Matthew 10

Instructions to the Apostles: The Charter of the Apostolate[a]

Chapter 10

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles.[b] 1 Calling his twelve disciples together, he gave them authority over unclean spirits, with the power to drive them out and to cure every kind of disease and illness.

2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot,[c] the one who betrayed him.

5 These twelve Jesus sent forth after giving them the following instructions: “Do not travel[d] to the territory of the Gentiles, and enter no Samaritan town. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 And as you go, proclaim: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ 8 Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. You received without payment; give in the same way. 9 Take along no gold or silver or copper in your purses, 10 no sack for your journey, or an extra tunic, or sandals, or a staff. For the laborer deserves his keep.

11 “Whatever town or village you enter, look for some honorable person who lives there, and stay with him until you leave. 12 As you enter a house, extend your blessing upon it. 13 If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your message, shake the dust from your feet[e] as you leave that house or town. 15 Amen, I say to you, it will be more bearable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah[f] on the day of judgment than for that town.

16 No Servant Is above His Master.[g]“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as cunning as serpents and yet as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard, for people will hand you over to courts[h] and scourge you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be brought before governors and kings because of me to testify before them and the Gentiles.

19 “When they hand you over, do not be concerned about how you are to speak or what you are to say. When the time comes, you will be given what you are to say. 20 For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise up against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by all because of my name, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not have finished traveling through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.[i]

24 “No student is greater than his teacher, nor a servant greater than his master. 25 It is enough for the student to be like his teacher and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul,[j] how much more those of his household?

26 The Conditions of Discipleship.[k]“Therefore, do not be afraid of them. There is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27 What I say to you in the dark, proclaim in the daylight, and what you hear whispered, shout from the housetops.

28 “Have no fear of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, fear the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.[l]

29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them can fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. 30 Even the hairs on your head have all been counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are worth far more than any number of sparrows.

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my heavenly Father.

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword.[m]

35 For I have come to set a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36 and one’s enemies will be the members of his own household.

37 Whoever Receives You Receives Me.“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me, 38 and anyone who does not take up his cross[n] and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.[o]

40 “Whoever receives you receives me; and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. 41 Whoever receives a prophet[p] because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, amen, I say to you, he will not go unrewarded.”


  1. Matthew 10:1 This section of Matthew is called the Instructions to the Apostles; collected in it are the texts describing the mission of the disciples, applicable to the early Church and for all future time. The disciples begin the great enterprise; through them Christ’s authority and power continue among human beings—so long as they act truly in his Spirit and share his lot. Thus is born a new People of God.
  2. Matthew 10:1 Israel was made up of twelve tribes; the kingdom of Jesus was to have twelve founders (see Mt 19:28; Rev 21:12-14): the “Twelve” or the “apostles.” The latter is a Greek word (plural) meaning “those who are sent”; Jesus himself chose the term (Lk 6:13).
  3. Matthew 10:4 Iscariot: i.e., “Man from Kerioth,” a place in the southernmost part of Palestine.
  4. Matthew 10:5 Do not travel: the Good News about the kingdom was to be proclaimed first to Jews alone. After his Death and Resurrection, Jesus commanded the disciples to take the message to all nations (Mt 28:19; see Mt 21:43). Samaritans: a race of mixed blood resulting from the intermarriage of Israelites left behind when the people of the northern kingdom were exiled and Gentiles were brought into the land by the Assyrians (2 Ki 17:24). In the time of Jesus, Jews and Samaritans were bitterly opposed to one another (see Jn 4:9).
  5. Matthew 10:14 Shake the dust from your feet: a symbolic act practiced by the Pharisees when they left an unclean Gentile area. Here it represents a solemn warning to those who reject God’s message.
  6. Matthew 10:15 Sodom and Gomorrah: see Gen 19:23-29.
  7. Matthew 10:16 The disciples are prolongations of Christ, so to speak. Whatever happened to him will also happen to them. But if they persevere they will be saved.
  8. Matthew 10:17 Courts: the lower courts, connected with local synagogues, that tried less serious cases and scourged those found guilty.
  9. Matthew 10:23 You will not have finished . . . before the Son of Man comes: this may be interpreted in two ways: (1) the disciples will not have converted all of Israel before the Second Coming of Christ; (2) the disciples will not have preached the Gospel in all the towns of Palestine before the destruction of Jerusalem occurs in A.D. 70, which is a portent of the end of the world.
  10. Matthew 10:25 Beelzebul: “Baal the Prince,” or Beelzebub, “Lord of the Flies.” The former is the name of an ancient pagan divinity (see 2 Ki 1:1-14), the latter a contemptuous distortion of the name.
  11. Matthew 10:26 In the face of fierce opposition and trials of all kinds, the apostles must not lose heart, for they will be given the courage to bear true witness to Jesus and his message.
  12. Matthew 10:28 Gehenna: see note on Mt 5:22.
  13. Matthew 10:34 As Simeon predicted (Lk 2:34), Jesus will be a sign of contradiction even within families. Those who accept the Gospel will be at peace with God, but they will have to bear persecution at the hands of those who do not.
  14. Matthew 10:38 Take up his cross: this is the first time Matthew mentions the cross, which was an instrument of death. The picture is of a man, already condemned, required to carry the beam of his own cross to the place of execution (see Jn 19:17). Here it symbolizes the necessity of total commitment—even unto death—on the part of Jesus’ disciples.
  15. Matthew 10:39 Those who renounce their earthly life in order to confess Jesus will obtain the happiness of eternal life.
  16. Matthew 10:41 Prophet: the last prophet of the old covenant was John the Baptist.

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