Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
Apostles. An apostle is someone one “sent out” as a messenger for God. Originally the word was applied to the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus (Luke 6:13). But in the early church, others came to be recognized as apostles (e.g., Andronicus and Junias; Rom. 16:7). In a sense, we are all called to be God’s messengers or ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20). But in the church, some are uniquely gifted and called to be apostles (1 Cor. 12:28-29). Paul was a stellar example of an apostle and displayed all the signs of an authentic apostle, namely signs and wonders and miracles (2 Cor. 12:12).
“Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.
The day of judgment. Judgment Day is the end of days, the day when the Son of Man is revealed from heaven (Luke 17:30, 1 Cor. 1:7). It is the day when the Lord returns to repay each person according to what we have done (see entry for Rom. 2:6).
Judgment Day is essentially a day of separation. The original word for judgment (krisis) is related to the English noun crisis. A crisis is a critical moment or turning point. In much of the New Testament this moment of crisis is described as a day of judgment (Mat 10:15, 11:22, 24, 12:36, Rom. 2:16, 2 Pet. 2:9, 3:7, 1 John 4:17, Jude 1:6), but in Revelation it is an hour of judgment (Rev 14:7, 18:10) or the hour of testing (Rev. 3:10). Whether it is a day or an hour, the time of judgment will involve separating the wheat from the weeds (Matt. 13:37–43), the good fish from the bad (Matt. 13:47–50), and the sheep from the goats another (Mat 25:31–32). On that day, the secrets of our hearts will be laid bare revealing either our contempt or gratitude for God’s kindness (Rom. 2:16, 1 Cor. 4:5).
Although we await a Judgment Day, our judgment can be known now. It does not need to be a mystery. Jesus said, “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24). For the believer, their crisis or moment of decision is in the past. Having made their judgment, they have crossed over from death to new life. For the unbeliever, that moment of judgment is yet to happen. But ultimately everyone responds to Jesus one way or the other.
On that day we will all appear before the judgment seat of God (Rom. 14:10) or Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). Those who have rejected the Author of life will rise for judgment, while the righteous will receive eternal life (John 5:24, 28–29, Rom. 2:6–7).
“But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues;
(a) Beware. Jesus told the disciples what would happen to them to prepare them. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
(b) The courts. Jesus told his disciples they would standbefore governors and kings and those in authority (see next verse).
(c) Scourge you in their synagogues. Jesus told the religious leaders that they would scourge and persecute those he sent (Matt. 23:34). Peter and the apostles were flogged for preaching about Jesus (Acts 5:40), and so was Paul (2 Cor. 11:24).
and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.
(a) Governors and kings. Peter was interrogated by the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:5) and imprisoned by Herod (Acts 12:1–4). According to church tradition, he was crucified by Nero. Paul also stood before governors and kings (Acts 24:24, 25:14).
(b) As a testimony. Testimony means evidence or report. The apostles would give eye-witness accounts of the death and resurrection of Jesus to those in positions of power.
“But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say.
Do not worry. As they waited in holding cells or were strapped to scourging posts, the disciples remembered the words of Jesus and were encouraged. When brought before the authorities, the Holy Spirit told them what to say, and their inspired speeches were recorded in the scriptures for our edification (e.g., Acts 4:8–13).
“You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.
The one who has endured to the end who will be saved. Jesus is teaching his disciples how to stay alive in the face of persecution.
In this passage, Jesus describes some of the troubles that will afflict the apostles when they preach the gospel. “They will hand you over to the courts and you will be flogged in the synagogues” (verse 17); “on account of my name you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses” (18); “brother will betray brother to death” (verse 21). It’s a bleak picture, but Jesus shows them how to survive. “When they persecute you in one city, flee to the next” (verse 23).
There’s a time to take your stand and a time to run. If men are coming at you with stones and whips, then it’s time to run. Better to live and fight another day than satisfy some zealot’s lust for blood.
Further reading: “Endure to the end and be saved”
“But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.
Whenever they persecute you in one city, flee. Jesus does not expect you to die for the cause. He died so that you might live, and sometimes that means running for your life.
In Lystra, Paul was dragged outside the city, stoned, and left for dead (Acts 14:19). The next day he quit the town and went to Derbe. Imagine what might’ve happened if Paul had remained in Lystra.
In Thessalonica and Berea it was the same story. As soon as trouble started brewing Paul left before it got out of hand (Acts 17). Paul stayed two years in Ephesus, then left after a riot (Acts 20:1). When faced with mortal persecution, Paul walked away – he endured and stayed alive.
Jesus knew that if the world persecuted him it would persecute us as well (John 15:20). But while Jesus had to go to the cross and die, we don’t have to. His is a finished work. Our deaths add nothing to it. Far better to follow Paul’s example and live to preach another day than die at the hand of a madman or an unjust state.
(b) Until the Son of Man comes. Jesus sent the disciples to the towns of Israel before he died, and he sent them again after he rose (Acts 1:8). Their travels, as recorded in the early chapters of Acts, had not finished before Jesus ascended to heaven and came into his kingdom (see entry for Matt. 16:28).
(c) The Son of Man; see entry for Matt. 8:20.
“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
(a) The soul. The original word for soul is psuche, from which we get our word psychology.
(b) Fear Him. This seems to contradict what Jesus says verse 31: “Do not fear.” But Jesus is not telling his disciples (or us) to fear our loving Father. In context, he’s saying we have nothing to fear from those who persecute us (verse 26), because he who is for you is greater and scarier than those who are against us.
