Matthew 10


Jesus calls, commissions, and names his twelve disciples, 1-4.

Gives them particular instructions relative to the objects of

their ministry, 5, 6.

Mode of preaching, &c., 7-15.

Foretells the afflictions and persecutions they would have to

endure, and the support they should receive, 16-25.

Cautions them against betraying his cause, in order to procure

their personal safety, 26-39.

And gives especial promises to those who should assist his

faithful servants in the execution of their work, 40-42.


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

Re 21:12-14.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

every grace.

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.

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.

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


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.

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.

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!

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.

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

this house.

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.

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.

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.

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


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.

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."

See Lightfoot.

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.

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.

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.

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.

O shame to men! devil with devil damn'd

Firm concord holds, men only disagree

Of creatures rational; though under hope

Of heavenly grace; and, God proclaiming peace,

Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife

Among themselves, and levy cruel wars,

Wasting the earth, each other to destroy!

PAR. Lost, b. ii. l. 496.

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.

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.

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.

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

their malice.

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."

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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:-

"He sees with equal eye, as God of all,

A HERO perish, or a SPARROW fall?"

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?

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.

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!

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.

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.

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


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.

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.

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.

----------- ambiguae si quando citabere testis

Incertaeque rei, Phalaris liect imperet ut sis

Falsus, et admoto dictet perjuria tauro,

Summum crede nefas ANIMAM praeferre PUDORI

Et propter VITAM VIVENDI perdere causas.

---------- If ever call'd

To give thy witness in a doubtful case,

Though Phalaris himself should bid thee lie,

On pain of torture in his flaming bull,

Disdain to barter innocence for life;

To which life owes its lustre and its worth.


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.

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.

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.

Copyright information for Clarke