MATTHEW 10:1-23  




Matthew 10:1-23

This is one of the key passages for establishing the fact that when Jesus taught His disciples, He was instructing them as ones who would be His representatives throughout the coming age after His resurrection and that those instructions are pertinent to the church right up until the second coming of the Son of Man.

This was taught by Jesus in late 28 AD or early 29 AD. It was before the death of John the Baptizer, which occurred not too much before the Passover of 29 AD. Mat. 11:2; 14:1-14ff; John 3:24; 5:33; 6:1-13.
Some of this information was repeated later in the Olivet Discourse, a few days before Christ's crucifixion in 30 AD. We can conclude then, that some things were taught on at least two different occasions.
1. Matthew 10:21-23 and 24:9-14
2. Luke 12:11-12 and 21:12-19

Jesus chose his disciples not only to assist him in his pre-cross evangelistic ministry, but also to be the foundation builders for the new evangelistic agency, the church. As foundation builders, the disciples were recipients of information pertinent and vital to the church. Jesus did not teach his disciples as members of the nation of Israel, who would remain in the dispensation of Israel, but as those who were to be leaders in the new priestly body.

Jesus told the disciples that they would have a ministry to the cities of Israel (and perhaps by application, to the Jewish people as a whole) for an extended period of time without interruption. The disciples and by extension, the evangelistic outreach of the church, will not be finished with the commission that Jesus gave to them until a specific point in the future.
That commission INCLUDES not only the cities of Israel, but unto the uttermost parts of the earth.

The information He taught them was pertinent to their lives when it was taught and pertinent to their lives after Jesus ascended and the church began. It was indeed information for them and for all those who would believe in Christ through them. It was for the church and for those who would live within the time parameters of the church extending from its inception in 30 AD to "the end of the age" (Mat. 28:20) when Jesus will return and gather his elect out from the world through resurrection.

Mat. 28:19-20, Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This "end of the age" is the same end of the age that Jesus taught about a few days earlier at Mat. 24 that would occur with His arrival in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.


Everything that Jesus taught, not only to the disciples, but also to the people, was designed to reflect the Divine Value System and how God's people were to live on the earth. Since He was teaching Jews in the context of the national priesthood of Israel (See topic: Dispensations), some of what was said, related to the temple and Mosaic policy, but only what was specifically mentioned as such. Everything else would be standard operating procedure for God's people after Jesus left the earth and He began to build His church upon the foundation of the disciples.

This includes the information of the Sermon on the Mount as well as the Olivet Discourse. Jesus taught in anticipation of the church age; NOT in anticipation of an earthly physical kingdom (11 apostles + Paul).


We first need to acknowledge the idea that the gospel writers record only PORTIONS of what Jesus taught (John 20:30; 21:25) and not even COMPLETE messages. This helps us divide the information that was taught into various categories.
Here at Matthew 10, for example, it should be clear that Jesus taught the disciples things about their ministry from that moment in 29 AD until the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD (verses 16-20). We know this because of the reference to the authority that the SYNAGOGUES had to prosecute violators of their religious standards. This authority they no longer had after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
Then at verses 10:21-22, there is a distinct change in focus that applies the information to the period extending from 70 AD until the SECOND COMING.
"For you shall not finish with the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes."

Second, we need to recognize that the information Jesus taught is not recorded in the same chronological order by the other gospel writers. It thus, becomes difficult to correlate all the information into one continuing narrative.
Basically what we are dealing with is teaching that was given within the time frame of late 28 AD until the Passover of 29 AD, but some of it was repeated in the Olivet Discourse.

Third, we should notice the fact that the teaching here at Matthew 10:17-22, occurs in similar language at Matthew 24:9-14, and at Luke 12:11-12 and 21:12-19.
Matthew's account indicates that the same information was taught at different times. But Luke's account does not reflect this because his record is not chronological as is Matthew's.

Matthew's record is based on FIRST HAND knowledge, as he was personally present during the teaching. It is more reasonable to view his account as chronologically accurate. The records of Mark and Luke are based on second hand knowledge, as they received their information from others. This lends itself to chronological inaccuracy, which is exactly what has happened.
This has occurred in Luke's record despite his lofty intentions stated at Luke 1:1-4. Those intentions apply to the birth of Christ and the general outline of His ministry within the context of contemporary men and dates; Augustus, Quirinius, Tiberius, Pilate, Herod, Philip, Lysanias, Annas and Caiaphas.

But when it comes to the teaching of Jesus, and various events throughout his ministry, Luke records the CONTENT of what Jesus taught, without always preserving the same chronological flow that Matthew does. This can be seen by comparison with John's gospel as well.
This does not affect the doctrine of inspiration. The CONTENT is accurate. The fact that chronological precision is not preserved is obvious, and is not crucial to the preservation of TRUTH.
Matthew's ORDER should be followed, with Mark agreeing with that order for the most part.


In my opinion, the content of Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 17:22-37, and Luke 21 should all be placed within the context of one message, even though the information was probably taught on more than one occasion.
I believe that Luke has taken snippets of the Olivet Discourse and has placed them in Luke 12 and 17, but careful analysis shows us that there is no connection in that placement to the surrounding context of Luke's narrative.

