5:23 PM 1 comments

What to bring? Matthew 10:8-11

1. One of the most fascinating exegetical issues I see is the issue of money in Mt. 10: 8-11. Here Jesus is discussing the necessary supplies for mission work, and by necessary, I mean he basically defines what you cannot bring. The key item Jesus is refereeing to is money, but also extra supplies and cloths. This is fascinating because if you don’t bring supplies you have to rely on others.

2. Hauerwas deals with this issue by simply saying the apostles are told to bring “little money” (p 106), and goes into greater detail about how they are supposed to “bestow” hospitality on others. Hauerwas isn’t going deep into the heart of this matter however, there seems to a connection between money and hospitality that he is not addressing.

Carter on the other hand will take a completely different route, arguing instead that by not bringing this list of provisions is a safety precaution. Carter points out that each item Jesus prohibits the apostles from bringing with them is an item that could flag the apostles for possible banditry. This is an interesting argument but I’m sure I quite buy it. I think it pulls away from the spiritual dimension of the text and the radical love that is brought by the apostles.

3. At first glance it seems like Jesus is asking us to “step out on faith,” but it looks like he is telling us to bring the kingdom with us. If people need to be hospitable to the apostles, they could therefore learn to love. It’s important to remember that those who give love also receive love in their giving. This could be why Jesus tells the apostles not to bring money on their journey. Money is the artificial barrier of the inhospitable, the barrier who someone puts their trust in another’s greed rather than their heart.

Post 2

I think a great verse to preach on would be Matt 10:31-33. Often time’s pastors have to address the issue of the problem of evil and it’s always a difficult thing to answer both personally and in a community. When in reality these verses tell us the hard truth; that bad things happen and God knows what is happening. Now whatever comfort someone can glean from that, I’m not sure. But I think it’s a much better dichotomy than, “something bad happened, ergo God doesn’t exist.” How could Christianity have ever gotten off the ground if the early martyrs (and martyrs today) believed the formula of God’s existence being based on whether or not bad things happen to you? In Mt. 10:31-33 Jesus is clearly warning the apostles of the evil coming their way. And at the same time Jesus is trying to reaffirm their infinite value in the face of that evil. It would be a hard thing to address, because where is the intervention? The divine providence? The parting of the red sea? But who is to say that the lack of divine intervention means God’s love is somehow void?

7:31 AM 1 comments

Mt. 26-28, a theological consideration (Julie)

Matthew 10 as a whole has often been appropriated as a classic text for gleaning insights for the development of ecclesiology. The commissioning and sending forth of the twelve represents the archetype for the founding and mission (and authority) of the institutional Church, called from its very roots to participate in that exitus/reditus action of God's love: going forth that they may return to the Father. In light of this, I'd like to pose a question to the text from the perspective of the way in which we understand church as community, in particular, I wonder about the way in which the passage may or may not (or may be altogether silent) encourage deliberation within the Church for the carrying out of mission. To direct our attention to a particular place where exegetically there might be some careful thinking required, I point to Mt. 26-28.

"So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that ill not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs."

The pronoun "you" in this passage, as in other places in Mt. 10, seems a bit ambiguous. Clearly, Jesus is speaking to a collective "you" as a general rule in the passage. However, a collective "you" can imply "you" as a single unit, or "you" as a collection of "yous." (The distinction being that in the former, Tommy's instruction "you all write papers" would mean that we all write a single paper together, and in the latter case, we each as individuals in a collection write individual papers). Now, it seems in some sense that both the former and the latter are implied in Mt. 10. The former is implied because he sends forth the twelve as a unity, working together toward the single end of the mission. Arguably, the latter also seems to be implied because they refer to things that one does on one's own -- individual acts of speaking (v. 20), being persecuted (23), handed over (17). The most particular case might be the text quoted above: whispering in one's ear suggests a very individual experience of inspiration for the mission.

It is this final case of an image that might suggest an individual whispering or inspiration for mission that I think requires a careful interpretation. To put the matter in the form of a question: are we a church of individually inspired members, or a unity with a single inspiration? Do we carry out missions on the basis of how we hear Jesus speak to us as individuals, or do we quiet what we take to be our own stirrings in light of what we decide as Church?

