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Go to Bible: Matthew 10
“And he called to him his twelve disciples.” The choosing of the Apostles is in Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:14-19; and Luke 6:13-16.(top)
|Mat 10:2||- (top)|
|Mat 10:3||- (top)|
|Mat 10:4||- (top)|
|Mat 10:5||- (top)|
|Mat 10:6||- (top)|
|Mat 10:7||- (top)|
|Mat 10:8||- (top)|
“gold, nor silver, nor bronze.” Jesus is referring to money: the gold, silver, and bronze coins available at the time. In Mark 6:8, “bronze” is simply translated “money” for clarity because there is not as much context as there is here in Matthew.
“belts.” The “belts” did not have money in them, but the belt around the outer garment allowed the garment to be folded in such a way as to make a pocket in which small items such as coins could be kept.(top)
“traveler’s bag.” See commentary on Mark 6:8.
“two tunics.” The tunic was the long shirt, like a long undershirt, that was against the skin. See commentary on Mark 6:8.
“nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staff.” This phrase catches our attention because, although it agrees with the Gospel of Luke (Luke 9:3), it seems to contradict what Jesus told his disciples according to the Gospel of Mark (Mark 6:8-9). A quick reading of Matthew and Luke, makes it seem like in those Gospels Jesus told his disciples to take no staff, while in Mark, Jesus told them to take a staff. Also, in Mark, Jesus told the disciples to “tie on” sandals (Greek text), that is, wear them, but in Matthew, Jesus seemingly says to not take sandals (Luke says nothing about sandals). How do we resolve this problem?
Mark gives the essentials of the record, which make perfect sense in the culture: the disciples were to rely on help from people they met for their food and protection from the elements (hence, no need for money, food, or two tunics, which might be needed if they were going to sleep outdoors). However, they would need sandals if for no other reason than any extended journey that involved walking in unfamiliar territory, and in cities would require sandals. But they would not need two pairs of sandals, and in Matthew, the word “two” before “tunics,” immediately before “sandals” in the list must also refer to sandals, which is also plural, like “tunics.” Of course, “sandals” is always plural, but since the Gospel of Mark says take “sandals” and Matthew says not to, the most obvious way to explain the situation is that Jesus was saying not to take two pairs of sandals—if anything happened to the one pair, they would be helped to get another pair by people who were caring for them.
Like sandals, a staff was a necessity when traveling. It provided protection and support, so it makes perfect sense that Jesus would say to take the staff along, as the Gospel of Mark says. However, Matthew and Luke seem to say not to take a staff. Two ways to explain the apparent contradiction seem to be the most likely. One is that the word “two” in Matthew also governs the word staff, and that Jesus told the Apostles not to take two staffs, as if they might break or lose one. Although that is possible, it is not easy to make Luke read that way, and the chances of losing or breaking a staff are slim. Furthermore, if one was lost or broken, a new one could be acquired the same way new sandals could be.
The more likely explanation for the difference Matthew and Luke have with the Gospel of Mark is that the list in Matthew starts with the word “acquire,” (ktaomai; #2932 κτάομαι), which the KJV translates as “provide,” and the ESV translates as “acquire.” However, there are many English versions that start Matthew 10:9 with “take” or “take along,” which clouds the issue and makes the apparent contradiction between Matthew and Mark very difficult. Jesus was telling his disciples not to “acquire” things for their journey (which they would then “take” with them, as Mark and Luke say). One of the things that the Apostles might want to “acquire” would be a walking stick that was more appropriate for someone who traveled a lot than the walking sticks they already owned. They were fishermen and would not have traveled much, and when they did travel it would have been in familiar places, so it is likely that they did not have a staff that they thought was the best choice for travel in areas where they had never been before.
In summary, Jesus told the Apostles not to take with them things that a host family would provide: money, food, and shelter. However, they did need their sandals and walking stick. However, they were to guard against acquiring things they thought they might need, such as a new walking stick. If it turned out on the journey that something was needed, the same people who welcomed them into their houses would no doubt provide it or help them acquire it, and be glad to do so.(top)
|Mat 10:11||- (top)|
|Mat 10:12||- (top)|
“let your peace come upon it.” This is an idiom. If a person was worthy, the guest would bless the house, and that blessing would involve “shalom,” translated “peace” but really meaning “total well-being.” If the Apostles were well received and well treated, they were to bless the house with shalom. Jesus instructed his disciples to let their shalom fall on those who graciously took care of them.
