Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
MISSION OF THE
The last three verses of the ninth chapter form the proper introduction
to the Mission of the Twelve, as is evident from the remarkable fact
that the Mission of the Seventy was prefaced by the very same words.
1. And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them
power--The word signifies both "power," and "authority" or "right."
Even if it were not evident that here both ideas are included, we find
both words expressly used in the parallel passage of Luke
--"He gave them power and authority"--in other words, He both
qualified and authorized them.
2. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these--The other
Evangelists enumerate the twelve in immediate connection with their
But our Evangelist, not intending to record the appointment, but only
the Mission of the Twelve, gives their names here. And as in the Acts
we have a list of the Eleven who met daily in the upper room with the
other disciples after their Master's ascension until the day of
Pentecost, we have four catalogues in all for comparison.
The first, Simon, who is called Peter--(See on
and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his
brother--named after James, as the younger of the two.
3. Philip and Bartholomew--That this person is the same with "Nathanael
of Cana in Galilee" is justly concluded for the three following reasons:
First, because Bartholomew is not so properly an individual's name as a
family surname; next, because not only in this list, but in Mark's and
he follows the name of "Philip," who was the instrument of bringing
Nathanael first to Jesus
and again, when our Lord, after His resurrection, appeared at the Sea
of Tiberias, "Nathanael of Cana in Galilee" is mentioned along with six
others, all of them apostles, as being present
Matthew the publican--In none of the four lists of the Twelve is
this apostle so branded but in his own, as if he would have all to know
how deep a debtor he had been to his Lord. (See on
Mt 1:3, 5, 6;
James the son of Alphaeus--the same person apparently who is called
Cleopas or Clopas
and, as he was the husband of Mary, sister to the Virgin, James the
Less must have been our Lord's cousin.
and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus--the same, without doubt,
as "Judas the brother of James," mentioned in both the lists of Luke
while no one of the name of Lebbaeus or Thaddaeus is so. It is he who
is sweetly called "Judas, not Iscariot." That he was the author of the
Catholic Epistle of "Jude," and not "the Lord's brother"
unless these be the same, is most likely.
4. Simon the Canaanite--rather "Kananite," but better still, "the
Zealot," as he is called in
where the original term should not have been retained as in our version
("Simon, called Zelotes"), but rendered "Simon, called the Zealot." The
word "Kananite" is just the Aramaic, or Syro-Chaldaic,
term for "Zealot." Probably before his acquaintance with Jesus, he
belonged to the sect of the Zealots, who bound themselves, as a sort of
voluntary ecclesiastical police, to see that the law was not broken
and Judas Iscariot--that is, Judas of Kerioth, a town of Judah
so called to distinguish him from "Judas the brother of James"
who also betrayed him--a note of infamy attached to his name in all
the catalogues of the Twelve.
This directory divides itself into three distinct parts. The first
contains directions for the brief and temporary mission on which they
were now going forth, with respect to the places they were to go to,
the works they were to do, the message they were to bear, and the
manner in which they were to conduct themselves. The second part
contains directions of no such limited and temporary nature, but opens
out into the permanent exercise of the Gospel ministry. The
is of wider application still, reaching not only to the ministry of the
Gospel in every age, but to the service of Christ in the widest sense.
It is a strong confirmation of this threefold division, that each
part closes with the words, "VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU"
(Mt 10:15, 23, 42).
Directions for the Present Mission
5. These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not
into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter
ye not--The Samaritans were Gentiles by blood; but being the
descendants of those whom the king of Assyria had transported from the
East to supply the place of the ten tribes carried captive, they had
adopted the religion of the Jews, though with admixtures of their own:
and, as the nearest neighbors of the Jews, they occupied a place
intermediate between them and the Gentiles. Accordingly, when this
prohibition was to be taken off, on the effusion of the Spirit at
Pentecost, the apostles were told that they should be Christ's witnesses
first "in Jerusalem, and in all Judea," then "in Samaria," and lastly,
"unto the uttermost part of the earth"
6. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel--Until
Christ's death, which broke down the middle wall of partition
the Gospel commission was to the Jews only, who, though the visible
people of God, were "lost sheep," not merely in the sense which all
but as abandoned and left to wander from the right way by faithless
(Jer 50:6, 17;
7. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at
8. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out
devils--(The italicized clause--"raise the dead"--is wanting in
many manuscripts). Here we have the first communication of supernatural
power by Christ Himself to His followers--thus anticipating the gifts
of Pentecost. And right royally does He dispense it.
freely ye have received, freely give--Divine saying, divinely said!
