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

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 10:1-7

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 5, 2013

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 the twelve disciples together. [b] Mission of the apostles. The first gospel supposes the choice of the apostles known; Mk. 3:14 and Lk. 6:13 tell us that Jesus spent the night previous to the call of the Twelve in prayer. That Mt. 10:1 treats of the same disciples follows both from their number, Twelve, and their names given in vv. 2–4. We must here consider, first, the number of apostles; secondly, their credentials; thirdly, their order; fourthly, their individual characteristics.

1.] The number of apostles. Various explanations: α. Since the fathers of the carnal Israel were twelve, the fathers of the spiritual Israel or the Church must be twelve [1 Cor. 4:15; Gal. 4:19; Philem. 10; cf. Mald. Lam.]. Hence even the prophets declare the necessity of being united with the house of Jacob [Is. 2:3; Mich. 4:2]. β. Alb. gives a list of Old Testament types prefiguring the number twelve of the apostles; their authority is prefigured by the twelve sons of Jacob; their effusion of doctrine by the twelve fountains of Elim [Ex. 15:27; Num. 33:9]; the light of their example by the twelve stones on the high priest’s breastplate [Ex. 28:9, 10]; their supply of spiritual nourishment by the twelve loaves of the shew-bread; their constancy and fortitude by the twelve stones taken by Josue from the Jordan [Jos. 4:3]; their maturity and strength of character by the twelve oxen sustaining the brazen sea [3 Kings 7:11–25] cf. Tertullian c. Marc. iv. 13; Thomas Aquinas [in Catena asurea under Remigius]; Bede, Paschasius  Sylveira The twelve stars crowning the spouse, the twelve foundation-stones of Jerusalem, and its twelve gates [Apoc. 21:12; Ezek 48:31–34] are also considered as signs of the twelve apostles, γ. Twelve constitutes four triads [Rabanus Maurus, Paschasius, Bede, Bengel, Meyer, Keil], so that the apostles can surround the Church just as the twelve tribes of Israel surrounded the ark of the covenant, placing three tribes on each of the four parts of the compass; again, the four triads must preach the mystery of the Holy Trinity in the four parts of the compass; again, the four triads must preach the mystery of the Holy Trinity in the four parts of the world; finally, three is said to represent the deity, four the world; as seven therefore represents religion, which unites the world with God, so must twelve signify the dwelling of God in his people, being three enclosed, as it were, in four [Arnoldi, Bisping; cf. Knabenbauer].

he gave them power over unclean spirits. 2.] Credentials of the apostles. The first gospel employs the name “apostle” only in the present passage; Mk. [6:30] and Jn. [13:16], too, use the word only once, while Lk. employs it oftener; Barradas notices therefore that the word “apostle” occurs in every gospel as in the Old Testament every one of the twelve stones on the priest’s breastplate had one name of the twelve tribes inscribed on it. At any rate, the name shows that the Twelve are regarded by the inspired writers as the official messengers of Jesus himself. As therefore a royal ambassador needs his credentials, so do the Twelve stand in need of a divine seal, as it were, showing that they really carry God’s own message. This they receive in the power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of diseases and all manner of infirmities. In the Greek text the first infinitive, “to cast out,” is preceded by an epexegetic conjunction, while the second infinitive, “to heal,” depends directly on the word “power.” For the grammatical construction of the Greek text we may refer to Mt. 9:6; Mk. 2:10; Lk. 5:24; Jn. 5:27; 1 Cor. 9:5; Winer, lxiv. 4; Krüger, LV. iii. 1. There is no indication of any outward sign by which Jesus communicated this power to his apostles, though he may have done so by breathing on them or by imposition of hands [cf. Jn. 20:22; Acts 13:3; etc.]. The circumstance that our Lord imparts the power of miracles without asking the Father shows that he possesses the fulness of divinity, just as 1 Cor. 12:11 shows the divinity of the Holy Ghost. While Jesus manifests his freedom from all envy and jealousy by thus granting miraculous powers to his disciples, their power must of its very nature be always infinitely below that of the Master; while Jesus acts in his own name, the apostles must always act in the name of Jesus [cf. Jerome].

