AN EXPOSITION OF MATTHEW 10:1-42
The Appointment of the Twelve: Matthew 10:1-4
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.
Mark tells us that when Jesus called His twelve disciples, He did so that they should be with Him. “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him” (Mark 3:14). That is significant. There can be no real spiritual ministry apart from time spent with Jesus. Those who go forth to preach and to help others must go from the presence of God Himself.
The Bible is clear to point out that it was Jesus who called individuals unto Himself, and gave them spiritual authority over unclean spirits, and the ability to heal all manner of sickness and disease. The Twelve did not appoint themselves, they were appointed by Jesus. Today, there are individuals who claim to be apostles of Jesus Christ, but are not, because they do not meet the basic qualifications. According to Mark 3:14, 15, an apostle was someone who was physically close to Jesus during the days of His earthly ministry, was completely obedient to His will, and was among the “sent ones” with authority to do the work of Christ. Today, there are self-appointed “apostles” who have come into the Church to devour the sheep. These false Apostles are found in the cult of Mormonism, and elsewhere.
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;
3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
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:
Of the these twelve whom Jesus sent forth, six of them remain obscure. Three of the disciples are well known. The Bible reveals something about Simon Peter, and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John.
We know, for example, that Peter made his home in Bethsaida, a small town on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. We know that he was married, and that Jesus healed his mother in law of a sickness (Luke 4:38-40). Peter is presented in Scripture as an impetuous, strong willed, courageous and charismatic man. On him, Christ promised to establish the New Testament expression of the Church (Matt. 16:18), which was done according to the book of Acts. It was Peter who preached on the Day of Pentecost, and three thousand souls were added to the Church (Acts 2:41).
Concerning James and John, we know they were the sons of Zebedee, and came from Galilee. They were ambitious men with stormy personalities. Jesus called them “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17). Though quick to anger, and quicker to judge others, the brothers were fiercely loyal to Christ. Along with Peter, they were allowed to witness some magnificent moments nine of the other disciples did not see. They witnessed the raising of the daughter of Jarius from the dead (Mark 5:37-47), the transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-3), and the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36-37).
James was the first apostle to suffer martyrdom for his Lord. He was killed with the sword by Herod Agrippa I, the king of Judea c. AD 44 (Acts 12:2). His brother John lived on to write five books which became canonical.
We might wish to know more about each of the apostles, but it does not matter, for a principle is established: the message is more important than the man. It was George Whitefield who said, “Let the name of Whitefield perish, but Christ be glorified.”
While the message is more important than any man, the Lord will not forget those who serve Him. In the book of the Revelation, when the New Jerusalem is seen coming down from heaven, “the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:14). The Lord will honor those who honor Him.
Having called the twelve, we read that Jesus sent them forth to preach, first to the House of Israel.
6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
It was by divine design that the gospel was to go first to the House of Israel, and then the gospel was to be preached in Samaria, “and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The Lord had a plan for global evangelism that has been honored. Today, by way of satellite transmissions, and other forms of communication, the earth is “full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).
This realization does not diminish the need to continue to pray for labor for the work of the Lord, nor does it mean that the work of global evangelism is over. Not at all. Every generation needs to be re-evangelized. Every nation stills needs the gospel to be preached.
“There’s a call comes ringing over the restless wave,
Send the light! Send the light!
There are souls to rescue, there are souls to save,
Send the light! Send the light!
Send the light, the blessèd Gospel light;
Let it shine from shore to shore!
Send the light, the blessèd Gospel light;
Let it shine forevermore!”
Charles H. Gabriel
A Divine Proclamation
7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
When the apostles were sent forth by Christ to expand the work of the ministry, they were given specific mandates, and detailed instruction on how to act. The principle is that God’s work must be done God’s way according to gospel terms. Specifically, the disciples were to declare that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Then, they were to confirm this message with signs and wonders through healing miracles.
The Lord’s Discourse to the Disciples: Matthew 10:8-15
The Apostolic Authentication
8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
In obedience to the known will of the Lord, the disciples did go forth, and they did preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. They also healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, raised the dead, and cast out demons. The disciples asked for nothing, and freely gave to others everything. There is a spirit of generosity to the ministry. God is extravagant in His grace. His disciples must reflect that generosity.
