1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
1 CHAPTER X.
NOTES ON CHAP. X.
Verse 1. Twelve disciples] Our Lord seems to have had the
twelve patriarchs, heads of the congregation of Israel, in view,
in his choosing twelve disciples. That he had the plan of the
ancient Jewish Church in his eye is sufficiently evident from
Mt 19:28; and from Lu 10:1; 22:30; Joh 17:1, &c., and
He gave them power against unclean spirits] The word κατα,
against, which our translators have supplied in Italic, is found
in many MSS. of good note, and in the principal versions. Here we
find the first call to the Christian ministry, and the end
proposed by the commission given. To call persons to the ministry
belongs only to Him who can give them power to cast out unclean
spirits. He whose ministry is not accompanied with healing to
diseased souls, was never called of God. But let it be observed,
that, though the spiritual gifts requisite for the ministry must
be supplied by God himself, yet this does not preclude the
importance of human learning. No man can have his mind too well
cultivated, to whom a dispensation of the Gospel is committed.
The influence of the Spirit of God was no more designed to render
human learning useless, than that learning should be considered as
superseding the necessity of Divine inspiration.
2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
2 Verse 2. Apostles] This is the first place where the word is
used. αποστολος, an apostle, comes from αποστελλω, I send a
message. The word was anciently used to signify a person
commissioned by a king to negotiate any affair between him and any
other power or people. Hence αποστολοι and κηρυκες, apostles and
heralds, are of the same import in Herodotus. See the remarks at
the end of chap. 3.
It is worthy of notice, that those who were Christ's apostles
were first his disciples; to intimate, that men must be first
taught of God, before they be sent of God. Jesus Christ never
made an apostle of any man who was not first his scholar or
disciple. These twelve apostles were chosen. 1. That they might
be with our Lord, to see and witness his miracles, and hear his
doctrine. 2. That they might bear testimony of the former, and
preach his truth to mankind.
The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother;
&c.] We are not to suppose that the word πρωτος, first, refers
to any kind of dignity, as some have imagined; it merely signifies
the first in order-the person first mentioned. A pious man
remarks: "God here unites by grace those who were before united by
nature." Though nature cannot be deemed a step towards grace, yet
it is not to be considered as always a hinderance to it. Happy
the brothers who are joint envoys of Heaven, and the parents who
have two or more children employed as ambassadors for God! But
this is a very rare case; and family compacts in the work of the
ministry are dangerous and should be avoided.
3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
3 Verse 3. Bartholomew] Many are of opinion that this was
Nathanael, mentioned Joh 1:46, whose name was probably
Nathanael bar Talmai, Nathanael, the son of Talmai: here, his own
name is repressed, and he is called Bar Talmai, or Bartholomew,
from his father.
Matthew the publican] The writer of this history. See the
James the son of Alpheus] This person was also called Cleopas,
or Clopas, Lu 24:18; Joh 19:25.
He had married Mary, sister to the blessed Virgin, Joh 19:25.
4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
4 Verse 4. Simon] He was third son of Alpheus, and brother of
James and Jude, or Judas, Mt 13:55.
The Canaanite] This word is not put here to signify a
particular people, as it is elsewhere used in the Sacred Writings;
but it is formed from the Hebrew kana, which signifies
zealous, literally translated by Luke, Lu 6:15, ζηλωτης,
zelotes, or the zealous, probably from his great fervency in
preaching the Gospel of his Master. But See Clarke on Lu 6:15.
Judas Iscariot] Probably from the Hebrew ish kerioth,
a man of Kerioth, which was a city in the tribe of Judah,
Jos 15:25, where it is likely this man was born.
As iscara, signifies the quinsy, or strangulation,
and Judas hanged himself after he had betrayed our Lord, Dr.
Lightfoot seems inclined to believe that he had his name from this
circumstance, and that it was not given him till after his death.
Who also betrayed him] Rather, even he who betrayed him, or
delivered him up; for so, I think, οκαιπαραδουςαυτον should be
translated. The common translation, who ALSO betrayed him, is
very exceptionable, as it seems to imply, he was betrayed by some
others, as well as by Judas.
5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
5 Verse 5. These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded] To be
properly qualified for a minister of Christ, a man must be, 1.
filled with the spirit of holiness; 2. called to this particular
work; 3. instructed in its nature, &c.; and, 4. commissioned to go
forth, and testify the Gospel of the grace of God. These are four
different gifts which a man must receive from God by Christ Jesus.
To these let him add all the human qualifications he can possibly
attain; as in his arduous work he will require every gift and
Go not into the way of the Gentiles] Our Lord only intended
that the first offers of salvation should be made to the Jewish
people; and that the heathen should not be noticed in this first
mission, that no stumbling-block might be cast in the way of the
Into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not] The Samaritans
had afterwards the Gospel preached to them by Christ himself,
Joh 4:4, &c., for the reason assigned above. Such as God seems
at first to pass by are often those for whom he has designed his
greatest benefits, (witness the Samaritans, and the Gentiles in
general,) but he has his own proper time to discover and reveal
The history of the Samaritans is sufficiently known from the Old
Testament. Properly speaking, the inhabitants of the city of
Samaria should be termed Samaritans; but this epithet belongs
chiefly to the people sent into that part of the promised land by
Salmanezer, king of Assyria, in the year of the world 3283, when
he carried the Israelites that dwelt there captives beyond the
Euphrates, and sent a mixed people, principally Cuthites, to dwell
in their place. These were altogether heathens at first; but they
afterwards incorporated the worship of the true God with that of
their idols. See the whole account, 2Ki 17:5, &c. From this
time they feared Jehovah, and served other gods till after the
Babylonish captivity. From Alexander the Great, Sanballat, their
governor, obtained permission to build a temple upon Mount
Gerizim, which the Jews conceiving to be in opposition to their
temple at Jerusalem, hated them with a perfect hatred, and would
have no fellowship with them. The Samaritans acknowledge the
Divine authority of the law of Moses, and carefully preserve it in
their own characters, which are probably the genuine ancient
Hebrew; the character which is now called Hebrew being that of the
Chaldeans. The Samaritan Pentateuch is printed in the London
Polyglott, and is an undeniable record. A poor remnant of this
people is found still at Naplouse, the ancient Shechem; but they
exist in a state of very great poverty and distress, and probably
will soon become extinct.
