“Emmanuel’s Ambassadors, Part 1” – Matthew 10:1-16

August 9th, 2015

Matthew 10:1-16 (Mt 28:19; Mk 3:13-19; 6:7-13; Lk 6:13-16; 12:36; 9:1-6; 10:1-12)

“Emmanuel’s Ambassadors, Pt 1”

 

Service Orientation: To believe in Jesus is to be called into His sacrificial service as a servant ambassador of Himself.

 

Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. —  2 Corinthians 12:10

 

Background Information:

  • The commission in Matthew 10 is not the same as ours. Our ministry is not restricted to Jews in Israel.  We are not forbidden to go to the Gentiles.  We are not forbidden to make normal provision for a journey (10:9-10); this clause was expressly canceled by the Lord (Luke 22:35-36).  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels–Matthew, 187)
  • That this was a temporary command is seen not only from the clear call of the Great Commission but from the fact that Jesus had already ministered both to Gentiles and to Samaritans. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 187)
  • (v. 1) The word disciple means a learner. The men whom Christ needs and desires are the men who are willing to learn.  The shut mind cannot serve him.  The servant of Christ must be willing to learn more every day.  Each day he must be a step nearer Jesus and a little nearer God.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 361)
  • (v. 2) According to Lk 6:12, 13, 20 this company of twelve had been called just previous to the preaching of the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mk 3:13, 14). Now, perhaps somewhat later (during the same summer, namely, of the year A.D. 28?), Jesus sends these men out on a mission tour.  They were to be his official ambassadors or “apostles,” clothed with authority to represent their Sender.  That exactly twelve men, no more and no less, were chosen for this task must mean that the Lord designated them to be the nucleus of the new Israel, for the Israel of the old dispensation had been represented by the twelve patriarchs (Gn 49:28).  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 449)
  • (v. 2) What kind of people were these? Fishermen and publicans.  Indeed, four of them were lowly fishermen and two were publicans–Matthew and James–and one was even a traitor.  These “he sent!”  (Chrysostom, The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 32.3)
  • (v. 2) We may ask why Jesus chose twelve special apostles. The reason is very likely because there were twelve tribes; just as in the old dispensation there had been twelve tribes of Israel, so in the new dispensation there are twelve apostles of the new Israel.  The NT itself does not tell us very much about these men.  As Plummer has it:  “In the NT it is the work, and not the workers, that is glorified.”  But, although we do not know much about them, the NT is very conscious of their greatness in the Church, for the Revelation tells us that the twelve foundation stones of the Holy City are inscribed with their names (Rv 21:14).  These men, simple men with no great background, men from many differing spheres of belief, were the very foundation stones on which the Church was built.  It is on the stuff of common men and women that the Church of Christ is founded.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 359-60)
  • (v. 2) A list of the twelve apostles is found (with slight changes of order and some variation of names) three other places in the NT: Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:13-16; and Acts 1:13.  Matthew is unique in that he is the only one to introduce the twelve apostles in six pairs–(1) Peter and Andrew, (2) James and John, (3) Philip and Bartholomew, (4) Thomas and Matthew, (5) James and Thaddaeus, and (6) Simon and Judas.  This may reflect the fact that, according to Mark, the twelve were originally sent out in pairs to do their work (Mark 6:7).  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, 166)
  • (v. 2) In each list there are three groups of four, each group headed by Peter, Philip (not to be confused with the evangelist), and James the son of Alphaeus respectively. But within each group the order varies (even from Luke to Acts!) except that Judas is always last.  This suggests, if it does not prove, that the Twelve were organizationally divided into smaller groups, each with a leader.  (Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8, 237)
  • (v. 2) Because James is always mentioned first, he was probably the older and more dynamic of the two. The brothers were fishing partners with their father, Zebedee, who was apparently fairly well-to-do, because he employed hired servants in his business (Mk 1:20).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 149)
  • (v. 2) Because of his eventual gentleness and self-effacing attitude, we are sometimes inclined to think of John as being naturally retiring and mild mannered, perhaps even somewhat effeminate. But in his early years he was fully as much a “Son of Thunder” as James.  He joined his brother in wanting to call down fire on the unbelieving Samaritans and in seeking a position next to the Lord in the kingdom.  Like James, he was naturally intolerant, ambitious, zealous, and explosive, though perhaps not as much so.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 151)
  • (v. 3) Philip’s hometown was the northern Galilee town of Bethsaida, where Peter and Andrew also lived. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 155)
  • (v. 3) After three years of learning at Jesus’ feet, Philip’s spiritual perception still seemed almost nil. Neither Jesus’ words nor His works had brought Philip to the understanding that Jesus and His Father were one.  After gazing for three years into the only face of God men will ever see, he still did not comprehend who he was seeing.  He had missed the main truth of Jesus’ teaching, that He was God incarnate.

Yet the Lord used that man of limited vision and trust.  Philip was slow to understand and slow to trust.  He was more at home with physical facts than with spiritual truth.  Yet, along with the other apostles, Jesus assured him of a throne from which he would judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Mt 19:28).  Philip was pessimistic, insecure, analytical, and slow to learn; but tradition tells us that he ultimately gave his life as a martyr for the Lord he so often disappointed and who so patiently taught and retaught him.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 158)

