from WL Worcester (H Blackmer, ed.), 
The Sower.  Helps to the Study of the Bible in Home and Sunday School
(Boston: Massachusetts New-Church Union, n.d.)

Table of Contents


Lesson 12

Matthew 10:  Disciples Sent Out

The Story


We often hear about the Lord's disciples. They were the people who came to Him and were much with Him to listen to His teaching. There were twelve whom He especially chose to be with Him, who were also called apostles. Do you know the names of any of these; some who were fishermen, and one who was a publican? Some day we will learn the names of all the twelve.

Now the Lord called the twelve disciples to Him and gave them power, and sent them out to preach and to do such works of healing as they had seen Him do. They must keep in mind that they had no power of themselves, but must always remember that the Lord was their strength. To help them to remember this they were to carry no money in their purses -their girdles, for that is how the people in that country carry money, tucked in a fold of the scarf, which is fastened about the waist. They were to take no food, and no bag or scrip as it is called. You may remember David's scrip, his shepherd's bag into which he put the stones when he went against Goliath. They were to take no bag, as if they could lay up strength for themselves. They should not have two coats, nor shoes, but only sandals, which cover the bottom of the foot and are tied on with straps or strings. (Mark 6:9.) They should take no staves, or nothing more than a staff. All this would help them to remember and to trust the Lord.

So the Lord sent out thee twelve, two and two together, from their home by the Sea of Galilee. They were to go, He told them, to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The Lord tenderly watched them as they started on their way. They were as little children whom He had taught a little about the heavenly life, and to whom He had given a little strength. His love and care went with them. He knew the dangers that they would meet. He told them that He sent them as sheep in the midst of wolves. They must be gentle and they must be wise. Hard things would happen to some of them, but they should not fear anything that men, could do to them. The Lord cares for every little bird. He cares still more for everything of our life; every hair is numbered.

So the twelve went out to preach and heal, and after a time they came together again to the Lord and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. Read Matthew 10:1-20, 29-33; Mark 6:7-13, 30.


Do you know what the word "disciple" means? A learner. And the word "apostle"? One sent out. Our story today shows why the twelve were called apostles.

How many of the twelve do you know? There were Simon Peter and his brother Andrew who had left their nets on the shore of the Sea of Galilee to follow the Lord; James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also fishermen. The Lord had found Philip as He came back from the baptism at the Jordan to Galilee; his home was Bethsaida near Capernaum. (John 1:43, 44) Bartholomew was probably another name of Nathaniel who lived in Cana near Nazareth; he was under a fig tree when Philip called him to the Lord. (John 1:45; 21:2) Matthew was the tax gatherer whom the Lord called at Capernaum. Here are seven of the twelve.

Besides these we remember Thomas who doubted when the Lord came to them after His resurrection. There was another James distinguished as the son of Alphaeus, and a Judas not Iscariot, who seems to be the same who is called Lebbaeus and Thaddaeus, and two more, Simon the Cananaean or the Zealot, names which mean that he was of the party of Israelites who were eager to throw off the Roman power; and Judas Iscariot, which means that he was from Kerioth, a town of Judea; all but the last were from Galilee.

Read now how the Lord sent out the twelve without provision for their journey. This was not wholly strange in that Eastern country, where people now might go depending upon hospitality on their way; but it represents that trust and dependence upon the Lord in which all disciples ought to live and work. Where they found a willing reception they were to stay; where they were not received they were to shake off the dust, which means, that nothing of the evil that they met should be allowed to cling to them. Why should it be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for a city that would not receive the disciples? Compare Matthew 11:20-24. Those who have the greater opportunity have the greater fault if they reject the Lord and His message.

Compare this sending out of the twelve disciples with the sending out of seventy a little later, which is described in Luke 10. The two stories are much alike. The twelve, however, were sent only to the "house of Israel" in Galilee; the seventy had a wider mission, to towns which the Lord would visit on His journey to Jerusalem, mostly in the country east of Jordan. By and by the disciples would be sent into all the world to preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15) Read Matthew 10:1-16.

Reading on in the chapter you learn of dangers and hardships which the disciples would meet, and the wonderful promise of the Lord's tender care, of His support and protection in every trial. In verse 21 and again in verses 35-37 you read of conflict in the household. Many households were divided where some received the Christian teaching and some did not. But- the Lord is speaking rather of the conflict that must come in every mind where His truth is received and an effort is made to obey it. A new generation of thoughts and motives spring up which are at variance with the old. Every man finds his worst foes in the household of his own thoughts and feelings. The Lord warns us of, these things, but bids us to have good courage. One who is not courageous is not a true disciple.

