THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW
Lesson 14 Chapter 10
Discourse #2
The Missionary Discourse

Merciful Heavenly Father,
You sent Your Son to cure the sick, to offer forgiveness to sinners, and to comfort the afflicted. His mission of mercy did not end with His earthly ministry. He continues to call the faithful to receive healing for their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. We come, therefore, Lord, with complete confidence to call upon Him when the struggles of this earthly exile become difficult to bear, and we are ever mindful of His compassion and love for us in our time of need. Please send us Your Most Holy Spirit to guide us, Lord, in our continuing study of the mission of the Messiah among His people in the Gospel of Matthew. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Note: Jesus gave us the promise that the Holy Spirit's mission to the Church is to teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you (Jn 14:26).

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The Lord Yahweh says this: Look, I am against the shepherds. I shall take my flock out of their charge and henceforth not allow them to feed my flock. And the shepherds will stop feeding themselves, because I shall rescue my sheep from their mouths to stop them from being food for them. Ezekiel 34:10

John [the Baptist] answered them all, saying, "I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you will the holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chap he will burn with unquenchable fire." Luke 3:16-17

At the end of chapter 9, Jesus looked at the crowds and his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd (Mt 9:37). Jesus has judged the hierarchy of the Old Covenant Church to be negligent shepherds who do not properly "tend" the flock of Israel, God's covenant people. The metaphor of Israel as the flock of God is a common image in Scripture (i.e., 1 Kng 22:17; 2 Chr 18:16; Ps 77:20/21; 78:52; Jer 13:17, 20; 23:2-3; 31:10; Ez 34:3, 6, 8 four times, 10 three times, 15, 17, 19, 22, 31 three times, 37 and 38; Zech 13:7; etc.). The imagery of Israel as God's flock and the metaphor linking God's ordained priesthood to "shepherds" of the flock is especially strong in Ezekiel chapter 34 where God condemns the shepherds of Israel (the priests) for failing to lead His flock and for profiting off His flock. In Matthew 9:36, Jesus alludes to this passage as He passes judgment on the "shepherds" of Israel.

Question: How does Jesus' judgment on the leadership of the Old Covenant Church in verse 36 prompt His next statement directed to the disciples in verse 37? Explain the metaphor Jesus uses as He turns from herding imagery to harvest imagery? Hint: the door to heaven began to be opened at Jesus' baptism "At his baptism "the heavens were opened" "the heavens that Adam's sin had closed (CCC 536), but those doors will not be fully opened until after His sacrificial death (CCC 1026) when Jesus will descend to Sheol (the grave/Hades) to rescue the righteous dead (see CCC 633; 1 Pt 3:18-19; 4:6) and begin leading the souls of the righteous into God's "storehouse" in heaven.
Answer: The harvest refers to the gathering of souls into heaven which is opened for the first time since the Fall of Adam. He tells the disciples that there is going to be an abundant "harvest" of souls, but those who are willing to go out to bring in God's harvest are few. He tells them to pray to God to send more men and women who are willing to labor for the salvation of souls.

This exchange between Jesus and His disciples will set in motion the commissioning of His disciples as "laborers of the harvest" and Jesus' Missionary Discourse in 10:5-11:1. It is a sermon that prepares them for their mission as God's new shepherds to God's flock of the children of Israel (10:6) and the laborers who will to bring in God's harvest (10:10b). Jesus will use the same harvest imagery a number of times in His teachings (Mt 9:37-38; 13:30, 39; Mk 4:29; Lk 10:2; Jn 4:35). It is also the image of the Last Judgment used by John the Baptist (Mt 3:12 and Lk 3:17). In the final harvest both the righteous and the wicked will be harvested and then the sorting out of the righteous from the wicked (the wheat from the chaff; see Lk 3:16-17) will take place. In the book of Revelation, an angel in the heavenly Temple makes the announcement to begin the final harvest: Another angel came out of the temple, crying out in a loud voice to the one sitting on the cloud, "Use your sickle and reap the harvest, for the time to reap has come, because the earth's harvest is fully ripe." So the one who was sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested (Rev 14:15).

Question: Who will be the one to judge the "wheat" from the "chaff" "the righteous from the wicked? See Lk 3:16-17.

Answer: Jesus will be the judge.

Matthew 10:1-4 ~ The Commissioning of the Twelve Apostles
1 Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; 4 Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

Question: In what order does St. Matthew list the Apostles?
Answer: He lists them in six groups of two each.

