Matthew 10, Part 1

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Last time we discussed Jesus healing the two blind men, commanding them to tell no one, but instead they proclaimed it all over the land.
Jesus healed the man with a demon and was unable to speak. He was accused of casting out the demon by the prince of demons by the Pharisees.
And, the last discourse was on the harvest being plentiful, but the laborers few.
Now we will go into the calling and sending out of the Twelve Apostles.

Calling of The Twelve

Matthew 10:1–4 ESV
1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
The apostles were called earlier to be “fishers of men”. Each one had been called in his own special way from his environment. Christ was now calling the apostles to go forth in the fulfillment of their first call. In a sense, we may say they were called twice - they received their commitment call, and then their commissioning call.
There are several important facts given about their commissioning call.
1. They were called to Him (v. 1).
2. They were given power and authority (v. 1).
3. They were twelve in number (v. 2).
4. They were made apostles (v. 2).
5. They included three sets of brothers (v. 2).
6. They were organized two by two for ministry: according to God’s plan (v. 3).
There are three steps in the call of the disciples to the ministry.
a. The discipleship call. They heard about Christ, went to hear Him, and began to follow Him just as many others did.
b. The commitment call. There were multitudes of people following Christ, but He noticed the unusual commitment of these twelve men. At this point, He called them to the ministry: to leave all and to begin a period of special training in order to preach and teach professionally. Note Lu. 6:13 where Jesus called His disciples to Him, and from among the many whom He called, “He chose twelve whom also He named apostles.”
c. The commissioning call. Christ commissioned them to go forth with the message of salvation.
Call—Discipleship: the call of the disciples is a precious study. Jesus called them to Him; He chose them “to be with Him” (Mk. 3:14). They were called out from among many followers.
The disciples were given power and authority. The power to heal and cast out demons was given to prove that Christ was truly the Son of God. The apostles were given the same authority and power because they were being sent in His name. They were proclaiming Him and His message to be true; they were proving it by the power given them.
Power—Authority (exousia): the Greek word means authority. Christ was giving His own authority to His messengers. They were sent forth by Him on His special mission; therefore, they were given His authority and power to minister.
Notice that the power to save or convert the lost is not given. Why? Only God can save and penetrate the spiritual world or dimension. Man’s authority is limited to the physical world and dimension.
Unclean Spirits—Evil Spirits: evil spirits are spirits of unholy, polluted, immoral, and unjust behavior; they are spirits belonging to the ungodly realm of darkness. Two things need to be said about evil spirits at this point.
1. Christ accepts and teaches the presence and reality of evil spirits. He sent His apostles forth with the authority to cast them out.
2. Throughout human experience, most beliefs have extremes that arise and surround the truth of the belief.
Apostles: the disciples were twelve in number. A teacher, including Christ, can adequately teach only so many. Note that Christ taught some things to the multitudes; then He taught more to a much smaller number (Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and some others); and finally He taught all things to a small band of men (the twelve apostles). We might say that He taught all He could to a small band of disciples who were to carry on His life’s work. Should we not be discipling in the same manner? This is where SS, Discipleship Groups, etc become critical in the life of others. (Timothy/Barnabas).
Why did Christ select twelve special apostles instead of some other number? There are several possible reasons.
1. There were twelve tribes of Israel. Israel had been the first called to be the people of God. Christ wanted to reach out to Israel first and to give them a last chance. Therefore, He wanted an apostle to represent each of the twelve tribes, to equal the twelve patriarchs of Israel, that is, to equal Jacob’s sons. The number twelve was symbolizing that He was making an attempt to reach all Israel.
2. The Jews had been the first called by God. Therefore, they were to be the first called by God’s Son. The twelve apostles were to be the representatives of Christ who were to bring Israel’s twelve tribes to God the Father. .
3. The twelve apostles were to be the patriarchs, the heads, the apostles of the new Israel.
An apostle is a representative, an ambassador, a person who is sent out into one country to represent another country. Three things are true of the apostle.
⇒ He belongs to the One who has sent him out.
⇒ He is commissioned to be sent out.
⇒ He possesses all the authority and power of the One who sends him out.
Christ seemed to arrange the apostles two by two; note how Matthew groups them by two’s. Several lessons can be immediately drawn from this.
(1) We need each other, someone with whom we can be close in fellowship and ministry.
(2) We need to go forth together two by two.
(3) We need to organize for ministry.
What if we were to disciple 12 people in our lifetimes? How much more could be done to take the gospel to the world?