6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
6 Verse 6. But go rather to the lost sheep, &c.] The Jewish
Church was the ancient fold of God; but the sheep had wandered
from their Shepherd, and were lost. Our blessed Lord sends these
under-shepherds to seek, find, and bring them back to the Shepherd
and Overseer of their souls.
7And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
7 Verse 7. And as ye go, preach] πορευομενοιδεκηρυσσετε, and
as you proceed, proclaim like heralds-make this proclamation
wherever ye go, and while ye are journeying. Preach and travel;
and, as ye travel, preach-proclaim salvation to all you meet.
Wherever the ministers of Christ go, they find lost, ruined souls;
and, wherever they find them, they should proclaim Jesus, and his
power to save. For an explanation of the word proclaim or preach,
See Clarke on Mt 3:1.
From this commission we learn what the grand subject of
apostolic preaching was-THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND! This
was the great message. "They preached," says Quesnel, "to
establish the faith; the kingdom, to animate the hope; of heaven,
to inspire the love of heavenly things, and the contempt of
earthly; which is at hand, that men may prepare for it without
8Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
8 Verse 8. Raise the dead] This is wanting in the MSS. marked
EKLMS of Griesbach, and in those marked BHV of Mathai, and in
upwards of one hundred others. It is also wanting in the Syriac,
(Vienna edition,) latter Persic, Sahidic, Armenian, Sclavonic, and
in one copy of the Itala; also in Athanasius, Basil, and
Chrysostom. There is no evidence that the disciples raised any
dead person previously to the resurrection of Christ. The words
should certainly be omitted, unless we could suppose that the
authority now given respected not only their present mission, but
comprehended also their future conduct. But that our blessed Lord
did not give this power to his disciples at this time, is, I
think, pretty evident from Mt 10:1, and from Lu 9:6, 10;
Lu 10:19, 20,
where, if any such power had been given, or exercised, it would
doubtless have been mentioned. Wetstein has rejected it, and so
did Griesbach in his first edition; but in the second (1796) he
has left it in the text, with a note of doubtfulness.
Freely ye have received, freely give.] A rule very necessary,
and of great extent. A minister or labourer in the Gospel
vineyard, though worthy of his comfortable support while in the
work, should never preach for hire, or make a secular traffic of a
spiritual work. What a scandal is it for a man to traffic with
gifts which he pretends, at least, to have received from the Holy
Ghost, of which he is not the master, but the dispenser. He who
preaches to get a living, or to make a fortune, is guilty of the
most infamous sacrilege.
9Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,
9 Verse 9. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass, in your
purses] ειςταςξωναςυμων, in your GIRDLES. It is supposed
that the people of the east carry their money in a fold of their
girdles. This is scarcely correct: they carry it in a purse in
their bosom, under their girdles. This I have often observed.
In a thousand instances an apostolic preacher, who goes to the
wilderness to seek the lost sheep, will be exposed to hunger and
cold, and other inconveniences; he must therefore resign himself
to God, depending on his providence for the necessaries of life.
If God have sent him, he is bound to support him, and will do it:
anxiety therefore, in him, is a double crime, as it insinuates a
bad opinion of the Master who has employed him. Every missionary
should make himself master of this subject.
Have no money in your purse, is a command, obedience to which
was secured by the narrow circumstances of most of the primitive
genuine preachers of the Gospel. Whole herds of friars mendicants
have professed the same principle, and abandoned themselves to
voluntary poverty; but if the money be in the heart it is a worse
evil. In the former case, it may be a temptation to sin; in the
latter, it must be ruinous.
10Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
10 Verse 10. Nor scrip for your journey] To carry provisions.
This was called tormil, by the rabbins; it was a leathern
pouch hung about their necks, in which they put their victuals.
This was properly, the shepherd's bag.
Neither two coats, &c.] Nothing to encumber you.
Nor yet staves] ραβδον, a staff, as in the margin, but,
instead of ραβδον, staff, which is the common reading, all the
following MSS. and versions have ραβδους, staves, and CEFGKLMPS.
V. ninety-three others, Coptic, Armenian, latter Syriac, one of
the Itala, Chrysostom, and Theophylact. This reading is of great
importance, as it reconciles this place with Lu 9:3, and removes
the seeming contradiction from Mr 6:8; as if he had said: "Ye
shall take nothing to defend yourselves with, because ye are the
servants of the Lord, and are to be supported by his bounty, and
defended by his power. In a word, be like men in haste, and eager
to begin the important work of the ministry. The sheep are
lost-ruined: Satan is devouring them: give all diligence to pluck
them out of the jaws of the destroyer."
The workman is worthy of his meat.] τηςτροφηςαυτου, of his
maintenance. It is a maintenance, and that only, which a minister
of God is to expect, and that he has a Divine right to; but not to
make a fortune, or lay up wealth: besides, it is the workman, he
that labours in the word and doctrine, that is to get even this.
How contrary to Christ is it for a man to have vast revenues, as a
minister of the Gospel, who ministers no Gospel, and who spends
the revenues of the Church to its disgrace and ruin!
11And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.
11 Verse 11. Into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter] In the
commencement of Christianity, Christ and his preachers were all
Inquire who in it is worthy] That is, of a good character; for
a preacher of the Gospel should be careful of his reputation, and
lodge only with those who are of a regular life.