1. What does the name "disciple" mean? The name "apostle"? How many apostles did the Lord choose? How many of them can you name?

2. What did the Lord send the apostles to do? What were they to take for their journey? How were they to do when they came to a city?

3. What promise did the Lord give them of His watchful care?

4. What are the foes of our own household?

Spiritual Study


The Lord chose twelve apostles. Does it mean that He needs only twelve helpers in His Christian work? You know that twelve stands for all, and here for all forms of reception and of service in the Christian Church. With a similar meaning you remember the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve foundations and twelve gates of the Holy City. Twelve is the product of four and three. Four suggests development in both directions, truth and goodness, and three, this development in all degrees from highest to lowest. (A. 3858; E. 430)

Do you know what elements of Christian character are represented by any of the apostles? Take for example, the first group of four. Peter you think of as standing for faith. He is called here by his name Simon, which means "hearing," and suggests not merely an intellectual faith, but a loving faith looking toward obedience. Andrew, his brother, represents this obedience. With this come love for the neighbor and love for the Lord, represented by James and John. Find help in regard to the meaning of all the twelve in Bruce's "Commentary on Matthew," and in "Matthew's. Gospel," J. Worcester.

"Freely ye have received, freely give." The Lord had been teaching the Christian law in the mountain; He had been showing its application in affairs of daily life. It is time to make all this of use to others, giving freely what has been freely received, for no good thing is given to be selfishly enjoyed; it is blessed only as it is used for others. Yet even giving must not be selfish; it must not be a forcing of ourselves and our blessings upon those who are confirmed against them. "Give to him that asketh thee," is the charge; and you find the same expressed in the instructions to the twelve; they were to give wherever there was willingness to receive.

You see in their going without provision a lesson of constant dependence upon the Lord. Can you interpret spiritually the charge, "Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses"? What do these three metals represent as applied to the gold and the silver and the copper ages? Or as used in the tabernacle and temple? They stand for inmost love of the Lord, for spiritual intelligence, and for natural goodness. We can have none of these of ourselves. (A. 9942)

"Sheep in the midst of wolves." Who are spiritually sheep? Who are spiritually wolves? What is a wolf in sheep's clothing?

"Wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." The last phrase seems easy to understand; but what does the first phrase mean? Serpents lying full length upon the ground represent affections of the most external kind connected with pleasures of the senses. Such pleasures are very subtle and are often dangerous; they creep in unnoticed, they charm us, they get their coils about us, they benumb us with their poison. Appetites, when they are indulged and become destructive of spiritual life, are dangerous and poisonous serpents. But the senses are not necessarily evil; they are given us for a use; they enable us to feel our surroundings, and to adapt ourselves to them. Tactfulness and discretion are the wisdom of the serpent that the Lord commends. (A. 197; E. 581)

The chapter contains predictions of persecution that the disciples would meet. A hint of this had already been given in the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you." We shall learn more of this persecution when we read the story of the apostles in the Book of Acts. But the persecution that the Lord foretold was not merely that which the apostles would personally suffer. In all this chapter the Lord looks beyond the twelve to the experience of all Christian disciples, and of Christian principles as they seek to gain a hold in any mind. The persecution is the struggle that Christian principles must inevitably have against natural thoughts and feelings. The Lord warns us that He comes not to send peace but a sword. He was indeed promised as the "Prince of peace"; His coming was heralded as the coming of peace on earth, and among His last words to His disciples He said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you." The Lord does give peace such as the world cannot give, but this peace is gained through conflict, and it is not found until the family of selfish thoughts and feelings are cast out of the mind. (A 10490) The Lord sets squarely before us the issue. It is a choice between the selfish life and Christian life from Him. If we hold to one we lose the other. (Verse 39)

Verse 40 is a beautiful reminder that the Lord goes with us and works with us when we go on His errands. It is little that we can do, but that little opens the way for Him and we cannot know how great things are accomplished. Receiving a prophet means receiving the Lord's truth. Receiving a righteous man means receiving goodness from the Lord. (E. 624; A. 10683) The last verse of the chapter is a beautiful promise of the blessing to be found in doing even the smallest service for the Lord. Giving a cup of cold water suggests also the spiritual service of teaching the Lord's truth. There is a blessing in this, even in giving a cup of cold water, which means doing this service in simple obedience without as yet much love for it. All kinds of Christian service have at first to be done so, but the love and the blessing follow. (E. 695; P. 230)

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