Biblical Studies/New Testament Commentaries/The Gospel of Matthew/Chapter 10

Matthew 10Edit

Matthew 10:1-42 (NIV)

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve

1He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

2These 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; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; 10take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.

11"Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. 12As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. 15I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. 16I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

17"Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. 18On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19But 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, 20for 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. 22All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24"A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!

26"So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28Do 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. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

32"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.

34"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to turn

" 'a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -
36a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'

37"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

40"He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. 41Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. 42And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."



It is unlikely that the author was the apostle Matthew considering how much of what he includes comes from Mark, who was not an eyewitness. The view that the author was a Jewish Christian has been very popular in the past. However, there are a number of issues with this manner of thought. The main issue is that the author makes mistakes concerning Hebrew scriptures and Jewish parties and their beliefs. For example, the author mentions Jesus riding into Jerusalem on two animals, which is a quotation from Zechariah portraying an overly literal fulfillment of the synonymous parallelism of the prophecy. There is no theological purpose for this except to insist that the prophecy was literally fulfilledt. Thus, more recently many scholars have preferred the possibility that the author was a Gentile.

Time and Place

According to the two-source theory, which has the author using Mark and an unknown source named Q, it would likely have been written after A.D. 70, somewhere around A.D. 80-90. Most places at this time do not pass for likely candidates after looking closely at them. The most likely place of composition at this time would be Antioch; its mix of Jewish and Gentile thought would match that of this gospel.

The Church

This was a time of transition for the church as it moved away from its original emphasis on Jews. The church in Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70 and at this point most Jews had rejected the Christian gospel while the gentiles increasingly accepted Christianity. The church was having to work out what its position was with its roots in Judaism and its following being increasingly non-Jewish.

Literary Type

This chapter is entirely discourse. It is centered around instructions for the missionary work of the disciples.

Summary of Matthew 10Edit

In verse 1 we have a summary of the chapter, saying simply that the disciples were given authority to perform miracles as Jesus did. Jesus provides the wisdom of the word of god to his disciples so that they can preach confidently and boldly. Verses 2-4 give us the names of the twelve disciples.

The rest of the chapter contains the instructions that were given to the twelve by Jesus. In verses 5 and 6 Jesus tells his disciples that their ministry will be to the Jews and not the Gentiles or Samaritans. In verse 7 the disciples are told to preach that the kingdom of heaven is near. Verse 8 reiterates what verse 1 says in that Jesus tells the disciples to work miracles. Verses 9 and 10 have Jesus telling the disciples to take no money or other supplies on their journey.

Verse 11-13 have Jesus instructing the disciples to find homes to stay in at the town they enter and should the home is deserving to let their peace rest on it but should it be undeserving to let their peace return to them. In verse 14 the disciples are instructed to shake the dust off their feet when leaving a town that does not welcome them and verse 15 tells the reader that those towns that do not welcome the disciples will be worse off than the condemned towns of Sodom and Gomorrah. In verse 16 the disciples are instructed to be careful and not get caught up in the ways of the world.

Verse 17 tells the disciples to be careful concerning the people around them because they will hand the disciples over to be punished. Verse 18 goes on to say that the disciples will be witnesses before the leaders of their time and Gentiles. In verses 19 and 20 Jesus tells the disciples not to worry because the Holy Spirit will give them the words they will need to say.

Verse 21 says that family members will betray each other and verse 22 goes on to say that everyone will hate the disciples but those who are firm in their belief of him will be saved. In verse 23 Jesus tells them to go on to another place when they are persecuted and that they will not go through all cities before Jesus returns. In verses 24 and 25 Jesus says that a student is not above his teacher but it is enough for the student to be like the teacher and Jesus says that if he is called Beelzebub then so will the disciples.

Verses 26-28 have Jesus telling the disciples not to be afraid and to proclaim the good word boldly, keeping in mind that man can destroy only the body and watching out for the one who destroys body and soul. In verses 29-31 Jesus notes that God cares for each of the sparrows and the disciples are worth much more than sparrows so they have no need to fear.

Verses 32 and 33 say that those who acknowledge their faith boldly will be acknowledged by Jesus but those that deny him will be denied by him.

Verse 34 Jesus says that he “did not come to bring peace, but a sword”. Verses 35 and 36 emphasize again that family members will be turned against each other. Verses 37 and 38 continue this emphasis, saying that loving a family member more than Jesus makes them unworthy of Jesus and the same goes for those who do not take up their cross and follow Jesus. Verse 39 says that a person who finds his life will lose it and a person who loses his life because of Jesus will find it.

