Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 31: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
MATTHEW 10:9-15; MARK 6:8-11; LUKE 9:3-5
9. Do not provide gold, nor silver, 574 nor brass in your purses, 10. Nor scrip for the journey, nor two coats, nor shoes, nor staff: for the laborer is worthy of his food. 11. But into whatsoever city or village you shall enter, inquire what person in it is worthy, and remain there till you depart. 12. And when you shall enter a house, salute it. 13. And if the house shall be worthy, may your peace come upon it: but if it shall not be worthy, may your peace return to you. 14. And whosoever shall not receive you, or hear your words, when you go out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. 15. Verily I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and of Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.
8. And commanded them to take nothing for the journey, but a staff only; not a scrip, nor bread, nor money in their girdle: 9. But to be shod with sandals, and not to wear two coats. 10. And he said to them, Whenever you shall enter a house, remain there till you depart thence. 11. And whoever shall not receive you or hear you, when you go out of that place, shake off the dust which is under your feet for a testimony to them. Verily I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorroah in the day of judgment than for that city.
3. And he said to them, Carry nothing for the journey, neither a staff, nor a scrip, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two coats each. 4. And into whatsoever house you shall enter, remain there, and depart thence. 5. And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off even the dust from your feet for a testimony against them.
Matthew 10:9. Do not provide. As the embassy 575 was of such a nature, that Christ wished the disciples to traverse the whole of Judea within a few days, and immediately to return to him, he forbids to carry luggage with them, by which this speed may be retarded. Some have ignorantly supposed that the rule here laid down for the ministers of the word, or for the apostles, is perpetual. We shall presently meet with a few sentences which have a more extensive reference: but the present injunctions not to carry baggage must undoubtedly be restricted to that temporary commission of which I have already spoken. The whole of the prohibition of gold, silver, a scrip, and two coats, which is given by Matthew, must be read in immediate connection, as is evident from the other two Evangelists.
I have therefore chosen to translate υὴ κτήσησθε, do not provide: for our Lord simply intended to forbid them to take any thing for the journey They might have scrips, and shoes, and a change of coats, at home; but that they may be better prepared for the journey, he orders them to leave every thing that would be burdensome. Such too is the import of what Mark says, to be shod with sandals There is an appearance of contradiction as to the staff, or stick for, according to Mark, the staff is allowed, while according to Matthew and Luke it is refused. But there is an ambiguity in the use of the Hebrew word שבט, (shebet;) and the Evangelists, though they wrote in Greek, used the word ῥάβδος in various senses. Matthew and Luke mean by it a rod which would be burdensome to the person who carries it: while Mark means by it a walking-stick to support and relieve a traveler. It is evident, that in making a journey it was customary to carry a staff; and hence those words of Jacob, With my staff, I passed over this Jordan, (Ge 32:10,) by which he acknowledges that he came empty and without money into Syria.
10. For the laborer is worthy of his food. Christ anticipates an objection that might be made: for it might appear to be a harsh condition to travel through the whole of Judea without any provisions. 576 Accordingly, Christ tells them, that they have no reason to dread that they will suffer hunger; because, wherever they come, they will at least be worthy of their food 577 He calls them laborers, not that they resembled ordinary ministers, who labor in the Lord’s vineyard, and who, by planting and watering, bring it into a state of cultivation; but merely because they were the heralds of a richer and more complete doctrine. They did not at that time receive the office of preaching any farther than to render the Jews attentive to the preaching of the Gospel.
11. Inquire what person in it is worthy. Again, they might object that they would be deprived of the food to which they were entitled, because nobody would acknowledge them as laborers But Christ meets this difficulty also by ordering them to make inquiry what person in each city is worthy of the message of salvation. By these words, he bids them ask, if there are any godly and upright men, who have some fear and reverence for God, and of whose readiness to receive instruction good hopes may be entertained, that they may direct their labors chiefly to them. For, as they were not at liberty to remain long in any one place, it was proper to begin with those who, in some respect were better prepared.
Remain there till you depart. This too has a reference to dispatch: for if they had made a longer stay in any place, it would have been necessary to change their lodging, that they might not be too burdensome to any individual. When, therefore, Christ enjoins them to remain in the house of the person who shall first receive them, till they depart to another city, he intimates that they must make haste, so that, after having published the Gospel in one city, they may immediately run to another.
