Second Discourse: Discipleship (Matthew 10)

Second Discourse: Discipleship (Matthew 10)

The discourse on discipleship is a transition between the many stories of the harassed and destroyed sheep, restored by faith in Jesus, and the unexpected rejection of Jesus and his message by the religious leaders in Israel. Though these leaders reject Jesus as the Shepherd Israel needs, they are able to offer no substantive, alternative help to the distressed people of God. So Jesus, as Lord of the Harvest, begins to equip, delegate, and send his own workers into the harvest. He initiates his plan for expanding the Kingdom reality.

The Discourse on Discipleship – Matthew 10

Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 10 is bracketed by the reference to “his twelve disciples” (10:1; 11:1). As well they are identified as “the twelve apostles” (10:2), the only place where this term occurs in this Gospel. Their appointment and commission is a response to the prayer Jesus invites in 9:37-38. The twelve represent the first set of new workers prepared, empowered and sent by the Lord of the eschatological harvest into the fields (cf. 28:19-20). Many more will follow. Jesus’ action to summon the twelve expresses his role, I suggest, as the Lord of the harvest. The identification of the twelve as ‘workers’ is enhanced by the repetition of this term in 10:10 – “the worker is worthy of his nourishment.” Jesus will also emphasize that the harvest is a dangerous place. Note John’s use of harvest imagery in Matthew 3:12. The “works of the Messiah” (ta erga (τὰ ἔργα)) are expressed through his “workers” (hai ergatai (αἱ ἐργάται) 9:37-38).

Jesus has already called some of these people to be disciples. So this is not a call to discipleship, per se, but a pointed direction for their work as “apostles” in the kingdom. They become ‘apostles’, i.e. specific, authorized representatives, commissioned agents, of the Lord Jesus in the harvest. He empowers and authorizes them to do the same kind of Kingdom work as he does – heal the sick, exorcise demons, and proclaim the good news of the Kingdom (10:1, 7). This becomes Jesus’ explanation for what it means to “fish for people” (4:19). We continue to debate to what degree the authority that Jesus has given to the twelve apostles continues to be operative in the church today and if so, by whom and in what way.

Why twelve? Jesus mentions the twelve tribes of Israel and twelve thrones (19:28) that the apostles will occupy in the judgment. Are the apostles the foundation of the new people of God, the new Messianic community that Jesus is creating, i.e., the extension of what God initiated in Israel, but no longer ethnically bound? Or do they form the kernel of a restored Israel, but not a substitution for Israel?[1]

Matthew names the twelve and in this follows the familiar listing in Mark 3:13-19 and Luke 6:12-16. However, we note the following:

  • Matthew links Andrew directly with Peter, probably to create greater coherence with Matthew 4:18-19.[2] He says that Peter is ‘first.’ Whether this is as statement of chronological priority or another kind of priority is not defined. He follows them by naming James and John, the sons of Zebedee as in 4:20-22.
  • Matthew is identified as a ‘customs collector’ (ho telōvēs (ὁ τελώνης)), but this is not stated in the other Gospels. It connects us back to 9:9.
  • The other disciple named Simon is distinguished as “ho Kananaios (ὁ Καναναῖος).” This Greek expression transliterates an Aramaic qan’ān (ā’), which means “zealous one.” Luke renders this as ‘the zealot’ (zēlōtēs (ζηλωτὴς)) (Luke 6:15). This is probably too early in the first century to reference a specific political movement, and more likely reflects his piety (e.g., Phinehas and Elijah – Number 25:11; 1 Kings 18:40).
  • The last to be mentioned is Judas. The term “Iscariot” is explained variously, but probably refers to a place – the man from Iscarioth. There was a village of this name 12 miles south of Hebron. Matthew, as the other two Synoptic writers, notes his later involvement in the betrayal of Jesus.

Matthew takes up the discourse (v. 5) by noting that Jesus is addressing the twelve and giving them specific instructions. However, as we move into the discourse, its structure is not clear. Perhaps the three ‘amen’ sayings (vv. 15, 23, 42) mark the end of subsections within it. V. 16 seems to begin a new section (“Behold I am sending you…). If this is the case, then perhaps we have three segments:

  • 5-15 – initial authorization and instructions
  • 16-23 – warning about the dangers involved and assurance that when they are abused and arrested, they should not worry what to say. God’s Spirit will speak through them. The more extensive ministry considered – Kings and Gentiles and the persecution described — do not fit the period of Jesus’ ministry.
  • 24-42 – continued series of various warnings, with encouragement to remain loyal and with various comforts expressed.