  • (v. 3) They (tax collectors) were so despicable and vile that the Jewish Talmud said, “It is righteous to lie and deceive a tax collector.” Tax collectors were not permitted to testify in Jewish courts, because they were notorious liars and accepted bribes as a normal part of life.  They were cut off from the rest of Jewish life and were forbidden to worship in the Temple or even in a synagogue.  In Jesus’ parable, the tax collector who came to the Temple to pray stood “some distance away” (Lk 18:13) not only because he felt unworthy but because he was not allowed to enter.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 164)
  • (v. 4) The Zealots were one of four dominant religious parties in Judah (along with the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes) but were for the most part motivated more by politics than religion. They were primarily guerrilla fighters who made surprise attacks on Roman posts and patrols and then escaped to the hills or mountains.  Sometimes they resorted to terrorism, and the Jewish historian Josephus called them sicarii (Latin, “daggermen”) because of their frequent assassinations.  The heroic defenders of the great Herodian fortress at Masada were Jewish Zealots led by Eleazar.  When that brave group fell to Flavius Silva in A.D. 72 after a seven-month siege, the Zealots disappeared from history.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 170)
  • (v. 4) His (Simon the Zealot) always being listed next to Judas Iscariot may suggest that those men were somewhat two of a kind, whose primary concern about the Messiah was earthly and material rather than spiritual.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 170)
  • (v. 4) Iscariot means “man of Kerioth,” a small town in Judea, about 23 miles south of Jerusalem and some seven miles from Hebron. Judas is the only apostle whose name includes a geographical identification, possibly because he was the only Judean among the twelve.  All the others, including Jesus, were from Galilee in the north.  Judean Jews generally felt superior to the Jews of Galilee; and although Judas himself was from a rural village, he probably did not fit well into the apostolic band.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 174)
  • (v. 4) Judas started at the same place as the other disciples. But they trusted in Jesus and were saved, and as they surrendered more and more to His control, they grew away from their old ways.  They, too, were sinful, worldly, selfish, unloving, and materialistic.  But they submitted to Jesus, and He changed them.  Judas, however, never advanced beyond crass materialism.  He refused to trust Jesus and more and more resisted His lordship.  Eventually he was confirmed in his own way to the point that he permanently closed the door to God’s grace.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 178)
  • (v. 4) The plain fact is that if Simon the Zealot had met Matthew the tax-gatherer anywhere else than in the company of Jesus, he would have stuck a dagger in him. Here is the tremendous truth that men who hate each other can learn to love each other when they both love Jesus Christ.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 359)
  • (v. 5) From Mark’s parallel passage we learn that Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs (6:7). In that way they would have companionship while beginning a type of work that was new and completely foreign to them.  Loneliness is fertile ground for temptation and weakness, and by going out with companions they would be less prone to discouragement, depression, and self-pity.  They could encourage one another, hold each other accountable, and take turns ministering, thereby helping to reduce pressure and fatigue.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 184)
  • (v. 5) Parangell , the verb behind instructing, had a number of usages in NT times. As a military term it represented the order of an officer to those under his command, an order that required unhesitating and unqualified obedience.  As a legal term it was used of an official court summons, the equivalent of a modern subpoena, which to disregard made obligation that was binding on a person of integrity.  As a medical term it represented a moral obligation that was binding on a person of integrity.  As a medical term it represented a doctor’s prescription or instruction given to a patient.  The word was also used to refer to certain accepted standards or techniques, such as those for writing or oratory.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 185)
  • (v. 11) The point is that if they took up their residence in a house which had an evil reputation for morals or for conduct or for fellowship, it would seriously hinder their usefulness. They were not to identify themselves with anyone who might prove to be a handicap.  That is not for a moment to say that they were not to seek to win such people for Christ, but it is to say that the messenger of Christ must have a care whom he makes his intimate friend.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 369)
  • (v. 11) Among those who had in former years extended hospitality were Abraham (Gn 18:1-8), Rebekah (Gn 24:25), Reuel (Ex 2:20), Manoah (Jdg 13:15), the Shunnamite woman (2 Kgs 4:8-10), and Job (Job 31:34). This practice continued into the next dispensation.  Hence, for the NT period add the names of such generous persons as Levi (=Matthew, Mt 9:10; Lk 5:29), Zacchaeus (Lk 19:5, 10), Martha and Mary (Jn 12:1, 2), Lydia (Acts 16:1, 2), Philemon (Phlm 7, 22), Onesiphorus (2 Tm 1:16), and Gaius (3 Jn 5, 6).  The Bible regards the spirit and practice of hospitality to be one of the indispensable qualities of the Christian life (Rom 12:13; 1 Tm 3:2; 5:10; Ti 1:8; Heb 13:2).  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 459)
  • (v. 16) The Greek puts strong emphasis on ‘I.’ It is He who sends among wolves, therefore He will protect.  A strange thing for a shepherd to do!  A strange encouragement for the apostles on the threshold of their work!  But the words would often come back to them when beset by the pack with their white teeth gleaming, and their howls filling the night.  They are not promised that they will not be torn, but they are assured that, even if they are, the Shepherd wills it, and will not lose one of His flock.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture–St. Matthew, 73)
  • (v. 16) This is the same language as Genesis 3:1, where the word that this is a sanctified shrewdness and not a cunning one. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, 175)
  • (v. 16) This refers not so much to moral purity as to a purity of manners. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, 175)

                   

The question to be answered is . . . What is Matthew telling us here in chapter 10 of his Gospel?

 

Answer:  Jesus is delegating His authority to His Disciples so they can be His ambassadors of Himself, God and the Gospel.

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Authority

 

No authority that we encounter in this world is rooted and grounded in the person who holds that authority.  All authority in this world is delegated, because the only One who possesses inherent, intrinsic, absolute authority is God Himself.

It is not by accident that the word authority contains the word author.  God is the author of all that is.  It is He who made us and not we ourselves (Ps 100:3).  By virtue of His position as the Creator and the Sovereign over all things, God inherently has the authority to command from His creatures whatsoever He pleases.  God alone, in the final analysis, has the authority to bind our consciences.  All other authority derives from Him.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 300-1)

 

I-  Jesus calls and empowers His submissive Disciples to be ambassadors of Himself, as well as heirs, with His power and authority.  (Mt 10:1-4, 8a; see also: Mk 3:13-15; 6:7-13; Lk 9:1-6; 10:1-17; Jn 1:10-13; 15:1-7; Acts 3:12; Rom 8:12-17, 37; 2 Cor 12:12; Gal 4:4-7; 2 Pt 1:4)

 