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.

And the names of the twelve apostles. 3. The order of the apostles. We may first compare the order of the catalogue contained in the first gospel with that contained in the other books of the New Testament; and secondly, investigate the order of the first evangelist’s catalogue in itself.

α. Comparison of catalogues of apostles. We possess four complete catalogues of the apostles in the New Testament: Mt. 10:2–4; Mk. 3:16; Lk. 6:14; Acts 1:13. A juxtaposition is their best comparison:—.

1.      Simon Peter, first in all.

2.      Andrew (Mt).              James (Mk).                    Andrew (Lk).            James (Acts).

3.      James (Mt)..               John (Mk).                       James (Lk).               John (Acts).

4.      John (Mt).                   Andrew (Mk).                 John (Lk).                  Andrew (Acts).

5.      Philip in all.

6.      Bartholomew (Mt).   Bartholomew (Mk).      Bartholomew (Lk).  Thomas (Acts).

7.      Thomas (Mt).              Matthew (Mk).               Matthew (Lk).          Bartholomew (Acts).

8.      Matthew (Mt).            Thomas (Mk).                 Thomas (Lk).            Matthew (Acts).

9.      James of Alpheus in all.

10.    Lebbeus (Mt).              Thaddeus (Mk).              Simon (Lk).                  Simon (Acts).

11.      Simon (Mt).                Simon Mk).                     Judas of James (Lk).  Judas of James (Lk).

12.      Judas Iscariot, last in all.

This table shows that the apostles are in all catalogues divided into three groups; Peter heads the first group throughout, while Andrew, James, and John form the other members of the same group. Philip heads the second group throughout, and Bartholomew, Thomas, and Matthew form the other members of the same division. James of Alpheus heads the third group, while Lebbeus, Simon, and Judas Iscariot are its members.

The catalogue of the first gospel. [1] The catalogue of apostles in the first gospel is not directed against false apostles [cf. Jerome, Augustine, Bede, Theophylact, Euthymius, Maldonado], but is here necessary because the call of the apostles has been omitted by St. Matthew. [2] Peter holds the first place not accidentally [Fritzsche,], since he is first in all four catalogues, as Judas Iscariot is last, and besides, “first” is expressly added to Simon Peter; nor does the first place indicate that Peter was called first [cf. Theophylact, Meyer], since Andrew had approached Jesus before Peter [Jn. 1:40] and was called together with Peter; nor again does Peter occupy the first place, because he is “primus inter pares,” first among equals [cf. Bengel, Meyer, Wichelh. Keil], because he is throughout the gospel most distinguished among the apostles by our Lord’s confidence [Mt. 16:18 ff.; etc.]; Weiss is therefore right in admitting that Peter was from the first preeminent among his fellow apostles and distinguished by our Lord’s greatest confidence. [3] As to the order of the apostles, it cannot be said to follow the time of their call; for though the gospels speak about Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, and Matthew [cf. Jn. 1:40–44; Mk. 1:16–20; Mt. 4:18–21; 9:9 ff.], we know nothing about the call of the other six [perhaps Bartholomew is an exception] apostles. Nor can it be contended that the apostles are enumerated according to their dignity [cf. Maldonado]; for though Peter is named first, and the three more distinguished by Jesus head the list, still the apostolic dignity was the same in all apostles except Peter [Barradas], and the dignity of personal merit would have necessitated the same order in all catalogues [cf. Chrysostom]. Finally, the order of the catalogues cannot be said to follow the age of the apostles, since nothing certain is known about their relative time of birth. Since the evangelist couples two and two together, it seems probable that he enumerates the pairs as they were sent by our Lord [cf. Mk. 6:7]; if this be true, we have in the catalogue an example of our Lord’s regard for even the natural dispositions of the Twelve, since he sends together two [perhaps three] pairs of brothers, and probably also a pair of friends [Philip and Bartholomew].

