5. Extending the kingdom, 9:35-10:42
v] The reward for welcoming the wordSynopsis
Jesus concludes his mission-charge to the apostles with a word of encouragement.
The acceptance of a minister of the gospel is an acceptance of Jesus and his Father. To welcome an evangelist and their message is to welcome Jesus; to reject an evangelist and their message is to reject Jesus.
i] Context: See 9:35-10:15.
ii] Structure: The passage, Receiving disciples, presents as follows:
The reception of Christ's messengers:
"whoever receives you receives me, ..."
"the one who receives a prophet .... receives a prophet's reward ..."
"whoever gives one of these little ones a glass of water ...."
The passage consists of three stitched independent sayings, the link word being "receives" for v40 and 41, and "reward" for v41 and 42. The first and third are paralleled in Mark, with the second unique to Matthew. Some commentators attach 11:1 to this pericope, given that the verse is obviously transitional.
Matthew now returns to the specific context of the mission charge, namely the sending out of the 12. In this conclusion of the charge the focus is on the reception of the missioners. The sayings make the following points: a) A person who receives someone receives the one who sent them. So, a person who welcomes a missioner and the message they carry, welcomes Jesus; b) the worth of the reward a person gains by welcoming / receiving someone is directly related to the visitor's worth. So for example, in receiving a prophet there is a prophet's reward; c) the reward due for welcoming / receiving a missioner, "one of these little ones", is guaranteed by divine authority.
iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.
Text - 10:40
Welcoming the word of God, v10-42: i] Like the prophets of old, the disciples carry a message from God to the lost of Israel. To welcome the messenger and accept their message is to welcome the one who sent the messenger. To welcome a disciple is to welcome Jesus, and to welcome Jesus is to welcome the one who sent him, namely, God the Father.
oJ decomenoV (decomai) "he who receives" - the one receiving, welcoming. The participle serves as a substantive. "The one receiving" or better, "the one welcoming as a guest" = "whoever....", "anyone..." It was expected that a person's agent would be received as if it were they who were making the approach. To not welcome the agent is to not welcome the one who sent them.
uJmaV pro. "you" - you [receives me]. Accusative direct object of the verb "to receive", emphatic by position. Again referring to the apostles and their mission, but as our mission is the same, Jesus' words to them are words to us. Of course, this is not always the case. We do well to remember that a divine promise or command to a specific group of people at a specific time is not always a word to us.
ton aposteilanta (apostellw) aor. part. "the one who sent [me]" - [and the one receiving me receives] the one having sent [me]. The participle serves as a substantive. Obviously the Father God is the intended sender; "the Father / God who sent me", TH.
ii] A righteous reward is found in welcoming a righteous person, v41. Jesus now touches on the issue of "reward". It is difficult to know exactly who Jesus is referring to when he uses the terms, "prophet" and "righteous man." Some commentators suggest that they are special ministries of the early church, yet it is more likely that they are either Old Testament ministries, or first century Jewish ministries. Jesus does not seem to be using the terms in a derogatory sense, but rather as a comparison. The "prophet" and the "righteous man" (teacher?) are people who carry a particular teaching. To receive them and to receive their word is to receive the blessing associated with their teaching. The same applies for his apostles. To receive the apostles and their teaching is to receive the blessing associated with their teaching. The reward for accepting the apostles, and the good news that they carry from God, is free entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
oJ decomenoV (decomai) pres. mid. part. "whoever welcomes" - the one receiving. The participle serves as a substantive.
profhthn (hV) "a prophet" - Accusative direct object of the verb "to receive." In a general sense, one who declares the word of God, although for Jews of the first century the word would probably only apply to a person who declared a direct word from God, a "thus says the Lord" word. So, "God's messenger", TEV, may be a bit too general.
eiV onoma "because he is" - in / to / for name. Adverbial, a semitism meaning "because he is / in view of his being / on the ground of"; the preposition eiV being treated as causal, although possibly reference / respect. The "name" = the person / their being. The sense is of welcoming a person who is a prophet because we know he is a prophet, rather than welcoming him just because he is a visitor etc., "recognizes ... as such", Barclay.
profhtou (hV ou) gen. "a prophet's" - [of a prophet will receive reward] of a prophet. The genitive is adjectival, probably possessive, but possibly verbal, objective, or attributive, idiomatic, limiting "reward", "a reward which a prophet, due to his standing before God, is able to bestow."
misqon (oV) "reward" - reward, wages. Accusative direct object of the verb "to receive." The person who welcomes a prophet receives "the pay" of a prophet. Possibly "he will receive the same reward as a messenger of God will receive", TH. Yet, it is more likely that the one who welcomes "receives the reward that the messenger of God gives." The reward is related to receiving the message.
dikaiou gen. adj. "a righteous man's / person's [reward]" - [the one receiving a righteous person in name of a righteous person, will receive reward] of a righteous person. The adjective serves as a substantive, while the genitive is adjectival, as "prophet's reward" above. Possibly in a general sense, "A good man", TEV. Also possibly referring to a class of religious scholars, teachers etc. who functioned in Jewish society, cf. Carson. The allusion, of course, is to the disciples. Recognize and welcome a disciple as a disciple of Christ, accepting the word that they carry, and we will receive the promised blessing that goes with that word ("reward"), namely, eternal life.
iii] A righteous reward comes with a divine guarantee, v42. Jesus now completes his comparison, although in a slightly lateral way. To receive the apostles and their message is to receive the reward of eternal life. Jesus uses the more general term "disciple", rather than "apostle", reminding us that although we may not specifically be "the sent ones", all Jesus' followers are responsible for the communication of the gospel. He uses the intimate term "little ones" for his disciples. Although the term is often applied to socially disadvantaged people, Jesus uses it exclusively of his followers, those who are "the insignificant ones." The offer of "a cup of cold water" may seem like an act of charity which brings a spiritual reward, yet the context works against such a view. The offer of a drink of water images the acceptance of a disciple and by implication the acceptance of their message. A person who receives a disciple and their message "will certainly not lose their reward", a reward that entails eternal life.
o} an + subj. "if [anyone] / whoever" - [and] if who = whoever, as the case may be, . Introducing a relative conditional clause, 3rd class, where the stated condition has the possibility of coming true; "whoever, as may be the case, .... then ......"
potish/ (potizw) aor. subj. "gives" - gives to drink, gives a drink. The most insignificant gift that one person can give to another is a glass of water.
yucrou gen. adj "[a cup] of cold water" - [a cup] of cold water. The adjective serves as a substantive, "cold" = "cold water", the genitive being adjectival, idiomatic / content; "a cup full of cold water."
twn mikrwn gen. adj. "[one] of [these] little ones" - of [these] little, small ones. The adjective serves as a substantive, the genitive being adjectival, partitive. Probably carrying the sense "insignificant ones". Some translations opt for degree, "the humblest of my disciples", Goodspeed, but probably all disciples are "the little ones."
eiV onoma "because he is my disciple" - [only] in name [of a disciple]. See v41.
amhn legw uJmin "truly I tell you" - then truly i say to you. Serving to underline the following statement.
ou mh + subj. "[that person will] certainly not [lose]" - he will by no means [lose the reward of him]. Subjunctive of emphatic negation, serving to emphasize the fact that the reward will in no way be removed. As above, the reward is probably the promise carried in the disciples' message, namely, eternal life. The reward is gained by welcoming / receiving the disciple and their message.
autou gen. pro. "their [reward]" - [the reward] of them. Possessive genitive.