The same authority that characterized Jesus’ ministry in chapters 8-9 is now given to the Twelve.  Like Jesus, this authority enables them to drive out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and sickness (10:1; cf. 4:23; 9:35).  All that the Twelve will accomplish is based on their having received Jesus’ authority.  Disciples of every era will find their own authority only by submitting to Jesus.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 385)

 

They were very ordinary men.  They had no wealth; they had no academic background; they had no social position.  They were chosen from the common people, men who did the ordinary things, men who had no special education, men who had no social advantages. . . . Jesus chose these men, not only for what they were, but also for what they were capable of becoming under his influence and in his power.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 358)

 

A comparison of 10:8 with 4:23; 9:35 shows that what Jesus means is, “Do and continue to do what I am doing and have been doing.”  The “authority” to do this had already been imparted to them (10:1).  By God’s grace they themselves must now apply that power.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 457)

 

The disciples were also to use the authority and power he had given them (10:1) to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons, just as they had seen Jesus do.  These four miracles were exactly the miracles Jesus had done and would demonstrate that the disciples had Jesus’ power.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 202)

 

Look at the twelve names of these ordinary men in 10:2-4.  And look at the slight additions, those extra long nametags on a few of them.  Judas, the last listed (quite intentionally), gets that diabolical addition, “who betrayed him.”  A few other tags are added to those who share the same first name, so as to distinguish this James from that James or this Simon–the Zealot–from the other Simon–Peter–who is intentionally listed first (v. 1).  But only one man gets his occupation added.  It’s not Andrew the fisherman, Thomas the dental hygienist, or Philip the used care salesman.  It’s “Matthew the tax collector” (v. 3).

I don’t want to make too much of this addition other than the point I’m making.  God chose outcasts to reach outcasts.  Here we find not Peter the Great, or Dr. John von Thunder of the Tübingen Institute of Theology, or St. Thaddeus of the Holiest Order of Most Holy Hermits.  Rather we find common and uncouth men.  And it is this ignoble group of twelve who take the noble message of the gospel to the ignoble of the world (see 1 Cor 1:25-29).  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 285)

 

In short, then, their mission was to multiply the activity of their Master.  The new age of his reign was being inaugurated. He himself was proclaiming the nearness of the kingdom (4:17); so would they.  He himself was displaying the kingdom’s power and anticipating what the consummated kingdom would be like (chaps. 8-9); so would they.  He himself was rolling back the frontiers of suffering and making public connections between sin and sickness; so would they.  He himself was confronting the powers of darkness and throwing evil spirits out of their human dwelling places; so would they.  And they would do these things because he would delegate to them the authority they would need.  (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World, 248)

 

Jesus “called” his twelve disciples.  He didn’t draft them, force them, or ask them to volunteer; he chose them to serve him in a special way.  Jesus did not choose twelve to be his disciples because of their faith–it often faltered.  He didn’t choose them because of their talent and ability–no one stood out with unusual ability.  The disciples represented a wide range of backgrounds and life experiences, but apparently they may have had no more leadership potential than those who were not chosen.  The one characteristic they all shared was their willingness to obey Jesus.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 198)

 

In reality apostolic succession is absurd because there is nothing to succeed to, except what cannot be transmitted, personal knowledge of the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  To establish that fact as indubitable history is to lay the foundation of the Christian Church, and the eleven plain men, who did that, need no superstitious mist around them to magnify their greatness.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture–St. Matthew, 62)

 

The apostles had almost no rank among men, while the commission which Christ gave them was divine.  Besides, they had neither ability nor eloquence, while the excellence and novelty of their office required more than human endowments.  It was therefore necessary that they should derive authority from another source.  By enabling them to perform miracles, Christ invests them with the badges of heavenly power, in order to secure the confidence and veneration of the people.  (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Volume XVI, 439)

 

Signs were essentially for the Jews both in the days of the Lord and later in the days of the apostles (1 Cor 1:22).  In particular, signs were for unbelieving Jews (1 Cor 14:21-25).  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels–Matthew, 183)

 

Doctors, lawyers, and other professionals prominently display the diplomas and other documents that certify their qualifications and authority to practice.  In a far more important way, those who represent Christ must have credentials that confirm their divine mission and message.  Jesus gave confirming signs for His own ministry, and now He calls the apostles to demonstrate their authority by performing similar signs and wonders.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 190)

 

The signs, wonders, and miracles Jesus commanded the apostles to perform were not for the purpose of simply demonstrating raw supernatural power.  Jesus did not tell the apostles, for example, to disappear and reappear, to move the Temple from one place to another, or any such thing.  The miracles they performed created wonder and demonstrated the character of God and the nature of His kingdom.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 190)

 

They go as representatives of the Messiah.  Verses 7-8 carefully repeat both the message and the activity of Jesus as we have been told of them in chapters 5-9; the disciples are to say and do what he has already said and done.  At the end of the discourse (vv. 40-42) it will be made clear that how people respond to them also reveals their response to Jesus the Messiah.  That is why the welcome or lack of it which they will encounter in the villages of Galilee is so strongly emphasized in vv. 11-15; the villagers will be welcoming or rejecting their Messiah.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 380-1)

 

II-  Jesus calls His Disciples to be ambassadors of Himself with His priorities to prior commitments and promises.  (Mt 10:5-6; see also: Gn 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; Mt 15:24-28; Acts 1:8; 9:20; 13:5, 46-51; 18:4-6; 28:28; Rom 1:16; 2:9-10; 3:29-30; 2 Pt 3:9) 

 

Matthew’s recording of this temporary restriction adds force to one of the main purposes of his book, namely, fully to win the Jews for Christ.  It is as if the evangelist (and God through him) were saying to the Jews:  “Think of all the privileges you have enjoyed, the work that was bestowed upon you by prophets and priests.  Besides, when Messiah arrived, in fulfilment of the predictions and symbols, he saw to it that you were the first to receive the glad tidings.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 456)

 

