The Twelve Apostles are Instructed

Matthew 10:5–42 also Mark 6:8–13; Luke 9:2–6, 12:2–10

The Twelve Apostles are Instructed

These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 10 nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.

11 “Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. 12 And when you go into a household, greet it. 13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 Assuredly, 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!

16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

21 “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! 26 Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.

27 “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 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. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

40 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 41 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. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”

 11:1 Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities.


Bible Knowledge Commentary – Matthew 10:5-42

10:5–15. The message the 12 Apostles were to give concerning the kingdom (v. 7) was identical to John the Baptist’s message (3:1) and Jesus’ message (4:17). In addition Jesus told them to limit their proclamation to the nation Israel. In fact He specifically told them not to go to the Gentiles or to the Samaritans. The latter were half-breeds, part Jewish and part Gentile, whose origin began soon after 722 b.c. when Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom and moved conquered peoples of northern Mesopotamia into Israel where they intermarried. The apostles were to go only to the lost sheep of Israel (cf. 15:24) because the kingdom message was for God’s covenant people. She needed to accept her King, who had arrived. If she did the nations would then be blessed through her (Gen. 12:3; Isa. 60:3).

The apostles’ message, like their Lord’s, would be authenticated by miracles (Matt. 10:8; cf. 9:35). They were not to make elaborate provisions for their travel, thus avoiding the impression they were engaged in a business enterprise. Included in the list of items they were not to take was a staff (cf. Luke 9:3). Mark, however, recorded that the apostles could take a staff (Mark 6:8). This problem is solved by observing that Matthew said they were not to “procure” (ktēsēsthe) extra items (Matt. 10:9), but Mark wrote that they could “take” (airōsen) any staffs they already had.

As the apostles ministered, they in turn were to be ministered to by their recipients. In every town or village they were to find a worthy person … and stay with that individual. Such “worthiness” would obviously be determined by a favorable response to the message preached. Those who rejected the message and failed to welcome the apostles were to be passed by. Shaking the dust off their feet as they left an inhospitable place symbolized their rejection of the Jewish city as if it were a despised Gentile city, whose very dust was unwanted. The Lord said that judgment on such people would be greater than that on Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19) when the final day of judgment comes. (I tell you the truth occurs in Matt. 10:15, 23, 42; cf. comments on 5:18.)

  1. The anticipated response (10:16–23) (Mark 13:9–13; Luke 21:12–17)

10:16–23. The Lord’s words to the apostles concerning the response to their ministry were not encouraging. Their task would be difficult for they would be like sheep among wolves (cf. 7:15, where false prophets are spoken of as “ferocious wolves”). It would be essential for them to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves, that is, wise in avoiding danger but harmless in not forcibly opposing the enemy. “Innocent” translates akeraioi (lit., “unmixed, pure”). It is used only twice elsewhere in the New Testament: Romans 16:19 and Philippians 2:15. In carrying out their ministries the apostles would be taken before their own Jewish leaders and flogged (cf. Acts 5:40) and be brought before Roman governors and Herodian kings. But the messengers need not worry, for the Holy Spirit, called here the Spirit of your Father, would give them words to say that would free them from arrest.

Even if the persecutions went to the point of betrayal of family members (Matt. 10:21) and extreme hatred (v. 22), Jesus promised them ultimate deliverance. The apostles were to continue their ministries, moving from place to place. But even though they moved out for the Lord, they would not be able to reach all the cities of Israel before the Son of Man would come.

These words of the Lord probably had an application beyond His own lifetime. What was proclaimed here was more fully demonstrated in the apostles’ lives after the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) in the spread of the gospel in the church (e.g., Acts 4:1–13; 5:17–18, 40; 7:54–60). But these words will find their fullest manifestation in the days of the Tribulation when the gospel will be carried throughout the entire world before Jesus Christ returns in power and glory to establish His kingdom on the earth (Matt. 24:14).

  1. the workers comforted (10:24–33) (Luke 12:2–9)

10:24–33. Jesus reminded the apostles He was not asking something of them He Himself had not already experienced. In reaction to His casting out a demon, the religious leaders had claimed He was working by the prince of the demons (cf. 9:34). If they accused Jesus (the Head of the house) of demonic power, surely they would say the same thing of His servants (the members of His household). Beelzebub (the Gr. has Beezeboul) was a name for Satan, the prince of the demons, perhaps derived from Baal-Zebub, god of the Philistine city of Ekron (2 Kings 1:2). “Beelzebub” means “lord of the flies,” and “Beezeboul” or “Beelzeboul” means “lord of the high place.”