Hagner sees parallel structures “involving repetition and symmetry of the type one would expect in material designed for memory and oral tradition,”[3] but fails to discern any macrostructure. It is difficult to distinguish between instructions that pertain to an immediate mission and those that extend beyond that initial work into the life of the church. Perhaps the initial section (5-15) focuses upon the immediate task, the second section is transitional, and the third section applies specifically to the mission beyond the resurrection (we have the same issue in Matthew 24-25). Carson argues that the real distinction between 5-16 and 17-42 is salvation historical. “There is implicit recognition that the two situations are not the same, but the first prepares for the second.”[4] Perhaps it is Jesus who “saw a continuing community that would grow under fire” and so prepares his followers for this future, even though they may not at that point have appreciated or understood the full sense of what he was describing.[5] If this is the case, then we have to see Matthew 10 as somewhat prophetic, i.e., Jesus foretelling how his community would grow and develop into the future. We should then consider this as we interpret his parables and other discourses. Is there a similar prophetic note and anticipation of the future messianic community expressed within them also (note the end of Matthew 7 and the entirety of chapter 18)?

Matthew never gives an account of the way this immediate mission was completed. Mark 6 contains both the commission and a short note of its completion. Luke records two commissions. The one in 9:1-6 corresponds to the sending of the twelve. 10:1-17 tells about the commissioning of the seventy-two. Some of the material in Matthew 10 is linked by Luke with the mission of the seventy-two. Perhaps Matthew has collapsed these two commissions into one discourse. Presuming that the twelve were included in the seventy-two, they would have received both sets of instructions.

Segment # 1 – 10:5-15

Jesus defines the scope of the mission first. The twelve are to take the message and its implications to “the lost (apolōlota (ἀπολωλότα))[6] sheep of the house of Israel.” This same expression occurs in 15:24 (cf. 18:14), defining Jesus’ mission in that context. Jesus may be borrowing this expression from the prophetic materials of Jeremiah 50:6 (LXX 27:6).[7] The comparison of Israel to sheep picks up Matthew’s comment in 9:36 – harassed and wasted (see also Matt. 18:12-14). In this sense they are ‘lost’, i.e., shepherdless, and thus in danger of destruction. Whom would he define within this group? Jesus concurrently tells his followers not to take this message to the Gentiles or the Samaritans[8]. One wonders why Jesus has to warn them against this. Perhaps it is a statement of priority, just as Paul keeps on saying – the gospel is for the Jew first, in terms of salvation history, because they are “lost.” We also note that this is consistent with Acts 1:8, but that God, after the resurrection and Pentecost makes the mission universal in scope. It may be that Jesus, conscious of the OT mandate for Israel to be a light to the nations, first sends his disciples to raise up a band of Israelite workers who will become the vanguard for the Messiah’s universal mission. While the response in chapters 11-12 is disappointing, the fact remains that it is Jewish Christians who carry the initial message to the Gentiles after Pentecost.

“As they go,”[9] Jesus orders them to proclaim the same message that he proclaims – “The Kingdom of Heaven is near.” What is not present is the command to repent. Is this assumed? Along with this message they are mandated to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons.” This is roughly the same list Jesus iterates to John’s disciples to demonstrate that he is the Messiah (11:5), reflecting the constellation of materials in Isaiah 29:18-19. As well, this reflects the range of miracles Jesus performed in chapters 8-9. What is not clear is whether the twelve exercised these powers. The one explicit occasion when someone asks them to heal or exorcise (17:14ff), they fail. On what occasions are they authorized to exercise these powers? Jesus rejects any hint that they might use these powers to gain personal benefit – monetary or otherwise.

