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 10:7-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 6, 2013

Mat 10:7  Jesus said, 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].

Mat 10:8  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils: freely have you received, freely give.

Heal the sick, raise the dead. c. Credentials of the message. The clause “raise the dead” is omitted in most codd., but is read in א* א* c B C* D Cyril, Hilary, Tischendorf, Wescott and Hort, and many Min.; its omission is’ easily explained by its absence in Mt. 10:1; Mk. 6:13; Lk. 9:6. For it is more probable that scribes should have omitted it on account of its absence in parallel passages than that they should have inserted it without cause. With Br. and Jer. we may here admire the divine guarantee our Lord gave for the truth of his and the apostle’s message.

freely have you received. d. Price of the message. [1] These words secure the humility of the apostles, reminding them that their powers are not due to their own merit [Theophylact, Faber Stapulensis Jansenius]; [2] “freely give” does not contradict v. 10, where the workman is said to be worthy of his meat. For though St. Paul practised the precept of the Lord in its greatest perfection [2 Cor. 11:7; cf. 1 Cor. 9:12, 15–18; 2 Cor. 11:9–12; 12:13–18; Phil. 4:15; 1 Thess. 2:9; 2 Thess. 3:7; Acts 40:33–35], he recognized the exception stated in v. 10 [1 Cor. 9:4–14; 2 Thess. 3:9; cf. Holtzmann]. [3] The precept therefore prohibits any abuse of the apostolic authority for the furtherance of temporal ends, such as is alluded to in Doct. xii. apostol. xi. 5–xii. 5 [Holtzmann Jerome, Chrysostom]. Schanz sees something annoying in any allusion to a possible abuse, and appeals to the Jewish custom according to which teachers and judges could not claim remuneration. But whatever view may be defended, the words of Jesus exclude, at any rate, all simoniacal abuse [St Bruno, Dionysius]. [4] Our Lord implicitly indicates the reasons why the apostles were not to receive any remuneration: God had given them their supernatural gifts freely, and wished them freely communicated to others; even the acceptance of presents would be contrary to the will of God, and would bring on the danger of avarice. [5] Maldonado, Berlepsch, Reischl are of opinion that “freely” in the second part of the Lord’s precept has the sense of “abundantly” or “frequently”; but the abundance of the apostolic benefits and their frequency is implied in the manifold powers granted by Jesus to his apostles [Knabenbauer]. [6] Chrysostom infers from the words of our Lord that the apostles were not to exercise their powers even in favor of their benefactors who had received them into their house; but this inference does not appear to be intended in Christ’s precept [Knabenbauer Schanz].

Mat 10:9  Do not possess gold, nor silver, nor money in your purses:
Mat 10:10  Nor scrip for your journey, nor two coats, nor shoes, nor a staff; for the workman is worthy of his meat.

Do not possess gold, nor silver. e. The messengers on the road. The Greek expression for “do not possess” means properly “do not acquire,” do not get or take with you [cf. Weiss]. Chrysostom, Hilary, Euthymius, Maldonado, Schanz, etc. take a more general meaning out of the word than a mere preparation for the journey. Our Lord distinguishes three kinds of money: gold, silver, and brass [copper; Holtzmann]; the second gospel speaks only of brass, i. e. the least valuable metal, and the third has only “silver” in the meaning of money in general. The “purses” literally mean “belts” or “girdles” in which valuables used to be carried as in our pockets [cf. Mk. 5:1, 8]. The “scrip” was the satchel or small bag for food, bread, drink, meat, etc. [cf. Judith. 13:10]. The “two coats” signify, according to the original text, “two interior garments”; our Lord’s words may be understood as prohibiting either the carrying along of another under garment besides the one actually worn, or as prohibiting the actual wearing of two inner garments [cf. Mk. 6:9], or finally the successive wearing of two under garments [cf. Schanz]. The “shoes” may either mean “sandals” or regular shoes covering the upper part of the foot; since, according to Mk. 6:9, the apostles wore sandals when they were sent, our Lord’s prohibition means either that they were not to wear regular shoes even on their longer journeys, however useful they might appear to be, or that they were not to carry an extra pair of sandals besides those actually on their feet. Instead of μηδὲ ῥάβδον [nor a staff], א B D Min Lachm. Tischendorf, other codd. have ῥάβδους [C L Δ al.], “nor staves”; the plural well agrees with the preceding plurals.

According to the second gospel the apostles are allowed to carry a staff because it does not fall under the head of valuables; it reads [6:8], “and he commanded them that they should take nothing for the way but the staff only.” How, then, are we to reconcile the first and second gospel on this point? [1] Those who admit the foregoing plural “staves” in the first gospel see here a prohibition not to procure a staff beside the one in actual use [Keil], or not to secure a staff for defending themselves beside the one used in walking [cf. Jansenius, Barradas].

[2] Even if the singular “staff” be regarded as the true reading, the first gospel may forbid to acquire a staff beside the one already in possession [cf. Fillion], or the two evangelists may record words of Jesus spoken on two different occasions [Euthymius, St Bruno].

