Matthew Chapter 10: The 12 Apostles, Witnessing, Sufferings, Remedy for FearOct 29th, 2009 | By admin | Category: Matthew, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)
Matthew Chapter 10: The 12 Apostles, Witnessing, Sufferings, Remedy for Fear
Matt. 10:1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
How did Jesus give the 12 apostles the invisible power of the Holy Spirit to heal and cast out demons? He breathed on them (see John 20:22). Although not necessary in order to empower them, the breathing served a purpose; namely, it kept the apostles in remembrance that the source of the power was Jesus. It was important for them not to forget that they had received something they had not previously had. The same principle applies to the anointing that we receive. It comes only through the Head, Christ Jesus. We are not separately anointed.
The apostles could have concluded that God mysteriously gave them the power to heal, but by seeing Jesus transmit the power to them, they realized that they had received the authority from him. In other words, to transmit an invisible power, Jesus wisely demonstrated the act in a visible manner so that all 12 apostles would know he was the source. What a wonderful way to illustrate the lesson that we “can do all things through Christ” (Phil. 4:13)!
Like Jesus, the 12 apostles were able “to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” They could even cast out demons. Earlier Jesus preached and healed all kinds of sickness and disease. Now the Twelve were able to do the same.
Jesus was giving the 12 apostles a little practice session. They went out for a short while and then came back. Upon their return, Jesus did the healing. However, their little mission, away from Jesus, gave them a small sample of what they would have to do after his ascension. Jesus was thinking of the future and preparing in advance for his own demise and absence from them. (Of course the apostles were unaware of his purpose at the time.) When the apostles returned after doing miracles, they were all excited, but then they had to listen to Jesus again. How marvelous that Jesus had the foresight to give them this little sample training and preparation for future work after his resurrection!
Matt. 10:2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
Matt. 10:3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
Matt. 10:4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
Verses 2-4 name the 12 apostles: Simon Peter, Andrew, James and his brother John (sons of Zebedee), Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Lebbaeus Thaddaeus, Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot. Some of the names vary in the different Gospels. Note that of the 12 apostles, there were three pairs of brothers: (1) Peter and Andrew, (2) John and James Zebedee, and (3) Lebbaeus Thaddaeus and the other James. James, the son of Alphaeus, was “James the lesser.” James, the brother of John and son of Zebedee, was “James the greater.” Thus two apostles were named “James,” and two were named “Judas”: Judas Iscariot and Judas, the brother of James, or Lebbaeus Thaddaeus (see Acts 1:13). In other words, Lebbaeus Thaddaeus was also called Jude and Judas, the brother of “James the lesser”; both were sons of Alphaeus and, therefore, Jesus’ stepbrothers. The word “Canaanite” means “trader.” Simon the Canaanite was Simon Zelotes (the Zealot) (see Acts 1:13 again). Of the two sons of Zebedee, James was older than John.
The rest of Chapter 10 tells what Jesus commanded the 12 apostles. In some respects, this long discourse is similar to the Sermon on the Mount. The instructions Jesus gave here lasted the apostles throughout their ministry with the exception of one change he made later, prior to his death; namely, verses 5-10 were changed subsequently.
Lebbaeus Thaddaeus was Judas/Jude, who wrote the Book of Jude. He was a stepbrother of Jesus. In addition, James, the son of Alphaeus, was a brother of Judas—and hence also a stepbrother of Jesus. At least two of the apostles, therefore, were stepbrothers of Jesus. To determine who Alphaeus was—whether or not he was Joseph—would require a study on genealogy. Judas and James were both sons of Alphaeus, and Jude 1 confirms that they were indeed brothers.
Mark 2:14 describes Levi (Matthew) as the “son of Alphaeus.” Although this is a reference to the same Alphaeus, note that “son” is in italics. Hence the relationship is not necessarily father and son here and elsewhere where the word “son” is italicized. The interlinear states that so-and-so is “of” a certain party. Then the translators came along and supplied the word “son” but not necessarily correctly.
Comment: The following is a helpful rhyme in remembering the apostles’ names:
Peter, Andrew, James, and John—
Men he most depended on;
Matthew next and Thomas too,
Philip and Bartholomew;
James the Less, Judas the Greater;
Simon the Zealot, and Judas the Traitor.