In the three other lists, the Apostles are grouped in three groups of four names (Mk 3:13-14; Lk 6:12-16; Acts 1:13). Also notice that the Apostles St. Matthew lists first are those who met Jesus along the Jordan River when St. John pointed Jesus out to the crowd (Jn 1:35-51). After Jesus left the region of St. John's ministry along the Jordan, He traveled to the Galilee where He met Philip (Jn 1:43), who appears fifth in the list. They are not named in the same order in which they met Him, however. Nor are the names repeated in other lists in the same order, but Peter is always named first in every list of the Apostles in the Gospels and in Acts, and Judas Iscariot's name is always last in the lists (Mt 10:2-4; Mk 3:13-14; Lk 6:12-16; Acts 1:13).

The other Apostle named Simon is called a Canaanite in Matthew and Mark's list (Mk 3:18) and a Zealot in the lists found in Luke and Acts (Lk 6:15; Acts 1:13). "Simon the Zealot" may simply be the Greek translation of the Aramaic Simeon qan'ana "Simeon the Canaanite. That he is identified as a "Canaanite" may suggest that Simon is a Gentile convert to the faith or, since the word Canaanite had come to mean one who was "zealous" or "revolutionary," this designation may simply mean that he had belonged to a group that was actively opposing Roman rule. (2)

THE TWELVE APOSTLES

Apostle Occupation, Accomplishments & Some key Scripture references Death
Simon-Peter
son of John
Peter is always named first in the lists of the Apostles. He was a Fisherman who became the "prince of Apostles." He is the Holy Spirit inspired writer of two epistles to the Universal Church which bear his name. As Christ's Vicar of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth he preached in Asia Minor 7 yrs. founding the Church in Antioch [Turkey] and later established the Church's headquarters in Rome where he served as Bishop 25 yrs. As the leader of the Church he presided over the first Great Council in Jerusalem in 49AD (Acts 15).
Some key Scripture passages (in chronological order):
Jn 1:41-2; Mt 4:18; Mk 1:16; Lk 5
Mt 10:1-4; Mk 3:16; Lk 6:14; Mt 14:29
Mt 16:16-22*; 17:1-4; Jn 6: 68; 13:37
Lk 22:31-4; 24:12,34; Jn 21:7-19
Acts 1:13-22; 2:14-40; 3:11-4:31; 5:27-329:32-11:18; 12:1-19; 15:7-12
Gal 2:9; 1 & 2 Peter.
Peter was martyred in Rome by the Roman authorities as prophesized by Jesus in John 21:18-19. Peter was crucifixion, at his request, upside down c. 67 AD. He shares his feast day with St. Paul on June 29th.

James
son of Zebedee
"James the greater"
Fisherman; business partner of Simon-Peter; brother of John and son of Zebedee and Salome. His mother followed Jesus and helped to support Jesus' ministry. Jesus called the Zebedee brothers the "Sons of Thunder." James preached the Gospel in Sardinia and in Spain. He is the patron saint of Spain.
Some key Scripture passages (in chronological order):
Mt 4:21; 10:2; 10:2; Mk 1:19, 29; 10:41; 14:33; Lk 9:28, 54
Acts 1:13;12:2
After returning to Jerusalem be became the first Apostle to be martyred (Acts 12:1-2). He was beheaded on the order of King Herod Agrippa I near the feast of Easter c.44 AD. His feast day is July 25th.
John
son of Zebedee
Fisherman and business partner of Simon-Peter; brother of James; close friend of Andrew. The Church fathers identify him as the Holy Spirit inspired writer of the 4th Gospel, and as the "beloved disciple." He preached the Gospel in Asia Minor and is honored as the father of Eastern Rite Catholics; Bishop of Ephesus; imprisoned on the penal colony of Patmos where he received the final revelation of Jesus Christ to the Church.
Some key Scripture passages (in chronological order):
Jn 1:38-39; Mt 4:21;10:2; 17:1; Mk 10:35-41; 13:3; 14:33; Lk 9:28, 49, 54; 22:8; Jn 1:36; 13:23; 18:16?;19:26; 20:1-8, 12; ; 21:7, 20-25; Acts 1:13; 3:1-11; 4:1-23; 8:14-25; Gal 2:9; Rev 1:1, 4, 9, 22:8
John was the only Apostle to die of old age. His long life was prophesized by Jesus in Jn 21:20-23. Tradition places his death circa 90-96? AD. His tomb is venerated at Ephesus in modern Turkey. St. John's feast day is Dec. 27th.
Andrew
Son of John
Brother of Simon-Peter; he worked in the fishing business with Simon and the Zebedee brothers. Preached the Gospel in Asia Minor, Armenia, and Scythia [southern Russia]; and possible Greece. He is honored as the patron saint of Russia.
Some key Scripture passages (in chronological order):
Jn 1:40-44; Mt 4:18; 10:2; Mk 1:16, 29; 3:18; 13:3; Lk 6:14; Jn 6:8; 12:22; Acts 1:13
Date of martyrdom unknown. Stoned and crucified in Scythia (?) on an X shaped cross. His feast day is November 30th.
James
son of Alphaeus
"James the Lesser"
Not to be confused with James the 1st Bishop of Jerusalem. James, son of Alphaeus, preached the Gospel in Syria and founded the Syrian Church.
Some key Scripture passages (in chronological order):
Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18; 15:40; Lk 6:15; Acts 1:13

