5. Extending the kingdom, 9:35-10:42

ii] The difficulties of mission


Jesus has just completed his mission-instructions to the twelve apostles and now he warns them of future sufferings. We are not told whether the apostles' mission was successful or not, although we do know that the mission of the seventy certainly had some positive results, Lk.10:17, cf. 22:35. Nonetheless, it is likely that there was opposition to the gospel from the religious authorities.


The communication of the gospel, by its very nature, prompts persecution.


i] Context: See 9:35-10:15.


ii] Structure: The difficulties of mission:

The issue of persecution, v16-23:

Introductory saying, v16;

sheep among wolves.

A warning, v17-18:

Imperative, v17a;

"be on your guard"

Pronouncement saying, v17b-18;

"you will be handed over ..."

Imperative, v19-20;

"do not worry ....".

Pronouncement saying, v21-22;

"brother will betray brother ..."

Flee persecution, v23:

Imperative, v23a;

Concluding saying, v23b;

"you will not finish .... before the Son of Man comes."

The disciple / master relationship, v24-25.

"the disciple is not above his teacher ..."


Matthew seems to have shaped v16-23 around the imperatives, prosecete, "beware", v17, mh merimnhshte, "do not be anxious", v19, and feugete, "flee", v23. An introductory saying, v16, and concluding saying, v23b, encapsulates the body of the pericope / episode. The saying on the master / disciple relationship, v24-25, is usually viewed as transitional, facilitating the move from the first teaching block, Instructions for missionaries, v5-25, to the next block of instructions, The one to fear, v26-31.


iii] Interpretation:

Jesus' warning of future persecution is not just for the twelve apostles, but also serves as a warning for the mission of the church today.

Matthew makes this point by an artful stitching of his source material: A proverb from Jesus to his disciples which serves to attune them of the dangers that await them in a world hostile to the gospel, v16; A warning of arrest and trial before both religious and secular authorities, v17-18; A word of encouragement encapsulating a promise that the Spirit will speak through the disciple, v19-20; The prediction that persecution will come even at the hand of family members, v21-22a; A promise of eternal reward for perseverance, v22b; A command to flee persecution, v23; A saying concerning the inevitability of Jesus' disciples having to face rejection - a disciple cannot expect to be treated better than the master, v24-25.


Persecution: Jesus has made the point that many will reject the gospel and now, in the passage before us, he deals with the inevitable consequence of that rejection, namely the persecution of those who undertake gospel ministry. So, "the focus in the mission charge now moves from a concern with the nature of the mission initiatives to be taken up by the disciples to the negative response to be expected, and how to deal with that", Nolland.


The extent of the mission charge: In Matthew's record of the tradition there is a noticeable movement from the past instructions given to the twelve apostles to the missionaries / evangelists of the church in Matthew's day. "Matthew's typification of the twelve [stands] for the Christian readers - especially missionaries - of Matthew's time", D&A. The reason for this temporal movement probably lies in Matthew's use of Jesus' eschatological discourse sayings / teachings within the context of mission instruction.


Which "coming" does Jesus have in mind in v23? The verb ercomai, "to come", is probably being used in the same sense as the noun parousia, "appearing". A "coming / appearing" is used in the NT for a divine act of judgment and it is likely that the verb elqh/, "comes", is being used this way here. Matthew is drawing on Jesus' eschatological teaching at this point and so his words are primarily prophetic. At one level they apply to the mission of the 12, at another level they apply to the mission of the church, while at another level they look to the realization of the kingdom in that great and terrible day of judgment. The gospel proclaims the immediacy of the coming kingdom, a kingdom realized in the coming of Daniel's victorious Son of Man to the Ancient of Days to receive eternal glory and power. This coming day of judgment is upon us, so even if the mission of the 12 / church is undertaken with urgency, the day will still inevitably overtake us. This prophetic perspective does not count the passing of time, for a thousand years is but a moment in the eyes of God. Christ has entered the throne room of the Ancient of Days and all knees are even now bowing before him. So, the immediate situation, the now, the announcement of judgment, is, in the eye of the prophet, being overtaken by the not yet, the actual day of judgment. The "coming" / the judgment that immediately confronts Jesus is that of his cross, and probably also the destruction of Jerusalem completed by the armies of Rome in 70AD. Yet this "coming" / judgment is but a precursor, a paradigm for the final day of judgment. Jesus' warning of future persecution is not just for the twelve apostles, but also serves as a warning for the mission of the church today.

