Matthew 10:09-15 – How to Share the Gospel House-to-House

A sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 12 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.

10:9 Do not equip yourselves with gold or silver or copper in your belts,

            10:10 nor with a pack for the road, or a second pair of underwear or shoes or staff,

            for the worker is worthy of his food.

10:11 And, in whatever city or town y’all happen to enter,

            start researching who in it is appropriate,

            and remain there until whenever you leave.

            10:12 And when you enter into their house, greet it, [saying, ‘Peace to this household!’]

10:13 Then, if the household happens to be worthy, let your peace come upon it,
but if, on the other hand, it does not happen to be worthy, let your peace be returned to you.

10:14 And [in the case of] whoever shall not receive y’all or listen to your words,

            shake off the dust from your feet as you exit out of that house or city.

10:15 Really I tell you, it will be more tolerable in the land of Sodom and Gomorrah during judgment day than in that city!


Last time we were together, we read of Jesus sending out 12 disciples to preach in the surrounding Jewish villages. We saw that:

·         Jesus has authority over everything, and He wants to use His authority to help us make disciples.

·         Jesus sent His disciples in pairs, so we should also buddy up – especially with our own siblings!

·         Jesus fulfilled His promise that He would bless Abraham and His descendents (the Jews) and then all the other families of the earth. Jesus started His disciples out in a familiar culture, then later pushed them to share with people from different cultures.

·         Jesus sent His disciples to publicize the kingdom of heaven, not only with words but also with actions of healing as a blessing to all who believe.

·         and Jesus instructs us that we should offer such gospel blessings just as freely as we received salvation from Him!


Now we pick up where we left off in v.9 with a negative packing list followed by a list of steps to take in doing household-based evangelism:

What not to take (10:9-10)

Mat 10:9  μὴ κτήσησθε χρυσὸν μηδὲ ἄργυρον μηδὲ χαλκὸν εἰς τὰς ζώνας ὑμῶν, 10 μὴ πήραν εἰς ὁδὸν μηδὲ δύο χιτῶνας μηδὲ ὑποδήματα μηδὲ ῥάβδον[1]· ἄξιος γὰρ ὁ ἐργάτης τῆς τροφῆς αὐτοῦ ἐστιν.

10:9 Do not equip yourselves with gold or silver or copper in your belts, 10 nor with a pack for the road, or a second pair of underwear or shoes or staff, for the worker is worthy of his food.

·         μὴ κτήσησθε = Do not provideKJV/acquireNAS,ESV/take alongNIV/equip yourself with:

A)    money – Not gold coins worth a hundred or more dollars, not silver dollars or dimes, and not even copper pennies.

1)      …in your purses/belts” In those days, travelers would tuck money into a wide cloth belt that would be folded a couple of times and then tied around the waist. Nowadays we use a wallet or purse, or, perhaps if you’re worried about pickpockets, a fanny pack pouch with secure zippers attached to a belt that secures around your waist.

2)      This may indicate a short-term trip. It’s not like when Jacob and his family moved all their acquisitions/personal effects (ektesanto – Gen. 46:6) into Egypt to live there indefinitely.

B)    πήραν εἰς ὁδὸν - a scrip/bag/pack for the road/journey – no backpack to put gear in.

1)      In the ancient world, beggars would carry this “peran” sack to put stuff that was donated to them,

2)      but this appears to be like a travel bag [picture of hobo sack tied to a stick?] –

3)      it only occurs in the Bible in the context of this command of Jesus.

4)      He is saying that the apostles need to travel light on this trip and not to provide for themselves at all.

C)    δύο χιτῶνας second pair of underwear – Most English translations have “coat” or “tunic” – and the tunic was indeed worn like an undershirt (cf. Matt 5:40).

1)      In America and England, however, we don’t wear tunics, but we do understand the concept of underwear that is worn under your outer clothes.

2)      Now, how many of you growing up were packing up to go somewhere, and your mom checked to make sure that you had packed changes of underwear? My wife has found that this is particularly important for boys, because otherwise, they will merrily go off for a week without changing clothes at all – an unbearable thought for my wife!