“let your peace return to you.” This is an important lesson, because most of the people Christians witness to do not believe, and often Christians become self-condemned about this, thinking that they must have done something wrong or are not a good enough witness. But Christ taught us that when people reject the Word of God, the witnesses are to let the peace they have been offering to others return to them.(top)
|Mat 10:14||- (top)|
|Mat 10:15||- (top)|
“Look!” The Greek word is idou (#2400 ἰδού), and it is used to get our attention. See commentary on Matthew 1:20.(top)
|Mat 10:17||- (top)|
|Mat 10:18||- (top)|
|Mat 10:19||- (top)|
|Mat 10:20||- (top)|
|Mat 10:21||- (top)|
|Mat 10:22||- (top)|
“until the Son of Man comes.” The Son of Man “coming” in this verse refers to Christ’s Second Coming, when Jesus comes to earth, fights the Battle of Armageddon, conquers the earth, and sets up his kingdom. Many theologians attest to this. E. W. Bullinger says in his marginal note on the verse: “…His coming…would then have been (and will now yet be) the judicial coming of “the Son of Man.”a The Ryrie Study Bible correctly states: “These verses are a prediction of persecution in the tribulation days and at the second coming of Christ.”
The International Critical Commentary on Matthew (vol. 2) says: “On the lips of Jesus, a saying such as Mt. 10:23 would have been a word of encouragement to disciples or missionaries whose future included suffering in the eschatological tribulation: take heart, for salvation is near to hand. The attempts to interpret 10:23 as fulfilled prophecy have been numerous. …Against all these interpretations, there is every reason to urge that Matthew identified the coming of the Son of Man with the coming of the kingdom of God in its fullness. According to the First Gospel, when the Son of Man comes, the angels will be sent forth, every man will be requited according to his deeds and Jesus will sit on his throne. (Matt. 13:41; 16:27; 24:27-44; 25:31). In other words, the coming of the Son of Man will mean the final judgment.”b
The idea of the “coming of the Son of Man” (using the phrase “Son of Man”) is universally used of the Second Coming. There is no use of the phrase other than that in the Bible. Since that is the case, what would be the reason that any theologian would try to say that in this one instance the phrase somehow takes on a new meaning? There is one and only one reason: the “coming of the Son of Man” did not occur in the apostles’ lifetimes, but is still future. People who say that this verse cannot refer to the Second Coming for the simple reason that it is future are using circular reasoning. The assumption is that Jesus cannot be mistaken for any reason, then using that assumption, they search for an “explanation” for what he could have meant that is different from the clear implication of his words. That is not good theology. Good theology comes from properly reading and interpreting the words of Scripture. In this case, the meaning of the coming of the Son of Man is clear in Scripture, it is his Second Coming.
Could it be that the “you” in the verse has just a general meaning and just means something such as “you believers” instead of you apostles who I am speaking to? In other words, could Jesus just have been making the general statement that evangelism would not stop in Israel before he came? That cannot be correct, because none of Jesus’ audience would have ever thought that. Why would anyone doubt that evangelism in Israel would stop? After all, the Old Testament prophecies indicate that there will be “saints” (“holy ones”) resisting evil right up until the time of the End (Dan. 7:18-28). There would have been no point to Jesus making the general statement that evangelism would continue in Israel—the statement would have been so universal and obvious that it would have been essentially meaningless. In contrast, if the “you” he was speaking to were those specific apostles and disciples in his audience, then what he said would have been very exciting and encouraging.
Although we do not know why God inspired Jesus to say his Second Coming would be before the Apostles had evangelized Israel, we know that Jesus said things similar to other prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Paul who, speaking what God told them to, said the Day of the Lord was near. So for Christ to say that the day of the Lord is near (“you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes”) would not be materially different from what the prophets of both the Old and New Testaments said. The context of Jesus’ statement is what would happen to the disciples during the Tribulation that will precede the end times. Reading Matthew 10:15-23 is very similar to reading Matthew 24:9 or more exactly, Luke 21:12-17. Jesus forewarned his disciples of the troubles they would have to endure, and then gave them the encouragement that before they finished evangelizing Israel, the Second Coming would occur.