The following diagram illustrates this prophetic perspective in earthly time terms.
[The prophetic perspective]

The various interpretations offered for the statement that "you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes":

• In a literal sense "you will not finish [visiting] the towns of Israel until the Son of Man calls off the mission / comes and gets you";

• Jesus' coming to the Ancient of Days, therefore either his ascension, or the day of eschatological judgment;

• Jesus' triumphal return after his resurrection to commission his disciples, so Tasker, Mounce;

• Jesus return in and through the Holy Spirit, therefore pentecost;

• An expected second advent in the lifetime of the apostles, but one which did not occur, so Schweitzer, cf. Hill;

• The word "coming" may be used in the sense of judgment, either Jesus' crucifixion, or the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, so Carson.


iv] Synoptics:

Given that the priority of Mark is accepted by most commentators, it is usually argued that in order to construct the passage before us Matthew has creatively drawn on Mark and Q, cf. Mk.13:9-13. It is interesting to note that there is some agreement between Matthew and Luke. Mutual independence remains a live option.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 10:16

The end-time persecutions, v16-25: i] The dangers of a hostile world, v16. The good shepherd sends his sheep into the wolf pack. To survive the disciples will need to be "shrewd" (prudent) and "innocent". Of themselves, prudence can become cunning, and innocence can becomes naivet; Jesus calls for balance.

diou "-" - behold, take note, pay attention. Interjection serving to emphasize the following words.

egw "I [am sending]" - i [send you]. Emphatic by position and use; "it is I who am sending you", cf. Plummer.

wJV "like" - as, like. Comparative introducing a comparative clause.

en + dat. "[among]" - [sheep] in [middle]. Local; expressing space. Not out "into", rather Jesus is sending out his disciples as if defenseless sheep who find themselves in the midst of a pack of circling wolves.

lukwn (oV) gen. "wolves" - of wolves. The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

oun "therefore" - Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion.

fronimoi adj. "shrewd" - [be] wise, sensible, prudent. Predicate adjective. The word literally means "midriff", expressing the idea that the stomach is the seat of thought, of wisdom. "Be cunning as a snake", Peterson, may be a bit strong, although NASB opts for "shrewd".

wJV "as [snakes]" - Comparative, introducing a comparative clause - in comparison to serpents. "The apostles will need both subtlety and innocence in order to use the the time of persecution for bearing testimony", Fenton.

akeraioV adj. "innocent" - [and] unmixed = pure, harmless, innocent [as doves]. Predicate adjective. "Not naivety, but an irreproachable honesty", France.


ii] A warning of arrest and trial before both religious and secular authorities, v17-18. Jesus' warning is to Jewish believers who face persecution in their local synagogue. As members of the synagogue they will find themselves handed over for flogging because of their witness to Christ. The reference to "their" synagogue does not mean that Matthew (nor Jesus) sees himself outside of the Jewish community; Jesus speaks as a prophet addressing the apostate. Persecution will also come from Gentile authorities as the gospel moves from Israel to the Gentile community. Because the disciples are followers of Christ they can expect persecution, but legal action against them will give them the opportunity to witness "to governors and kings, and to other Gentiles."

apo "against" - [and beware] from. With prosecete, "be alert / pay attention to", the sense becomes "[beware] of", ie., apo indicates the object of their attention, namely, "men".