12. Salute it. As they could not distinguish the devout worshippers of God from despisers, he enjoins them to address in a friendly manner any family which they may have occasion to meet. The act of saluting is a kind of opening to a conversation. They had already been warned to look out for persons to entertain them, whose religious zeal was generally known and believed. But as it sometimes happens that persons of lofty reputation, when they are brought to a serious trial, discover their impiety, it was proper that this rule should be expressly laid down. The meaning therefore is: “Make trial, when you first enter, whether your entertainers will cheerfully submit to hear you. Whoever shall willingly embrace your doctrine, remain in their house, that your salutation may be confirmed. If any shall reject, depart from them immediately, and, so far as lies in your power, withdraw your salutation.”
13. If it be not worthy. The import of this mode of expression may be thus stated, — “As their ingratitude makes them unworthy to enjoy the blessing of God which you have supplicated for them, break off every bond of communication.” The word peace refers to the mode of salutation which generally used among the Jews. As the Hebrew word שלום, (shalom,) peace, denotes prosperity, when they desire that any one may be well and happy, and that his affairs may succeed to his wish, they pray that he may have peace I do acknowledge that the apostles brought to men a different kind of peace, but it is too great a refinement of speculation to make this passage refer to the free reconciliation which takes place between God and men.
14. And whoever will not receive you. This awful threatening of punishment against the despisers of the gospel was intended to animate his disciples, that they might not be retarded by the ingratitude of the world. He directs the apostles, indeed, what he wishes them to do if they meet with despisers. But his principal design was that, wherever their doctrine was rejected, their well-founded grief and distress might be relieved by consolation, that they might not fail in the middle of their course. And we see how Paul, relying on this consolation, boldly sets at naught all the obstinacy of men, moves on steadily in the midst of hindrances, and boasts that he is
a sweet savor to God, though he is the savor of death
to them that perish, (2 Cor. 2:15, 16.)
Now, this passage shows in what estimation the Lord holds his gospel, and, indeed, as it is an inestimable treasure, they are chargeable with base ingratitude who refuse it when offered to them. Besides, it is the scepter of his kingdom, and therefore cannot be rejected without treating him with open contempt.
Shake off the dust As the Lord here recommends the doctrine of the gospel, that all may receive it with reverence, and terrifies rebels by threatening severe punishment, so he enjoins the apostles to proclaim the vengeance which he threatens. But this they cannot do, unless they burn with very ardent zeal to make known the doctrines which they preach. We must therefore hold that no man is qualified to become a teacher of heavenly doctrine, unless his feelings respecting it be such, that he is distressed and agonized when it is treated with contempt.
To shake off the dust from the feet was probably a custom then prevalent in Judea, as a sign of execration; and was intended to declare that the inhabitants of the place were so polluted, that the very ground on which they trod was infected. That it was an ordinary custom I conjecture from our Lord’s manner of speaking of it as a thing well known. This form of execration confirms still more what I lately mentioned, that no crime is more offensive to God than contempt of his word: for he does not enjoin them to make use of so solemn a mode in expressing their detestation of adulterers, or murderers, or any description of malefactors.
Verily, I say to you That they may not imagine this to be an idle bugbear, 578 Christ declares that those who reject the gospel, will receive more severe punishment than the inhabitants of Sodom. Some view the word judgment as referring to the destruction of Jerusalem. But this is foreign to our Lord’s intention: for it must be understood as referring to the general judgment, in which both must give their account, that there may be a comparison of the punishments. Christ mentioned Sodom rather than other cities, not only because it went beyond them all in flagitious crimes, but because God destroyed it in an extraordinary manner, that it might serve as an example to all ages, and that its very name might be held in abomination. And we need not wonder if Christ declares that they will be treated less severely than those who refuse to hear the gospel. When men deny the authority of Him who made and formed them, when they refuse to listen to his voice, nay, reject disdainfully his gentle invitations, and withhold the confidence which is due to his gracious promises, such impiety is the utmost accumulation, as it were, of all crimes. But if the rejection of that obscure preaching was followed by such dreadful vengeance, how awful must be the punishment that awaits those who reject Christ when he speaks openly! Again, if God punishes so severely the despisers of the word, what shall become of furious enemies who, by blasphemies and a venomous tongue, oppose the gospel, or cruelly persecute it by fire and sword?
“Ne faites provision d'or ni d'argent;” — “make no provision of gold or of silver.”
“La commission et ambassade;” — “the commission and einbassy.”
“N'ayans rien de quoy faire leurs despens;” — “having no means of paying their expenses.”
“Ils gaigneront bien pour le moins leur nourriture;” — “they will get their food at least.”
“Afin qu'il ne semble que ce soit une menace vaine, et (cornroe on dit) seulement pour faire peur aux petits enfans;” — “that it may not seem as if it were an idle threatening, and (as we say) only to frighten young children.”