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Jesus Sends Out His Twelve Apostles

10 Jesus gathered his twelve[a] disciples and imparted to them authority to cast out demons and to heal every sickness[b] and every disease.

Now, these are the names of the first twelve apostles: first, Simon, who is nicknamed Peter, and Andrew, his brother. And then Jacob[c] and John, sons of Zebedee. Next were Phillip and Bartholomew;[d] then Thomas and Matthew, the tax collector; Jacob the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus;[e] Simon, the former member of the Zealot party,[f] and Judas the locksmith, who eventually betrayed Jesus.[g]

Jesus commissioned these twelve to go out into the ripened harvest fields with these instructions: “Don’t go into any non-Jewish or Samaritan territory.[h] Go instead and find the lost sheep[i] among the people of Israel. And as you go, preach this message: ‘Heaven’s kingdom realm is accessible, close enough to touch.’[j] You must continually bring healing to lepers and to those who are sick,[k] and make it your habit to break off the demonic presence from people,[l] and raise the dead back to life. Freely[m] you have received the power of the kingdom, so freely release it to others. You won’t need a lot of money.[n] 10 Travel light,[o] and don’t even pack an extra change of clothes in your backpack. Trust God for everything, because the one who works for him deserves to be provided for.

11 “Whatever village or town you enter, search for a godly[p] man who will let you into his home until you leave for the next town. 12 Once you enter a house, speak to the family there and say, ‘God’s blessing of peace be upon this house!’ 13 And if those living there welcome you, let your peace come upon the house. But if you are rejected, that blessing of peace will come back upon you. 14 And if anyone doesn’t listen to you and rejects your message, when you leave that house or town, shake the dust off your feet as a prophetic act that you will not take their defilement with you.[q] 15 Mark my words, on the day of judgment the wicked people who lived in the land of Sodom and Gomorrah will have a lesser degree of judgment than the city that rejects you, for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah did not have the opportunity that was given to them! 16 Now, remember, it is I who sends you out, even though you feel vulnerable as lambs going into a pack of wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes yet as harmless[r] as doves.”

Jesus Warns His Apostles of Persecution

17 “Be on your guard! For there will be those who will betray you before their religious councils and brutally beat you with whips in their public gatherings.[s] 18 And because you follow me, they will take you to stand trial in front of rulers and even kings as an opportunity to testify of me before them and the unbelievers.[t] 19 So when they arrest you, don’t worry about how to speak or what you are to say, for the Holy Spirit will give you at that very moment the words to speak. 20 It won’t be you speaking but the Spirit of your Father repeatedly speaking through you.[u]

21 “A brother will betray his brother unto death—even a father his child! Children will rise up against their parents and have them put to death. 22 Expect to be hated by all because of my name, but be faithful to the end and you will experience life and deliverance.[v] 23 And when they persecute you in one town, flee to another. But I promise you this: you will not deliver all the cities and towns of Israel until the Son of Man will have made his appearance.[w]

24 “A student is not superior to his teacher any more than a servant would be greater than his master. 25 The student must be satisfied to share his teacher’s fate and the servant his master’s. If they have called the head of the family ‘lord of flies,’[x] no wonder they malign the members of his family.

26 “Don’t be afraid or intimidated by others, for God will bring everything out into the open and every secret will be told. 27 What I say to you in the dark, repeat in broad daylight, and what you hear in a whisper, announce it publicly. 28 Don’t be in fear of those who can kill only the body but not your soul. Fear only God, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 You can buy two sparrows for only a copper coin, yet not even one sparrow falls from its nest without the knowledge of your Father. Aren’t you worth much more to God than many sparrows? 30–31 So don’t worry. For your Father cares deeply about even the smallest detail of your life.[y]

32 “If you openly and publicly acknowledge me, I will freely and openly acknowledge you before my heavenly Father. 33 But if you publicly deny that you know me,[z] I will also deny you before my heavenly Father.

34 “Perhaps you think I’ve come to spread peace and calm over the earth—but my coming will bring conflict and division,[aa] not peace. 35 Because of me,

A son will turn against his father,
    a daughter her mother
    and against her mother-in-law.[ab]
36 Within your own families you will find enemies.[ac]

37 “Whoever loves father or mother or son or daughter more than me is not fit to be my disciple.[ad] 38 And whoever comes to me must follow in my steps and be willing to share my cross and experience it as his own, or he cannot be considered to be my disciple. 39 All who seek to live apart from me[ae] will lose it all. But those who let go of their lives for my sake and surrender it all to me will discover true life!

40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the One who sent me.[af] 41 Whoever receives a prophet because he is God’s messenger[ag] will share a prophet’s reward. And whoever welcomes a good and godly man because he follows me[ah] will also share in his reward. 42 And whoever gives a cup of cold water to one of my humble disciples, I promise you, he will not go unrewarded.”