Martyred by stoning, date unknown. His feast day is May 3rd.
Philip From the same home town as Peter and Andrew, Bethsaida, on the Sea of Galilee. Not to be confused with the deacon Phillip in Acts of Apostles. This Jewish Apostles has an entirely Greek name meaning "lover of horses." Like Peter, Andrew, James and John he was first introduced to Jesus at John the Baptist's baptismal site on the east side of the Jordan River just after Jesus decided to return to the Galilee "a seven day journey (Jn 1:43). Philip brought his friend Nathaniel to Jesus. Philip may have been a Greek-culture Jew; it appears that Gentiles who wished to approach Jesus sought him out (Jn 12:20-21). According to tradition he preached the Gospel 20 yrs. in Scythia [southern Russia]. It is also believed that he preached in Phrygia [Turkey], Galatia, and in Gaul [France]. He lived his last years at Hierapolis in Asia Minor with his daughters, 2 of whom were prophetesses.
Some key Scripture passages (in chronological order):
Jn 1:43; Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18; Lk 3:1; 6:14; Jn 1:43-48; 6:5-7; 12:21-22; 14:8-9; Jn 12:20-21; Acts 1:13
Martyred and is buried at the Turkish city of Hierapolis, according to the letters of Papias, 2nd century AD Christian bishop of Hierapolis. His feast day, shared with St. James the Lesser, is May 3rd.
Thomas
also known as "Didymas" meaning "Twin"
Thomas preached the Gospel in Mesopotamia, including Babylon in modern Iraq, in Asia Minor, later preached in Parthia [what had been the Persian empire], and in India, reaching Cranaganore on the Malabar coast of southwest India in c. 52AD. Later when Jews who fled Judea after the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD arrived in India, he led many Jews into the New Covenant Church. He is considered the Father of the Church in India.
Some key Scripture passages (in chronological order):
Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:15; Jn 11:16; 14:5; 20:24-28; 21:2; Acts 1:13.
Martyred by the sword while praying at the altar of his church in India. The traditional burial site atop St. Thomas Mount in Madras, India has been venerated for at least 1,500 years. Indian Christians still make pilgrimages to his shrines and call themselves "Thomasites." His feast day is July 3rd.
Bartholomew
= (possibly) son of Tolmai or Talmai
Saints Bartholomew and Thaddeus are honored as the "First Illuminators of Armenia" where they performed many miracles sowed the first seeds of Christianity. Both saints also traveled and preached in what is today modern Iraq and Iran. They are patron saints of Armenia wher e their shrines are still venerated today. There is also some evidence that he preached in Greece and India.
Some key Scripture passages (in chronological order):
Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:14; Acts 1:13
He suffered martyrdom in Armenia by being flayed alive. His feast day is August 24th.
Matthew
also known as Levi
and as son of Alpheus
The tax collector and publican [official] whose tax office was located in Capernaum. As a Levite he was the only member of the ministerial priesthood of the Old Covenant who was called to be one of the 12 Apostles. Some scholars believe he was a brother of James son of Alpheus, but the Gospels which identify relationships between Apostles, do not make this connection. He is the Holy Spirit inspired writer of the 1st Gospel which bears his name and which was written to convert the Jews to Christianity. Later he is believed to have spread the Gospel in Parthia (Persia) and into Asiatic Ethiopia south of the Caspian Sea, Egypt and Macedonian Greece.
Some key Scripture passages (in chronological order):
Mt 9:9-10; 10:3; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:15; Acts 1:13
Martyred in Egypt or Persia, either by the sword or spear. He is the only Apostle mentioned in the Jewish Talmud. The Babylonian Talmud [Sanhedrin 43a] records his trial and execution. His tomb is believed to be in Salerno, Italy. His feast day is September 21st.
Simon the Zealot
known as Simon the Canaanite
Possibly a revolutionary apposed to Roman rule who instead helped to lead the revolution to change the world. Believed to have preached the Gospel in Cyrene and other areas of North Africa including Egypt. He travelled as far as Britain before returning to preach in Persia.
Some key Scripture passages (in chronological order):
Mt 10:4; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:15; Acts 1:13

