Updated: Sep 19, 2022
10 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease, and every affliction. 2 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 Thaddaeus; 4 Simon, the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Gave - didómi: Bestowed
Authority - exousia: the power to act
Unclean spirits -akathartos: impure, that which must be abstained from according to the Levitical law
Cast out - ekballo: Banish
Heal - therapeuó: to serve
Matthew is the only author of the Gospels to give this group the name "The 12 Disciples." Jesus did not pick the number 12 arbitrarily but with purpose. A few verses later, we find the reason, Christ chose 12 men so that each of the twelve tribes of Israel would have a judge.
27 Then Peter said in reply, "See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?" 28 Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. -Matthew 19:27-28.
Jesus does not just "call" twelve men to walk with Him; he calls them and then equips them. We see over and over in the Bible how God provides those He calls, sometimes before the ministry begins but often as it occurs. God is faithful to those who are devoted to Him.
5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9 Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
Kingdom - basileia: Kingdom, sovereignty, royal power
of Heaven - ouranos: heaven
In the original Greek, Heaven is plural At hand - eggizó: to make near
Worthy - axios: of weight, of worth
Received – déxomai: properly, to receive in a welcoming
It appears that Christ was setting up the ministry rules here. Straight away, we can see a cultural difference between then and now. Christ sent His disciples out, expecting that the receivers of the good news would house food and cloth his disciples. Today, it takes vast funding and planning to go on a ministry trip. I mention this to show how different life looks to us than it did to those of Christ's time. And how tricky it can be when we read the word of God through the lens of 2022 and not as its writer and reader would have understood the words. Context and culture are key when dissecting scripture and trying to apply it to our lives.
An easy pick-up from these verses is that Christ is setting ministry boundaries by explaining that we are to walk away from those who refuse to hear the Good News. This is important because without this authority to leave, the disciples, and now all believers, would have been result-based missionaries compared to heralds of the Good News. Our worth and accomplishments would be measured by how many we converted when in truth, there is no claim in the Bible that states that it is our goal to make people believe. We are to share the Good News, exhibit love, grace, and righteousness, and be lights to the darkened world; that's it. The act of coming to faith is God's lead; it is not controlled by man and his ability to argue Christian Apologetics persuasively. We love Him because He loved us first.
16 "Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the Father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Wise (Shrewd in the original Greek)– phronimos: practically wise, sensible
Innocent – akeraios: unmixed, pure
Persecute – diókó: to put to flight, pursue,
Jesus continues to warn His disciples regarding what they will face when He is gone. As believers, we too may share in persecution for our faith. Christ seems particularly concerned with warning about those who will pretend to be one thing when they are something else. We all know that false teachers and prophets exist yet every day they trick well-intended believers into leaving the truth of the full, complete, and true Gospel in favor of a man-centric Gospel of Social justice and apathy. To be wise as Christ advises, we must be in the word, learning and praying about scripture. Only this knowledge can help us discern who is preaching the Gospel of Christ and who is preaching the Gospel of mankind.
Verses 21-23 offer us a conundrum. Christ states that He will return before His disciples visit every town in Israel. If this is to be taken at face value, we would have to count Christ as incorrect in his assertion and, therefore, not perfect.
Some explain this as meaning that the temple will be destroyed (as it was in 70 AD) before they made it to every town. This fits well in the timeline, but it does not seem to correlate with any accounts of the coming of Christ in the Bible. Those prescribing to the Preterist view of end-times see this verse as proof that all Christ has come back, and we are simply waiting for the end of the signs. Yet another thought and one to which I am partial to is that, as the ten lost tribes scattered throughout the world, they increased the "spiritual" Israel, and Christ is saying that the light of His Gospel will not reach every corner of the world before His return. A final thought and the one I find less likely is that Christ was speaking in grand style and knew that 12 men could never reach every village, city, and town alone. In essence, He was saying it is an undoable task that is directly at odds with scripture and God's ability.
While we have a second, let's take a step back to the basics and talk a bit about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is latterly the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is not the first four books of the New Testament, and it is not simply "Jesus Died for your sins." While Jesus died for our sins, that is not the full and complete Gospel. Telling this abridged version takes the teeth away from the good news, effectively neutering the Gospel and making us critical players in the story. The Gospel starts at creation and never ends. Below is what I call an elevator pitch of the Gospel.
God creates everything, seen and unseen, including His crowning achievement, us!
Man, or as God calls him, "Adam," short for the Hebrew word, Adamah, which means "ground or earth", was created, and from him came his helper, his wife, Eve, which means "humanity. Here we see the earth and humanity married together, connected forever as parts of Elohim's creation.
