Matthew chapter 10

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16Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. 17But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 18And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. 19But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. 21And 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. 22And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. 23But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. 24The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 25It 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, how much more shall they call them of his household? 26Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. 27What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. 28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. 32Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. 34Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35For 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 mother in law. 36And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. 37He 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 me. 38And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. 40He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. 41He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. 42And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

What does Matthew chapter 10 mean?

Matthew 10 begins with a listing of Jesus' core group of hand-picked disciples. These men are often collectively referred to as the Twelve. Jesus had many followers, but this dozen was appointed to special roles. The word "apostle" is from the Greek term apolstolōn, literally referring to someone "sent out" by a master to carry a message. Jesus gives to them His own authority as His representatives to cast out demons and to heal diseases and afflictions. Eleven of these men will spend the rest of their lives preaching His message in His name to all who will hear. The other, sadly, will choose to reject Christ and suffer eternal consequences (Matthew 10:1–4).

Matthew provides a list of the twelve apostles, apparently grouped into the pairs by which Jesus will send them on their trip: Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon, and Judas Iscariot.

Jesus begins with instructions for a short-term trip, where the apostles will visit the towns and cities of Galilee preaching Jesus' message, while also healing and casting out demons in His name. The apostles are not to enter into Gentile regions or Samaritan towns and focus, instead, only on preaching to Israelites. Their message will be that the kingdom of heaven is near. They are to encourage the people to repent and prepare themselves for its arrival. To demonstrate that their message is true, they will access Jesus' power to heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons—all miracles Jesus Himself had performed (Matthew 10:5–8).

Jesus insists that the apostles not take with them extra money, clothes, or supplies for this first journey. This is not a permanent restriction—Jesus is not forever prohibiting the apostles or Christians from owning property or making plans. Rather, on this initial mission, the apostles are to radically depend on the provision of God. When they come to a new town, they must find those who are worthy in the sense that they believe the message of Jesus. The apostles will stay with these worthy people, letting the peace given by Jesus rest on that house. If nobody in a town will receive the message of Jesus, the apostles will leave, shaking the dust of the town from their feet as a sign of the judgment that will come on it (Matthew 10:9–15).

Matthew's report on Jesus' instructions then jumps forward: to a prediction of the persecution the apostles will suffer after Christ's death, resurrection, and return to heaven. They will be sheep in a land of wolves. Because they represent Jesus, they will be dragged before Jewish religious and secular courts, as well as before Gentile governors and kings. In that way, the Holy Spirit will speak through them about Jesus to every level of authority (Matthew 10:16–20).

The result of their teaching about Jesus will be division within the families of Israel. Jesus' comment about bringing a sword does not mean He intends violence. Rather, it means that His message is inherently divisive in the eyes of a non-believing world. Christ's messengers will be widely hated because they represent Jesus. They can—and will—move from one town to the next to escape persecution. In this way, they will spread the good news about Jesus to more and more places. Since Jesus has been and will be persecuted, His apostles should expect the same treatment (Matthew 10:21–25).

The apostles should not be afraid, however. They will be vindicated in the end when everything is revealed. Their job is not to obtain victory on earth. Instead, it is to broadcast far and wide what Jesus has told them in secret, no matter the consequences for themselves. The enemies of Jesus can only kill their bodies, after all. God can destroy both body and soul in hell. He cares for them as their Father, and they will not suffer or die without His knowing. Just as God notices when the smallest bird falls, He is aware when His children are hurting. Hardship is not a sign that God has abandoned a believer. Jesus will acknowledge to the Father those who acknowledge Him to the world (Matthew 10:26–33).

Because Jesus is God, He demands absolute love and loyalty of all His followers. His statement here is a claim of divinity: loving God comes before loving others in the ranking of great commandments (Matthew 22:34–40). To require love for Jesus above love for family is to suggest that He is on the same level as God. The command here is not that believers "not love" family, but that they must prioritize the will of God. Families will divide over whether Jesus is the Messiah. Those who don't love Jesus more than family are not worthy of Him. Those who do not take up their cross, dying to themselves, and follow Him are not worthy of Him. Losing one's life for the sake of Jesus results is finding true life for eternity (Matthew 10:34–39).

All who receive Jesus' apostles will, in truth, be receiving Jesus Himself, along with the Father (Matthew 10:40–42).
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