Martyred by crucifixion either in the Persian city of Suanir or in Roman Britain. His feast day is October 28th.
Thaddeus
(Judas son of James)
He first preached in Samaria, then in Idumea, Libya, Syria and Mesopotamia before traveling to Edessa in Asia Minor to preach the Gospel. In the company of St. Bartholomew he founded the Church in Armenia.
Some key Scripture passages (in chronological order)
Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:16; Jn 14:22; Acts 1:13

He suffered martyrdom in Armenia. His feast day is shared with St. Simon the Zealot on October 28th.
Judas son of Simon Iscariot;
also called "Ishkeriot" = man of Kerioth
Judas is always named last in the four lists of the Apostles. Some scholars believe he was from the town of Kerioth mentioned in Joshua 15:25 and that his name should be rendered ish Kerioth = "man of Kerioth". Jesus identified him in Jn 6:70 as "a devil." He was the treasurer of the group and was therefore responsible for giving alms to the poor, but he stole from the collection (Jn 12:4-6; 13:29).
Some key scripture passages (in chronological order)
Mt 10:4; 26:14-16, 25, 47-49; 27:3-10; Jn 12:6; Mk 3:19; 14:10-11, 43-45; Lk 6:16; 22:3-6, 47, 48; Jn 12:4-6; 13:2, 21-30; 18:2, 3, 5; Acts 1:16.
In despair he hanged himself. Christian tradition records that he hanged himself from the corner of the Temple wall, and when the rope broke with his weight, he fell and his body burst asunder on the rocks below (see Mt 27:5 and Acts 1:18-19).
Michal E. Hunt © 2005; revised 2011

The Missionary Discourse (Discourse #2)

It was the Son's task to accomplish the Father's plan of salvation in the fullness of time. Its accomplishment was the reason for his being sent. "The Lord Jesus inaugurated his Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Reign of God, promised over the ages in the scriptures." To fulfill the Father's will, Christ ushered in the Kingdom of heaven on earth. The Church "is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery."
CCC 763

Lost sheep were my people, their shepherds misled them, straggling on the mountains; from mountain to hill they wandered, losing the way to their fold.
Jeremiah 50:6

Matthew 10:5-15 ~ Instructions for the Disciples' Mission to Israel
5 Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, "Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 As you go, make this proclamation: The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' 8 Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. 9 Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; 10 no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave. 12 As you enter a house, wish it peace. 13 If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you. 14 Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words "go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet. 15 Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town."

Question: Why does Jesus tell the disciples not to go into Gentile Territory? See Mt 15:24.
Answer: His first obligation is to the children of Israel who are in covenant with Yahweh and to whom the kingdom of the Messiah has been promised.

Matthew 10:6 ~ Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The kingdom is first announced to the children of Israel, but the Messianic kingdom is intended to be extended to all men and women of all nations (Is 66:18-21; Mt 8:11; 10:5-7; 28:19; CCC 543). Jesus will tell the parable of the "Lost Sheep" (Lk 15:1-7) and will identify Himself as the "Good Shepherd" who knows His sheep (His faithful disciples) in John 10:14.

Question: How has Jesus been conducting His ministry in the Galilee? See Mt 4:17; 5:1, 28-29; 8:2-3, 14-15, 16, 26; 9:2, 20-21; 24-25, 32-33, 9:35.
Answer:

  1. He proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom (4:17)
  2. He taught the people (5:1)
  3. He cured different illnesses and afflictions (9:2; 9:20-21)
  4. He purified the unclean (8:2-3)
  5. He cast out demons (8:16; 9:32-33)
  6. He had the authority to command nature (8:26)
  7. He raised the dead (9:24-25)
  8. He forgave sins (9:2)

Question: What do these "signs" of Jesus' authority reveal?
Answer: These signs demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah promised by the prophets and that He is truly "God who saves," the meaning of His name "Jesus" "Yah'shua in Hebrew (Yehoshua in the 1st century AD).

Question: What authority does Jesus give His disciples in their first mission? See 10:1 and 7.
Answer: Jesus gave them the authority to:

  1. Proclaim the coming of the Kingdom
  2. To cast out unclean spirits (demons)
  3. To cure every disease and illness
  4. To raise the dead
  5. To cleanse the impure

Question: What authority that He has does Jesus not yet give them and what authority will they not receive? See Mt 4:23; 7:28; 9:35, and Acts 27:13-41. When will they receive additional authority and why? See Mt 28:20; Lk 24:25-27, 36-49; Jn 14:26; 20:22-23; Acts 1:1-5.
Answer: They do not have the authority to command nature, to teach, and to forgive sins.