Matt. 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
Matt. 10:6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Jesus’ instruction to the 12 apostles began, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans … But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Jesus had said these very words about his own mission. Even though he spoke to the woman of Samaria, he would not abide with the Samaritans but was determined to go to Jerusalem, showing that he followed this advice himself. His primary objective was to reach the lost sheep of Israel.
However, just after his resurrection, he amended this commandment slightly, saying in effect, “beginning with the house of Israel, next the Samaritans, and then the Gentiles” (Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8). Not until the expiration of the 70 weeks of favor to Israel and the coming of the Holy Spirit on Cornelius was the gospel to go to the Gentiles.
“Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” reminds us of Matthew 9:36, “The multitudes … were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” Thus this whole circumstance is tied in together: the instruction to the disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest, the theme about the lost sheep without a shepherd, and the instruction to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Throughout his ministry, Jesus had the thought of the “lost sheep” in his mind.
Matt. 10:7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
The apostles were to preach, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” which meant, “The kingdom of heaven is now,” that is, at the time Jesus was speaking. The Kingdom of heaven was in their midst. In Matthew 11:12, in referring to the coming persecutions on his followers, Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence.” In other words, in these instances, Jesus was speaking about the spiritual aspect of the Kingdom rather than the restitutional aspect. The heavenly Kingdom class were in process of being selected and developed at this time of Jesus’ utterance—even though it was prior to Pentecost. Although not legally accepted until Pentecost, the disciples and apostles were being selected. At Pentecost, they were imbued with special power from on high, that is, the Holy Spirit.
In the Diaglott, the expression is, “The kingdom of the heavens has come nigh/approached.” There is a deeper significance than the apostles would have realized at that time. Paul, with his deep insight, said that we are seated in “heavenly places [plural]” (Eph. 2:6). The usual explanation for “heavenly places” is the Holy, but the present life, the Kingdom Age, and the ages beyond the Millennium are all involved. Thus we are called to more than just the Kingdom Age, even though Jesus, when asked what the faithful would get, replied, ”Ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28). Even in the present life, we receive a hundredfold (Matt. 19:29; Mark 10:30). The Bible says very little about the ages beyond the Millennium, but we know the benefits and rewards will continue on for eternity. During the Millennium, the 12 apostles will be the foundations of the Temple, but beyond the Millennium, the Bible is silent about positions of honor among the 144,000. Perhaps others will rise in the ranks. The Bible hints that other universes and other activities await the Little Flock.
Matt. 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
In this sample training session, the 12 apostles could “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, [and] cast out devils.” Thus the apostles were temporarily empowered to do even the greatest of miracles: to raise the dead. However, there is no recorded instance of their raising the dead at this time. Thus they probably did not perform this miracle until later on, when Peter, John, and Paul raised the dead after Pentecost. At that time, the Holy Spirit brought to remembrance this instruction of Jesus, and they then began to “raise the dead” occasionally.
Surely, if the apostles had raised the dead at this time, at least one of the Gospels would have declared the matter. Moreover, the act would have detracted from the raising of Lazarus, which took place at the end of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus had already raised Jairus’s daughter, but that death had just occurred, whereas Lazarus was dead for four days before Jesus raised him.
“Freely ye have received, freely give.” The 12 apostles received the power of the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them. They got this healing power “free,” without asking for it, so they were to “freely” distribute it and use it to benefit others.
Matt. 10:9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,
Matt. 10:10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
To go out in this manner and not take any money or supplies required very strong faith. A “scrip” is a bag, satchel, or suitcase for extra belongings. In other words, the apostles could not take any money or extra clothes or even a “suitcase” for belongings. Gold, silver, and brass were the coinage of that day in descending order of value.
The apostles were to take just the clothing on their backs and no extra “shoes” (sandals).
Normally, an additional pair of sandals was taken on a journey, for tripping over a rock, for example, could break the straps on the pair they were wearing. Moreover, “staves” were important for walking and climbing. In climbing a hill and in hilly terrain, one used a staff for support. If it broke, the extra staff was needed. Note that the apostles were not to take “staves” (plural); that is, they could take one walking stick but not an extra one. They could also take along a coat but not an extra one.
The purpose of these instructions was to show that the “workman is worthy of his meat,” that is, that the “labourer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7). “Meat,” an inclusive term, is “maintenance” in the Diaglott.
The 12 apostles had to go out on faith, and to receive temporal provisions, they had to be active. If they were active, they did not have to worry, for their needs would be supplied. What marvelous training! They were not to beg, but if they preached the gospel and were active, the Lord would make sure their necessities were provided.