Although there were multiple teaching sessions on the same subject matter, as already observed by comparing Matthew 10:17-22 with Matthew 24:9-14, the flow of the content, and the occurrence of key chronological words, within the pertinent passages of the three Synoptic Gospels, indicate that what we know as The Olivet Discourse, did contain ALL of the information that is found in the respective Olivet chapters of Matthew, Mark and Luke. None of the writers recorded the entire discourse, but all of what was recorded in the respective chapters was taught by Jesus in the same discourse given to the disciples on the Mount of Olives.

Matthew does not record the entirety of the Olivet Discourse for his focus is not on the specific time frame of 30 to 70 AD, but the time frame from 70 AD until His second coming, and the END TIMES beginning with the tribulation.

Luke on the other hand, places greater emphasis on the 30 to 70 AD time frame before he records the END TIMES information, and then, does not even mention the tribulation, and gives little attention to the rapture. However, as mentioned above, he did record the SAME rapture information as occurs in Matthew 24, but he records it in chapter 17:22-37.
He also records the teaching about the persecution between 30 and 70 AD, at chapter 12:11-12. And Matthew's Olivet parables, Luke records at 12:35-48.
It truly seems that Luke has mostly just recorded various FACTS and simple snippets of Christ's ministry, without putting them in any chronological order.

So in the end, I am compelled to place Luke's record of 21:12-24 within the same discourse that Matthew records because of the flow of the language at verse 12, "But before all these things." This requires a natural transition from "the beginning of birth pangs" which are described almost word for word by all three gospel writers, even though Luke does not use that term. If it were not for this connection, "before all these things," then the theory that it is a different discourse might be viable.
Furthermore, I see no indication that there are two separate locations involved with this discourse. The "baited" statement of Jesus at Matthew 24:2, Mark 13:2 and Luke 21:6 was given on the way out of the temple area. But the questions of the disciples were not asked until later when they were on the mountain (Mat. 24:3; Mark 13:3). Luke does not state WHEN the questions are asked, just that they WERE asked. Since the information before and after the "70 AD" section is basically the same, there is no reason to think that it comes from a different discourse.

Mark incorporates some of the pre-70 AD instruction, as can be seen at chapter 13:9-11. He MIXES both time periods within his record, as Luke does, without giving the key chronological designation of Luke 21:12, "before all these things," and without mentioning specifically the impending fall of Jerusalem.
What we must do is apply the obvious transitional style of Jesus that is shown to us here in Matthew 10, even though it is not so obvious in the other gospels.
That transition will be seen in more detail when we get to verse 23. There without any "warning" (if that is the right term), Jesus JUMPS from an early church context to an END-TIMES context, "you shall not finish with the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes."

Jesus taught this information in both an historical context, covering the period from 29 AD to 70 AD, and in an END-TIMES context, covering the period of the future tribulation, and then brings his disciples right up to the second coming. Only through careful observance of key chronological language can we keep the two time periods separate.
More details will be provided in the commentary on Matthew 24.


We begin then at the official commission of the 12 disciples.

Matthew 10:1-4 And having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

Here Jesus organizes His disciples and initiates them into the role of ambassadors for Christ who will represent God's kingdom on the earth.

God's kingdom refers to the authority and viewpoint of God. Its promotion is first through salvation (entrance into the kingdom) and then quality of life (Living kingdom viewpoint in every area of life) and finally, service (proclaiming kingdom viewpoint to others).
See Topic: The Kingdom of God

Matt. 10:5-6, These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them, saying, "Do not go in {the} way of {the} Gentiles, and do not enter {any} city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

The initial commission involves a short tour through the cities of Judah (probably only a few weeks) representing the message of the Messiah to the cities and people they visit. Luke 9:1-6 records the same event and at Luke 9:10 (Mark 6:30), they returned from this short tour and told Jesus all that had happened. This special ministry of The Twelve was a one time event only. After this, they remained with Him until the crucifixion.

Luke 10:1-20 records the fact that later, probably late in 29 AD (Luke 13:22), Jesus also commissioned "70 others" to carry out the same ministry to the cities that He intended to visit Himself. This should be viewed as an extension of the initial commission and not really a different ministry. This too, was only a one time ministry as it was preparation for his final announcement to the nation that He was the Messiah.

However, in His instructions we find guidelines for believers during the church age in general, and specifically to the various kinds and degrees of tribulation (pressure and persecution) that the church will encounter right up until she is removed at Christ's 2nd coming (Acts 14:22). This is seen at verses 21-23.


Matt. 10:7, "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'

The basic message they are to carry is the gospel. Matthew records it as proclaiming that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Luke records it as "the kingdom of God." But at Luke 9:6, it is described as "proclaiming the gospel." Mark 6:12 records it as telling "men that they should repent."

All of this conforms with the message John the baptizer was teaching as well as what Jesus Himself was teaching, that men needed to change their minds about God and believe the gospel (the good news about the kingdom of God) which involved deliverance from sin and possession of everlasting life.


It was not a message that Messiah was going to set up His earthly kingdom. It was an issue of identification with the kingdom of God by faith in the Messiah as the "Lamb of God who lifts up the sin of the world," (Mark 1:15; John 1:29; Acts 19:4).

In addition, there is no difference between the terms kingdom of God and kingdom of heaven (or more accurately, "the heavens"). They are used interchangeably, not only in the gospel narratives, but by Jesus Himself (Mat. 19:23-24).

The message of salvation through faith in the Messiah and then "living" the quality of life which can only be found in Christ, IS the message of the kingdom of God.

This is the same message which continued to be proclaimed by the apostles after the resurrection of Jesus as the true message of the church. (Mat. 21:43; Acts 1:3; 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 28:23, 31; Rom. 14:17; Col. 4:11; 2Ths. 1:5).