9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass [copper] in your purses,
10 Nor scrip [a bag] for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
Perhaps one reason for this extreme limitation on provisions is to teach the disciples to be totally dependent on the Lord. Another reason would be to remove any suspicion that the disciples wanted something for themselves. It is relatively easy to religiously exploit people, and make merchandise of them, in the name of God. It is also wrong. The disciples were not to take money, or anything extra. They were to remain above suspicion.
11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.
12 And when ye come into an house, salute it.
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.
A worthy house is a household that is predisposed to receive the message of Jesus.
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.
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.
Perils and Persecution: Matthew 10:16-23
16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
The verbal image which Jesus sets forth is a reflection of reality. Those who minister the word of God are like sheep surrounded by ravenous wolves with snarling lips, flashing teeth, and sharp claws. The wolves of the world are ready to attack and devour the gospel, and those who preach it. The world hates Christians, because it is the Church which condemns immorality, lawlessness, and greed. It is the Church which declares that life is precious, and unborn babies should not be slaughtered. It is the Church that insists that God is the Creator, and man is not the product of time, plus space, plus chance. It is the Church that calls sinners to repentance, and warns that those who live on in their perversion shall eternally perish. It is the world who seeks to silence the gospel, even if it means the death of Christians.
Because this is true, Christians must be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Serpents are thought to be wise because of their ability to adapt to every sphere on land, in the sea, in fresh water, and even in the air. There are snakes in southeast Asia who propel themselves through the air from trees. They make an undulating motion as they move through the air. Serpents are considered to be wise because of their ability to accomplish their goals against all odds. Serpents are able to live, eat, multiply, and thrive, despite a natural fear and hatred of them. In like manner, Christians must learn to adapt to their environment, and survive in whatever setting they find themselves, all the while doing no harm to others, verbally, physically, or mentally.
17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
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.
20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
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.
22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
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.
The crypt reference to the coming of the Son of Man may be a reference to the coming destruction of Jerusalem, which happened in AD 70, or about forty years after these words were spoken.
As the disciples went forth, they were compelled to flee from city to city, for the gospel was not initially well received. It is easy to understand why. The gospel message declared that Jesus was God, and that was blasphemy. The gospel was abolishing the sacrificial system, which was the religious and economic foundation of Jewish culture. The gospel was destabilizing society, and turning the world upside down. The Jewish Establishment was not going to just let the Church come and take over society without a fight. And so persecution was guaranteed It would continue until the Son of Man came, and God Himself put an end to the Temple worship by its destruction by the Roman army.
Suffering with the Savior
24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
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?
Comfort and Confession
26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
Because Christians will be treated like Jesus, believers are told not to fear men, because ultimately, God’s people shall be vindicated. In the eternal search for truth, the Christian message will prevail. Moreover, there is nothing covered which shall not be revealed. Every dark deed committed against God’s people will one day be exposed. People who hurt others, and try to cover up what they have done, shall be made known.
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.
The message of Christ must be boldly proclaimed. This is not easy to do, but it is the will of the Lord. Let the Church pray for holy boldness, to speak plainly, and in the light of day, the gospel.
“Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.”
Go, preach the gospel upon the housetops so that all can hear that Christ redeems sinful men.
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.
As important as the body is, the soul is more important, for the soul is immortal, being made in the image of God. The soul is spiritual in nature, and has various facets, such as emotion, will, and intellect. The soul manifests the distinctness of a person’s conscious selfhood, and determines one’s eternal destiny. Jesus said that an individual is to love the Lord thy God with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the mind (Matt. 22:37). At death, the soul of the righteous leaves the body behind to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). Since God alone can kill the soul, and send it to hell, He is to be feared more than man.
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
The fall of the sparrow is not the fall of death, but the fall of the sparrow to the ground to hop around for food. The meaning is that as God the Father provides for the weakest parts of His creation, He will care for you. That is a comforting truth that must not be forgotten.
“Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress
And the way grows weary and long?
Oh yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.
Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?
Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed
To resist some temptation strong;
When for my deep grief there is no relief,
Though my tears flow all the night long?
