Friday, February 17, 2023

A Study of Matthew Chapter 10

by Stan Feldsine (

Matthew 10:1-04 - The Twelve Identified

Mat 10:1-4 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. (2) These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; (3) Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; (4) Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

The "calling"of the 12 was a formal matter, preceded with a summons. It was an official gathering by notification. This would precede a new level of ministry for the disciples. The calling is best seen as the result of prayers that God would send workers into the harvest (Mat 9:36-38). The disciples would have prayed that the Lord would send workers, and then became the workers themselves.

This event is when the 12 were first called "apostles", meaning "one who is sent on a mission for another", as in a delegation or a envoy, or a messenger after the pattern of Jesus and His Father (Joh 5:19).

The 12 were given the authority to drive out impure spirits and heal disease and sickness. They had an extraordinary level of authority and power. Believers in general are never given this authority.

The apostles, as they are now called, were commissioned and sent out in pairs (Mar 6:7). Going in pairs allowed for mutual support. As they went, they were to continue to proclaim the message of the Kingdom (Mat 10:7), and they were to proclaim this message to the believing remnant (Jewish believers) (Mat 10:11-14).

Matthew 10:5-7 - The 12 Sent to the Lost Sheep of Israel

Mat 10:5-7 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. (6) Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. (7) As you go, proclaim this message: 'The kingdom of heaven has come near.'

Jesus told the 12 to go only to the "lost sheep of Israel" on 2 different occasions.

Mat 10:5-6 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. (6) Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.

Mat 15:22-24 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly." (23) Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us." (24) He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."

If we allow scripture to interpret these passages for us, we find that Jeremiah and Ezekiel both considered "lost sheep" to be ethnic Israelites from all 12 tribes who have strayed from Yahweh.

Jer 50:6 "My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place.

Eze 34:11-13 "'For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. (12) As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. (13) I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land.

So the question is, which "people" are His? Well, Jeremiah tells us who he is talking about in vs 4, it is the people of both, Israel and Judah together.

Jer 50:4 "In those days, at that time," declares the LORD, "the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the LORD their God.

Jeremiah clearly indicates that the "lost sheep" are from the people of Israel and the people of Judah, does Ezekiel corroborate Jeremiah?

Well, Ezekiel indicates that the sheep in question were scattered (Eze 34:12). Gentiles were never scattered. Ezekiel indicates that the sheep in question will be brought out from the nations and into their own land (Eze 34:13). The Gentile people were never brought out from the nations and placed in "their own land".

Ezekiel states over and over again that these "sheep" will be removed from the nations and placed in their own land. Gentiles had no such promises given to them, implicitly nor explicitly.

The restoration of the "lost sheep" is clearly related to Abraham's physical descendants, not Gentiles.

Eze 36:24-28 "'For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. (25) I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. (26) I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (27) And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. (28) Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.

So Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom, and set about the task of regathering His lost sheep.

The leadership had already rejected Jesus, but the people were not yet following their leaders. They were confused about who to follow, and were like sheep without a shepherd. The harvest was indeed plentiful, and so the ministry continued specifically for the believing remnant, who needed to learn about the King and His Kingdom.

It is to be noted that the Great Commission, the sending of evangelist to the nations, was not put into place until after the death and resurrection of the King, and the Kingdom was postponed.

Matthew 10:8-15 - Guidelines for the 12

Mat 10:8-15 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. (9) "Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts-- (10) no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. (11) Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. (12) As you enter the home, give it your greeting. (13) If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. (14) If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. (15) Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

The apostles were to given the authority to authenticate their message of the kingdom with healing and miracles like Jesus did. The Kingdom was still available should the Jewish people and leadership receive their Messiah.

They were to trust God for necessities of life, packing lite so to speak. God would provide for their needs through the believers that they came in contact with. Their provisions would come from people in the crowds that had followed Jesus and had been receptive to Him and His Kingdom gospel. The principle behind this is that the laborers are worthy of their food (Mat 9:10), see also: (Deu 25:4; 1Co 9:4-18; 1Ti 5:17-18)

Deu_25:4 Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.

1Co 9:7-11 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? (8) Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn't the Law say the same thing? (9) For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it about oxen that God is concerned? (10) Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. (11) If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?