[For more of Jesus making statements about the timing of his Second Coming that did not come to pass as predicted, see commentary on Matt. 16:28. For more on the kingdom that Christ will set up on earth after his Second Coming, the Millennial Kingdom, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth.”]
|Mat 10:24||- (top)|
“Beelzebul.” The Greek is Beelzeboul (#954 Βεελζεβούλ), which gets put into English as “Beelzebul.” He is called the “prince of demons” in Matt. 12:24. “Beelzeboul” is “lord of the dunghill.” This comes from the Hebrew zebul (dung, a dunghill).
[For more on the name Beelzebul and other names of the Slanderer (the Devil), see Appendix 14: “Names of the Devil.”](top)
|Mat 10:26||- (top)|
|Mat 10:27||- (top)|
“do not be afraid of those who kill the body.” Matthew 10:28 and Luke 12:4-5 teach the same message. The teaching that we should not fear those who can only kill the body but instead should fear God who can destroy a person’s body and “soul” (life) in Gehenna, the Lake of Fire is a very important one because the natural human tendency is to overly fear those who can kill the body and not fear God nearly enough. The wise person fears God and the Day of Judgment much more than anyone or anything that can only kill the body. Here in Matthew 10:28, Jesus teaches the twelve apostles, who he is about to send out on a missionary journey. In Luke 12:4-5, Jesus teaches this lesson to a huge crowd (Luke 12:1). Isaiah taught the same thing 700 years earlier than Jesus (cp. Isa. 8:13).
“destroy...soul.” The Greek word translated “destroy” is apollumi (#622 ἀπόλλυμι). Apollumi means “to cause or experience destruction.a” The concept of “burning forever in hell” came into Christianity from the Greeks (and Jews like the Pharisees who were influenced by Greek teaching going back to the time of Alexander the Great who conquered Palestine in 333 BC). The Greeks believed in an “immortal soul.” The phrase “immortal soul” is not in the Bible. Once we understand the soul is not eternal, it does not have to “go” to heaven or hell when a person dies. Eternal torment is not the teaching of Scripture. John 3:16, and many other verses, teach the simple truth that each person will either live forever or be destroyed, annihilated.
[For information on “Gehenna” see commentary on Matthew 5:22. For information on annihilation in the Lake of Fire, see Appendix 5, “Annihilation in the Lake of Fire.” For more information on the soul, see Appendix 7: “Usages of ‘Soul.’”]
“little sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31 and Luke 12:6-7 teach the same message. The Greek word translated “little sparrows” is strouthion (#4765 στρουθίον) the diminutive of strouthos (στρουθός) sparrow. However, the Greek word is sometimes used of little birds that were not specifically sparrows.
“assarion.” The Roman as or the Greek assarion (#787 ἀσσάριον). It was worth 1/16 of a denarius (or drachma), which was a day’s wage for a day laborer or soldier. If a day laborer makes $8 per hour, or $64 per day, then an assarion would be worth about $4.
“apart from your father.” This phrase means “apart from your Father’s knowledge and care.” The phrase contains the figure of speech ellipsis,a which is constructed in the Greek by the preposition aneu (#427 ἄνευ), which means “without” or “apart from,” and then the words for “your father” (patros humōn) functioning as the genitive of possession—the object of the father’s possession is elided. Literally, it would read, “apart from of your father,” with the involvement on God’s part omitted for emphasis. We have left the figure of speech in the translation, rather than supply the omitted word.
Many commentators who are zealous to bolster the position of divine sovereignty (that God is in control of everything that happens), have interpreted this verse to mean God has a specific will for the death of even every sparrow (cp. NIV, NET), and also that no sparrow can fall without God’s will and consent (cp. HCSB, CJB). But this is importing meaning into the text because it goes beyond what the text says. The Greek simply reads “without your Father” (“without” is the Greek word aneu, #427 ἄνευ), which leaves open exactly how the Father is connected with the sparrow. Without His will (NET)? Without His consent (HCSB)? Without His knowledge (NAB, NLT)? Without His care (TNIV)? The text does not precisely tell us “without what,” which is why there are so many variations between the translations. The Greek text simply leaves the impression that the Father is present and caring in his relation to the bird.
To understand this passage properly we must interpret it in light of clear meaning that is given to us from other scriptures. As Louw and Nida write, “The particular manner or mode of involvement by God must depend upon the broader context and not upon the meaning of ἄνευ.”b In this case, we have a parallel account in Luke 12:6 that helps us understand what Jesus meant. In the account in Luke, Jesus does fill out the meaning for us, saying, “not one of them [sparrows] is forgotten before God.” The Greek word translated “forgotten” is epilanthanomai (#1950 ἐπιλανθάνομαι), which can have the meaning of “neglect,” “overlook,” or “care nothing about.”c More evidence that this verse is about care and concern rather than “God’s will” is supplied by the next verse in Matthew, which declares that, “the hairs of your head have been counted,” i.e. God knows how many there are. The verse about our hair is not about the will of God, as if it was somehow God’s will every time a hair of our head fell out, but rather it is about God’s love and concern for us.
