The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

My Notes on Today’s Gospel (Matt 10:1-7)

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 4, 2011

At the end of this post I’ve included some suggested readings.

Background: It is important to keep in mind that Matthew has constructed his Gospel in a series of alternating narratives and discourses. Each narrative (e.g., chapters 1-4; 8-9; 11-12; etc.,) prepares for the discourse which follows it (e.g., chapters 5-7, 10; 13; etc.). The effect is cumulative.

In the narrative of chapters 1-4 Matthew portrays our Lord as like, but greater than, Moses, and as the promised Son of David. In this way he prepares for the discourse in chapters 5-7 wherein  “Like Moses, Jesus goes up to the mountain but, unlike Moses, he proclaims with full and lordly authority not the Old Law but the New Law-the messianic Torah which true disciples of the Kingdom must observe”  (Matthew His Mind And Message, Peter F. Ellis, pg 29).  The Kingdom which was foreshadowed by the Davidic dynasty. Thus in chapters 1-7 our Lord’s (Moses-like) legislative authority and his (David-like) ruling authority are established in word (see Matt 7:28-29).

The narrative in chapters 8 and 9 are made up of a series of alternating accounts focusing on the deeds/miracles of Jesus (Matt 8:1-17; 8:28-9:8; 9:20-34), and the demands of discipleship (Matt 8:18-27; 9:9-18).  Thus, in chapters 1-9 we see Matthew establishing Jesus’ messianic authority (1-4) in both word (5-7) and deed (8-9), showing how our Lord is able to make demands on us, his disciples.

All of this prepares for the discourse in chapter 10 wherein Jesus bestows on the Apostles power/authority to work miracles [deeds] (Matt 10:1) and to proclaim the Gospel [words] (Matt 10:7). Activity which will arouse opposition and hatred [demands of discipleship] (Matt 10:16 ff).

Mat 10:1  And having called his twelve disciples together, he gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of diseases, and all manner of infirmities.

And having called his twelve. Both Mark and Luke narrate a call of the twelve (Mk 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16) prior to their pre-Resurrection mission and the accompanying discourse (Mk 6:7-13; Lk 9:1-6).  Note that in earlier call of the twelve in Mk 3 and Luke 6 there is reference to a mountain (Mk 3:13; Lk 6:12), while in the latter call with its accompanying missionary discourse, no mountain is mentioned (Mk 6; Lk 9).  Matthew appears to have meshed the two events into one.

The effect of Mark and Luke’s separation of the initial call from the second call/missionary discourse/actual sending on mission is that it emphasizes Jesus preparing the twelve specifically for mission.  Matthew’s arrangement indicates that this theme of preparation is not absent but, rather, extended.  All who wish to embrace the Gospel must live by its demands (Sermon on the Mount) and expect hardship (Matt 8-9).

He gave them power. Ellis calls this ” A Central tenet of Matthew’s gospel: the Apostles have received their authority directly from the teacher of the messianic Torah and the doer of messianic deed” (MATTHEW, HIS MIND AND MESSAGE, pg. 48.  He thus shows himself to be the “mightier” one predicted by John (Matt 3:12). The one who can “make” fishermen to be “fishers of men” (Matt 4:19).

Over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of diseases, and all manner of infirmities.  The very things Jesus has been doing in chapters 8-9.

Mat 10:2  And the names of the twelve Apostles are these: The first, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother,
Mat 10:3  James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the publican, and James the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus,
Mat 10:4  Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

The first, Simon who is called Peter. The fact that Matthew employs first as an adjective rather than an adverb hints at his significance (Matt 14:28-32; 15:15; 16:17-19; 17:24-27; etc.).  Whenever the twelve are listed Peter is always mentioned first.

Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. In all the lists of the twelve Iscariot is always mentioned last.  Concerning the word “Iscariot” I made the following note in Lapide’s commentary which I posted earlier: “I once suggested that Iscariot was derived from the Greek word ισχυρου [ischuros], meaning strong man. This is the word Our Lord uses to describe Satan in Mark 3:27 which is in close proximity to the call of Judas Iscariot in Mark 3:19. This is, of course, speculation on my part. Others think it is a compound word derived from the Hebrew ish, man, and the Greek sikarios, daggerman, cutthroat, assassin. Others think it means enstranglement and is a reference to his manner of death. See Matt 27:5. The Protestant Bishop Lightfoot, in his Exercitations on the Gospel of Matthew makes this suggestion, but it is based on gemetria, i.e., the practice of assigning numbers to letters, and his reasoning is somewhat tortured.”

These twelve Jesus sent. Father Meier, in his Commentary on Matthew, suggests that these words are basically a second introduction necessitated by the meshing of the two accounts I referred to above.