Matt. 10:11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.
When the apostles, traveling two by two, got to a city, they wanted to establish a temporary headquarters, a base of operations. How did they go about doing so (and thus obey Jesus’ instruction)? They inquired perhaps at the main well or in the marketplace if anybody in that city was very religious, very godly. Meanwhile, the guardian angels made sure that the right person was present to answer the inquiry so that the two apostles would be directed to the religious individual. All this was done by faith, and the Lord guided them. One thing for sure, when inquiry was made, it was not done at the synagogue. Otherwise, they would have been directed to a nominally religious person.
“There abide till ye go thence.” The apostles were not to go from house to house, constantly changing their lodging within a city. They were to remain in their temporary residence—where they were voluntarily proffered lodging—as long as they were in that city.
In each instance, the person who provided lodging for the apostles got a great blessing, for their stay was not for just one night but for their entire time in that city. That house was thus privileged with their fellowship and service for a period of time. (Later slight amendments were made to this commandment.)
Matt. 10:12 And when ye come into an house, salute it.
Matt. 10:13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
Matt. 10:14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
The apostles were to literally salute a house. As a people, the Jews are very demonstrative with hands and voice. Accordingly, when the apostles got to a house, they paused and said, “The Lord’s blessing be upon this house.” If they were not favorably received, the apostles demonstrated their displeasure. If right-hearted, the host immediately received the apostles upon hearing the pronouncement of blessing and peace. A warm climate was created by the apostles’ words, and “peace” came upon the house as they were received. The apostles might then say to the host, “The Lord directed us to your house.” The host might respond, “I was praying just this afternoon that the Lord would send me something, and lo and behold, you came to the door.” The point is that there would be a mutual happiness—on the part of the two apostles and the host.
Of course not every experience worked out this way. The apostles would have been unfavorably received on some occasions as well. They were to be prepared for both favorable and unfavorable experiences.
These actions were demonstratively done. If not received, the apostles were to shake off the dust of their feet against the house or city. Since Pentecost, this has been done figuratively only, but back there literal demonstrative action was taken. The apostles showed that they had come in peace and asked the Lord’s blessing on the house, but if the one in the house had a wrong attitude and would not receive them, perhaps even cursing them, then the apostles showed that they wanted nothing to do with him or his house. They demonstrated that they wanted to remove any contamination of that spirit by stamping their feet to remove the dust and brushing off their clothes. The one in the house would see what was happening. Then the apostles left, making a complete separation. By the apostles’ actions, the individual knew that he had lost an opportunity.
Matt. 10:15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
Jesus was not necessarily referring to the house that would not receive the apostles, but the principle would certainly apply to the city. We are reminded of the two angels who went to the city of Sodom to warn Lot. A difference was that Lot sought out and invited the angels, whereas here the two apostles had to inquire for the godly individual. If, when the inquiry was made, it came to naught and no lodging was provided for the apostles, the city was worse off than Sodom, for at least in Sodom, there was the worthy and righteous Lot.
In other words, if even the most “godly” person in the city would not receive the apostles, then that city was in a sad condition. Moreover, it was commendable that Lot took the initiative to aid and proffer hospitality to the angels. In the case of the apostles, if their inquiry came to naught, the city was in a worse condition than Sodom and Gomorrha.
Matt. 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
Jesus likened his disciples, who go forth to preach the gospel, to “sheep in the midst of wolves.” Then he constructively told them to be “therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” They were to be “serpents” as far as wisdom is concerned and “doves” in disposition and conduct. This allusion is interesting if it is thought of in a literal sense, for sheep without a shepherd are in a precarious situation. It would be a fearsome experience for the Christian not to have advice, counsel, guidance, providence, etc., and then to be sent out as the 12 apostles were here. But of course God is with His people in so many ways.
Although not stated here, the Christian should have another characteristic in addition to the wisdom of a serpent and the innocence of a dove. Where need be, the Christian should be “bold as a lion,” for Jesus is called “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5).
In this context, the serpent is shown to have a positive connotation. The Reprints tell of a party who always had something favorable to say about others. Finally the question was put to him: What about Satan? The party replied, “We wish we had his persistency!” If that quality were directed toward righteousness, it would be admirable. Moreover, the Pastor stated in the first Reprint that truth is always truth, no matter who states it—even if it comes from the Adversary himself. Of course, however, we must be careful of evil motivation on the part of Satan, but the principle is correct. If our enemy makes a true statement, we should in fairness accept that statement.
