Matthew 10:01-08 – Gospel Ministry Briefing (a)

A Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 05 February 2012


10:1 Now, after He summoned His twelve disciples, He gave to them authority over unclean spirits, in order to cast them out and to heal every illness and every infirmity.

10:2 And the names of the twelve apostles are these:

            first Simon (the one said to be Peter) and Andrew his brother,

            James the [son] of Zebedee and John his brother,

    10:3 Philip and Bartholomew,

            Thomas and Matthew the tax collector,

            James the [son] of Alphaeus and [Lebbaeus who was called] Thaddaeus,

    10:4 Simon the Zealot and Judas of Kerioth who also betrayed Him.

10:5 These twelve Jesus commissioned, instructing them by saying,

            “Don’t start going away down a Gentile road, and don’t enter a Samaritan city,

     10:6 but instead keep proceeding toward the sheep of the house of Israel which have been lost.

     10:7 And as you proceed, be preaching saying, “The Kingdom of Heaven has drawn near!”

10:8 Be healing those who are infirm, be cleansing lepers, be raising the dead, be casting out demons. Y’all received for free; give for free.


Friday night, I got to watch a basketball game over at Lighthouse Baptist between the Manhattan CHIEFs and the Derby Invasion. What a great match it was – both teams neck-and-neck the whole game, right down to the nail-biting conclusion!


But after warming up and before the game began, what did all the players do? They got into a huddle to get a briefing from Coach Olds. Also, throughout the game they would occasionally call time-outs and get back in that huddle, and Coach Olds would explain the weaknesses of the other team and how to strategically gain advantages, what to do – or what not to do – in light of the ways the referees were making calls. All kinds of good instructions the players were receiving in those huddles, right down to the last huddle three seconds before the final buzzer when we were down by two points and up for a two-point free throw.


Well Jesus at the opening of Matthew 10 has his disciples in a huddle too. He reviews His team, what their resources are, what the mission is for them to accomplish – even talks about the audience. Like spectators in a basketball game, when we look at this passage, there are certainly ways in which we may feel like we are up on the bleachers watching a game that we can’t really play in, but it is not en­tirely that way. The ministry of the Gospel is one we can all take part in, and there are plenty of things we can take away from this briefing that Jesus does with His disciples. First of all, let’s look at the…

Team Resources

Matt. 10:1  Καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τοὺς δώδεκα μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν πνευμάτων ἀκαθάρτων ὥστε ἐκβάλλειν αὐτὰ καὶ θεραπεύειν πᾶσαν νόσον καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν.

Now, after He summoned His twelve disciples, He gave to them authority over unclean spirits, in order to cast them out and to heal every illness and every infirmity.

·         The calling/summoning of the 12 is set chronologically before the sermon on the Mount in the Gospels of Mark and of Luke, but Matthew mentions only his own calling. Here he mentions the names of the 12 disciples, using a past tense (Aorist participle) to indicate that the calling or summoning happened at some time previous to the sending out of the 12 on their first missionary journey, so there is no real conflict here in the chronology.

·         Twelve seems to be a number used throughout the Bible to represent a large body of people made up of different kinds. It is the number of the tribes of Ishmael, and the number of the sons of his nephew Israel. It was therefore the number of the princes/chiefs who governed the nation of Israel and who represented their nation to God. I believe that Jesus was purposefully replacing the 12 chiefs of Israel with 12 new representatives to lead a new body of people which He called His church. After replacing Judas with Matthias, the 12 Apostles went throughout the world planting churches which still today bear the unique idiosyncrasies of those 12 Apostles. Jesus promised the 12 disciples that in heaven they would be the representatives and governors of the people of God, sitting on 12 thrones in heaven.

·         There are, of course many other 12’s in the Bible, for instance the hemorrhaging woman had been bleeding for 12 years, and the girl Jesus raised from the dead was also 12 years old. I think it’s best to be cautious and not get carried away with numerology in the Bible.







12 tribes, 12 stones in ephod


12x12,000, 12 stars in virgin’s crown


12 Ishmaelite tribes, 12 Canaanite kings

12 Israelite tribes?



12 chiefs

12 apostles

12 apostles


12 showbread

12 baskets of bread

12 fruits


12 calves supporting washbasin/12 springs




12 stones/cubits/steps to altar

“living stones”/”living sacrifice”

12 foundations stones/gates


·         To these 12 Jesus gave authority/power – both the right and the ability to command evil spirits to go away as well as the supernatural right and ability to heal every kind of disease and disorder there was. That’s some power! But that is the kind of power God possesses and can give to us whenever He wishes.

