What does Matthew 10:6 mean?
ESV: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
NIV: Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.
NASB: but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
CSB: Instead, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
NLT: but only to the people of Israel — God’s lost sheep.
KJV: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
NKJV: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus has begun giving instructions about what He wants His twelve hand-picked apostles to do when He sends them out on their own (Matthew 10:1–4). He began by defining where they should not go: to any Gentile areas or Samaritan towns (Matthew 10:5). Instead, Jesus now says, He is sending His representatives to the "lost sheep of Israel."

At the end of the previous chapter, Matthew described Jesus as feeling compassion for the people as He looked out over the crowds. Jesus saw that they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Those are the "lost sheep" Jesus is sending His disciples to reach with the good news of the Messiah and the kingdom of heaven.

In saying this, Jesus was directing the good news to all the people of Israel, not just some. God's plan was that the good news of Jesus would first be preached to Israel and then later to the rest of the nations (Romans 1:16).
Verse Context:
Matthew 10:5–15 contains Jesus' instructions for His twelve apostles, for their missionary trip to the towns of Galilee, in northern Israel. Their mission will be to preach His message that the kingdom of heaven is near, while also healing people and casting out demons. The apostles must not take with them extra money or clothes. Instead, they will stay with those who are worthy in each town they visit. If nobody in a town believes their message, the disciples are to shake the dust of that town from their feet. Jesus will follow these instructions with a series of warnings and encouragements.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus gives His authority over disease, demons, and even death to His twelve hand-picked apostles. He gives them instructions in preparation both for a short-term trip to the towns of Galilee and their ministry after He has left the earth. First, they will preach His message of the kingdom in Israelite towns as they heal and cast out demons to demonstrate His power. Later, they will suffer great persecution as they represent Him before both Jews and Gentiles. They should not be afraid, though, and trust their Father to be with them and to reward them.
Chapter Context:
Jesus has recently expressed compassion for the people of Israel, who are spiritually lost. Matthew 10 is a record of Jesus' instructions to His twelve core apostles, as He sends them on a short-term trip to the towns of Galilee. He also includes warnings and encouragements about the persecution they will eventually experience. In chapter 11, Jesus will continue to proclaim truth to the people of Israel, leading to further conflict with local religious leaders.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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