[3] The interpretation of St. Augustin [De consensu evang. ii. n. 71–74] according to which the first gospel forbids the use of a staff in its proper meaning, and the second allows the use of a staff in its metaphorical sense, signifying the apostolic authority, seems to do violence to the two passages now under consideration [Maldonado].

[4] The best harmony of the two parallel passages is suggested by the very notion of inspiration according to which the Holy Ghost does not dictate the words to the inspired writers, but the meaning. Now the meaning of “nor a staff” [Mt.] and “but the staff only” [Mk.] is the same; for both the first and second evangelist convey the idea that the apostles are to carry only necessaries with them on their journey. That St. Matthew considered the staff as a superfluity, while St. Mark considered the staff as a necessity, does not affect the Lord’s prohibition regarding the avoidance of superfluities; for this is expressed in both gospels [Maldonado, Theophylact, Jerome, Euthymius; cf. Knabenbauer].

[5] Other explanations, especially of the more recent commentators, are therefore as superfluous as they are unsatisfactory. Schegg thinks that the first gospel views the apostles as occupied in preaching when they need no staff, while the second views them on their journeys when a staff is necessary [2:12]; Godet [S. Luc, i. 429] gives the opinion of Ebrard, who translates the words of the second gospel into the elliptic Aram, phrase כי אם מטה, “for if … a staff.” Since this ellipse could be explained as meaning either “for if you take a staff, you have sufficient” or “for if you take a staff, you have too much,” the second gospel has expressed the first of these explanations, while the first and the third gospel have adhered to the second. In any case, Jesus adds both for the instruction and the consolation of his apostles that God must be, and will be, their special protector, even as an earthly employer provides for the needs of his laborers.

Edersheim [i. p. 643] sees a parallelism between the precepts of Jesus and the Jewish traditions: the command “freely give” he compares with the Rabbinic injunction not to receive remuneration for teaching, which extension of Deut. 4:5 is expressed by Rabbi Jehuda [Berachoth, fol. 29 a; cf. Wünsche, p. 130]; another parallelism the learned author discovers between the Lord’s prohibition to provide things not necessary for the missionary journeys and the Rabbinic prescription not to enter the temple with staff and shoes and girdle. But in the first place, there is a notable discrepancy in both cases between the Rabbinic law and the precept of the Lord: the latter regards the free exercise of the power to work miracles and an entire self-surrender into the hands of divine providence during the time of missionary labor, while the former enjoins the free exercise of the profession of teaching and the honor due to the house of God as inconsistent with the presence of worldly superfluities [cf. Knabenbauer]. In the second place, the Rabbinic injunctions knew no distinction between the spirit and the letter, while our Lord’s precepts hold always as to their spirit, but not always as to their letter [Lapide]. That the letter of these precepts does not bind the missionaries of all times, and did not bind even the apostles in all their later labors, may be inferred from the following considerations: [1] It is expressly stated only before the first missionary labors of the apostles which differed in many respects from their later labors: their field of labor was among the Jews, who were at the time rather friendly to the person and claims of Jesus, while later on they had to work among the Gentiles, or among Jews who were either prejudiced against the cause of Christ, or were openly committed to the cause of his opponents [cf. Acts 17:5]. [2] If we read the history of the later apostolic labors, we find that not all the apostles followed the same manner of living: while St. Paul provided his own sustenance by the labors of his hand, receiving nothing from his converts, except from the Philippians [cf. Acts 20:33, 34; 1 Cor. 4:12; 9:15; Phil. 4:15; 1 Thess. 2:9; 2 Thess. 3:8], he openly taught that he was not bound to this manner of life [1 Cor. 9:7–14; Gal. 6:6; Rom. 15:27], and showed that other apostles lived differently [1 Cor. 9:5]. But even St. Paul did not urge the principle that he could burden those whom he intended to convert with his necessary expenses before they were brought over to the doctrine of his Master. [3] Though, therefore, the apostolic laborers must always remain spiritually detached from earthly gain, prudence may demand that they should provide their necessaries of life, till their field of labor has received the spirit and the principles of Christianity.

Mat 10:11  And into whatsoever city or town you shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and there abide till you go thence.

And into whatsoever city or town. f. The residence of the messengers. [1] On coming to a new city or town the apostles must inquire for an upright and pious citizen who is willing to receive them [Chrysostom, Thomas Aquinas, Dionysius], who is worthy of the kingdom of God [Caj. Jans.], and who will not injure their preaching by his impiety [Jerome]. [2] Having found such a worthy citizen, the apostles are to remain in his house, so as not to appear desirous after delicacies [Theophylact], or fickle and inconstant [cf. Chrysostom, Dionysius, Faber Stapulensis, Jansenius, Maldonado, etc.].