The authority to teach and to forgive sins will be given to them only after Jesus' Resurrection when they have been fully instructed by Him and understand how He has fulfilled the Law and the prophets and when they have received the power of the Holy Spirit to guide them. They will not receive the power to command nature "only God has that power and authority.

The Church has received the same authority to proclaim the kingdom and to heal the sick in both body and soul. The Church believes in the life-giving presence of Christ among His faithful and that this presence is especially active through the sacraments (CCC 1509).

Question: What are Jesus' rules of conduct for the disciples in Mt 10:5-14?
Answer:

  1. They cannot go into pagan territory or Samaria.
  2. They cannot charge for their acts of mercy in which they are only God's instruments of healing.
  3. They are not to take any supplies for the journey, no money and not every any sandals or a staff for protection. They will rely on God to provide for them.
  4. They can accept food and lodging from those who offer it and give those who are generous enough to provide for them their blessing when they leave.
  5. Where they are ill-treated, they must regard those Jews like Gentiles and shake the dust of that house off their feet (Is 51:1 and 3 ).

Didache 12 placed a two or three day limit on the stay for a travelling prophet.

Question: How are they to treat covenant members who are not kind to them?
Answer: They are to "shake the dust" from their houses/property from their feet.

It was the custom for Jews and Israelites returning from Gentile territory before crossing the border into the Promised Land to shake the dust of the pagan lands off their feet as symbolic of the "uncleanness" of pagans and the "purity" of the Promised Land and those in covenant with Yahweh. Jesus command suggests that the disciples are to treat covenant members who reject their message proclaiming the kingdom like heathen Gentiles.

Question: Why does Jesus tells the disciples not to accept any payment for their ministry?
Answer: One can only give and receive spiritual goods freely. To assign a material value is to appropriate those spiritual goods to one's self. And for the persons dispensing them to assign a value is to behave as though they are the owner or master of what is spiritual "no one can own what has as its source from the power of God. One can only receive what is spiritual from Him without payment.

Question: What is the definition of simony? See Acts 8:9-24 and CCC 2121.
Answer: It is the buying or selling of spiritual gifts, like the sacraments or indulgences. It is forbidden by Jesus in Matthew 10:8 and condemned by St. Peter in Acts 8:20.

The Church defines simony as a sacrilege; a sacrilege is the profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions (CCC 2120).

God's grace is a free gift, as the prophet Isaiah wrote prophetically concerning the Messianic kingdom: All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! ... Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David (Is 51:1 and 3)

Question: What warning does Jesus give for those who reject His emissaries? See Gen 19.
Answer: The judgment of covenant brothers and sisters who reject their message of the coming of the kingdom will be greater than the judgment on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah "two communities that were destroyed because of their wickedness and their refusal to honor God's emissaries, the two angelic beings sent there to seek out ten righteous men.

The two cities in the plain near the Dead Sea became symbols of wickedness and judgment in the Old Testament (Dt 29:22-23; Is 1:9; 13:19; Jer 49:18; 50:40). The same symbol of wickedness and judgment connected to Sodom and Gomorrah was employed by New Testament writers (Rom 9:29; 2 Pt 2:6; Jude 7; Rev 11:8).

Only the twelve Apostles are mentioned in 10:1-4. However, in the Gospel of Luke, after the story of the encounter with the Scribe who wanted to be a disciple and the disciple who wanted permission to return home to bury his father/say good-by to his father, in the Gospel of Luke (Mt 8:18-22; Lk 9:57-62), Jesus sends out a large group of His disciples, two by two as the Apostles are listed in Matthew: After this the Lord appointed seventy[-two] others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. God on your way; behold, I am sending out like lambs among wolves (Lk 10:1-3). This is followed by Jesus' instructions on how they are to conduct themselves, which is basically the same as in the Matthew account and includes the same warning. Of course, Jesus could have sent His disciples out on many such missions, training them and giving them experience in the mission field before He could no longer be with them physically to guide and teach them. It is clear that the disciples' mission is the continuation of Jesus' mission "it is a mission that continues in the Church today.

Matthew 10:16-25 ~ Warnings of the Coming Persecutions
16 Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. 17 But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as witnesses before them and the pagans. 19 When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. 20 For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecuted you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. 24 No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he becomes like his teacher, for the slave that he becomes like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household!"

Just as Jesus warned the Scribe who wanted to become a disciple, Jesus warns His disciples of the cost of discipleship in this passage.

Question: Who are the "sheep" and who are the "wolves" in verse 16?
Answer: The faithful are the "sheep" and the wicked who abuse the faithful are the "wolves."

