apostles: Or “sent ones.” The Greek word a·poʹsto·los is derived from the verb a·po·stelʹlo, meaning “to send away (out).” (Mt 10:5; Lu 11:49; 14:32) Its basic meaning is clearly illustrated in Jesus’ statement at Joh 13:16, where it is rendered “one who is sent.”
Simon, the one called Peter: Peter is named in five different ways in the Scriptures: (1) the Greek form “Symeon,” which closely reflects the Hebrew form of the name (Simeon); (2) the Greek “Simon” (both Symeon and Simon come from a Hebrew verb meaning “hear; listen”); (3) “Peter” (a Greek name that means “A Piece of Rock” and that he alone bears in the Scriptures); (4) “Cephas,” which is the Semitic equivalent of Peter (perhaps related to the Hebrew ke·phimʹ [rocks] used at Job 30:6; Jer 4:29); and (5) the combination “Simon Peter.”—Ac 15:14; Joh 1:42; Mt 16:16.
Levi: In the parallel account at Mt 9:9, this disciple is called Matthew. When referring to him as a former tax collector, Mark and Luke use the name Levi (Lu 5:27, 29), but they use the name Matthew when mentioning him as one of the apostles (Mr 3:18; Lu 6:15; Ac 1:13). The Scriptures do not reveal whether Levi already had the name Matthew before becoming a disciple of Jesus. Mark is the only Gospel writer to mention that Matthew Levi was the son of Alphaeus.—See study note on Mr 3:18.
Levi: In the parallel account at Mt 9:9, this disciple is called Matthew. When referring to him as a former tax collector, Mark and Luke use the name Levi (Mr 2:14), but they use the name Matthew when mentioning him as one of the apostles (Mr 3:18; Lu 6:15; Ac 1:13). The Scriptures do not reveal whether Levi already had the name Matthew before becoming a disciple of Jesus.—See study note on Mr 2:14.
tax collectors: Many Jews collected taxes for the Roman authorities. People hated such Jews because they not only collaborated with a resented foreign power but also extorted more than the official tax rate. Tax collectors were generally shunned by fellow Jews, who put them on the same level as sinners and prostitutes.—Mt 11:19; 21:32.
James the son of Alphaeus: Evidently the same disciple as the one called “James the Less” at Mr 15:40. It is generally thought that Alphaeus was the same person as Clopas (Joh 19:25), which would also make him the husband of “the other Mary” (Mt 27:56; 28:1; Mr 15:40; 16:1; Lu 24:10). The Alphaeus mentioned here is evidently not the same person as the Alphaeus mentioned at Mr 2:14, the father of Levi.
Bartholomew: Meaning “Son of Tolmai.” He is thought to be the Nathanael mentioned by John. (Joh 1:45, 46) A comparison of the Gospels shows that Matthew and Luke link Bartholomew and Philip in the same way that John associates Nathanael with Philip.—Mt 10:3; Lu 6:14.
the tax collector: As a former tax collector, Matthew, the writer of this Gospel, makes numerous references to numbers and money values. (Mt 17:27; 26:15; 27:3) He is also more explicit with numbers. He broke up his genealogy of Jesus into three sets of 14 generations (Mt 1:1-17) and listed seven petitions in the Lord’s prayer (Mt 6:9-13), seven illustrations in Mt 13, and seven woes at Mt 23:13-36. As for the term “tax collector,” see study note on Mt 5:46.
James the son of Alphaeus: See study note on Mr 3:18.
Thaddaeus: In the listings of the apostles at Lu 6:16 and Ac 1:13, the name Thaddaeus is not included; instead, we find “Judas the son of James,” leading to the conclusion that Thaddaeus is another name for the apostle whom John calls “Judas, not Iscariot.” (Joh 14:22) The possibility of confusing this Judas with the traitor, Judas Iscariot, might be a reason why the name Thaddaeus is sometimes used.
the Cananaean: A designation distinguishing the apostle Simon from the apostle Simon Peter. (Mr 3:18) This term is thought to be of Hebrew or Aramaic origin, meaning “Zealot; Enthusiast.” Luke referred to this Simon as “the zealous one,” using the Greek word ze·lo·tesʹ, also meaning “zealot; enthusiast.” (Lu 6:15; Ac 1:13) While it is possible that Simon once belonged to the Zealots, a Jewish party opposed to the Romans, he may have been given this designation because of his zeal and enthusiasm.