·         Grammatical construction with two infinitives seems to connect sickness to the presence of unclean spirits (demons) “He gave them authority over evil spirits to exorcise and to heal.” This is not to say that all sickness is caused by demons, though.

·         “Every illness and every infirmity” is a phrase already used in 4:23, 9:35 to indicate what Jesus did. He had modeled healing in front of them, and now they are to copy what He did.

·         Is this resource of authority something which only the disciples had or is it a resource for us too? In a sense, this kind of authority to heal every disease is something that this particular team of 12 on the field had which we don’t have.

o       However, the same Spirit which gave them power is also in us. The spirit of God in us is not any weaker than the Spirit the Apostles had.

o       Furthermore, Jesus said at the end of Matthew, “all authority/power has been given unto me, therefore go into all the world and make disciples.” We may not have the same ability to do miracles left and right that the apostles did, but our Lord still has all that authority and power in unlimited measure, and if you are doing His will – making disciples in all the world, then Jesus will certainly uphold you with His vast authority and make you successful.


We’ve looked at the power behind the team; now let’s look at the team itself:

Team Composition

Mat 10:2  Τῶν [δὲ-D,Θ,f13] δώδεκα ἀποστόλων τὰ ὀνόματά εἰσι ταῦτα· πρῶτος Σίμων ὁ λεγόμενος Πέτρος καὶ ᾿Ανδρέας ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ, ᾿Ιάκωβος ὁ τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου καὶ ᾿Ιωάννης ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ, 3Φίλιππος καὶ Βαρθολομαῖος, Θωμᾶς καὶ Ματθαῖος ὁ τελώνης, ᾿Ιάκωβος ὁ τοῦ ᾿Αλφαίου καὶ [Λεββαῖος ὁ ἐπικληθεὶς-א,B,f13] Θαδδαῖος, 4Σίμων ὁ ΚανανίτηςMaj,א,W,Θ,f13/ΚαναναίοςB.C,L,N,f1,33 καὶ ᾿Ιούδας ᾿Ισκαριώτης ὁ καὶ παραδοὺς αὐτόν.

·         Now that these 12 apprentices who have been learning from Jesus are actually sent out on a mission to do the work of Jesus, Matthew changes from calling them “disciples” (the Greek word for disciple means “one who learns.”) and he begins from verse two on to call them “apostles” (which is Greek for “commissioned workers” – “men sent on a mission”).

·         There are four places in the Bible where the 12 apostles are listed (here, Mark 3:13ff, Luke 6:13ff, and Acts 1), and from these records we see that some of the apostles went by more than one name – especially Thaddeus, who in John’s gospel (14:22) was also named “Judas not Iscariot,” and is probably the same as the writer of the little book of Jude (next-to-last in the New Testament). Most Greek manuscripts also include the name Lebbaeus as another name for Jude/Thaddeus.


Matthew 10

Mark 3

Luke 6

Acts 1









James of Zebedee3

James of Zebedee2























James of Alpheus9

James of Alpheus9

James of Alpheus9

James of Alpheus9

Thaddaeus [Lebbaeus]10


Judas of James11

Judas of James11

Simon Zealot11

Simon Zealot11

Simon Zealot10

Simon Zealot10

Judas Iscariot12

Judas Iscariot12

Judas Iscariot12

Matthias repl. J.I. 12

·         A couple of other quick notes on the last two apostles: If you have a King James or ESV, you’ll see the 11th apostle listed as Simon the Canaanite or Cananaean rather than Simon the Zealot, as the NAS and NIV list him. He is listed the same way in Mark, but in Luke and Acts, all the versions are agreed that the name of this Apostle is Simon the Zealot.

o       The explanation is that the Hebrew (Aramaic) word for Zealot is Kanon, and so the translators of the NASB and NIV believe that Matthew and Mark used a transliteration of that Hebrew word here and that it means the same thing as the Greek word for Zealot which Luke used in his account, since the apostles would have understood both Greek and Hebrew in their culture.

o       The translators of the NKJV and ESV decided that since the word was transliterated from Hebrew into Greek without giving its meaning in a translation, the letters of the word should likewise be transliterated into English without actually giving it’s translated meaning.