This passage is a continuation of Jesus' Missionary Discourse that began in 10:1 and is completed in 10:42. In this part of His instruction, Jesus warns His disciples about the cost of discipleship. He begins with a contrast between "sheep" and "wolves" and "serpents" and "doves" in verse 16. Those who are faithful to God's covenant are the "sheep" of His flock, and the wicked are the "wolves" who abuse the faithful. The righteous are often depicted as domesticated "sheep" in Scripture—they trust the "Shepherd" (God) and faithfully follow His voice and the voices of His representatives (i.e., Ez 34; Mt 9:36; Jn 10:1-17; 21:16-17). Jesus' imagery emphasizes the dangers of the Apostles' mission to preach the Gospel to Israel. To succeed, the disciples will need to aware of the wickedness of the "children/offspring of the serpent" in the world who oppose God’s divine plan (Gen 3:15; 1 Jn 3:10). The Apostles must be as shrewd as the "serpents" they encounter by not being gullible and in recognizing the depth of the sins of their opponents, and yet they must not become hardened by what they see so they can be gentle as "doves" when dealing with wounded and repentant souls (verse 16b).

The righteous are often depicted as domesticated "sheep" in Scripture "they trust the "shepherd" (God) and faithfully follow Him (i.e., Ez 34; Mt 9:36; Jn 10:1-17; 21:16-17). Jesus' imagery emphasizes the dangers of the disciples' mission to preach the Gospel to the faithful of Israel. To succeed, the disciples will have to be both gentle and shrewd.

Matthew 10:17-18 ~ But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as witnesses before them and the pagans. Jesus' description of persecution is prophetic. The book of Acts records some of the injustice and violence the disciples and Apostles faced in their obedience to spread the Gospel of salvation. For example: Sts. Peter and John were arrested by the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:1-18), Peter and the Apostles were arrested by the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:17-18), St. Paul was flogged (Acts 22:19; 2 Cor 11:24-25), was tried by the Roman governor of Judea and imprisoned for two years (Acts 24:1-27) and spoke to both a king and a governor (Acts 25-27).

Matthew 10:19-20 ~ When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. 20 For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Jesus' promise in verse 20 is expressed in the Greek tense called "the divine passive" (Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of Matthew, page 145). The disciples could not have grasped the full extent of the power they were being promised since to them Jesus was the primary bearer of God's spirit. Jesus will not reveal the Holy Spirit fully until He has been glorified through His death and Resurrection. However, starting from this point, He will gradually continue to allude to the Holy Spirit in His teaching:

Jesus will continue to speak openly to His disciples about the Holy Spirit in connection with the witness the are called to bear in our present passage (Mt 10:19-20), in connection with prayer (Lk 11:13), and after the Resurrection when He commissions them to Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit ... (Mt 28:19).

Question: When will Jesus promise the coming of the Holy Spirit? See Jn 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15; 17:26.
Answer: Jesus will promise the coming of the Holy Spirit at His last homily to the disciples at the end of the Last Supper.

It is only when the "hour" of His glorification has arrived (Jn 12:23) that Jesus will promise the coming of the "other" Advocate, the Paraclete (Jn 14:16; Jesus is also an Advocate). Paraclete means "Advocate" and refers to the Holy Spirit's ministry as the Spirit of truth" who teaches the Church and helps the faith understand the Sacred Scriptures (Jn 14:17, 26). It is Jesus' death and Resurrection that will fulfill the promise made to the Patriarchs and usher in the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Church. The Paraclete will be given by the Father in answer to Jesus' prayer at the Last Supper "known as Jesus' High Priestly Prayer (Jn chapters 14-17). He will be sent by the Father in Jesus' name, and Jesus will send the Holy Spirit from the Father since He comes from the Father (Jn 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15; 17:26). The "procession" of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son is stated in the Nicene-Constantinople Creed: I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified ...

Matthew 10:21 ~ Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.

The division in families was a prophecy of the end times (see Mic 7:6).

Matthew 10:22 ~ You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.

Question: What does the promise of salvation for those to "endure" suggest?
Answer: To endure is to patiently strive not to be overcome; the word does not suggest active or aggressive resistance but instead passive resistance.

Matthew 10:23 ~ When they persecuted you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. This verse suggests an eschatological interpretation of verse 22. Jesus assures them that they will not have completed their mission to the children of Israel before He comes in glory. This is probably a reference to His glorious Resurrection, but it has also been interpreted by Biblical scholars as referring to the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the judgment on the Old Covenant Church and Jerusalem in 70 AD that resulted in the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem that was prophesied by Jesus (Mt 24:1-22).

Matthew 10:24-25 ~ No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he becomes like his teacher, for the slave that he becomes like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household!