There abide till ye go thence.] Go not about from house to
house, Lu 10:7. Acting contrary to this precept has often
brought a great disgrace on the Gospel of God. Stay in your own
lodging as much as possible, that you may have time for prayer and
study. Seldom frequent the tables of the rich and great; if you
do, it will unavoidably prove a snare to you. The unction of God
will perish from your mind, and your preaching be only a dry
barren repetition of old things; the bread of God in your hands
will be like the dry, mouldy, Gibeonitish crusts, mentioned
Jos 9:5. He who knows the value of time, and will redeem it from
useless chit-chat, and trifling visits, will find enough for all
the purposes of his own salvation, the cultivation of his mind,
and the work of the ministry. He to whom time is not precious,
and who lives not by rule, never finds time sufficient for any
thing-is always embarrassed-always in a hurry, and never capable
of bringing one good purpose to proper effect.
12And when ye come into an house, salute it.
12 Verse 12. Salute it] λεγουτεςειρηνηεντωοικωτουτω, saying,
"Peace be to this house." This clause, which, as explanatory of
the word ασπασασθε, is necessary to the connection in which it now
stands, is added, by the MSS. D and L, and forty-three others, the
Armenian, Ethiopic, Slavonic, Saxon, Vulgate, all the copies of
the old Itala, Theophylact, and Hilary. The clause is also found
in several modern versions. The modern Greek has λεγοντες. ειρηνη
ειςτοσκηπριτουτο. The Italian, by Matthew, of Erberg, and of
Diodati, renders it thus: Pace sia a questa casa. Peace be to
It is found also in Wickliff, and in my old MS. Seyinge, pees be
to this hous. Some suppose it is an addition taken from Luke; but
there is nearly as much reason to believe he took it from Matthew.
Peace, , among the Hebrews, had a very extensive meaning:-it
comprehended all blessings, spiritual and temporal. Hence that
saying of the rabbins, Gadal
shalom, shecol haberacoth culoloth bo. Great is PEACE, for all
other blessings are comprehended in it. To wish peace to a
family, in the name and by the authority of Christ, was in effect
a positive promise, on the Lord's side, of all the good implied in
the wish. This was paying largely even beforehand. Whoever
receives the messengers of God into his house confers the highest
honour upon himself, and not upon the preacher, whose honour is
from God, and who comes with the blessings of life eternal to that
man and his family who receives him.
In India, it is customary for a way-faring man, when night draws
on, to enter a house, and simply say, "Sir, I am a guest with you
this night." If the owner cannot lodge him, he makes an apology,
and the traveller proceeds to another house.
13And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
13 Verse 13. If that house be worthy] If that family be proper
for a preacher to lodge in, and the master be ready to embrace the
message of salvation.
Your peace] The blessings you have prayed for shall come upon
the family: God will prosper them in their bodies, souls, and
But if it be not worthy] As above explained.
Let your peace] The blessings prayed for, return to you. προς
υμαςεπιστραφητω, it shall turn back upon yourselves. They shall
get nothing, and you shall have an increase.
The trials, disappointments, insults, and wants of the followers
of Christ become, in the hand of the all-wise God, subservient to
their best interests: hence, nothing can happen to them without
their deriving profit from it, unless it be their own fault.
14And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
14 Verse 14. Shake off the dust of your feet.] The Jews
considered themselves defiled by the dust of a heathen country,
when was represented by the prophets as a polluted land, Am 7:17,
when compared with the land of Israel, which was considered as a
holy land, Eze 45:1; therefore, to shake the dust of any city of
Israel from off one's clothes or feet was an emblematical action,
signifying a renunciation of all farther connection with them, and
placing them on a level with the cities of the Heathen.
See Clarke on Am 9:7.
15Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
15 Verse 15. In the day of judgment] Or, punishment,-κρισεως.
Perhaps not meaning the day of general judgment, nor the day of
the destruction of the Jewish state by the Romans; but a day in
which God should send punishment on that particular city, or on
that person, for their crimes. So the day of judgment of Sodom
and Gomorrah, was the time in which the Lord destroyed them by
fire and brimstone, from the Lord out of heaven.
If men are thus treated for not receiving the preachers of the
Gospel, what will it be to despise the Gospel itself-to decry
it-to preach the contrary-to hinder the preaching of it-to abuse
those who do preach it in its purity-or to render it fruitless by
calumnies and lies! Their punishment, our Lord intimates, shall
be greater than that inflicted on the inhabitants of Sodom and
16 ¶ Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
16 Verse 16. Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of
wolves] He who is called to preach the Gospel is called to
embrace a state of constant labour, and frequent suffering. He
who gets ease and pleasure, in consequence of embracing the
ministerial office, neither preaches the Gospel, nor is sent of
God. If he did the work of an evangelist, wicked men and demons
would both oppose him.
Wise (φρονιμοι prudent) as serpents, and harmless as
doves.] This is a proverbial saying: so in Shir hashirim Rabba,
fol. 16, "The holy blessed God said to the Israelites, Ye shall
be towards me as upright as the doves; but, towards the Gentiles,
as cunning as serpents."
There is a beauty in this saying which is seldom observed. The
serpent is represented as prudent to excess, being full of
cunning, Ge 3:1; 2Co 11:3; and the dove is simple, even to
stupidity, Ho 7:11;
but Jesus Christ corrects here the cunning of the serpent, by the
simplicity of the dove; and the too great simplicity of the
dove, by the cunning of the serpent. For a fine illustration of
this text, see the account of the Boiga:-
"This species is remarkably beautiful, combining the richest
colours of the finest gems with the splendour of burnished gold,
mingled with dark brown shades, which contrast and heighten its
brilliant ornaments. The whole under surface of the head and body
is of a silver white, separated from the changing blue of the back
by a golden chain on each side, the whole length of the body.