Iscariot: Possibly meaning “Man From Kerioth.” Judas’ father, Simon, is also called “Iscariot.” (Joh 6:71) This term has commonly been understood to indicate that Simon and Judas were from the Judean town of Kerioth-hezron. (Jos 15:25) If this is so, Judas was the only Judean among the 12 apostles, the rest being Galileans.
preaching: The Greek word basically means “to make proclamation as a public messenger.” It stresses the manner of the proclamation: usually an open, public declaration rather than a sermon to a group.
the Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near: This message of a new world government was the theme of Jesus’ preaching. (Mt 10:7; Mr 1:15) John the Baptist started to proclaim a similar message about six months prior to Jesus’ baptism (Mt 3:1, 2); yet Jesus could say with added meaning that the Kingdom had “drawn near,” since he was now present as the anointed King-Designate. There is no record that after Jesus’ death his disciples continued to proclaim that the Kingdom had “drawn near” or was at hand.
preach: That is, make an open, public declaration.—See study note on Mt 3:1.
The Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near: See study note on Mt 4:17.
a leper: A person suffering from a serious skin disease. The leprosy referred to in the Bible is not restricted to the disease known by that name today. Anyone diagnosed with leprosy became an outcast from society until he was cured.—Le 13:2, ftn., 45, 46; see Glossary, “Leprosy; Leper.”
stay there until you leave that place: Jesus was instructing his disciples that when they reached a town, they should stay in the home where hospitality was extended to them and not be “transferring from house to house.” (Lu 10:1-7) By not seeking a place where the householder could provide them with more comfort, entertainment, or material things, they would show that these things were of secondary importance when compared to their commission to preach.
stay there: See study note on Mr 6:10.
shake the dust off your feet: This gesture would signify that the disciples disclaimed responsibility for the consequences that would come from God. A similar expression occurs at Mr 6:11 and Lu 9:5. Mark and Luke add the expression “for a witness to [or, “against”] them.” Paul and Barnabas applied this instruction in Pisidian Antioch (Ac 13:51), and when Paul did something similar in Corinth by shaking out his garments, he added the explanatory words: “Let your blood be on your own heads. I am clean.” (Ac 18:6) Such gestures may already have been familiar to the disciples; pious Jews who had traveled through Gentile country would shake what they perceived to be unclean dust off their sandals before reentering Jewish territory. However, Jesus evidently had a different meaning in mind when giving these instructions to his disciples.
Truly: Greek, a·menʹ, a transliteration of the Hebrew ʼa·menʹ, meaning “so be it,” or “surely.” Jesus frequently uses this expression to preface a statement, a promise, or a prophecy, thereby emphasizing its absolute truthfulness and reliability. Jesus’ use of “truly,” or amen, in this way is said to be unique in sacred literature. When repeated in succession (a·menʹ a·menʹ), as is the case throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus’ expression is translated “most truly.”—See study note on Joh 1:51.
it will be more endurable: Evidently used as a form of hyperbole that Jesus may not have intended to be taken literally. (Compare other graphic hyperboles that Jesus used, such as those at Mt 5:18; Lu 16:17; 21:33.) When Jesus said that it would be “more endurable for Sodom in that day,” that is, on Judgment Day (Mt 10:15; 11:22, 24; Lu 10:14), he was not saying that the inhabitants of Sodom must be present on that day. (Compare Jude 7.) He could simply have been emphasizing how unresponsive and culpable most people were in such cities as Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. (Lu 10:13-15) It is worth noting that what happened to ancient Sodom had become proverbial and was often mentioned in connection with God’s anger and judgment.—De 29:23; Isa 1:9; La 4:6.