twn anqrwpwn (oV) "men" - The "men" = the aforesaid men / wolves; "be prepared for people to hand you over ......", NJB.

gar "-" - for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the disciples need to beware of "the men"; "for they will deliver you up to councils", Torrey.

paradwsousin (paradidwmi) fut. "they will hand you over" - they will deliver [you] up. Often used in a technical sense of delivering up to the courts for trial; reflecting the betrayal of Jesus. "They will take you to the courts", Phillips.

sunedria (on) "local councils" - [to] sanhedrin, council. As the NIV has it, it is likely a reference to a small local community council with some 20 members. These are Jewish councils, not secular. Of course, as the gospel moved beyond Israel, it was secular courts that the disciples had to face, v18.

mastigwsousin (mastigow) fut. "flog" - [and in the synagogues of you] they will scourge, whip, beat [you]. A beating by a four-thonged whip with a maximum of 39 strokes.


eneken + gen. "on [my] account" - because of, for the sake of [me]. Causal; it is because the disciples are followers of Jesus the messiah and are carrying out his direction to evangelize the Gentiles that they will face legal action by the authorities (here secular). "Because you are my disciples", TH.

acqhsesqe (agw) fut. pas. "you will be brought" - [and before governors and also kings] you will be led [for the sake of me]. "You will be dragged", RSV.

epi + acc. "before [governors]" - Spacial; "up to / against" = "before".

de kai "and [kings]" - and also [kings]. This doublet is emphatic, with the kai either ascensive, "even", or adjunctive, "also"; "not just governors, but you will even be dragged before kings."

eiV marturion "as witnesses" - as/for a testimony, witness. The preposition eiV is probably indicating purpose; "for the purpose of witness". The court proceedings will provide an opportunity for witnessing to Christ. "To testify before them", REB. Barclay takes an interesting line, "but you must regard that as an opportunity to demonstrate ... your loyalty to me."

autoiV "to them" - to them [and to the gentiles]. Dative of interest, advantage, "for them.".


iii] A word of encouragement encapsulating a promise that the Spirit will speak through the disciples, v19-20. When "they" (opponents in general, but certainly including Jewish leaders) "hand you over" (better than "arrest") the Holy Spirit will aid a disciple's testimony. Roman officials were extremely overbearing and defendants would often employ orator-lawyers to speak for them. Believers can look to the Spirit to support their testimony, although obviously not speak instead of them.

o{tan + subj. "when [they arrest]" - [but] when [they deliver you up]. This construction introduces an indefinite temporal clause, as NIV.

mh merimnhshte (merimnaw) aor. subj. "do not worry" - do not be anxious. A subjunctive of prohibition, with the aorist possibly indicating a command to not commence the action, here worrying, being anxious, fretting about what and how to speak before a tribunal.

pwV ... ti + subj. "what [to say or] how [to say it]" - how [or] what [you may say]. Here both the interrogative adverb pwV, "how", and the interrogative pronoun ti, "what", introduce an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what they should not be anxious about, namely, the way (manner) they should speak, and what they should say (lalhshte, "say", deliberative subjunctive). The ti, "what [to say]", is obvious, but what of "how to say it"? Nolland suggests that "how" "will refer to tone and demeanor and perhaps other aspects of presentation."

gar "-" - for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why there is no need to be anxious, "because you will be given ..." / "the reason being that you will be given ..."

uJmin dat. pro. "you" - [it will be given] to you. Dative of indirect object.

doqhsetai (didwmi) fut. pas. "will be given" - it will be given. An example of the divine passive; it is God who will give the words to say. We have here one of those interesting blanket promises which seems to demand at least some qualification. Certainly, a great encouragement to an illiterate disciple. We have all experienced the Spirit working through the worst of sermons so it is not hard to imagine an illiterate believer making an impact on a hardened judiciary. "You will be told what to say", Phillips.

en + dat. "at [that time]" - in [that hour what you may say]. Temporal use of the preposition.