This fine blue and silver, ornamented with gold, by no means give
a full idea of the beautiful embroidery of the boiga. We must
take in all the reflected tints of silver colour, golden yellow,
red, blue, green, and black, mingled, and changing in the most
extraordinary and beautiful manner possible; so that, when about
to change its skin, it seems studded with a mixed assemblage of
diamonds, emeralds, topazes, sapphires, and rubies, under a thin
transparent veil of bluish crystal. Thus, in the rich and torrid
plains of India, where the most splendid gems abound, nature seems
to have chosen to reunite them all, together with the noble
metals, to adorn the brilliant robe of the boiga. This is one of
the most slender of serpents in proportion to its length. The
specimens in the royal collection, which exceed three feet in
length, are hardly a few lines in diameter. The tail is almost as
long as the body, and at the end is like a needle for fineness;
yet it is sometimes flattened above, below, and on the two sides,
rendering it in some measure square. From the delicacy of its
form, its movements are necessarily extremely agile; so that,
doubling itself up several times, it can spring to a considerable
distance, with great swiftness. It can twine and twist itself,
most readily, and nimbly, around trees or other such bodies;
climbing, or descending, or suspending itself, with the utmost
facility. The boiga feeds on small birds, which it swallows very
easily, notwithstanding the small diameter of its body, in
consequence of the great distensibility of its jaws, throat, and
stomach, common to it with other serpents. It conceals itself
under the foliage of trees, on purpose to surprise the small
birds, and is said to attract them by a peculiar kind of
whistling, to which the term of song has been applied; but we must
consider this as an exaggeration, as its long divided tongue, and
the conformation of its other organs of sound, are only adapted
for producing a hiss, or species of simple whistle, instead of
forming a melodious assemblage of tones. Yet, if nature has not
reckoned the boiga among the songsters of the woods, it seems to
possess a more perfect instinct than other serpents, joined to
more agile movements, and more magnificent ornament. In the isle
of Borneo, the children play with the boiga, without the smallest
dread. They carry it in their hands, as innocent as themselves,
and twist it about their necks, arms, and bodies, in a thousand
directions. This circumstance brings to recollection that fine
emblem of Candour and Confidence imagined by the genius of the
ancients: a child smiling on a snake, which holds him fast in his
convolutions. But, in that beautiful allegory, the snake is
supposed to conceal a deadly poison; while the boiga returns
caress for caress to the Indian children who fondle it, and seems
pleased to be twisted about their delicate hands. As the
appearance of such nimble and innocent animals in the forests must
be extremely beautiful, displaying their splendid colours, and
gliding swiftly from branch to branch, without possessing the
smallest noxious quality, we might regret that this species should
require a degree of heat greatly superior to that of our regions,
and that it can only subsist near the tropics, in Asia, Africa,
and America. It has usually a hundred and sixty-six large plates,
and a hundred and twenty-eight pairs of small plates, but is
subject to considerable variation.
"According to this representation, the boiga is not merely to be
praised for its beauty, but may be said to fulfil the old maxim of
combining the wisdom of the serpent with the harmlessness of the
dove." Cepede's Hist. of Oviparous Quadrupeds and Serpents.
Instead of ακεραιοι, harmless, or as the Etymol. Mag. defines
it, without mixture of evil, the Cod. Bezae reads απλουστατοι,
simple-uncompounded,-so all the copies of the old Itala, the
Vulgate, and the Latin fathers; but this curious and explanatory
reading is found in no other Greek MS.
17But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
17 Verse 17. But beware of men] Or, be on your guard against men,
τωνανθρωπων THESE men; i.e. your countrymen; those from whom you
might have reasonably expected comfort and support; and especially
those in power, who will abuse that power to oppress you.
Councils] συνεδρια, sanhedrins and synagogues.
See Clarke on Mt 5:22.
"By synagogues we may understand here, not the places of public
worship, but assemblies where three magistrates, chosen out of the
principal members of the synagogue, presided to adjust differences
among the people: these had power, in certain cases, to condemn to
the scourge, but not to death. See Ac 22:19; 2Co 11:24,
compared with Lu 12:11."
18And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
18 Verse 18. Ye shall be brought before governors, &c.] "This
affords a striking proof of the prescience of Christ. Who could
have thought, at that time, that these despised and illiterate
men could excite so much attention, and be called upon to
apologize for the profession of their faith before the tribunals
of the most illustrious personages of the earth ?" Wakefield.
By governors and kings we may understand, the Roman proconsuls,
governors of provinces, and the kings who were tributary to the
Roman government, and the emperors themselves, before whom many of
the primitive Christians were brought.
For a testimony against them and the Gentiles.] That is, to
render testimony, both to Jews and Gentiles, of the truth and
power of my Gospel.
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.
19 Verse 19. Take no thought how or what ye shall speak] μη
μεριμνησετε-Be not anxiously careful, because such anxiety argues
distrust in God, and infallibly produces a confused mind. In such
a state, no person is fit to proclaim or vindicate the truth.
This promise, It shall be given you, &c., banishes all distrust
and inquietude on dangerous occasions; but without encouraging
sloth and negligence, and without dispensing with the obligation
we are under to prepare ourselves by the meditation of sacred
truths, by the study of the Holy Scriptures, and by prayer.
It shall be given you in that same hour what] This clause is
wanting in the MSS. D and L, and several others, some versions,
and several of the fathers: but it is found in Mr 13:11,
without any various reading; and in substance in Lu 11:13.
20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
20 Verse 20. For it is-the Spirit of your Father, &c.] This was
an extraordinary promise, and was literally fulfilled to those
first preachers of the Gospel; and to them it was essentially
necessary, because the New Testament dispensation was to be fully
opened by their extraordinary inspiration. In a certain measure,
it may be truly said, that the Holy Spirit animates the true
disciples of Christ, and enables them to speak. The Head speaks
in his members, by his Spirit; and it is the province of the
Spirit of God to speak for God. Neither surprise, defect of
talents, nor even ignorance itself, could hurt the cause of God,
in the primitive times, when the hearts and minds of those Divine
men were influenced by the Holy Spirit.