Characteristics of the apostles. We know that “Peter” was the official name of the apostle [Jn. 1:43], and at the same time distinguished the head of the apostolic college from another Simon [or Thaddeus], as has been noted by Chrys. Jer. Bed. Euth. “Andrew” was an old Greek name, signifying “manly”; both Andrew and Peter were from Bethsaida [Jn. 1:44], where Greek must not have been an unknown language. The second pair of apostles consists of James and John, both sons of Zebedee [Mt. 4:21]; since Zebedee had hired men in his employ [Mk. 1:20], he must have been a well-to-do citizen of Capharnaum or Bethsaida [Jn. 1:44: Lk. 5:10|. The same is confirmed by the probable identity of John and the disciple acquainted with the high priest [Jn. 18:15.].

The name Philip is of Greek origin, and the apostle is named the first time in Jn. 1:43. Bartholomew is composed of Bar Tol-mai [2 Sam 13:37]; the apostle must most probably be identified with Nathanael, whose meeting with Jesus through the instrumentality of Philip is told in Jn. 1:45 ff., and who is later on [Jn. 21:2] named in the midst of the apostles. The inference that Nathanael is an apostle and identical with Bartholomew is confirmed by the circumstance that Philip and Bartholomew are repeatedly named together, just as the other apostles that are called together are mentioned jointly. Besides these arguments drawn from intrinsic sources, we may appeal to authority, since Nathanael and Bartholomew are identified by Rupertus, Jansenius, Tostatus Lapide, Estius, Calmet, Arnoldi, Reischl. Weinhart, Bisping, Schegg, Grimm, Schanz, Fillion, Keil, Weiss, Mansel, Schenz. It must however be noted that Tol. [in Jo.] called the opposite opinion the common one, and that Maldonado [Jn. 1:47] expressed his wish to identify Bartholomew and Nathanael, if he could find any respectable authority for that view. Augustine [in Ps. 65. n. 4; tract, vii. in Jo. n. 17] believes that Nathanael cannot have been among the apostles, because he belonged to the educated class. On the other hand, Assemani [Biblioth. Or. iii. 1, p. 306; iii. 2, p. iv.] attests that the Chaldee, the Armenian, and the Syriac Christians commonly identify Nathanael with Bartholomew.

After Philip and Bartholomew follow Thomas and Matthew; the meaning of Thomas [תְּא̇ם] is expressed by the Greek Didymus [Jn. 11:16; 20:24; 21:2], or our “twin.” In the other inspired writers Matthew precedes Thomas, and the addition “the publican” is not found; the first evangelist was induced by humility to recall his former profession, and to place himself after Thomas.

