Matthew 10:4

After a night spent in prayer, Jesus called his twelve disciples and constituted them into an apostolic college. With his commission he gave them his charge. Notice -


1. They were twelve in number.

(1) Perhaps in correspondence to the twelve tribes of Israel, to whom they are first to preach (cf. ver. 6; Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30).

(2) As the sons of Jacob were the fathers of Israel according to the flesh, so are the twelve apostles the fathers of Israel after the Spirit.

(3) Twelve is a remarkable number in relation to the things of Christ (see Revelation 7:4; Revelation 12:1; Revelation 14:1; Revelation 21:12, 14). It has, therefore, been distinguished from the "number of the beast" as the number of the Lamb.

(4) In this number the apostles of Christ ever remained. For Paul (not Matthias) filled the place forfeited by Judas. The election of Matthias took place before the outpouring of the Spirit, and of the apostleship of Matthias we read no more (see Introduction in Mosheim).

2. Their names are given in order.

(1) Peter stands first in the lists (ver. 2; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13). He was the first called to a constant attendance upon Christ, though Andrew had seen Jesus before Simon (cf. Luke 5:3-10; John 1:40, 41). But he had no authority over his brethren, or it had surely been mentioned; neither had he any authority over the Church in which his brethren did not share. James the son of Alphaeus presided in the council at Jerusalem (see Acts 15:19). The New Testament gives no countenance to the papal claims.

(2) In the groups we find brothers together. Peter and Andrew; James and John; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbeeus, or Jude. "God here unites by grace those who were before united by nature. Nature must not be deemed a hindrance to grace.

(3) Last in the lists is the name of Judas Iscariot. He has the unenviable distinction of the traitor." Unworthy persons may be found in the holiest societies on earth.


1. As to the apostles preaching.

(1) To whom were they to go?

(a) Not to the Gentiles.

(b) Not to the Samaritans.

(c) They were to limit their preaching to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" (cf. Isaiah 53:6; Jeremiah 1.6; Matthew:12; Romans 9:1-4). The gospel must first be preached to the Jews (cf. Matthew 15:24; Romans 15:8). The restriction, however, was temporary (see Acts 1:8; Acts 3:26; Acts 13:46).

(2) What gospel were they to proclaim?

(a) The gospel of the "kingdom." Its spiritual nature. Spiritually, as well as literally, they were to "heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils."

(b) Its near approach. "At hand," viz. when the Spirit should be given on the Day of Pentecost.

(c) Therefore the need of preparation for it, viz. by repentance (cf. Mark 6:12).

2. As to its authentication.

(1) To this end miraculous powers were conferred upon the apostles. These were to continue with them. Unless in the spiritual sense, neither did they raise the dead nor cleanse the leper until after the resurrection of Christ.

(2) These they were to exercise freely, without restriction and without reward (see 2 Kings 5:15, 16, 26). Herein they differed from the exorcists mentioned by Josephus ('Ant.,' lib. 8. c, 11).

3. As to their maintenance.

(1) This they were to receive from those to whom they should minister (vers. 9-12; see also 1 Corinthians 9.; Galatians 6:6; 1 Timothy 5:17). They must be under no necessity otherwise to earn their living.

(2) Where hospitably entertained their peace was to come. "Peace be to this house" was their salutation (see Luke 10:5). "Great is peace," say the rabbins, "for all other blessings are comprehended in it" (cf. John 14:27; Philippians 4:7)..

(3) When inhospitably treated they were to "shake off the dust of their feet," viz. as a witness against them before God (see Nehemiah 5:13; Acts 13:51; Acts 18:6). See that you refuse not the gospel message, for the case of the rejecter is fearful.

1. This sin is worse than that of the men of Sodom (Ezekiel 16:48, 49). Who sin against the clear light of revelation are more guilty than those who offend against the dim light of tradition.

2. The full judgment upon sin is reserved to the last great day.

(1) The men of Sodom have yet to appear before the judgment-seat of Christ. The severest temporal judgments upon sinful men do not satisfy the claims of the offended justice of God.

(2) Terrible as their case will be, it will be more tolerable than that reserved for the rejecters of the gospel, of Christ. - J.A.M.

Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.
I. EARLY OPPORTUNITY. Called to be an apostle. Sharing, too, in the prayers of Christ (Luke 6:12, 13). His gifts marked him out for certain work. That work fell to his lot. Possibilities of such a calling.

II. GROWTH OF EVIL (John 6:64-71; John 12:1-6).

III. THE PRICE OF A SOUL (John 13.; Matthew 26:14-16).

IV. THE END (John 18:2-5; Matthew 27:3-5; Acts 1:18 25, with Matthew 27:5). The sentence of the Master upon his life and his work is this, "It were better for this man that he had never been born.

(G. T. Kerble.)