Commissioning of the Twelve

Matthew 10:5–15 ESV
5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9 Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
This is the commission of our Lord to His apostles. It was the very first expedition they had been sent out on all alone. Note how carefully Jesus instructed them and the clear implications for His followers in every generation.
1. Jesus sent out His disciples: instructed them, “Go” (v. 5).
2. First, go to Israel: to the lost of one’s own house (v. 6).
3. Second, preach: the Kingdom of Heaven is near (v. 7).
4. Third, minister: sharing freely (v. 8).
5. Fourth, receive compensation (vv. 9–10).
6. Fifth, seek a worthy host (v. 11).
7. Sixth, plan your ministry and your visits (vv. 12–15).
Commission—Call—Ministers - Jesus sent forth His disciples, commanding them. Note that Jesus did not send forth every disciple who was following Him. Only a few were chosen to serve as special messengers who were to devote all their time to preaching and ministering.
A person is sent forth by Jesus; he does not choose to go forth. If he does, he goes forth in his own strength and power. He cannot expect the power of Christ.
The ministry is not a profession; it is a commission. Christ calls and commissions. The man who chooses to be a minister without a true call and commissioning of the Lord experiences four things.
(1) He finds himself ministering primarily in his own strength.
(2) He often finds his heart void and feels the constant pressure of having to come up with human ideas and human programs. He has difficulty maintaining a sense of meaning and purpose for both himself and his people.
(3) He senses a real void and shortcoming in proclaiming the gospel and in doing the work of the ministry.
(4) He often wonders what good is really being done. He just lacks the sense of a real call within; therefore, there is no outside godly connection to comfort and assure him that he is in God’s will. He is left to seek comfort and assurance only from himself or from some other human source. There is no supernatural Spirit or power to encourage him.
Commission—Witnessing - First, go to Israel; that is, do not go to the lost of the world, but to the lost of one’s own house. We cannot / should not go try to fix other people if we haven’t put time and effort into fixing ourselves and our families. It demonstrates our love for our own family and friends first, but it also prepares for facing the trials of taking the Gospel outside to others and the responses it may bring.
Preaching—Kingdom of Heaven: second, preach—preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Note the message is a given message, given by the Lord Himself. The disciples were not to proclaim their own ideas nor the ideas of others. They were to preach the message given by the Lord. No matter the generation, the message needs to be repeated and repeated.
The major areas of service for the apostles were twofold—the area of preaching the gospel and the area of ministering. Preaching is set off by itself as a major area (v. 7), and ministering is set off by itself as a major area (v. 8).
The apostles were to minister and to share freely. Christ gave them His authority and power freely; therefore, they were to minister freely, not charging special fees for special ministries (note this is not referring to compensation for special ministries, but to special fees for special ministries, v. 10). Their ministry and sharing were in four primary areas.
1. They were to heal the sick. Many had physical needs; they were ill, hurting, and suffering. Some did not have enough to eat or wear and did not even have a place to live. Some were weak and had lost the will to fight. They were hopeless and helpless, discouraged and depressed. They needed the message of the gospel.
2. They were to cleanse the lepers. Leprosy was considered a form of pollution; therefore, it was a symbol of sin. The apostles were to cleanse the lepers. They were to cleanse those who had the actual disease, and they were to preach the power of Christ to cleanse a life polluted with sin.
3. They were to raise the dead. There is no record of the apostles’ raising the dead before the resurrection of Christ, but the apostles were used by God to raise many to spiritual life. The Bible says men are “dead in sins” (Ep. 2:1; see Deeper Study # 1—He. 9:27). Therefore, the disciples were to preach the power of Christ to raise men to life eternal.
4. They were to cast out devils. Demon-possession means that a person is gripped by evil forces. When a man is gripped by an evil spirit, he is no longer in control of his life; he is controlled by the forces of evil. The disciples were to preach the power of Christ to deliver men from the spirits of evil.
Ministers: third, minister—sharing freely (see Deeper Study # 3—Mt. 10:7–8). Two things always need to be remembered about the apostle’s unusual power. Their power was a given power. It came from the Lord Himself. God gives His servant the gifts and power to preach and minister as He has called him. Their power was to confirm that God does love and care for the world and that the message being preached was actually from God.