James of Alpheus was the son of Alpheus; he is also called James the less [Mk. 15:40], the brother of the Lord [Gal. 1:19; 2:9], and his mother is called Mary. Alpheus is identical with חלפי, or the Greek Κλωπᾶς [Cleophas]; hence Mary the mother of James is also called Mary of Cleophas, or the wife of Cleophas [Mk. 15:40; Jn. 19:25]. Thaddeus has a number of various readings: Rec. C2 L Δ read Λεββαῖος ὁ ἐπικληθεὶς θαδδαῖος [Lebbeus who is called Thaddeus]; Λεββαῖος alone Tisch. according to D 122; θαδδαῖος Lachm. according to א B 17 124; Weiss conjectures therefore rightly that the Rec. is a combination of both names; Tischendorf has too little authority for his opinion; the right name is therefore Thaddeus, though Mk. 3:18 may seem to render this doubtful. The name is derived from the Aramaic תַּד [Heb. שַׁד, דַּד, breast], so that it signifies “the courageous”; if we derive Lebbeus from the Heb. לב; heart, its meaning agrees nearly with that of Thaddeus [Jerome “corculus”]; Lightfoot, however, derives “Lebbeus” from the name of the Galilean town “Lebba.” The name Lebbeus creates difficulty, because its existence is guaranteed by many reliable documents [Tischendorf Act. apost. apocryph. p. 261; Assemani, Biblioth. orient. iii. 2, p. 14.; Lipsius, die apocryphen Apostelgeschichten, ii. 2, p. 155 f.], and yet we have no other instance in which the name occurs. Some solve the difficulty by simply admitting the singular occurrence of the name in the case of Thaddeus [Jerome, Bede, Jansenius Keil, etc.; Act. Thaddæi say that Lebbeus assumed the name Thaddeus when he was baptized by John]; others declare that Lebbeus is a mere error of the scribes [cf. Schegg]; others, again, maintain that Lebbeus is a Hebrew translation of Thaddeus used in the Hebrew gospel of St. Matthew [cf. Schanz]. According to Lk. 6:16 the same apostle is called “Jude of James,” or as the English translation properly interprets the phrase, Jude the brother of James; the author of the Epistle of Jude [v.1] calls himself the brother of James. Grammarians [cf. Winer, neutest. Sprachidiome, xxx. 3] tell us that the Greek admits the foregoing phrase “Jude of James” instead of “Jude the brother of James.” If we therefore admit the distinction between Thaddeus and Lebbeus, the apostle had three names.

The next apostle is Simon the Cananean; the addition Cananean distinguishes this apostle from Simon [hearer] Peter. B C D L Min. Verss. Lachm. Tischendorf Trig. have the reading καναναῖος, which is due, according to Meyer, to a false interpretation of the name, according to Fritzsche and Grimm to the preceding name θαδδαῖος; Rec. א Δ read κανανῖτης. Jerome, Luther, Calovii, Bleek, etc. derive the name from Cana in Galilee; but since according to other similar derivations the word ought to be καναῖος, if it were derived from Cana [cf. Strabo, xiii. 1; Parmen. in Ath. iii. p. 76], the word is said to be derived either from an unknown place in Palestine [Meyer; cf. Strabo, xiv. 5], or from the name Kanan [Holtzman]. But there is no good reason for abandoning the explanation of the name given in Lk. 6:15; Acts 1:13, where it is interpreted as “zealot.” According to this interpretation “Cananean” is the Aram. קַכְאָכִי and the Hebrew קָכָא [Ex. 20:5; 34:14; Deut. 4:24]. Zealots were those that showed a special zeal for the observance of the law or for the welfare of the theocracy [Num. 25:7; Eccli. 14:27; 1 Mach. 2:26, 54; Gal. 1:14; Acts 21:20]. Zealot in the present case needs not to be taken in the later technical sense when it was applied to a political party opposing the rule of the Romans [Josephus B. J. IV. iii. 9; VII. viii.1; etc.]. Since “Cananean” is commonly added to the name of Simon [Mk. 3:18; Lk. 6:15; Acts 1:13], it cannot have been associated with the moral odium that characterized it in later times [against Lightfoot].