Your Father] This is added to excite and increase their
confidence in God.
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.
21 Verse 21. And the brother shall deliver up the brother, &c.]
What an astonishing enmity is there in the soul of man against God
and goodness! That men should think they did God service, in
putting to death those who differ from them in their political or
religious creed, is a thing that cannot be accounted for but on
the principle of an indescribable depravity.
22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
22 Verse 22. Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake]
Because ye are attached to me, and saved from the corruption that
is in the world; therefore the world will hate you. "The laws of
Christ condemn a vicious world, and gall it to revenge."
He that endureth to the end shall be saved] He who holds fast
faith and a good conscience to the end, till the punishment
threatened against this wicked people be poured out, he shall be
saved, preserved from the destruction that shall fall upon the
workers of iniquity. This verse is commonly understood to refer
to the destruction of Jerusalem. It is also true that they who do
not hold fast faith and a good conscience till death have no room
to hope for an admission into the kingdom of God.
23 But 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.
23 Verse 23. But when they persecute you] It is prudence and
humility (when charity or righteousness obliges us not to the
contrary) to avoid persecution. To deprive those who are disposed
to do evil of the opportunities of doing it; to convey the grace
which they despise to others; to accomplish God's designs of
justice on the former, and of mercy on the latter, are
consequences of the flight of a persecuted preacher. This flight
is a precept to those who are highly necessary to the Church of
Christ, an advice to those who might imprudently draw upon
themselves persecution, and of indulgence for those who are
weak. But this flight is highly criminal in those mercenary
preachers who, through love to their flesh and their property,
abandon the flock of Christ to the wolf. See Quesnel.
In this city, flee ye into another] There is a remarkable
repetition of this clause found in the MSS. DL and eight others;
the Armenian, Saxon, all the Italia except three; Athan.,
Theodor., Tertul., August., Ambr., Hilar., and Juvencus. Bengel,
in his gnomon approves of this reading. On the above authorities
Griesbach has inserted it in the text. It probably made a portion
of this Gospel as written by Matthew. The verse in the MSS. is as
follows:-But when they shall persecute you in this city, flee ye
into another; and if they persecute in the other, flee ye unto
Ye shall not have gone over (ended or finished, margin) the
cities, &c.] The word τελεσητε here is generally understood as
implying to go over or through, intimating that there should not
be time for the disciples to travel over the cities of Judea
before the destruction predicted by Christ should take place. But
this is very far from being the truth, as there were not less than
forty years after this was spoken, before Jerusalem was destroyed:
τελειωνκαιμανθαναντων are used by the Septuagint. 1Ch 25:8,
for those who teach and those who learn. And τοιςτελειοις is
used by the apostle, 1Co 2:6,
for those who are perfectly instructed in the things of God. Ovid
has used the Latin perficio, which answers to the Greek τελειοω in
exactly the same sense.
Phillyrides puerum cithara perfecit Achillem.
"Chiron TAUGHT the young Achilles to play on the harp." For
these reasons some contend that the passage should be translated,
Ye shall not have INSTRUCTED, i.e. preached the Gospel in the
cities of Israel, till the Son of man be came. The Greek divines
call baptism τελειωσις or initiation. See Leigh. Crit. sacr.
Edit. Amst. p. 326, 328.
Dr. Lightfoot supposes the meaning to be: "Ye shall not have
travelled over the cities of Israel, preaching the Gospel, before
the Son of man is revealed by his resurrection, Ro 1:4; compare
Ac 3:19, 20; 5:26. To you first, God, raising up his Son, sent
him to bless you, &c. The epoch of the Messiah is dated from the
resurrection of Christ." After all, the place may be understood
literally; for τελεινταςπολεις, to finish the cities, is only a
concise mode of speech, for τελεινοδονδιαταςπολεις, to
complete the journey through the cities. To finish the survey, to
preach in every one:-till the Son of man be come, may refer either
to the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of pentecost, or to the
subversion of the Jewish state. See Rosenmuller.
24The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
24 Verse 24. The disciple is not above his master] Or in plainer
terms, A scholar is not above his teacher. The saying itself
requires no comment, its truth and reasonableness are
self-evident, but to the spirit and design we should carefully
attend. Jesus is the great teacher: we profess to be his
scholars. He who keeps the above saying in his heart will never
complain of what he suffers. How many irregular thoughts and
affections is this maxim capable of restraining! A man is not a
scholar of Christ unless he learn his doctrine; and he does not
learn it as he ought unless he put it in practice.
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?
25 Verse 25. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his
master] Can any man who pretends to be a scholar or disciple of
Jesus Christ, expect to be treated well by the world? Will not
the world love its own, and them only? Why, then, so much
impatience under sufferings, such an excessive sense of injuries,
such delicacy? Can you expect any thing from the world better
than you receive? If you want the honour that comes from it,
abandon Jesus Christ, and it will again receive you into its
bosom. But you will, no doubt, count the cost before you do this.
Take the converse, abandon the love of the world, &c., and God
will receive you.
Beelzebub] This name is variously written in the MSS.
Beelzebaul, Beelzeboun, Beelzebud, but there is a vast majority in
favour of the reading Beelzebul, which should, by all means, be
inserted in the text instead of Beelzebub. See the reasons below,
and see the margin.
It is supposed that this idol was the same with
Baalzebub the god fly, worshipped at Ekron, 2Ki 1:2, &c., who
had his name changed afterwards by the Jews to Baal zebul,
the dung god, a title expressive of the utmost contempt. It seems
probable that the worship of this vile idol continued even to the
time of our Lord; and the title, being applied by the Jews to our
blessed Lord, affords the strongest proof of the inveteracy of
Dr. Lightfoot has some useful observations on this subject,
which I shall take the liberty to subjoin.