The key to the prohibition is found here.  This is a special mission of Jesus’ disciples during his ministry to the crowds of Israel, who are like harassed and helpless sheep without a shepherd (9:36).  Jesus goes first to Israel (cf. 15:21-28) to fulfill the salvation-historical order that God established with Israel being the tool he will use to bring blessing to the world.  Then he will charge the Eleven to continue the historical outworking by going to the nations (28:19-20).  Paul later saw this as the priority of the Jews in salvation, for God’s plan is “first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Rom 1:16; 2:9-10).  Jesus’ attention to Israel underscores God’s faithfulness to his covenant promises, the continuity of his purposes, and his plan for Israel.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 389)

 

There are perhaps three reasons that Jesus chose to restrict the apostles’ ministry at this time to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  First was the Jews’ special place in God’s plan.  They were God’s chosen people, the people of the covenants, the promises, and the law. . . . Had the apostles gone first to the Samaritans and Gentiles, the Jews would have been very reluctant to listen to them, because they would have perceived the apostles as bearers of a pagan religion.  Although they had greatly distorted and disobeyed God’s revelation, the Jews were right in their belief that His revelation to them was unique and that they had a unique role in His plan of redemption. . . . Second, Jesus sent the apostles to preach first to Jews because they were barely up to the task of witnessing effectively to their own people–much less of witnessing to Gentiles and Samaritans, whose cultures and ways they little understood and greatly despised.  Even after Pentecost, Peter was not convinced the gospel was for Gentiles.  The Lord had to persuade him through a special vision and by firsthand witness of the Spirit’s work in Cornelius and his household (Acts 10). . . .Third, Jesus probably restricted the apostles’ first ministry to the Jews for the practical reason that the twelve needed a special point of attack, a limited and familiar field in which they could concentrate their fledgling efforts.  An unfocused ministry is a shallow ministry.  The effective worker for Jesus Christ puts his primary energy and effort into the task the Lord has assigned him.  He is concerned for all of the Lord’s work, but he does not try to do it all himself.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 187-188)

 

When Jesus spoke these words, He and the Apostles were in Galilee, the northern part of Israel.  He told them not to go north, east, or south, because there were only Gentile lands to the north and east, while to the south was the country of the Samaritans (the Mediterranean Sea was to the west).  Jesus was saying, “I want you to focus your missionary activity in Galilee, because I am sending you to seek the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  In other words, the first apostolic mission was to the Jews.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 306)

 

Why this restriction?  In part it was probably because of pragmatic considerations.  That Jesus felt it necessary to mention the Samaritans at all presupposes John 4.  The disciples, happy in the exercise of their ability to perform miracles, might have been tempted to evangelize the Samaritans  because they remembered Jesus’ success there.  Judging by Lk 9:52-56, however, the Twelve were still temperamentally ill-equipped to minister to Samaritans.  And even after Pentecost, despite an explicit command from the risen Lord (Acts 1:8), the church moved only hesitantly toward the Samaritans (Acts 8).  (Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8, 244)

 

His mission, as predicted, was worldwide in its ultimate aims (see on 1:1; 2:1; 3:9-10; 4:15-16; 5:13-16; 8:1-13; 10:18; 21:43; 24:14; 28:16-20); and all along he had warned that being a Jew was not enough.  But his own people must not be excluded because premature offense could be taken at such broad perspectives.  Therefore Jesus restricted his own ministry primarily (15:24), though not exclusively (8:1-13; 15:21-39), to Jews.  He himself was sent as their Messiah.  The messianic people of God developed out of the Jewish remnant and expanded to include Gentiles.  The restriction of vv. 5-6, therefore, depends on a particular understanding of salvation history (cf. Meier, Law, 27-30), which ultimately goes back to Jesus.  This Paul well understood:  both salvation and judgment were for the Jew first, then for the Gentile (Rom 1:16); and this conviction governed his own early missionary efforts (e.g., Acts 13:5, 44-48; 14:1 et al.).  (Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8, 244-5)

 

III-  Jesus calls His Disciples to be ambassadors of Himself to freely give with His servant’s heart.  (Mt 10:8b-10a; see also: Isa 53:1-12; 55:1; Mt 6:19-34; Mk 6:7-13; Lk 9:1-6; 10:1-7; Acts 18:18-24; Col 1:24; 1 Thess 2:9; 1 Tm 3:1-7; 6:6-8; 1 Pt 5:2) 

 

They were to be poor like their Master, and to travel light.  Their manner of life was to be characterized by simplicity.  Some missionaries have created an almost unbridgable gap between themselves and the relatively poor people to whom they have gone, by taking tons of baggage and gadgets.  (J. Oswald Sanders, Bible Studies in Matthew’s Gospel, 58)

 

Everyone knows there are costs associated even with preaching the gospel; if nothing else, the preacher has to eat.  But the gospel is the message of God’s free grace to us in Jesus Christ, and it is always jarring, contradictory, and sometimes blatantly sinful when a price is placed upon the preaching.  In some cases fixing a price on preaching has destroyed both ministers and their ministries.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, 173)

 

One qualification for elders is that they “shepherd the flock of God…not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain” (1 Pt 5:2; cf. Ti 1:7).  They are to be “free from the love of money” (1 Tm 3:3).  The pastor who puts a price on his ministry prices himself out of God’s blessing.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 193)

 

‘Freely give’–the precept forbids the seeking of personal profit or advantage from preaching the gospel, and so makes a sharp test of our motives; and it also forbids clogging the gift with non-essential conditions, and so makes a sharp test of our methods.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture–St. Matthew, 70)

 

The command was meant to lift the apostles above suspicion, to make them manifestly disinterested, to free them from anxiety about earthly things, that their message might absorb their thoughts and efforts, and to give room for the display of Christ’s power to provide.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture–St. Matthew, 70)

 

The worst situation occurs when the ministers are grasping and covetous, constantly comparing themselves with other “professionals,” while the church adopts the attitude, “You keep him humble, Lord, and we’ll keep him poor.”  (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World, 253)

 