·         Let me also note that the surname of Judas Iscariot is thought to indicate that he came from the town of Keriot, down on the Southern edge of Judah. This additional name helps keep him distinct from Judas son of James.

·         It’s interesting to see that half of the apostles were pairs of brothers:

o       Peter and Andrew (Andrew was the one who introduced Peter to Jesus, but Peter ended up taking a more prominent role among the apostles),

o       James and John,

o       and then Phillip and Bartholomew (Bartholomew is another name for Phillip’s brother Nathan who was under the fig tree when Phillip told him to come check out the Messiah he had discovered).

o       Jesus seemed to appreciate these family ties, and what a blessing the ties of brotherhood (and sisterhood) can be when applied in the service of Christ!

o       I hope all you kids here will use the strength of your close family relationships to do great things together for the glory of God!

·         Why does the word “first” appear before Peter?

o       Perhaps because he exercised the most leadership among the apostles (although he wasn’t always the leader; for instance, it was James who presided over the meeting in Acts 15 even though Peter was there.)

o       It’s also possible that Peter and Andrew were the first pair to be sent out rather than the first indicating any sort of primacy among the apostles.

·         Mark tells us that they were sent out “two by two.” It is a very strategic principle to work with a buddy (or a buddeen, as my first-grade teacher used to say to the girls in my class).

o       It is good practice legally to have more than one witness to establish the truth of a message,

o       but also the encouragement and prayers of a companion can make the difference between persevering or giving up on a project.

o       In the basketball game I saw Friday night, I saw pairs of guys working effectively together to set a “pick” where they stand together and one blocks the defensive player from being able to interfere with the buddy who is carrying the ball.

o       I get some of that from my wife and some of that from my guy friends who will point out problems they see in me or encourage me when I am feeling discouraged. Buddy up!

Target Audience

Mat 10:5  Τούτους τοὺς δώδεκα ἀπέστειλεν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς παραγγείλας αὐτοῖς λέγων· εἰς ὁδὸν ἐθνῶν μὴ ἀπέλθητε καὶ εἰς πόλιν Σαμαριτῶν μὴ εἰσέλθητε· 10:6  πορεύεσθε δὲ μᾶλλον πρὸς τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου ᾿Ισραήλ.

These twelve Jesus commissioned, instructing them by saying, “Don’t start going away down a Gentile road, and don’t enter a Samaritan city, 10:6 but instead keep proceeding toward the sheep of the house of Israel which have been lost.

·         Why did Jesus tell them to focus their ministry only on Jews and to avoid Samaritans and Gentiles?

1.      Right after the tower of Babel when God split the world population into 70 distinct ethno-linguistic nationalities, God chose to start a covenant relationship with Abraham and his descendents, the Jews. God stated His intention to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, saying, “I will bless you… and through you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Two thousand years later, Jesus, the minister of that very covenant, was continuing to honor His word to bless the Jews first so that His blessings could flow through the Jews into all the other nations of mankind.

§         In John 4:22 Jesus told the woman at the well, “…Salvation is of the Jews,”

§         and Paul, in Romans 1:16 and 2:10 reiterated that fact “the good news of glory and peace in Christ is that God has power to give salvation to everyone who believes - to the Jew first, and then to the Greek/Gentile.”

§         So this is God’s divide-and-conquer strategy of world domination: save the Jews and then save the world.

§         This is God’s faithfulness to His promises from millennia past, in order – Jews first, then Gentiles.

§         And we will see that the second time Jesus sends out His disciples, He does not restrict them to the Jews anymore, and later on in Acts 1, He explicitly tells them to minister in Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth.

2.      I believe there is a second practical reason why Jesus sent His disciples to the Jews first. Imagine if I were to send you all to minister today among the Xhosa tribe in South Africa. How well would you all do at living in tents in the desert and eating grub worms and speaking with a language that uses clicks and pops in its alphabet? It would be really rough for most of us. Remember that most of these followers Jesus chose were uneducated Jewish fishermen with absolutely no experience in Christian ministry. Would you want to send men like that into an intense cross-cultural missionary setting right off the bat? I think Jesus was wanting His disciples to start out in ministry among people who were like them just to make it easier on them and to give them the opportunity to exercise the basic functions of gospel ministry without also having to work through the stress of cross-cultural problems. Later on when they had more experience, He would add the cross-cultural aspect of telling them to also minister to foreigners. And sure enough they did – like Phillip in Acts 8 with the Ethiopian and then with the Samaritans!