3)      Anyway, this again could indicate a short trip, otherwise, the apostles would have nothing to wear as a backup come wash day!

4)      Alternately, it could indicate that they were to depend upon God so totally that they would have to trust God to provide even personal items of clothing in addition to food.

a.       We might be o.k. with trusting God for daily bread, but can you really trust him for underwear?

b.      I think I’ve told this story before and gotten straightened out afterward on the details, but I can say from experience, “Yes, God can even provide underwear!” A while back, there was a time when my wife and I couldn’t afford to replace the rags our boys were wearing. We were struggling with whether to spend a little bit to buy underwear for the boys, since we didn’t typically find such things in the hand-me-down clothing that was donated to us. I believe my wife prayed about it, and it wasn’t long before Grandmama called saying she was sending along some money and recommended we buy the boys some underwear!

c.       Don’t underestimate what God can provide for you!

D)    ὑποδήματα shoes (cf. Matt 3:11) When I travel, I take a pair of dress shoes for meetings where I need to be dressed up, a pair of running shoes so I can go walking for exercise, a pair of work boots if I’m going to be getting dirty, a pair of snow boots if it’s going to be snowy, and I might even pack a pair of house slippers. But here Jesus says, No extras!

E)     ῥάβδον - staff  - Moses had one, and performed many miracles with it (Ex. 4:4 ff),

1)      It was used for discipline (Ex. 21:20, 2 Sam. 7:14, Prov. 22:15, 23:13-14, 1 Cor 4:21),

2)      It was used as a support for old or injured men to lean on when they stood or walked (Heb. 11:21, Ex. 21:19, Zech. 8:4),

3)      It was even used as a flail for threshing grain (Judg. 6:11, Isa. 28:27),

4)      and as a measuring stick (Lev. 27:32, Rev. 11:1),

5)      Kings used them as scepters (Heb 1:8),

6)      It was used to goad cattle (Num 22:23, Micah 7:14, Psalm 23),

7)      and as a weapon (1Sa_17:43, 2 Sam 23:21, Ezek. 39:9).

8)      Man alive, a staff is really handy! No wonder kids like sticks! No wonder I keep catching my children trying to smuggle sticks into our house! Next time you come to our house, notice that there is a pile of sticks by the front door where I have discovered sticks that the kids smuggled into the house and I have cast the sticks out!

9)      But Jesus says, “No,” you don’t need a staff either. At least that’s what the NAS, ESV, and NIV say. They are based on the reading of a majority of the most ancient Greek and Latin manuscripts of the New Testament, as well as the Greek New Testaments still published by the Greek Orthodox church, and at least one edition of what is called the Textus Receptus in Europe, from which the KJV was translated.

a.       There are, however, quite a number of Greek manuscripts which render the word “staff” in the plural, as if to say, “Don’t bring two staffs.” Of the English versions, the KJV alone has the plural “staves,” but I have not been able to determine whether they actually derived this from the Greek text they were following or not.

b.      At any rate, there is the possibility that Jesus said, “Don’t take two staffs,” instead of saying not to take any at all. Either way, He was instructing His disciples to stay stripped down of accessories that travelers might use to defend themselves or help themselves.

·         WHY??? “The worker is worthy of his food”NKJ,ESV (literally) – and by extension, his keepNIV/ supportNAS. What does this mean, “worthy”?

1)      ξιοςappropriate, fitting, worthy, deserving.

a.       Before I came to pastor here, I was completely faith-supported. I never knew how much money I would be paid from one month to the next because it depended upon how much had been donated to my account. Now, different mission agencies have different policies about asking for financial support, but it was the position of the mission agencies I worked with, that asking for financial support was Biblical, and so I would periodically call contacts and ask them to give to our ministry. Usually I would get a positive reply, but occasionally people told me things that discouraged me. I particularly remember once when an uncle told me that I should quit my mission work and become “gainfully employed.” That made me struggle with whether or not I could believe this word from Jesus that I as a gospel worker was worthy of my support.

b.      I know that most of you aren’t living on faith support, but because some of us here are, let me say this, “Don’t listen to the lie of the devil that you are a worthless leech, mooch­ing off of everybody and providing nothing of value in return. You are doing something extre­me­ly valuable by enabling the spread of gospel. It is worth being paid for. This is the way it should be, even if there aren’t lots of people knocking your door down to support you!”