He indicates that the disciples are not to set a fee for their services:  “Freely you have received, freely give” (v. 8).  They are not to worry about provisions, not even to the point of taking money or extra clothing:  “Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff” (vv. 9-10).  But neither are they to refuse support since “the worker is worth his keep” (v. 10).  As far as lodging is concerned, they are to accept whatever hospitality the upright people of the place might give them:  “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave” (v. 11).  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, 173)

 

The disciples needed these things.  They were not to refuse replacements for these necessary items when they were offered.  But they were not to take extras in order to show that they were God’s messengers and were genuinely trusting in him for their needs.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, 174)

 

In NT times rabbis were bound by Talmudic law to teach for nothing, for the same basic reason Jesus gave the apostles.  Moses had been given the law freely by God, and rabbis were not to charge for teaching it.  The only exception was for teaching a small child of parents who were shirking their own responsibility for teaching him.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 192)

 

Lest anyone hold as unworthy of belief these rough men bereft of eloquence, unschooled and unlettered, as they promise the kingdom of heaven, Jesus empowered them to cure the sick, cleanse the lepers and cast out devils.  Many signs would confirm the promises made.  And because spiritual gifts are defiled if connected with rewards, Jesus adds a condemnation of avarice:  “Freely you have received, freely give.”  I, your Lord and Master, have given this to you without cost, and you should give, lest the grace of the gospel be corrupted.  (Jerome, Commentary on Matthew, 1.10.7-8)

 

Jesus is not prohibiting them from owning these items but rather is stressing the urgency and requirements of the mission.  The Twelve are not to spend time procuring extra supplies as though they are going to be out in foreign lands for an extended period of time.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 390)

 

God’s mercy comes to us without conditions, but does not proceed without our cooperation.  So too our aid must begin freely, regardless of the recipient’s merits.  But our mercy must increasingly demand change or it is not really love.  (Timothy J. Keller, Ministries of Mercy, 93)

 

Now dear Christians, some of you pray night and day to be branches of the true Vine; you pray to be made all over in the image of Christ.  If so, you must be like him in giving… “though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor” …Objection 1.  “My money is my own.”  Answer:  Christ might have said, “my blood is my own, my life is my own” …then where should we have been?  Objection 2.  “The poor are undeserving.”  Answer:  Christ might have said, “They are wicked rebels…shall I lay down my life for these?  I will give to the good angels.”  But no, he left the ninety-nine, and came after the lost.  He gave his blood for the undeserving.  Objection 3.  “The poor may abuse it.”  Answer:  Christ might have said the same; yea, with far greater truth.  Christ knew that thousands would trample his blood under their feet; that most would despise it; that many would make it an excuse for sinning more; yet he gave his own blood.  Oh, my dear Christians!  If you would be like Christ, give much, give often, give freely, to the vile and poor, the thankless and the undeserving.  Christ is glorious and happy and so will you be.  It is not your money I want, but your happiness.  Remember his own word, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  (B.B. Warfield, The Person and Work of Christ, 574)

 

IV-  Jesus works though His other ambassadors to supply His evangelist ambassadors with all they need to do the work He has called them to do.  (Mt 10:10b-13a; see also: Dt 25:4; Mt 10:40-41; Mk 6:10-11; Lk 9:4-5; 10:5-7; 22:35-36; 1 Cor 9:14-17; 1 Tim 5:18; 2 Jn 1:10-11) 

 

His meaning is that you will be given food in due season insofar as you are worthy of it.  And you will be worthy of it if you ask for nothing beyond mere necessities.  (Crysostom, The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 32.5)

 

Here then is the double truth; the man of God must never be over-concerned with material things, but the people of God must never fail in their duty to see that the man of God receives a reasonable support.  This passage lays an obligation on teacher and on people alike.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 368)

 

The principle of the people of God providing for the ministers of God is deeply rooted in biblical truth, both in the Old and New Testaments.  One of the greatest shames of the American church is that the clergy remain among the lowest-paid professional groups.  This shows that Americans attach a very low value to the work of ministers.  It was no accident that God instituted the tithe in the OT to make sure that those who were entrusted with the sacred things of the nations would have adequate provisions.  God knew that if He left the care of His priests and ministers up to the dynamics of the market, they would starve to death, because people do not value what they do.  I think this is part of the reason why hundreds of clergy leave the ministry every year in the United States.

Let me exhort you, if you are a church elder or deacon, to make it your business to see that your minister is well provided for according to the Word of God.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 308)

 

The apostles were to go forth with a minimum of clothing and supplies, trusting the Lord to provide whatever else they needed.  God Himself established the principle that the worker is worthy of his support, and He will see that it is fulfilled.

The rabbis had followed that principle for many years.  One ancient rabbi had written, “He who receives a rabbi into his house or as his guest and lets him have his enjoyment from his possessions, the Scripture ascribes to him as if he had offered the continual offerings.”  They rightly believed that God would bless those who provided food, clothing, shelter, and other aid to the teachers of His Word.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 193-4)

 

Mark recorded that Jesus instructed the disciples to take nothing with them except staffs, while the accounts in Matthew and Luke say that Jesus told them not to take staffs.  One explanation for this difference is that Matthew and Luke were referring to a club used for protection, whereas Mark was talking about a shepherd’s crook used for walking.  Another explanation is that according to Matthew and Luke, Jesus was forbidding them to acquire an additional staff or sandals, but instead to use what they already had.  The point in all three accounts is the same:  The disciples were to leave  at once, without extensive preparation, trusting in God’s care rather than in their own resources.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 203)

 

The minister is not to keep his eye out for better accommodations or even to accept a voluntary offer for better lodging and thus offend his original host.  His sole focus should be on his ministry, and his contentment with what he has and where he is staying will itself be a testimony to those to whom he ministers.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 194)

 

In whatever city or village the apostles would enter, they were to seek out someone to stay with who was known to be godly, whose integrity and life-style were beyond question in the community.  Otherwise the ungodly association would harm both their own spirituality and the effectiveness of their testimony.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 194)

 