The restrictions vary from Gospel to Gospel:


Matthew 10:9-10 Mark 6:8-11 Luke 9:1-4 Luke 10:4
Do not take anything for the way, except a rod (hrabdon (ῥάβδον) Do not take anything for the way
Do not take along gold, silver or copper in your belt Do not put copper in your belt Do not take silver Do not take a purse (ballantion (βαλλάντιον)
Do not take bread Do not take bread
Do not take a knapsack Do not take a knapsack Do not take a knapsack Do not take a knapsack
Do not take two tunics Do not wear two tunics Do not have [more than – textual issue] two tunics.
Do not take footwear (hupodēmata (ὑποδήματα) Wear sandals (sandalia (σανδάλια) Do not take footwear (ὑποδήματα)
Do not take a rod (ῥάβδον) Do not take a rod (ῥάβδον)


The order changes, but there is significant similarity. Matthew introduces these instructions with the verb ktēsēsthe (κτήσησθε) which means ‘acquire’ or ‘gain’. The two items that create some difficulty are the rod – Matthew/Luke forbid it, but Mark allows it; Matthew forbids footwear, but Mark allows sandals. Various ideas are put forward to explain the footwear discrepancy – Matthew forbids substantial footwear, but Mark allows sandals?  The matter of the purse is also interesting. Blomberg suggests that some of the discrepancies might be the result of condensing the two missions (the twelve and the seventy-two) into one account in Matthew. This might explain the footwear problem, but does not seem to deal with the rod issue.[10] Matthew ends with the promise that “the workman is worthy of his nourishment.” Is this designed to build confidence in God’s care(Matt. 6:25-34)? Who are the twelve working for? Will God be a poor employer?

However we resolve these things, the instructions indicate urgency and simplicity and require dependence upon God for provision. The twelve are required to practice the principles expressed in the SM – seek God’s righteousness and all these things – food, clothing, etc. (reflect on Mt. 6:31-34) – will be granted to you. Some have also drawn a linkage with the Passover requirements (Ex. 12-13). In some sense there is an eschatological urgency – Israel needs to be challenged to respond. It is the time for harvest, for the new Exodus, to begin. Whether these instructions should be used to guide churches in their payment of their leaders is debated. Paul clear perceives that the church resources its leaders so they are free to resource the body.

The last part of this segment focuses on the process the twelve should follow to conduct their work in a particular location. Matthew does not define “worthy” (axios (ἄξιος[11]) – v. 11, 13) whether it applies to the person or the household. However, they are to “discern who is worthy in it” (v.11). Perhaps it has to do with their receptivity – receiving you and hearing your words (v.14). Once the twelve have evaluated and determined suitability (cf. 7:6??), their blessing of peace can be given. In some sense their blessing brings Kingdom blessing into that household. They are not to move around lest they be tempted with a search for better lodgings and neglect their urgent mission. If the household decides to reject the twelve and their work, then a curse is expressed by “shaking off the dust from your feet” (v.14). You separate yourself from them in this dramatic way.[12]

Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19:24-28 become examples of cities destroyed because of God’s judgment upon their sinfulness. The comparison Jesus makes here indicates that rejecting Jesus and his messengers is far more serious than the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah. Perhaps Matthew is hinting at the severe prophecies of judgment that are coming in 23-25. The use of ‘amen’ heightens the seriousness of this rejection.

Second Segment – 10:16-23

Whether v.16 belongs to what precedes or introduces what follows can be debated. The use of the initial ‘behold’ (idou (ἰδοὺ)) followed by the first person emphatic pronoun and the verb “I am sending” would suggest to me that this is the beginning of a new segment. In the first segment (v. 5) he sends the twelve to care for the sheep of Israel. Now he reverses the image and warns the twelve that he is sending (v. 16) them as sheep to work among wolves. So we shift from the mandate of their mission, to warnings about the hostility they will experience in this and all future missions. While they may be vulnerable, they go with the Spirit. The wolf motif surfaced in 7:15 and referred there to false prophets.

Their best means to cope with this dangerous situation is “to be wise as serpents but to act with consistent integrity like doves.” The adjective akeraios (ἀκέραιος) means unmixed and we find it linked with wisdom in Romans 16:19. Jesus in v. 17 uses the broadest of warnings – be wary of people! – but then he explains why. In v. 21 he includes the closest relations a person has – brother, parent, child – as potential persecutors if they do not follow Jesus. The list of aggressive behaviours is quite horrendous – arrest, scourging, trial before magistrates and kings, and even execution (v. 21) – all of which he himself will soon experience. He summarizes their status by saying “you will be hated by all because of my name” (v. 22). Both Jews and Gentiles will engage in these hostilities. Jesus may be alluding to Micah 7:6 (“for a son dishonors a father, a daughter will rise up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, the enemies of a man are the men in his house” (NETS) διότι υἱὸς ἀτιμάζει πατέρα, θυγάτηρ ἐπαναστήσεται ἐπὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτῆς, νύμφη ἐπὶ τὴν πενθερὰν αὐτῆς, ἐχθροὶ άνδρὸς πάντες οἱ ἄνδρες οἱ ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ αὐτοῦ. This is a lament over the pervasive influence of evil. The only thing the godly can do is wait and watch for God to act.).