c.       Paul picks up on this statement from Jesus later on and applies it to supporting the elders of the church: 1 Timothy 5:17-18 “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,’ and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.’” (NASB)

2)      Before I move on, I want to address two misunderstandings of this saying:

a.       One mistake is to say that there is something wrong with gainful employment. Not so. God’s word instructs us that it is normative to work with our hands to provide for our

 own needs and earn enough to share with others: 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 “…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” (cf. Eph 4:28) So living on faith support does not make you more spiritual; it is just an allowable exception to the rule of working for a living.

b.      Another mistake is to say that everyone in ministry must be faith-supported, or conversely that everyone involved in ministry must work for a living and avoid living off support. The truth is that neither extreme can be applied to all cases.

(i)     Here we have Jesus sending out His disciples with instructions to provide nothing for themselves and depend on their role of gospel preachers to be the basis for which the community would provide their needs.
However, later on, when Jesus was approaching His death, He gave different instruct­ions to His disciples: Luke 22:36  “…now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.”
(NASB) At different times Jesus had His apostles do ministry in different ways.

(ii)   Likewise, when Paul went to share the gospel among Gentiles in places like Ephesus, Thessalonica, and Corinth, he worked for his own living by making and selling tents, and God allowed him to promote this example in Scripture (Acts 18:3; 2 Thess. 3:8). But at other times, Paul lived off the support of others, as we see was the case during his imprisonment in Rome when he thanked the Philippians in chapter 4 for giving to meet his needs (also in 2 Cor 11:7, where He lived off the support of the Asian church to minister among the Corinthians).

c.       So, how do we know when to do what? I believe that each of us has to determine this on a case-by-case basis:

(i)     Some of the decision rests on your own personality and your own temptations to sin:

·         George Mueller, for instance was a notorious swindler before He engaged in ministry, so he turned 180 degrees from his former sinful way of talking people out of their money by putting an end to ever asking people for money at all. God honored that in his life and provided for his needs and the needs of hundreds of orphans that he took care of without him ever asking anyone else for support! Get a biography and read about it!

·         I on the other hand, have a sinful tendency to be selfish and reclusive. I would really rather not have to talk to anyone outside my own family. To help me grow, I believe God placed me in a mission situation where I had to talk to other people about my ministry calling, and I had to lose my self-centeredness and self-reliance by asking for financial support.

(ii)   Another part of this decision rests on your target audience:

·         In the case of the apostles here in Matthew 10, they were operating in Jewish territory, early in Jesus’ ministry. This was a friendly culture which honored God’s laws about personal generosity to the poor, and it was culturally normative to provide hospitality for these mendicant Bible preachers coming through town.

·         However, they could not depend on this kind of Biblical hospitality in other situa­tions, such as when they preached among certain Gentile popula­tions, or when the Jews began persecuting Christians in Judea. In those situations, the apostles took care of themselves and did not depend upon the hospitality of others.
So, who you are and who your target audience is makes a difference.

(iii) There is also the matter of your ministry goals which might influence how you operate:

·         Paul chose not to exercise his right to be supported in Corinth and Thessalonica because the people there apparently had a temptation to be lazy and dependent on welfare, so he wanted to model how a Christian should work for a living.

·         Jesus, on the other hand, when sending out His apostles this first time may have had a ministry goal of building faith in the 12 by sending them out empty-handed and totally dependent upon God to provide for their needs. Jesus knew that once the apostles saw God provide for their needs, they would grow bolder in gospel ministry, unhampered by fears about starving to death in the service of God! This faith mission strategy fit well with Jesus’ goal of training His disciples to evangelize the whole world.

How to do house to house evangelism – 5 steps (10:11-12)

10:11 εἰς ἣν δ᾿ ἂν πόλιν ἢ κώμην εἰσέλθητε, ἐξετάσατε τίς ἐν αὐτῇ ἄξιός ἐστι, κἀκεῖ μείνατε ἕως ἂν ἐξέλθητε. 12 εἰσερχόμενοι δὲ εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν ἀσπάσασθε αὐτήν [λεγοντες ειρηνη τω οικω τουτωא,D,L,W,Θ,f1].