So, what were they supposed to do now?

The Task

Mat 10:7  πορευόμενοι δὲ κηρύσσετε λέγοντες ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.

And as you proceed, be preaching saying, “The Kingdom of Heaven has drawn near!”

·         This was the message of John the Baptizer (3:2) “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has drawn near”
it was also the message that Jesus preached (4:17);
and now He’s telling His disciples to proclaim the same message.

·         The message was to the Jews that the kingdom of heaven – the kingly reign of the promised Messiah from heaven – was being inaugurated and therefore they needed to repent of their sin, get right with God, and get ready for the appearance of this Messiah and submit to Him as their king from heaven.

·         This message was uniquely suited to the Jewish people who had been prepared through the many prophets of God to know the back-story of this proclamation,

o       that there is one true God,

o       that this God had established standards of good and evil that had been violated by mankind,

o       that God justly decreed eternal death as the sentence of justice to everyone,

o       but that God had initiated a way to be reconciled through the death of a substitute,

o       and that there would be a descendent of Eve and of Abraham and of David who would provide the way for people to be reconciled with God, that this Messiah would suffer God’s wrath on our behalf,

o       and that this Messiah was to be listened to, followed, and obeyed.


All this the Jews knew from prophecy, so they understood this message that the kingdom of heaven had drawn near! But the disciples were not only to talk about it, they were also to act upon it:

Mat 10:8  ἀσθενοῦντας θεραπεύετε, λεπροὺς καθαρίζετε, νεκροὺς ἐγείρετε, δαιμόνια ἐκβάλλετε· δωρεὰν ἐλάβετε, δωρεὰν δότε.

10:8 Be healing those who are infirm, be cleansing lepers, be raising the dead, be casting out demons. Y’all received for free; give for free.

·         Heal… cleanse… raise – These are all things that the disciples had watched Jesus do, so they were to follow in His footsteps.

·         Were these to be done literally or just spiritually?

o       We reformed people do not have a history of being real comfortable around miracles. One reformed commentator I read suggested that since there are no reports in the Bible of the disciples raising anyone from the dead, then they must have taken this command figuratively and simply sought to introduce people to spiritual life.

o       However, the context of this instruction immediately follows several accounts of physical healings and a literal raising of a dead girl, so if Jesus had intended these things to be spirit­ualized as figures of speech, I think He would have had to explain to the disciples that He was speaking figuratively rather than literally, because without further explanation they would have assumed He meant them to heal people and raise them from the dead literally just as He had done.

o       Now, this does not mean that they did not also seek for spiritual life to come to people even as physical life was restored to them. The disciples must have known that these miracles were not merely about extending the lifespan of a few people by a couple of decades. They were also commanded to preach about the kingdom at hand – the need to repent and believe in Jesus. They must have seen that these miracles pointed to spiritual realities of freedom from the bondage of sin and from the power of death and getting into a right relationship with God.

·         A second question that we have to face is: “Are these miracles intended to be just for that partic­ular time of ministry (just as the instruction to avoid Gentiles and Samaritans was limited to that particular time of ministry), or should we ourselves expect to do these same miracles today?

o       The commentaries I read from various writers in the Reformed tradition were pretty much unanimous in stating that these miracles were only for that particular point in history and not for today.

o       On the other hand, I have godly friends in the Charismatic tradition who believe these miracles are still for today, and over the years, I have heard quite a number of reports of miraculous healings, and even occasional reports of people being raised from death.

o       Jesus does not explicitly tell us what these commands to the 12 apostles then have to do with us today, so I believe we are left to wrestle with it ourselves, and at this point, I believe I can only express an opinion.

o       At the risk of sounding Hegelian, I think I come down somewhere inbetween the traditional Reformed perspective and the contemporary Charismatic perspective. I believe that there is a place for these miracles today, but I believe that it is nevertheless limited.