Jesus explains that it is the delegation of his mission to his followers that places them in this vulnerable situation. It is “for my sake” (cf. 5:11) that his followers will be led before the magistrates and kings. Jesus needs his witnesses in those courtrooms. It is the authority of Jesus that they represent which causes this animosity. Yet when the time comes for them to speak, Jesus assures them that “the Spirit of your Father” will speak through them. They should have no anxiety about their witness (vv. 19-20), neither how they will speak nor the content of their address. It is not a question of a carefully prepared legal defense or finding some clever way to extricate oneself from this danger. Rather it is a matter of presenting their confession and their confidence in the gospel. They will represent God – his apostles or sent ones.

References to the Holy Spirit are not common in Matthew. Along with 10:20, we have 1:18, 20; 3:16; 4:1; 12:18, 28(vv. 31,32) and 28:19. Presumably because Jesus is present, the personal presence of the Holy Spirit is not necessary. Once Jesus ascends, then the Spirit will become the necessary means by which God resides in his people and empowers them for mission. Most of the references to the Spirit are in relationship to Jesus and his ministry – his birth, his baptism, his temptation. In 12:18 Matthew quotes Isaiah 42:1-4 in which God promises to place his Spirit upon the Servant. At 12:28 Jesus claims that “if by the Spirit of God I am casting out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.” This connects with the warnings not to blaspheme the Spirit (12:31-32), as he works in Jesus. Finally, at 28:18-20 Jesus’ disciples are to baptize in the name of “the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” So 10:20 is quite singular in that it defines the involvement of the Father’s Spirit within them as they act as Jesus’ representatives. This idea is not repeated in Matthew 24, as it is found in Mark 13:9-10 (but it is not in Mark 6:8-12).

Over all this, stands the promise that “the one who endures to the end, this person shall be delivered” (v. 22). What is the end in view? Is it death by execution? Is it the end of the trial, with release? Is the end of the age?  Blomberg interprets it as “perseverance will bring eternal life.”[13] Since some believers are executed, ‘saved’ cannot refer to the preservation of physical life, in his view. As Jesus promises in v. 39, “the one who loses his life for my sake, shall find it.” “To the end” is a Greek idiom meaning “finally, totally, completely, entirely.” However, given Jesus’ use of the expression “to the end of the age” in 28:20, perhaps it is not being used in v. 22 idiomatically, but with the sense – the end of a period.

Finally, we have the difficult statement that Jesus gives in v.23 – an ‘amen’ saying.  The context is persecution and the response to this by Jesus’ followers. When they experience it in one city, they should move immediately to another city. Jesus then promises that “they will not finish the cities of Israel until the son of man comes.” Nolland interprets this to mean that Jesus’ followers will continue to find places of refuge until Jesus returns. “They will not have to abandon the Holy Land before they are relieved of their problem by the coming of the Son of Man.”[14] Carson argues that the “coming of the Son of Man” refers to the judgment that comes upon Israel in 70 CE. The urgency of the command hinges on this fact that the apostles of Jesus will not in fact finish the evangelistic task in Palestine before this event occurs. We will have to see whether other uses of the phrase “the coming of the Son of Man” can carry this significance. Perhaps 16:28 might be one such text. Blomberg sees Jesus prophesying “the perpetually incomplete Jewish mission, in keeping with Matthew’s emphasis on Israel’s obduracy. Christ will return before his followers have fully evangelized the Jews.”[15] However, Jesus prophecies that the Gospel will be proclaimed “in the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come.” (24:14). It is difficult to make Blomberg’s interpretation coherent with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24, in my view. Consider also texts that indicate that the Son of Man “has come,” e.g. 18:11; 20:28, as well as future perspectives, e.g. 25:31. Perhaps the best solution is to see this as a reference to the resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit. In my view it is designed to emphasize the urgency of this mission.

Some commentators struggle with the connection in this discourse between the apostolic mission and the use of language that otherwise occurs in the eschatological discourse (Matthew 24-25). However, if Jesus indeed is speaking prophetically in Matthew 24-25, then I would presume such is also the case in Matthew 10.