  1. Matthew 10:1 The number twelve speaks of governmental authority. Israel had twelve tribes, and Jesus chose twelve disciples. Only after Jesus gave them this authority were they called apostles. The authority Jesus gave them is what he had demonstrated over the previous five chapters of Matthew. After Christ’s resurrection he reminded them, as he sent them again to the nations, that “all authority has already been given to you.” Here Jesus makes these twelve men the answer to their own prayers for the Lord of the Harvest to send out more reapers.
  2. Matthew 10:1 The Aramaic word is “ailment” or “affliction.”
  3. Matthew 10:2 Or “James.” Translations of the Bible have substituted Jacob with James. Both Greek and Aramaic leave the Hebrew name as it is, Jacob. This translation will use Jacob throughout.
  4. Matthew 10:3 Bartholomew is likely another name for Nathaniel. See John 1:45.
  5. Matthew 10:3 Or “Lebbaeus.”
  6. Matthew 10:4 Or “the patriot.” The Zealot party was also known as the Daggar party. Some manuscripts read “Simon the Canaanite.”
  7. Matthew 10:4 The name Judas is actually Judah. Iscariot is not his last name, but could be taken from the name of the town, Kerioth, twelve miles south of Hebron. But more plausibly, Iscariot is taken from a Hebrew word meaning “lock,” Judah being a locksmith. He likely was the one chosen to lock the collection bag, which means he had the key and could pilfer the fund at will. It is his sad history that he wanted to lock up Jesus and control him for his own ends.
  8. Matthew 10:5 Or “Don’t go on the paths of the non-Jewish people.”
  9. Matthew 10:6 The Hebrew Matthew is “the sheep who have strayed from the house of Israel.”
  10. Matthew 10:7 The Hebrew Matthew and a few Greek manuscripts add the call to repentance with the word “Repent (turn from sin and turn to God), for the kingdom of heaven approaches.”
  11. Matthew 10:8 Or “the weak.”
  12. Matthew 10:8 The Aramaic is “cure the insane.”
  13. Matthew 10:8 That is, don’t charge for preaching the gospel.
  14. Matthew 10:9 Or “Don’t take gold, silver, or copper.” The Hebrew Matthew is “Don’t heap up silver and gold in your money belts.” The Aramaic has the nuance of more than not taking money, but of not going after the accumulation of money by using God’s anointing.
  15. Matthew 10:10 Or “Don’t take sandals or a staff,” which is likely a figure of speech for “Travel light.” The reason Jesus told his disciples to leave their things behind is that they already had what was most important. Our “money” or wealth is in the kingdom realm of God. Our “clothing” is the garment of righteousness we wear in Christ. Our “backpack” points to our past experiences, which we tend to carry as weights on our backs. We leave our past behind since it no longer exists in Christ. Our “shoes” become a picture of the good news we walk in as we experience his continual peace. Our “staff” is a symbol of authority, and we take with us no other authority but Christ’s. We can leave it all behind since we take it all with us in Christ.
  16. Matthew 10:11 Or “worthy” or “honorable”; that is, “deserving of your confidence.” The “worthy” man would be one who welcomed the disciples into his home, providing hospitality to them.
  17. Matthew 10:14 Implied in the historical context of shaking dust off of one’s feet when leaving a city. The “uncleanness” could also refer to any bitter response to the rejection they experienced. They were to “shake it off” before they went to their next assignment.
  18. Matthew 10:16 Or “innocent.”
  19. Matthew 10:17 Although this can be translated “synagogues,” it is actually a gathering of people. No one would be scourged in a synagogue building. See Luke 4:28-30. The Sinaiticus version of Matthew is “courts of justice.”
  20. Matthew 10:18 This prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled many times over with the apostles of the Lamb.
  21. Matthew 10:20 See Ex. 4:12.
  22. Matthew 10:22 There is found here one of the agrapha, quoted from an earlier gospel manuscript that has been lost, which reads, “As often as you fall, rise up, and you will be saved.” Akolouthia of Confession (Evans, The Historical Jesus; 2004, supra, at 213).
  23. Matthew 10:23 As translated from the Aramaic, which can also be translated “Those who believe [in hope] until the end will live.” The Greek is somewhat ambiguous and reads, “You will not finish going through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
  24. Matthew 10:25 Or Baal-zebub, a derisive term for Satan. There is some evidence that the Hebrew word Baal-zebub could also mean “lord of tricks” (or “trickster”).
  25. Matthew 10:30 Or “even the hairs of your head are numbered.”
  26. Matthew 10:33 The Aramaic can be translated “he who blasphemes me.”
  27. Matthew 10:34 Or “I have not come to bring peace but a sword.” The Aramaic word harba can mean either “sword” or “war.” The Greek is “sword” (of division). Either term signifies division.
  28. Matthew 10:35 The Hebrew Matthew adds here, “For there will be five in a house, three against two and two against three, father against son and son against father, and they will stand alone.” This is missing from the Greek manuscripts.
  29. Matthew 10:36 See Mic. 7:6.
  30. Matthew 10:37 Or “is of no use to me.” The Hebrew Matthew is “I am not suitable for him.”
  31. Matthew 10:39 Or “Anyone who clings to his own life [soul, self, being].”
  32. Matthew 10:40 Justin Martyr (AD 165) cited this verse but translated it, possibly from an earlier manuscript, “He who hears me hears Him who sent me” (First Apology LXXXII).
  33. Matthew 10:41 Or “in the name of a prophet.” See 1 Kings 17:9-24; 2 Kings 4:9-37.
  34. Matthew 10:41 Or “in the name of a righteous person.”