10:11 And, in whatever city or town you happen to enter, start researching who in it is appropriate, and remain there until whenever you leave. 12 And when you enter into their house, greet it, [saying, ‘Peace to this household!’]

A)    Step 1: εἰσέλθητε - Enter a city or town – anywhere. Whatever you do, don’t stay here; go!

1)      cf. 10:7 “go, preach”

2)      Similar commands are used in the various iterations of the Great Commis­sion:

a.       Go, make disciples of all the nations” (Mt. 28:19),

b.      Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15),.

3)      Jesus knew the courage it would take to overcome fears and go into a place and start preaching, so He gives us the encouragement of this command to GO.

B)    Step 2: ἐξετάσατε[2] - InquireKJV,NAS/searchNIV/find outESV/ask around/research who would be worthy/appropriate/fitting.

1)      This is the same word used of the worker being “worthy” of his food.

2)      We’re looking for what missionaries often call “a man of peace” or a “cultural informer”

a.       who has the space and the finances to offer you free room and board,

b.      who is kind and considerate toward outsiders,

c.       who appreciates hearing about the things of God,

d.      and who has time to talk through things with you.

3)      Careful consideration should be given to who you minister to. This “inquiring” or “research” is described with a word used in Deut. 19:18 and Ps. 11:4-5 to describe a judge who carefully weighs what each witness says. Here is where some wisdom can be exercised as we trust God’s divine guidance.

C)    Step 3: ἀσπάσασθε - Greet it.

1)      Several ancient Greek manuscripts of this text go on to explain how to frame this greeting, by saying, “Peace to this house!”

2)      The brick and mortar “house,” of course, is not really the object of our greeting, but rather stands as metonymy for “all the people in the household.”

3)      In March 2010, I preached a couple of sermons based on the Apostle Paul’s greeting at the end of 1 Corinthians 16, “This greeting is in my own hand, Paul. If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be cursed. Maranatha! The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is with y’all. My love is with all of y’all in Christ Jesus.”

4)      In 1 Corinthians 16, this greeting was to be done with a kiss, and, considering church practice worldwide, that is not an uncommon way of greeting. I remember being startled when I was in France and stepped into a host’s home, and they grabbed me as soon as I crossed the threshold of the door and kissed me on one cheek and then the other cheek.

5)      Arndt & Gingrich’s Greek-English Lexicon expands the meaning of this Greek word for “greeting” as meaning: “…Salute, Welcome, Take leave of, Cherish, Be fond of, Hug, Remember someone to someone else, Hail, Acclaim, or Pay respects to.”

6)      Essentially, a greeting shows goodwill towards someone else and builds a relationship and bonds of unity.

7)      David, before he became king of Israel, did this when he greeted Nabal: “Peace to you, and peace to your house, and peace to all that you have.” (1 Sam. 25)

8)      Greetings can also be used to draw the addressee into the covenantal blessings of your relationship with God, as Paul did in 1 Cor. 16: “If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be cursed…  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”

9)      When we wish peace upon someone, we recognize that peace comes only from God through Jesus Christ, and we would wish that peace that passes understanding upon any host!

D)    Step 4: μείνατε - Remain there until it’s time to make your exit from the city.

1)      Don’t hop around from host to host. Allow time to build your relationship deeply with the strategic person you identified when you came into town.

2)      Put up with the irritating things you discover while living at his house. For instance, I remember one time when I was in mission work that I was staying with a host, and my entire head got inexplicably itchy the second day in. I kept on wondering what on earth could cause this. Sometime later that day, I walked past the bedroom and saw the reason why: their cat was taking a nap on my pillow! I like cats, but I’m kinda allergic to being that close to them. Jesus says, no, that’s not a good enough reason to interrupt your mission!

3)      Make this your base from which you preach and heal for as long as you are in town.

E)     Step 5: ἐξέλθητε - Leave. There comes a point when it’s time to make your exit. Evangelists who are focused on revival, deliver their message and move on, knowing that once people have had a chance to hear the message, the job is done and it’s time to hit the next town.