There is no fear in love (1 John 4:18). Since your heavenly Father cares for you and numbers the hairs on your head (verse 30), you have nothing to fear (verse 31).
Further reading: “Fear God who can throw us into hell?”
(c) Hell; see entry for Matt. 5:22.
“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.
(a) Everyone who confesses Jesus as Lord will be eternally saved (Rom. 10:9, Php. 2:11). See entry for Eternal security.
(b) My Father; see entry for Matthew 5:16.
“But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
(a) Whoever denies Me. Jesus is talking about unbelievers, not Christians going through a bad patch. Peter denied or disowned Jesus three times but Jesus didn’t disown him. Instead he prayed for him. See entry for 2 Tim. 2:12.
(b) My Father; see entry for Matthew 5:16.
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
A sword. These words seem hard to reconcile with the image of Jesus the Prince of Peace. But the sword he wields is not a Roman sword; it’s a sword of truth, and truth is divisive.
People divide themselves by their response to Jesus. A Christian is not necessarily more moral than their unbelieving neighbor; a Christian is someone who does what Jesus says. Conversely, an unbeliever is not necessarily immoral; an unbeliever is someone who rejects what Jesus says. Like the hard-hearted leaders of Jerusalem, they “refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:40). Jesus is the Life, and those who come to him shall live.
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
More than Me. If you have to choose who you will serve, put Jesus first. Jesus alone is to be our Master. See entry for Luke 14:26.
“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
Cross. The way to salvation is through the cross of Christ. See entry for Matt. 16:24.
“He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.
(a) Found his life. The original word for life (psuchē) usually refers to soul-life. (The word psychology comes from the word psuchē.) It is the fleshly life we inherit from Adam.
(b) Will lose it. Live for the appetites of the flesh and you will lose your true self. Run after the inferior pleasures of the world and you will lose your soul. What profit is that (Matt. 16:26)?
(c) Lost his life for My sake. There are two ways to lose your life. The first is to be consumed by your own appetites until your life is little more than eating and drinking and running after fleeting pleasures. The second is to turn your back on that inferior life because you have found something better by far.
(d) Will find it. Real life – the kind Jesus offers – is found in fellowship with God.
The bottom-line hasn’t changed. God is inviting us to a love-relationship based on trust. He wants us to look to him as our Source (Matt. 6:25). See entry for New Life.
“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.
He who receives you. Christians are the King’s ambassadors. “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us” (2 Cor. 5:20).
As ambassadors, King Jesus has given us a mandate to go and tell others the good news of the kingdom (Mark 16:15). We speak with the royal authority of God himself (1 Pet. 4:11). Anyone who welcomes and listens to us is essentially welcoming and listening to Christ.
“He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet 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.
(a) He who receives a prophet. To receive a prophet (or apostle, preacher, or teacher) in the name of a prophet (or apostle, preacher, or teacher) is to recognize the gifts and call of God on their life.
(b) A prophet’s reward is Jesus himself.
Jesus is repeating the point made in the previous verse: He who receives you receives me. When a prophet (or apostle, preacher, or teacher) comes and we recognize that they are speaking the very words of God, the reward we get is Jesus.
Moses was one of the greatest prophets who ever lived and the reward he sought was Christ himself (see entry for Heb. 11:26). Those who receive Moses as a prophet, will find themselves directed to the Lord, for Moses and all the prophets point to Jesus (Luke 24:27, John 1:45). As Jesus said to the Jews, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me” (John 5:46).
Moses was the free man who delivered a nation of slaves. He understood that he was a type of the coming Deliverer who would free the whole world. Moses told the Israelites, “God will send you a prophet like me from your own people” (see entry for Acts 7:37).
(c) A righteous man is someone who has been made right with God by receiving, through faith, the free gift of righteousness. A believer, in other words. See entry for Righteousness.
(d) A righteous man’s reward, like a prophet’s reward, is the Lord himself. As God told righteous Abraham, “I am your shield, your very great reward” (Gen. 15:1, NIV).
“And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”
(a) Whoever. Jesus is not describing acts of Christian service but acts of service done to Christians. “Anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ” (Mark 9:41).
(b) Even a cup of cold water. Even a small act of kindness.
(c) His reward is Jesus.
Jesus is not saying that God rewards small acts of kindness (how? with what?). He is describing acts of kindness done to the least of his disciples. He is continuing the theme he began in verse 40: He who receives you, receives me, and he who receives a righteous man, receives a righteous man’s reward. The only thing that has changed is the word receives. Showing even a small kindness to a disciple is the same as receiving them and he who receives you, receives me.
On that day when the King will separate the sheep from the goats there will be some who are surprised to be numbered among the righteous. “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?” And the King will reply “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:37–40).
When Saul persecuted the Christians, Jesus said “You are persecuting me” (Acts 9:5). Acts of harm done to Christians were reckoned by Christ as though they were done to him. In the same way acts of kindness done to Christians because they are Christians are reckoned by Christ as though they were done to him. “Because you receive them in my name, I will receive you.”
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- Matthew 10:2
- Matthew 10:15
- Matthew 10:17
- Matthew 10:18
- Matthew 10:19
- Matthew 10:22
- Matthew 10:23
- Matthew 10:28
- Matthew 10:32
- Matthew 10:33
- Matthew 10:34
- Matthew 10:37
- Matthew 10:38
- Matthew 10:39
- Matthew 10:40
- Matthew 10:41
- Matthew 10:42