De 15:10, 11;
--an apple of gold in a setting of silver
It reminds us of that other golden saying of our Lord, rescued from
oblivion by Paul, "It is more blessed to give than to receive"
Who can estimate what the world owes to such sayings, and with what
beautiful foliage and rich fruit such seeds have covered, and will yet
cover, this earth!
9. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses--"for"
your purses; literally, "your belts," in which they kept their money.
10. Nor scrip for your journey--the bag used by travellers for holding
neither two coats--or tunics, worn next the skin. The meaning is, Take
no change of dress, no additional articles.
neither shoes--that is, change of them.
nor yet staves--The received text here has "a staff," but our
version follows another reading, "staves," which is found in the
received text of Luke
The true reading, however, evidently is "a staff"--meaning, that they
were not to procure even that much expressly for this missionary
journey, but to go with what they had. No doubt it was the
misunderstanding of this that gave rise to the reading "staves" in so
many manuscripts Even if this reading were genuine, it could not mean
"more than one"; for who, as ALFORD well asks,
would think of taking a spare staff?
for the workman is worthy of his meat--his "food" or "maintenance"; a
principle which, being universally recognized in secular affairs, is
here authoritatively applied to the services of the Lord's workmen, and
by Paul repeatedly and touchingly employed in his appeals to the
and once as "scripture"
11. And into whatsoever city or town--town or village.
ye shall enter inquire--carefully.
who in it is worthy--or "meet" to entertain such messengers; not in
point of rank, of course, but of congenial disposition.
and there abide till ye go thence--not shifting about, as if
discontented, but returning the welcome given with a courteous,
contented, accommodating disposition.
12. And when ye come into an house--or "the house," but it means not
the worthy house, but the house ye first enter, to try if it be worthy.
salute it--show it the usual civilities.
13. And if the house be worthy--showing this by giving you a welcome.
let your peace come upon it--This is best explained by the injunction
to the Seventy, "And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be
to this house"
This was the ancient salutation of the East, and it prevails to this
day. But from the lips of Christ and His messengers, it means something
far higher, both in the gift and the giving of it, than in the current
salutation. (See on
but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you--If your peace
finds a shut, instead of an open, door in the heart of any household,
take it back to yourselves, who know how to value it; and it will taste
the sweeter to you for having been offered, even though rejected.
14. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye
depart out of that house or city--for possibly a whole town might not
furnish one "worthy."
shake off the dust of your feet--"for a testimony against them," as
Mark and Luke add
By this symbolical action they vividly shook themselves from all
connection with such, and all responsibility for the
guilt of rejecting them and their message. Such symbolical actions
were common in ancient times, even among others than the Jews, as
strikingly appears in Pilate
And even to this day it prevails in the East.
15. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable--more bearable.
for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city--Those
Cities of the Plain, which were given to the flames for their
loathsome impurities, shall be treated as less criminal, we are here
taught, than those places which, though morally respectable, reject the
Gospel message and affront those that bear it.
Directions for the Future and Permanent Exercise of the Christian
16. Behold, I send you forth--The "I" here is emphatic, holding up
Himself as the Fountain of the Gospel ministry, as He is also the Great
Burden of it.
in the midst of wolves--ready to make a prey of you
To be left exposed, as sheep to wolves, would have been startling
enough; but that the sheep should be sent among the wolves would
sound strange indeed. No wonder this announcement begins with the
be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves--Wonderful
combination this! Alone, the wisdom of the serpent is mere cunning, and
the harmlessness of the dove little better than weakness: but in
combination, the wisdom of the serpent would save them from unnecessary
exposure to danger; the harmlessness of the dove, from sinful expedients
to escape it. In the apostolic age of Christianity, how harmoniously
were these qualities displayed! Instead of the fanatical thirst for
martyrdom, to which a later age gave birth, there was a manly
combination of unflinching zeal and calm discretion, before which
nothing was able to stand.
17. But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the
councils--the local courts, used here for civil magistrates in
and they will scourge you in their synagogues--By this is meant
persecution at the hands of the ecclesiastics.