I really can't offer a resolution to this question yet, particularly on the basis of Mt 10 alone, but I will say that I think that there might only be two options here. Given that Jesus perpetually refers to "you" in what sound like individual terms, I think what is implied by the passage is either an ecclesiology of individuals, or a highly unified church (a church that is one individual).
6:09 AM 1 comments

Preaching to the Household (Matt. 10:24-25)

I’m revisiting the Beelzebul passage just because I find it fascinating. In structuring a sermon, I’ve found it useful to throw out something controversial or confusing at the very beginning to grab the congregation’s attention, and then the rest of the sermon can be devoted to explaining that or placing it in a new light. The Beelzebul passage gives a perfect platform for that method, since the mention of this character (preferably in a scary voice) will certainly cause some head-scratching. From here, a pastor could easily lead a congregation off into some rant about the devil (as a friend of mine who preached on this passage did), but I find it more useful to draw parallels back to the previous mention of Beelzebul in Matthew 9:34 (where the charge is leveled at Jesus) so that the passage almost becomes more about Jesus’ skill as a rhetorician. Now, even though the whole “Baal of the Flies” etymology behind Beelzebul is incredibly interesting to seminary students, it’s a fairly useless tangent in a sermon and could probably be summed up in just a sentence or two (a quick reference to the Canaanite deity or something).

The real focus of the passage needs to be on the concept of Christ as the head of the household (the household here being the church). Jesus is giving his disciples a warning that, because he himself has been maligned by political and theological opponents (again, see 9:34 for the charge about casting out demons with the power of demons), the disciples will face the same criticism as they travel out into the world to minister. Ultimately, the figure of Beelzebul is completely irrelevant, and the focus is really on how Christians should interact with the world: though they go out as members of the household of Christ, they will face criticism and will have to persevere in those situations. People will always misunderstand and misrepresent Christianity (even in countries where it is supposedly the dominant religion), and it is the job of Christians to stand up to those criticisms in a Christ-like manner, keeping always in mind the will and instructions of the true head of the household.

4:20 AM 1 comments

What Are You Willing to Walk Away From? (Stephen)

In Matthew 10:39, Jesus said "And he that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it."

When you enter public office or military service there is a swearing in, a losing of your life to serve your country "So help you God." When you come to Jesus, you are doing the same - surrendering your life to Him and allowing Him to rule, you are willing to lose your life for Him. But many of us hide behind "Christianity," and are not actually willing to pick up our cross and follow Him, not willing to die for Him as He did for us.

Living this life is not about attaining power, financial security and comfort. The true reaility is that we can only begin to enjoy the benefits of this life by following Christ because He said He came to give us abundant life, eternally. Moreover, this surrendering to Him is about being prepared for His return. It is only when you've become sick and tired of being sick and tired that you willingly give up who you think you are and come to know who you really are in Him, and begin walking into your blessing knowing that He restores all, as He did for Job.

As Paul wrote in Galatians, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me (v. 20).
3:18 AM 4 comments

The Call to the New Kingdom (Robert Fischer)

The commissioning of the disciples in Mt 10 reveals the text's conception of the Kingdom of God and how people are to behave within it. This revelation is often stated in the negative, defining the Kingdom of God in contrast to the world's kingdoms and cultures. The radically different nature of the Kingdom of God is suggested before Mt 10, because the devil is in possession of all the kingdoms of the world in some sense (Mt 4:8f).

There are a number of other contrasts within the Kingdom of God. The text reveals these in negative statements. Presuming that Jesus is instructing his disciples not to do things on the basis that they would be inclined to do them due to the dominant paradigm, these negative statements reveal the way that the kingdoms of the world work differently from the Kingdom of God.
  • First, the apostles are to give and receive without payment (v.8). Ministering within the context of the Kingdom of God is not a profession. Unlike the professional ministers and miracle workers we saw throughout Acts, those serving the Kingdom of God should not expect monetary reward for their service.
  • As a corollary to this, these ministers are not to carry around money or extra clothing or even sandals or a staff (v.9f). (The household of God is apparently a friary.) This puts ministers of the Kingdom of God at opposition with any kind of luxury, and in opposition to commercial systems. Instead, the ministers are to earn their keep day-to-day through work ("for the worker is worth his keep", v.10 NIV). This reminds me of the manna in Exodus 16:16-21(-ish): God provided just enough for the day, but if you kept any extra over it grew worms and rotted (except on the Sabbath).
  • The apostles are also to only go among their own nation (v. 5f), and not to go among the nations beyond. This is because the harvest is plentiful (9:37f) thanks to the work Jesus has already done in the synagogues (9:35).
  • The Kingdom of God is not a mystery religion: it is not a secret set of initiations, but rather a kingdom that is publicly proclaimed (v.26f). This is particularly notable as an antidote to the conspiracy theories (*coughHolyBloodHolyGrailcoughDaVinciCodecough*) that portray early Christianity as simply reworked Mithrasism or otherwise containing secret, hidden knowledge.
  • The ministers of the Kingdom of God are not to worry about how they speak (vv. 19-20), "for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you". Despite such uneducated and unconcerned speech, the apostles will be "a testimony to them and the Gentiles" (v. 18). So the Kingdom of God does not have time of day for sophists.
10:44 PM 1 comments