The church will be the evangelistic agency to take the gospel to those throughout Palestine and the rest of the world (Ac 1:8) AND the CHURCH will do this from the day of Pentecost in 30 AD - into the tribulation (which will begin at the midpoint of Daniel's 70th week) UNTIL Jesus returns (which is exactly what Jesus said at Mt. 10:23, "until the Son of man comes") immediately after the tribulation is cut short at an unknown day and hour from its EXPECTED duration of 3 1/2 years (Mt. 24:22, 29-31). It will be the job of the disciples (and those who believe after them) to take the gospel of the kingdom that Jesus taught to them after His resurrection (Ac 1:3, Jesus "speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God"). It is the same GOSPEL of the kingdom of God that Philip proclaimed at Ac 8:12 (they believed Philip PROCLAIMING (eunaglidzomai - to proclaim good news). It is the same message proclaimed by Paul to the Ephesians, "reasoning and persuading about the kingdom of God" (Ac 19:8), and that he proclaimed at Ac 20:25,
"among whom I went about proclaiming the kingdom," and at 28:23, "testifying about the kingdom of God," and at 28:31, "proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ."


The message of the kingdom embraces everything from initial entrance through a spiritual birth (John 3:3-5); to the way of life for believers here on earth (Rom. 14:17); to the actual presence "in heaven," (Acts 14:22; 1Cor. 4:20; 1Cor. 6:9-10; 1Cor. 15:50; Gal. 5:21); to the manifestation of a heavenly kingdom fulfillment when Jesus returns (Luke 9:27; Mat. 16:28; Mark 14:25; Eph. 1:14; Rom. 8:18-25). However, it does not include teaching about the earthly kingdom promised to David.

The message is universal to all ages because it focuses on the salvation work of the Messiah, which is either anticipated by those who trust in Him prior to His death, or it is reviewed by those who trust in him after His resurrection.

Matt. 10:8, "Heal {the} sick, raise {the} dead, cleanse {the} lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give.

Miracle activity was a sign of the Messianic presence, and the disciples as Messiah's representatives were successful in demonstrating these signs (Luke 9:6; 10:17).

The miracle activity performed by both Jesus and His disciples, constitute the signs of the Messianic presence and the arrival of God's kingdom authority and viewpoint upon the earth in the person of the Messiah. It is not referring to the physical kingdom, but the spiritual kingdom as Jesus explained at Luke 17:20-21.

Jesus explains this at Matthew 11:2-5 when He assures John the baptizer that the miracles are truly indicative of the Messianic presence, just as prophesied by Isaiah at Isaiah 35:5.

Isaiah 35:5 refers to the Messianic presence in His physical kingdom after the defeat of Israel's enemies in connection with the Armageddon campaign (verse 4). However, the same miracle activity that will produce physical healing in the kingdom, is indicative of Messiah's presence at His first coming.

Once the church age begins, this same miracle ministry will be continued by the apostles in order to validate the authority and doctrines that they receive from the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:19-20; Heb. 2:3-4).

Verses 9-15 refers specifically to this "specialized" ministry of the disciples at this time and does NOT refer to a standard operating procedure for the church age.

Verses 9-10
"Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for {your} journey, or even two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support.

The principle that "the worker is worthy of his support" is a valid principle that remains intact during the church age as a means of providing material assistance to those who proclaim the gospel. (1 Cor. 9:6-18)

However, this instruction is for this particular campaign upon which the disciples are sent at this time and is not designed to apply to spiritual service in general. Just before His arrest, Jesus gave some general instruction concerning their material needs, recorded at Luke 22:35-36.

And He said to them, "When I sent you out without purse and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?" And they said, "{No,} nothing." And He said to them, "But now, let him who has a purse take it along, likewise also a bag, and let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one.

This anticipates an ambassador type function, where the server is seen as a foreign sojourner in a different land than his own. The physical provisions of the ambassador are the responsibility of the ambassador and not the citizenry of the land he is visiting. He certainly must continue to trust in God, but now that trust has a different focus. We are to trust in God to meet our needs as we abide by the economic laws of the land in which we live. And yet, the principle of receiving assistance from the ones who are served remains valid throughout the church age. During both the foundation stage of the church and during its continued presence on the earth, there will be servants of the church who are stationary in their geographical location and will need a more stable financial base than the charity of others. Even Paul, when he was in a particular location for any length of time would provide for his own needs through tent making, and thus have a degree of material security without placing any kind of burden upon others.

See Doctrine of GIVING

Jesus also mentioned at Luke 22:36, "Let him who has no sword, sell his robe and buy one." The disciples said that they had two swords, and Jesus told them that it was enough. The swords serve to suggest a criminal association as the reference to the Old Testament indicates at verse 37, "he was numbered with the transgressors." Christ's intent is not that the swords should be used PHYSICALLY for defense, as it clear from Luke 22:49-51, John 18:10-11 and Matthew 26:51-54. The presence of the swords can also be symbolic of the spiritual conflict that moves into an intensified stage once Jesus accomplishes his strategic victory on the cross.

Verse 11
"And into whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it; and abide there until you go away.

Upon entering each city, they were to look for a household where the head of the house was a believer (called a son of peace at Luke 10:6).