look!: The Greek word i·douʹ, here rendered “look!,” is often used to focus attention on what follows, encouraging the reader to visualize the scene or to take note of a detail in a narrative. It is also used to add emphasis or to introduce something new or surprising. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the term occurs most frequently in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and in the book of Revelation. A corresponding expression is often used in the Hebrew Scriptures.
like a dove: Doves had both a sacred use and a symbolic meaning. They were offered as sacrifices. (Mr 11:15; Joh 2:14-16) They symbolized innocence and purity. (Mt 10:16) A dove released by Noah brought an olive leaf back to the ark, indicating that the floodwaters were receding (Ge 8:11) and that a time of rest and peace was at hand (Ge 5:29). Thus, at Jesus’ baptism, Jehovah may have used the dove to call attention to the role of Jesus as the Messiah, the pure and sinless Son of God who would sacrifice his life for mankind and lay the basis for a period of rest and peace during his rule as King. As God’s spirit, or active force, descended upon Jesus at his baptism, it may have looked like the fluttering of a dove as it nears its perch.
Look!: See study note on Mt 1:20.
cautious as serpents: To be cautious here means to be prudent, sensible, shrewd. Zoologists note that most snakes are wary, preferring to flee rather than attack. Likewise, Jesus warns his disciples to remain cautious toward opposers and avoid possible dangers as they carry out their preaching work.
yet innocent as doves: The two parts of Jesus’ admonition (to be cautious and to be innocent) complement each other. (See study note on cautious as serpents in this verse.) The Greek word rendered “innocent” (lit., “unmixed,” that is, “unspoiled; pure”) also occurs at Ro 16:19 (“innocent as to what is evil”) and Php 2:15 (“be blameless and innocent, children of God”). Here at Mt 10:16, being “innocent” apparently includes being genuine, honest, free of deceit and having pure motives. The dove is sometimes used in Hebrew word pictures and poetry to symbolize these and related qualities. (Ca 2:14; 5:2; compare study note on Mt 3:16.) Jesus’ point was that when his sheeplike followers faced persecution as sheep among wolves, they needed to combine the characteristics of serpents and doves by being cautious, shrewd, pure of heart, blameless, and innocent.—Lu 10:3.
the Supreme Court: The full Sanhedrin—the judicial body in Jerusalem made up of the high priest and 70 elders and scribes. The Jews considered its rulings to be final.—See Glossary, “Sanhedrin.”
Sanhedrin: That is, the Jewish high court in Jerusalem. The Greek word rendered “Sanhedrin” (sy·neʹdri·on) literally means a “sitting down with.” Although it was a general term for an assembly or a meeting, in Israel it could refer to a religious judicial body or court.—See study note on Mt 5:22 and Glossary; see also App. B12 for the possible location of the Sanhedrin Hall.
local courts: In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the Greek word sy·neʹdri·on, here used in plural and rendered “local courts,” is most often used with reference to the Jewish high court in Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin. (See Glossary, “Sanhedrin,” and study notes on Mt 5:22; 26:59.) However, it was also a general term for an assembly or a meeting, and here it refers to local courts that were attached to the synagogues and had the power to inflict the penalties of scourging and excommunication.—Mt 23:34; Mr 13:9; Lu 21:12; Joh 9:22; 12:42; 16:2.
on account of my name: In the Bible, the term “name” at times stands for the person who bears the name, his reputation, and all that he represents. (See study note on Mt 6:9.) In the case of Jesus’ name, it also stands for the authority and position that his Father has given him. (Mt 28:18; Php 2:9, 10; Heb 1:3, 4) Jesus here explains that people would hate his followers because of what his name represents, that is, his position as God’s appointed Ruler, the King of kings, the one to whom all people should bow in submission in order to gain life.—See study note on Joh 15:21.
has endured: Or “endures.” The Greek verb rendered “to endure” (hy·po·meʹno) literally means “to remain (stay) under.” It is often used in the sense of “remaining instead of fleeing; standing one’s ground; persevering; remaining steadfast.” (Mt 10:22; Ro 12:12; Heb 10:32; Jas 5:11) In this context, it refers to maintaining a course of action as Christ’s disciples despite opposition and trials.—Mt 24:9-12.
on account of my name: See study note on Mt 24:9.
has endured: Or “endures.”—See study note on Mt 24:13.