maybe the Church in the western world doesn't get it-what the apostolic calling doesn't call us to (Jeanne)

In a seeming contradiction, Matthew 10 highlights the apostolic witness of the Kingdom of God as a path that counters physical comforts and safety, as well as fear. VV. 9-10 instructs the disciples to not include items of economic security, such as gold, silver, or copper, or physical addendums, such as a bag, tunic, sandals, or even staff. Luz maintains that by instructing the apostles to leave behind a staff, Matthew 10 asserts the Kingdom of God is one of defenselessness and peace despite violent resistance. Luz writes, “a person who has made arrangements in advance for food, is on the road in good shoes, strides along in normal clothing, and is armed with a staff against attacks, cannot proclaim the kingdom of God” (76-77). Not only are the apostles called to bear no items of economic security or physical addendums, but their witness is to be one as “sheep among wolves” (v.16), in which they will be flogged (v17), arrested (v.18), betrayed and put to death (v21), hated (v22), and persecuted (v23). Matthew 10 commissions the apostles’ witness to be as Jesus’ witness “a student is not above his teacher now a servant above his master” (v.24). Despite, or maybe because, Matthew 10 commissions the apostles to take up their crosses and lose their lives (vv.38-39), the Kingdom of God distinguishes itself from the expected fear that would come with pending persecution and possible death. Instead, Matthew 10 instructs the apostles not to worry (v19)) and not to be afraid (vv. 26, 28, 31) and discusses God’s supreme value and concern for them (vv 29-31). Like Jesus who prayed for God’s will to be done (26: 39, 42, 44), which resulted in his torture and death, the apostles’ are called to bear the lifestyle of Jesus by picking up their crosses and losing their lives so that they may find them (v. 38-39).

Perhaps Christians, such as those in North Africa, Southeast Asia, China, and the Middle East, understand the apostolic commissioning of Matthew 10 more than Western Christians are capable. For example, our Christian brother, Arshed Masih was burned to death in Pakistan yesterday for “refusing to convert,” leaving behind a wife, whose rape he was likely forced to watch, and three children. (http://www.crosswalk.com/news/religiontoday/11627931/). Perhaps Luz is correct in in stating that the central point of Matthew 10 is that following Jesus makes suffering necessary (94). Yet, what does this mean if our apostolic calling costs us, as members of Christ’s Church in the West, so relatively little, than the rest of many of the members of Christ’s body worldwide?

7:36 PM 1 comments

M Newell 10:26

10:26 - What is the significance of "nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known"? Jesus says this after mentioning the coming persecution--as if this is the reason that the disciples don't need to fear the persecution they will face. This saying is found in all 3 synoptics, though the placement in pericope changes in Mark and Luke to the Lamp Under a Basket Parable. It really makes me wonder what it's doing here in Matthew--even more basic, what exactly is it that is going to be revealed? It could be the evangelion itself, resonating with all the times Jesus tells people not to go spreading what he's done, and with v 27. Also, as an aside, if I remember rightly, I think Rene Girard also reads this verse as supporting his idea that Jesus' work in going to the cross is 'revealing' the scapegoat mechanism. I don't know about that, but something weird is going on with this in Matthew.

The apostolic witness is not to be a thaumaturge-for-pay service (vv 8-9); the apostles are not to take normal prudential preparations for their livelihood as life normally and ubiquitously requires (vv 9-10); they are to be itinerant, not stationary (5-6, 16); they are to avoid the company of the unworthy (who are the 'unworthy'??--literally a 'house', but what does this mean if not household? v 13); they are not to be gullible (16); their message ought to provoke rulers (18); they are not to be afraid (19, 26, 31)
7:25 PM 4 comments

Jeanne on 10:7

1.) In 10:7, Jesus instructs the disciples to proclaim, “the Kingdom of heaven is near” which furthers the continuing theme of heaven’s kingdom approaching mentioned also in 3:2 by John and 4:17 by Jesus (Carter, 234). Does this verse refer to the approaching time of Christ’s return (as v. 23 mentions) and establishment of an apocalyptic and eschatological kingdom, or does 10:7 rather reference the earthly and physical exemplification of the kingdom of heaven on earth through the disciples’ healing of diseases, proclamations of peace, and simple lifestyle?