Jesus compares the relationship between a disciple and his teacher and a slave and his master. His point is that the goal of the disciple is to become as knowledgeable as his teacher and for a slave to follow the good example of his master. Beelzebul, or Baal-zebub, was the Philistines' name for the Canaanite god Baal worshiped at Ekron. The original name probably meant "lord of the lofty abode," but the Israelites altered the pagan deity's name to ridicule the false god in calling it Baal-zebub, "lord of flies." Later the name was altered again to Beel-zebul, meaning "lord of dung." Jesus has already been accused of blasphemy (Mt 9:3). Later He will be accused of casting out demons by the power of Beel-zebul, "the prince of demons" (Mt 12:24-27; Mk 3:22-26; Lk 11:15-19); it is a charge He will deny.

Question: What is the connection between Jesus' comparisons in verse 24 and His prediction in verse 25? What does this have to do with "endurance" in verse 22?
Answer: The disciples can expect to share the same fate as Jesus, their teacher and their master. If Jesus is accused of acting through the power of Satan, the disciples, the members of His "household" the Church, will also be accused. Like Jesus they will also be accused of blasphemy and their lives will be either in jeopardy or forfeited in martyrdom. It is a price of discipleship they must be willing to "endure" for the sake of the kingdom.

Matthew 10:26-33 ~ Jesus Urges His Disciples to have Courage when faced with Persecution
26 "Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. 27 What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge. 30 Even all the hairs of your head are counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 32 Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father."

The third part of the Missionary Discourse is a collection of sayings connected to the theme of the Gospel mission and suffering.

Question: How many times is the command to not be afraid repeated in this passage?
Answer: The command to not be afraid in verse 26 becomes a theme that is repeated in verses 26, 28, and 31.

In verses 26-27, Jesus' urges the disciples not to keep what they have been taught about the kingdom to themselves. The message of the good news of the kingdom is intended to be a public proclamation and not the valued secret of a few.

Matthew 10:28 ~ And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.

The "body" is a perishable shell, and the "soul" that which is immortal that is one's real self.

Question: Other human beings can destroy one's impermanent body, but who has the power to determine eternal life or eternal death in Gehenna?
Answer: Only God has power over life and death eternally. Do not fear other men and don't even fear Satan, but have the reverent fear of God that leads to a righteous life and the fear of offending Him.

Satan's home is the fiery pit or as Jesus calls Satan's abode, Gehenna. However, it is also the place of final punishment for the lost souls who reject God's sovereignty and over which God exercises ultimate power and authority.

Matthew 10:29-31 ~ Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge. 30 Even all the hairs of your head are counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Sparrows were the cheapest meat that one could buy at the market and were eaten by the poor. Sparrows are worth hardly anything in material terms, and yet even the death of a sparrow is God's concerned.

Question: What is the point of Jesus' comparison between a person and a sparrow?
Answer: If God cares for the sparrows that He created, then He will care even more about men and women who are His masterpiece of Creation.

Matthew 10:32 ~ Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.

Matthew 10:32-42 is the beginning of three eschatological teachings that complete the Missionary Discourse.

Question: What is Jesus' warning?
Answer: Salvation is only through Jesus the Messiah. To acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord to others is a condition of discipleship for Jesus to stand as our Advocate before the Father in our individual judgments when our life on earth comes to an end and we are judged according to our faith and works.

Matthew 10:34-36 ~ Jesus "A Cause of Division
34 "Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's enemies will be those of his household.'"

Jesus is not speaking of literal warfare, but of a spiritual sword that will divide the righteous who choose the path of life from those who choose the path of death and are ultimately separated from the righteous in the Last Judgment (see Mt 25:31-46). Luke 12:51 has "division" instead of "sword." Everyone must choose, even if families become divided.

In verse 35, Jesus is quoting from Micah 7:6: For the sons dishonors his father, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's enemies are those of his household (Mic 7:6). As we mentioned earlier, division within the covenant people was a prophecy of the end times. Jesus has already referred to the disciples as members of His own household who are protected by God's Spirit in 10:25.

Matthew 10:37-39 ~ The Conditions of Discipleship
37 "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

The phrase "is not worthy of me" in 10:37 is more accurately translated "does not deserve to belong to me;" the Greek adjective axios has the sense of "belonging" rather than "worth" (Fr. Harrington, Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of Matthew, page 151).

Question: What is Jesus' warning in Matthew 10:34-37?
Answer: The decision to follow Jesus and become a member of His covenant family may cause a break in the bonds within our human families.

Matthew 10:38-39 ~ and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

Question: What is Jesus alluding to in His mention of taking up a cross? See Rom 8:17.
Answer: Jesus is alluding to His future crucifixion. He is inviting His disciples to follow Him in the announcing of the Kingdom, in His healing ministry, in His suffering and ultimately in His glory.