Q: Are serpents really that wise?
A: They may well be, but they are so incapacitated since the fall of Adam that it is hard to discern this quality in them today. Prior to Adam’s disobedience, the serpent “was more subtle than any [other] beast of the field” (Gen. 3:1). It has been physically degraded since, losing its legs and crawling on its belly. However, the serpent may still be “wise,” for nothing is said about its mind. Serpents may have a means of communication that we are not aware of today because of the forcible restraints placed on them in Eden after the fall.
Matt. 10:17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
How are we to “beware of [evil] men” lest they deliver us up to councils and scourge us in their synagogues? We should not immediately take others into our confidence but should first search them out, observing their words, actions, and motives, before placing trust in them. Verse 17 is a caution to have a little reserve and not to be too open and trusting. If we discern evil intentions, then we are to avoid the individuals. We are reminded of the Scripture to not cast our pearls before swine (Matt. 7:6).
In other words, we should not be open and intimate in communication in an imprudent sense, or we will walk into traps. Some have the attitude that they do not care what trouble comes on them as a result of preaching the truth. Well, that may be all right, but we should make sure that the truth does the smiting and not our own lack of wisdom. If we bring trouble on ourselves needlessly, the trouble cannot be reckoned as suffering wholly for Christ’s sake. The trouble may be partly the result of suffering for his sake and partly a suffering for foolishness’ sake. We should not deliberately stir up trouble with one who is not in a proper heart attitude.
Another Scripture applies here: “He that hath an ear, let him hear” (Rev. 2:7). These are good principles and admonitions. We should not push the truth down the throat of someone who does not have a hearing ear.
“Beware of men” (plural). In the ministry itself, among those who are preaching the truth, this is a warning to be selective within reason. Jesus especially sought out Peter, James, and John for communicating and observing deep truths. Incidentally, Jesus did everything he could to help Judas. Even when Judas gave false counsel, Jesus counteracted it with very practical reasoning.
And still another Scripture ties in: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:14,15). We are to avoid contention, for when we engage in contention, it is harder to keep our flesh, the old nature, in control. Nasty comments tend to come out in a combative situation. There is a time for righteous indignation, but usually our anger is not warranted.
“They will scourge you in their synagogues.” Jesus mentioned “synagogues” because true Christians are sometimes accused of being blasphemers. Attacks on them are considered to be a church or religious issue. The reference here is to a public shaming of the individual along religious lines. Public ridicule (such as the stocks) is harder to bear than the lash itself. The scourging can heal rather quickly, but the damage inflicted by public shaming can be much more lasting.
Matt. 10:18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
Jesus said, “You shall be brought before governors, kings, and Gentiles for a testimony [witness] against them.” As time went on, the witness was predominately to Gentiles and Gentile leaders. These last two verses sound much like part of Matthew 24, showing that Jesus said many things repetitively on numerous occasions. For Matthew 24, Jesus spoke for four or five hours on different principles, yet parts of that discourse were given earlier in his ministry at various times.
Verse 18 is also a reminder of when Jesus spoke through Ananias to Paul following the latter’s conversion. Ananias was told to go to the blind Paul in Damascus and prophesy that great things lay ahead for Paul; namely, he was to be a witness before Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15).
The counsel in verses 16-18 applies to the whole Gospel Age, pertaining first to the gospel being preached in Israel and then to Gentiles. A clue to this wider application is verse 23: “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel [literally and Christendom symbolically], till the Son of man be come [at his Second Advent].”
Matt. 10:19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
Verse 19 has several implications. (1) We must study ahead of time in order for the Holy Spirit to bring the proper thoughts to remembrance later. The Holy Spirit is a spirit of remembrance.
For instance, if we are imprisoned at night and know we will have to appear before the magistrate in the morning, we are not to take any anxious thought about the words we will speak. An outstanding example of this was Peter, who slept soundly after James was executed.
The brethren were very concerned, thinking Peter would also be put to death. In the wee hours of the morning, they prayed for his deliverance. Meanwhile, Peter obeyed this counsel of verse 19—he slept—trusting that in the morning, the Holy Spirit would give him the words to speak before governors. We can sing and pray and take thought, but not anxious thought.