gar "for" - More reason than cause; explaining that the reception of the words to say is down to the Holy Spirit. Best left untranslated.

oi lanounteV (lalew) part. "speaking" - [you are not] the one speaking. The participle serves as a substantive; "for you are not the speakers", Moffatt. The believer is actually speaking - it is their words - but "the Spirit will give the right words to say in the situation", France. Phillips brings out the distinction with "for it will not be really you who are speaking"

alla "but" - Adversative / contrastive, standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ...... but ...."

tou patroV "[the Spirit] of [your] Father" - [the spirit] of the father [of you]. The genitive is adjectival, relational. An interesting descriptive of the Holy Spirit and not found elsewhere in the New Testament. Davies & Allison make the point that Matthew is addressing the issue of betrayal by a family member, v21, and so is reinforcing the intimate family association that exists with God through the Spirit.

to laloun (lalew) pres. part. "speaking" - will be the one speaking. The participle may be treated as adjectival, attributive, limiting "the Spirit", "who is speaking through you", or as a substantive, predicate nominative, "will be the one speaking through you."

en + dat. "through [you]" - in [you]. Usually taken as instrumental, agency, as NIV.


iv] Persecution will even come at the hand of family members, v21-22. The witness of Christ will bring division and thus persecution, not only within society at large, but also within families. "All people", in the sense of all without distinction (race, religion...), will react with hostility to those who bear witness. The cause of this hostility is "because of me", while in 5:10 it is "because of righteousness." A Christ-like life may prompt aggression (a guilt-ridden person will often act with aggression in the face of an exemplary life), as may a person's belief in Christ for salvation (truth often generates anger in the one who lives a lie). Inward peace, ours by grace through faith, will also prompt a bitter response, especially from those weighed down by guilt. In the face of persecution the believer must patiently endure "to the end" (probably to the end of their life rather than to the end of the age). They endure in their faith and so stand the "test / trial." Many martyrs in the first century claimed that salvation belonged only to those who refused to pour out a libation to Caesar. Yet, although their no-compromise stance is to be applauded, it is faith that saves, not works.

adelfoV (oV) "brother" - [and] brother [will deliver up brother]. Nominative subject of the verb "to deliver up." The word is inclusive, therefore, "brothers and sisters will betray one another", CEV.

eiV + acc. "to [death]" - into [death]. Here the preposition expresses end-view.

epanasthsantai (epanisthmi) fut. "will rebel" - [and father child, and children] will rise up in rebellion. "Children are going to betray their parents", Phillips, is probably the intended sense, given that their action serves to hand the father over to be killed.

epi + acc. "against [their parents]" - against [parents and put them to death]. Here expressing influence / opposition, "against".


pantwn (paV) adj. "all" - [and you will be hated by] all. "You will be universally hated", Barclay.

esesqe misoumenoi (misew) pres. pas. part. "will hate" - hated. The participle preceded by the future verb "to be" forms a periphrastic future construction, possibly durative, expressing ongoing hatred.

uJpo + gen. "by [everyone]" - Expressing agency.

dia + acc. "because of" - because of, on account of. Causal; "on account of your association with me."

to onoma mou "me" - the name of me. The "name" = the person.

oj ... uJpomeinaV (uJpomenw) part. "[but] he who stands" - [but] the one having endured, remained. The participle serves as a substantive. Probably in the sense of "remains firm in their faith." "Remains faithful", CEV. It can imply obedience, but this is probably not what is intended.

teloV (oV) "[to] the end" - [to] the end. What end? The end of the world, the end of our life, the end of the persecution .......? The eschatological end of all things / the day of salvation is surely in mind, but obviously, at the practical level, "the end" is the end of a person's life.

ou|toV pro. "-" - this one [will be saved]. This resumptive pronoun picks up the participial construction "the one who remains faithful to the end" and serves as the nominative subject of the verb "to save."