The last of the apostles in all the catalogues is Judas Iscariot; remembering the grief which that name must have caused to the evangelists whenever it recurred, it is worthy of notice how briefly the black treason of the apostate is characterized, “who also betrayed him.” The name Judas is a verbal noun derived from the impfect Hophal of the verb יָדָה [Gen. 29:35; 49:8], so that it means praise. The second name “Iscariot” has been variously interpreted: Jer. connects the word in one passage with the tribe Issachar, signifying “reward,” so that Iscariot would mean a man of Issachar, known for the traitor’s reward he received; Maldonado, is right in rejecting this opinion. Lightfoot suggests three possible meanings of the word Iscariot: it may be the word אסהזרטיא, which means a leather girdle, or it may be connected with אסכרא, signifying death by strangulation. If the former derivation be accepted, the name either signifies the wearer of the leather girdle and therefore of the purse, or the tanner [Acts 9:43]; if the second derivation be preferred, the name expresses the manner of the traitor’s death. Keil suggests two more possible meanings of Iscariot: it is derived from אִישׁ and either קְרִי [Lev. 26:2 ff., “hostile encounter”] or קְרִיוֹת [plur. of קִרְיָה, city]; according to the former derivation Iscariot means then “man of hostile encounter,” according to the latter it signifies “city man.” All these explanations must give way to another more simple one, and supported by the most ample authority. Iscariot is the Hebrew אישׁ קְרִיוו̇ת the man of Carioth, a city in the tribe of Juda [Jos. 15:25; 48:41; Am. 2:2]. This derivation is supported by א* plur. minusc. syr. [p mg.], which read in Jn. 6:71 ἀπο καρυωτου; D has the same reading in Jn. 12:4; 13:2, 26; 14:22. Tischendorf thinks it probable that this reading was the common one in the fourth gospel, and that “Iscariot” was introduced later through the influence of the synoptic gospels. Jerome gives the same derivation together with another which we rejected in the foregoing discussion. There are two difficulties that may be advanced against this view, but there are not less serious difficulties against all the other opinions. Besides, the two difficulties admit, in the present case, of a satisfactory solution: first it is strange that the evangelists treat the words אִישׁ קְרִיוֹת as if they formed but one idea, and that they add the regular adjectival ending. In other words, “Iscariotes” is for the Greek and Latin writer what the word “man-of-Londoner” would be for the English author. The difficulty may appear less, if we reflect that the Hebrews had two ways of expressing the origin from a certain place: they could do so by placing “man of” before the name of the locality, and again by adding an adjectival termination to the same name. The first manner we see exemplified in the lxx version of 2 Sam 10:6, 8, where the two words אִישׁ טוֹב are by the Greek interpreters united into the expression Ἰστώβ; this very expression is copied later on by Josephus [Ant. VII. vi.1]. Supposing, then, that “Iscariot” had become so customary in the language of the inspired writers that they regarded the phrase as the name of a place, what wonder that they added the adjectival termination “es”? That this name was thus intimately connected with Judas, we may infer from Jn. 6:71 and 13:26, where it appears that even Judas’ father had been called Iscariot. Though according to this explanation Judas Iscariot was from Judea, we may infer from Acts 2:7 that all the other apostles were Galileans.

We may here ask whether Judas was bad even when he was chosen among the apostles: Toletus answers with Cyril [lib. iv. c. 30, i. e. in Jo. 6:71, 72] and Jerome [lib. iii. cont. Pelag. iii. n. 6] that Judas was good at the time of his call, but he maintains with Aug. [tract, xxvii. in Jo.] that his fall was fully foreseen. When it is further asked why our Lord called Judas to the dignity of an apostle though he foreknew his fall, the same author [Comment. in Jo. vi. annot. 36; xiii. annot. 20] first draws attention to the fact that this question might be asked about all the angels and men that have lost, or will lose, their last end; they were not created in order that they might sin, but in order that God might use their sinfulness for a good end. Finally, it may be asked what the good end was that Jesus intended to draw from the foreseen treason of Judas. 1. It brought about the death of our Redeemer [Tolet. in Jo. xiii. annot. 20]; 2. it showed the firmness of Christ’s doctrine, which prevailed in spite of the prejudice it suffered through Judas’ fall [Tolet. in Jo. vi. annot. 22; cf. Ambrose in Luc. lib. v. n. 45]; 3. it showed the infinite charity of Jesus who gave the most abundant means of salvation even to his future traitor [ibid.]; 4. it brought about that Jesus who had taken the infirmities of our nature upon himself had to suffer those that are the most painful and humiliating, dereliction and treason [ibid.]; 5. it was the occasion of a most admirable example of patience for all men that were to come after Jesus [ibid.]; 6. such an example of patience was absolutely needed by us since we had to live among the wicked [Augustine in Ps. xxxiv. 7, 8; civ. Dei, xviii. 49]; 7. the fall of Judas showed that the dignity of state does not sanctify a man, and that there is a bad member in almost every larger society of men [Thomas Aquinas]; 8. the fall of Judas shows that no one, however good he may be, can be secure of his perseverance, and that bad men may resist even the most powerful graces [cf. Sylveira tom. iii. lib. v. c. 5]; 9. finally, the history of the traitor shows that God may choose a man for the highest office and dignity, though he foreknows that the subject chosen will prove himself wholly unworthy.