However, the verse does not mean to take no thought. We should pray and then not be overly concerned. In other words, we should not try to plan the format, for example, “If they say this, I will say that.” Rather, we should take thought now for what we will say at a future date and not wait to take thought when we are hailed into prison. We are to prepare ahead, and then the Holy Spirit will aid us at the time of incarceration.
(2) When imprisoned, have faith. We must exercise faith to believe this promise of verse 19. We should not feel timid about expressing ourselves but should trust. We should say our prayers and then not worry and not try to plan the actual words we will speak. Instead we are to let the Holy Spirit direct at the time. The promise is that when we are hailed before the judge, if we have been faithful to the Lord, He will perform a miracle on our behalf, giving us the words.
Sometimes there is time for only one sentence—just a few words—but it is better for the Holy Spirit to give only a few words than to try to give a 15-minute discourse planned in advance.
When asked by Pilate if he was the Son of God, Jesus replied simply, “Thou sayest”; i.e., “I am.” The same principle applies now in regard to witnessing and giving a testimony. We are to have faith that the Lord will give us the words. In regard to the future, this promise applies to after we are incarcerated. We should study and prepare now but then take no anxious thought at the time we are “delivered up.”
Matt. 10:20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
This thought is rather touching—it is not just the Holy Spirit but our Father in heaven who will speak in us. A close relationship must exist between the Father and the individual in order for this to occur. What a wonderful promise!
Matt. 10:21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
It is a horrifying thought that some of our very own families may turn against us, even the most intimate members of the family. The principle applies to the brotherhood as well, for some of our brethren may betray us. This is a scary and depressing thought if we dwell on it. Some of the persecutors may actually think they are doing God a service, but their zeal will bemisguided and misdirected.
Matt. 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
“He that endureth to the end shall be saved.” This statement sounds like part of Matthew 24. The principle has applied all down the age in regard to those Christians who faithfully endured to the end of their individual course. However, there will be a special application at the end of the age.
If we are imprisoned or incarcerated for the gospel’s sake, we are not to fear or take any anxious thought. We must trust that God, through His Holy Spirit, will speak through us, realizing that no matter what animosity the persecutors may manifest, we have the Father’s approval. If we persevere and do not recant, our eternal welfare will be secured, and our eternal welfare is far more important than a personal deliverance at that time according to the flesh.
The implication is that some will not endure and will jeopardize life itself, not just the high calling but life period! Verse 28 adds, “Fear him [God] which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [Gehenna, Second Death].” This instruction embraces both the Little Flock and the Great Company. More Christians down through history have died at the stake than 144,000.
All of these Christians died courageously, but not all attained the Christlike character and degree of love that is necessary to be of the Little Flock. Supreme love for God qualifies one to be of the Bride class.
There is one favorable sign for those who initially recant and are unfaithful under persecution.
Sometimes God graciously grants another opportunity to be faithful. Some of these Christians are very remorseful about their failure to be steadfast under persecution, and without a second opportunity, they would not get life at all. Therefore, verse 22 is not promising a reward in the Little Flock but simply everlasting life.
It is sad to read of some who recanted, but there is great happiness to learn that with their second opportunity, they were boldly and courageously faithful. Some were even so angry at themselves for their previous failure that they thrust out their arm and let it be burned right off in the flame. Instead of letting the flame come to them, they rushed into it, saying, “I have done wretchedly, and I want this arm to be burned off to purge my sin!” Thankfully, they got the second chance, for the context here shows the loss of all life. Our eternal destiny is at stake in such situations.
Jesus said, “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.” In Matthew 24:9, he said, “Ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” These two Scriptures show that waves of very severe persecution afflict Christians from time to time. If we are in prison and know that the next day we must appear before the chief magistrate to represent the cause of Christ, we may be frightened because we are not accustomed to speaking in such a formalized manner. This situation is a little different from living the Christian life from day to day. But God says, “Do not take anxious thought, for I will give you the words.” Then, when we appear before the council, the court, and the chief magistrate—all of whom are opposed to us—we can relax, trusting in the Lord. We should reflect on the coming hatred of the true Christian cause so that we will not betray one another or recant under pressure. God will help us at that time if we trust Him. The fact that Jesus devoted several verses to the subject of persecution shows that we should reflect on them and the coming condition at the end of the age.