1Ti 5:17-18 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. (18) For Scripture says, "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain," and "The worker deserves his wages."

The focus of ministry would turn to individuals instead of the nation. They were to preach to only worthy believers (Mat 10:11-14). If they came to a town or a household where they were rejected, then they were to "shake the dust off your feet", indicating that the very dirt in the town and / or household was dirty and polluted. It was to be left behind. These Jewish homes were to be considered pagan, polluted and subject to judgment.

A judgment worse than that experienced by Sodom and Gomorrah will befall those who reject Jesus and His Kingdom.

Rev 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. (12) And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. (13) The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. (14) Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. (15) Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Matthew 10:16-22 - The Coming Persecution

Mat 10:16-22 "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (17) Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. (18) On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. (19) But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, (20) for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (21) "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. (22) You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

It seems clear at this point that the teachings of the coming Messianic Kingdom are being rejected by the religious leaders. Jesus sees that troublesome times are ahead, and so he begins to prepare the apostles for what lies ahead.

Jesus begins this warning with an analogy. Being sent like sheep among wolves is a warning against being naive and allowing wolves to destroy them. They were to be smart and aware of what is going on around them.

Then Jesus states plainly the dangers they will face. They will face opposition from both the religious and the secular. Their message of the kingdom, healing and casting out demons would identify them with Jesus, whom the religious were already making plans to have killed. Their persecution would arise due to their identification with the person and work of Christ.

Their persecution was to be a witness to the officials, religious and secular. As they were brought before officials in court, their testimony would be a witness to those around them. They would testify regarding the King and Kingdom.

1Pe 4:12-16 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (13) But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (14) If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (15) If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. (16) However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

The statement "You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." Needs some explanation and context.

"Standing firm" conveys the idea of persistence in following Jesus in the midst of persecution. It does not denote perfection, as those standing firm from day to day can experience falling short and stumbling. Standing firm they indicates that one would rise from their fall and continue on the path. The idea is not that we never fail, but that we bear up under the oppression and continue regardless.

Consider Peter, who denied Christ, and yet overall persisted to the end:

Joh 18:25-27 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, "You aren't one of his disciples too, are you?" He denied it, saying, "I am not." (26) One of the high priest's servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, "Didn't I see you with him in the garden?" (27) Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.

"to the end will be saved" conveys the end of some time period or event. Jesus is speaking to His apostles, warning them of the impending persecution as they are sent out as His ambassadors. The time frame for this ambassadorship is until 70AD, some 40 years in the future. The promise here is that if they persist, they will not die in the siege.

Mat 24:1-2 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. (2) "Do you see all these things?" he asked. "Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."

Mat 24:3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"

Luk 21:20-24 "When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. (21) Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. (22) For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. (23) How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. (24) They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Some see "the end" from an individual point of view, which would be the end of their life. Others see this from a global point of view, this would be the second coming of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom. Once we are in the Kingdom, the persecution would end.

This indicator of "salvation" is not a presentation of a condition of salvation, but rather a promise that persecution will indeed end. Standing firm until the end is a fruit of our relationship with Christ, not a cause of it.

The apostles were not only to expect persecution from the religious and the secular leaders and people, but also from their own families. They would have been reassured when Jesus told them that when they were to be brought to account for their teachings, they did not have to worry about what to say, but that the Holy Spirit would speak through them.

Matthew 10:23-25 - Persecution Guide

Mat 10:23-25 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (24) "The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. (25) It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!

In keeping with the theme of not being naive, being wise as serpents, when the apostles were persecuted in a city they were in, they were to shake the dust off their boots and go to another city. The teaching on persecution was not a call to martyrdom. There is nothing wrong with fleeing.

Act 13:50-51 But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. (51) So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium.

There is a wide range of interpretations of what vs. 23 meant. It seems to plainly state that Jesus would come back before all the cities of Israel would hear the message of the Kingdom, but this has clearly taken place. The "coming back" of Jesus refers to the second coming which is yet future to us.

Jesus taught the general principle that if the leader was falsely accused, then the followers should expect the same treatment. Jesus had indeed been referred to as Beelzebul, a demon, and the apostles should expect the same if they were to stand firm.

A final thought on this passage is that in many cases it is the religious that will be the persecutors. Note that in vs. 17, this persecution will occur in the synagogue.

