The hearers would be judged by whether they embraced Christ's messengers. The missionaries were to use one home as their base of operations for evangelizing the community (10:11-12; compare Mk 6:10; Lk 10:7). They would find the home first by inquiring regarding who might hear their message (Mt 10:11), then by finding out if the household welcomed them to stay there (vv. 12-13). Greetings constituted an essential aspect of social etiquette in Mediterranean antiquity, and social convention dictated particular rules for how to greet persons of varying rank (23:7). But Jewish people also viewed their greetings as "wish-prayers": Shalom (salom), "peace," meant "May it be well with you." Just as a curse undeserved will not take effect (Prov 26:2), Jesus declares that the disciples' blessings will be efficacious only if they prove appropriate.
Those who received the agents of Christ ultimately received Christ himself (Mt 10:40-41), even if the only hospitality they had available to offer was a cup of water (v. 42). But those who rejected Christ's agents were to be treated like spiritual pagans (v. 14). Just as Jewish people returning to the Holy Land might shake the dust of Gentile lands from their feet, so Jesus' disciples were to treat those who rejected their message as unholy (Acts 13:51). God would treat these nations not merely like Gentiles in general, but worse than Sodom and Gomorrah (Mt 10:15), for they were rejecting a greater opportunity for repentance than Sodom had (11:23-24).
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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