Matt. 10:23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
Opposite counsel is given here. “When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another.” This persecution is not unto death like that of the preceding verses. Verse 23 ties in with verse 16; that is, we should not look for trouble, but when it comes, we are not to be overly discomfited.
When we are trapped in a situation, we do not know whether we will just receive a public scourging or actually be put to death. We know we will have to speak, but we do not know what the effect of our message will be: stripes or death. However, if death is not the result, we should leave that area and thus flee from further persecution.
“Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” Jesus stated the matter this way to give the impression that he would return soon, although that is not what he said. If the apostles had known he would not return for almost 2,000 years, their experiences would have been harder to bear, and they might have become somewhat discouraged. For example, if we knew we would be executed tomorrow but believed the Kingdom would be established later that very year, our attitude would be better. It is helpful to be living at the end of the age and know that the Kingdom is near at hand. Thus this part of verse 23 was worded very carefully, and the statement is true—the apostles never finished in Israel.
In the Book of Jeremiah, “Israel” often pictures Christendom, so when we extend that principle, “Israel” here also has a larger meaning. Christians down through the Gospel Age;’ [p8 m;cpxwould not be able to thoroughly cover Christendom before Jesus would return.
Matt. 10:24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
In these verses, Jesus was warning not only what would happen to him but also what will happen to us. Whatever example he set, his disciples were to follow. He is our example too.
Matt. 10:25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
If persecutors called Jesus the Devil, the same—and more—will happen to us. And with us, the attack will seemingly be more justified because we are imperfect.
In the Dark Ages, some of the Christians who were burned at the stake were dressed up in devils’ costumes. Sometimes horns and tails were affixed, and drawings were hung around their necks. Also, at the time of execution, there was a reading describing the Christian as a demon, wholly of the Adversary.
“Beelzebub” refers to Satan, the prince of the devils. Beelzebub was a heathen deity to whom the Jews ascribed supremacy among the evil spirits. “Baal” means “lord,” and “zebub” means “fly”—hence “lord of the fly.” That symbol was also used with regard to the pharaohs of Egypt, although there it was usually described as a bee.
Just as Christ is the head over his household, so Satan is supreme over his house of demons.
Imagine what a powerful being Satan is to be recognized as master and have control over all of the fallen angels—a large band of cutthroat, malevolent, evil characters! Satan gives his subjects independence along the lines of license to do evil, not along the lines of character building, as Jesus does.
Comment: The Sphinx, which represents Satan, has a deep shaft in its back with water at the base. As a result, hordes of mosquitoes swarm out of that shaft—a fitting picture of Beelzebub, lord of the fly.
Matt. 10:26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
What is the context telling us? No matter how the Christian is maligned and persecuted, the real truth will be told some day. The Christian and the name of Christ will be vindicated. The implication is almost that there will be a movie of the actual event(s), and not just a statement. The injustices will be exposed. Those who were responsible for persecuting Jesus and his followers will be revealed.
A movie of the actual trial and condemnation, with all of its hatred, malevolence, and venom, will expose the identity and wrong heart condition of the persecutors. If rightly exercised, the persecutors will repent and seek forgiveness of the member of the Little Flock or Jesus (not literally in person but through the means available to them in the Kingdom).
Matt. 10:27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
“Darkness” refers to what Jesus told his disciples in private. Jesus deliberately did not inform the public too much but gave more information to his disciples. He was saying, “What I tell you in private, preach publicly.” Jesus spoke in parables and dark sayings to the multitudes but revealed more information to his disciples.
Matt. 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
If the body is killed, the soul ceases to exist, but it is in remission as a “dead soul,” as opposed to being a “living soul,” until the time of the resurrection. Temporarily the individual ceases and is off the scene.
Verse 28 is a good Scripture to refute the thought that there is an immortal soul in man. God can destroy the soul; the soul can die. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:20).
“Hell” here is Gehenna. Just as garbage was entirely consumed by fire back there in Jerusalem, so a soul can be destroyed. God can destroy both body and soul. Fear Him, but do not fear man, who can kill the body only. If the body is killed, the soul goes into remission—it ceases to live. The individual becomes a dead soul—temporarily.