§         This command to heal the sick and raise the dead is clearly addressed to the 12 apostles and to no one else. It is also sandwiched inbetween commands to avoid Gentiles and to carry no money, both commands of which are clearly limited to that one ministry trip and both commands of which are changed to the opposite later on (Luke 22:36). Furthermore, Jesus never gives these commands again, although He does give one of them again, “heal the sick” when He sends out the 70 on a similar mission (Luke 10). So these commands are given in a very particular, limited situation.

§         Furthermore, the time of Christ was a special time. It was the time of the first coming of the Messiah, prophecied and anticipated for thousands of years, and now looked back upon with awe and wonder, even as we look forward to the second coming. The teaching of Jesus on earth was quite a unique thing, as was His death and resurrection. Those were once-in-eternity sorts of events that were deserving of remarkable signs and wonders to highlight the momentousness of this occasion! It is no wonder that we read of so many sick people healed and dead people raised at the time of Christ and His apostles, and I think it is unreasonable to expect that kind of action to happen as everyday occurrences anymore.

§         However, these kind of miracles did continue on throughout the book of Acts, well after Jesus had gone back up into heaven, and we read of them not only in the ministries of the 12 apostles, but also of other men. And one thing I have noticed generally about reports of miraculous healings and raisings from the dead today is that they tend to be from missionaries working on the frontiers of the world. The kinds of circumstances attending these kinds of modern-day miracles seem to me to match the circumstances of the apostles in the book of Acts, as Christianity was expanding anew into the world.

§         The team of 12 apostles has gone on to glory some time ago, but we are the players left on the field for our generation. We certainly still have a God with the power to do whatever He wants in regards to miracles today if He wants to, so I want to say cautiously that healing the sick and raising the dead may still be God’s will in some circumstances, so if you believe that it is appropriate to ask God for these kind of things, then ask. I would especially encourage you to consider the appropriateness of signs and wonders if you are in a frontier missions situation where people are being introduced to the Gospel for the first time. But I would not expect these kind of things to be an everyday occurrence.

·         Jesus concludes His description of the task with the words “freely you received; freely give” The Greek word translated “freely/without pay” is dwrean, which is also translated “gratitutously,” or “as a gift.” This word shows up on other contexts throughout the New Testament to describe the free-ness of God’s salvation:

o       Rom. 3:24 … justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus

o       2 Corinthians 11:7b … I preached the gospel of God to you without charge

o       Rev. 21:6 “…I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.”

·         These kind of powers could have made the apostles wealthy. (Who wouldn’t pay handsomely to have their loved ones healed or raised from the dead?) But Jesus told His disciples not to use their God-given authority to make themselves rich. They were to give away the love of God as freely as they had received it.

·         You who are justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus,
you who heard the good news from God preached for free,
you who have been invited to drink from the wells of eternal life without charge,
are you offering the same good news to the world around you just as freely?


Sometimes in a basketball game, the buzzer goes off before you’re at a good stopping place. It was certainly frustrating for that buzzer to go off and signal the end of the game Friday night when we were still one point down. But I’m out of time this morning as well and will need to wait and continue studying Jesus instructions to His apostles next week. But for now, let me debrief this briefing from Jesus with several lessons we can apply to our own lives:

  1. Jesus has authority over everything, and He wants to use His authority to help us make disciples ourselves.
  2. Jesus sent His disciples out in pairs, so we should also buddy up with someone and work together on whatever ministry ideas we have. Especially if you have a blood-brother or sister you can team up with on a ministry project, work together with that sister or brother!
  3. Let us praise God for His covenant faithfulness, that He fulfilled His promise to Abraham 4,000 years ago and that He has caused His blessings to reach us gentiles!
  4. Let us also grow in our experience of sharing the gospel, starting with those in our same culture, but then finding ways to push outside of our culture and share with people from different cultures, just as Jesus did with His disciples.
  5. Let us talk about – publicize – the kingdom of heaven,
  6. Let us also demonstrate the kingdom of heaven on earth through our actions, whether it is literally asking God to heal sick people or whether it is doing practical things that will cause blessing to the lost so that they see that God offers genuine and comprehensive blessing to all who believe. Whatever we do, let us do it freely just as we have received salvation from Jesus for free!
  7. Let us follow the example of Christ and also leave an example for others to follow.