Ministering to the needs of people shows two things. God loves and cares for people. The minister is a minister of love and care.
Ministers—Stewardship: fourth, receive compensation. In financial matters, Christ expected two things from His apostles and His people. First, His apostles and servants were not to spend their own money on the ministry; and second, His people were to adequately support His apostles and servants. The apostles, God’s servants, were forbidden to accumulate estates through the ministry. But they were not to spend their own money on the ministry. There were several reasons for this. Their minds and hearts were to be centered on preaching the gospel and ministering to people, not on buying and selling and accumulating. They were to trust God for their needs and by such example to teach dependence upon God. They were to teach and depend upon God’s people to provide for them. They were to allow God’s people the privilege of sharing in the ministry through their giving. God’s people were to learn more and more trust by depending upon God to help them raise whatever funds they needed to support the ministers.
Hospitality: fifth, seek a worthy host. In every city and place, there are some who have good reputations and some who have bad reputations. Several factors determine a worthy host. A worthy host was a person with a good reputation concerning morals. Living with a person of evil and unjust morals would cause the apostles’ own morals to be questioned. They were to reach out to the immoral, even as Christ did, but not to fellowship and live with them. They were to be careful in choosing their close friends. A worthy host was a person with a good reputation concerning God. Some would have a spiritual interest and some would not. A worthy host was a person with a good reputation concerning hospitality. Some would willingly care for strangers; others would not.
The apostles were to seek out the worthy host. They were not to seek out the wealthy and leading citizens of a community, nor were they to seek out the best accommodations.
God’s messenger was to stay with the same host throughout his stay in a place. He was not to seek more comfort and luxury as he came to know a place. There are several reasons for this. Such action might indicate favoritism and cause jealousy. Such action might indicate a materialistic and selfish and soft mind, leading to the questioning of a person’s commitment. Such action distracts from a person’s purpose and ministry. Such action hurts and often alienates the first host.
Ministry: sixth, plan your ministry, your visits. The Lord sent His messengers forth, that is, out visiting in the houses of the city. They did not sit back waiting on the people to come. They went out carrying the gospel to the people.
Note the Lord told the apostles how to visit. Precise plans were laid. The apostles were to approach a house cordially (v. 13). Saluting, that is, approaching cordially, does several things.
1) It communicates a friendliness and kindness which encourages an open reception.
2) It opens the door to more conversation which the messenger can turn into a presentation of the gospel.
3) It tells immediately whether a person is receptive or not.
If the people accepted the apostles, the apostles were to share peace (v. 13). The greeting of peace was to be given to every home and place they approached. If the people were worthy, the messengers were to continue their message of peace. If the people were unworthy, they were to let the salutation lie alone. They were to say nothing else.
The witnesses of the Lord must discern and make a judgment about the people to whom they are witnessing.
(1) Are they kind and gracious or cold and hard?
(2) Are they just shy and bashful or really disinterested?
(3) Are they truly receptive or just kind and gracious to everyone?
(4) Are they spiritually sensitive or just interested in religious questions?
The Lord’s witness must not waste time. He must discern as quickly as possible who is worthy and receptive.
The greeting of the day was “Peace be unto you.” The apostles were to use the greeting as the basis of their message. They were to expand it. Their message was to be peace—peace with God and the peace of God.
If the people rejected the apostles, the apostles were to leave. The Lord’s messenger and witness could expect to be rejected by some. Note that some do reject. Note that whole cities reject the gospel, not just some households. When rejected, the messenger is not to argue or force the gospel upon the person. Christ expects His messenger to leave.
Rejecters were to be judged. Rejection of God’s messenger and of the gospel condemns a person to a terrible fate. The person’s judgment is to be more severe than even the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. Why? Because the person rejects God’s very own Son. Sodom and Gomorrah never had the opportunity to hear God’s Son. Our responsibility is much greater because our privilege to hear God’s Son is much greater.
Leadership Ministries Worldwide. (2004). The Gospel according to Matthew: Chapters 1:1–16:12 (Vol. 1, p. 238). Leadership Ministries Worldwide.
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