SUMMARY.--The Twelve Apostles. The Charge. To Whom Sent. How to Go. What to Preach. What to Do. How to Act If Received or Rejected. Persecution. Prudence Required. Trials to Be Met. Need Have No Care for a Defense. Fear Not Men, but God. The Father's Care. Not Peace, but a Sword. Loving Christ More Than Father or Mother. No Kind Act Lost.
23. Flee ye into another. They were not to rashly expose their lives where it would do no good, but go elsewhere and continue preaching. Life is a sacred possession, and must not be flung away. It may be given up for the sake of Christ. Till the Son of man is come. A reference primarily, no doubt, to the Lord coming into his kingdom. See Matt. 16:28 . He was thus to come in the life time of some of the apostles. He did thus come in the establishment of his kingdom in power on the day of Pentecost. He also came in judgment on the Jews at the destruction of Jerusalem. This event ended Jewish persecution. There is also the final coming to judge the world, but the meaning here does not include that.
26. Fear them not therefore. Because Christ shall triumph, and all shall be brought to judgment, where every secret shall be made manifest.
27. What I tell you in darkness. In privacy. The Lord had to teach them in private before he could send them forth. On the house tops. The flat roofs of eastern houses made a conspicuous pulpit. The Lord directs them to speak in the most public manner. In Syria proclamations are still often made from the house tops.
28. Be not afraid. Of men, who can only destroy the body, but cannot harm the soul. But rather fear him, etc. Fear God, who can condemn the soul to banishment. The command is to fear not the displeasure of man, but that of God. In hell. See note on Matt. 5:22. The word in the Greek is Gehenna, not hades.
29. Two sparrows. Among the smallest and least valuable birds, yet under the Divine care. So cheap as to be offered in pairs for an insignificant coin, but God notes the fall of one.
30, 31. The very hairs of your head are all numbered. An assurance of the most special providence over all Christ's disciples. The next verse shows to whom the blessed assurance applies.
32. Whosoever will confess me before men. To confess Christ does not mean to accept some particular creed, but to publicly acknowledge the Lord, and to live before men as his servant. It implies, 1. A confession of faith in him with the lips, such a confession as Peter made, Matt. 16:16 , and the eunuch, Acts 8:37 . Paul describes this confession in Rom. 10:10 . 2. An acknowledgment of Christ by obedience and by giving the life to his service. Confession is a demonstration of faith, (1) by public acknowledgment, and (2) by an obedient life. A verbal acknowledgment of Christ is not enough if the life is a denial, for then it shows that the acknowledgment was a lie. The two must correspond. Him will I confess. Christ sitting on the throne of judgment promises to acknowledge as his own faithful brother every one who has thus acknowledged him before men.
33. But whosoever shall deny me before men. The Jews denied him when they rejected him as Messiah. All who refuse to receive him as their Lord deny him still. The disciple who, through the cares of the world, turns away from Christian life, denies him. Him will I also deny. Those who receive him will be received; those who reject him will be rejected; those who confess him will be confessed, and those who deny him, denied.
34. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth. Christ has to conquer a peace by overcoming the evil that is in the way of peace. Hence, to preach the gospel of purity and peace always arouses the opposition of the evil doer. Evil has to be put down before peace can prevail. Hence, while the great end that Christ proposes is peace, the immediate result of his coming, and of the preaching of the gospel, was opposition and bloodshed. I come . . . but a sword. The only sword that Christ or his followers use in the conflict is the Sword of the Spirit, but the persecutor has in every age turned upon them the carnal sword. The sword is sent, because persecutors use it upon the church.
35. For I come to set a man at variance with his father. This was not the Savior's object, but the effect. The conversion of individual members of the family would cause variance. In nearly all quarrels, except those about religion, the members of the same family stand together, but in religious feuds the family circle is often broken and its parts arrayed against each other.
36. A man's foes shall be of his own household. This has been verified thousands of times. Many a convert has been turned out of home and banished by kindred, because he had confessed Christ.
37. He that loveth father or mother more than me. The Lord does not require us to love these less, but him more. Love for him must become the dominant principle of life. Is not worthy of me. Will not be accepted as worthy.
38. He that taketh not his cross. Luke adds, daily; not once, but all the time. The cross is the pain of the self-denial required. The cross is the symbol of doing our duty, even at the cost of the most painful death. Christ obeyed God, and carried out his work of the salvation of men, though it required him to die upon the cross in order to do it. And ever since, the cross has stood as the emblem, not of suffering, but of suffering for the sake of Christ and his gospel. And follow me. To follow Christ is to take him for our master, our teacher, our example; to believe his doctrines, to uphold his cause, to obey his precepts, and to do it though it leads to heaven by the way of the cross.
39. He that findeth his life shall lose it. Whoever counts his life of so much value that he will preserve it by sacrificing his Christian integrity, or will renounce his religion to save his life, will find in the end that he has lost his soul forever for the sake of a few fleeting years; while he who gives up all things, even life itself, will find an abundant reward in the life eternal. All self-seeking is self-losing. The Divine law is always to give in order to receive.
40. He that receiveth you, receiveth me. They would go forth in Christ's name, as his servants and ambassadors. They carried his message, and to receive it and them was virtually receiving him.
41. In the name of a prophet. That is, because he is a prophet. The apostles themselves were prophets.
42. Whosoever shall give to drink to these little ones. By the "little ones" are probably meant Christ's disciples. A cup of cold water only. The smallest act of kindness. If done "because he was a disciple," or out of regard for Christ, he should never lose his reward. Good deeds are never lost. Note the six things here spoken of as belonging to discipleship of Christ: (1) Confessing, or professing; (2) Fighting; (3) Bearing his standard (the cross); (4) Suffering; (5) Following; (6) Giving up life. These are all the duties of the soldier.