sometimes preached to the people from there. Also do not fear them that kill the body. Do not be afraid of anything which you might suffer as a result of proclaiming this truth, even though it may cost you your life. Because those who kill the body are not able to kill or hurt the soul. This is is the spiritual or immaterial part of you. Though the body dies, this part of you will survive. But fear the Lord who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell. It is He who has the power to fill the soul with unspeakable anguish, and at the final judgment to reunite it to the body, and also to condemn both to everlasting misery in the infernal prison. We must put this into perspective in all that we do. To know and understand that God is a faithful God, Holy and righteous in all His dealings. We must fear Him and obey Him and not the men around us.
Next Christ says “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?”. This encourages the disciples not to fear by two striking considerations:
- God takes care of sparrows, the smallest and least valuable of birds and
- the fact that God numbers even the hairs of the head, and sees the smallest of details
The argument is that if He takes care of birds of the least value, and if He regards so small a thing as the hair of the head, and numbers it, He will certainly protect and provide for you. Therefore you do not need to fear what man can do to you.
3. Matthew 10:32-33 – Confess Christ Before Men
Confess Christ Before Men
32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
The idea here is that of confessing Christ out of a state of oneness with Him. Firstly it is the public acknowledgement of the promised Messiah, receiving His whole doctrine for the rule of our faith and practice, obeying all His precepts, relying on all His promises and following all His ways in words and in deeds equally. When we do this Christ will also own us as His true disciple in the presence of the Father at the day of Final Judgment and will claim for us the rewards that has been promised to those who walk faithfully according to His teachings. On the other hand whoever is afraid or afraid to acknowledge his relationship in word or deed or not confess Him before men in the sense mentioned earlier, him also Christ will deny as having a relation to Him on that day of judgment. Although Christ is at his lowest state of humanity, He declares that His confessing us before God is the greatest happiness, and His denying us will be the greatest misery that can possibly come upon us.
4. Matthew 10:34-39 – Christ brings Division
Christ Brings Division
34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
The Jews had a notion of great outward peace and prosperity in the days of the Messiah; which was grounded on several prophecies of the Old Testament, not rightly understood by them; and the disciples of Christ also had the same notion. Christ is letting them know that it is the opposite of what they are thinking and that they should not expect outward ease and quite, and a worldly peace in their ministry. Although Christ came to make peace between God and sinners, by the blood of His cross; and was both the author and donor of spiritual peace to His people, and the gospel that he brought with Him and He sent His disciples to preach was the gospel of “peace”; which accompanied with His power, would produce peace amongst His people.
By the “sword” He meant the Gospel, which is the means of dividing and separating the people of Christ from the men of the world, and separation from their principles and practices, and from one relation to another. Also bringing divisions, discords and persecutions arising from it. Not that this was the design and intention of Christ, but it is because of the wickedness of men, which is the reason of His coming. When we read the same account in Luke 12:51, the word “division” is used rather than “sword”. We also know that the word “sword” is meaning the Gospel and the word of God, as we read Ephesians 6:17 “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;”
Then the next verse goes on to the division of a man from his father, and division in the family. Here our Lord opens and explains what he means by the sword, to show division where for example a father comes to believe in Christ, who embraces the Gospel and submits to the teachings of Christ, but is opposed and persecuted by his own son, and a mother by her daughter and division is brought about by the enmity to everything divine, spiritual and evangelical that is tearing them apart.
So anyone who loves his father or mother more than Christ, is not worthy of Him. Meaning that he that is not ready to give up all these things that stand to oppose the truth of Christ is not worthy of Him. Also all those who does not take up his own cross is not worthy of Christ. Everyone condemned to crucifixion by the Romans had to carry their own cross, on which he was to be crucified to the place of execution. This is the same way Jesus Himself was treated. The words here express the sentiment with great energy that no man is worthy of Christ, that is, worthy to bear His name, or be accounted a true Christian, unless he is willing to suffer whatever pain or inconvenience, to endure the great hardships, and all sorts of persecutions, even the most shameful and painful death, rather than to deny Christ.
This leads to the next verse, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.“, meaning that whoever loses his life by confessing Christ (in word and deed) shall save it eternally, and whoever denies Christ (in word and deed) and the gospel message for the sake of saving his own life will lose it. He may gain his life for a short period on this earth, but lose his eternal life.
5. Matthew 10:40-42 – A Cup of Cold Water
A Cup of Cold Water
40 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”
Christ in this last section of the chapter provides three illustrations which is meant to teach substantially the same thing, that those who reat with hospitality Himself, His disciples, a prophet or a righteous man would show that Christ has approved their character and should not fail a proper reward. So through this Christ is also comforting the disciples, after speaking to them of all of the sorrows, afflictions and persecutions they were to expect, but that there would be some that would embrace the Gospel preached to them, and receive them kindly into their houses and entertain them in a very hospitable manner. And also for the encouragement of such people, who would risk their own goods and lives by doing so, He lets them know, that receiving His disciples, was interpreted by Him, a receiving of Himself, and what they did to them would be taken kindly as if done to Him personally, and in like manner accepted by His Father.
If you have never given your life to Christ, and you feel the call of God in your heart. Now is the time to respond and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.
You can receive remission of your sins, not by your own works, but through faith in Jesus Christ who already paid the price for us. All you have to do is to accept his sacrifice in your place as a free gift. Take this moment to declare you have accepted the free gift by saying the following prayer:
“God I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me. Amen.”
If you would like to know more about having a relationship with Jesus Christ, please contact us and we would love to talk to you about living a life with Jesus as the center of your life.
Bible reading: New King James Version (NKJV)
Resources: Various Bible Commentaries