v] A command to flee persecution, v23. Jesus encourages his disciples to press on in the face of persecution with the knowledge that the day of judgment is at hand. Sinful humanity has faced many significant moments of divine judgment, a "coming", a moment of divine presence. Such events, like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, serve as a prelude to the final judgment at the end of the age. The "coming" that Jesus refers to here is probably the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. Therefore, the disciples need to get a wiggle on; the time is short - always short! See "comes" below.

oJtan + subj. "when" - [but/and] when, whenever [they persecute you in this city]. Introducing an indefinite temporal clause. "Whenever", Weymouth, is best.

thn eJteran pro. "another" - [flee to] the other (as a noun, the other of the two). Here a particular usage. "To a city presumably different in spirit", Bruce, rather than "a different city", "another place."

gar "-" - for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the disciples need to move on quickly in the face of opposition - the time is short.

uJmin dat. pro. "[I tell] you [the truth]" - [truly i say] to you. Dative of indirect object. Serving to make a "solemn and significant statement", Morris.

ou mh + subj. "[you will] not [finish going through]" - [you will] definitely not [finish visiting the cities of israel]. A subjunctive of emphatic negation; "you will not have completed the mission to Israel ..."

e{wV an + subj. "before" - until. This construction introduces an indefinite temporal clause, future time, as NIV.

tou anqrwpou (oV) gen. "[Son] of Man [comes]" - The genitive is adjectival, relational; see 8:20. For the coming of the Son of Man see Interpretation above.


vi] A servant is not above their master: A saying concerning the inevitability of Jesus' disciples having to face rejection - a disciple cannot expect to be treated better than their master, v24-25. These two sayings were commonly used in the first century and Jesus uses them here to make the point that his disciples should not be surprised if they suffer persecution. Jesus had a rough time of it and so will they. Jesus' disciples will be called Beelzebub ("The Lord of the Flies" - a sarcastic version of Prince Baal [Beelzeboul]); they will be called children of Satan, just as Jesus was sometimes viewed as one of Satan's minions.

maqhthV (hV) "student" - a disciple. Nominative subject of the verb to-be. "Pupil", TEV

uJper + acc. "above" - [is not] beyond, above [the teacher, neither a slave] above [the master of him]. Here expressing advantage / benefit; having advantages over and above the master. ie., the false assumption that although the master was persecuted, the disciple can expect to be treated with respect. "Superior", Phillips.


arketon adj. "It is enough" - it is sufficient. Predicate adjective, verbal, with an active sense. A disciple cannot be greater than their teacher and therefore will have to be content with being, at best, "like" their teacher. "Should be satisfied", TEV. Phillips has understood this proverb within the context of persecution, "the servant will not fare better than his master."

tw/ maqhth/ (hV ou) dat. "for students" - for the disciple. Dative of interest, advantage, or reference / respect.

iJna + subj. "to [be]" - that [he may be]. This construction commonly forms an adverbial clause, final or consecutive, but here it replaces a simple infinitive forming an infinitival phrase, subject of the assumed verb to-be; "to be as his master is enough for the disciple."

wJV "like [their teachers]" - like [the teacher of him and the slave] like [the master of him]. Comparative.

ei + ind. "if" - if as is the case [they called the house master beelzebub], then. Introducing a conditional clause, 1st class, where the condition is assumed to be true; "if, as is the case, .... then ...." The sense then is, "since Jesus has been slandered as satanic, his disciples can expect the same treatment."

Beelzeboul "Beelzebub" - The Lord of the flies / dung. Accusative complement of the direct object "house master" of the verb "to call", standing in a double accusative construction. A play on the name of the god of Ekron, Prince Baal. Later a term for a demonic lord, in particular, Satan.

posw/ dat. pro. "how much" - Dative of measure / degree of difference; "by how much." Introducing an exclamation or a question; here usually taken as an exclamation.

mallon adv. "more" - more [the members of the household of him]. Expressing a greater degree.


Matthew Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]