1)      Later on, the apostles would be sent to plant churches, so they converted and trained locals to lead the church, and then those apostles left to plant more churches in other towns. Once locals are able to lead the church on their own, it’s time for a church-planter to leave (Acts 14:23).

2)      Often when we look at our calling, we don’t think about the exit point, but we need to seriously consider our exit strategy, so that whatever we are doing, we end well.

3)      For instance, parents, you have a ministry calling regarding your children; you are to “raise them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” and then send them out like an arrow from a bow.

·         How will you know when you have disciplined and instructed them enough?

·         Do you know when and how to launch them, and what target you’re launching them at?

·         Are you going to continue that work with your grandchildren?

·         This goes for any disciple-making ministry. Know what your end goal is and when you will be done.

How do deal with rejection (10:13-15)

10:13  καὶ ἐὰν μὲν ᾖ ἡ οἰκία ἀξία, ἐλθέτω ἡ εἰρήνη ὑμῶν ἐπ᾿ αὐτήν· ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ᾖ ἀξία, ἡ εἰρήνη ὑμῶν πρὸς/εφא,B,W ὑμᾶς ἐπιστραφήτω. 14 καὶ ὃς ἐὰν μὴ δέξηται ὑμᾶς μηδὲ ἀκούσῃ τοὺς λόγους ὑμῶν, ἐξερχόμενοι ἔξω[3] τῆς οἰκίας ἢ τῆς πόλεως [η κωμηςא,f13] ἐκείνης ἐκτινάξατε τὸν κονιορτὸν [εκא,C] τῶν ποδῶν ὑμῶν. 15 ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀνεκτότερον ἔσται γῇ Σοδόμων καὶ [γηא,C] Γομόρρας ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως ἢ τῇ πόλει ἐκείνῃ.

10:13 Then, if the household happens to be worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if, on the other hand, it does not happen to be worthy, let your peace be returned to you. 14 And [in the case of] whoever shall not receive y’all or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you exit out of that house or city. 15 I tell you truly, it will be more tolerable in the land of Sodom and Gomorrah during judgment day than in that city!


There are certainly times when we exercise bad judgment. Sometimes we do our research and step into a ministry project, and then we realize we just can’t serve these people:


A)    Take comfort in God’s sovereign control
Often things are just beyond our control, but we do have a certain amount of control over the peace that we bring to other people through the Gospel message – the message that Jesus made peace between us and God through His blood shed on the cross.

1)      If we start sharing about that, and they listen with interest, then keep that message of peace coming! “Let your peace come” to them and keep praying for them to enjoy the peace of Christ!

2)      If, on the other hand, the person does not want your message of peace, and they hush you up when you start talking about Jesus – or worse, they start trying to tar and feather you or otherwise be mean to you, then it is O.K. for you to leave them and move on. It may tear you up and make you weep with anger or pity, but Jesus wants you to know that God will take the peace you wished upon those people and instead give it to you.

3)      The word “return” in Greek is spelled in the passive voice, and could be trans­lated “Let it be returned to you.” I think this is because God is the one who ultimate­ly disp­enses peace. He is the one who is ultimately in control of these situations you cannot control, and when you have been rejected, you should let Him comfort you with His peace.


B)    Disassociate

1)      What does it mean to “shake the dust off of your feet” outside the house or town?

a.       The first place this Greek verb ἐκτινάξατε occurs in the O.T. is Ex. 14:27, where it says that God “shook off” Egypt from Israel when the people of Israel had passed through the dried-up seabed and the Red Sea was released to drown Pharoah’s army.

b.      This statement is made again in Psalm 136:15.

c.       The ancient book of Job also uses this verb to picture God shaking the wicked out of the earth (Job 38:13).