Mat 10:5  These twelve Jesus sent: commanding them, saying: Go ye not into the way of the Gentiles, and into the city of the Samaritans enter ye not.
Mat 10:6  But go ye rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

These twelve Jesus sent, commanding them. 2. Instruction for present need, vv. 5–15. In this instruction Jesus first determines the recipients of the message; secondly, its contents; thirdly, its credentials; fourthly, its price; fifthly, the life of the messengers on the road; sixthly, the life of the messengers in their quarters; seventhly, the blessing of the recipients of the messengers; eighthly, the fate of the rejecters of the messengers.

Addressees of the message. Our Lord expresses the address of the message first negatively, secondly positively. The negative part forbids the apostles to go either among the Gentiles or the Samaritans; the positive part directs them to the children of Israel. The apostles are not only to avoid the Gentiles, but even the way that leads to them; for a similar use of the genitive after “way” see Gen. 3:24; Acts 2:28; 16:14; Jer. 2:18. Such Gentiles lived especially along the maritime coast of Palestine, in the parts east of the Sea of Galilee, and also in certain towns of Galilee, Perea, and even Judea. The Samaritans are assimilated to the Gentiles both because they were the offspring of the Cutheans and other heathen tribes mingled with the Jews, left in Samaria by its Assyrian conquerors [2 Kings. 17:24, 30], and also because they refused to acknowledge the right of the temple in Jerusalem, though they adored the true God [Jn. 4:20]. The national hatred between Jews and Samaritans is briefly alluded to in Jn. 4:9; our Lord himself came only a few times into contact with either Samaritans or Gentiles [Jn. 4:4; Mt. 15:21], and in Mt. 15:24 he expressly states that he is sent only to the house of Israel. The direction he now gives his apostles is fully in keeping with the foregoing passage, with the predictions of the prophets who had promised the Messianic blessings especially to Israel, with other passages of the gospels extolling the prerogatives of the Jews [Jn. 4:22; Mt. 8:12], and finally with the doctrine of the apostle of the Gentiles himself, whose practice may at first sight appear to contradict his words [Acts 13:46; Rom. 1:16; 11:17; 15:18; Eph. 2:13, 14], Even the figure of the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” has its foundation in Jer. 50:6; cf. Is. 53:6; Ezek 34:5, 14–16, 23; 37:24; Is. 40:11. The “house of Israel” recalls Lev. 10:6; Ex. 19:3 and the covenant of God with his chosen people. That this command of the Lord was not absolute is shown by Mt. 28:19; we see the distinction between Jew and Gentile abrogated in Acts. 10:9 ff. [cf. Tertullian de fuga, c. vi.; Hilary ad l.]. The first gospel alone contains this prohibition of the Lord: on the part of the evangelist its presence is explained by the circle of readers for whom he intended his gospel; on the part of our Lord himself the prohibition has, according to Chrysostom, Euthymius, Jerome, [ad l.; ep. ad Algas. 151, q. 5], an apologetic tendency, proving on the one hand that he did not hate the Jews on account of their hostilities, and on the other that the Jews could not be opposed to him on account of his preference for the Gentiles and Samaritans.

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

And going, preach, saying. b. Contents of the message. The ministry of the apostles must continue that of the Master, as the Master’s had been prepared by that of the precursor [cf. Mt. 3:2; 4:17]. In the kingdom of heaven we have the object of our faith, hope, and charity; it implies also the removal of all obstacles and impediments [cf. Jansenius, Cajetan].

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One Response to “Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 10:1-7”

  1. […] Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 10:1-7). […]

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