Matthew 10:29 is not speaking of divine sovereignty, but rather divine benevolence and care. From reading Matthew in the greater context of the parallel account, then, we see that this passage teaches that God knows and cares even about sparrows. He has not forgotten about the sparrow, and its fall is not something overlooked or uncared for.
What a comfort this is, that God would have such care even for sparrows, and emphasizes how much He must care for us! What a greater comfort this biblical teaching is than the idea that no sparrow falls without God’s specific will and consent. If not even one sparrow can die without the will and consent of God, how are we to understand a cat torturing and killing a sparrow? Is that the will of a loving God? And if God wills that, does He really care if we are hurting? On the other hand, if the fallen state of the world is due to Adam and Eve’s free will decision to sin, and the world is now under the control of Satan (1 John 5:19), and God is fighting for us in all situations (Rom. 8:28 REV; NIV), then it is a comfort to know that even though God cannot simply stop pain and problems, He knows and cares about what is going on and is willing to bless and help as He can, without overstepping things such as people’s freewill decisions.
We conclude along with Robertson, “There is comfort in this thought for us all. Our father who knows about the sparrows knows and cares about us.”d
“have been counted.” This verse shows how important we all are to God. The average head has a lot of hairs. Blondes average 150,000 hairs, redheads average 90,000, and people with black or brown hair average 110,000 hairs (BaumanMedical.com. Accessed Feb. 1, 2019). We don’t know how many hairs we have, but God does. People are very important to God.(top)
“you are of more value than many little sparrows.” See commentary on Luke 12:7.(top)
“will confess.” The overarching context is hypocrisy and being afraid of people to the end that a person will not say or do what is in their heart to do. People need to love God to the extent that they will openly confess Christ and not fear the consequences of it. The Greek verb translated “confess” is in the future tense and the context is people who testify of Jesus will be dragged before the authorities and interrogated and beaten (cp. Matt 10:16-20). Those will be difficult times. People who continue to confess Christ as Lord will be tortured, imprisoned, and even killed. There will be great temptation to simply deny the Lord to be set free, but Jesus warns us to continue to confess him in those difficult times, and if we do, he will confess us before the Father.(top)
|Mat 10:33||- (top)|
|Mat 10:34||- (top)|
|Mat 10:35||- (top)|
“and the daughter-in-law … those of his own household.” Micah 7:5 sets the context, which is that things will become so full of animosity and hatred that people cannot seem to trust anyone and must be careful who they talk to.(top)
“is attached to.” The Greek is phileō (#5368 φιλέω). (See commentary on John 21:15).(top)
|Mat 10:38||- (top)|
“life” (2x). The Greek word is psuchē (#5590 ψυχή; pronounced psoo-'kay), and psuchē has a large number of meanings, often “soul” or “life.” Here it refers to the physical life of the body, which is why most versions translate it “life,” which is accurate in this context.
[For a more complete explanation of psuchē, “soul,” see Appendix 7, “Usages of ‘Soul.’”](top)
|Mat 10:40||- (top)|
“a righteous person.” The Greek word dikaios (#1342 δίκαιος) is an adjective, and in this case is a substantive, an adjective used as a noun, “a righteous” referring to a “righteous person.” Using the substantive instead of just supplying the noun and saying “righteous person,” places the emphasis on “righteous.” If we want the reward of the righteous, we must receive “the righteous.”
“reward.” The Greek is misthos (#3408 μισθός), and it refers to a payment made for work done; wages. As “wages” or “payment,” it can refer to either a reward (cp. Matt. 5:12; 10:41; Luke 6:35; 1 Cor. 3:14) or a punishment (2 Pet. 2:13), depending on the context and what kind of payment is due. In the future Millennial Kingdom, when Jesus Christ rules as king on the earth, people will be repaid for what they have done (see commentary on 2 Cor. 5:10, “good or evil”). Some people might think they have done very little to support God’s work, but if anyone has helped accomplish God’s work on earth, he will be amply rewarded.(top)
“reward.” See commentary on Matthew 10:41.(top)