Verse 40 is restating that a person receiving the disciples is receiving Jesus and, additionally, receiving God. Verse 41 says that a person who receives a prophet because they are a prophet receives a prophet’s reward and a person who receives a righteous man because the man is righteous receives a righteous man’s reward. Verse 42 finishes the chapter saying that if a person gives another even something as simple as a cup of water because they are Jesus’ disciple then they will not lose their reward.

Word StudyEdit


Greek Root: ειρήνη

Peace, quietness, rest, set at one again.


Greek Root: λαμβάνω

To accept, attain, obtain, receive, take.


Greek Root: άξιος

Deserving, comparable, suitable, due reward, meet.



Introduction: Verses 1-4

This chapter is a response to the preceding passage concerning the need for workers to gather in the harvest (Hagner 264). It begins with the bestowing of authority upon the disciples and then leads into a listing of exactly who the twelve disciples are (Hagner 264).

Mission Instructions: Verses 5-15

This section begins with an outline of who the disciples were to focus in on in this mission. "Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel" (NIV). The lost sheep of Israel is not referring to a segment of Jews but to all of Israel (Gaebelein 244, Hagner 270). The prohibition against going to the Gentiles and Samaritans may very well have been to forestall them from trying to repeat Jesus' success with those peoples as well as the fact that the disciples may antagonize the Samaritans because of the tension between Jews and Samaritans (Gaebelein 244, Albright 119).[1]

The next instruction is what they are to do on this mission. Their primary objective was to preach that the kingdom of heaven was near. They were also to "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy," and "drive out demons" but these were to be secondary to their message (NIV, Hagner 271).

The next section concerns their provisions. In the process of their journey they were not to charge the people but their basic needs were to be met (Hagner 272). In keeping this in mind they were not to provide themselves with the usual things travelers concern themselves with but they were to rely on God's provision through the hospitality of the people (Gaebelein 245, Hagner 272).

The final section of instruction concerns the disciples' dealings with those who would be sheltering them. They were to find "some worthy person there and stay at his house" until their departure, which meant they were to find a person who was both willing and able to receive them and their message (Albright 121, Gaebelein 245, Hagner 272). If the home was deserving they were to let their peace or greeting rest on the house and if not to take it back (Gaebelein 246). This greeting had value in that the disciples had a relationship with Jesus and loss of their presence would be loss of Jesus (Gaebelein 246). Where the disciples were not accepted they were to shake the dust off their feet and leave, something Jews practiced when leaving Gentile or unclean territory to dissociate themselves from the judgment awaiting the Gentiles (Gaebelein 246, Hagner 273). In this way the disciples would essentially be saying those Jewish towns were viewed as pagan and deserving of judgment, which is emphasized in the reference to Sodom and Gomorrah as they had become symbolic of catastrophic judgment (Gaebelein 246, Hagner 273).

Persecution: Verses 16-25

This section is introduced by an analogy illustrating the danger the disciple will be in and what will be required of them as a result. "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves" (NIV). This will mean maintaining a balance of prudence and innocence (Gaebelein 246-247). Verse 17 and 18 describe two different time periods in which the disciples will have to be on their guard against those who are against them. The first is before the separation of Christianity from Judaism, as the method of persecution is related to the Sanhedrin, and the second is after Christianity has become a religion of its own. The disciples are then told that when they are arrested they are not to worry because they will be given what to say by the Holy Spirit. The persecution is further compounded by the fact that the disciples are told that even their families will betray them. "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved" (NIV). Standing firm is not so much to say resistance but endurance of the persecution (Gaebelein 250). In standing firm they will receive their reward, not necessarily that they will be saved from their physical death(Gaebelein 250).

Verse 23 essentially tells us that the disciples will not complete this mission to Israel before Jesus comes in judgment upon Israel (Gaebelein 252, Hagner 280).

The last two verses of this section state plainly that if Jesus is being equated with Beelzebub than they should expect no less, as their message is his message and equates them with him (Hagner 282).

Fear and Discipleship: Verses 26-39

This section moves into the subject of fear. The disciples were expected as Jesus' messengers not to give in to fear and as a result to speak publicly what they had been told (ALbright 127). In addition, they should not fear because man can only kill the body and the disciples' souls cannot be killed by man, while God can kill both body and soul (Gaebelein 254). Finally, they ought not to fear because God cares for even the smallest sparrow and the very hairs on their head and, thus, much more will he care for a person (Gaebelein 255).