However, the apostles need not fear the religious leaders who could destroy only the physical body (Matt. 10:28). The leaders’ true motives will be revealed in the judgment (v. 26). Obedience to God, who ultimately is in charge of physical as well as spiritual life, is far more crucial. The message they had received from the Lord privately (in the dark … whispered), they were to proclaim publicly without fear (speak in the daylight … proclaim from the [flat] housetops), for their Father was truly concerned for them and aware of their circumstances. He is aware of the death of a sparrow which is worth so little. Two sparrows were sold for a mere penny (assarion, a Gr. copper coin worth about 1/16 of a Roman denarius, a day’s wages). God the Father also knows the number of hairs on a person’s head (v. 30). The apostles were instructed not to fear for they, being far more valuable to God than sparrows, were seen and known by Him. Instead they were faithfully to confess (acknowledge, homologēsei) Jesus before men (v. 32). This would result in the Lord’s acknowledging His servants before His Father; but failure to confess Him would result in His denial of them. Of the original 12 Apostles, only one, Judas Iscariot, fell into the latter category.

  1. the workers admonished (10:34–39) (Luke 12:51–53; 14:26–27)

10:34–39. Jesus said He had come at this time not … to bring peace to the earth … but a sword which divides and severs. As a result of His visit to earth, some children would be set against parents and a man’s enemies might be those within his own household. This is because some who follow Christ are hated by their family members. This may be part of the cost of discipleship, for love of family should not be greater than love for the Lord (v. 37; cf. comments on Luke 14:26). A true disciple must take his cross and follow Jesus (cf. Matt. 16:24). He must be willing to face not only family hatred, but also death, like a criminal carrying his cross to his own execution. In addition, in those days a criminal carrying his cross was tacitly admitting that the Roman Empire was correct in executing its death sentence on him. Similarly Jesus’ followers were admitting His right over their lives. In so doing one would find his life in return for having given it up to Jesus Christ (cf. comments on 16:25).

  1. the workers rewarded (10:40–11:1) (Mark 9:41)

10:40–11:1. Those who faithfully served the Lord and who faithfully received these workers were promised rewards. To receive a prophet and his message was tantamount to receiving Jesus Christ. (Here the apostles were called prophets for they were recipients and communicators of God’s message; cf. 10:27.) Therefore even a cup of cold water given to one of these little ones, these insignificant disciples of Jesus, would be detected by the One who keeps accounts. The reward is in keeping with the act performed. With these words of instruction, Jesus departed to teach and preach in … Galilee (11:1). With the Twelve having received delegated authority from the Lord, it may be assumed that they departed and carried out Jesus’ instructions. The words, After Jesus had finished instructing, indicate another turning point in the book (cf. 7:28; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1).


The twelve disciples are instructed: Jesus instructed the disciples, gave them their instructions as to go to the houses of the lost sheep and which cities to go to teach, heal and preach in and then sent them on their way. Then Jesus went His way to teach, heal and preach.

God is testing us every day and has given us the right to make our own choices. Do you know which ones are the right choices in Gods mind?

Fear God, love God, honor God, and trust God with all your heart, mind and soul and you will receive and experience the joy of the promises of God’s blessings in His time. And always remember to ask the Father for His help and guidance in all things.


Prayer:   Father, blessed is your Holy name. We praise you for your Son and the Holy Spirit. Human words cannot describe how grateful we are for Your Son and our risen Christ. We praise You for the opportunity to be able to choose Jesus as our Lord and Savior and to be elect children of Yours. We praise you for the laws You have set down to teach us and keep our life in harmony, safe, how to treat others as well as how to live within you boundaries. Please bless those who have read this article for they too are seeking Your righteous truth, love, wisdom and understanding. I pray these brothers and sisters have or will come to realize that Your existence is a treasure of grace and love that You have for all Your elect children.

May God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Christianity be our guiding lights for eternity. Let it be Your will Lord not mine. Please come Lord Jesus.

I pray in Jesus sweet name and to His glory through the power of The Holy Spirit,



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