"For the searching out the sense of this horrid blasphemy, these
things are worthy observing,
"I. Among the Jews it was held, in a manner, for a matter of
religion, to reproach idols, and to give them odious names. R.
Akibah saith, Idolatry pollutes, as it is said, Thou shalt cast
away the (idol) as something that is abominable, and thou shalt
say to it, Get thee hence: (Isa 30:22.) R. Lazar saith, Thou
shalt say to it, Get thee hence: that which they call the face of
God, let them call the face of a dog. That which they call
ein cos, the FOUNTAIN OF A CUP, let them call
ein kuts, the FOUNTAIN OF TOIL (or of flails.) That which they
call gediyah, FORTUNE, let them call geliya,
a STINK, &c. That town which sometimes was called Bethel, was
afterwards called Bethaven. See also the tract Schabbath.
"II. Among the ignominious names bestowed upon idols, the
general and common one was Zebul, DUNG, or a DUNGHILL. 'Even
to them that have stretched out their hands bezebul in a
dunghill, (that is, in an idol temple, or in idolatry,) there is
hope. Thou canst not bring them (into the Church) because they
have stretched forth their hands bezebul, in a dunghill. But yet
you cannot reject them, because they have repented.' And a little
after, He that sees them dunging, (that is, sacrificing,)
to an idol, let him say, Cursed be he that sacrifices to a strange
god. Let them, therefore, who dare, form this word in Matthew
into Beelzebub. I am so far from doubting that the Pharisees
pronounced the word BEELZEBUL, and that Matthew so wrote it, that
I doubt not but the sense fails if it be writ otherwise.
"III. Very many names of evil spirits, or devils, occur in the
Talmud, which it is needless here to mention. Among all the
devils, they esteemed that devil the worst, the foulest, as it
were, the prince of the rest, who ruled over the idols, and by
whom oracles and miracles were given forth among the Heathens and
idolaters. And they were of this opinion for this reason, because
they held idolatry, above all other things, chiefly wicked and
abominable, and to be the prince and head of evil. This demon
they called Baal-zebul, not so much by a proper name, as
by one more general and common; as much as to say, the lord of
idolatry: the worst devil, and the worst thing: and they called
him the prince of devils, because idolatry is the prince (or
chief) of wickedness."
26Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
26 Verse 26. Fear them not] A general direction to all the
persecuted followers of Christ. Fear them not, for they can make
you suffer nothing worse than they have made Christ suffer; and
under all trials he has promised the most ample support.
For there is nothing covered, &c.] God sees every thing; this
is consolation to the upright and dismay to the wicked; and he
will bring into judgment every work, and every secret thing,
whether good or bad, Ec 12:14.
27What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
27 Verse 27. What I tell you in darkness] A man ought to preach
that only which he has learned from God's Spirit, and his
testimonies; but let him not pretend to bring forth any thing new,
or mysterious. There is nothing that concerns our salvation that
is newer than the new covenant; and in that there are, properly
speaking, no mysteries: what was secret before is now made
manifest in the Gospel of the ever-blessed God. See Eph 3:1-12.
What ye hear in the ear] The doctor who explained the law in
Hebrew had an interpreter always by him, in whose ears he softly
whispered what he said; this interpreter spoke aloud what had been
thus whispered to him. Lightfoot has clearly proved this in his
Horae Talmudicae, and to this custom our Lord here evidently
alludes. The spirit of our Lord's direction appears to be this:
whatever I speak to you is for the benefit of mankind,-keep
nothing from them, declare explicitly the whole counsel of God;
preach ye, (κηρυξατε proclaim,) on the house-tops. The houses in
Judea were flat-roofed, with a ballustrade round about, which were
used for the purpose of taking the air, prayer, meditation, and it
seems, from this place, for announcing things in the most public
manner. As there are no bells among the Turks, a crier proclaims
all times of public worship from the house-tops. Whoever will
give himself the trouble to consult the following scriptures will
find a variety of uses to which these housetops were assigned.
De 22:8; Jos 2:6; Jud 9:51; Ne 8:16; 2Sa 11:2;
2Ki 23:12; Isa 15:3; Jer 32:29, and Ac 10:9.
Lightfoot thinks that this may be an allusion to that custom,
when the minister of the synagogue, on the Sabbath eve, sounded
with a trumpet six times, upon the roof of a very high house, that
from thence all might have notice of the coming in of the Sabbath.
The first blast signified that they should heave off their work in
the field: the second that they should cease from theirs in the
city: the third that they should light the Sabbath candle, &c.
28 And 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.
28 Verse 28. Fear not them which kill the body] των
αποκτεινοντων. Those who slay with acts of cruelty, alluding
probably to the cruelties which persecutors should exercise on his
followers in their martyrdom. But are not able to kill the soul.
Hence we find that the body and the soul are distinct principles,
for the body may be slain and the soul escape; and, secondly, that
the soul is immaterial, for the murderers of the body are not
able, μηδυναμενων, have it not in their power, to injure it.
Fear him] It is, not hell-fire we are to fear, but it is God;
without the stroke of whose justice hell itself would be no
punishment, and whose frown would render heaven itself
insupportable. What strange blindness is it to expose our souls
to endless ruin, which should enjoy God eternally; and to save and
pamper the body, by which we enjoy nothing but the creatures, and
them only for a moment!
29Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
29 Verse 29. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?] ασσαριου.
A Roman AS was one-tenth of a DENARIUS, which was about
sevenpence-halfpenny, and one-tenth of sevenpence-halfpenny makes
just three farthings.