Son of man: Or “Son of a human.” This expression occurs about 80 times in the Gospels. Jesus used it to refer to himself, evidently emphasizing that he was truly human, born from a woman, and that he was a fitting human counterpart to Adam, having the power to redeem humankind from sin and death. (Ro 5:12, 14-15) The same expression also identified Jesus as the Messiah, or the Christ.—Da 7:13, 14; see Glossary.
Son of man: See study note on Mt 8:20.
how much more so: Jesus often used this line of reasoning. First he presents an obvious fact or a familiar truth, and then he draws an even more convincing conclusion based on that fact, arguing from the lesser to the greater.—Mt 10:25; 12:12; Lu 11:13; 12:28.
Beelzebub: Possibly an alteration of Baal-zebub, meaning “Owner (Lord) of the Flies,” the Baal worshipped by the Philistines at Ekron. (2Ki 1:3) Some Greek manuscripts use the alternate forms Beelzeboul or Beezeboul, possibly meaning “Owner (Lord) of the Lofty Abode (Habitation)” or if a play on the non-Biblical Hebrew word zeʹvel (dung), “Owner (Lord) of the Dung.” As shown at Mt 12:24, this is a designation applied to Satan—the prince, or ruler, of the demons.
how much more: See study note on Mt 7:11.
in the light: That is, openly, publicly.
preach from the housetops: An idiom with the meaning “to proclaim publicly.” In Bible times, houses had flat roofs from which announcements could be made and certain actions could become widely known.—2Sa 16:22.
Gehenna: This term comes from the Hebrew words geh hin·nomʹ, meaning “valley of Hinnom,” which lay to the S and SW of ancient Jerusalem. (See App. B12, map “Jerusalem and Surrounding Area.”) By Jesus’ day, the valley had become a place for burning refuse, so the word “Gehenna” was a fitting symbol of complete destruction.—See Glossary.
soul: Or “life,” that is, a person’s future life by means of a resurrection. The Greek word psy·kheʹ and its corresponding Hebrew word neʹphesh (both traditionally rendered “soul”) basically refer to (1) people, (2) animals, or (3) the life that a person or an animal has. (Ge 1:20; 2:7; Nu 31:28; 1Pe 3:20; ftns.) Examples of the use of the Greek psy·kheʹ to mean “life that a person has” may be found at Mt 6:25; 10:39; 16:25, 26; Mr 8:35-37; Lu 12:20; Joh 10:11, 15; 12:25; 13:37, 38; 15:13; Ac 20:10. Bible texts like these help to show the correct understanding of Jesus’ words here.—See Glossary.
him who can destroy both soul and body: It is only God who is able to destroy a person’s “soul” (in this context, referring to his prospects for life) or who can resurrect him to enjoy everlasting life. This is one example of where the Greek word rendered “soul” is referred to as mortal and destructible. Other examples are Mr 3:4; Lu 17:33; Joh 12:25; Ac 3:23.
sparrows: The Greek word strou·thiʹon is a diminutive form meaning any small bird, but it often referred to sparrows, the cheapest of all birds sold as food.
for a coin of small value: Lit., “for an assarion,” which was the wage a man earned for 45 minutes’ work. (See App. B14.) On this occasion, during his third Galilean tour, Jesus says that two sparrows cost an assarion. On another occasion, evidently about a year later during his ministry in Judea, Jesus says that five sparrows could be obtained for double this price. (Lu 12:6) Comparing these accounts, we learn that sparrows were of such little value to the merchants that the fifth one would be included free of charge.
even the hairs of your head are all numbered: The number of hairs on the human head is said to average more than 100,000. Jehovah’s intimate knowledge of such minute details guarantees that he is keenly interested in each follower of Christ.