Mat 10:12  And when you come into the house, salute it, saying: Peace be to this house.
Mat 10:13  And if that house be worthy, your peace shall come upon it; but if it be not worthy, your peace shall return to you.
Mat 10:14  And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words: going forth out of that house or city shake off the dust from your feet.
Mat 10:15  Amen I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

And when you come into the house. g. The recipients of the messengers. The English version agrees with most commentators in supposing that “the house” mentioned in this verse is the same as the home of the citizen who has been found worthy, in the preceding verse. But [1] this does not well agree with the following verse, where the house may be found “not worthy,” unless we suppose that the apostles will be quite frequently deceived in the choice of their host. [2] Nor does this view agree with v. 14, in which the apostles are supposed to enter into many houses to announce the kingdom of God. [3] Thirdly, the definite article before “house,” even in Greek, does not necessarily identify “the house” in v. 12 with the worthy citizen’s home in v. 11 [cf. Winer, Neutest. Sprachidiome, xviii. 1], since it may indicate a class of objects. [4] Knabenbauer is therefore right in explaining “the house” of v. 12 as parallel to Lk. 10:5, where there is question of “whatsoever house.” The apostles are therefore to salute whenever they enter a house, without waiting for the greeting of the inhabitants; the apostolic salute includes the Messianic blessings, for even the Jews expected that the Messias would begin to speak by pronouncing the salute of peace [Schöttgen, ad l.]. “If that house be worthy” has its parallel in Lk. 10:6: “if the son of peace be there.” The son of peace is he that is desirous after the Messianic peace; the peace comes upon the house when its inhabitants become the sharers of the Messianic blessings.

but if it be not worthy. h. The rejecters of the messengers. Concerning the rejecters of the message, our Lord states three things: first, they shall not receive the Messianic blessings; secondly, the apostles shall leave their house or city; thirdly, their lot shall be worse than that of Sodom and Gomorrha. [1] The “peace” is here represented as a person, as coming and going. “Your peace shall return to you” does not mean that the apostles shall have the merit of their action [cf. Jerome, Thomas Aquinas, Faber Stapulensis, Dionysius, Cajetan, Jansenius, Lapide, Arnoldi, Reischl, Weiss], for they always have the merit due to their work; nor does it mean that the apostles themselves shall now obtain the blessing which they had invoked for others [cf. Schegg, Maldonado, W. Grimm]; nor must we distinguish between the peace expressed in words and the peace or the compassion felt in the heart, allowing the former to he addressed to all, but limiting the latter only to the worthy [cf. Hilary]; nor finally can the words contain a consolation for the apostles alone, assuring them that their merit will not depend on the worthiness of their hearers, or that their own profit will be greater if they are repelled by their hearers [cf. Schanz, Knabenbauer]; but according to the language of Scripture the words signify that the salutation shall remain fruitless [cf. Is. 45:23; 55:11; Euthymius, Maldonado, Calmet, Bisping, Schegg, Schanz, Fillion, Knabenbauer etc.]. That the word of the apostles may remain fruitless appears even in the Old Testament [Ez. 2:5, 7 heb.; 3:19; 33:9; cf. 1 Cor. 3:8].

[2] The second part of the fate of the rejecters of the apostolic message is expressed in the words “going forth out of that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.” The apostles do not declare by this action that the abandoned house or city is legally unclean [cf. Weiss, Keil], though legal uncleanness was expressed by the Pharisees in this manner [cf. Lightfoot, ii. 331 f.]; nor does the action merely signify that the apostles have received nothing from the house or city in question, though the dust on the feet or clothes of a traveller is a sign of his toil and labor [cf. Chrysostom]; but the action symbolizes that the house and city are an abomination in the sight of God and his servants, even as the Jews expressed the abomination of the Gentile countries through which they had passed by shaking the dust off their feet [cf. Lightfoot, Hilary, St Bruno, Cajetan, Jansenius, Lapide, Barradas]. The second and third gospel add “for a testimony to them” [Mk. 6:11; Lk. 9:5]; for while the action encouraged the apostles themselves by reminding them of the holiness of their message, it must have impressed the beholders with a sacred awe of the coming retribution. We see in Acts 13:51; 18:6 that the apostolic messengers acted according to the word of their Master.

[3] The third punishment of the rejecters of the apostolic message consists in the ratification on the part of Christ himself of the apostolic sentence against the unworthy house or city. Since the grievousness of sin is proportionate to the knowledge of its malice and to the wickedness of the sinner’s will, it is easily understood how the sins of the Jews rejecting the Messianic message exceed the sins of Sodom and Gomorrha. The Jews acted against the evidence of numberless miracles, and despised the voice of the Holy Ghost speaking in the apostles; the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha had neither the one nor the other [cf. Mt. 11:23]. Similar comparisons between the sin of Juda and Israel on the one hand, and that of Sodom and Gomorrha on the other, we find in Jer. 3:11; Ez. 16:47–51. Since the Old Testament [Gen. 13:13; 18:20; 19:13] and the Rabbinic tradition viewed the punishment of Sodom and Gomorrha as a type of the most grievous chastisement [Wünsche, p. 131; Edersheim i. p. 644], the threat of our Lord must have been most impressive in the ears of his Jewish hearers. Though this passage shows that the wicked will suffer different degrees of punishment [Jerome], it hardly proves, if taken by itself, that the wicked like the just will rise again; absolutely speaking, the universal judgment might be held over the souls, just and unjust unlike, without the resurrection of their bodies; to appeal to a Jewish belief in the resurrection of the just, and infer therefrom the resurrection of the sinners, is not arguing from the passage now in question.


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