Let us adore the unsearchable judgment of God, in the choice of a wicked minister, whose unworthiness He knew. Let us learn from hence that no merit gives a right to the ministry, but the sole choice of God alone. Jesus Christ would not put saints into it, to oblige us not to judge of the holiness of the Church by certain of her ministers. He would not put into it any of the rich, noble, powerful, or learned, for fear lest men should affix ecclesiastical dignities to temporal advantages. Let us bear with the bad patiently; let us adore Jesus Christ and His authority degraded in them, yet without the virtue of His ordinances thereby suffering anything; and herein let us be assured that it is Jesus Christ who effects all in them, even by the most unworthy workmen.


Alphaeus, Andrew, Bartholomew, Beelzebub, James, Jesus, John, Judas, Lebbaeus, Matthew, Peter, Philip, Simon, Thaddaeus, Thomas, Zabdi, Zebedee
Capernaum, Gomorrah, Sodom
Betrayed, Canaanite, Cananaean, Cananite, Deliver, Delivered, Iscariot, Iscariote, Judas, Simon, Zealot
1. Jesus sends out his apostles, enabling them with power to do miracles;
5. giving them their charge, teaches them;
16. comforts them against persecutions;
40. and promises a blessing to those who receive them.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 10:4

     7632   Twelve, characters of
     8729   enemies, of Christ

Matthew 10:1-4

     1654   numbers, 11-99
     7026   church, leadership
     7631   Twelve, calling of

Matthew 10:2-4

     8370   zeal

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Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

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(Christmas Sermon.) "Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and goodwill towards men!" TEXT: MATT. x. 34. "Think not that I came to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." HOW wonderfully out of harmony these words sound with the angelic greeting that we have just heard; threatening to rob us of all the joy and blessedness of this holy season! For is the sword pre-eminently the glory of God? and if it rages anew, is that a special delight to men? When the message has come
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1. When the Holy Gospel was read, Brethren, ye heard how our Lord Jesus Christ strengthened His Martyrs by His teaching, saying, "Behold, I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves." [2215] Now consider, my Brethren, what he does. If but one wolf come among many sheep, be they ever so many thousands, they will all be put to confusion by one wolf in the midst of them: and though all may not be torn, yet all are frightened. What manner of design is this then, what manner of counsel, what manner
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But, my brethren, how glorious is the sight of the man who does endure to the end as a minister of Christ. I have photographed upon my heart just now, the portrait of one very, very dear to me, and I think I may venture to produce a rough sketch of him, as no mean example of how honorable it is to endure to the end. This man began while yet a youth to preach the Word. Sprung of ancestors who had loved the Lord and served his Church, he felt the glow of holy enthusiasm. Having proved his capabilities,
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Now, when we look abroad into the world we see, as we think, such abundant proofs that there is a God, that we are apt to treat a man who denies the existence of a God with very little respect or patience. We believe him to be wilfully blind, for we see God's name so legible upon the very surface of creation, that we cannot have patience with him if he dares to deny the existence of a Creator. And in the matter of salvation: we have each of us seen in our own salvation such positive marks of the
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The Disciple,--Master, in these days some learned men and their followers regard Thy atonement and the redemption by blood as meaningless and futile, and say that Christ was only a great teacher and example for our spiritual life, and that salvation and eternal happiness depend on our own efforts and good deeds. The Master,--1. Never forget that spiritual and religious ideas are connected less with the head than with the heart, which is the temple of God, and when the heart is filled with the presence
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I. The completion of our Saviour's Prophecies confirmed Pagans in their belief of the gospel. II. Origen's observation on our Saviour's disciples being brought before kings and governors; III. On their being persecuted for their religion; IV. On their preaching the gospel to all nations. V. On the destruction of Jerusalem, and ruin of the Jewish oeconomy. VI. These arguments strengthened by what has happened since Origen's time. I. THE second of these extraordinary means, of great use to the learned
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(Near Capernaum.) ^A Matt. X. 2-4; ^B Mark III. 13-19; ^C Luke VI. 12-16. ^c 12 And it came to pass in these days, that he went out into the mountain ^b 13 And he goeth up into the mountain, ^c to pray; and he continued all night in prayer to God. [It was a momentous occasion. He was about to choose those to whom he was to entrust the planting, organizing, and training of that church which was to be the purchase of his own blood. Jesus used such important crises, not as occasions for anxiety and
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

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3. Nor do they attend to this, that if another should say, that the Lord indeed, speaking in parables and in similitudes concerning spiritual food and clothing, did warn that not on these accounts should His servants be solicitous; (as He saith, "When they shall drag you to judgment-seats, take no thought what ye shall speak. For it will be given you in that hour what ye shall speak: but it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you." [2479] For the discourse of spiritual
St. Augustine—Of the Work of Monks.

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