accept: Lit., “take (up); take hold of.” Here used figuratively in the sense of taking on oneself the responsibilities and consequences connected with becoming a disciple of Jesus.
torture stake: Or “execution stake.” This is the first occurrence of the Greek word stau·rosʹ. In classical Greek, it primarily referred to an upright stake or pole. Used figuratively, it sometimes stood for the suffering, shame, torture, and even death that a person experienced because of being a follower of Jesus.—See Glossary.
soul: Or “life.” See Glossary.
in the name of: The Greek term for “name” (oʹno·ma) can refer to more than a personal name. In this context, it involves recognition of authority and position of the Father and the Son as well as the role of the holy spirit. Such recognition results in a new relationship with God.—Compare study note on Mt 10:41.
because he is a prophet: Lit., “in the name of a prophet.” In this context, the Greek idiom “in the name of” indicates a recognition of the office and work of a prophet.—Compare study note on Mt 28:19.
a prophet’s reward: Those who accept and support true prophets from God will be richly rewarded. The account of the widow in 1Ki 17 is an example of this.
Rods or staffs were common among the ancient Hebrews and were used in a variety of ways: for support (Ex 12:11; Zec 8:4; Heb 11:21), for defense or protection (2Sa 23:21), for threshing (Isa 28:27), and for reaping olives (De 24:20; Isa 24:13), to name just a few. A food pouch was a bag, usually made of leather, carried over the shoulder by travelers, shepherds, farmers, and others. It was used to hold food, clothing, and other items. When sending out his apostles on a preaching tour, Jesus gave them instructions regarding, among other things, staffs and food pouches. The apostles were to go as they were and not be distracted by procuring anything extra; Jehovah would provide for them.—See study notes on Lu 9:3 and 10:4 for a discussion of how the details of Jesus’ instructions were to be understood.
The wolves of Israel are primarily nighttime predators. (Hab 1:8) Wolves are fierce, voracious, bold, and greedy, frequently killing more sheep than they can eat or drag away. In the Bible, animals and their characteristics and habits are often applied in a figurative sense, picturing both desirable and undesirable traits. For example, in Jacob’s deathbed prophecy, the tribe of Benjamin is described figuratively as a fighter like a wolf (Canis lupus). (Ge 49:27) But in most occurrences, the wolf is used to picture such undesirable qualities as ferocity, greed, viciousness, and craftiness. Those compared to wolves include false prophets (Mt 7:15), vicious opposers of the Christian ministry (Mt 10:16; Lu 10:3), and false teachers who would endanger the Christian congregation from within (Ac 20:29, 30). Shepherds were well-aware of the danger posed by wolves. Jesus spoke of “the hired man” who “sees the wolf coming and abandons the sheep and flees.” Unlike the hired man, who “does not care for the sheep,” Jesus is “the fine shepherd,” who surrendered “his life in behalf of the sheep.”—Joh 10:11-13.
The most terrible instrument for scourging was known as a flagellum. It consisted of a handle into which several cords or leather thongs were fixed. These thongs were weighted with jagged pieces of bone or metal to make the blows more painful.
The roof of a family home was a center of activity. A father might gather his household there to talk about Jehovah. During the Festival of Ingathering, for example, booths were erected on the rooftops. (Le 23:41, 42; De 16:13-15) Such chores as the drying of flax were done there. (Jos 2:6) Sometimes people slept on the roof. (1Sa 9:25, 26) Any activity on a roof would easily be seen by others. (2Sa 16:22) And an announcement made from a rooftop would quickly be heard by neighbors and those passing by on the street.
The Valley of Hinnom, called Gehenna in Greek, is a ravine to the south and southwest of ancient Jerusalem. In Jesus’ day, it was a place for the burning of refuse, making it a fitting symbol of complete destruction.
Sparrows were the cheapest of all birds sold as food. Two of them could be purchased with the amount a man earned working for 45 minutes. The Greek term could embrace a variety of small birds, including a common house sparrow (Passer domesticus biblicus) and the Spanish sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis), which are still abundant in Israel.