Matthew 10:1 – “Called” is more than a request in the original language it carries the idea of intensity to confront face to face. In Matthew 10:1 they are called disciples and in Matthew 10:2 they are called apostles. A disciple is one who is being equipped where Apostle is a qualified representative who is sent.
Of all the multitude that followed him Yeshua picked twelve who would be trained for God’s special work. They were not called because of anything great or noteworthy in them, in fact humanly speaking this was a motley crew. They were vessels that willing gave themselves to the Master to be transformed in His Hands and with His guidance.
They did not come because of their desire or will, but rather God’s. Mark 3:13, John 15:16. In Luke 6:12 we see that the choice was made after much prayer by Yeshua, so that he might discern the will of the Father. We see this pattern in the calling of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13. He gave them authority… – He invested in them God’s authority to do what He had done. Acts 3:2-8,5:12,16,8:6-7,14:8-10. These men who lacked spiritual understanding, faith, humility, commitment, and assurance, were changed as they spent time with the Master, and when they were endowed with Power from the Holy Spirit.
We are tempted to become discouraged in our call to evangelize when we consider our failures and shortcomings, But as we consider the men and women God has used in the past we should be encouraged. They were people just like us whom God was pleased to use. 2 Corinthians 12:9 Just consider Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Elijah, and David just to name a few. All of them were failures when you consider them from a human standpoint. All of them were vessels that God used to bring glory to Himself not to them.
This calling of the Disciples is different from the commissioning in Matthew 28. This commission has to do with their mission to Israel, the later one embraces all nations. Israel was to be given the opportunity first to receive her King and His Kingdom. If Israel responded the Millennium would have begun then, but God knew the heart of Israel and her desire for a kingdom of this world. Similar to the situation with the calling for a King under Samuel. (1 Samuel 8)
The authority of the 12 enabled them to heal and drive out evil spirits. The listing of the 12 is found here and in three other places in the New Testament Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:13-16 and Acts 1:13. Peter is always listed first. This is because of his appointed role as leader. The first four consisted of Yeshua’ inner circle of disciples, with Peter, James and John the ones most close to Yeshua.
Apart from the name of Yeshua, Peter’s name is mentioned most in the New Testament. He speaks the most, was reproved the most and was so presumptions as to rebuke the Lord. He boldly confessed his faith and in similar fashion denied the Lord. Peter was the most highly praised by the Lord and the only one called Satan.
Peter had many qualities that are necessary for leadership. He continual asked questions, some relevant and some irrelevant, but by them he demonstrated his desire to know more about Yeshua and His work. When the others didn’t understand something they kept quiet, but not Peter. His inquisitive nature gave Yeshua an opportunity to help him grow and mature in faith. He was always the first to respond to Yeshua’ questions or act in almost any situation.
While Peter had great potential for good he had the potential to do great damage when not submitted to the Lord and His will. He needed to learn submission, restraint, humility, sacrifice, obedience, love, courage, and confidence in the Lord rather than himself. This all came together with the filling of the Holy Spirit.
That is why it was necessary for Yeshua not to be present with them that through His Spirit he might be omnipresent. Peter learned his lessons slowly but he learned them well. It was he who spoke to the multitudes, who defended the Gospel to the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:8), enacted church discipline Acts 5:3-9, and brought the Gospel to the Gentiles.
Andrew was Peter’s brother like Peter he too was a fisherman from the town of Bethsaida on the Northwestern end of the Sea of Galilee. They both were disciples of John the Baptist and left him to follow Yeshua (John 1:36-37). While he is included in all the lists as one of the first four, he was not as close to Yeshua as Peter, James & John. It was Andrew who brought the young boy to Yeshua with his five loaves of bread. This act demonstrated a certain confidence that Yeshua could do something with this small amount. In John 12:20-22, Philip approaches Andrew with some God fearing Gentiles who wanted to see Yeshua. It is Andrew who approaches Yeshua about this. His submission to the other three suggests his humility, and willingness to support them.
James the son of Zebedee always is mentioned with his brother John. His real name would be Jacob. He was probably older and more outspoken. From Mark 1:20 we are given the impression that he was from a wealthy family because they had servants. Both James and John were likely know for their tempers hence the nicknames Son’s of Thunder. We see this in Luke 9:52-54. James cared little for Samaritans and probably less of Gentiles. It was his mother who asked that her sons be seated at the right and left hand of the Lord in the Kingdom Matthew 20:21-22. When Herod wanted to attack the infant church, James was executed. This is an allusion to his importance. Acts 12:1-3.