The word ασσαριον, which we translate farthing, is found among
the rabbins in the word aisar, which, according to
Maimonides, is equal to four grains of silver, but is used among
them to express a thing of the lowest, or almost no value. Our
Lord seems to have borrowed the expression, One of them shall not
fall on the ground, &c., from his own countrymen. In Bereshith
Rabba, sec. 79, fol. 77, it is said: In the time in which the Jews
were compelled to apostatize, Rab. Simeon, Ben. Jochai, and
Eliezer his son hid themselves in a cave, and lived upon dry
husks. After thirteen years they came out; and, sitting at the
mouth of the cave, they observed a fowler stretching his nets to
catch birds; and as often as the Bath Kol said dimos,
escape! the bird escaped; but when it said spicula, a dart,
the bird was taken. Then the rabbin said, Even a bird is not
taken without Heaven, i.e. without the will of God, how much less
the life of man! The doctrine intended to be inculcated is this:
The providence of God extends to the minutest things; every thing
is continually under the government and care of God, and nothing
occurs without his will or permission; if then he regards
sparrows, how much more man, and how much more still the soul that
trusts in him!
Fall on the ground] Instead of επιτηνγην, Origen, Clement,
Chrysostom, Juvencus, and six MSS. of Mathai, read ειςτηνπαγιδα
into a snare. Bengel conjectures that it might have been written
at first, επιτηνπαγην; that the first syllable πα being lost out
of the word, γην, the earth, instead of παγην, snare, became
the common reading.
Without your Father.] Without the will of your Father: της
βουλης, the will or counsel, is added here by Origen, Coptic,
all the Arabic, latter Persic, Gothic, all the Itala except two;
Tert., Iren., Cypr., Novatian, and other Latin fathers. If the
evidence be considered as insufficient to entitle it to admission
into the text, let it stand there as a supplementary italic word,
necessary to make the meaning of the place evident.
All things are ordered by the counsel of God. This is a great
consolation to those who are tried and afflicted. The belief of
an all-wise, all-directing Providence, is a powerful support under
the most grievous accidents of life. Nothing escapes his merciful
regards, not even the smallest things of which he may be said to
be only the creator and preserver; how much less those of whom he
is the Father, Saviour, and endless felicity!
See Clarke on Lu 12:7.
30But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
30 Verse 30. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.]
Nothing is more astonishing than the care and concern of God for
his followers. The least circumstances of their life are
regulated, not merely by that general providence which extends to
all things, but by a particular providence, which fits and directs
all things to the design of their salvation, causing them all to
co-operate for their present and eternal good. Ro 5:1-5.
31Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
31 Verse 31. Fear ye not-ye are of more value] None can estimate
the value of a soul, for which Christ has given his blood and
life! Have confidence in his goodness; for he who so dearly
purchased thee will miraculously preserve and save thee. Did the
poet intend to contradict Christ when he said:-
How cold and meagre is this shallow deistical saying! But could
the poet mean, that a sparrow is of as much worth in the sight of
God, who regards (if we may believe him) things only in general,
as an immortal soul, purchased by the sacrifice of Christ?
32Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
32 Verse 32. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men]
That is, whosoever shall acknowledge me to be the Messiah, and
have his heart and life regulated by my spirit and doctrine. It
is not merely sufficient to have the heart right before God; there
must be a firm, manly, and public profession of Christ before men.
"I am no hypocrite," says one; neither should you be. "I will
keep my religion to myself" i.e. you will not confess Christ
before men; then he will renounce you before God.
We confess or own Christ when we own his doctrine, his
ministers, his servants, and when no fear hinders us from
supporting and assisting them in times of necessity.
33But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
33 Verse 33. Whosoever shall deny me] Whosoever prefers his
worldly interest to his duty to God, sets a greater value on
earthly than on heavenly things, and prefers the friendship of men
to the approbation of GOD.
Let it be remembered, that to be renounced by Christ is to have
him neither for a Mediator nor Saviour. To appear before the
tribunal of God without having Christ for our Advocate, and, on
the contrary, to have him there as our Judge, and a witness
against us,-how can a man think of this and not die with horror!
34Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
34 Verse 34. Think not that I am come to send peace, &c.] The
meaning of this difficult passage will be plain, when we consider
the import of the word peace, and the expectation of the Jews.
I have already had occasion to remark, (Mt 10:12,) that the word
shalom, rendered by the Greeks ειρηνη, was used among the
Hebrews to express all possible blessings, temporal and spiritual;
but especially the former. The expectation of the Jews was, that,
when the Messiah should come, all temporal prosperity should be
accumulated on the land of Judea; therefore τηνγην, in this
verse, should not be translated the earth, but this land. The
import of our Lord's teaching here is this, Do not imagine, as the
Jews in general vainly do, that I am come to send forth,
(βαλλειν,) by forcing out the Roman power, that temporal
prosperity which they long for; I am not come for this purpose,
but to send forth (βαλλειν) the Roman sword, to cut off a
disobedient and rebellious nation, the cup of whose iniquity is
already full, and whose crimes cry aloud for speedy vengeance.
See also Clarke on "Lu 12:49". From the time they rejected the
Messiah, they were a prey to the most cruel and destructive factions;
they employed their time in butchering one another, till the Roman
sword was unsheathed against them, and desolated the land.
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.
35 Verse 35. I am come to set a man at variance] The spirit of
Christ can have no union with the spirit of the world. Even a
father, while unconverted, will oppose a godly child. Thus the
spirit that is in those who sin against God is opposed to that
spirit which is in the followers of the Most High. It is the
spirits then that are in opposition, and not the persons.
36And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
36 Verse 36. A man's foes shall be they of his own household.]
Our Lord refers here to their own traditions. So Sota, fol. 49.