2)      So, shaking a piece of clothing seems to have become a way for the Jews to picture the wrath of God destroying the wicked

a.       as we see in Nehemiah 5:13,  “I also shook out the front of my garment and said, ‘Thus may God shake out every man from his house and from his possessions who does not fulfill his promise; even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.’”

b.      We also see this symbol of shaking again in Hebrews 12:26-27, although using different Greek words: “YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE [σείσω] NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN… removing of those things which can be shaken… so that those things which cannot be shaken [σαλευόμενα] may remain.” - NASB

3)      So, by shaking the dust off of their feet, the apostles were leaving a picturesque warning that if these unreceptive and unresponsive people continued in their ways of rejecting God’s word, then, come judgment day, God will shake them out of the land of the living into hell.

4)      The Bible provides us with two examples of when the apostles actually had to do this – both times to groups of Jews:

a.       Acts 13:44-51Paul and Barnabus with the unworthy Jews of Psidian Antioch: “The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming. Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.’ When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region. But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.”

b.      Later when Paul entered the city of Corinth, “…he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath… solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’ Then he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue.” (Acts 18:4-7 NASB)


C)    Live like God’s word is really as serious a matter as God says it is
Jesus assured His apostles that God will affirm the incredible value of what they are doing in spreading the gospel by an incredible punishment exercised upon anyone who rejects them and their message.

1)      v.15 references Sodom & Gomorrah – the twin cities in Palestine (or perhaps Jordan) that were destroyed by God some 4,000 years ago with a hailstorm of fire and brimstone for their sexual sin and prideful rebellion against God which culminated in their attempt to abuse the angelic messengers God sent them (Gen. 19).

2)      The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was awful:

a.       Jeremiah 49:18 says that these cities were left desolate such that “no one was living there, nor a son of man residing in it.”

b.      and Zephaniah 2:9 says they were turned into “a place possessed by nettles and salt pits and a perpetual desolation…”

c.       2 Peter 2:6 says that God “reduced them to ashes, making them an example to those who would live ungodly lives afterward.”

3)      And yet, Jesus said here and later on in Matthew 11:21-24 that the judgment coming on those who reject His messengers will be even more intolerable than the judgment that came on Sodom and Gomorrah! “…you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hell; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.”

4)      Wow! What could be more intolerable than fire and brimstone raining down from the sky and burning everything to ashes and leaving a desolate, uninhabited land of salt marshes?

a.       I suggest it would be eternity in hell, where the land itself would also be removed – not even any salt or thistles left.

b.      As Jude 1:7 put it, Sodom and Gomorrah are just a harbinger or “example” of the greater coming “punishment of eternal fire.”

5)      This calls for any of us who attempt to communicate messages from God to the world around us to really take our role seriously!

a.       We are not necessarily in the same position that the 12 apostles were in. We have not been given a specific charge to itinerate around the cities and towns of Galilee, raising dead people and proclaiming to Jews that God’s kingdom is near. But we have been given a charge to announce the good news to all the world that Jesus saves sinners, and the ramifications of our charge are no less weighty than the ramifications of the charge Jesus gave to the 12:

b.      If we fail to deliver the Gospel, and keep it to ourselves, we leave the world around us no better off than Sodom and Gomorrah.

c.       If we deliver our message, but fail to deliver the Gospel carefully and earnestly and clearly, we stand condemned of handling valuable information with momentous impact on peoples lives as though it were unimportant and unworthy to hear.

d.      But if we are faithful in delivering the message of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ, we become participants in saving souls from a fate worse than that of Sodom and Gomorrah.

e.       And if we experience rejection or ridicule or loss as a result of communicating the Gospel with others, then rest assured, in the end, God will punish to the full extent the insults heaped upon His glorious grace by men and women who rejected our message, and God will vindicate you for doing what He wanted you to do.

[1] Thus the reading of א,B,D,Θ,f1,33, ancient Latin versions and the Stephens Textus Receptus. The majority of Greek manuscripts, however, read plural ῥάβδους (C,L,W,f13,Maj.) – which is the reading of the KJV.

[2] This word is only found in the following scriptures: Deu_19:18; Psa_11:4; Psa_11:5; Mat_2:8; Mat_10:11; Joh_21:12.

[3] This word is not in the Textus Receptus, nor is the epsilon which starts the third word of this sentence. Both are, however, found in the Byzantine, Majority, and Critical texts. As usual, the presence or absence of these things does not change the meaning.