They were to find this house by inquiring in the city about those who were worthy. The issue of worthiness here is positive volition toward the Messianic promise, which is described by terms such as, "looking for the encouragement of Israel" (Luke 2:25), and "looking for the redemption of Jerusalem" (Luke 2:38), and "waiting for the kingdom of God" (Mark 15:43). These are those who may or may not have become believers, but are positive to the teachings of the Old Testament that anticipate the arrival of the Messiah as the source of both personal and national salvation for Israel, and their faith in God would be known by many within the city. These would be most receptive to the gospel of the kingdom and serve as a base of operations for reaching others within the city.

Verses 12-13
"And as you enter the house, give it your greeting. "And if the house is worthy, let your {greeting of} peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your {greeting of} peace return to you.

As they learned of a household that was known to be worthy (positive to the Messianic promises), they would extend an invitation of peace to them; a desire that they might experience the peace and comfort of relationship with God, and then proclaim to them the gospel of Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah/savior. If the head of the household was indeed worthy and accepted the gospel of the kingdom (called "a son of peace" at Luke 10:6), then the disciples were to stay there and use that household as a base of operations for taking the gospel to the rest of the city (Luke 10:7)

If the household rejected the gospel, then the disciples would verbally retract the desire for them to have peace, since it would be impossible for them to experience that peace if they reject the gospel, and they would then ceremonially reject them by the ritual of shaking off the dust from one's shoes.

Verse 14
"And whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake off the dust of your feet.

There are no recorded examples of this practice in the gospels, but we do see the apostles practicing it at Acts 13:51, and a similar ritual at Acts 18:6 (shaking out the garment).

Verse 15
"Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for {the} land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.

If the city as a whole rejected the message of the gospel, then the disciples were to leave it in the same manner (shaking off the dust) but also add a formal indictment using the formula of "woe is you," and then compare that city to Sodom and Gomorrah and to Tyre and Sidon (Luke 10:10-15).

The idea of "more tolerable" introduces the theory of degrees of punishment for the unbeliever, suggesting that the unbelievers of Christ's time will be more severely judged than those people of the Old Testament. However, the teaching here is NOT about degrees of punishment in the lake of fire, but of a more severe indictment at the judgment seat of God. The Jews, the chosen people of God, of Christ's time receive a more severe rebuke because they were witnesses of his presence and his works (the Messianic miracles). The verbal comparison, at this juncture in their life, between the Jews and the infamous Gentiles of the past is a harsh rebuke and serves as a final attempt to shock the soul of these people into a reconsideration of what they are doing. The idea of degrees of punishment is further advocated based on the parable of the stewards at Luke 12:41-48, where one category receives many lashes and the other category receives fewer. However, this too refers only to the initial indictment and does not correspond with the ultimate destiny of the unbeliever. The ultimate destiny is represented by the phrase, "cut them in two and shall assign to them a place with the unbelievers (hypocrites in the parallel passage at Matthew 24:51), where there is no difference in location or experience. The term, "cut them in two" (dichotomeō) is only used in these two passages and seems to refer to a death sentence, although this idea seems inconsistent with any need to assign them to the place of the hypocrite. We must remember that in the parables, there is no item for item correlation between the details of the parable and the main spiritual truth that the parable is teaching. In other words, we are not to find a spiritual truth for every single detail related in the parable. The purpose of the parable is to tell a story that is compatible with normal life activities and then draw one or two spiritual lessons from the primary focus in the story. So it is with this parable. The unfaithful servant is the unbeliever who fails to follow the design of his master (The Creator and Redeemer) and instead persecutes those who have followed God. The result is destruction and an existence in the place of the unbeliever for all eternity. If anything can be made of the two different degrees of lashes received, it is related to the initial punishment only and not to the ultimate disposition to the place of the unbeliever (the lake of fire, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth).

The commission that Jesus gives to the disciples at this time, extends beyond them as the foundation layers of the church, which He will build upon Himself (Matthew 16:18), and reaches to that church as it will exist and function from its inception on the Day of Pentecost until its removal at the 2nd coming of the Son of Man.

The parameters for the instruction that Jesus gives to His people is always from the time of the teaching until Jesus comes back - and He always has in view ONE COMING, at which time he will gather together His elect and begin a judgment upon the world of unbelievers who remain behind.

There are however three distinct periods of time for God's people, when this teaching will be applicable.

1. During the time of Christ's presence on the earth (Matthew 10:5-7; Luke 9:1-6; 10:1-3, 17).

2. After the resurrection and up to the time of the tribulation persecution from the man of lawlessness (the beast of Revelation 13).

3. And during that time of tribulation persecution by the beast up until Christ returns at the Day of the Lord and rescues the living believers from the affliction of that time period (2 Thes. 1:6-10).

Accordingly, Jesus gives instructions about the immediate tour on which He sends them; instructions about their ministry after the resurrection which pertains specifically to them; and instructions for that same period of time, which actually goes beyond them and pertains to the generations of the church which will come after them and concludes with that generation that will be alive at the 2nd coming.

We know this because of verse 23 -

"You (the people of the church who minister to Israel during the tribulation) shall not finish with the cities of Judah until the Son of Man comes."