2a) The only mention Luz gives to the matter is simply to state, “The Kingdom of God is primarily the setting for the ethical proclamation of Jesus” (75) While maintaining healing is the “concrete experience of salvation” given so that the proclamation of the kingdom of heaven does not become “mere ethical exhortation,” Luz does not further expound upon this argument.

2b) Likewise, Carter seems to align with the latter interpretation, although he offers little explanation for his views. Carter states that 10:7 refers to “God’s empire” that “challenges all other reigns, including Roman imperial power and the religious elite’s control (234). Carter maintains Jesus’ imperatives to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons demonstrate God’s “life-giving reign.” However, Carter notes also that “response to the mission involves eschatological consequences of vindication or condemnation (233).

3) It seems that the Gospel of Matthew portrays Jesus’ and then the disciples’ proclamation and exhibition of God’s kingdom of heaven on earth as pointing towards Christ’s apocalyptic return and establishment of an eschatological heaven. 3:2 and 4:17’s seems to account for the apocalyptic element to this reference of Jesus by mentioning the necessity of repentance. However, it seems Jesus first and foremost accounts for the disciples seeking to live as the household, or kingdom, of God on earth due to Jesus instruction for the apostles to live out such kingdom values as poverty, powerlessness, and self-denial.

7:05 PM 1 comments

Preaching on hell... Matt. 10:26-28

[26] "So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. [27] What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. [28] And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Who is it that can destroy both soul and body in hell? This seems to be almost an aside within Matt. 10, yet I think it cannot be overlooked in a faithful preaching through this chapter. For that matter, neither should it be over-emphasized or distorted. This should never be turned into this: "Jesus says fear not of man, so go preach the Gospel at all costs or you will go to hell." Rather, I believe that these verses, and the reference to hell in particular, should turn the attention of the pastor and congregation to: 1. the reality of hell, 2. the nature of hell, and 3. the mission of the disciples.

Who is it that can destroy both body and soul in hell? The stock answer is Satan, however, this must be nuanced. At the end of 9 and beginning of 10 we see Jesus, and then the disciples, casting out spirits (presumably those of the house of Be-el'zebub, v. 25). The key defining attribute of these spirits is unclean (v. 10:1). The word used for hell is the burning trash heap outside the Jerusalem walls, a place of the ultimate uncleanliness. So, a major issue at hand is one of being clean or unclean. To be considered clean is to be able to be an acceptable participant in Israel. To be unclean was to be separated, isolated from the community (the household) until the ritual cleansing rites were undergone. Thus, to be destroyed, body and soul, would be to be rendered unclean and thus separated completely and irrevocably from Israel. Here Jesus is both mobilizing and reworking Israelite ideas of what it means to be clean or unclean, part of the community (in the house) or separated from it (lost).

For preaching purposes today, what would it mean for us to be "unclean"? Separated? I would venture to say that we ourselves can destroy both body and soul, and we do so by falling prey to our own egotism. The disciples are sent to reflect and model Christ, and they are sent to do so as loving servants of Israel, the world, and the Gospel. To turn away from love and service of others is always to turn in on ourselves. It is not the death that may come with the promised persecution that will beset those sent by Jesus which is to be feared. No, it is the more subtle, more nagging, more attractive voice, prompting that, when things turn to shit says: "This is too hard, too much, too uncomfortable. The odds are too long. Just turn back. It's easier. Safer. Fade out of this mess and go back to a happy home life lived in quiet and comfortable obscurity." Is this not the true and great and most dangerous prompting of Satan? To become a law unto ourselves. To care for our own needs first. To look out for ourselves, rather than the needs of the lost, which we ourselves were and are. To neglect the growing house of Israel, redeemed by the Suffering Servant.