John was the last of the first group of four, and is most prominent of the disciples. His long life demonstrates his transformation by the Holy Spirit from being a “Son of Thunder” to the Apostle of love. He was also a seeker of the Truth. He was the one entrusted with the revelation of the future that ties Old Testament end time prophecy with the New Covenant. It was John who reclined on Yeshua’ breast on that last Passover. Love tempered with truth. Tradition tells us that John did not leave the city of Jerusalem until Miriam the mother of Yeshua died, because the Lord entrusted her to John 19:27. John was banished to the small and barren isle of Patmos of the west coast of Asia Minor and died about 98 AD.
Philip is the first of the second four disciples. He is a different Philip then the one spoken of in Acts 6:5, 8:4-13, 26-40. Philip is a Greek name meaning “lover of horses”. It was his Greek name that caused the Greeks who wanted to see Yeshua to approach Philip. He too left John the Baptist to follow Yeshua. He is mentioned in John 6:5-7; 12:21-22, 14:8-14. Polycrates, a 2nd century bishop, says philip ministered in the Roman province of Asia and was buried at Hierapolis.
Bartholomew’s name means “son of Tolaami”. John’s Gospel refers to him as Nathanel which in all likelihood was his first name. It was Nathaniel who asked if any good thing could come from Galilee. He was an Israelite, Yeshua said of him, in whom their was no guile. He was part of the remnant who not only was a Jew outwardly but inwardly as well. Romans 2:29, 9:6-8, Galatians 6:16. When Yeshua complemented his honesty he did not become proud but wondered how he knew him. It was then that Yeshua suggested that he saw him under the fig tree. John 1:48ff.
Thomas, also known as “Didymus” is Aramaic for the word twin. Known for his doubt, he should also be known for his courage. John 11:16, and his great confession in John 20:28. Some traditions claim he went to India as a missionary and was martyred there; others place his later ministry in Persia.
Matthew was a tax collector and despised because of his trade he collected money for Rome and made a profit from his own kinsmen. There is a reference in the Talmud that says “It is righteous to lie and deceive a tax collector. They were fully protected and supported by the Roman occupying army.
When Matthew left his business there was no turning back. Many were eager for his position and Rome would not have allowed him to return. Unlike the fishermen who followed Yeshua, Matthew could not go back. It is most remarkable that this disciple wrote the book of the Messiah that cites the most of the Jewish Scriptures.
James the Son of Alphaeus, as distinguished from James the son of Zebedee.
Matthew 10:16-17 Jesus describes his disciples as sheep. Even though they have been granted great powers they are still like sheep who as a rule are defenseless against wolves. Wolves were the main predators of sheep, and yet Jesus says that this is what his disciples are to be, and then to go among the wolves. The world is filled with predatory people. The disciples of the Messiah are to be as sheep and not as wolves.
In the business world we are trained to be predatory so this is a very difficult task. We work and live among wolves Acts 20:29; Romans 8:36. Just as it is written, “For thy sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” This is a great contradiction from worldly shepherds. They guard their sheep from wolves and yet our Shepherd calls us to go in the midst of them. Why? So that He may find those who are really sheep in wolves clothing.
God has not promised us peace and prosperity if we obey His call, in fact He has told us that there would be much trials and tribulation 2 Timothy 3:12. We are to be shrewd as serpents. Serpents were known in ancient time for their cunning, and in this way we are to emulate serpents. Too often we are as shrewd as doves and as innocent as serpents. Jesus continually demonstrated great wisdom in dealing with those who sought to ensnare him consider his response to their question in Matthew 22:21.
They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” Paul became all things to all people that he might win them. Jesus warns them to beware, not to be naive of the schemes of men Matthew 10:17-18. Notice that the first area of persecution was to come from the religious.
Religion in some ways can become idolatrous, it becomes distorted and formed after the image and likeness of man rather than God. God desires us to have a relationship with Him. In the garden man sewed fig leaves to cover his sin and nakedness, God wanted fellowship. Man hid then from the presence of God and to this day most religion is man’s efforts to hide what he clearly perceives is his nakedness.
God had to shed the blood of animals to cover man’s nakedness, and this is a clear foreshadowing of the sacrificial system and ultimately the shedding of the Messiah’s blood to restore a right relationship with Him. Religion will go to great lengths to keep God at arms length. In the period called the tribulation a world religion will once again kill the true witnesses of God. There have been thousands of martyrs who have been killed by religious authorities, in the first century it was the Jewish leadership but in the centuries since then it has been the institutionalized church.
Reformers such as Wycliffe and Hus, and many others throughout history. In the period known as the great tribulation, a false christianity will rise to power and prominence and do all kinds of atrocities in the name of God. It is described in Revelation 17:1-6. It is described as “The Harlot”. Based on the Law, those who were judged by the leadership of Israel could be flogged but no more than 40 lashes Deuteronomy 25:3. Paul authorized these beatings and then was beaten himself at least five times after he came to faith. (2 Corinthians 11:24).