Mat 10:17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues.

Matthew 10:26-33 - Instruction for the Persecuted

Mat 10:26-33 "So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. (27) What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. (28) Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (29) Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care. (30) And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (31) So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (32) "Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. (33) But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

The idea of not being afraid of those that would persecute them through rejection, hate and violence seems out of place after Jesus has just told them of the trouble they are going to be faced with. Jesus is intending to point them to the future when they would be the victors.

Those things of God are concealed today will be revealed in the future, and the apostles would be vindicated. The point is that the apostles should not respond to what Jesus is saying in fear, but rather, with comfort that in the end they will be victorious, even if they can't see how that could be at the present time.

In light of the promised ultimate victory, the apostles are exhorted to fulfill their mission. Rather than fear the loss of their life by the evil one, they are to understand that their enemies cannot destroy their souls, only God can do that, and He is for them and not against them.

Not only is the apostle in the protective custody of God, but he has assurance that God cares for him as well. If He notices the sparrow, He certainly will notice us and assure our ultimate destiny forever with Him.

Verses 32-33 are frequently misunderstood. This is not a passage that speaks about salvation, but rather speaks about blessings of peace and victory in this life. The context shows that the issue being addressed has to do with fulfilling the commission to proclaim the Kingdom to the villages of Israel. (Jesus came for the lost sheep of Israel.) The consequence of failing to proclaim the Kingdom would be the loss of peace and victory that would otherwise be theirs.

Salvation is never based on works that we perform. It is a free gift distributed on the basis of grace through faith. Passages like this one do not teach that salvation can be removed based on what we do. This and similar passages do bring into view the rewards that a believer either gains or forfeits in this life and the life to come. The idea is brought into focus in 1Co 3:11-15.

2Co 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

1Co 3:11-15 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, (13) their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person's work. (14) If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. (15) If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved--even though only as one escaping through the flames.

Matthew 10:34-39 - Jesus Brings a Sword, not Peace

Mat 10:34-39 "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. (35) For I have come to turn "'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law-- (36) a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.' (37) "Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (38) Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (39) Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Jesus did not come to earth to make peace between His Kingdom and the world. His purpose was to make peace between individuals and God.

Rom 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

The "sword" is a symbol that illustrates the conflict that would characterize the hostility between God's Kingdom and the world's Kingdoms. This conflict would bring persecution to the disciples of Jesus.

The conflict is caused by Jesus and His words. It is not a speaking of conflict that flows out of personal rebellion, arguments, self righteous attitudes, etc. There is no excuse for Jesus's disciples to engage in strife or misbehavior.

The gospel itself will cause the division as we choose loyalty to Christ and His standards over family who are opposed to Christ.

"Take up your cross", the cross represents self-denial. Paul was the first that understood this concept. The idea here is that electing to follow Christ in the face of persecution from the world, and even family is setting aside things of the world that we are passionate about and desire.

Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Gal 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Taking up our cross is identifying with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.

Rom 6:4-7 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (5) For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. (6) For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-- (7) because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

The promise here is clear. Setting ourselves aside here and now will yield glory and rewards in the future Kingdom.

Col 3:1-4 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (2) Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (3) For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (4) When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

2Ti 2:12 a if we endure, we will also reign with him.

Matthew 10:40-42 - Prophet's Reward

Mat 10:40-42 "Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. (41) Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward. (42) And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward."

Addressing the apostles once again, Jesus tells the apostles that they are His messengers, sent by Him. Those who accept the apostles, accept Jesus, and accepting Jesus, they accept the Father.

The "prophets reward" and "righteous person's reward" appears to be the blessing mentioned earlier in vs. 12-13. The repetition is not a second category but another example in the analogy showing that anyone sent by God carries blessings to those who receive him.

Mat 10:12-13 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. (13) If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.

A possible source for this statement regarding the "prophet's reward" may be found in the story of Elijah and the widow of Zerephath in 1Ki 17:11-24. The widow received the Prophet who was sent by Yahweh and as a result experienced blessings and reward.

Jesus's reference to "His little ones" reflects His endearing love towards them (His apostles) even as the world looks upon them as insignificant. God's concern and care for these is highlighted by rewarding those who care for them.

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