The present ministry of the disciples obviously did not extend up until the return of Christ. The ministry of the apostles prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD was focused on the cities of Israel, and although the events of the end times COULD have taken place in that 70 AD context, they did not. After 70 AD, the focus on Israel was deemphasized and we see an "unto the uttermost parts of the earth" focus. This will be the case until the 70th week begins, for at that time, even the world focus will be more on Israel than it has been since 70 AD. However, it is important to suggest that the events leading up to the beginning of the 70th week could occur in any generation after 70 AD. Yes, Israel had to be back in the land, but that could have occurred at any time in history. Every generation has viewed itself as a possible context for the return of the Lord, and each generation has claimed that world events were ripe for such a return. But each subsequent generation has added factors so that it can be said that each one progressed ever more closer to the fulfillment of the prophecies. The present generation of this writing (2000 AD) is witness to international, political, military, religious and moral factors that so completely lay the foundation for the commencement of the 70th week of Daniel like no other time in history except the first century, that it is hard to imagine much more of a delay in God's plan, "which He will manifest at His own time," (1 Timothy 6:15, BFT). However, at the same time, let it be acknowledged that delay is still possible, and every believer is exhorted to diligence and patience in anticipation of the Lord's return (James 5:7-8; 2 Peter 3:10-18).

Matthew 10:16 "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves.

1. wise as serpents: basically means "don't be stupid"
The Greek is phronimos and means: sensible, thoughtful, prudent, wise.

It is telling us not to operate from our emotions but use the mind that God gave us to understand and relate to the world around us. Kind of like - "know your enemy."
It does not mean SNEAKY and deceptive, but it means EFFICIENT in your pursuit of your prey. Our "prey" is the unbeliever - and we need to be EFFICIENT so that we maximize our time and efforts in order to reach them with the gospel.
Like at Colossians 4:6, Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, {as it were,} with salt, so that you may KNOW how you should respond to each person.

2. harmless as doves: the Greek word is akeraios and it means, unmixed or pure in motive. The idea of unmixed speaks of no infiltration of human viewpoint and evil into ones thought process so that so that his "Christian" motives are not compromised.

Motives, of course, that are based on Divine love controlling the soul. It thus does no harm to others but actively seeks that which is beneficial to the other person. And in this context, again, we are seeing how we would "pursue" the unbeliever . In the same manner that God loves and want what is best for them, so we should love and seek what is best for them.

In other words, in representing the plan of God in this world, we do not compromise the Divine value system of humility, righteousness and love with the value system of darkness. We do not allow evil to become part of our modus operendi, but ALWAYS operate on love (Rom. 13:8-10), and "overcome the evil with the good," (Rom. 12:21).

Paul says the same thing at Rom. 16:19, "but I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil."

Here, the word "wise" is sophos and corresponds with phronimos at Mat. 10:16.
In the Greek, this says wise in reference to THE good. THE good is that which reflects the divine value system and the divine purpose that comes from that value system.

The word innocent is the same word that is at Mat. 10;16, akeraios, which means unmixed.

And UNMIXED in reference to THE evil indicates again, no compromise of the divine value system. In other words, the end NEVER justifies the means. And we do not use "worldly," human viewpoint techniques for either the ambassadorship job we have to do, or for handling any pressures and difficulties in life.

We are in a spiritual conflict and the weapons of our warfare are spiritual rather than physical. It is true that the enemy will incorporate physical factors in his strategies against us, but we must never employ the same devices in either our defense or offense against the forces of this darkness (Ephesians 6:10-17; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

During the time that the disciples were to fulfill the evangelistic commision given to them, Jesus stated that the they would be the recipients of great persecution.

Matt. 10:17
"But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to {the} courts, and scourge you in their synagogues;

This is a valid concern for the representatives of the Messiah, but it was not an issue prior to the crucifixion, at least there is no mention of such persecution during that time. It did not become a problem until after the resurrection and the beginning of the church age. The reference to synagogues refers to the persecution from Jews which would take place between 30 and 70 AD, and can be summarized by what Saul did as recorded at Acts 22:19, "in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believed," and Acts 26:11, "and as I punished them often in all the synagogues."

Verse 10:18
"and you shall even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles."

This type of persecution also did not occur during the ministry while Christ was on the earth, but would happen after the resurrection and indeed, throughout the whole church age period until the rapture of the church at the Day of the Lord return of Jesus.

This prophecy was specifically fulfilled in the first century.
The book of Acts records the history of this prior to 63 AD. Acts 4:1-3; 8:1; 12:1-3; 14:4-5.
And Paul summarized the principle at Acts 14:22, "through many tribulations we are to enter the kingdom of God."
Entering the kingdom of God is the transition from our earthly salvation status IN the kingdom (John 3:3-5; Mat. 18:1-6; 19:14) to the heavenly status in the kingdom that is face to face with the Lord. (2Tim. 4:18).
This will occur either at the point of physical death (2Cor. 5:8) or at the gathering of the elect; the rapture (1Thes. 4:13-17).

And as Jesus said at Mat. 28:20, "behold, I am with you even to the end of the age."
The "end of the age" will commence with the return of Jesus in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory (Titus 2:13). It is at this time that He will use the angels to gather HIS elect "out from the farthest end of the earth TO the farthest end of the sky." (Mark 13:27).
It is an event that will occur AFTER the tribulation of those days and be preceded by cosmic signs in the sun, moon and stars (Mat. 24:29-31).