Does Jesus care when I’ve said goodbye
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks,
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?”
Frank E. Graeff
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
The idea Jesus conveys here is that our Father knows our situation very well. There are no surprises with God. The circumstances of life in which we find ourselves, might surprise, and overwhelm us, but nothing phases our Father. He knows all about us, to the smallest detail. The very hairs of our head are numbered by God.
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Another reason why Christians are not to be afraid, is because of God’s loving providence. Sometimes, God’s providential care is obscured by sickness, brutality, disease, despondency, depression, doubt, and death. Nevertheless, faith says with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him” (Job 13:15). The Christian is of more value than many sparrows (Luke 12:6).
What Christians Are Not to Fear
- Fear Not False Accusers Matthew 10:26
- Fear Not Those Who Can Kill the Body Matthew 10:28
- Fear Not of Being Valued Less Than a Sparrow Matthew 10:31
A Word of Warning
32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
A confession of Christ, or a denial of Him on a specific occasion is not in view here, as much as the general profession of life. There was at least one occasion when Judas confessed Christ before men, for He preached the gospel and healed the sick in the name of Jesus. There was at least one occasion when Peter denied the Lord Jesus, to his eternal sorrow. Yet, in the end, Judas went and hanged himself after the ultimate betrayal of Christ, and Peter recovered his faith, to die for Jesus, and received the martyr’s crown.
The general confession of a person’s life, is to either confess Christ before men, or to deny Him before a watching world. Let the Christian say:
“I’ll tell the world, that I’m a Christian.
I’m not ashamed, His name to bear.
I’ll tell the world that I’m a Christian,
I’ll take Him with me anywhere.”
Notice also that Jesus speaks of, “my Father.” In verse 29, Jesus spoke of God as “your Father.” What a lovely thought. The Father of Jesus, is my Father as well.
Division in Discipleship
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
Jesus, Why Did You Come?
Jesus came to fulfill God’s Law Matthew 5:17,18
Jesus came to bear witness to the truth John 18:37
Jesus came as Light John 12:44-50
Jesus came to divide humanity Matthew 10:34-40; Luke 12:51-53
Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost Luke 19:10
Jesus came to suffer and die for our sins John 12:27
Jesus came to serve and give His life a ransom Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45
Jesus came to call sinners to repentance Luke 5:32; Mark 2:17
Jesus came to give abundant life John 10:9-11
Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil 1 John 3:8
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.
36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
Jesus knew that He was a divider of men, and told His followers to except that as well. The division among people comes primarily when the truth of the gospel is rejected, and sin is preferred to righteousness. When the division comes, a person must choose. Sometimes that choice is very personal, and involves a beloved family member. In the end, a person must choose Jesus.
The Supremacy of Christ in the Heart
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.
Jesus demands a total commitment to Himself. He believed He had a right to claim supremacy of the heart. Only God would have a right to make such a demand, and that is who Jesus claimed to be. This is important to keep in mind, because the attempt is made to deny the divinity of Christ, and relegate Him to being a good man, with a moral message. But surely, no good man would make such a demand, unless he was divine. Then, the demand would be reasonable.
Today, there are millions of people who do love Jesus, and wish they loved Him more. In 1856, Elizabeth P. Prentiss express her own desire to love Jesus more, and wrote the following words.
“More love to Thee, O Christ,
More love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make
On bended knee.
This is my earnest plea:
More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!”
If Jesus is not divine, then His claim to supremacy of the heart is foolish, and selfish. But if the demand of Jesus is an affirmation of His divinity, then it is reasonable that individuals love Him without reservation.
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
The Unity of Christ with His People
40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
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.
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.
“These words contain in germ-form the doctrine of the unity of the Lord Jesus with those who have believed in him. I’m sure that as we reflect upon the fact that even if we give the cup of cold water in the name of the Lord Jesus, or even in the name of the disciple, that is not forgotten in heaven. ‘Nothing human ever dies’, someone has said, and how true that is with respect to spiritual things. All who stand on the same level evidently receive the same kind of reward, too. God does not forget any of the deeds that are done out of faith in the Lord Jesus” (S. Lewis Johnson).