This limitation fits the historic priority of Israel in salvation history (compare Rom 1:16; 2:9-10; 15:8-9), was practical (these disciples were not yet equipped to cross cultural boundaries) and would have undoubtedly not been objectionable to the first disciples themselves (compare Acts 10:28). Jesus did see a future hope for the Gentiles in the Scriptures (see comment on 8:11-12), but he limited his own mission primarily to Israel. In this text, however, Jesus' orders may address geography more than ethnicity (NIV mistranslates "way of Gentiles" as among the Gentiles); Jesus merely prohibits taking any of the roads leading to Hellenistic cities in Palestine (Manson 1979:179). Since Samaria and Gentile territories surrounded Galilee, Jesus' orders de facto limited his disciples' mission geographically, restricting their activity to Galilee (see Gundry 1982:185).
In contrast to other commandments in this chapter, however, Matthew indicates that Jesus later revokes this limitation (24:14; 28:19-20), specifically clarifying that this one command was a temporary measure during his earthly ministry. Indeed, by highlighting that the gospel's first recipients are Jewish, hence that even Jewish people may reject the kingdom and be treated as Gentiles (10:14-15), this limitation implies a supraethnic view of the kingdom that ultimately necessitates the Gentile mission.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
Upgrade to the best Bible Gateway experience! With Bible Gateway Plus, you gain instant access to a digital Bible study library, including complete notes from the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible and the New Bible Commentary. Try it free for 30 days!