The coming of Jesus at the end of the age (Mat. 24:29-31; 28:19-20) to gather HIS elect (1 Thes. 4:13-17; 2Thes. 2:6-10; Mat. 24:31) is NOT imminent.
It must be preceded by the evangelistic outreach to the whole world and specifically the cities of Israel.
This ministry of the church will not be FINISHED until He comes.
When He comes, He will remove the church from the earth via the rapture and this will automatically bring to an end THEIR ministry to the cities of Judah. Mat. 10:23,
"Now whenever they persecute in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish with the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes." (BFT)


Verses 10:19-20
"But when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you will speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what you are to speak. "For it is not you who speak, but {it is} the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

This refers to the ministry of the Holy Spirit specifically to the believers of the apostolic church, which provides an "inspiration" type message for those who encounter this persecution. This does not mean that the believer is to neglect his spiritual growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, but what it does mean is that for the trusting believer, there need be no occasion for worry nor preparation of a formal statement of defense. God the Holy Spirit will so work in the believer's soul that the truth he has learned will be brought to the mind and the Holy Spirit will speak through him to meet the needs of the moment.

Luke mentions this teaching from Jesus twice, which indicates that He probably taught it to the disciples on more than one occasion.

At Luke 12:11-12

"And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not become anxious about how or what you should speak in your defense, or what you should say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."

And at Luke 21:12-15, in his "Olivet Discourse" chapter

"But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name's sake. "It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.

Mark records it one time at Mark 13:11

"And when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but {it is} the Holy Spirit.

The context at Mark 13, appears to be referring to the time of the tribulation, but I suggest that he is just giving a summary of what Jesus taught and that the true chronological perspective is preserved for us only in Matthew 10, 24 and Luke 21.

Luke 21:12-24 makes it clear that this period of "inspirational" defense through the Holy Spirit will occur between 30 AD and the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The clause at verse 12, "but before all these things," refers to what happens before the events of verses 10-11 occur (the national conflicts, earthquakes, famines, and the signs in the heavens). And then at verses 20-24, it is clear that Jesus is referring to a time period before 70 AD, for these verses describe the destruction of the city that occurs at that time.

The point I want to emphasize is that this special help from the Spirit, in the manner that it is described by Jesus is a temporary provision for the apostolic era and is not continued throughout the church age beyond that era. The Spirit will certainly continue to minister to His people through leading and filling, but the language that Jesus uses in this context speaks of an inspiration from the Spirit, and this does not occur after the apostolic era ends. That is, God will not ZAP someone with the information he needs to either represent the gospel or defend his faith. The standard principle for preparation is the process of spiritual growth as described by Peter at 1 Peter 3:15-16.

"But set apart the Lord Christ (place his viewpoint and character) in your heart, always prepared with a reply (apologia) to everyone who asks you a word concerning the confidence that is within you, but with visible humility (gentleness) and respect; maintaining a good conscience, so that in the thing in which you are slandered,
those who criticize your good behavior in Christ, may be put to shame," (BFT).

In the next 3 verses, 21-23, the teaching has a DUAL focus.
1. Verse 21-22a applies to both the historical context and to the future tribulation.
    This can be seen by comparison with Matthew 24:9-10.
2. Verse 22b applies only to the future tribulation, whether that will occur within a first century context or a distant future context, as of course, is the case.
3. Verse 23a applies to both, for the principle of wide spread communication of the gospel is always the issue as Matthew 28:19 indicates and as Matthew 24:14 confirms.
4. Verse 23b applies only to the future tribulation, for it is "immediately after the tribulation of those days" when "they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory." Matthew 24:29-30.

Matt. 10:21
"And brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father {his} child; and children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death.

This type of persecution will occur all throughout the church age, but in this context, Jesus has in mind that final period of church testimony during the tribulation, just before He comes back for His people.

Matt. 10:22

1. And you will be hated by all on account of My name: Again, the focus is on the tribulation and the extreme hatred that will be directed against God's people at that time (Rev. 13:7).

2. but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.
This is not referring to endurance in order to preserve one's salvation, but an endurance that results in experiencing physical deliverance when Jesus returns to gather out his people from the midst of the tribulation persecution. On the surface, this passage poses a problem for those who believe in salvation security, but the absolutes of that doctrine are so concrete that the problem is only in finding an alternate understanding of this passage rather than trying to defend salvation security.

3. If a person does not accept the doctrine of salvation security, then he will have the tendency to apply this statement to salvation. If a person accepts the doctrine of salvation, that is, the fact that no believer can ever lose his salvation, then this statement must refer to the physical deliverance from the earth. In view of these differences, it must remain unresolved except as presented here.

See Topic: Salvation Security


Again, we must observe the time context for this statement. Matthew 24:9-22 gives us the proper context. At verse 9, Jesus said, "then they shall deliver you up to tribulation." This begins the tribulation persecution of the beast's reign. According to verses 15-21, this begins at the midpoint of the week when the beast sets up the abomination of desolation in the temple at Jerusalem. The END that is in view both at verse 13 and 14 compared with verses 22 and 29, is the end of the tribulation, which will be interrupted by the return of Jesus at the Day of the Lord. The one who endures the persecution pressures of the tribulation to remain alive when Jesus returns, will be miraculously delivered through rapture as is described at 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10. Paul is writing to the believers of Thessalonica in view of the severe persecutions that they have been enduring (verse 4). He knows that the events that trigger the Day of the Lord return of Jesus might begin at any day, and comforts them that they might be physically rescued (called relief) from those persecutions when He does return. The description of this deliverance which is clearly identified as both the rapture of the church and the return of Jesus "with His mighty angels in flaming fire," is seen, not only as a future event, but as an event that could be expected in the lifetime of those believers.