Matt. 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
A “farthing” was one tenth of a Roman penny, or one tenth of a day’s wage. “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father[‘s knowledge].” The lesson is that nothing escapes the divine surveillance. Surely God is not literally watching every sparrow, but He has an observation network so that even the most trivial thing cannot happen to the consecrated without permission. Even if, at the moment, God’s immediate attention is on another matter, nothing can happen to the Lord’s little ones without knowledge and screening, for He has other agencies (holy angels) watching on His behalf. “The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him” (2 Chron. 16:9).
Matt. 10:30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
This statement is not literally true. The Gospel of Matthew uses other such Hebraisms or expressions that are not literal. The point is that there is minute critical observation of the consecrated. (If taken literally, this verse would be ridiculous. If we had 1,659,018 hairs and lost one, we would have 1,659,017 left—ludicrous!) Nothing can happen without observation. The consecrated are under surveillance in a special sense, but even the world is being watched.
Matt. 10:31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Jesus used a little sarcasm here to cause us embarrassment. If our faith is so weak that we do not think God knows everything that happens to us, this type of reasoning should make us feel ashamed. A sparrow cannot fall to the ground, a leaf cannot fall off a tree, etc., without its being noticed. Thus God’s surveillance is keen and alert, and no accident can occur to the Christian unless it is first screened and then permitted. The point is not that there is any value to the leaf or sparrow falling, but that everything is noticed. In fact, even before something happens, it is noticed that it is about to happen. If contrary to the divine plan or will, the action is halted or overruled before it occurs.
Matt. 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
Matt. 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Verse 32 refers back to a previous thought about the element of fear, starting in verse 16. “I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.” “Beware of men.” “Ye shall be brought before governors and kings.” “Take no thought how or what ye shall speak.” “Brother shall deliver up the brother to death.” “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.” “When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another.” “The disciple is not above his master.” “Fear them not therefore.” “What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light.” “Fear not them which kill the body.” “Are not two sparrows … [i.e., nothing escapes divine surveillance]?”
“Fear ye not therefore.” The point is that if we fear, we will not do, and we will not speak. We will be immobile and speechless. However, if we realize that God’s divine protection and observation are over us, the fear will be counteracted. If, for example, we are in a windowless dungeon and no one knows we are there, God will know where we are.
This discourse was given by Jesus to counteract fear. God knows those who are serving Him, and He knows their condition whatever it may be. Whosoever, therefore, will faithfully espouse the cause of Christ and thus bring persecution upon himself and the contradiction of men can be assured that Jesus knows about and appreciates it. God appreciates our testimony.
Matt. 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
Notice this doctrine. In other words, we are not always to speak peace. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” but there are exceptions to this general rule, for at times, we should be disturbers of the peace (Matt. 5:9). There are occasions where being faithful necessitates causing a problem. For example, Jesus’ faithfulness did not bring peace to the scribes and Pharisees.
While we are “peacemakers,” we are such on God’s conditions and not under all circumstances.
We are to be shod with the sandals of peace, to speak the truth in love, as a general rule, but we are to be alert to the exceptions. Jesus certainly was not speaking the truth in love to the scribes and Pharisees when he called them “hypocrites” and “whited sepulchres”; that is, he was not speaking ”love” in the short term but was speaking it in the long run (Matt. 23:27). We must be thoroughly familiar with Scripture so that we will not make false statements such as “We should always be peacemakers.” The Christian is to beware of absolute statements.
Luke 12:51 shows that the “sword” is not literal, that it does not refer to carnal weapons.
“Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division.” In the Jewish Age, it was God’s will that literal wars were fought and that His people used carnal weapons, but Christians in the Gospel Age are not to fight with literal weapons. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight [for it]” (John 18:36). This text shows that fighting itself is not wrong depending on what we are fighting for. During the Gospel Age, the Lord is dealing with His people in a different manner. We are not to use carnal weapons, but that was not true in the previous age.
Matt. 10:35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
Matt. 10:36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
Matt. 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Matt. 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
These are simple statements but very searching. “I am come to set a man at variance against his father,” etc. In other words, for the truth’s sake, there may be times when we have to take a stand in opposition to the members of our own family. When there is a tug in two different directions, the Christian, to be faithful, must be loyal to the Lord. “Let the dead bury their dead” is the principle (Matt. 8:22). Faithfulness will bring divisions for various reasons;examples are hatred of the truth by unconsecrated family members or attempts to get us to do our “wifely” or “husbandly” duty rather than God’s duty. This is taking up our “cross,” especially where family affection is involved. The implication here is that the pull in the opposite direction is a very tender tie. The more subtle tender ties are harder to break than those of a disrespectful or cantankerous husband or wife or where there are open threats. It is easier to take a stand against conspicuous, open opposition. In the Old Testament, the Levites were selected to serve the Lord because of their faithfulness in slaying even their brethren who were disobedient in worshipping the golden calf.