This second part of the section outlines what the disciple ought to look like. It emphasizes again that the disciples are to acknowledge Christ publicly and this is not an option for Christ will acknowledge only those who acknowledge him (Gaebelein 256, Hagner 287). Jesus is not bringing peace to the world, and specifically families, but division (Albright 130, Gaebelin 257, Hagner 292). As a result, the disciples are expected to love God supremely over their family for if they did not they would fall away (Gaebelein 257). This devotion above that to family includes devotion to the point of death. If they follow this they will have life after death and if they do not they will have death awaiting them after this life (Gaebelein 257-258).

Concluding Note: Verses 40-42

This section goes back to the topic of hospitality in verses 5-15. "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me" (NIV). Receiving the message of the disciples would involve receiving their message and thus Jesus' message. In showing hospitality to a prophet or righteous man, in other words a disciple, with no need for any other reason than that, the person who received them would be rewarded even if that act of hospitality was something so small as to give a drink of water (Hagner 296).

In-Depth Look at Verses 26-39

Fear and The Cost of Discipleship

Verse 26 is a transition from the verses before it into the topic of fear (Gaebelein 254). Verse 26 then seems to move away from the initial transition but it is in actuality further introducing what the disciples ought to do in the face of fear, this is laid out specifically in verse 27. "What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs" (NIV). In time the disciples would speak publicly the words Jesus told them in private (Albright 127). They would in essence have a more public ministry than Jesus (Gaebelein 254). Luke differs noticeably from this in his parallel passage of chapter 12 verse 3 "What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs" (NIV). He is warning the disciples that what they say secretly will become public (Hagner 284).

Verse 28 moves on to the next reason the disciples should not fear. Here the reason not to fear is plainly that the worst men can do to them does not match the worst God can do (Gaebelein 254). Man can only kill the body but God can kill both the body and soul.

Verses 29-31 cover the third argument against fear. They put forth an argument that is backwards to how we would normally think, putting forth God's care in the smallest of details as evidence of his ability to care of much bigger issues (Gaebelein 255). It is interesting to note the extremity of this statement in regards to using sparrows as a measure of God's care for the smallest of details or creatures as sparrows were the "cheapest living things used for food" (Hagner 286).

Characteristics of Discipleship

Verse 32 moves on to begin to further outline what discipleship should look like. Though not necessarily in the face of fear, verse 33 continues that theme with the statement that "whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven" (NIV). Acknowledging him would involve accepting his message and following him in discipleship while the extremity of disown implies apostasy (Hagner 288). There are consequences to giving in to fear and Jesus makes that clear. Publicly acknowledging Christ is necessary to being a disciple and this cannot be sidestepped (Gaebelein 256, Hagner 287).

Verse 34 is a statement refuting what the Jews of that day, as well as what many people today, thought would result from the coming of their Savior. "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" states quite firmly that Jesus has not come to bring peace and prosperity, a thought that would have been natural to the disciples (NIV, Gaebelein 256, Hagner 291). In fact, verses 35 and 36 go on to say that families will be divided because of Jesus. Man's freedom will not be inhibited and, thus, strife and division will increase rather than decrease for his disciples (Albright 130, Gaebelin 257).

Verse 37 is a direct result of the division in verses 35 and 36. It is not saying not to love family but to love God above family (Gaebelein 257). When division occurs in the family, you are to follow God despite the fact that your family will not. Verse 38 further challenges the disciples with Crucifixion. Not only does this entail being ready for death but also a willingness to die in the most shameful of manners (Albright 132, Gaebelein 257). Verse 39 is essentially Jesus telling his disciples the results of the two paths open to them. They could acknowledge him, lose their life to their fellow man, and gain eternity or they could deny him, save their life, and lose their eternal reward (Gaebelein 257-258).

  1. This explanation is totally implausible. Try some other sources for better ideas.



Blue = All three

Yellow = Matthew and Mark only

Red = Matthew and Luke only

Green = Mark and Luke only

Solid = Exact same wording

Broken = Similar wording



Albright, W. F. "Matthew." The Anchor Bible. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc, 1971. Print.

Gaebelein, Frank. "Matthew." The Expositor's Bible Commentary. vol 8. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992. Print.

Hagner, Donald. "The Second Discourse: The Missionary Discourse." Matthew 1-13. Dallas, Texas: Word Books, 1993. Print.

Meier, John. "Matthew, Gospel of." The Anchor Bible Dictionary. vol 4. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1992. Print.

Strong, James. The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990. Print.