Crucifixion was a form of capital punishment that was well known in Jesus time. Crucifixion was invented by the Persians, adopted by the Greeks, and practiced by the Romans for executions of non-Roman citizens. Jews and Israelites found crucifixion abhorrent. Although the disciples could not have understood it, Jesus statement becomes a prophecy of His future crucifixion.

Question: What is Jesus' warning? What is the contrast He is making?
Answer: A disciple must be willing to embrace suffering for the sake of the kingdom, even if the price of faithfulness is martyrdom. Anyone who tries to preserve his life by denying Jesus will be condemned to eternal destruction, but anyone who is willing to lose his earthly life for Jesus' sake is promised the reward of everlasting life in the Kingdom of heaven.

Jesus' command to be willing to take up one's cross to follow Him is repeated twice in each of the Synoptic Gospels (Mt 10:38 and 16:24; Mk 8:34 and 10:21; Lk 9:23 and 14:27).

Matthew 10:40-11:1 ~ The Promise of Rewards for Welcoming Jesus' Emissaries
40 "Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. 41 Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man's reward. 42 And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple "amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward. 11:1 When Jesus was finished giving these commands to his twelve disciples, he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.

It was a rabbinic principle that "the representative of a person is like himself" (Mishnah: Ber., 5.5), and this is the principle that underlies verse 40.

Question: What point is Jesus making in verses 40-41?
Answer: Jesus is God the Father's representative and the disciples are His representatives. Therefore, whoever receives the disciples is in effect receiving Jesus and since Jesus' is the Father's representative, those who receive the disciples are receiving the Father and will be rewarded by Him.

The words "who sent me" in verse 40 may be linked to the ones Jesus sent "the word "Apostle" in Greek literally means "the one sent."

Matthew 10:41 ~ Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man's reward.

The focus of this verse is on the reward for receiving God's prophet and his message, which is the reward that is received.

Question: In the Bible, what defines a prophet?
Answer: A prophet is one who speaks the words of God.

Question: In the Bible, what defines a righteous person?
Answer: Under the Sinai Covenant, a righteous person is one who is completely obedient to the Law. Jesus defined "righteousness" in the New Covenant in the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 10:42 ~ 42 And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple "amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.

"Little ones" refers to Jesus' disciples who serve the Father by announcing the coming of the kingdom.

Question: What is Jesus' promise concerning someone who does a small act of kindness for one of His disciples?
Answer: Anyone who does the smallest kindness for one of Jesus' disciples will not lose his reward of eternal life.

Question for group discussion:
Question: What can be said about parishioners who berate the priest for a firm homily on the deadly sins including abortion, adultery and divorce? What can be said about those who leave the Catholic Church because they are offended by the Church's condemnation of such sins?
Answer: They should repent. Their rebuke of the priest can be said to be the same failure as Herod Antipas and Herodias' response to St. John's condemnation of the sins of adultery and divorce in which she and her uncle Herod Antipas were guilty. When Catholics leave the Church for such reasons, they are contributing to the disunity in the Body of Christ. We should pray for the repentance and return of such lost brethren.

Endnotes:

  1. Read Flavius Josephus' lively accounts about the scandal of Herodias and Herod Antipas' marriage and the multiple family marriages of Herod the Great's children and grandchildren in Antiquities of the Jews, 18.5.1-4.
  2. Harper-Collins Bible Dictionary, "Cananaean," page 167.
  3. Sources for the chart on the Apostles: Stomata, Clement of Alexandria; Ante-Nicene Fathers: vol. 2; # 49; Church History, Bishop Eusebius, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, vol I; The Search for the Twelve Apostles, William S. McBirnie, Ph.d, [Tyndale House Publishers, 1973]; Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a; Excerpts and Epistles of St. Clement of Rome, The Clementina [Clementine Homilies], Anti Nicene Fathers, vol. 8; Lives of the Saints, vol I, Rev. Hugo Hoever, [Catholic Book Publishers, New York, 1955]; Lives of the Saints vol II, Rev. Thomas J.Donaghy, Catholic Book Publishers, New York, 1998.

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2011 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Catechism references for this lesson: * indicates Scripture is either paraphrased or quoted in the citation.

Mt 10:5-7

543*

Mt 10:28

363*, 1034*

Mt 10:8

1509, 2121, 2443

Mt 10:29-31

305

Mt 10:10

2122

Mt 10:32-33

1816

Mt 10:16

764*

Mt 10:32

14*, 2145*

Mt 10:19-20

728*

Mt 10:37

2232

Mt 10:22

161, 1821*

Mt 10:38

1506*

10:25

765*

Mt 10:40

858