In an act of rebellion, Adam and Eve fail to follow the one rule God sets for them, and as a result, the world is introduced to death, both physically and spiritually. This act separates them from God, casting the entirety of creation into Sin.
Knowing that man was unable or did not carry the spiritual capital to correct this offense, God unveils a plan to save those people He chooses as His people.
Living a perfect and blameless life, God's answer, His own Son Jesus Christ, dies on a cross as predicted in the scripture to ransom our debt and restore God's chosen people, the elect, to a right relationship with Him.
Jesus rises to life after defeating Sin to sit at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, judging the world and welcoming home those you call Him Lord and Savior.
This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
24 "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. 26 "So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Teacher - didaskalos: an instructor of all things biblical
Beelzebul - Beelzeboul: a name of Satan
Acknowledge (Confess in original Greek) – homologeó: to speak the same, to agree
Denies - arneomai: to deny, say no
Jesus makes a simple proclamation that all 12 disciples would not have argued with. A student is never elevated over his Rabbi, and a slave is never elevated over their master. In the first half of this section of scripture, the word is didaskalos. While the term is generic for teacher, in the New Testament, it is invariably used to mean a teacher of the things of God. So for English speakers in the 21st century, the way to understand
this is: a disciple is not above the one he follows who teaches God's Word.
Christ is telling His disciples that although He has granted them many of the same powers He had, they should not think they are above or equal to Him in any way. Jesus is the standard, the unobtainable standard that they, and by extension, us, will never meet. Jesus is the measuring stick to our thoughts and actions. We should always strive to be kind, merciful, and forgiving as well as faithful in upholding truth and justice. Yet we can also strive too hard, trying to be too good in our own strength and will, seeking a kind of perfection or righteousness that keeps us full of anxiety and without a feeling of sustaining inner peace. This is NOT what our Lord Jesus wants of us. His message to His 12 and us is to relax in Him. His yoke is light; it's not an impossible burden to bear. We're not going to be judged harshly because we weren't able to be just like Him in every nuance, action, and thought. And yet to relax in Him doesn't give us the license to become lazy or disobedient or to take our faith casually, or to quit trying and just eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we may die.
34 "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his Father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves Father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Come - erchomai: to come, go
Enemies – echthros: hostile
The rest of this chapter deals with an often-missed promise. The 12, continuing on to us, will not see a time of peace. Persecutions exist and will increase. Nobody is safe from the wrath of the world. Regardless of our efforts, our political leadership, and which ministry we are a part of, we will not see peace. Heartbreaking as that may be, peace, according to the Bible, is reserved for the millennial Kingdom. Nirvana on earth is not coming, and as believers, we need to wrap our heads around that and prepare for the coming of our Lord and Savior.
Christ is crystal clear in this section that He has not come to bring peace, He has come with a sword to usher in the new era. Most Jews were under the impression that the Messiah was going to be a soldier who defeats Rome and restore Israel back to power. Imagine their joy to hear that finally, this Jesus Christ was coming with a sword. Now, imagine how fast their faces fell when in the very next verse, we learn that the sword will divide not land and country but family.
In the time of Christ, the head of the household, usually, the Father or grandfather, decided what religion the family would follow. Obviously, in Israel, the who was not in question, the Israelites worship the God Most High. The debate would have been over which Rabbi to learn under and which temple to worship in. He claims that His presence welcomes a new dynamic. A household will no longer practice its faith based on the choice of the head. In fact, different members of the household will choose differently on account of Christ. Even more, Christ demands that each member MUST choose Him on their own... no one can choose for them. It doesn't matter what parents or siblings might decide.
The final two verses are yet another scripture portion regularly misinterpreted. Many well-meaning, good people desiring to put their story into the Gospel will say that the cross Christ speaks of your personal, individual struggles or troubles. I won't argue that there may be some duality to these verses, but as I say all the time, content is king. In the days of Christ, carrying a cross meant one thing and one thing only, death. To carry your cross did not mean to suffer for what you believe; it means to believe it through the suffering and into death. Christ is setting a very high bar here by telling us that our faith and love for Him should remain even if it means death at the hands of the world.
40 "Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward."
Jesus begins this section of scripture with a promise, a promise the 12 most really needed at this point. Previously in this chapter, Christ tells them that they will receive all the bad things that He will but here, he promises good as well. The first verse connects the disciples not only with Him but also with the Father. He explains that whoever receives him and His 12 disciples will receive eternal reward.