The messenger of Christ must never give the impression that he courts people for the sake of material things, and that his movements are dictated by the demands of his own comfort.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 369)

 

The church should not pay its clergy for services rendered, as if somehow ministers and others live by earning their keep.  Pushed to the limit, this might also suggest that a servant of the Lord is paid so much per prayer, so much per sermon, so much per hour of preparation, so much per counseling session with a distraught widow who has just lost her son, and so on.  No, the church does not pay its ministers; rather, it provides them with resources so that they are able to serve freely.  (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World, 253)

 

The meaning therefore is:  “Make trial, when you first enter, whether your entertainers will cheerfully submit to hear you.  Whoever shall willingly embrace your doctrine, remain in their house, that your salutation may be confirmed.  If any shall reject, depart from them immediately, and, so far as lies in your power, withdraw your salutation.”  (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Volume XVI, 446)

 

It is probably legitimate to suppose that, arrived in any town of whatever size, the missionaries would first of all preach out in the open, at this or that street corner, in the market-place or square (cf. Jon 3:4); or, if invited to do so, in the synagogue.  From the response they receive it would not be difficult to determine who, among the listeners, were “worthy” or “deserving” to provide hospitality to the bringers of good tidings.  They might be the kind of people who were waiting for “the consolation of Israel” (Lk 2:25) or “the redemption of Jerusalem” (Lk 2:38).  Such people could be expected to rejoice in the opportunity to lodge God’s messengers.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 458-9)

 

V-  Jesus calls His Disciples as ambassadors of Himself to allow people to reap what they sow.  (Mt 10:11-15; see also: Mal 3:10; Mk 6:11;  Lk 9:5; 10:5-7, 11, 16; Acts 13:51; 1 Cor 15:33; 2 Cor 6:14-18; 9:1-15; Gal 6:7-10; Heb 10:29) 

 

This section is not only a warning to workers about what to expect as a response to their preaching and what to do about it but also a warning to unbelievers that rejecting the gospel is a serious matter.  It is similar to perishing as did the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which were destroyed for their wickedness in the days of Abraham.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, 174)

 

Potiphar’s household was blessed because of Joseph’s presence (Gn 39:3-5).  How much more those homes that harbored the apostles of the Messiah!  (Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8, 246)

 

If the householder turns out to be unworthy (i.e., not interested in following Jesus or giving aid to his disciples), then the disciples should let their peace return to them–that is, they shouldn’t stay.  But the loss is not theirs.  Those who receive Jesus’ disciples receive him (10:40).  The unworthy person is not simply rejecting a few disciples; he is rejecting the Jesus they represent.  Their greeting of peace is of special value because of their relationship with him; and if they leave, taking their greeting with them, the home they thus abandon is impoverished incalculably.  Potiphar’s home was blessed because of Joseph’s presence (Gen. 39:3-5): how much more the home that harbors the apostles of Jesus the Messiah!  (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World, 255)

 

Sodom and Gomorrah, proverbial for wickedness (Gn 19; Isa 1:9; cf. Mt 11:22-24; Rom 9:29; Jude 7), suffered catastrophic judgment on account of their sin; but on the final day, Jesus insists, as much as they will be condemned, the homes and towns that rejected Jesus and his emissaries will face more fearsome judgment yet.  (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World, 256)

 

The difference between the Christian and the non-Christian is a trust in God for material provision.  “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously…And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.  As it is written:  “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”  (2 Cor 9:6, 8-9).  (Timothy J. Keller, Ministries of Mercy, 71-2)

 

The currency of this world will be worthless at our death or at Christ’s return, both of which are imminent.  For us to accumulate vast earthly treasures in the face of the inevitable future is the equivalent to stockpiling Confederate money.

The only currency of value in heaven is our present service and generous giving to God’s kingdom.  Jim Elliot, the martyred missionary, said it this way, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  (Howard Dayton, Your Money Counts, 76)

 

They were to be courteous in their attitude toward those by whom they might be entertained; but they were to waste no time on fruitless soil.  If they were not received as messengers of the King, they were to shake off the dust of their feet as though they had been treading on polluted ground.  (Charles R. Erdman, The Gospel of Matthew, 95)

 

It is evident that these injunctions were intended only for the days when the apostles were preparing the way for the earthly labors of their Lord.  Many of these directions were purely temporary.  Jesus wished to impress upon them the fact that the time of his ministry would be brief, that the message which they bore was important, and that refusal to accept the good news was a serious offense, so that he could close the special injunctions by the statement that it would be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for one of these unbelieving cities to which Jesus sent his first messengers.  (Charles R. Erdman, The Gospel of Matthew, 95)

 

The fruit of our labor may perhaps not be separable from that of others, any more than the sowers can go into the reaped harvest-field and identify the gathered ears which have sprung from the seed that they sowed, but it is there all the same; and whosoever may be unable to pick out each man’s share in the blessed total outcome, the Lord of the harvest knows, and His accurate proportionment of individual reward to individual service will not mar the companionship in the general gladness, when ‘he that soweth and he that reapeth shall rejoice together.’  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture–St. Matthew, 66)

 

The command to stay there until they left the city cautioned them never to offend their hosts by looking for “better” lodging in a home that was more comfortable or socially prominent.  To remain in one home would not be a burden for the home owner because the disciples’ stay in each community would be brief.  The “worthy” were those who would respond to and believe the gospel message.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 203)

 

To shake the dust off one’s feet was a gesture of total repudiation.  Pious Jews shook dust from their feet after passing through Gentile cities or territory to show their separation from Gentile influences and practices.  When the disciples shook the dust from their feet after leaving a Jewish town, it would be a vivid sign that they wished to remain separate from people who had rejected Jesus.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 204-205)

 

This form of execration confirms still more what I lately mentioned, that no crime is more offensive to God than contempt of his word:  for he does not enjoin them to make use of so solemn a mode in expressing their detestation of adulterers, or murderers, or any description of malefactors.  (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Volume XVI, 447)

 