This does not teach a pre-trib type of Imminency, but the reality that the man of lawlessness could very well be revealed in their lifetime.

Accordingly, in chapter 2:1-3, Paul assures them that the Day of the Lord, and the rapture (gathering together to Him), which occurs at the same time, has not yet occurred, and that there must first be the revealing of the man of lawlessness, and a period of excessive ungodliness and lawlessness, which is known as the apostasy. This is the same apostasy that Jesus taught about in our Matthew 10 context at verse 21, "and brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them killed." And which is further amplified by Jesus at Matthew 24:10-12,

"and at that time, many will be caused to fall, and will deliver up one another . . .
and because the lawlessness is increased, the love of the many will grow cold," (BFT).

The ones who are faithful and who manage to survive the death-producing persecution from the beast and all who follow him, will be raptured out from the earth and will appear in the sky with Jesus (Colossians 3:4) when he arrives, and the unbelieving world will observe this (one taken and one left, Matthew 24:40-41), and perhaps the raptured believers will observe as the unbelieving world trembles in fear at what is about to come upon them (Revelation 6:15-17; Luke 21:26).

Matthew 10:23

1. But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next:

This does not mean to run away into seclusion, but simply to remove yourself from the direct rejection and persecution of the particular city in view. You then move on to another city and continue to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom. This began to be fulfilled about 7 years after the cross, when because of the persecution initiated by Saul of Tarsus, "a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria," (Acts 8:1).

2. for truly I say to you, you shall not finish {going through} the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes.

This brings the ministry of the church right up through the tribulation to the return of Jesus at the Day of the Lord. The man of lawlessness will begin his oppressive reign, by setting up the abomination in the temple (Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:4), and will begin to "woo" the Jews into his "fold." At this time, there will be the need for a huge campaign to get the Jews of the land as well as throughout the whole world to re-embrace the TRUE Messianic promise and the orthodoxy of their heritage before they commit themselves to the religious system that the false prophet will institute via the mark of the beast. The functional believers of the church will have a specific evangelistic impact to the Jews at this time as stated in this verse.

"Now whenever they persecute in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish with the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes." (BFT)


Who are the YOU of Olivet (and for that matter the object of all of Christ's teachings)?
Since Jesus told the disciples that YOU would be persecuted and brought before THEIR synagogues, THEN I am compelled to . . .
1. View the "you" as a different group from "their."
Since "their" is obviously the Jews of the nation of Israel prior to 70 AD, then the "you" must be the ones who are persecuted by the Jews.
And if the "you" of Mat. 10:17-18, 23; and Mark 13:9 (that is, the "you" of the Olivet discourse), ARE the disciples from 30 to 70 AD -
THEN the "you" refers to believers of the church.

And that means that the words of Olivet are directed to the disciples as members of the church.
Notice what Jesus said at Mark 13:33-37, "take heed, keep on the alert, for you do not know when the appointed time is . . . and what I say to YOU I say to ALL, be on the alert."

The message of Olivet is that it was POSSIBLE that the disciples would be alive to face THE tribulation and the coming of the Son of Man.
Mat. 10:23, "You will not finish with the cities of Israel UNTIL the Son of Man comes."
But none of that happened to the disciples, except of course, the persecution in the synagogues.

So then the next point of compulsion:
2. In view of the proper identity of YOU, THEREFORE the prophecy of Mark 13:24 must likewise apply to the disciples and therefore to the church.
"But in those days after the tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with power and great glory. And then He will send forth His angels and He will gather together HIS chosen ones from the 4 winds; from the farthest end of the earth UNTO the farthest end of heaven."

Mark 13:29, "even so YOU, when you see these things happening (Luke 21, begin to happen), recognize that He is near - right at the door."
"Then, straighten up and lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near." Luke 21:28-31.
"Even so YOU too, when YOU see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near."

This is a promise to the disciples, who in a matter of days become officially the church, and which COULD have been fulfilled anytime after that prior to 70 AD.
That is why Paul wrote to the Thessalonians at 2:6-10, that it COULD be POSSIBLE for the tribulation that they were going through to escalate into THE tribulation. And if that were to happen THEN they and WE would be given relief and delivered "at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God."
But of course, it did not happen. And after 70 AD the promise could not be fulfilled until Israel was BACK in the land; have a temple (holy place); and have the abomination event occur.


In addition, at the time that the man of lawlessness begins his oppressive reign, the two witnesses begin their 1260 day testimony in Jerusalem and they will have a world-wide impact (Revelation 11:3-6).

"And I will grant {authority} to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1260 days, clothed in sack cloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lamp stands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies; and if anyone would desire to harm them, in this manner he must be killed.
These have the power to shut up the sky, in order that rain may not fall during the days of their prophesying and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they desire."

This ministry of warning and pleading with the nation was prophesied by Malachi as being fulfilled in the return of Elijah the prophet. And the purpose is to get them to embrace the heritage of the past which was given to them by God when they were delivered from Egypt, i.e., the Messianic promise.

"Restore the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers - -."
(Malachi 4:6)

The Jews as a whole still have a veil over their hearts (2 Corinthians 3:15; John 8:43; 9:39-41) and will continue in their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah (hardness of heart) "until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in" at the Day of the Lord when Jesus will rapture out the church (Romans 11:25). But 144,000 of them will trust in Christ as the Messiah/savior immediately after the rapture of the church, and will then begin to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom in preparation for Messiah's presence on the earth when He will set up His 1000 year kingdom. It is the ministry of certain ones of the church as well as the two witnesses who will plant the seeds of the gospel which will result in this huge conversion.