In Matthew 10:18-23 The secular government will be involved in challenging the disciples message. The reason for this persecution the disciples are told, is for “My sake”. Whom God loves the world and its leaders despise. Jesus represents the death knell of their rebellion and authority which began at the fall, and which will end forever at the end of the millenial kingdom. One of the demonstrations that the Messiah lives in us is the reaction that we get from the unbelieving world (John 15:18-21).
When the disciples would be brought before governors their words and their actions would be a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. In the history of the church the more government sought to quash Christianity the more it grew. In fact the church tends to thrive in a hostile environment more than in a favorable one. One can be lukewarm when faith is tolerated or even fashionable, but in times of great persecution faith must be genuine or it is avoided.
Matthew 10:19-20 The disciples are told not to worry about what they will say as they stand before accusers, God will provide them the words that they need at that moment. The disciples were to be prepared by their relationship with the master and spending time in study of His word. Persecution was to come from religious leaders, from governors, and now Jesus warns them it will also come from your own family. Matthew 10:21,35-36.
Virtually all people who are not believers will give the disciples of Jesus trouble. The word endure in the original Greek meant to be able to stay under, to undergo, or to bear trials. From both Old and New Testament usage of this word we get an idea of what it means to persevere in our faith. We do not earn our salvation by enduring we rather prove our faith.
Theologically this is called “perseverance”, and our perseverance is a demonstration of genuine faith. It is our trials and persecution that demonstrate the reality of our faith. In fact James tells us that we are blessed when trials come James 1:2-4. In Matthew 10:23 the disciples are told not to endure persecution if it can be avoided. When Paul experienced heavy opposition he was told to move on. Acts 13:40ff.
Matthew 10:24 – A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. This is an obvious truth yet one that is not really appreciated by Christians. Our willing surrender to our Messiah and redeemer places us as disciples of our living Rabbi (teacher) Jesus. It is a seldom accepted fact that not only are we called to be willing disciples but bond-slaves as well. A bond-slave was thought more highly than the other servants for he was a free will servant.
Real life in the Kingdom is only found when we submit to such a relationship. 1 John 2:6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 10:25 that we ought not to be surprised if we are treated poorly. If we are to be true disciples we should develop the same attitude that Paul had. Philippians 3:10 – I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
Remember this important Biblical truth from Matthew 10:39. Beelzebul or Beelzebub, in the Hebrew this word means lit. “Lord of the flies” and was a euphemism for Satan. This is a reference to the accusation that was made by the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 9:34, Mark 3:22, the account in Mark is what led to Jesus statement regarding the “unpardonalble sin”, which is calling the Spirit in Jesus demonic. This sin cannot be replicated at this present time because Jesus is not here on earth in person.
Matthew 10:26-31 – Do not fear them – These are those people who will call you demonic or give you trouble for your faith. The false accusations that the world loves to hurl will one day proven to be what they are. The world will specializes in calling darkness, light and what is light darkness, will eventually be revealed. Rather we should be concerned about the opinion of our heavenly Father. God is very well aware of our needs and problems and illustrates his care and concern with Matthew 10:29-31.
Matthew 10:32-33 Confession of our faith is an essential element to our walk. There are four things that are necessary ingredients to our growth as believers; Reading Gods Word, Prayer, Fellowship and Confession of our faith in Messiah, before men. Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; To deny our relationship and faith before men is to demonstrate that we do not belong to the company of the committed. The result is that you will be denied by the Messiah as being one of His. We get a glimpse of this in Matthew 7:21-23.
Matthew 10:34-37 Jesus did not come to bring peace to the earth, this is an allusion to a wrong notion that the Jewish community had regarding the Kingdom of Messiah. They believed it would be a kingdom of this world. Jesus taught that His kingdom was not of this world. Peace comes to those who will allow him to rule in their lives. But the world would reject the King sent and so the reign of war and worldliness would continue until the 2nd coming when Yeshua will come to establish His Kingdom on earth. Acts 1:6-7.
As was alluded to earlier even our own families will turn against us. What Yeshua spoke of concerning family hatred was also prophesied in the Old Testament in Micah 7:6.
Matthew 10:38-39 Take up your cross – The cross is an allusion to pain and humiliation of being cursed Deuteronomy 21:23, Galatians 3:13. All of us are to bear the curses of the world and follow in the steps of our Messiah. Real life is found in losing it.
Matthew 10:40-42 One of the things that I have wondered about concerns those pious Orthodox Jewish people who do not believe in Jesus. Well Scripture is quite clear when it says that He who receives Yesuah receives the Father. If they truly love God then they will love the One He sent. John 8:42 Yeshua said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Deuteronomy 18:18-19.