3:56 PM

Mission of the Twelve (vv 5 and 18) by Brad E

1. In Matthew 10:5, Jesus forbids the Twelve from preaching and performing miracles in Samaria or areas containing Gentiles. In v 18, however, Jesus instructs the Twelve that their persecution will serve as a testimony to the Gentiles. The Twelve themselves are not the ones who are to share this testimony, but the Holy Spirit through them is the one who will share this testimony. Though Jesus forbids the disciples to go into Samaria and areas containing Gentiles to spread his message, does Jesus intend for the Gentiles to be reached?

2. Carter suggests on page 237 that though the Twelve are instructed to refrain from preaching and performing miracles among the Gentiles, that the Twelve will still serve as a witness to the Gentiles. Carter also suggests that the Twelve’s mission to the house of Israel is merely the first stage of the mission. The second stage is to continue into areas containing Gentiles (Acts 1:8), which follow the same pattern found in v 18 (first to Israel, then under persecution to the Gentiles).

Davies and Allison agree with Carter that the Gentiles will learn of Jesus and his message through the suffering of the Twelve. Davies and Allison go further than Carter and assert that the Twelve serve as witnesses of Jesus to the Gentiles only after being handed over for persecution. (Davies and Allison 184)

3. An important distinction must be made between what Jesus commands the Twelve and what we interpret him to command the Twelve. Upon first reading this passage I understood Jesus as commanding the Twelve not to bear witness to the Gentiles or Samaritans. Upon further reading, however, this is not Jesus’ intent. The Twelve are forbidden to travel among the Gentiles and the Samaritans, but they are not forbidden to bear witness to these groups. In fact, they are told that they will bear witness to the Gentiles through their suffering.

Comment (1)

Your post strikes me as extremely insightful. You've picked up on the *geographic* character of the restriction of the mission. You've also noted that non-Israelite persons/communities are always in view; it is simply a matter of how they are reached and what reaching them means for Israel. And, you've recognized that Gentiles will be reached through the disciples' suffering. Not incidentally, this is suffering largely at the hands of their fellow Jews. Notice, then, how the drama within the house of Israel is what seems to witness to the Gentiles. Israel remains central to the unfolding of the Kingdom of God. Consider, e.g. in Matthew, the circumstances that lead to Jesus' arrest, crucifixion, and death and what impact this has on the Roman centurion as he watches Jesus breathe his last.

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