Matt. 10:39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
This is a searching verse too. The one who tries to preserve his earthly life in lack of obedience to the Lord can lose all life. This does not mean an outward, stubborn refusal (“No, I will not”) as much as a simple lack of obeying. The lack of obedience can cause the loss of life itself. Of course there are degrees of obedience, which differentiate the Little Flock from the Great Company. Both are overcoming classes, but the Little Flock are more than overcomes.
The loss of earthly life should be for Christ’s sake, for the cause of Christ. This is just a broad principle, for more than 144,000 have been martyred for Jesus. Though we give our bodies to be “burned,” if we do not develop in obedience to God, then it is questionable whether or not we really love Him (1 Cor. 13:3). “Love” is a very embracive subject—it is easy to discuss, but a lifetime is required to learn its full implications.
Matt. 10:40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
Matt. 10:41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
Matt. 10:42 And 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.
In these verses, the perspective changes. Previously the Christian was the emphasis—what he did, his privileges and protection. Now the thrust is on those who receive the Christian. “He that receiveth you receiveth me [Jesus].” The subject is the same, but it is slanted in another direction.
There are gradations of reward to those who befriend or do acts of kindness to the consecrated. They are rewarded like (1) a “prophet,” (2) a “righteous man,” and (3) a “little one” (a sincere believer in Christ). The prophet would be the highest reward, next comes the righteous man, and finally there is the common denominator of one who is consecrated. The degrees of reward are based on the perception of the one doing the act of kindness—his insight into the character of the Christian.
If a person feels that another is not only a Christian but an above-average Christian (that is, a “prophet”—whether an apostle, one of the seven messengers, or just a very important personality) and accordingly displays kindness, he will be rewarded proportionately. Thus it is advantageous to recognize the depth of consecration in an individual. A “cup of cold water” signifies a humanitarian act, a common decency, to a fellow man. That is the lowest reward.
The principle of gradations of reward, as discussed here, applies to both the consecrated and the unconsecrated. It behooves both to recognize the depth of consecration in a Christian and to administer acts of kindness accordingly.
Consider the following two examples. (1) The story of Zacchaeus is touching. Because he was short, he climbed a tree to get a better view of Jesus. When the opportunity came, he said to Jesus, “Come to my house.” How willing Zacchaeus was to give Jesus the best! (2) Even though Jonathan realized that David would be succeeding him, he could see in David a greatness above his own. Jonathan was the legal heir, but he was, in essence, giving the throne to David by befriending him. Very few are that noble.
Verses 40-42 are very comprehensive. They can pertain to a worldling who recognizes a Christian or to one who is consecrated recognizing another Christian. But there is another aspect too. A person might render service, money, property, recognition, etc., to one who is presumed to be a proper representative of Christ but is not. However, the individual will get the reward anyway because the motive was right; that is, he thought he was serving one of the Lord’s true representatives. If the motivation is pure and noble, even though the service is mistakenly given to a goat or a wolf, the one rendering the service will be rewarded accordingly. That is why the wording says, “in the name of a prophet,” “in the name of a righteous man,” and “in the name of a disciple.” The application is broad.
A painting in the Metropolitan Museum showed a woman in the arena who was about to be devoured by a lion. At that moment, someone threw a flower on the ground in front of the woman to distract her attention from the lion. The little kindness of the flower being thrown under that horrifying circumstance was a touching display of sympathy. The one who threw the flower may not have been a Christian but will be highly rewarded for humanitarian purposes. The artist of that painting had a truly noble sentiment.
In summary, a blessing will be forthcoming if the motivation for an act of kindness was pure.
Verses 40-42 again show the divine scrutiny and surveillance. The same surveillance that sees a sparrow fall also takes cognizance of acts of kindness that are done. The rewards will probably go far beyond what is mentioned here, for in the Kingdom, people in the world will get positions of distinction and honor based on principle and heart condition manifested in the present life, whereas, generally speaking, those who are prominent now will be pushed into the background. Moreover, those who have opportunities now but do not respond will not be highly favored in the next age. Others who “knew not” will be more recognized.