When men deny the authority of Him who made and formed them, when they refuse to listen to his voice, nay, reject disdainfully his gentle invitations, and withhold the confidence which is due to his gracious promises, such impiety is the utmost accumulation, as it were, of all crimes.  But if the rejection of that obscure preaching was followed by such dreadful vengeance, how awful must be the punishment that awaits those who reject Christ when he speaks openly!  Again, if God punishes so severely the despisers of the word, what shall become of furious enemies who, by blasphemies and a venomous tongue, oppose the gospel, or cruelly persecute it by fire and sword?  (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Volume XVI, 448)

 

If a person murders another person in this life, he will receive the just punishment for that in hell.  If he murders five, his judgment will be five times as bad.  One of my professors in seminary once said that a sinner in hell would do anything to make the number of his sins during his lifetime one less so that his punishment might be that much smaller.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 309)

 

The sad truth is that most Christians have a practical disbelief in hell.  I know that is true because if we really believed in hell our zeal for missions would be a thousand times stronger.  We engage in all kinds of sophistry, arguing that God does not send people to hell but that they send themselves there by their own evil deeds.  The Bible disagrees.  It teaches that no one sends himself to hell.  It is God who sends people to hell.  He created hell for judgment.  I cannot think of anything in this world more terrifying than going to hell.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 309-10)

 

The household that gladly received the apostles was to have its greeting of peace confirmed upon it.  The implication is that truly receptive listeners were to be ministered to in the fullest way.  Their open hearts to the Lord’s work earned them God’s richest blessing.  “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet,” Jesus explained a short while later, “shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward” (Mt 10:41).

God does not call his servants to minister only where the gospel is immediately and eagerly received.  Many fields of service are extremely resistant to the gospel.  But the focus of ministry in any area or circumstance should be on those people who are most receptive.  Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are promised satisfaction (Mt 5:6), and the faithful minister should give of himself fully and freely in feeding them God’s Word.  God’s mandate is that the gospel should be preached first to those who want it most.  They not only are the most deserving but are the ones most likely to believe and to win still others to Himself.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 195)

 

If a house was not worthy, Jesus told the twelve, let your greeting of peace return to you, which was an Oriental expression signifying withdrawal of favor or blessing.  It is not that such a household would have a blessing and then lose it, but that the offer of peace was never received and is therefore withdrawn.  The greatest blessing of God is worthless for a person who will not accept it.  God’s gospel is offered to all the world, and it has power to save all the world, but it is powerless to save or help even a single person who will not have Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (cf. Jn 5:40).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 195-6)

 

When they came back into Israel from a Gentile country, many Jews would literally shake as much dust off their feet as possible in order not to bring pagan soil into their homeland.  For the apostles to shake the dust off their feet while leaving a Jewish house or town would be to treat the inhabitants like Gentiles–whom most Jews considered to be out of God’s reach.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 196)

 

Jesus was not speaking of those who are slow to understand or believe but of those who, after hearing a clear testimony of the gospel and seeing dramatic and irrefutable signs of confirmation, continue to resist and oppose it.  When a person’s mind is firmly set against God, we should turn our efforts to others.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 196)

 

VI-  Jesus’ ambassadors are as sheep among wolves and should therefore be wise but gentle.  (Mt 10:16; see also: Zeph 3:3; Lk 10:3; Acts 20:29; Gal 5:22-23; 1 Tm 3:3; 2 Tm 3:12;  Ti 1:7) 

 

To be “shrewd as snakes” speaks of prudence or cleverness.  The Egyptian symbol of wisdom is a serpent, which has great skill in avoiding danger.  They were also to be “innocent as doves,” that is, to be sincere and to have pure intentions.  Shrewdness can become no more than cunning without the balance of innocence.  However, innocence can become naiveté, or even ignorance if not balanced with shrewdness.  Jesus’ followers would need both to be prepared for the battles that lay ahead.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 205-206)

 

We are not to be gullible pawns, but neither are we to be deceitful connivers.  We must find a balance between wisdom and vulnerability in order to accomplish God’s work.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 206)

 

We are to be as sheep–peaceful, nonviolent, vulnerable, fully dependent on the shepherd to lead, provide, care for, and protect.  But we are not to be as sheep in their sheepishness or in their foolishness.  That is why Jesus adds the bit about the snake and the dove.  We are to be shrewd but innocent, a rare combination of characteristics that we usually put backwards.  It is easy to be as “guilty as serpents and as stupid as doves.”  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 287)

 

The world is a dangerous place, and Christians are vulnerable, like sheep among wolves.  Yet in spite of the danger they are to remain sheep.  It is always a problem when ministers of the gospel resort to power or savage behavior to accomplish spiritual ends, for then they are like wolves themselves.  We cannot forget that we are sent not to overpower the wolves or destroy them but to convert them.  Charles Spurgeon argued that the only weapons of Christians “are that they are weaponless.”  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, 175)

 

Sheep are some of the most helpless and foolish of all domesticated animals.  Harmless noises can send sheep into a frenzy, and when they face danger, they’ve got no defenses.  All sheep can do is run, and they’re really slow.  That’s why the dumbest thing a sheep can do is go wandering into a pack of wolves; yet Jesus tells His followers to do precisely that.  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition–Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 136)

 

Jesus tells them go to danger without reservation or hesitation, and when they’re there, to be smart.  It’s similar to Jesus going boldly into the presence of Pilate and the Roman officials, like “a lamb led to the slaughter” (Isa 53:7), yet while He’s being beaten and taken off to be crucified, Jesus speaks with wisdom.  He doesn’t needlessly incite anger or trouble.  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition–Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 136)

 

Who is more welcome than bearers of good news?  Or those who are able to drive out demons and heal diseases?  But when we remember the way people received Jesus, we know that presuming a good reception is too facile.  Jesus did all these things, but he was “despised and rejected…a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isa 53:3).  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, 174)

 

The reason is drawn from the necessity of the case:  for if they did not wisely exercise caution, they might be immediately devoured by the wolves; and, on the other hand, if they trembled at the rage of the wolves, or were incautious, they would presently waver, and would at length fail to perform their duty.  (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Volume XVI, 449)