- Eric Meckley
7:05 PM 1 comments

Theological Significance -- Kasey

Mission Discourse NT 18
An issue that I might include in Part III of the text analysis concerns the first verse in the text. This verse shows Jesus giving his disciples authority over unclean spirits, disease, and sickness. We learn from this text that such authority must be given from God in order for one to possess it. In light of this verse, what type of authority do pastors have as Christian leaders? It is obvious that every pastor is not able to drive out sickness from every person over whom they pray; however, do ministers receive any kind of authority over certain evil forces just because of their calling and anointing to minister to the Gospel? Is God willing to give such authority to anyone today as was given to the first disciples?
5:43 PM 1 comments

Divine ventriloquism? - 19b - by Michael

1. Jesus tells the disciples that when they are dragged into court before Gentile authorities, “what you are to say will be given to you at that time” (19b) by “the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (20b). This sounds like a reference to Exodus 4:12 and 15-16, where God tells Moses that he will speak for him before Pharaoh (12), and then that Aaron will speak for him before Pharaoh (15-16). Is this an intentional reference, such that Matthew sees a connection between Jesus’ discourse and the dialogue at the burning bush? In Exodus 4, first God and then Aaron are said to speak for Moses, while in Matthew 10, the Spirit speaks for the disciples. In Exodus 4, God and then Aaron speaks for Moses because of Moses’ own doubt and insecurity (“I am slow of speech and slow of tongue” 4:10b). In Matthew 10, no explicit reason is given for why the Spirit will speak for the disciples. Jesus’ words function more like a promise or assurance that comforts the disciples in the face of certain, coming persecution.

2. Davies and Allison mention that “perhaps Matthew wanted his readers to recall the encouraging words of the Lord to Moses [in Exod. 4:12]. They also mention other biblical texts where “people are given words to speak” (Ps 119:41-6; Jer 1:6-10; Eph 6:19) (D&A, 185). Beyond that, they don’t explore the implications of this possible parallel. Luz believes that v. 19 portrays the disciples receiving the prophetic gift. He does not key into the potential parallel between this text and Ex. 4. Interestingly, Luz observes that Matthew rarely speaks about the Spirit, and that when he does, it is usually with respect to Jesus (Luz, 90).

3. My preliminary judgment is that 10:19 contains an intentional reference to YHWH’s discourse with Moses at the burning bush in Ex. 4. Elsewhere in his gospel, especially in the Sermon on the Mount in ch. 5-7, Matthew appears to make a concerted effort to place Jesus within the Mosaic tradition (even if Jesus’ message somehow alters Moses’ teachings). It would appear impossible for Matthew to overlook this connection, given his familiarity with and concern for the Mosaic tradition.
5:15 PM 1 comments

Joseph on powers of modern disciples

Considering the powers that Jesus gives to the disciples, such as the authority to cast out unclean spirits and cure every disease and every sickness, what tools are the modern disciples left with? Is it possible that the powers mentioned in chapter 10 are not intended to be taken the way that modern readers do? Do disciples still have the same powers? The commentators I read haven't really addressed this possibility yet. But, it seems possible that the promise of the Gospel is just the cure referenced by these miraculous powers. Salvation removes unclean sprits and heals all illness, though not in the way typically thought of.

4:39 PM 1 comments

For Preaching-- vs 5-14 (Matt Morin)

Jesus sends the disciples out "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (v6). It is these people-- Israel-- that Jesus commands the disciples to leave if their words are not heeded (v14). Jesus then, sends the disciples to preach the things of Israel to the people of Israel. This is because, from the start, Israel was a chosen people-- called out to be in unique relationship with God and by virtue of their very special worship and patterns of living, to reflect the glory of the one true God to the nations of the world.

Stanley Hauerwas is fond of saying that "the Church's job is not to make the world look like the Church; the Church's job is to make the world look like the world." Like Israel, the Church has been called to be different from the world through our worship and lives. And like Israel, this unique calling should make God clear to the world. However, when the Church fails to live into this unique calling, it is usually for one of two different reasons.

First of all, we tend to crush the rest of the world with the burdens that we in the Church do not bear. As we rail and wail on the topics of social justice, many of us actively contribute to economic oppression. I know that I do-- my shoes are made by Nike, a company whose practices regularly rank among the worst by human rights watchdogs. Until last year, my meager Roth IRA was not invested in socially responsible funds. It was quite a hassle, but through multiple meetings with my financial planner, I was able to invest my savings in companies who displayed a (marginally) better ethic. Of course it will be impossible for the Church to completely escape the structures of sin into which we are so deeply bound up as people who share space with the Earthly City. But we must try-- the Church must be the Church! How dare we preach Kingdom Ethics to the world when we do not embody them ourselves.