Malachi 3:1-2

"Behold, I am going to send My messenger,
and he will clear the way before Me.
And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple;
and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight,
behold, He is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who can endure the day of His coming?
And who can stand when He appears?"

Malachi 4:5-6

Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet
before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.
And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to {their} children,
and the hearts of the children to their fathers,
lest I come and smite the land with a curse.

It is the purpose of these two witnesses, along with the church, to cultivate the Messianic heritage of the Jews and prepare them to recognize Jesus when He arrives in the clouds of the sky at the Day of the Lord. Thus, God will still have a body of believers on the earth after the day of the LORD arrives and the church is taken out. This body of believers will be from the nation of Israel and will function as the evangelistic agent to the whole world. Those who hold to the Messianic promise will recognize Jesus as the Messiah when He arrives to pour out His wrath on the world. Then they will embrace Him as savior and become representatives of truth for the remainder of the 70th week. These are the 144,000 bond servants of Revelation 7:1-8 and 14:1-5, who are probably scattered throughout the world and will be protected from the judgments of God while functioning as His faithful servants.

This plea and warning was given in prophetic format throughout the old testament in a "Day of the LORD" context.

Joel 2:1,

"Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the Day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near."

Zephaniah 1:7,

"Be silent before the Lord Yahweh! For the day of Yahweh is near;
for Yahweh has prepared a sacrifice, he has consecrated his guests."

Zephaniah 2:1-3,

"Gather yourselves together, yes, gather,
O nation without shame,
Before the decree takes effect -
The day passes like the chaff -
Before the burning anger of the LORD comes upon you,
Before the day of the LORD'S anger comes upon you.
Seek the LORD,
All you humble of the earth
Who have carried out His ordinances; (religious Israel)
Seek righteousness, seek humility.
PERHAPS you will be hidden
In the day of the LORD'S anger."


Those who trust in Jesus as the Messiah will indeed be protected from the trumpet and bowl judgments of God that are poured out on the kingdom of the beast.

Amos 5:14-15,

"Seek good and not evil, that you may live;
And thus may the LORD God of hosts be with you,
Just as you have said! Hate evil, love good,
And establish justice in the gate!
Perhaps the LORD God of hosts May be gracious
to the remnant of Joseph."


These are pleas to return to the Messianic heritage as represented in the orthodoxy of the Jewish people via the Old Testament scriptures. For those who re-embrace their heritage and resist the beast and his system of worship, there will be deliverance from the judgments of God poured out on the world. But for those who do not return to orthodoxy, when the Day comes, it will be for them, a time of great darkness and judgment.

Amos 5:16-20,

"Therefore, thus says the LORD God of hosts, the Lord,
There is wailing in all the plazas, And in all the streets they say,
Alas! Alas! They also call the farmer to mourning
And professional mourners to lamentation.
And in all the vineyards {there is} wailing,
Because I shall pass through the midst of you, says the LORD.
Alas, you who are longing for the day of the LORD,
For what purpose {will} the day of the LORD {be} to you?
It {will be} darkness and not light;
As when a man flees from a lion, And a bear meets him,
Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall,
And a snake bites him.
{Will} not the day of the LORD {be} darkness instead of light,
Even gloom with no brightness in it?"


This plea is also made at Isaiah 2:1-22.

In verses 2-4, we see the promise of the Messiah's earthly kingdom and the spiritual and material blessings that will take place. But before there can be the kingdom there must be the judgment on the world at the Day of the LORD's wrath.

Verses 6-9 describes the condition of the nation in Isaiah's generation but reflects the general attitude of the Israelites during the time of the false covenant with the beast as well.

Verse 5, gives a plea to return to the heritage of the LORD.

"Come House of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the LORD."

Verse 5, is a transition verse from the present crisis in Isaiah's generation to the national crisis in the great tribulation under the oppressive reign of the man of lawlessness. This then, is a plea for recovery before the Day of the LORD comes. If there is no recovery, then when that Day does arrives, the response will be as at verse 10.

"Enter the rock and hide in the dust from the terror of the LORD and from the splendor of His majesty."

This is the same response recorded at Revelation 6:15-17 when the world is confronted with the Day of the LORD return of Jesus.

Verse 11, These will be the recipients of the Day of the LORD judgments.

"The proud look of man will be exposed,
And the loftiness of man will be neutralized,
And the LORD alone will be exalted IN THAT DAY."

Verse 12,

"For to the LORD of hosts, there is a day -
against everyone who is proud and lofty
and against everyone who is lifted up.
That he may be exposed and humiliated."

Verse 21,

". . . before the terror of the LORD
and the splendor of His majesty,
When He arises to make the earth tremble."


And the plea then, to those who have embraced the beast as the promised Messiah (prior to actually taking the mark) is found at verse 22.

"Cease from THE man! (the definite article has significance here)
Whose breath is in his nostrils; (he is only a creature)
For in what degree and for what purpose
should he be regarded as honorable?" (BFT)

Verses 24-42

Jesus continues with general principles of truth for the disciples concerning the representation of light in the world of darkness. The information is pertinent to them in both the immediate context as well as during their ministry after the resurrection of Jesus. Since the information taught here is not directly pertinent to our primary subject of establishing the application of Christ's teaching to the church I will not develop it at this time.

Questions and comments are always welcome

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