Section 3 – 10:24-42

We have discerned the instructions for the immediate mission (10:5-15) and then the warnings about persecution that reflect the Christian mission as it will continue into the post-resurrection period (10:16-23). This last section continues with instructions and warnings to the disciples, giving additional reasons why they are mistreated and reminding them of the reward that God will provide.

First, Jesus gives the rationale for this hostility. Jesus brings the language of discipleship and slavery together. Neither category should expect to be treated in a manner more grand than their teacher or master. It would be great if the disciple or slave were respected like the teacher/master. So if they call the head of the house (ho oikodespotēs (ὁ οἰκοδεσπότης)) “Beelzebul”,[16] his followers should expect the same treatment. Jesus may be referring to the Pharisees’ accusation in 9:34.

Given this reality, secondly Jesus commands his followers not to be afraid. This command is repeated in vv. 26, 28, 30. Each time Jesus provides an additional explanation why:

  1. There is coming a time when the motivations of every person’s heart will be revealed and the injustices God’s people have experienced will be dealt with (cf. 2 Thess. 1).
  2. These people can only go so far as to take physical life; they cannot alter your spiritual and eternal destiny. Your obedience is to God and him you must fear and reverence. With him is the power to cast us body and soul into ‘Gehenna’.
  3. God is looking out for the good of his people and he values each one. Jesus uses arguments similar to those found in 6:26-27. Though we are finite creatures, we have an infinite Creator who cares for us.

The final section (vv. 32-42) seems to come back to a theme expressed in the SM, namely the importance of giving allegiance to Jesus. The principle is expressed in vv. 32-33 – admitting that you belong to Jesus “before people,” enables Jesus to acknowledge such a person as his “before my Father who is in heaven.” If we are loyal to Jesus, he remains loyal to us. Repudiating Jesus, however, results in Jesus repudiating us, just as he does in 7:21-23. Because we know already that Jesus is God’s “beloved son in whom he is well pleased,” we know that God will listen to and heed Jesus’ endorsement.

Although God’s blessing rests upon the peace-makers, Jesus tells us that he has not come to force people to make a decision – “I have not come to cast peace on the earth, but a sword. For I have come to cause separation/sow discord” (literally divide in two)….” Here again we have Jesus’ intentionality emphasized. This is central to his mission. He seems to reference Micah 7:6 again in this passage, which is a word of judgment against Israel because her leaders have refused to honour God. The word “members of his own household” (oikiakoi (οἰκιακοὶ)) is also used in v. 25. Such a teaching would cause considerable consternation within Hellenistic households and cities who considered those who created such instability as subversives and would go so far as to ban such religions, exiling their followers. Note the word play between oikodespotēn…oikiakous (οἰκοδεσπότην…οἰκιακοὺς).

  1. 37 is one of Jesus’ most difficult sayings. On the face of it Jesus seems to be contradicting the command to honour one’s parents or the general parental mandate to care for children. In some ways it parallels Jesus’ advice to the would-be disciple who requests opportunity to bury his father (8:21-22). The key to understanding Jesus’ intent lies in two directions:
  2. the recognition that all human relations are inconsistent and finite, and should not get in the way of a person’s relationship with God;
  3. the place that Jesus demands in the life of his followers is first place. Not even parents should receive a love that is greater than that given to Jesus (huper eme (ὑπὲρ ἐμέ)).

Jesus requires people to choose the person or thing to which they will give absolute loyalty. God brooks no competitors – neither will Jesus.

Three times in vv. 37-38 Jesus defines those who are deserving of him (mou axios (μου ἄξιος)) – those who do not love parents, who do not love children, who do not love life more than they love Jesus. He requires people to respond to what God is doing in and through him right now. While we, living this side of the crucifixion, see Jesus’ words about “taking up his cross” as reflecting Jesus’ own death, his disciples at this point have no clue about this. We have to interpret Jesus’ words as referencing the common mode of Roman execution that serious criminals and political subversives would experience. Carrying a cross indicates that the sentence has been given and execution is about to occur. There is no turning back. To follow Jesus requires the willingness to suffer such a shameful and painful death and expose oneself to danger. Some might even hear this as a call to military action against the Romans. The disciples of Jesus will run the risk of losing their place in things, no longer considered to be part of society, but rather outcasts. In v. 39 Jesus describes this as “losing one’s life on account of me.” Yet Jesus promises that those who dare to make this choice will in fact ‘find life’ – eternal life.[17] It is possible to see how words of Jesus like these might lead his followers to think that as Messiah he would lead a revolt against Rome.