There is another, bigger way in which the Church fails to live according to her calling, and that is by not even knowing what a Kingdom Ethic is! If the first problem was one of hypocrisy (knowing the truth, but not doing it), then this is a much more dangerous problem-- not even knowing the truth! I recently found myself in a discussion with a Christian friend regarding the topic of Health Care Reform. To say that we disagreed on the matter is an understatement. In fact, it was not simply that we disagreed as to the mechanics or provisions of the recently-passed bill. Rather, we could not even see eye-to-eye on the fundamental commitments that ought to inform a Christian's views on such policies. She asserted-- this is a quote from an email-- that, "No one is given anything, they must achieve it." When I pressed her to explain that comment in light of 1 Cor 4:7, she accused me of misinterpreting Scripture. ("Who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?) My hunch is that for as long as this woman clings to such a disgusting notion of self-sufficiency, she will have a very difficult time embracing words of truth from the mouths of beggars (vv 8-10).

The Church's words and actions will, if they are pure, eventually fail to make sense to the world. We may practice apologetics and give reasons for our faith-- but at some point the Church's fundamental commitment to her crucified Lord will be utterly nonsensical to the world. But the Church's words should never be nonsense to the Church! Just as Jesus sent the Disciples to Israel so that they might BE Israel, so too are we pastors-in-training, sent to the Church so that we may BE the Church.

Lord have mercy on us and spare us on the day of judgment (v15) for the times we have failed to heed your words and those of and your disciples.
4:33 PM 1 comments

Comfort Christianity by Brad E

vv 16-22

We are Christians of comfort. We enjoy supporting those who would dedicate their lives to the ministry of others, but we ourselves fear becoming too involved lest we step outside the boundaries of comfort. Whatever dictates our boundaries, we each have our own reasons for them. Ease of lifestyle, financial security, safety—these are some of my own, selfish boundaries that I place before what I perceive to be the daunting task of ministry. Jesus’ disciples surely had boundaries of their own. Jesus, however, does not address these boundaries before he orders the disciples into full time ministry. Jesus only addresses the disciples’ boundaries after ordering them to begin their work amongst their people. This past summer, I was blessed with the opportunity to work with a missionary family from my home church for several weeks in Nepal. During our last week in Nepal, a radical group of another religion gave an ultimatum to foreign Christians working in the country: “Leave or be killed.” We talked with our missionary friends about this message and how they would respond to it. Without hesitation, our friends told us that they would remain in Nepal. To them, safety is a comfort. It is a desired comfort, but it is not a necessity for ministry. Jesus never promised safety in ministry but quite the opposite. We are sheep amidst the wolves. Whether we serve as missionaries in foreign lands or at a church in downtown Durham—safety remains only a comfort. Safety from failure, safety from persecution, safety from the unknown—these are all comforts that the first disciples were told to do without, and these are comforts that we must remember are only comforts and not predicates of ministry.

3:58 PM 1 comments

Significance: mission 'then' and now (Laura)

What will it mean for the missional church to hear this passage addressed to it today? We are not part of the original apostolic audience, and the differences between our hearing of the discourse and theirs are extensive (to name one small example, “we” as Gentiles are not even strictly included within its scope!), yet we as Christians today do confess ourselves to be caught up within the mission to “all nations” on which the book concludes, and which we intuit must bear some meaningful relation to this earlier discourse. If the C/commission which we profess is in some way a expansion of or development out of this mission discourse, how do we discern and inhabit well the movement between the two? If we are meant, for example, to appropriate the command to “proclaim the good news” (v. 7a), what about the immediately succeeding charge to “cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons” (v. 8)? (This is to say nothing of the change that may come to the content of the proclamation itself (“the kingdom of heaven has come near,” v. 7b) itself in light of the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus!) Are we supposed to show up in the mission field without a bank balance or a change of clothes, since “laborers deserve their food” (v. 10)? And does v. 14 (“shake the dust off your feet”) commend a ‘one-shot’ approach to evangelism? If we think that we ought to nuance our appropriation of these texts in some way, what are the hermeneutical guides that we are or ought to be using to guide and govern this process? How might it help in this regard, finally, to trace the development of mission in Matthew within the all-important context of the “house of Israel” and its “lost sheep” (v. 6)?