 

By calling them sheep, he does not refer to the sweetness and mildness of their manners, or to the gentleness of their mind, but only means, that they will have no greater strength or fitness for repelling the violence of enemies, than sheep have against the rage of wolves.  Christ requires, no doubt, from his disciples that they shall resemble sheep in their dispositions, by their patience in contending against the malice of wicked men, and by the meekness with which they endure injuries:  but the simple meaning of this passage is, that many powerful and cruel enemies are arrayed against the apostles, while they, on their part, are furnished with no means of defense.  (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Volume XVI, 450)

 

School crests or family coat-of-arms often have pictures of animals, perhaps a lion, bear, eagle, or some other powerful creature.  Sticking with the animal theme, here the Christian coat-of-arms has a sheep (surrounded by wolves) and then a snake and a dove.  “Behold,” Jesus says, “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (10:16).  A sheep, snake, and dove.  Seemingly not very impressive, I’ll admit.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 287)

 

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church” is a valid principle; and many great awakenings, including the Whitefield and Wesleyan revivals, have shown afresh that the harvest is most plentiful when the workers reap in the teeth of opposition.  (Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8, 242)

 

Worship Point:  Worship the God who empowers you and transforms you to become what you know in your heart you should be but are powerless to get there on your own.  (Mt 3:2; 10:7b)

 

Gospel Application:  Jesus came not only to show us what we were created to be in God’s image, but also to destroy the barriers of sin and human depravity that prevented us from becoming.

 

They were saints only in the sense that every believer is a saint, made holy unto God through the imparted righteousness of Jesus Christ and awaiting the full perfection of sainthood in heaven (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:2; Phil 3:12-14; Heb 11:40; Jude 14).  Until then, they, like all saints, had to live with the weakness of their humanness.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 146)

 

Spiritual Challenge:  Realize more and more it is our old self, our old nature, our fallen ego and pride that prevents us from becoming what we know we should be.  Die to your self-will and pride and let Jesus live in and through you.  (Jn 15:1-7; 2 Cor 12:1-10; Gal 2:20)

 

Ship captain upon preparing to let missionary passengers off at a strange location in Africa:  “If I let you off here you are going to die.  To which the missionaries replied, “Good sir, we died before we ever left home.”

 

 

Quotes to Note:

If we reject the Bible, we reject apostolic authority.  If we reject apostolic authority, we reject the authority of Christ.  If we reject the authority of Christ, we reject the authority of God.  Therefore, if we reject the Bible, we reject the authority of God.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 303)

 

The way in which the NT drops these apostles is of a piece with the whole tone of the Bible.  Throughout, men are introduced into its narratives and allowed to slip out with well-marked indifference.  Nowhere do we get more vivid, penetrating portraiture, but nowhere do we see such carelessness about following the fortunes or completing the biographies even of those who have filled the larges space in its pages.  Recall, for example, the way in which the NT deals with ‘the very chiefest’ apostles, the illustrious triad of Peter, James, and John.  The first escapes from prison; we see him hammering at Mary’s door in the grey of the morning, and after brief, eager talk with his friends he vanishes to hide in ‘another place,’ and is no more heard of, except for a moment in the great council, held in Jerusalem, about the admission or Gentiles to the Church.  The second of the three is killed off in a parenthesis.  The third is only seen twice in the Book of Acts, as a silent companion of Peter at a miracle and before the Sanhedrim.  Remember how Paul is left in his own hired house, within sight of trial and sentence, and neither the original writer of the book nor any later hand through it worth while to add three lines to tell the world what became of him.  A strange way to write history, and a most imperfect narrative, surely!  Yes, unless there be some peculiarity in the purpose of the book, which explains this cold-blooded, inartistic, and tantalizing habit of letting men leap upon the stage as if they had dropped from the clouds, and vanish from it as abruptly as if they had fallen through a trap-door.  Such a peculiarity there is.  One of the three to whom we have referred has explained it in the words with which he closes his gospel, words which might stand for the motto of the whole book, ‘These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Son of God.’  The true purpose is not to speak of men except in so far as they ‘bore witness to that light’ and were illuminated for a moment by contact with Him.  From the beginning the true ‘Hero’ of the Bible is God; its theme is His self-revelation culminating for evermore in the Man Jesus.  All other men interest the writers only as they are subsidiary or antagonistic to that revelation.  As long as that breath blows through them they are music; else they are but common reeds.  Men are nothing except as instruments and organs of God.  He is all, and His whole fullness is in Jesus Christ.  Christ is the sole worker in the progress of His Church.  That is the teaching of all the NT.  The thought is expressed in the deepest, simplest form in His own unapproachable words, unfathomable as they are in their depth of meaning, and inexhaustible in their power to strengthen and to cheer:  ‘I am the vine, ye are the branches, without Me ye can do nothing.’  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture–St. Matthew, 56-57)

 

For most of us, our service has to be unnoticed and unknown, and the memory of our poor work will live perhaps for a year or two in the hearts of some few who loved us, but will fade wholly when they follow us into silent land.  Well, be it so; we shall sleep none the less sweetly, though none be talking about us over our heads.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture–St. Matthew, 63)

 

The names of these almost anonymous apostles have no place in the records of the advancement of the Church or of the development of Christian doctrine.  They drop out of the narrative after the list in the first chapter of Acts.  But we do hear of them once more.  In that last vision of the great city which the seer beheld descending from God, we read that in its ‘foundations were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.’  All were graven there–the inconspicuous names carved on no record of earth, as well as the familiar ones cut deep in the rock to be seen of all men for ever.  At the least that grand image may tell us that when the perfect state of the Church is realized, the work which these men did when their testimony laid its foundation, will be for ever associated with their names.  Unrecorded on earth, they are written in heaven.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture–St. Matthew, 65-66)

 

CHRIST:

THE DISCIPLE-MAKER

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