"A little before the coming of the Messiah, the son shall insult
the father, the daughter rebel against her mother, the
daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and each man shall have
his own household fur his enemies." Again, in Sanhedrin, fol. 97,
it is said: "In the age in which the Messiah shall come, the young
men shall turn the elders into ridicule; the elders shall rise up
against the youth, the daughter against her mother, the
daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and the man of that age
shall be excessively impudent; nor shall the son reverence his
father." These are most remarkable sayings, and, by them, our
Lord shows them that he was the Messiah, for all these things
literally took place shortly after their final rejection of
Christ. See the terrible account, given by Josephus, relative to
the desolations of those times. Through the just judgment of God,
they who rejected the Lord that bought them became abandoned to
every species of iniquity; they rejected the salvation of God, and
fell into the condemnation of the devil.
Father Quesnel's note on this place is worthy of deep attention.
"The father (says he) is the enemy of his son, when, through a
bad education, an irregular love, and a cruel indulgence, he
leaves him to take a wrong bias, instructs him not in his duty,
and fills his mind with ambitious views. The son is the father's
enemy, when he is the occasion of his doing injustice, in order to
heap up an estate for him, and to make his fortune. The mother is
the daughter's enemy, when she instructs her to please the world,
breeds her up in excess and vanity, and suffers any thing
scandalous or unseemly in her dress. The daughter is the mother's
enemy, when she becomes her idol, when she engages her to comply
with her own irregular inclinations, and to permit her to frequent
balls and plays. The master is the enemy of his servant, and the
servant that of his master, when the one takes no care of the
other's salvation, and the latter is subservient to his master's
37 He 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.
37 Verse 37. He that loveth father or mother more than me] He
whom we love the most is he whom we study most to please, and
whose will and interests we prefer in all cases. If, in order to
please a father or mother who are opposed to vital godliness, we
abandon God's ordinances and followers, we are unworthy of any
thing but hell.
38And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
38 Verse 38. He that taketh not his cross] i.e. He who is not
ready, after my example, to suffer death in the cause of my
religion, is not worthy of me, does not deserve to be called my
This alludes to the custom of causing the criminal to bear his
own cross to the place of execution; so Plutarch, εκαστοςρυς
κακουργωνεκφερειτοναυτουσταυρον. Each of the malefactors
carries on his own cross. See Clarke on Joh 19:17.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
39 Verse 39. He that findeth his life, &c.] i.e. He who, for the
sake of his temporal interest, abandons his spiritual concerns,
shall lose his soul; and he who, in order to avoid martyrdom,
abjures the pure religion of Christ, shall lose his soul, and
perhaps his life too. He that findeth his life shall lose it, was
literally fulfilled in Archbishop Cranmer. He confessed Christ
against the devil, and his eldest son, the pope. He was ordered
to be burnt; to save his life he recanted, and was,
notwithstanding, burnt. Whatever a man sacrifices to God is never
lost, for he finds it again in God.
There is a fine piece on this subject in Juvenal, Sat. viii. l.
80, which deserves to be recorded here.
40 ¶ He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
40 Verse 40. He that receiveth you] Treats you kindly, receiveth
me; I will consider the kindness as shown to myself; for he who
receiveth me, as the true Messiah, receiveth that God by whose
counsels and through whose love I am come.
41 He 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.
41 Verse 41. He that receiveth a prophet] προφητην, a teacher,
not a foreteller of future events, for this is not always the
meaning of the word; but one commissioned by God to teach the
doctrines of eternal life. It is no small honour to receive into
one's house a minister of Jesus Christ. Every person is not
admitted to exercise the sacred ministry; but none are excluded
from partaking of its grace, its spirit, and its reward. If the
teacher should be weak, or even if he should be found afterwards
to have been worthless, yet the person who has received him in the
name, under the sacred character, of an evangelist, shall not lose
his reward; because what he did he did for the sake of Christ, and
through love for his Church. Many sayings of this kind are found
among the rabbins, and this one is common: "He who receives a
learned man, or an elder, into his house, is the same as if he had
received the Shekinah." And again: "He who speaks against a
faithful pastor, it is the same as if he had spoken against God
himself." See Schoettgen.
42 And 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.
42 Verse 42. A cup of cold water] υδατος, of water, is not in
the common text, but it is found in the Codex Bezae, Coptic,
Armenian, Gothic, Anglo-Saxon, Slavonic, all copies of the Itala,
Vulgate, and Origen. It is necessarily understood; the ellipsis
of the same substantive is frequent, both in the Greek and
Latin writers. See Wakefield.
Little ones] My apparently mean and generally despised
But a cup of water in the eastern countries was not a matter of
small worth. In India, the Hindoos go sometimes a great way to
fetch it, and then boil it that it may do the less hurt to
travellers when they are hot; and, after that, they stand from
morning to night in some great road, where there is neither pit
nor rivulet, and offer it, in honour of their god, to be drunk by
all passengers. This necessary work of charity, in these hot
countries, seems to have been practised by the more pious and
humane Jews; and our Lord assures them that, if they do this in
his name, they shall not lose their reward. See the Asiatic
Miscellany, vol. ii. p. 142.
Verily-he shall in no wise lose his reward.] The rabbins have a
similar saying: "He that gives food to one that studies in the
law, God will bless him in this world, and give him a lot in the
world to come." Syn. Sohar.
Love heightens the smallest actions, and gives a worth to them
which they cannot possess without it. Under a just and merciful
God every sin is either punished or pardoned, and every good
action rewarded. The most indigent may exercise the works of
mercy and charity; seeing even a cup of cold water, given in the
name of Jesus, shall not lose its reward. How astonishing is
God's kindness! It is not the rich merely whom he calls on to be
charitable; but even the poor, and the most impoverished of the
poor! God gives the power and inclination to be charitable, and
then rewards the work which, it may be truly said, God himself
hath wrought. It is the name of Jesus that sanctifies every
thing, and renders services, in themselves comparatively
contemptible, of high worth in the sight of God. See Quesnel.