We might consider how Jesus’ instruction to the twelve to go to the “lost (ta apolōlota (τὰ ἀπολωλότα)) sheep of the house of Israel” relates to his final word in this discourse that “the one who loses (apolesas (ἀπολέσας)) his life on account of me will find it” (v.39). Followers of Jesus are “lost people” but in an entirely different sense from “lost Israel.”

Finally, Jesus ends his discourse (vv. 40-42) by indicating that another proper response to him is in accepting and helping those who represent him. Receiving Jesus’ representatives means that a person is honouring Jesus, as well as God Who sent him. Such hospitality demonstrates that they are righteous. Jesus had mentioned the parallel between the suffering of prophets and the suffering of his followers in 5:12. Now he also draws the parallel of reward. Even those whose discipleship is modest (the least) and who serve[18] such a person because he or she is a disciple, they will receive a reward from Jesus. (cf. 18:1-6 – the inversion that exists in the Kingdom). Perhaps here Jesus anticipates his claim that the least in the kingdom are greater than John the Baptist.

11:1 marks the end of this second discourse. His speech is described as “directing, ordering” (diatassōn (διατάσσων)[19] and with specific focus on “his twelve disciples.” However, he continues to “teach and proclaim in their cities.” The antecedent of ‘their’ is the twelve. Perhaps this hints at the initiation of their mission.

[1] Is this an indication that in Jesus God is starting fresh in the formation of his people? Several times in Exodus and Numbers, because of Israel’s rebellion, God threatens to eliminate them and create a “great nation” directly through Moses, i.e., to start over.

[2] Nolland, Matthew, acknowledges the verbal similarities with 4:18 (p.411).

[3] Hagner, Matthew 1-13, 269.

[4] Carson, Matthew, p.243.

[5] In the OT prophecies, we have this same situation, where a prophecy applies initially to that timeframe, but then also incorporates within it significance for events are far distant (i.e., the Messianic implications of Isaiah 7 and the virgin birth).

[6] What sense does this verb carry here? It can mean perished, ruined, lost. The perfect participle is noteworthy, in the active voice, defining a current condition.

[7] Jeremiah LXX 27:6 πρόβατα ἀπολωλότα ἐγενήθη ὁ λαός μου, οἱ ποιμένες αὐτῶν ἐξῶσαν αὐτούς,…. “My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds thrust them out, [they caused them to wander on the mountains,…all that found them consumed them.].” In 27:17 Jeremiah describes Israel as πρόβατον πλανώμενον – a wandering sheep. Note how Peter picks up the image of wandering sheep in 2:25, but this imagery probably comes more directly from his use of Isaiah 53.

[8] This is the only mention of the Samaritans in Matthew’s Gospel.

[9] This (πορευόμενοι δὲ κηρύσσετε) is the same structure and language used in Matthew 28:19 – πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε. However, NIV renders 10:7 “As you go, preach” and 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples”. I am not sure the imperative captures the essential relationship between the aorist participle and the imperative in 28:19.

[10] B. Ahern, “Staff or No Staff?” CBQ 5(1943): 332-37. Perhaps the resolution is to be found in the different verbs that Matthew and Mark use. In Matthew, the disciples are not to “acquire a staff,” i.e., to purchase anything additional, and in Mark the disciples are to take anything except a staff that they already possess. Another possibility is that the noun ῥάβδον is being used to refer to two different kinds of implements: a walking stick; a heavy club or staff. However, this second explanation seems less likely.

[11] There is a high concentration of this term in Mt. 10 (7x, particularly in vv. 10-13, 37-38) with only two other uses in 3:8; 22:8. Why is this?

[12] The number of key words beginning with epsilon in these verses (11-14) is perhaps noteworthy. There may be a play on the words eksetazō (ἐξετάζω 11) and ektinazō (ἐκτινάζω 14 “to shake off”). The verb eksetazō (ἐξετάζω) means “to inquire, judicially investigate.” Note its use in Mt. 2:8.

[13] Blomberg, p. 175.

[14] Nolland, p. 427.

[15] Blomberg, p. 176.

[16] This probably means “Lord of the High Abode”.

[17] This statement must have been an incredible impact on Jesus’ followers because it is his most quoted saying – Matthew 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:33; John 12:25.

[18] A “cup of cold water” is considered a minimal act of mercy (Nolland, 446) in Test. Isaac. 6:21.

[19] This word only occurs here in the NT.