18. And ye shall be brought before governors--provincial rulers.
and kings--the highest tribunals.
for my sake, for a testimony against them--rather, "to them," in order
to bear testimony to the truth and its glorious effects.
and the Gentiles--"to the Gentiles"; a hint that their message would
not long be confined to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The Acts
of the Apostles are the best commentary on these warnings.
19. But when they deliver you up, take no thought--be not
solicitous or anxious. (See on
how or what ye shall speak--that is, either in what manner ye shall
make your defense, or of what matter it shall consist.
for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall
20. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which
speaketh in you--How remarkably this has been verified, the whole
history of persecution thrillingly proclaims--from the Acts of the
Apostles to the latest martyrology.
21. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the
father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents,
and cause them to be put to death--for example, by lodging information
against them with the authorities. The deep and virulent hostility of
the old nature and life to the new--as of Belial to Christ--was to issue
in awful wrenches of the dearest ties; and the disciples, in the
prospect of their cause and themselves being launched upon society, are
here prepared for the worst.
22. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake--The
universality of this hatred would make it evident to them, that since it
would not be owing to any temporary excitement, local virulence, or
personal prejudice, on the part of their enemies, so no amount of
discretion on their part, consistent with entire fidelity to the truth,
would avail to stifle that enmity--though it might soften its violence,
and in some cases avert the outward manifestations of it.
but he that endureth to the end shall be saved--a great saying,
repeated, in connection with similar warnings, in the prophecy of the
destruction of Jerusalem
and often reiterated by the apostle as a warning against "drawing back
(Heb 3:6, 13;
6:4-6; 10:23, 26-29, 38, 39,
&c.). As "drawing back unto perdition" is merely the palpable evidence
of the want of "root" from the first in the Christian profession
so "enduring to the end" is just the proper evidence of its reality and
23. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another--"into
the other." This, though applicable to all time, and exemplified
by our Lord Himself once and again, had special reference to the brief
opportunities which Israel was to have of "knowing the time of His
for verily I say unto you--what will startle you, but at the same time
show you the solemnity of your mission, and the need of economizing the
time for it.
Ye shall not have gone over--Ye shall in nowise have completed.
the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come--To understand
this--as LANGE and others do--in the first instance, of Christ's own
peregrinations, as if He had said, "Waste not your time upon hostile
places, for I Myself will be after you ere your work be over"--seems
almost trifling. "The coming of the Son of man" has a fixed doctrinal
sense, here referring immediately to the crisis of Israel's history as
the visible kingdom of God, when Christ was to come and judge it; when
"the wrath would come upon it to the uttermost"; and when, on the ruins
of Jerusalem and the old economy, He would establish His own kingdom.
This, in the uniform language of Scripture, is more immediately "the
coming of the Son of man," "the day of vengeance of our God"
(Mt 16:28; 24:27, 34;
--but only as being such a lively anticipation of His second coming
for vengeance and deliverance. So understood, it is parallel with
(on which see).
Directions for the Service of Christ in Its Widest Sense
24. The disciple is not above his master--teacher.
nor the servant above his lord--another maxim which our Lord repeats
in various connections
Joh 13:16; 15:20).
25. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the
servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house
Beelzebub--All the Greek manuscripts, write "Beelzebul," which
undoubtedly is the right form of this word. The other reading came in no
doubt from the Old Testament "Baalzebub," the god of Ekron
which it was designed to express. As all idolatry was regarded as devil
so there seems to have been something peculiarly satanic about the
worship of this hateful god, which caused his name to be a synonym of
Satan. Though we nowhere read that our Lord was actually called
"Beelzebul," He was charged with being in league with Satan under that
(Mt 12:24, 26),
and more than once Himself was charged with "having a devil" or "demon"
Joh 7:20; 8:48).
Here it is used to denote the most opprobrious language which could be
applied by one to another.
how much more shall they call them of his household--"the inmates."
Three relations in which Christ stands to His people are here mentioned:
He is their Teacher--they His disciples; He is their Lord--they His
servants; He is the Master of the household--they its inmates. In all
these relations, He says here, He and they are so bound up together that
they cannot look to fare better than He, and should think it enough if
they fare no worse.
26. Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall
not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known--that is, There is
no use, and no need, of concealing anything; right and wrong, truth and
error, are about to come into open and deadly collision; and the day is
coming when all hidden things shall be disclosed, everything seen as it
is, and every one have his due
27. What I tell you in darkness--in the privacy of a teaching for
which men are not yet ripe.
that speak ye in the light--for when ye go forth all will be ready.
and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops--Give
free and fearless utterance to all that I have taught you while yet with
you. Objection: But this may cost us our life? Answer: It may,
but there their power ends:
28. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill
"and after that have no more that they can do."
but rather fear him--In Luke
this is peculiarly solemn, "I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear,"
which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell--A decisive
proof this that there is a hell for the body as well as the soul in the
eternal world; in other words, that the torment that awaits the lost
will have elements of suffering adapted to the material as well
as the spiritual part of our nature, both of which, we are assured,
will exist for ever. In the corresponding warning contained in Luke
Jesus calls His disciples "My friends," as if He had felt that such
sufferings constituted a bond of peculiar tenderness between Him and
29. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?--In Luke
it is "five sparrows for two farthings"; so that, if the purchaser took
two farthings' worth, he got one in addition--of such small value were
and one of them shall not fall on the ground--exhausted or killed
without your Father--"Not one of them is forgotten before God," as it
is in Luke
30. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered--See
(and compare for the language
31. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows--Was
ever language of such simplicity felt to carry such weight as this does?
But here lies much of the charm and power of our Lord's teaching.
32. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men--despising the
him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven--I will
not be ashamed of him, but will own him before the most august of all
33. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny
before my Father which is in heaven--before that same assembly: "He
shall have from Me his own treatment of Me on the earth." (But see on
34. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to
send peace, but a sword--strife, discord, conflict; deadly opposition
between eternally hostile principles, penetrating into and rending
asunder the dearest ties.
35. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and
the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her
36. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household--This
saying, which is quoted, as is the whole verse, from
is but an extension of the Psalmist's complaint
(Ps 41:9; 55:12-14),
which had its most affecting illustration in the treason of Judas
against our Lord Himself
Hence would arise the necessity of a choice between Christ and the
nearest relations, which would put them to the severest test.
37. He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of
me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of
As the preference of the one would, in the case supposed, necessitate
the abandonment of the other, our Lord here, with a sublime, yet awful
self-respect, asserts His own claims to supreme affection.
38. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not
worthy of me--a saying which our Lord once and again emphatically
Lu 9:23; 14:27).
We have become so accustomed to this expression--"taking up one's
cross"--in the sense of "being prepared for trials in general for
Christ's sake," that we are apt to lose sight of its primary and proper
sense here--"a preparedness to go forth even to crucifixion," as when
our Lord had to bear His own cross on His way to Calvary--a saying the
more remarkable as our Lord had not as yet given a hint that He would
die this death, nor was crucifixion a Jewish mode of capital
39. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life
for my sake shall find it--another of those pregnant sayings which our
Lord so often reiterates
The pith of such paradoxical maxims depends on the double sense
attached to the word "life"--a lower and a higher, the natural and the
spiritual, the temporal and eternal. An entire sacrifice of the lower,
with all its relationships and interests--or, a willingness to make it
which is the same thing--is indispensable to the preservation of the
higher life; and he who cannot bring himself to surrender the one for
the sake of the other shall eventually lose both.
40. He that receiveth you--entertaineth you,
receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me--As
the treatment which an ambassador receives is understood and regarded as
expressing the light in which he that sends him is viewed, so, says our
Lord here, "Your authority is Mine, as Mine is My Father's."
41. He that receiveth a prophet--one divinely commissioned to deliver
a message from heaven. Predicting future events was no necessary part of
a prophet's office, especially as the word is used in the New Testament.
in the name of a prophet--for his office's sake and love to his master.
and see on
shall receive a prophet's reward--What an encouragement to those who
are not prophets! (See
and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous
man--from sympathy with his character and esteem for himself as such
shall receive a righteous man's reward--for he must himself have the
seed of righteousness who has any real sympathy with it and complacency
in him who possesses it.
42. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little
ones--Beautiful epithet! Originally taken from
The reference is to their lowliness in spirit, their littleness in the
eyes of an undiscerning world, while high in Heaven's esteem.
a cup of cold water only--meaning, the smallest service.
in the name of a disciple--or, as it is in Mark
because ye are Christ's: from love to Me, and to him from his
connection with Me.
verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward--There is
here a descending climax--"a prophet," "a righteous man," "a little
one"; signifying that however low we come down in our services to those
that are Christ's, all that is done for His sake, and that bears the
stamp of love to His blessed name, shall be divinely appreciated and
owned and rewarded.