Friday, February 17, 2023

Handout - Chapter 10 - Persecution, A Sword Not Peace, Prophets Reward

by Stan Feldsine (

Matthew 10:26-33 - Instruction for the Persecuted

The admonition to fear not their persecutors is intending to point them to the future when they will be the victors. Those things of God that are concealed today will be revealed in the future as the apostles are vindicated. The apostles should not respond in fear, but rather, with comfort that in the end they will be victorious and that they should fulfill their mission.

Not only is the apostle in the protective custody of God, but he has assurance that God cares for him. He notices the sparrow, He will certainly notice us and assure our 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 issue being addressed is fulfilling the mission to proclaim the Kingdom to the villages 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 but rather brings into view the rewards that a believer either gains or forfeits. The idea is brought into focus in 2Co 5:10, 1Co 3:11-15).

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

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).

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 and 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, Gal 5:24). Taking up our cross is identifying with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection (Rom 6:4-7). The promise here is clear. Setting ourselves aside here and now will yield glory and rewards in the future Kingdom (Col 3:1-4, 2Ti 2:12).

Matthew 10:40-42 - Prophet's 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 Mat 10:12-13. The repetition is another example in the analogy showing that anyone sent by God carries blessings to those who receive him (Mat 10:12-13).

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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