Go ye not into the way of the Gentiles, and into the city of the Samaritans enter ye not. Reflects the order of salvation history (see Rom 1:16; 15:8-12; Acts 1:8; 3:26; 13:46). Matthew has already hinted at a future mission to the Gentiles in Matt 8:5-12 (especially verses 11-12).  The placement of the statement here prepares for the increasing hostility and rejection Jesus will experience from his countrymen in chapters 11-12. A rejection predicted by the prophets (Matt 13:10-13).  The growing rejection will cause Jesus to focus more attention on instructing his Apostles (chapters 14-17), who are to replace the chief priests and pharisees as leaders and guides of the people (Matt 21:33-45). In his Eschatological Discourse Jesus will describe in symbolic terms the doom of Jerusalem and the temple, a description reminiscent of the fate of Gentile nations, thus indicating that through unbelief his people have become no better than Gentiles (compare Matt 24:29 and its reference to sun, moon and stars with Isaiah 13:9-10; 34:4; Ezek 32:7-8; Joel 2:10; Amos 8:9).  The final command of Jesus that his apostles “Make disciples of all nations” )Matt 28:19) thus includes the Hebrew people who remain the object of God’s predilection and salvific will (Rom 9-11).  God’s call is irrevocable (Rom 11:25-29), and His mercy will eventually triumph (Rom 11:30-36).

Mat 10:6  But go ye rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Provides a connection with the end of the previous narrative (chapters 8-9): “And seeing the multitudes, he had compassion on them: because they were distressed, and lying like sheep that have no shepherd.  Then he saith to his disciples, The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few.  Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matt 9:36-38).

It is instructive to take account of how the discourse in chapters 5-7 ends: “And it came to pass when Jesus had fully ended these words, the people were in admiration at his doctrine. For he was teaching them as one having power, and not as the scribes and Pharisees” (Matt 7:28-29).  Matthew’s Gospel is a sustained polemic against the leaders of his people whom he sees as leading them astray.

Mat 10:7  And going, preach, saying: The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

The very thing our Lord began to do after his baptism/temptation (Matt 4:17).

Suggested Readings:

MATTHEW, HIS MIND AND HIS MESSAGE by Peter F. Ellis.  A fine introduction to the Gospel. Now out of print but new and used copies can sometimes be obtained on amazon or other online book sellers.

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW: Commentary, Notes, Study Questions by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch.  I would describe this as “the Gospel of Matthew with extended  footnotes”.  An outstanding resource for beginners or those looking for a guide for a group study.  This is the first volume in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible Series.  A single volume encompassing the entire NT is now available, and the authors have recently published a volume on Genesis as well.

MYSTERY OF THE KINGDOM by Edward Sri.  A good, basic commentary which can be used for both personal and group study.

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW by Edward Sri.  This is the fifth volume in a new series entitled “Catholic Commentary On Sacred Scripture”.  Well written and nicely formatted.  The commentaries pay attention to the use of the Old Testament by the New Testament authors and provide references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.The editorial strategy of these volumes is described here. Excerpts from the first four volumes (Mark; First and Second Timothy and Titus; Ephesians; Second Corinthians) can be read here. A sixth volume (First Corinthians) is scheduled for publication in November.

MATTHEW by Father John P. Meier.  A bit more in depth than the works listed above.

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW by Rudolph Schnackenburg.  A bit hyper-critical in my opinion. Presupposes some acquaintance with  scholarly methodlogy on the part of the reader.

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW by Daniel J. Harrington.  Part of the Sacra Pagina commentary series which Father Harrington edited. Presupposes some acquaintance with  scholarly methodlogy on the part of the reader.

THE GREAT COMMENTARY OF CORNELIUS A LAPIDE (died 1637). Father Lapide’s monumental and massive commentary on the Bible has never been fully translated into English.  The first attempt was done by Anglican scholars who translated several of his NT commentaries.  These translations were abridged and, on occasion, contained notations hostile to the Catholic faith.  Recently a Catholic publisher has printed a new and complete translation of Lapide’s commentary on the 4 Gospels which, as far as I can tell, are not available as individual volumes but must be purchased as a set. I love this commentary but find it to be ponderous at time, occasionally uncritical, and a bit hard to read (not to mention expensive! Fortunately for me, they 4 volumes were given to me as a gift).  In addition, following the common practice of his day, Father Lapide often sends his readers back to his commentary on Matthew when parallel passages occur in Mark and Luke. This means that specifically marcan and lucan  theology sometimes get short shrift.  Luke (for example) has theological reasons for inverting the last two temptations of Christs in the wilderness (compare Matt 4:5-10 with Luke 4:5-11).  Luke ends the temptations in Jerusalem because in his Gospel and his second volume, Acts of Apostles, it is the place from whence opposition to the gospel comes.  Matthew ends his temptation account with Jesus rejecting Satan’s offer to give Him the “gift” of the nations because he wishes to focus on how Jesus obtained dominion over them. Still, I love this commentary.

A COMMENTARY ON THE HOLY GOSPELS by Juan de Maldonado (died, 1583).  The title (“Gospel,” plural) can be misleading since this volume contains only Maldonado’s commentary on Matthew.  Apparently the original publisher planned a series (in English) on the four Gospel of which Matthew was the first; unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, Mark, Luke and John were never translated/published.  and I would issue the same reservations concerning it as Lapides, nonetheless, like Lapide’s work, it is of great value.

READING THE OLD TESTAMENT IN THE NEW: THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW by Scott Hahn. An online study guide. Links to the individual “lessons” can be found in the right hand sidebar.

2 Responses to “My Notes on Today’s Gospel (Matt 10:1-7)”

  1. […] UPDATE: My Notes on Today’s Gospel (Matt 10:1-7). […]

  2. […] My Notes on Today’s Gospel (Matt 10:1-7). […]

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